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Friday, October 31, 2008

Exodus 25:8-9

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

For further study - Exodus 25:1-40

For our extended reading today we have selected more verses than usual. However, I think you will benefit by reading all forty verses of Exodus 25.

This chapter is God's instruction to Moses and the Jewish people on how to build a "dwelling place" so that he could "dwell among His people."

Exodus 26 actually gives details on the "tabernacle" itself. Chapter 25 gives the details of three pieces of furniture that will be in the Tabernacle, a "transportable worship center," and later in the "permanent worship center," the Temple.

These implements are the "ark," the "table of shewbread" and the "menorah," the golden candlestick. I hasten to remind you that each implement in the Tabernacle and/or the Temple, the sacrificial system performed at the Temple and all the activities of the Temple were all prophecies of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Let me take these three implements found here in Exodus 25 and explain that indeed they did look forward to the coming Messiah.

First, the "table of shewbread", this implement was to hold the twelve loaves of bread, a special type of bread, that would be made every sabbath and then this new bread would replace the week-old bread.

By the way the priests on duty that day were allowed to eat the older bread, that week-old bread, which they said was still fresh. This "table of shewbread" is a picture of Jesus who said in John 6:35 that He was the "bread of life".

The second item, the "menorah", the golden candlestick, would stand in the "Holy Place" in the Temple and give light for the priestly activities inside the "Holy Place".

This “seven-branched candelabra” was fueled by "virgin olive oil" which the priest would use to refuel the "menorah" each day. Remember Jesus said in John 8:12, 9:5, and 11:9 that He was the "Light of the world".

The third implement is the most sacred of these three implements, the "ark of the covenant". It was a rectangular box made out of "shittim wood" and covered with pure gold.

It had four rings, one at each corner by which the priest would transport the "ark". Inside the "ark" would be the "tablets of the Ten Commandments," a "container of manna" and the "budding almond rod." The "ark of the covenant" was indeed the "mercy seat" where on Yom Kippur the High Priest, once a year, would pour the “sacrificial blood”.

The "ark" represented the person of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work, the shedding of His blood. It was a model of Him to come. By the way, when you have the "real thing" you no longer need the "model."

The Temple that Jesus Christ will build at His Second Coming, Zechariah 6:12, will no longer need any of these implements, because He is the Messiah, the one these implements foreshadowed.

The Temple that will stand on the Temple Mount during the coming Tribulation Period (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, II Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:1) will have all three of these implements in it because it is a "false temple" for a "false messiah", Antichrist.

That Tribulation Temple is ready to be built, all preparations have been made for that Temple. The only thing that must happen before the Tribulation Temple is erected is the Rapture of the Church, which could happen at any moment.

Thus in light of the "any moment" Rapture of the Church, which includes me and you, if your saved. Let's keep looking up...........

PRAYER THOT: Dear Lord, help me to live in light of the "any moment" Rapture of the Church, which includes me.
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Genesis 12:3

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

For further study - Genesis 12:1-9

The Lord's promise to Abraham, known as the "Abrahamic Covenant" was made to Abraham before he ever left his home in Ur of the Chaldees. God promised this Gentile man that He would make him a great "nation" with a piece of the land to go along with the nation.

This nation would be a blessing to all people of the world, if they blessed the nation that Abraham would Father. As you continue to read through the book of Genesis, you will see that the promise to Abraham was also confirmed to his son and his grandson; Isaac, Genesis 26:2-3 and Jacob, Genesis 35:12.

Remember, Abraham is not the “father” of the Arab world but the father of the “Jewish nation”. The Abrahamic Covenant is the first of four covenants that God has made with the Jewish people. The "Land Covenant," Deuteronomy 30, is an extension of the Abrahamic Covenant.

To be a "nation" of people, you must have a piece of “real estate”. God mentioned to Abraham in Genesis 12 that the land he passed through on his way South from the "Fertile Crescent", modern-day Syria, that the land would be given to him and his seed, the Jewish people, verses 5-7.

In Genesis 15, there is additional information about the Abrahamic Covenant and the land promised to Abraham in the covenant. We will look at Genesis 15 in another devotional but suffice to say that the Abrahamic Covenant was what is called a "blood covenant." This is a covenant that, if broken, results in the giving up of the life of the one who breaks the covenant or promise.

