VOICE OF A TRUMPET

Rev.1:10,11 – I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega…

John just couldn’t find words to describe the voice he heard that day on the isle of Patmos. One moment he said it had the sound of many waters, images of Niagara Falls and roaring ocean waves come into our mind. Next, John said the voice of the Lord had the sound of a trumpet blast. The trumpet was associated with a call to battle, festival days, or even a call to assemble. The Lord’s voice is calling John, as well as us, to prepare ourselves for the coming kingdom. His voice is calling us to Himself, to join together with His people, to fight in His kingdom, and to prepare ourselves for His return. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on this verse of scripture.

“Hearken, you poor discouraged souls, you that are ready to say that you are cast out of God’s sight: yet let the joyful sound of this trumpet awaken your attention and encourage your heart to look towards God’s holy temple. Look up, see the door that is opened in heaven, the door of mercy and of hope. See the pleasant light that shines forth from that door. ‘Tis the light of the new Jerusalem; ’tis the light of the glory of God and the Lamb. Thither you are invited to enter; the way is open. The root and the offspring of David, the bright {and morning star}, says, Come; and the Spirit and the Sender says, Come; and whosoever will, let him come.”

The voice of the Lord is a joyful sound, nothing in this world can compare. He is calling us out of this dark world to be with Him in His coming kingdom. He is calling us into war. The world is at war with the Lord and His Son. People of the world are desperately trying to take our voice from us and hinder us from advancing His kingdom. The trumpet blast of the Lord is sounding for everyone who has an ear to hear, calling us to engage in His battle for His souls. He is calling us to join with His body, His church, in this last great battle before He returns. John was brought to the ground at the gravity of that moment in His presence. May we also be laid low in His presence until we join in this heavenly battle.

EVIDENCE THAT THE END IS NEAR

Acts 2:17-9 – And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The ministry of Jesus and the apostles were filled with the power of signs and wonders. These miracles were God’s sign of authenticity, you really can’t fake the supernatural very effectively. If I am reading my Bible accurately and this passage accurately, it appears to me that the power of signs and wonders are connected to last days prophesy. In other words, as we get closer to the great day we will move into a more intense season of these portents of His power.

When with think of end time prophesy we immediately turn to wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and pestilence. Now don’t get me wrong, those are definitely signs of the end of this age. Even now the media can’t seem to get enough of the volcano erupting in Hawaii. They are talking about flying boulders and catastrophic explosions. This makes me think about the soon return of our Lord.

If you pay close attention to today’s verse and remember the context you will see that this passage talks about a greater and much more important sign of the coming age. This whole passage is about the fulfillment of Bible prophesy by the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The effect this outpouring had on the 120 disciples in the upper room and the large crowd that soon gathered was the beginning of the greatest of all last days Bible prophesy. Peter said that what they were seeing (speaking in tongues, excessive joy, prophetic utterances) was just the beginning of what would happen before Jesus returned to the earth.

Today, these words are being fulfilled all over the world. I expect more, not less, of His mighty outpourings. There will be multitudes baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues in the days ahead; prophesies, visions and dreams, and miracle signs and wonders. Some get nervous about Holy Spirit manifestations and say we need to stick to the Bible. Exactly! It is in the written word that we see these things coming upon us.

DIFFICULT TIMES

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2Tim. 3:1-5 ¶ But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

It seems like every week unlocks another version and a horrible new level of what Paul called “difficult times”. Recently we had the mass killing in Las Vegas at a Country-western concert of all things. Immediately following that was the horrible event in Texas leaving twenty six people dead during Sunday worship, and another shooting connected to a school just yesterday. The world is obviously spiraling as the end of this age approaches.

In times like this there are several responses people may take. The obvious one is fear and depression. Jesus even said that people’s hearts would be failing them for fear as the end approached. For others the response is quite different, those who are being attracted to the Lord seem to become more and more connected to Him. Suddenly it becomes clear to us that this world is temporary and another world is breaking in on us. Paul mentioned something at the end of this passage in today’s scripture: he said in this difficult times even church people would forsake the power of God. Paul said that many would have an outward form of godliness but would deny the power of God. What a tragic response! It is in these times that we need His power.

