Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Devotional Day 25

Christmas Day- Day 25

The house is quiet but not for long. In a couple of hours or maybe minutes the children will awake and the excitement will begin. It's Christmas morning! They had struggled to go to sleep anticipating the opening of the bright wrapped gifts as soon as they would awake! What was under the covers of the boxes and paper? Would it be the gifts they had dreamed of or could it be greater than they could even imagine?

As we read the story of the birth of Jesus it is important to understand the Matthew and Luke give the reader gifts that are wonderful to behold! Let's examine the some of the gifts that Luke gives to Theophilus who is the one to whom the gospel is written (Luke 1:1-4).

When reading the account of Luke of the birth of the Lord there a number of  gifts or themes that are quickly noticed. One that is prominent is the theme that the individual connected to the story of the birth are those who society of that day looked down upon. Zacharias and Elizabeth were an old couple with no children (Luke 1:7). Everyone understood that children were a blessing of the Lord (Psalms 127:3). Evidently they were not blessed! It was a shame!

 Luke induces us to other who have a particular position in fact they will be the King of Kings Heralds! No, it is not men of riches who are known for their intelligent, the wise men, that Luke will give this important job to, but it will be a handful of shepherds. They are treated as insignificant by the religious and social elite. They were known for being "sinners"! This was a technical term for a class of despised people.[1]

What of the old man and widow women who held the Lord in the temple? Both were at the bottom of the food chain! A widow with no children would face a future that was void of economic support. She would usually live in the house of her son but without that blessing she would have to live on the charity of her community. She had no Social Security, no welfare system in fact there was no relief for any of the poor. She was lonely and her life was empty of excitement of family life!
But one of the messages Luke's is trying to get across to Theophilus is the message that even the rejects of society can be chosen to be part of the Kingdom of God!

A second  gift or theme that is vital to receive is that your reception or rejection of the Word of God that has been spoke to you will affect your life in a positive or negative manner. If you accept the gift of promise given to you through the Word of God then you will be blessed! If you reject the gift of promise of the Word of God then you will face heartache.

This parallel can be seen in two of the main characters of Luke's rendition, Mary, and Zacharias.
Mary's opportunity to be the mother of Jesus was based on her reception of the Word of God spoken to her by the angel. We need to first understand that there were other  virgins in the land of Israel at this time. She was not the only one. To be able to have the angel Gabriel go to her she had fulfilled the second criteria of being "favored by God". The verb "favored"  or in the Greek χαριτόω charitóō declares the virgin Mary to be highly favored, approved of God to conceive the Son of God through the Holy Spirit.[2] Both of these positions of virgin and favored happened because of choices earlier in her life to obey the Word of God that she had been taught. Obedience led her to the moment of becoming more than she ever dreamed she could be.

The arrival of Gabriel with the wild promise of her becoming the mother of the Messiah was challenging to her logical thinking of how pregnancy happened and the emotional thought that she even qualified (Luke 1:29, 35). Her qualifications were tremendous but the final test would be would she believe the Word of God and acknowledge that belief?

The miracle will happen because the Spirit would "come on" her and "overshadow" her.  Both of these words are verbs spoken in the "future" tense. In other words they have not happened yet! The actions of the Spirit are waiting for her interaction with the Word of God! Will she act upon the promise and agree to the fulfillment of the Word of her life?

The following verse gives us the answer:

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 ESV)

This response is confirmed by Elizabeth when she states the following at the arrival of Mary's visit:

 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45 ESV)

Mary's words expressed her faith yet not only her faith but her trust in allowing the Spirit to be her the leader of her life.

It was different for Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. His doubt in the Word of God spoken by the angel Gabriel, the messenger angel, limited him and relegated him to struggle in life. At the arrival of the angel fear gripped his heart. The fear paralyzed his faith. His logical mind could not grasp the fact that he being and old man and his wife an old women they could have children. They were to advanced in years. Their bodies did not function properly.

Notice his response:

Luke 1:18 (KJV 1900)
18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

There was a difference in his response than Mary's response. Mary's response was to gain knowledge of how it was to happen but his was a request to know for sure that it would happen. Her question was a matter of information while his was a question for assurance that it would happen. His question expressed doubt not faith in the spoken Word.

The results of the two questions were different. Mary becomes pregnant while Zacharias becomes deaf because of his doubt.