Genesis 15 says that Abraham actually slept and only the Lord made the covenant, thus this is an "unconditional covenant", only the Lord is responsible for the promises and their fulfillment. By the way, Genesis 15 explains that the land promised to the descendants of Abraham, the Jewish people, will be ten times what they have today, more on that when we come to our devotional reading in Genesis 15.

What is such a blessing to me is that the Lord makes commitments or covenants and obligates Himself to keep them. Some churches say that God has finished with Israel and turned His blessings on the Church. That is what is called "Replacement Theology" - God has replaced the Jews with the Church and has no future program for the Jews.

That is not the case according to our reading today. The Abrahamic Covenant is "forever," as given to the Jewish people. Therefore, we can rest assured that any promise the Lord makes to Christians about eternal life will be fulfilled also.

Should the Lord break His covenant with the Jews, He could break His promises to us as Christians. He cannot break either of the promises, the Abrahamic Covenant or the promise of eternal life to the Christians.

The Lord does have a program for the Jews in the future and we can see the stage being set for that program to come to pass, seemingly in the near future.

PRAYER THOT: Thank You Lord for being a covenant keeping God.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Revelation 6:17

For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

For further study - Revelation 6:1-17

This sixth chapter of Revelation is the prophecy of six of the seven Seal Judgments that will come upon the earth and it's inhabitants during the seven year long period of judgment known as the Tribulation Period.

Throughout the entire time of the Tribulation Period there are twenty-one judgments, “three sets of seven” , seven "seal" judgments, seven "trumpet" judgments and seven "vial" judgments that unfold.

These twenty-one judgments get progressively worse and will intensify as the Tribulation Period unfolds. These initial six judgments in Revelation 6 are the beginning of the terrible time to come upon the earth.

A quick look at the six judgments reveal how the seals are broken on the “sealed book”, most likely a single scrolled book, and each seal is broken by the Lamb, verses 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 12. The “Lamb”, of course, is the person of Jesus Christ, who will bring these judgments upon the earth in the Tribulation Period.

The judgments are released upon humankind on the earth, after the Rapture. All six of these judgments happen in the first three and a half years of the seven-year long judgment period.

In verses 1 and 2 we see a man on a "white horse", who is the "Antichrist". This satanically energized person is the one who tries to fool the world into believing that he is the long awaited Messiah.

Verses 3 and 4 reveal a man on a "red horse" who comes to take peace from the earth, it's the judgment of "war" released upon humankind.

The man on a black horse, verses 5 and 6, is the judgment of famine, which when it calls for a "measure of wheat" for a "penny" that is referring to enough wheat to make bread for a family of four for one day at the cost of a days wages, a penny.

The fourth seal is depicted as a man on a "pale horse". When this judgment is released "one-fourth of the earth's population is killed." That will be 1.5 billion people.

Verses 9 - 11 describe those who will be "martyred" for their testimony. They are not Christians but people who will come to Christ after the Rapture, during the first of the Tribulation Period.

The sixth seal, verses 12 - 14, will be "ecological" judgments upon the earth, earthquakes, and in the heavens.

These judgments that happen early in the Tribulation Period are events that seemingly are in the process of coming about today. Jesus said when you see these things happening, Matthew 24:4-7 and 32-34, you can recognize that this is the time of His return to the earth.

However, remember that the Rapture of the Church takes place seven years before He comes back to earth. The fact that we can see the stage being set for these six seal judgments, indicates that the Rapture could not only happen at any moment but it could happen soon, even today.

PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord to live today as if the Rapture could happen this day.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

II Corinthians 12:9

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

For further study - II Corinthians 12:1-10

As we come to our reading today, I am eager to share several thoughts with you about the experiences of the Apostle Paul. These experiences in the life of Paul will give us insight into biblical principles that we each can appropriate for ourselves.

Let me remind you that Paul was a brilliant man. Some scholars have said he was one of the five greatest minds that ever lived. His writings are masterpieces of literature, from a worldly perspective.

Paul tells us that in order for him to not be exalted above measure, above what he should be. The Apostle Paul was given, by God, a "thorn in the flesh", verse 7. We don't know exactly what the "thorn" was except that it was something physical, a physical ailment of some type.