Those who are dealing with fear and depression regrettably look for solutions to their dilemma in other places. Self medication seems to be at an all time high and the horrible result is a shocking increase in opioid addiction. Thousands of people from every economic status are suffering the ravages of addiction. The results are lost jobs, families, and for many the loss of life itself. To me the obvious answer is the power of God. Only the power of God can meet the need of our hungry heart, only the power of God can deliver us from from the clutches of addiction. Only the power of God can keep us in these perilous times. So I say rather than backing off of the supernatural in church and in our personal lives I say ramp it up. Come Lord, show your power in this day preparing us for the things to come.

LION, CALF, MAN, AND EAGLE

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Rev. 4:6,7 ¶ And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.

This is verse is part of an amazing glimpse into the scene in heaven where the Lord is being worshipped by the angels and those redeemed from sin from every tribe on the earth. John gives us a glimpse into the function of the mysterious seraphim that are closely connected to the throne of God. In Isaiah’s vision, as well as the one in Revelations, these “burning ones” are caught up in worship. They apparently lead the worship in heaven. Once there was five of these creatures before one of them fell. You know the one. Lucifer, the chief worship leader in heaven. These amazing angelic beings are totally caught up with the holiness of God. You can almost hear them if you stop and listen, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory. Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty; the One who was and is and is to come”.

The early church fathers used to connect these four creatures to the four gospels. I like Augustine’s version. He said that Matthew corresponded to the lion, Mark to the man, Luke to the calf, and John to the eagle. These comparisons are quite interesting.

Matthew was the gospel written for the Jewish people. Think about it, the lion of the tribe of Judah. The first verse in Matthew refers to Jesus as the Messiah, the son of David. Of course Jesus is that messianic king portrayed by the lion and He rules all things with His mighty word. Mark is said to correspond with the creature with the face of a man. Mark’s gospel was written for the gentiles, the people of the nations. In Mark’s gospel we see Jesus as a man, the Son of Man. We also see Him moved with compassion as He ministers to the hurting members of humankind.

Next is Luke. His gospel starts in the temple and ends in the temple. The calf, the sacrifice of blood for the cleansing of sin, is the picture of Luke’s gospel. Luke gives us a portrayal of Jesus praying in Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood. He is surely our heavenly high priest. Finally there is John pictured by the eagle. The eagle is known for soaring to the heights and for his incredible vision. This unveils the revelation of Jesus we find in John’s gospel. John takes us to the heights as we see Jesus as the Son of God from eternity clothed with human flesh. In John we find the pinnacle of the Father’s revelation, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

PRECISE CARE

Deut. 11:12 a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.

I was looking through my eclipse glasses last Monday at our Great American Solar Eclipse when I was suddenly struck with the exactness and precision like movement of the sun and the moon. The predictability of eclipses is not because of the greatness of our scientific prowess but it comes from the precision like patterns of God’s creation. Ever since He spoke, “Let there be light” billions of luminaries began their journey all throughout this universe that is apparently infinite. Billions of celestial bodies moving in God’s precise heavenly dance, the vastness and perfection is beyond us. Then I thought about God’s care for us and for me. If He is so precise dealing with suns and moon, what about His precision with sons and daughters? He has us in His sights and cares for us intricately. Dick Mills spoke often of God’s daily precise care for all of us. Here are some thoughts from Brother Mills on today’s verse.

“This is a verse for us. It assures us that God’s watchful care can be depended on from January 1 right through until December 31, year in and year out. The Lord is telling us today just what He told the children of Israel in their day: “He who keeps you neither slumbers nor sleeps”. Ps. 121:4

Our Heavenly Father does not take days off, vacations, sick days, or leaves of absence. His eyes are ever upon us. He cares for us as much as He cared for the children of Israel. Our land is His focus just as much as much as the land promised to the descendants of Abraham. Our Lord is concerned for our homes, our families, our transportation, our jobs, our places of worship, and our safety. None of these things escapes His sight.”
I felt my faith soar as I stood gazing at the eclipse like millions of others across America. Could it be that this was a sign of His love and His coming outpouring across our land? I believe it is. He said there would be signs in the heavens corresponding with His greatest last day prophetic sign. What is that greatest sign? The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all mankind.

LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

1Th. 5:1,2 ¶ Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

The recent solar eclipse caused me to start thinking about the return of Christ. I know what some of you are thinking, here we go again. “They have been saying that for two thousand years.” Yes ‘we’ have. The Bible predicted the first coming of Christ, ‘they’ talked about that for four thousand years; then He came. The solar eclipse reminded me about just how perfect His whole creation is. We can predict things like eclipses many years before they happen because creation is absolutely precise. So is history. The plans of God are advancing perfectly, nothing is out of place, nothing is out of timing. The Lord will return. What has to be asked; are you awake or asleep? Here are some thoughts from Barclay on the return of Christ.