Luke 1:19–20 (KJV 1900)

19And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

The saddest point is that Zacharias was a priest who served in the temple who should have believed the Word while Mary is a young women who has no place in service to the Lord in the temple yet trust God's Word.

Your Response

Our faith in God's Word will determine our blessings. Take faith in the Word of God! Trust it then speak your faith in it, and take the action needed to obey the Word! When you do this your miracle will be conceived within your life and will come to birth in the near future!

Today is the celebration of the birth of the miracle of faith that happened in Mary! Let your miracle begin today in your life by first reading the Word of God, trusting in it promises, and obey all of it commands. The miracles will come in your life in 2015!

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Devotional Day 24

Saturday-Day 24

The birth of a newborn demands an enormous amount of preparation. Doctor appoints must be meet, blood work completed, birthing classes are a must, and the mother must finalize the moment with a tour of the hospital. At the house a crib must be purchased, a changing table organized,  and new clothing washed before putting on the little one. The mother packs her hospital bag making sure that all needed items are ready waiting near the front door. The soon to be father makes sure that each night the gas tank is full. He understands that when the moment comes not one second can be lost trying to get gas in an empty tank. Everyone and everything must be ready for the coming of the new little one.

The same theme was a happening at the birth of the Lord Jesus. The preparations were made for the Savior of the world to come. The plan demanded that people be prepared, and a place must be secured.
The first person to get ready for the birth was Mary, the mother of the Lord. God needed a young virgin to fulfill His plan. Luke gives us the record of the preparation of Mary. Let's look at Luke's  gospel to learn what she needed to have, and do.

Luke 1:26–38 (KJV 1900)

26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

In this passage we learn that she had to be:
  •  A virgin
  •   A virgin who was favored by God
  •  Important attributes  that she needed  was
    • 1.      Faith in the Word of God,
    • 2.      Submission to the Word of God and
    • 3.      Obedience to the Word of God.
The earthly father of the child also had to have certain qualities. He had to be prepared to be the father of the Lord Jesus. Let's find out what they were.

Matthew 1:18–25 (KJV 1900)

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

For Joseph to be ready for the coming of the baby,  the forming of his personal character had to have happened already.
·         He needed to be a man who was willing to take on the responsibilities of being a father for a child that he did not parent.
·         Joseph had to be a protector of Mary and place his reputation on the line to fulfill what was needed.
·         He was just.
·         He had to be in complete obedience to the Spirit of God and the Word of God.

But not only the people had to be prepared, but the arrangement of the birthing room needed to happen.

Luke 2:4–7 (KJV 1900)

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Beth-lehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

When the moment, came Joseph was prepared with funds to pay for the accommodations. But when no room in the inn was available, Joseph did not let that hinder him. He found a place for the animals and turned that into a labor room. Mary was prepared for the moment for she had brought strips of clothing to wrap wants.

Just as preparation was needed to be ready for His First Coming we must be prepared and ready for the Rapture/Second Coming.  The questions that need to be answered are how do you make sure you ready and how do you stay prepared?

Preparation for the Rapture is extremely important just as it was important for Mary to be ready for the First Coming. The first need for some who wants to be prepared for the Rapture is the same as was needed with Mary. You need faith in the Word of God. You must believe the Word of God that gives the promise that Jesus is going to come again. A lack of belief in the Word will cause you to miss the Rapture since you do not believe it going to happen because you do not believe or trust the Word of God. Secondly, you have to submit to the Word of God. The principles of the Word of God must control your thoughts and actions! Your third need area of preparation for the Rapture is to be obedient to the Word of God. An absence of obedience to the Word of God will cause you to lack the refinement that you need for the Rapture.

Since the Word of God is the foundation for our preparation let's look there to find more direction and instruction. Let's notice the following passage:

Revelation 19:7–8 (KJV 1900)
7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

We need to understand that the responsibility to be ready is the individuals. They must take the actions. It is the bride that makes herself ready! But there is also the work of the Spirit of God to arrange that fine linen, clean and white that the Bride receives. 

When must the Bride be ready? Now let's turn to Matthew 25: 1-13 to see when we must be ready.

Matthew 25:1–13 (KJV 1900)
1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

The ten virgins are placed into two different groups, wise and foolish. Determination of a groups label of wise or foolish happens by the groups bringing or not bringing oil. The "wise" group had enough oil and it is said and they that we ready went in with Him. The Other Virgins came afterward but could not enter in. They were not ready when the Bridegroom can and did not enter in. We can conclude that the preparation of the Bride must be done before the Rapture here on earth.