Verse 8 tells us that Paul went to the Lord in prayer to request the removal of the "thorn." It is with this backdrop of weakness that God's divine power is displayed. Just think of the awesome statement from God to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

Even as I wrote God's statement I had to pause to think about it. This philosophy is opposite to what the world, even some elements of the Church, believe is for today. We are told all you do is pray and God will heal you. That was not the case with Paul. God's plan for Paul was to make manifest in his life the power and strength of God in his weakness, his physical ailment.

Notice in verse 10 that Paul says he took pleasure in his infirmities because it was for the "sake of Christ" that this was happening to him. In weakness Paul knew he was made strong. This is such a blessing to each of us as we face everyday with our own weakness. His grace is, indeed, sufficient.

But now look again at the beginning of our reading for today, verses 2-4. Paul writes that he knew a man who about 14 years earlier was caught up into heaven, the “third heaven”. Let me explain the three heavens.

The “first heaven” is where the sun and the clouds are located. The “second heaven” is where the stars and galaxies are located. The “third heaven” is where God and Jesus are today. You see the first heaven “by day”, the second heaven “by night” and the third heaven “by faith”.

Paul spoke of himself as "a man in Christ" and not as one of great worthiness or as one who had achieved spiritual excellence. Paul was "caught up" into the third heaven in the will and plan of God. By the way, the phrase used here "caught up" is the same phrase describing the "Rapture" in I Thessalonians 4:17.

Paul experienced the "Rapture," the event that he had explained to the people in Thessalonica. Remember Paul's last words in II Timothy 4:8, he was looking forward to a "crown of righteousness" as he eagerly looked for Jesus to Rapture the Church into heaven.

He had the experience of the Rapture and wanted to go to heaven in that way, instead of by death. I want that also, don't you?

PRAYER THOT: Lord, help me to understand Your strength through my weakness and also eagerly await Your call for me to join You in heaven.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Corinthians 15:52

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For further study - I Corinthians 15:51-58

In my King James Scofield Reference Bible there is a "headliner" above verse 51 in our extended text for today's devotional. It reads "All believers will not die." This is what I call a "blessed hope".

I've often said I don't want the "undertaker" to take care of me, I want the "upper-taker", Jesus, at the Rapture, to deal with me at the time of my departure from this world.

In other words I want to be in the group of believers who will not die but instead will be "translated" into the heavenlies as Jesus shouts and I am called up to meet Him in the air at the Rapture of the Church. This is my "blessed hope", and yours as well.

The Rapture is the focus in these last seven verses of I Corinthians 15. I Corinthians 15 opens with the focus on the "Resurrection" of Jesus Christ. The chapter closes with the "Rapture". I must remind you that it is because of the "Resurrection" that we have the "blessed hope" and assurance of the "Rapture".

I Thessalonians 4:13-18 tells us of the procedure of the Rapture. The "archangel" shouts and the "trump of God" sounds and "Jesus shouts". Then the "dead in Christ" rise first and we, which are alive and remain on earth should be caught up to join Jesus in the air, as we enter the heavenlies.

Paul writes the Church in Corinth about the Rapture about five years after he introduced the subject to those in the Church in Thessalonica, I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

In our devotional passage for today we are given more details about this "blessed event". Paul tells us it will happen "in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye", verse 52a. Remember, the "twinkling of an eye" is much, much faster than even the "blink of an eye".

The "dead in Christ" are raised, incorruptible. We that are alive at the Rapture are changed. We put on incorruption and immortality. This all happens faster than you can blink your eyes, and that is fast. We can all then join in the chorus singing in harmony with Jesus, "O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?", verse 55.

We'll also join together to sing the "thank you chorus", "Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.", verse 57.

Paul concludes this passage with our "marching orders". He tells us to "Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord", verse 58. We do this because we know that our labor for Him is not in vain.

Prophecy is so very practical. As we better understand the next event on God's timetable for the future, the Rapture, we see how then we should live until He calls us to join Him in the heavenlies.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for the promise of the Rapture. Help me to live for You today knowing how close we may be to the Rapture.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Romans 14:10

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

For further study - Romans 14:1-13

Paul is writing to the church in Rome, in chapter 14, at least the first part of the chapter, about a problem among the people of the church.

There are those who are saying, "We can eat this or that but we must not eat the other." Then there are those who say, "We esteem this day more important than any other and you don't do that." Paul addresses these issues in several ways.

Paul says whatever we eat, if we are Christians, it's unto the Lord, verse 6 Also, what day we esteem, that will be done unto the Lord as well. In fact, Paul says, if we are alive we are living unto the Lord, or we should be doing so, verse 8.