“He (Paul) repeats that the coming of the day will be sudden. It will come like a thief in the night. But he also insists that that is no reason why a man should be caught unawares. It is only the man who lives in the dark and whose deeds are evil who will be caught unprepared. The Christian lives in the light and no matter when that day comes, if he is watchful and sober, it will find him ready. Waking or sleeping, the Christian is living already with Christ and is therefore always prepared. No man knows when God’s call will come for him and there are certain things that cannot be left until the last moment. It is too late to prepare for an examination when the examination paper is before you. It is too late to make the house secure when the storm has burst.”
Two things jump out at me from this quote. First, there is no excuse to be caught unaware. If we live in the light of God’s word and His love we will be absolutely ready. As the day draws near an anticipation will grow in His children. The second thing is even more sobering; there are some things that cannot be left for the last moment. No man knows the day of His coming or the day of our death, that day approaches all of us. So respond to the signs of His coming, get ready! None of us want that day to come and for us and not be ready.

ECLIPSED

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Acts 2:19,20 – And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below,  blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

Today is a highly anticipated day for many, it is the day of “The Great American Solar Eclipse”. It is being called the greatest North American eclipse since the birth of our country. Eclipses are another piece of evidence that clearly shows God’s orchestration of all creation for His glory and as signs to us. From the first book in the Bible the Lord tells us that the “lights” in the heavens are given as signs to us, Gen. 1:14 ¶ And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years”. In today’s scripture, the Lord tells us that signs in the heavens would clearly point to the end of this age and the world as we know it. Is it possible that today’s eclipse has a message for us? Some clearly think it does. Here is a quote from the Sunday Express in the UK that believes it does.

“Many fundamentalist Christians see this (the eclipse) as a significant warning of the impending apocalypse, the second coming of Christ and the rapture. The “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” as it is called is said to be a warning sign from God, as it allegedly fulfills a Bible prophecy. Pastor Paul Begley, host of the Coming Apocalypse radio show, said the eclipse could possibly fulfill a prophecy recorded in the book of Joel. This states: “The sun shall be turned to darkness before the Day of the Lord come.” Mr Begley said “somebody sound the trumpet” because the eclipse may mean “we are living in the last days.” Writing for Unsealed.org, Gary Ray says the eclipse may mean that 2017 will mark the beginning of the Tribulation, a time the Bible describes as a period of conflict and suffering on a scale never experienced in mankind’s history.”
We obviously live in perilous times. The tribulation may or may not be imminent; this heavenly sign is designed to grab our attention and turn it to the Lord. This sign in the heavens, should cause us to focus our eyes on what really matters. When Peter preached today’s passage on the Day of Pentecost he was pointing the people to the risen Lord. Jesus is alive and these signs point to His soon return. As everyone enjoys the celebratory atmosphere surrounding today’s eclipse we have to ask ourselves if we are personally ready for what’s next.

WHAT’S GOING ON?

(My response to the recent terrorist attack)
2Tim. 3:1 AMP. BUT UNDERSTAND this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear].

Are you like me, “What on earth is going on”?! France actually was terrorized by muslim extremists, at least one of which was on a refugee boat. Have we lost our minds? If I wasn’t fully convinced of God’s sovereignty I would be tempted to be afraid. Actually, rather than afraid, I feel an excitement starting to build in my belly.
“Excitement?” you ask. Yes, that’s right, a joyful anticipation to be more exact. I have a gut feeling that the Lord Himself will respond to the circumstances in the world. It seems as if there is some sort of spiritual dam that builds up in proportion to the foolishness that is going on in the world. Apparently, at some point the Lord gives the word and “wam”, all heaven breaks out.
“Prove it”, I thought I heard someone say. Well what about the California Earthquake of April 1906? Thousands of people died and 80% of San Francisco was destroyed. Within months, the greatest Pentecostal outpouring since the Day of Pentecost. The modern Pentecostal/Charismatic movement can all be traced to that revival. As a result, there are millions of Pentecostal believers in Asia, North and South America, and Africa. Pentecost is here to stay.
Another example?
What about Pentecost itself? Jerusalem had been ravaged by a series of earthquakes from the day Christ died until His resurrection. The jews had been suffering under Roman domination for years. Their desperation spilled over into a thirst that culminated in the outpouring in the upper room, the world has never been the same.
Then there was the extermination of 6 million jews that resulted in the rebirth of the nation of Israel; the end of that story hasn’t been written. Israel’s situation promises to peak with a confrontation between the nations of the world and the greatest harvest of Israelis the world has ever seen. The Lord is orchestrating all things for world revival and judgement on those who reject His Son.
How should we respond to the accelerating events in our mixed up world? Hold true to your beliefs, refuse to compromise. Soak yourself daily in God’s word. Get in a church that is not ashamed of the supernatural in their services. Spend time in His presence, praying in the Holy Spirit. Finally, don’t be ashamed of the gospel, take every opportunity to share your faith. Eternity is at hand.

