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Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Timothy 3:15

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

For further study - I Timothy 3:1-16

As I sat reading through I Timothy 3 before I took time to rehearse some of my thoughts on our devotional reading for today, I realized what I was reading was a manual for how every man should live his Christian life.

I understand that I Timothy is one of the Pastoral Epistles written by Paul to help guide the young leadership of the first century church in the world at that time. Young Timothy was being trained by Paul and then dispatched across the then-known world to help build up the new churches. Remember, many of the churches Timothy would visit had been founded by the Apostle Paul.

Paul lays out the qualifications for both the "spiritual leaders" of the church and those who are to be spiritual, as well, the "servants" (deacons) at the churches. The leaders are the "bishops", the "overseers", which lead every church to become what the Lord requires them to be in the final analysis, as dictated by His Word.

Paul starts with a "true saying." "If any man desires the office of 'overseer', he desires a good thing." When I read that, I realized that all men "must desire" the office of "overseer" because it is a "good thing."

Please read the list of qualifications, as I did. Now, let me point out several things from these qualifications. Verse 3 says one in leadership should be "someone not given to filthy lucre." This is some one that does not have as his main focus the acquisition of large amounts of money.

Verse 7 says this man, "overseer", as every man, should have a good report from "them" which are from without the church. We cannot be leaders of the Church and have a bad testimony among those who are not in the Church, those not saved.

Starting in verse 8 we see the qualifications of the "deacons" those who God sets aside for "service in the church," the local gathering of born-again believers. Verse 13 indicates that an "overseer" of the church as well as the "servants", they both must have great "boldness" in the faith.

Paul was addressing the leadership of the Church, in these new local groups of born again people who were coming together to learn the ways of the Lord and then going out to win lost people to the Lord. Paul referred to these "bodies of believers" as the "church of the living God".

Notice that Paul, in verse 15, doesn't say that the "church" is the source of all truth, but the "safeguard", the pillar and ground of the truth. The "source of truth" is not the church but the Bible, God's Holy Word, which is "absolute truth". Paul wrote that the leadership of the church is the "caretaker" of all of God's truth.

Paul refers to Jesus as He who was "received up into glory", verse 16, and is coming again, soon. But until then the "church safeguards" the truth and spreads it to a needy people around the world.

PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord, to study the qualifications of a man who desires leadership as I endeavor to lead our ministry under Your direction and, at the same time, live my life out as a Christian.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Timothy 2:1

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.

For further study - I Timothy 2:1-8

Each passage of scripture we select for our daily reading is always laden with additional spiritual application beyond what we focus on for the reading and in my prophetic prospective for that days reading. This is true in today's reading as well.

We are exhorted to pray in our key verse and we are told how to pray. I'll look at this in a moment. Please notice the next verse in our expanded reading, verse 2. The focus of our prayers is to be our political, governmental leaders. We are to pray for them first, before the pastor, the missionary and the evangelist. In other words, pray for the "minister in the government" before the "minister in the church".

Let me get back to the "how to's" of prayer found in verse 1. "Supplications" are mentioned first in the different aspects of prayer. This is specifically asking for something to happen. Then there are the "prayers". These are prayers that are offered on a 24/7 basis, it's praying without ceasing, I Thessalonians 5:17.

"Intercessions" are prayers we offer to God and are on the behalf of someone who needs to have their name or situation mentioned before the throne of God. The last mentioned type of prayer, "giving of thanks", should actually be the first prayer offered up to God. We must thank Him before we present our petitions to Him.

Notice again, who we are to pray for first. We are to pray for the kings and all those who are in authority first. These would be political, governmental officials that direct human government in the direction God wants it to go. Remember, God brought human government into existence, Genesis 9:6.

God will use human government, governmental leaders, Revelation 17:17, to accomplish His will and set the world stage for the final drama to play out. In essence, we're talking about God's "prophetic plan" will unfold as He uses human government to direct the world towards the end times.

Therefore, we are to first, pray for those who have the authority. He is preparing this world for the return of His Son and all that follows, as foretold in Bible prophecy.

PRAYER THOT: Help me to remember my priority in my prayer life.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Timothy 1:15

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

For further study - I Timothy 1:12-20

The key verse for our devotional reading today, I Timothy 1:15was written by Paul near the end of his ministry. His statement speaks volumes of how the apostle had grown in his own life during almost 30 years of ministry.

I am reminded that early in Paul's ministry he referred to himself as "the least of the apostles", I Corinthians 15:9About half way through his thirty years of ministry, Paul realized that he was "the least of the saints", Ephesians 3:8. Now, towards the end of his ministry, Paul realizes that he is the "chief of all sinners".