After examining Revelation 19:7-8 and Matthew 25:1-13 we can see the following how the Bride prepares herself. The first action that is needed is the Spirit of God come inside an individual. The Spirit comes when a person repents of their sins, is baptized by immersion in water in the name of Jesus. The Spirit arrives, and confirmation of the arrival is the speaking in tongues (Acts 2:38).  

The importance of receiving the Spirit is understood when we think about Paul's statement to the church at Roman in Romans 8:11.

Romans 8:11 (KJV 1900)
11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Without the Spirit of God inside of you, you will be unable to go in the Rapture!

A second step after being born again of water and Spirit (John 3:3,5) is to make sure we have on the proper garments. These should be garments that are clean, pure and spotless. Paul tells the church at Ephesus that God is wanting His church to be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:25–27 (KJV 1900)
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Peter instructs us that one of the ways we can keep ourselves holy is to understand that we cannot enter into heaven with ungodliness. Our conversation and action must be holy.

2 Peter 3:11–12 (KJV 1900)

11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

The disciple of Jesus must to his or her best to live the way God expects of His children while still in this mortal flesh. Those who do won’t be kicked out of God’s family or be left behind to suffer His wrath (for we are not appointed to the wrath of God; see 1 Thessalonians 5:9). But, those who choose to live apart from the Father’s instructions will have disappointed their Lord, and at the judgment will see their carnal works burned in the holy fire that purges unrighteousness. Sinful acts, through commission or omission, cannot enter God’s eternal kingdom

We can stay ready for the Rapture by keeping our focus on the thought that Jesus might come back today! The primitive church (33 AM -300 AD) greeted each other with the word "Maranatha." This greeting came out of the 1 Corinthians 16:22. It is two Aramaic words meaning “our Lord has come.” [1] 
This greeting was meant to be able to keep the coming of the Lord center point in your mind and life.

Bro. TR MacDonald was one of the great laymen of the Pentecostal movement. He loved listening to preaching. Prayer and bible reading were a daily event @ 6 AM! He had a very unique way of greeting you. He would say: Believe He's coming? That question would often cause me to think about the Rapture! It would help motivate me to more prayer and bible reading! It was his way of keeping the Rapture center point of his spiritual existent.

Your Response

Take time to do an inventory of you individual life. Are you preparing daily for the Rapture? Do you talk about it? Pray for it! No matter how you answered that question understand that God is going to help you develop a love for the Rapture!

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Devotional Day 23

Friday-Day 23

The questions that we are thinking about today is "Should the knowledge of the Rapture and Second Coming affect me?" and if so "how should the knowledge that there are a  Rapture and a Second Coming affect me? "

Without a doubt knowledge that Jesus Christ is going to come back to this earth should affect each one of us whether we are a saint or a sinner. When looking at the First Coming of the Lord at the time of His birth, we see that there are different emotions that people felt and these emotions affected their respond to the birth.

Simeon was motivated to give blessings to God.

Luke 2:28–33 (KJV 1900)

28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart In peace, according to thy word:
30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.

Secondly, he blessed Joseph and Mary.

Luke 2:34 (KJV 1900)

34And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

In verse 28 and 34, the Greek word εὐλογέω is translated into the English word "blessed." Simeon is taking two different actions. In verse 28 "blessed" means to say something commendatory, speak well of, praise, extol [1]. Here Simeon gives praise and thanksgiving to God for fulfilling His Word and allowing himself to see the Messiah who would be the savior of all people whether they were a child of Israel or a lowly Gentile. When blessing Joseph and Mary it has another application. It means to ask for the bestowal of special favor, especially of calling down God’s gracious power[2]. It was the customary Jewish greeting when meeting someone. In both places, it shows the positive effect that the birth had on Simeon.

Let's look at Anna's response to the birth.

Luke 2:38 (KJV 1900)

38And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

The word to lets us know that Anna and Simeon both gave thanks to the Lord for being chosen to see the Lord at His coming! They understood that it was a privileged position and humbly offer thanksgiving.

