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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Acts 4:11

This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

For further study - Acts 4:1-20

The book of Acts is not a book of doctrine but instead a record of the events of the "first century church." Acts 2 records the beginning of the "church" when on the "Day of Pentecost" those who believed were "added to the church," those whose belief led them to salvation in Jesus Christ.

As we come to Acts 4 we see a detailed account of the first persecution to come upon the church. This persecution would come from the people in Jerusalem, the priest, the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees.

It would be focused on Peter and John, two of the Lord's close disciples, who had healed a forty year old lame man as they went up to the Temple to pray.

The "big wheels" at the Temple, the High Priest and those of the kindred of the High Priest, these Temple leaders wanted to know how Peter and John had healed this "lame man".

Notice, the response to the official question of the healing. Peter, verse 8, had been filled with the Holy Spirit and that allowed him to developed into a man who was not only "inspirited" but also "innocent", verse 10.

Peter told the Temple leadership it was not him that healed the man, but Jesus, the one who they had crucified and who God raised from the dead, that's how the man was healed.

Not only were these two disciples "inspirited" and "innocent," of self-glory, but they were 'ignorant" as well. Verse 13 describes the two disciples as "unlearned and ignorant men." However, they also recognized that Peter and John had "been with Jesus", verse 13.

The Temple leadership, fearing that the fame of these men might spread, told Peter and John not to preach in the name of Jesus anymore.

Now, verse 20, I love this verse. Peter said to the High Priest and his kindred that they “could not but speak” the things which they had seen and heard, they were "spiritual can't-help-its".

Peter and John took "opposition" and through the "omnipotence" of God turned "opposition" into "opportunity" to preach the gospel when they had been told not to preach about Jesus Christ.

There is some great practical truth in our passage for today. There is also a prophetic significance in this account as well. Peter told the Temple leadership that Jesus was the "cornerstone", verse 11.

This is the "cornerstone" as foretold by the Psalmist, Psalm 118:22 ; by the prophet, Isaiah, Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16; and the apostle, Peter, I Peter 2:6-8. Jesus is the "cornerstone" of our faith and has been the "stone of stumbling" for the Jewish people and some Gentiles, both of which have not been saved.

Jesus will continue to be the "stone of stumbling" until He returns to the Earth to set up His eternal, earthly Kingdom.

PRAYER THOT: Help me to be a "a spiritual can't-help-it" and speak the things I've seen and heard to the lost, for their salvation.
Monday, September 29, 2008

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

For further study - John 14:1-31

As I was selecting the passage for our devotional reading today, I looked at John 14 and realized it was all so good, I decided to use the entire chapter for our extended reading.

There is such great truth in the whole chapter. In this devotional I'll share several highlights and I am sure you could add other great highlights, if you were writing the devotional.

Notice that our key verse and the first verse of John 14 both have the phrase, "Let not your heart be troubled." As you read these two verses you must remember the circumstances surrounding this chapter.

Jesus was with His disciples in an "upper room" and had been celebrating the "Passover Seder", the time when the Jews annually rehearse the story of the Exodus and would have a meal similar to the one their forefathers would have had on the first Passover Seder.

It was the meal of lamb, the "Passover Lamb", and "unleavened bread," along with "bitter herbs" the three ingredients called for in scripture. These foodstuffs were to remind the Jewish people of what took place some 1,500 years before that night recorded in John 14.

The next afternoon Jesus Christ would be crucified on Passover at 3:00 PM, in the last part of the Jewish day, which concluded at sundown. The disciples must have been having anxiety attacks not knowing what would, or could happen to them when Jesus was crucified.

The Lord comforts them with His words, "Let not your heart be troubled." Our key verse adds, "neither let it be afraid." This is, as well, the Lord's words of comfort for us even today when we face troublesome times.

The Lord also told them that when He went away, the Father would send the "Comforter", the Holy Spirit, verses 16 & 26. Jesus said the "Comforter" would not only comfort them but also teach them all things and bring all things to their remembrance that He had taught them.

