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Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Peter 4:17

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

For further study - I Peter 4:1-19

The Apostle Peter had a very close relationship with Jesus even though Peter was often in trouble with the Lord. There are a number of examples that I could bring to your attention, let me just remind you of one.

At Caesarea Philippi, in the foothills of Mt Hermon, at the pronouncement by Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, Matthew 16, is that one example. Those lips that praised the Lord, a few moments later, would be used to rebuke the Lord.

When Jesus told His disciples that He would have to go to Jerusalem and there be put to death, Peter, the text tells us, rebuked the Lord. The Lord's response was "get behind me Satan", Matthew 16:22-23.

Peter was quite the character. As we read I Peter we see that this Apostle had matured and was able to be used of the Lord to remind the body of Christ that "judgment" is coming. The judgment of the "works of Christians."

One of the great past-times of Christians today is judging others. Paul told the Romans to not do that, Romans 14:10. We should not judge others. We must remember that we "all" will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ one day.

Peter goes one better than Paul, he says all judgment must start at the Church, “the house of God." In verse 5 of I Peter 4, Peter also reminds each of us that we will all give an account of ourselves to Jesus.

It is so important for us to remember that there is a "judgment day" ahead. It's not for judging to see if we're saved, that's already been determined before we get to the Judgment Seat of Christ.

This judgment is to determine if our "works" receive "rewards" for doing good works in His power and for His glory.

Bible prophecy, if studied, will reveal to each of us, every day, how close we are to the Rapture when Jesus shouts and calls us up into the heavenlies to be with Him forever. It is within this chapter of I Peter that we can find out how we can, and must live in the end times.

In fact, Peter reminds the readers of this book that the "end times are close, at hand," verse 7. This verse means that the Rapture is an "any moment" event. The days that we are living in now seemingly are the days leading up to the Rapture.

Verse 8 says we must love each other, it covers a multitude of sins. We are also to welcome people into our homes and use hospitality with those from without, verse 9. This hospitality must be done with joy, not grudgingly.

These "how-to-live tips" will prepare us for the Judgment Seat to follow right after the Rapture of the Church. This is an event that could happen at "any moment", maybe today. Keep looking up.

PRAYER THOT: Lord, help me to remember that one day I will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and thank You for the instruction given to us from You through Peter on how I am to live as I await Your shout to join You in the heavenlies.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

James 4:7

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

For further study - James 4:1-17

This fourth chapter of James is a "manual" on how to live in the last days. Please join with me in this devotional reading to learn how to apply the directives for living in light of the sure "promise" that Jesus is coming to call us up to be with Him, and the sure "prospect" that the Rapture will happen real soon, at any moment.

Jesus said, one of the indications that His Second Coming is close is that there will be a time when you see "wars and rumors of wars", Matthew 24:6. James, the half brother of Jesus states that these wars come from the "lust that war in our members", within the soul of each of us, lost and saved.

The “lusts” within each of us must be kept under control lest they take control of us. How wonderful that God gives us the "grace" to have a victory over these lusts. And please notice, God gives more "grace" to those of us who humble ourselves before the Lord and our fellow man, verses 6 & 10.

Many scriptures, and especially in the book of Revelation, speak of the Devil in the last days. The Devil will do everything he can to destroy the Jewish people, he knows if he can get rid of the Jews, the Lord can't keep His promises to them and Satan becomes the "god".

The Devil, also in the last days, will go after Christians, the true born-again believer, in the days before Jesus calls up to be with Him at the Rapture. James gives us the "how-to's" of what we must do to have victory over Satan, in verse 7.

Notice we are not told to command the Devil to do anything. We are to "submit ourselves to God and resist the devil." Then, on the promise and the authority of God's Word, the devil will flee from us.

To submit is to offer ourselves in full surrender to the Lord. This devotional reading for today is indeed an excellent "manual" for living in the last days.

PRAYER THOT: Lord help me to submit myself totally to You so that the lust of the flesh don't control me and so that the Devil will have to flee from me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hebrews 8:1

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

For further study -Hebrews 8:1-13

In the reading of our key verse, we see where Jesus is today. He is seated "at the right hand of the Father on His throne" in the third heaven. Hebrews 12:2 also reveals the present location of Christ now seated at the right hand of God, who is on His throne.

I say, and repeat this because there are those who say Jesus is now on His “throne”. That is incorrect. Our key verse tells us where He is today. One day, Jesus will sit upon His throne in Jerusalem; however, that is yet in the future.

Notice also that Jesus is our "High Priest" after the order of Melchisedec, Hebrews 6:20. This Melchisedec is a very interesting personality. He has no father or mother, Hebrews 7:3. This same verse says he has no beginning and no end of life. Remember, he was the King of Salem (Jerusalem) who met with Abraham, Genesis 14:17-20. I believe he may well be a "pre-incarnate appearance" of Jesus Christ.