Then Paul exhorts the Romans, as well as each of us today, to stop judging one another any more. Paul says what must be judged is that we must not put a stumbling block or occasion to fall in our brothers way, verse 13.

Paul then asks the question, "Why doest thou judge your brother, verse 10, especially in light of the fact that we are all going to stand before the "Judgment Seat of Christ" one day.

This is not a judgment to determine whether we are saved or lost. That will be determined before we ever get to the "Judgment Seat of Christ". There will be only "saved" people at the "Judgment Seat of Christ".

Verse 12 states that "Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God." The "Judgment Seat of Christ" takes place right after the Rapture of the Church. When we leave this earth at the time that Jesus shouts to call us up to join Him in the "air", I Thessalonians 4:13-18, we stand before the Lord right at that moment, in the "twinkling of an eye", I Corinthians 15:52.

After departing earth we are “face to face with Jesus”, in order that we can give an account of ourselves. It's at the "Judgment Seat" where we are judged to determine that our works are those which qualify as our "righteous acts", Revelation 19:8. These "righteous acts" make up our "wedding garment" for the "marriage ceremony" and the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb".

Also at the "Judgment Seat" we will be given "crowns" as rewards, crowns for bringing our bodies under subjection, I Corinthians 9:27; for being soul-winners, I Thessalonians 2:19; for not yielding to temptation, James 1:12; for helping young believers grow in the Lord, I Peter 5:1-14; and for eagerly looking for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, II Timothy 4:8.

We will then take these crowns to the throne, where Jesus is seated, and we cast them at the feet of Jesus in thanksgiving for what He has, is, and will do for us, Revelation 4:10.

Paul has a great question for each of us as we close our time in the Word for this devotional, why do we judge our brothers and sisters?

PRAYER THOT: Help me to live today, Lord, knowing I will stand at the "Judgment Seat of Christ", to receive crowns to cast at Your feet in thanksgiving. Help me not to judge others, but to make sure I am not a stumbling block.
Saturday, October 25, 2008

Acts 5:38-39

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

For further study - Acts 5:29-42

As we come to the fifth chapter of Acts we see recorded here, continuing persecution of the early church, in fact a church less than one year old was being persecuted.

In Acts 5:17-28 we see the record of the "second persecution," with the apostles being placed in jail for teaching about Jesus Christ and "The Way". It was while the apostles were in a "common prison" that an “angel of the Lord” released them and told them to "go, stand and speak", verse 20.

The High Priest and the Captain of the Temple gathered the apostles together and told them, "you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine", verse 28. What a testimony it was for these men who were following the directions of Jesus Christ, given to them before He ascended into heaven.

Peter answered these Temple leaders, "we ought to obey God rather than man", verse 29. That is our call for today, as well, to obey God rather than men. Notice the wisdom of the one member of the council overseeing this incident, verses 34-39.

The man, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, had watched the entire proceedings and told the other Temple leaders, verse 38, "If this work is of men, it will come to nought". Gamaliel's next statement shows his great wisdom, verse 39, "but if it be of God you can not overthrow it; lest haply you be found even to fight against God."

What a profound statement. The statement was also prophetic, Isaiah 46:9-10. In retrospect we now know it was not of men but of God as Gamaliel said.

The last three verses of Acts 5 reveal how these handful of apostles spread the message of the gospel, the story of Jesus, around the world.

First of all, they rejoiced in the fact that they were to be found worthy of suffering shame for the name of Jesus, verse 41. Verse 40 reveals to us that the apostles were actually beaten for preaching the gospel.

Their response to this persecution was that, as recorded in verse 42, these men went out "daily", not just on Sunday, but daily they went out to teach or preach Jesus. They also went into the "marketplace", in fact, onto the Temple Mount, to teach and preach Jesus. These men not only went "public" but they went "private" as they went to "every house" to talk to the people about the Lord.

Let me remind you once again of the message. They would "teach and preach Jesus Christ". They weren't teaching politics, social issues, war or no war, presidential elections, or any other issue except Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and what that meant to the Jews they were contacting.

This plan must have worked, look how the gospel has spread over these two thousand years. But wait a minute, the work is not done yet. We must work until He comes. We must today go out and follow the plan and preach Jesus to all people.

PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord, to be focused on the job of winning people to You and doing it in the way that You said, one by one.