This is another very practical promise for us today. The Lord began His comforting exhortation with the promise that He was going into the heavenlies to prepare a place for those of us who are a "prepared people," believers in Christ, Christians.

This promise also contained the promise of His coming back to get them, and us, and then to go with Him to that "prepared place." By the way, this passage is not talking about the Second Coming but instead it's the first mention of the Rapture.

At the Second Coming we return to Earth with Jesus, riding white horses, Revelation 19 & Zechariah 14, to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. This passage says, "I will come again and receive you unto Myself", verse 3. The passage is not describing the Second Coming, but is describing the Rapture, the time when we respond to His shout to enter the heavenlies to be with Him forevermore.

Remember, the disciples were very anxious that night, this new truth must have gone right over their heads. It would be around twenty-five years later before the Apostle Paul would make it very clear about the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

This is the first mention of the Rapture in scripture, and our Lord made the promise that it would happen, thus it will happen. The truth is that the Rapture could happen at any moment. There is not one prophecy that must be fulfilled before the Rapture. All prophecies remaining to be fulfilled happen after the rapture.

Keep looking up ... it could be today.

Prayer Thot: Thank you Lord for the promise of the rapture, help me to be prepared, pure and productive until I hear Your shout to join You in the heavenlies.
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Luke 19:42

Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

For further study - Luke 19:41-48

Our key verse has a relationship with the ancient Jewish prophet Daniel and his writings, which I will get to in a moment. Let me set the scene for you as you read the extended portion of our devotional.

The previous thirteen verses, verses 28-40, are a description of the Lord's "Triumphal Entry" into the city of Jerusalem and onto the Temple Mount. The people who had rejected the Lord now welcomed Him into the city as a ruling King.

It is interesting to note the response of the Pharisee, verse 39, and what Jesus had to say to them as they complained to the Lord of all the commotion by the His disciples, asking Jesus to rebuke His disciples. Jesus responded with, if He had shut up those who welcomed Him the “stones would have cried out for Him”.

Verses 45 and 46 reveal the "priestly" attitude of Jesus against the money-changers in the Temple. He rebuked these money-changers and threw them out of the Temple. In verses 47 and 48 we see Jesus the "prophet", the teacher who taught in the Temple complex the people who were attentive to hearing Him.

But now back to our key, verse 42. Jesus was very moved when He stood atop the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. Luke wrote that "Jesus wept" over what He saw, a needy people who had rejected their Messiah.

Then Jesus said that on this day of His "Triumphal Entry" the people failed to receive the One described in Daniel's prophecy, Daniel 9:25-26. An in-depth study of this prophetic passage in Daniel would show that this day when Jesus entered Jerusalem, He was doing so on the day Daniel predicted it would happen.

Daniel's prophecy indicates that from the decree by Artaxerxes, Nehemiah 2, to allow Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the streets and walls of the city, which took place April of 445BC, until the day, Saturday, in April 30AD when Jesus made His Triumphal Entry, could be figured out to the exact day (see my audio series, "The Daniel Papers).

The day Jesus stood there was that day predicted, not the day before or the day after. Jesus got to Jerusalem on the exact day it was foretold for Him to be there. The people of Jerusalem had not read Daniel's prophecy. They did not recognize He was to be there in Jerusalem at that time.

This is also the case with us today. We can determine where we are in God's "prophetic time" by studying His "prophetic word". We must study the prophetic Word of God to recognize when Jesus is coming back. It could be today!

Prayer Thot: Help me to understand, dear Lord, Your prophetic Word so that I can recognize the days I am living in and help me to live in light of that understanding.
Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mark 13:14

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

For further study - Mark 13:14-23

The portion of scripture selected for our devotional today is from the Olivet Discourse, the message that Jesus gave on Tuesday afternoon of "Passion Week", the week of our Lords crucifixion.

In response to a question from His disciples, Jesus was explaining what will happen during the seven year Tribulation Period that leads up to the Second Coming of our Lord.

The disciples had asked the Lord for some "signs" of His Second Coming, His return to the earth to set up His kingdom, Mark 13:4.