It is true, that the closer we get to Jesus, the worse we see ourselves to be. Remember, the way we get close to Him today is by talking to Him and allowing Him to talk to us, through the reading of His Word the Bible.

We talk to Him in prayer, as I said, which Paul tells us to do, "without ceasing". The Lord talks to us through His Word, and this is one of the reasons to have a time everyday when you study the scriptures.

First and Second Timothy are referred to as the "pastoral epistles". The author of these "pastors' manuals" gives his young partner in the ministry, Timothy, the instruction that must be passed along to the leaders of the churches that are springing up all over the known world at that time.

Young Timothy is to travel to these churches and assist them in the selection of a leadership team and the training of these newly elected leaders in the proper method of administration in the local church.
God has selected to reach the world through local churches that are planted around the world. The Lord has a way and a plan that these churches must minister.

In both First and Second Timothy, Paul gives the warning to the churches, and all of us that read his instructions, He tells us that the Lord's Return is near. Paul believed that the time when Christ would call us to be with Him in the Rapture was very close at hand.

Remember, when Paul was writing to the Thessalonians about the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:15-18, he kept using the word "we", believing that in his lifetime he would see the Rapture of the Church. That was almost 2000 years ago. How much closer we must be to the Rapture now.

That is why Paul wanted the church to be operating in a godly fashion, thus Paul's instruction to young Timothy. He charges Timothy to remember his instruction and his study of prophecy, and to "war a good warfare", I Timothy 1:18.

That is how we must live and administer our churches, always moving forward in light of the soon coming of Jesus Christ. The evidence is very clear, The Rapture can happen at any moment, perhaps today.

PRAYER THOT: Lord, help my attitude to be as Paul's was, just a sinner saved by grace awaiting the shout to join You in the heavenlies.
Monday, January 28, 2013

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. These two books have 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.
Sunday, January 27, 2013

II Thessalonians 2:13

But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
For further study - II Thessalonians 2:8-17

There are two great truths that we will confront in our reading for today. The first is revealed in II Thessalonians 2:13. Within the words of our key verse, we find the answer to the centuries old debate about election and free will.

I may be introducing to you a discussion that you've never heard of in your Christian experience. Let me suggest that if that is the case, just file this away. It may be that you will need this insight for another  time when you may be confronted with this issue. The Lord has the greatest way of reminding us of these things at just the right time when we need them.

II Thessalonians 2:13 speaks of how both election, (God's plan of bringing people to Himself), and free will, (our experience of accepting what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us to bring us to salvation), work together. Notice how this verse combines the two in the process.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that God, from the very beginning, has chosen each of us to be saved. The Lord uses the Holy Spirit to bring us to the point of conviction, revealing to us our need for a Saviour, because we are sinners.

The Bible teaches that we are all sinners, born that way. Have you ever noticed that no one ever sat us down and taught us how to lie? We just knew how to lie because we were born that way.

The Holy Spirit convicts those of us whom God has chosen for salvation, however, the process doesn't stop there. The verse continues to tell us that we then must believe in the "truth". By exercising belief we are exercising our own free will. This is our choice, to receive that which He has chosen to give us, salvation.

I hope this doesn't seem too simple, but God doesn't want it too hard for us to understand. He wants us to see how He is working in our lives. That is what Paul was writing on this issue in his letter to the Thessalonians. Remember that these believers were still fairly "young in the faith" Christians.

The other great principle found in the extended reading for our devotional today is that of the "second chance". Verses 8 to 12 reveal the truth about the possibility that after the Rapture there may be a "second chance" to get saved.

According to the text of this passage there is no "second chance" to be saved after the Rapture. Verse 10 says that those that "received not the love of the truth that they might be saved", then in verse 11 it says, "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie".

Verse 12 
states, "that they all might be damned who believe not the truth". In these three verses, 10,11 and 12we see the process by which there is no "second chance". One must first "hear" the gospel, "the love of the truth", then "understand" the gospel and finally "reject" the gospel in order for there to be no "second chance".

These three steps, "hear, understand and reject" must be followed before there is no "second chance". It’s not just "hear" but all three before there is no "second chance".

This may be a hard truth for you to believe but let it be a motivation for either you to get saved or to work and pray for your loved ones to be saved before the Rapture. I pray all the time for those love ones so dear to me to be saved. Remember, it’s not the Lord’s will that any be lost, but all would come to salvation, II Peter 3:9.

