Raptured

Rev.7:16 – They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;

This verse comes from one of the most thrilling scenes in all the Bible. John has just witnessed the opening of the seals of God’s mighty scroll and the beginning of God’s judgement being poured out on the earth. Out of the midst of the Great Tribulation comes a palm waving, innumerable multitude. The joy is far beyond anything John had ever witnessed in his days. These worshippers were the vast multitude of God’s final harvest before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. One minute these folks were facing hostility and darkness, the next moment they are standing in unspeakable joy, dressed in white, washed in the blood, celebrating before the throne of God. Here is how J.A. Seiss describes this scene.

“O the blessedness, the peace, the comfort, the everlasting satisfaction, which is the portion of these Palm-bearers! Our souls thrill with the mere contemplation of it! What must it then be to possess it—to feel it to be our own—to enjoy it without let or hindrance forever….We feel ourselves overshadowed with the cloud of brightness. We cannot open even our drowsy eyes to the scene, but our lips mutter: “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Fain would we set up our tabernacles where we might ever contemplate the blaze of living glory. Here we would sit forever viewing bliss so great, so true, so high. This glorious Lamb! This glorious throne! These glorious ones with their glorious crowns! This effulgence of gracious Godhead! These sinless splendors! These “eternal consolations! These holy services! These smiles of favor beaming from the King! These never-withering palms! These ever-shining robes! These ever-thrilling songs! These ever-flowing springs of never-failing life! These joy-speaking eyes which never weep, and singing lips which never thirst, and uplifted hands which never tire, and comforts from God as a mother would comfort the child she loves, and sorrow and sighing forever fled away! O blessed, blessed, blessed contemplation!”

Jesus has just wiped away their final tears and led them to the fountain of living waters! They can hardly believe what had just happened to them. They had come out of a world of suffering, sorrow, and anger; now they were swallowed up in unspeakable love flowing from Jesus Himself. We can see the signs of these days on the horizon of our world, I think its time to look up, our redemption is coming near.

THE RAPTURE

1 Thes.4:15-17 – For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

It seems like every revival season sparks an interest in topics associated with the last days. When Parris and I first came to Christ it seems like talk about the return of Christ and the Rapture were everywhere. As a matter of fact Parris and I were married two weeks after our conversion and had apparently already been totally indoctrinated. How do I know that? The wedding song that was played at our wedding rather than the traditional wedding march was

“I WISH THEY HAD ALL BEEN READY” by Larry Norman. Everyone seemed to place a real importance about your position on the return of Christ. In those a days clear distinctions were made by your belief in a pre-tribulation rapture, a mid-tribulation rapture, or a post tribulation rapture. Here are some thoughts from the Fire Bible on the Rapture of the church.

“Christ’s warning that his followers must always be ready relates to his return from heaven to take his church out of the world during the rapture. This means that it applies to us today. Jesus clearly states that his coming for his followers living before the tribulation will be at an unexpected time and without warning” because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” In fact, Jesus says that he will return at a time when they “do not expect him”. This clearly points to an element of surprise, amazement and unexpectedness, even for his faithful followers in the church. This is sometimes referred to as the first stage of Christ’s second coming (the second stage being his expected return to earth following the tribulation period).”

For those that may not know, the rapture is an instantaneous taking away of believers at the return of Christ. As Paul said, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” Christ will come. “The dead in Christ will rise first, and we which are alive and remain will be caught up with them in the air.” In that instant the resurrection of the dead and the glorification of our mortal bodies will happen. I hope you are ready, that day is drawing near.

REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE

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Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to gain his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

Luke 17:32–33

This has to be one of the most disturbing sayings in the Bible, “Remember Lot’s wife”. Jesus had been teaching about what it would be like when He returned to the earth. He reminded them of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Everyone remembers the story but may forget this one part, Abraham had bargained with the Lord for the protection of Lot and his family when Sodom was destroyed. The angels warned Lot and company to flee from the city and not to look back. Lot’s wife looked. It was not just a casual, accidental glance. She loved Sodom and didn’t want to leave it. You know the rest of the story.