Remember these are Jews asking for "signs" of the Second Coming. I Corinthians 1:22 reveals that God will give the Jews "signs"; however, "signs" are not for Christians.

We're not looking for "signs", we are listening for a "sound", the sound of the trumpet, the Lord's shout and the voice of the archangel, I Thessalonians 4:16, and we go to the heavenlies to ever be with the Lord.

By the way, there is not one prophecy that must be fulfilled before the Rapture. All prophecies yet to be fulfilled come after the Rapture.

Now back to the "signs" for the Jews, Jesus told them, verse 14, when you see the "abomination of desolation" spoken of by the prophet Daniel, Daniel 9:27, they were to flee to the mountains.

The "abomination of desolation" is when the Anti-christ walks into the Temple, into the "holy of holies" and claims to be God, II Thessalonians 2:4. That is when the Temple is desecrated. That happens at the mid-way point of the Tribulation Period, some 3 1/2 years after the Rapture.

This then means that there must be a temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the first part of the Tribulation Period. All preparations have been made for a temple to be erected and go into full operation, today.

For the first time in history, all that needs to be done to fulfill the Lord's prophecy is in place. The Lord also gave additional information to describe when this all would happen, verse 22, when false teachers and false prophets were actively using signs, wonders and miracles to deceive and seduce the world.

This passage of scripture describes our day, today, which seems to indicate that we are so close to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Only one thing has to happen before all of these prophecies will be fulfilled, the Rapture of the Church, which could happen at any moment.

Prayer Thot: Perhaps today will be the day, Jesus, that You shout for us to join You in the heavenlies. Even so come, Lord Jesus, and help me to live in that expectancy.
Friday, September 26, 2008

Matthew 24:14

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

For further study - Matthew 24:1-14

Matthew 24
is one of the most important prophetic passages in all of scripture. It is referred to as the "Olivet Discourse." It is the most "profound prophetic conference" ever held. The teacher at this conference is none other than the "Spirit of prophecy", Revelation 19:10, Jesus Christ, Himself.

The crowd at this conference is rather small with the Lord's twelve disciples in attendance and maybe several other followers of Jesus. It takes place on the slopes of the Mount of Olives overlooking the Kidron Valley and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It's Tuesday afternoon of "Passion Week," the week that Jesus will be crucified.

The message that Jesus delivers to His disciples is actually the climax of six months of teaching prophecy to His men. Jesus will have another forty days after His resurrection when He will also spend the whole time teaching His closest followers the prophetic truths they will need in the very difficult days ahead.

A closer look at the entire Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24 and 25, reveals the entire pattern of prophecy predicted in the book of Revelation written by the Apostle John in 95AD while a prisoner on the isle of Patmos.

John was actually sitting under the teaching of Jesus Christ there on the Mount of Olives when this prophetic conference was taking place some 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.

When Jesus was asked by His Jewish disciples for some "signs" of His coming back to earth to set up His Kingdom, Jesus gave him a number of indicators to look for that would be developing in the time period leading up to His return to Jerusalem.

Let me remind you that the Lord is giving "signs" for His Second Coming not the Rapture of the Church. There are no signs for the Rapture, and in fact, we're not looking for "signs" but listening for a "sound". The sound we're listening for will be the sound of the trumpet, the archangel's shout and the call by Jesus to join Him in the heavenlies.

Briefly, I can point out some "signs" that Jesus gave these Jewish believers. "Deception" is the first and foremost sign, verses 4-5, 11 and 24. There would be "false teachers" using "signs, wonders and miracles" to deceive the people, some who would be believers.

"Wars and rumors of wars," verses 6-7, will be another sign. They tell me that there are over 150 wars and/or conflicts going on right now in our world. The Middle East would be the center focus for most of these conflicts. However, there are rumors of wars all around the world.

Also in verse 7, "famines, pestilence (pandemic disease) and earthquakes" around the world will be taking place. Verse 14 also lists the "sign" of the "gospel of the Kingdom", being preached to everybody on earth and then Jesus Christ comes. This is not the "gospel of grace" that is being preached today.