A second action that is taken is that she begins to speak to everyone who looked for the coming of the Messiah. What did she declare? I'm sure it was that the Messiah had come and that Jesus was that expected One! The verb "spake" is translated from the Greek word λαλέω laléō. Its definition is to talk but with the thought of talking much as children do.[3] She is beside herself with excitement as she tells all she can that the Messiah has come! The word is in the imperfect tense that stresses that it was a continual action that she had done since the holding the baby.  It was not a one-time event Anna did out of duty. She had a lifestyle of sharing with everyone she came in contact the good news.

The shepherds did the same as Anna and Simeon speaking to others and praising God for what they had been privileged to experience.

Luke 2:17-18,  20 (KJV 1900)

17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

The shepherd did not just describe the event to everyone who would hear but made known the saying! In other words, they told everyone what the angel had spoken to them which was:

Luke 2:11–12 (KJV 1900)
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

They had the invaluable knowledge that the Savior, Messiah, had come to earth and was presently in Bethlehem! They shared this truth with everyone and supported how this miracle had come known to themselves by repeating the story of the coming of the angels! They described the angel's instructions of where to go and how they would find the baby. These instructions were necessary because they would pinpoint the location of the child. He would be lying in a manger! This would direct them not to a house but to a stable, cave any place where you would keep animals that would feed out of a manger. Since they were shepherds, they would know the location of these sites in the city because they might have had to lead the sheep to the owner's stables during times of storm or for shearing. Further identification was given. He would be wrapped in swaddling clothes which were strips of cloth that would be tightly wrapped around the baby. This was done to comfort the child as it would be the same tight feeling as being in the mother's womb.

Not only did they do like Anna and share the good news with everyone, like Simeon they joined the choir of the angels glorifying and praising God and returned to the fields (2:20)!

For Herod the announcement of a baby who was recently born to the King of the Jews was not joyous, in fact, it was troubling.

Matthew 2:1–5 (KJV 1900)
1Now when Jesus was born in Beth-lehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5And they said unto him, In Beth-lehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6And thou Beth-lehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

ταράσσω is the Greek word that is translated "troubled."  It is defined as "to cause inward turmoil, stir up, disturb, unsettle, throw into confusion"[4].  He was standing in the presence of men who were not the peasants of the neighboring kingdoms but the dignities. For them to have traveled to his throne room was no small task! It meant they knew something he did not know about what was happening in his kingdom. For men of their stature to come and to admit they had seen something supernatural in the heavens that had pointed them to his country would mean that this had to do with the foolish thought of the Jews that a Messiah would come to lead them. Had He come?
The news was exciting for Herod but not in a positive sense! It stirred up thoughts that we not good. Thoughts of fear, loss of position, loss of power, and loss of finances. It would mean he would be under the control of someone else and possibly not the be master of his fate! This new King might destroy everything he had work for and have protected! The only solution was to find the baby and have it killed!

The inward turmoil caused his tongue to become sharp! He demanded of the scribe the knowledge of where Messiah would be born. This information would be relevant as to direct the wise men and at the same time show his awareness of the situation. It would also give him the location to order the destruction of the baby king!

It is evident that the First Coming affected everyone but not just those who were physically close to the child but even those who were looked upon as being in distant. All Jerusalem was troubled by the announcement of the wise mean that a king of the Jews was born. To those who looked for His coming, the report by Anna was like a drink of water on a hot day, refreshing!

Those same feeling are experienced by the announcement of a Rapture and a Second Coming. It is a joyous thought for some while for other it is troubling! Why is it different for each? The experience of Salvation and the living of that out in today's world will determine if you love to talk of the Rapture or if you shun to think of it. If your heart is ready to meet the Lord, then you will share your knowledge of the His coming with everyone. It will motivate you to hold nothing back, release your desire for self-control, and cause you to want the mind and will of God to direct your steps. Worship will flow from your lips and a drive to share the news with everyone will permeate your life.

The signs of the day speak volumes to everyone that Jesus is saying: "Surely I come quickly." There are two responses to those words:
·         If you are troubled by these words you will cry out "Wait a little longer." Give me more time to repent of my sins and to correct the conditions of my heart and life.
·         If you love these words you will cry out in response to the signs of the times with the words "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).  

Your Response

Ask yourself the questions:
·         Which of the two responses is me today?
·         Am I ready for the Coming of Jesus?
·         Are there words of forgiveness I need to ask of others?
·         Do I need to repent of any sins?
·         Am sharing my testimony of what God has done in my life to others?
·         Am I worshiping and praising God with my entire being in the church services, on the joy and with my family and friends?