Remember, when Jesus said, “remember Lot’s wife”, He was actually talking about His return to the earth and warning His followers about being attached to this world. Longing for this life disqualifies us for the next life. Here are some thoughts from Watchman Nee on today’s verse.

“If I mistake not, this is the one passage in the New Testament that tells of our reaction to the rapture call. In that moment we shall discover our real heart’s treasure. If it is the Lord Himself, there will be no backward look. It is so easy to become more attached to the gifts of God than to the Giver—and even, I may add, to the work of God than to God Himself. But he that is on the housetop is not to go back for his goods. Let me illustrate. I am engaged in writing a book. I have finished eight chapters, and I have another nine to write, about which I am seriously exercised before the Lord. Now suppose the call to “come up hither” were to come and my reaction were to be, “What about my book?” Is it not possible that the precious thing which I am doing downstairs in the house, as it were, might be enough to pin me down, a peg that could hold me to the earth? The question at issue is always, where is my heart?”

Let me ask you straight out, are you ready for the rapture of the church? Jesus is coming, the signs of His return are literally shouting out all around us. We have to set our affections on Jesus and His coming kingdom least we too are unprepared at His sudden return.

RAPTURE TALK

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. All these are the beginning of sorrows”

Matt. 24:3

Frank and I grew up as young Christians thinking about the rapture. In the Jesus Movement, songs were sung and Christians witnessed with such expectancy that Christ would return at any moment. At our Bible school in California, the students would gather to debate if they believed in a post or pre-tribulation rapture. When we came to New Orleans to start our church, we showed the movies, “THE THIEF IN THE NIGHT” and “THE DISTANT THUNDER” which terrified us all and many received the Lord through this. Even at my wedding, I walked down the aisle to all of us singing “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”. The song went like this:

“A man and wife asleep in bed

She hears a noise and turns her head he’s gone

I wish we’d all been ready

Two men walking up a hill

One disappears and one’s left standing still

I wish we’d all been ready”

Larry Norman

Last Thursday Frank and I had yet another rapture conversation. What if Christ came, what if the tribulation clock has been started with the eclipse, the three hurricanes back to back, the earthquakes and the world gone upside down with hate, nuclear bombs threats and rioting. We know his day draws near and where will you be when you see him face to face? Did I do all that I could within my power? Has my light grown dim? Have I backed off the gospel to become more pleasing to the world? We feel deeply that there will be a ingathering of more souls. Robert Murray McCheyne said, “Close upon the back of a judgment period, the Holy Spirit descends upon a whole community as “a rushing mighty wind” (Act 2:2), like “floods upon the dry ground” (Isa 44:3), or “like rain upon the mown grass” (Psa 72:6). The great heart of society begins to heave and palpitate as the heart of one man—and myriads of careless sinners are arrested, alarmed, filled with anxiety about salvation, and turned simultaneously to look on Him Whom they have pierced, and mourn those sins that pierced Him and brought Him to “those sins that pierced Him and brought Him to the dust of death.”

“The father spoke, the demons dined

How could you have been so blind?

There’s no time to change your mind

The son has come and you’ve been left behind”

Norman

THE DAY OF THE LORD

1Th. 5:2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Today’s verse is quite powerful in light of the times we live in. Our world is deteriorating before our eyes. No surprises, everything is progressing just as the Lord has said it would. Today’s devotion will be a little different. I’ve taken some quotes from the Fire Bible on the end times followed by comments from me. Fire Bible is in quotation marks.
“The “day of the Lord” normally does not refer to a 24–hour day, but rather to an extended period of time when God’s enemies are overthrown (1) This “day” begins following the rapture of the church, when Christ’s followers will be taken suddenly from the earth to escape the end-time judgments to come on the world.”
The prophecies have been fulfilled, Christ could return for His church at any moment. We must stay ready.
“(2) The day of the Lord will occur at a time when people are hoping for peace and safety.”