Verses 14 to 17 
reveal such great truth as well, I would suggest that you study these verses for a real blessing. This second chapter of II Thessalonians is so "rich" in truth that is so important for the last days in which we are living and in the context of the Lord's shout for us to join Him in the air.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you, Lord for "choosing" to save me and giving me the "free will" to accept you as my Saviour. Help me to lead others to this truth as we all await the shout to join you in the heavens.
Saturday, January 26, 2013

II Thessalonians 2:3

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.

For further study - II Thessalonians 2:1-12

Our key verse for this devotional, verse 3, has become somewhat controversial. There are those that believe that the Antichrist will come when the "falling away" of the church, apostasy in the Church, has happened. This then seems to be saying that the church will be here when the Antichrist appears.

This belief comes from a wrong understanding of the Greek word used in the passage and translated, "a falling away". The Greek word is "apostasia", which is used one other time in Scripture in the New Testament book of Acts. Acts 21:21 translates apostasia as "forsake". The context is talking about Jews forsaking Moses, or departing from him.

A close and careful word study of the Greek word apostasia will conclude that the true meaning of the word is found in the phrase, "departing from one place and going to another”, not a falling away from the doctrines of the church.

If the word "apostasia" was communicating that "apostasy" was what it was talking about then the Rapture and the coming of the Antichrist would have happened during the writing of II Thessalonians. Apostasy had infiltrated the early church by the time Paul wrote this passage.

What Paul is saying here is that the Antichrist, the "Son of Perdition", would not come until the Church departs from one place and goes to another. That is what happens at the Rapture. The scenario for the future according to all prophetic passages is that the Rapture takes all Christians into Heaven and then the Antichrist appears on earth.

This "false messiah" will, at the mid-way point of the seven year Tribulation Period, the coming time of judgment, he will enter Jerusalem. This satanically controlled world leader will enter the Temple in Jerusalem showing himself that he is "God", verse 4.

Our reading today sets the stage for how events of the Last Days come together. I will deal with the rest of this passage in another future devotional. The Rapture, the Antichrist, and a Temple in Jerusalem are  the items that we have discussed today.

Let me remind you that all preparations have been made for the temple to be built in Jerusalem. False teachers and deception presently are a part of our society today, which indicates that Antichrist is nearing his appearance on earth.

Remember, before the appearance of Antichrist and the temple is built, the Rapture happens. Actually the Rapture could happen at any moment. Be ready!

PRAYER THOT: Help me to live today as if this will be the day of the Rapture.
Friday, January 25, 2013

II Thessalonians 1:3

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

For further study - II Thessalonians 1:1-12

As we now come to this second letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, it seems Paul evidently writes it very soon after his first letter to the church.

There would be much said in this letter about the Second Coming, including the time of the coming of the "Anti-christ", how the church would be spiritually at that time and what would happen to those who had heard the gospel message, understood the gospel message, and then "rejected" the love of the truth that they might be saved, II Thessalonians 2:10-12.

Paul, however, starts his letter with thanksgiving to God for the word coming to him of the spiritual life of the Thessalonians. Paul was so pleased that he had heard of their faith that was growing, as he stated it, "exceedingly", verse 3.

Also in verse three we find out how their love for each other was increasing and in fact, "abundantly". Paul also realizes their "patience" even during times of persecution and trouble for these new Christians and how they were able to "endure".

This is an excellent list of objectives for each of us "older Christians", a growing faith, love for each other, patience and ability to endure persecution.

Paul then encourages the Thessalonians with the fact that the Lord will bring judgment upon all those who were persecuting them, "when He shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels", verse 7.

Verses 5-9 indicate that when Jesus comes back this next time, He will come as the "judge". People don't want to hear of Jesus as the "judge". His righteousness, however, demands that He judge sin.

Peter, in II Peter 3, wrote that people would deny the coming of the Lord because they do not want to face judgment. Jesus came as the "lamb", our sacrifice for sin, but He is also coming as the "Lion of Judah," the coming judge.

Paul then tells the Thessalonians that his prayer for them is that the "name of Jesus Christ would be glorified in them". verse 12.

That must be our goal, our lives glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ.

PRAYER THOT: Lord help me to live a life that is growing in faith, loving others, patient, enduring persecution and glorifying You, dear Jesus.
Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Thessalonians 5:23

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For further study - I Thessalonians 5:1-27

What a great passage of scripture we come to for today's devotional. It is very prophetic and at the same time very, very practical. Let's look at the practical first in our devotional reading. Again, space will not  allow me to mention all of the practical verses in I Thessalonians 5, but only a few of the most practical.