The reading for today is a rich passage that deserves more attention than it will receive. Spend time in reading it later. However, let me show you one more portion of our reading, verses 7-10. In this passage the Lord promises to give the Jewish people a "New Covenant."

This is a different covenant than the one God had with Moses and the Jews. This covenant, the New Covenant, the Lord gives to the Jewish people - the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not to Christians. Now, we Christians derive benefits from the New Covenant, but it is given to the Jewish people, Jeremiah 31:31.

This covenant is also referred to as the "Everlasting Covenant," Ezekiel 37:26. This covenant that God will make with the Jewish people will be given to them in the future. The Lord will put His law in their mind and write it upon their heart, verse 10. This verse also says the Lord will be their God and the Jews will be His people, all of this because their sins and iniquities the Lord will “remove and remember no more”.

This New Covenant is to the Jewish people and it is yet to be given to them in the future, evidence that the Lord does have a plan and program for the Jewish people in the future. God is not finished with His "Chosen People." God must keep His promises to the Jews if we expect Him to keep His promises to us, i.e. the promise of eternal life.

Though the New Covenant is for the Jewish people I must again remind you that we, as Christians, will also derive benefits from this New Covenant. We will have a relationship with Jesus, which will be very unique. We will be His people, in fact the "bride" of Jesus, and He will be our Lord, "husband." Our relationship with Jesus will be very unique.

I love the fact that He cannot remember our sins anymore. That is a derived benefit. By the way, the New Covenant is given to the Jewish people at His Second Coming, which seems to be quickly approaching.

PRAYER THOT: Dear Lord, thank You for removing my sins and remembering them no more.
Thursday, August 28, 2008

II Timothy 3:1

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For further study - II Timothy 3:1-17

II Timothy is the last book that Paul wrote, even though Titus follows II Timothy in the New Testament cannon.

Paul is actually continuing his training of young Timothy in the ministry. Timothy had been given the responsibility to travel to churches that Paul was unable to visit.

Timothy was to be of assistance to the church leadership and, in fact, he was to help the believers to set in place a good leadership team who would be responsible for making certain that the body of Christ was being taught correctly from the inspired Word of God.

Another of those famous "3:16's" is found here in Paul's letter to Timothy. II Timothy 3:16 is the absolute statement about scripture. Paul relates to Timothy, and to us, that all of the scripture was "breathed into" men for the purpose of revealing God's love, plan and doctrine for the body of Christ.

Timothy was to help men, those in Jesus, to become mature, "thoroughly furnished unto good works," verse 17. Our key verse, verse 1, is a direct warning to the Church at that time, around 65AD, and for the Church today as well.

Technically the "last days" began after Jesus left to go back to heaven, Acts 1. However, from a practical standpoint, today must be considered the "last days", the period just prior to the Rapture, the Tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Paul's description of the "last days" surely fits our day. Verse 2, reveals that "men will love themselves more than they love Jesus," and others. Notice the rest of the list, in verses 2-4 where Paul describes the last days. As we read through this list we can recognize our day, and the activities of people today.

As it relates to "love", Paul says men, humankind, will "love pleasure more than God", verse 4. That thought is a prefect description of our society today. Verse 5 describes much of the Church today, "having a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof."

We are to "turn away" from all that Paul has listed in these verses that is contrary to God's desired lifestyle for us. Paul warns each of us that in these "last days" it is not going to be all "roses". There will be "thorns", verses 10-12.

The Apostle exhorts Timothy to remember what he had been taught from the scriptures, as a child, and he was to do those things he had been taught. Timothy was to “live out” what the Word of God had taught him. We also must live a life dictated by the Word of God.

In our "post-modern" world some believe that the scriptures are "old-fashioned". This is a lie from Satan. The scriptures are profitable, we must study them, II Timothy 2:15, and live them out in these the last days.

PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord, as I study Your Word to live by what it tells me to do in these the last days.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Timothy 4:6

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

For further study - I Timothy 4:1-16

Paul's instructions to Timothy, a young co-laborer with the Apostle, were based upon the understanding that the Lord is coming soon even though history tells us that was not the case. Paul lived his life and ministry as if the Rapture could happen at any moment and especially in his lifetime.

This is evident in his statement, "we shall be caught up", in I Thessalonians 4:17. Therefore, his instructions to young Timothy were given with that urgency. In fact, Paul believes the "Rapture" is very close in his time as indicated in verse 1.