Take time and seek the face of God today, crying out in humility and believing that He will use you to help others to know that there is a Savior who has come to change their lives and future.

[1] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). 407-08.
[2] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). 408.
[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
[4] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). 990.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Devotional Day 22

Thursday-Day 22

We have addressed the Comings of Jesus and determined that there is the First Coming which happened at Bethlehem at His birth and the Second Coming which will happen on the Mt. Olives (Zechariah 14:4). We also came to understand that there is a coming in between these two called the Rapture. This was determined not to be a return to the physical earth but to be in the clouds where the church would be "caught up" to meet the Lord in the air (Thessalonians 4:13-18).  

The Second Coming could be described as a two scene play with the first scene being called the "Rapture" or "appearing of the Lord Jesus" and the second  scene be entitled the
Return of the Lord Jesus".  Previously we examined the differences in the First Coming and Second Coming today we will study the differences of the Second Coming and the Rapture!

Our first understanding is that the two different events are found in various biblical locations written or spoken by specific individuals to diverse audiences.  We will first compare the subject of the Rapture as found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 written by Paul to the church at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:1)  and the Second Coming presented in Revelation 19:11:16 written by John to the seven church of Asia (Rev 1:4).

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Revelation 19:11-16
13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

11And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

These passages have nothing in common except Jesus is the focus of both events! The first item to notice is that the Rapture stresses the Lord appearing while the Second Coming highlights the Lord Jesus returning. Here is a list of the differences in these two events in these two passages:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Revelation 19:11-16
Jesus appears in the clouds
Jesus returns to the earth
Jesus appears for His Church
Jesus returns with His Church
Jesus appears as a Deliverer
Jesus returns as a Warrior
Jesus appears in Hope and Comfort
Jesus returns in Wrath
Jesus appears as a Bridegroom
Jesus returns as a King

Let's now examine other scriptures that give us contrasting differences in the two events.

Imminent without signs
Follows definite predicted signs
Seen only by the Church (1 Cor. 15:52)
Seen by every eye (Rev 1:7)
A Mystery (1 Cor. 15:51)
Foretold by OT prophets (Dan 12:1-3)

Believing that the Rapture and Second Coming are two different events will solve a number of conflicts. One of the biggest problems is the imminent return of the Lord. This is spoke by Jesus in the following scriptures:

Matthew 24:36
36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matthew 24:44  
44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Imminent is defined  as "likely to happen at any moment". [1] If there is only one return then the thought that Jesus could come at any time is a false premise. Why? Because for the Second Coming that are definite prophecies that must be fulfilled before Jesus can come back. Here are a number of prophecies that are needed to be fulfilled for Jesus to return:

  • 7 Years of Tribulation
  • The Rebuilding of the Temple
  • The Revelation of the Antichrist
  • The Killing of the Two Witnesses
  • The Desecration of the Temple
  • The Institution of the Mark of the Beast
  • The Salvation of the Jewish Remnant
The only way the Lord's return can be imminent is for there to be a Rapture that is separate and apart from the Second Coming — and which can occur at any moment, without the fulfillment of any prophecies.

When we understand the differences of the Rapture and the Second Coming  we are able to stay focused on His Coming!

Your Response

After reading today's writing begin to pray and ask God to help you to stay focused upon His coming. Ask Him to give you a personal plan to remember that Jesus is coming! Write Matthew 24:44 on a card and place on your mirror or refrigerator to look at daily! Start memorizing Matthew 24:44 today!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Devotional Day 21

Wednesday-Day 21

When we study the Second Coming, we realize that there are some themes that important to remember. These themes help us to understand what we need to be aware of and to do so that we will not miss the Lord's Coming.

The Olivet Discourse was a crucial teaching time of the Lord to His disciples concerning His return and the end of the age. This event is spoke of in the Synoptic Gospels in Mark 13, Matthew 24 and Luke 21. The following reading of Mark 13:32-37 has an important truth for us to understand. Notice the underlined words in the text:

Mark 13:32-37 ESV

Vs. 32  “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Vs. 33  Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.

Vs. 34  It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake.

Vs. 35  Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—

Vs. 36  lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.