Starting in verse 16 we come upon some great "nuggets of truth". Verse 16, "rejoice evermore", is one of the shortest verses in the Bible. This is an exhortation from Paul, which follows the truth of the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

I Thessalonians 4:18
 tells us to comfort each other with the truth of the Rapture. The understanding of the truth of the Rapture, and how close it could be to taking place is what gives us the ability to "rejoice evermore". The next verse, verse 17, tells us to "pray without ceasing".

If we walk in a constant attitude of "prayer", that will play a key role in helping us to conform into His image and prepare ourselves for His soon return. "In everything give thanks," verse 18, is one of the best bits of advice you or I could receive.

God seems to move closer to us when we thank Him for all things, even for heartaches and troubles. Besides," this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning each of us". The very best for each us is to be in the center of God's will, "give thanks in all things".

When Paul exhorts us to "quench not the Spirit", verse 19, he's telling us to stay away from sin in our lives, that's what quenches the Spirit. We need daily the "Spirit of God" to empower us for daily living and service.

Verse 22 is an exhortation that helps us to grow closer to the Lord. We do this by "abstaining from all appearances of evil". That which appears to be evil, that which is in front of us or within us, our own appearance that seems evil, as seen by the world, that is what we are to abstain from every moment of every day.

Paul's prayer for us is that our whole being, spirit, soul and body, be preserved "blameless" as we await "the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ", verse 23.

Now, quickly glance at several of the "prophetic thoughts" from this passage. Notice verse 3, when they say "peace and safety", those are the words that help us to recognize that the Lord's judgment, the Tribulation Period, and our Lord's soon return to earth is getting very close.

In the first verses of this chapter, verses 1-8, Paul is assuring the recipients of this letter that the Rapture hasn't happened yet because we are not in the "Day of the Lord". The "Day of the Lord" refers to the time of judgment leading up to the Lord's Second Coming. The "Day of the Lord" does not start until after the Rapture has happened.

Verse 9 assures us of the fact that when we leave this earth, responding to the shout of the archangel, the sound of the trumpet, the Lord's call for us to join Him in the air, I Thessalonians 4:16-17, at the Rapture, we will do so before the seven-year period of time of judgment begins.

God has not appointed Christians to partake of the "wrath" to come, that seven-year period of judgment. As we see the revealed events of the Tribulation Period seeming to be about to happen we can look up with great anticipation of His shout for us to join Him in the heavenlies. Praise the Lord for these practical and prophetic truths.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for such practical information and exhortation for our daily living and the prophetic truths informing us of the end times and how to recognize the day in which we are living as the days just prior to the Rapture.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Thessalonians 3:13

To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

For further study - I Thessalonians 3:1-13

When the Apostle Paul wrote his first book to the Thessalonians they had only been Christians about three weeks when they received the letter. As we read our devotional, the extended reading reveals Paul's great desire to once again be with these he had led to the Lord.

He repeats time and again that he wants to be with them to help in their spiritual growth, verses 2, 5, 6, 10 and 11 . Paul had the desire to see his new converts mature in the Lord.

This is a great example to all of us, even those of us who are so-called "professional ministers". Have you known a "minister" who gets so busy that he has no time for ministering to the "flock"? That is a tough question for me to answer. I don't know about you, I do know about me. I need to spend more time following Paul's example.

Paul actually shares with us that ministering to others is a real joy, verse 9. I love that thought from the previous chapter in I Thessalonians 2:19-20. Those who Paul had led to the Lord are a "rejoicing to him", they are his glory and joy. Notice that there is a "crown" at the Judgment Seat of Christ which we will receive, the "Crown of Rejoicing," for being a soul winner, I Thessalonians 2:19.

By the way, Paul had trained up a "helper", a "fellow laborer", a young man named Timothy. Paul was ministering one-on-one with Timothy and at the same time wanting to minister to the Church in Thessalonici.

I get tired just reading about Paul's ministry, what a schedule he had. He worked, looking for the privilege of establishing the hearts of these new converts. He wanted them to be un-blamable in holiness before God the Father at the second coming of Jesus Christ, with all of His saints.

Paul sets the bar high for us to reach up to as we follow his example of ministering to all people. A motivation for this is the reality that we will stand before Him and it will be revealed what we have done for Him and among His people, the Christians that we have opportunity of ministry with today.

PRAYER THOT: Dear Lord, give me the hunger to minister to people so that they might be established in their hearts, un-blamable in holiness at the Second Coming of Christ.