THE LAST DAY OF THIS AGE

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1Thessalonians 4:17

It is so easy to be distracted from what life is really about by the activities we face everyday. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes; from the stuff we really love to the unpleasant situations we all deal with every day. Its easy to be distracted by vacations, favorite football teams, financial chaos, or bad medical reports when the coming of the Lord never comes to mind. If the Bible is true and His promises are sure, His appearance could come at any moment. Just think for a moment about that day. In an atomic instant millions of graves will open, dead bodies will come alive, and millions of living believers will be changed into immortal, stunningly beautiful creatures. It could happen today! Here are some thoughts from the 1500’s from Martin Luther about that great day.

“We will all be taken up to the Lord together at the same time, both those who previously died and those who live until Christ’s coming. In one moment, all will hover together and see each other again. Although we who are still living will have our eyes wide open, we will not see the Lord Christ before those who have died. It would make more sense that we, who are still living, should be the first to see the Lord, because the dead have long since decayed and, to our thinking, are no more.

But Christ has determined that the dead will rise with us at the same moment and will have beautiful eyes that see as well as we do. God will do for Christians what he did for Christ. He pulled Christ out from the closed and sealed grave in an instant, so quickly that in one moment he was both in and out. So in the last moment, God will bring together both. He will bring us, who are still alive and have our five senses, together with those who are dead, decayed, pulverized, and scattered all over the world. We will all, at the same time, be drawn to heaven and soar in the clouds. We will be lighter than the birds and much more beautiful than the sun.”
So what is demanding your attention today? Will that situation even matter a thousand years from now? You will still be alive, really alive! Take some time to think about eternity. What kind of day will be the last one of this age? Setting your eyes on eternity tends to bring the here and now into perspective. His coming may be nearer than any of us really imagine.

IS JESUS COMING SOON?

Matt. 24:44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Jesus is coming soon! That was one of the often repeated phrases in the Jesus movement in the 1970’s. I remembering being bummed out because I really believed Christ would return before I finished Bible College and I wouldn’t get “my chance”. In the fall of 1973 Israel retook Jerusalem and the nations of the world were engaged in “saber rattling”. One of my Bible professors had me convinced the Russian army would surround Jerusalem before morning. If you are familiar with Bible prophecy, visions of Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones and Armageddon come to mind. Many years have passed since 1973 and Christ hasn’t returned. The thing that troubles me most is that a large part of the church has lost the sense of the immanency of His return. To talk about the rapture, the antichrist, and the great tribulation is not on the top ten list on today’s famous Christian sermons. We have become more used to to sermons that say “You are One Step from Your Destiny” or “Get ready for Your Miracle Breakthrough”. Few sermons about intimacy with God and being prepared for His coming.

All the while signs of His coming are everywhere. Creation itself is pregnant with evidence of His soon return. Just this week my wife and I have been watching what is known as the Bethlehem Star. Actually, it is the alignment of Jupiter and Venus in the western sky, something that happens every few years but hasn’t had such a near encounter since about 3 BC. Thus the name Bethlehem Star, possibly the star the wise men were following. Could this extreme version of this phenomenon be announcing His soon return or is it just another reminder that we need to be ready?

Culture itself is also in transition. The changes in our society are applauded by some but to those who know their Bibles, they recognize the ominous signs spoken of by Christ.

“Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

The recent decision to reinvent the definition of marriage by the Supreme Court caused me to shutter in fear as I remember the warning of the Lord. Jesus also said when you see these things coming to pass, “Look up, your redemption is drawing near”.