The "gospel of the Kingdom" is preached during the seven-year Tribulation. When everyone on Earth has heard the "gospel of the Kingdom" through the ministry of the two witnesses, Revelation 11:3-12, and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, Revelation 7:4-9, then Jesus will come back.

The five signs found in verses 4-7 parallel the "sealed judgments" in Revelation 6 which are released on Earth right after the Rapture. These "signs" in Matthew 24 and the "seals" of Revelation 6 are today in the process of moving to fulfillment, seemingly in the near future.

Since the Rapture happens before the "signs" and "seals" are fulfilled, it seems that the Rapture could be very near, even today.

PRAYER THOT: Lord help me to not study Your prophetic Word for knowledge only but for that which helps me to see the urgency of the moment and then to live expecting You to shout today for me to join You in the heavenlies.
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Zechariah 6:12

And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

For further study - Zechariah 6:9-15

Zechariah is a prophet that had a two-fold prophetic ministry. He had studied to be a "priest" while in the Babylonian Captivity when there was no Temple standing on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Zechariah is one of three men who were qualified priest and men who also the Lord called to be "prophets." The other two, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, had unique ministries as well and wrote prophecy that focused on events unfolding here on earth in what seems to be the end times.

One aspect of Zechariah's ministry was encouraging the children of Israel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, after they returned from the Babylonian Captivity. In our extended reading for today, and in fact, in the key verse we see that the Temple referred to as "Messiah's Temple" is in focus rather than the Temple in Zechariah's day.

Messiah's Temple is the "House of Worship" that will stand in Jerusalem in the Kingdom, a physical Kingdom yet to come, in the 1,000 year period following the return of Jesus Christ back to earth.

Verse 12 reveals that Jesus Christ, the "Branch", is the one who will build this Millennial Temple. The "Branch" is the name for Jesus in the Old Testament, which can be found in Isaiah 4:2, Jeremiah 33:15, Zechariah 3:8 and here in our key verse for our devotional reading today, verse 12.

Jesus, in a pre-incarnate appearance to Zechariah, Zechariah 1:14-16, states that He is "aggressively possessive" of Jerusalem, verse 14; He is displeased with those who in their "secure arrogance" control the Temple Mount, verse 15; and that He will come back to Jerusalem to build His Temple, verse 16.

Zechariah 6:13
confirms that Jesus Christ is the one who will build the Millennial Temple. This passage pre-writes the history of that Kingdom period to come. The verse states that Jesus will rule and reign as the "King of Kings" and also serve as the "High Priest" at this Temple.

These prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. There will be a Temple standing in Jerusalem in the future. However, let me remind you this Temple is in the Kingdom period on earth.

Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, II Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:2 tell us there will be a Temple in Jerusalem during the seven year Tribulation Period. All the preparations have been made to erect that Temple and re-institute the Temple practices.

That "Tribulation Temple" could be in operation in the very near future. This is evidence that the shout for Christians to leave this earth at the Rapture of the Church is close, perhaps today.

Prayer Thot: Thank You, Lord, for all the Biblical evidence of Your soon coming, help me to live in light of this evidence and this soon coming.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Daniel 7:14

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

For further study - Daniel 7:1-14

Daniel had become a leader, most likely the third highest- ranking leader, in the Babylonian Empire, by the time he reached 70 years of age, his age at the time of the "night vision" recorded in our extended reading passage.

For almost 50 years he had served as a counselor to King Nebuchadnezzar and now Daniel was serving his grandson, Belshazzar in the first year of his reign, verse 1.

As a young man Daniel had been gifted by the Lord to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel 2, which was a prophecy of the present and future Gentile world powers from Daniels' day until the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Now some 50 years later the Lord gives Daniel a "vision" of that same scenario for the Gentile world empires and what would happen at the Second Coming of Jesus.

Since I don't have the time and space to go into a lot of detail, let me give you the overall big picture, presented to Daniel in his "night vision". Daniel would see "four great beast" rise up out of the sea, each one diverse from the other, verse 3.