Vs. 37  And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

When we study the Word of God and notice a word or phrase that is repeated a number of times it sends the reader the message that this is an important attitude to have or action to do. Here the repeated phrase is STAY AWAKE! This is used by Jesus four times in these five short verses! The importance of the phrase should not be underestimated!.
Also connected to the phrase is "Be on guard" and "Don't be found asleep when the Master of the house returns." The command is to Stay Wake, yet this also includes the instruction to be on guard that you will not fall asleep.

What happens to us when we fall asleep? We become unconscious of the surrounding environment that we are in and do not recognize the actions that are happening around us! We do not know the time neither realize that we are missing an important appointment.

What can cause us to "fall asleep" spiritually during the last days? Luke gives three things that can cause us to be captured by the trap of not focusing on the Lord's coming.

Luke 21: 34-36 ESV

Vs. 34  “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

Vs. 35  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.

Vs. 35  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Here the danger is a condition of the heart. A weighed down heart. What is this? The word for "heart" in the Greek is καρδία kardía. This is a noun and is defined by Strong's as the seat and center of human life, that is the seat of desires, feelings, affections, passions, impulses, that is, the heart or mind. In the NT, used only figuratively. [1]  A weighed down or "overcharged" (King James Version) heart is a heart that is defined as being oppressed, dull, stupid.[2] Dissipation is κραιπάλη kraipálē. This is a headache, or a hangover, a shooting pain or confusion in the head arising from intemperance in wine or strong liquors. Translated in Luke 21:34 as “surfeiting (King James Version),” the sense of disgust and loathing from an overindulgence in wine and carousing.[3] Drunkenness is "milled wine."

When addressing the cares of this life notice the thought that it is about this present life, time period or in other words the physical life on this earth that we are living in. The New International Version stresses that the cares of life are the anxieties of the present life.  These three nouns of dissipation, drunkenness, and cares of this life are the means by which a heart (mind) becomes dull, not sharp, or concerned with being able to watch and see that the coming of the Lord is upon them! Luke frequently warns against preoccupation with, and unwillingness to part with, the goods of this life.[4]

Luke lets us know that these three things are a trap! A trap immobilizes the animal that they are not able to have liberty and leave! It controls their focus and limits their future! For the people of God, they must focus on things that are connected to the Lord above (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).  A lack of focus on their Spiritual life because of their present anxieties and concerns with the "stuff" of this world will cause them to be weighed down that they will be unconscious of the sin of the world that surrounds them. They must have liberty because their hope is to leave this earth and returns and enter into the Heavenly!

What must they do? Stay awake at all times! This speaks of the uncertainty of the date of the return of the Master or Lord Jesus Christ! At no time in our lives can we take the chance that we will miss the return of the Lord! We "stay awake" when we are of conscience of the importance of God being the center of their life! Luke gives the instruction of the needed actions when you are awake looking for the coming of the Lord! Pray (21:35)! Is there someone or something I  should pray for? Pray for strength to be able to escape this world and its temptations!

Luke concludes that we also need to pray that we are able to stand before the Lord! This is not depicting standing before the Lord in judgment but in deliverance. We have made it to heaven! We are finally secure in completing our salvation by going with the Lord Jesus at His return! We did it!

Your Response

How can we keep the Lord, His work and His will as our focus? To keep my focused on the Lord, I need to hear preaching and/or teaching on regular bases. Just as Israel had to be reminded when they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised land we too, need to be reminded! It is in the times I'm at church for services on Sunday AM, PM and Wednesday night that my spiritual eyes are brought back into focus. Someone said: If you go to church only on Sunday AM you love the preacher! If you go Sunday AM & PM you love the church! If you go Sunday AM & PM & Midweek Bible Study you love the Lord! I want to love the Lord and to keep my focus on Him by attending every church event whatever it may be!

Secondly get in a ministry! When we minister, it helps us focus on the Lord and His work! When I teach a Bible study not only does the student grow but I personally see new revelations and develop! Doing ministry keeps me focused on what's important.

Thirdly we need to pray daily! We need to pray His will (Matthew 6:9-13). When we enter into prayer with thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord and what He has done for us already it causes me to think not about myself but Him! Prayer helps me keep the right perspective in all the daily duties of life. My primary mission is to do the Will of the Lord!

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
[4] John Nolland, Luke 18:35–24:53, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998). 1012.