There were those who at Paul's time in history were departing from the faith. They were not only departing from the faith but were "giving heed", accepting, "seducing spirits", evil spirits and "doctrines of demons." Paul was sending Timothy to the churches the Apostle had started to warn them that the “Last Days” were upon them.

Timothy was to put the churches in remembrance of these things and then make sure they were being nourished in the Word and "good doctrine." Timothy was to help the churches exercise themselves in godliness. That was even better than physical exercise.

It is interesting to note the instructions to Timothy from Paul about his own personal study and application of true biblical doctrine, verse 6, 13 and 16. Timothy was to watch against the "doctrine of demons," verse 1.

Many people are afraid of "doctrine." They say "doctrine" divides and causes division in the “Body of Christ”. This is not correct. The Word of God which was "breathed" into the authors of the Bible, II Timothy 3:16, is "profitable for doctrine." The truth be known, the true doctrines from the Lord unites, it does not divide. Doctrine is the principles that the Lord gives to us to know His plan and direction in all matters.

Paul tells Timothy that he should be reading, meditating and continuing that which he had learned from Paul and then pass it along to others for their benefit. Remember, these instructions were given in light of the times in which they were living, "the latter times."

We are living in the “Last Days” and it would do us good to heed Paul's instructions to Timothy and appropriate them for ourselves.

PRAYER THOT: Dear Lord, help me to discern true doctrine from Your Word, make it applicable to my life and share it with others on a daily basis.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008

II Thessalonians 3:5

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

For further study - II Thessalonians 3:1-5

The Apostle Paul is very concerned that he be able to help the Thessalonians to grow in the Lord. After leading them to Jesus, for salvation, he writes two letters to them, I and II Thessalonians, with much instruction for their growth. He has watched as the “Word of the Lord” was glorified, made manifest in these people, verse 1 .

Paul desires the prayers of the Thessalonians so that as he continues his ministry he will be able to minister the “Word of the Lord” among others as well. Here Paul is teaching “intercessory prayer” to these young believers. Paul's prayer also includes a request for his protection from unreasonable and wicked men, verse 2.

The apostle reminds the Thessalonians, and us as well, that the Lord is faithful to His ministry of establishing us in Jesus and keeping us from evil that may come to confront us.

Paul wants these new converts to love the Lord, to really love Him, verse 5. This is love that is more than “lip service”, it is a love that is a love like I have for my wife. That kind of love causes me to want to talk to her and let her talk to me. In our love for the Lord, we can talk to Him, in prayer.

He can also talk to us in His word, as we read it on a daily basis. The love that I have for my wife moves me to want to do things that please her. This is the case as well with our love for the Lord.

Notice the last phrase in our reading, verse 5. Paul wants to direct the Thessalonians and each of us into the "patient waiting for Christ to return." It is difficult for me to be patient. That is something I must learn, patience. Let me suggest that as we wait patiently for the Lord to return, we must be "prepared" for His shout to come at any moment by knowing for sure we are born again.

We also need to walk "pure" each day by laying aside that which is ungodly and evil and living that which is godly and righteous, as we look up for Him to take us to be with Him. We must also be "productive," in winning others to Jesus Christ and helping them to grow even as Paul was doing among the Thessalonians.

Again, I say it is difficult for me to be patient as I await the Lord's shout to join Him in the air. I want it to happen today, and it could - even so come, Lord Jesus.

PRAYER THOT: Lord, help me as I await Your coming, patiently, to be pure and productive until you do shout for us to join You in the heavenlies.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Thessalonians 4:17

Then 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.

For further study - I Thessalonians 4:1-18

I could hardly wait to get to this chapter in 1 Thessalonians for our devotional time. The "hope" of my life and indeed the main prayer of my life is that the Rapture will happen in my lifetime.

I have traveled across this world telling people of the Rapture and then teaching the prophetic passages of His Word to help everyone that I have contacted to understand that today could well be the day of the Rapture.

We'll look together at the description of how the Rapture will play out in a moment, but first just a word or two about Paul's message to this people in Thessalonica who he had led to the Lord just three weeks before he wrote this letter to them.

Paul tells these new Christians, as well as us long-time Christians, that we will "abound" if we will walk with the purpose of "pleasing God," verse 1. Paul then tells them, and us, what the will of God is for our lives, verses 3-12.

No longer do we have to say "I wish I knew the will of God for my life." The best way to be in God's will is to follow the instructions in these verses.

Now to the Rapture, actually the word "rapture" is not used in this passage, in fact the word rapture is not used in the entire Bible. Don't be concerned about that, the word "trinity”, the term for God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not used in the Bible. The truth of the matter is that the word "Bible" is not used in the Bible.