Let me remind you that this is "apocalyptic literature". In "apocalyptic literature" the author uses "symbols" to convey an "absolute truth." The symbol is not an allegory nor a fairy-tale, but an "absolute truth".

That being said, please allow me to take a shortcut and tell you what the symbols represent in Daniel 7. The "lion with eagles wings" is the Babylonian Empire, verse 4. The "bear with three ribs in its mouth,"verse 5, is the Medo-Persian Empire. In verse 6, the "leopard with four wings and four heads" is the Grecian Empire.

The "awesome beast" in verse 7 is the "Revived Roman Empire" (See my audio series, "The Daniel Papers").

Notice the "ten horns" of the "awesome beast" in verse 7 and in verse 8, the "little horn" that comes out of the "ten horns." The "ten horns" represent the "Revived Roman Empire" and the "little horn" is one of twenty-seven names for the "Antichrist".

I understand I haven't gone into very much detail on this prophecy that Daniel received in a "night vision" but deeper study will reveal these truths.

Please notice verses 13-14. Here is the promise of a future "kingdom" that will be given to Jesus Christ, the "Son of Man", verse 13, by the "ancient of days", God the Father. This is a "kingdom" that comes after the "Revived Roman Empire" and the "Antichrist" are on the scene, and it will be an "everlasting kingdom."

I remind you that it is not a "Kingdom" which is in place now. This "Kingdom", referred to in this passage, will be given to Jesus, at the return of the Messiah, by God the Father.

By the way, the recent European Union Treaty accepted by all 27-member states of the EU calls for a "Supra-State," the United States of Europe. The Treaty also provides for an EU that will be led by a "powerful, permanent president".

These both, if not the ultimate fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy, then they sure are a prototype of prophecy yet to be fulfilled, seemingly in the near future. Keep looking up.

PRAYER THOT: Help me, Lord to live pure and productive every day as I prepare for your soon coming.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ezekiel 20:42

And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.

For further study - Ezekiel 20:33-44

Our key verse for today, verse 42, is written to the Jewish people and reveals how the Lord will be known among the Jewish people in the last days. However, this verse is only part of the message from the Lord to the Jewish people in the last days.

Starting in verse 33 the Lord tells the Jews of a coming judgment upon them and as we read through to verse 44 we see that the Lord will judge and then become the Lord and Savior of the Jewish people.

Let me draw your attention to some key points in our devotional reading for today. Verse 33 tells us of the Lord God as the “mighty God of the Jewish people who will rule over His chosen people”. The Lord tells them that in a day future from when Ezekiel received this message to pass along to the Jews, “in that day future He will gather the Jews from all of the countries where they had been scattered”.

This statement focuses the prophecy's fulfillment on a time after the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in 70AD when the Jews were scattered to the four corners of the earth. Verses 35 and 36 speak of the time when the “Jews come back into the land of their forefathers”. It talks also of how the Lord will "plead with them face to face" so they will turn to Him as their Messiah, Lord and Savior.

What I have just mentioned and what you have just read is a scenario that seems to be unfolding even as I sit writing this devotional. For the last 100 years plus, there have been Jews from over 100 nations of the world who have returned to the land of their forefathers, Israel.

They are now in the land, "the wilderness," and with all that has been happening to the Jewish people of modern-day Israel, it seems that the Lord is indeed pleading with them "face to face."

The Lord will bring the Jews to a place where they will turn to Him and no longer "pollute His holy name" but become His people. This point of turning to the Lord and the building of His Temple, verse 40, on His "holy mountain," the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, is still in the future but will happen based upon the prophecies that He has already fulfilled from this passage.

One final thing to notice, as this happens and continues to happen until all the prophecies of this passage are fulfilled, not only will the Jews know that He is the Lord, but all of mankind will recognize that , as well, if they will only pay attention to what is happening in our world today, especially in the Middle East.

We must share with others the story of Israel and God's plan for them as revealed in prophecy, prophecy that is being fulfilled, even today. That story will lift up the Lord and draw men unto Him.

PRAYER THOT: Dear Lord, keep me busy sharing with others Your work among Your people today.