The word "rapture" comes from the Latin word for the phrase "caught up" in verse 17. The Latin word, "rapturo," in verse 17, is how we get the word Rapture. I Corinthians 15 says, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye", we will be caught up to be with the Lord.

Verse 14 says that only saved people go to be with the Lord at the Rapture. Verse 16 says that those Christians, which have already died, they will be the first ones to respond to the Lord's shout, the sound of the trumpet and the voice of the archangel.

It is after the "dead in Christ" have been raised and start towards heaven that the rest of us Christians move from this earthly home to a heavenly home, never to leave the Lord's presence, forever, verse 17.

This event, the Rapture, could happen at any moment and with the prophetic events recorded in God's Word seemingly coming to pass, the Rapture could happen today. Even so come, Lord Jesus.

PRAYER THOT: Lord, my hearts desire is for the Rapture to happen in my lifetime. Help me to live every day as if it would be today.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Colossians 3:15

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

For further study - Colossians 3:15-25

As we approach our extended reading for today reflect with me on our devotional in Colossians the last time we were in the book, which was the first fifteen verses of Colossians 3 .

Verses 2, 3 and 4 exhort us to set our focus and affections on the heavens where Jesus awaits the command from His Father to call the body of Christ, the Church, up to be with Him. Verse 4 says we will appear at that time with Him in the heavenlies. What a glorious hope that is for each of us as believers.

Now to our reading for today, in verse 15 we see Paul exhorts us to "let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly". That means to first read God's Word and then meditate upon what we have read. Finally we internalize the Word of God, as we apply every bit of it to our daily lifestyle.

In verses 15-22 Paul tells us what will happen when the Word does dwell in us richly. Our music will be God-honoring music. Music, by the way, is not for evangelism. In the 500 references to music in the Bible they all deal with worshiping the Lord and not for evangelizing lost people. Therefore, we don't need to mimic the world's music.

If the Word fills us, we will use psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to teach each other and admonish each other in our worship of the Lord. What we do, we do in the name of the Lord, verse 17.

Wives will submit to husbands, verse 18. Husbands will love their wives and be not bitter to them, verse 19. Children will obey parents because it pleases the Lord, verse 20. Fathers will raise their children but won't provoke them to anger, verse 21. Servants will obey masters, verse 22. Again Paul tells us that whatever we do, do it "heartily as unto the Lord and not to men," verse 23.

What we have just thought through is the lifestyle of the person that has the Word of God dwelling in them richly. Verse 24 refers us to the time of reward when the Lord will give us a special reward at the "Judgment Seat of Christ." That “reward” He will give us is for living the Word-rich life on earth, before the Judgment Seat and before we appear in His presence, verse 14.

He tells us of our reward and at the same time tells us how to live so that we will indeed receive that reward. The provision He gives is His Word, which we must allow to dwell in us, richly. Thank you Lord for your Word.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for your Word, help me to let it dwell in me richly.
Saturday, August 23, 2008

Philippians 3:20

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

For further study - Philippians 3:10-21

Our key verse and the extended reading for today are the same verses we used last time we were in Philippians. However, this time I have a different focus.

The first verse of our extended reading, verse 10, is a great verse to use as the model for being able to press toward the mark of the high calling of God.

Knowing Jesus, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering, and being willing to give our lives for Him is the "mode of operation" for the Christ-like life.

Verse 13
reveals how Paul was not hung up on himself and his knowledge and position in life. Paul realized he had not “arrived”, he was forgetting the things of the past and reaching into the future.

Paul's energy was focused on “pressing toward” the mark and it was the mark set by the Lord's calling of this servant to be used in His service.

Our key verse contains the secret of how Paul was able to better know the Lord, forgetting the things of the past and pressing toward the mark. Paul's “citizenship” was not here on earth, it is in heaven.

Verse 20 says, "our conversation is in heaven". An alternative interpretation of the Greek word for "conversation" is "citizenship". Notice a second step here, Paul was constantly looking for the Lord Jesus Christ to come from heaven to get us and take us to be with Him forevermore, into eternity future.

Verse 21
shows us that when Jesus Christ comes He will change this old “worn-out body” of ours, and fashion it like His “glorious body”. What a relief that will be, our old bodies for eternity fashioned in the likeness of the Lord's glorious body.

By the way, that process will be almost instantaneous, I Corinthians 15:52. It will be done, "in a moment in the twinkling of an eye." The "twinkling of an eye" is much faster than a "blink of the eye", and that's fast.

These are blessed verses and I wanted to use them again to glean another, different blessing from them. I pray you got that same blessing.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord, for the promise of our new citizenship and the fact that You will make our old bodies like Your glorious body, even so come Lord Jesus, quickly.