Man is trying desperately to solve all their problems with some sort of human alliance. It just won’t be successful. The fellowship of mankind outside of Christ actually is characterized by the spirit of antichrist.
“(3) The “day” will not come as a surprise to faithful believers—“like a thief in the night”—because they have accepted Christ’s salvation and will be spared from God’s wrath. The faithful will be ready for the Lord’s return because they are alert and self-controlled, living in faith, love and purity.”

It is important to stay ready. We can keep our lamps trimmed and burning by searching His word daily and staying filled with the Spirit.

“(4) Faithful believers will be rescued from this “coming wrath” through the Lord Jesus Christ when he comes to take the faithful people back to heaven with him.”

This is our hope. The world will fall under the judgement of God because of rejecting His Son. All of His church will be protected and carried away at His coming.
“(5) The day of the Lord will end with Christ’s millennial (thousand-year) reign of peace on earth and will bring time as we know it to a close. The “day” will actually end following Christ’s millennial kingdom and the final judgment of the wicked. Then the new heaven and new earth will be established.”

All of these things may seem unreal to you today. The more you draw near to God, the more res they will become.
“(6) For God’s enemies, “the day of the Lord” means terrible destruction and judgment; but for God’s faithful people, it means rescue and reward.”
Christ took our judgment at the cross. All who reject Him are left to deal with the consequences of their own sins. Get ready. He is coming like a thief the night.

RAPTURE TUNE UP

RAPTURE TUNE UP, THANK YOU HAROLD CAMPING!
-MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY

“I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.”
Song of Solomon

Thursday of last week, Frank and I went to our favorite Sushi place in Elmwood-Kyoto2. While eating, we begun to discuss the “what if’s” of the rapture happening. We really weren’t taking much of it seriously when we just began to stop and really contemplate the possibilities of it happening……Saturday. We found ourselves getting a little nervous about the “what if”. What would happen to our children, our church, our pets and yes even our marriage. (I wasn’t sure if Frank was concerned more for the dogs than me!) Both of us felt like we had more to do for Him and his kingdom. I will admit I have been in the process of doing a little renovation in our kitchen and was feeling just a tad silly about it. As the days drew closer to Saturday I pretty well dropped all my concerns. As the Aussies say- I was able to “get it sorted”. I went from nervousness to anticipation of even the thought of being raptured. Many times I went on the internet Friday and Saturday because I was amazed at all the news coverage ole Harold Camping was getting. Atheist going on craigslist to take your dogs, others wanting to buy your stuff and then of course the tweets, the cartoons and the many, many rapture jokes and parties. Wow, the world actually was being made keenly aware of the “RAPTURE”. Even Christians were being awakened out of their sleeply state, we were getting a rapture tune up.
The services over the weekend for me were refreshing and exciting. Yes, we are still here, enjoying Him and serving in the kingdom. In the Song of Solomon she was being awakened by her lover. He had put His hand on the door and she was hesitating. It is the voice of the beloved, He is calling us to a deeper walk, a burning love and a igniting passion. We may not know the day or the hour but we can certainly continue “to make ourselves ready”.
Spurgeon says it like this, “Oh, noble and pleasant employment to be for ever gazing at our sweet Lord Jesus! Is it not unspeakably delightful to view the Saviour in all his offices, and to perceive him matchless in each?-to shift the kaleidoscope, as it were, and to find fresh combinations of peerless graces? In the manger and in eternity, on the cross and on his throne, in the garden and in his kingdom, among thieves or in the midst of cherubim, he is everywhere altogether lovely. Examine carefully every little act of his life, and every trait of his character, and he is as lovely in the minute as in the majestic. Judge him as you will, you cannot censure; weigh him as you please, and he will not be found wanting. Eternity shall not discover the shadow of a spot in our Beloved, but rather, as ages revolve, his hidden glories shall shine forth with yet more inconceivable splendour, and his unutterable loveliness shall more and more ravish all celestial minds.”
Thanks Mr. Camping whoever you are——“Even so come Lord Jesus!”

IS THE RAPTURE MAY 21?

IS THE RAPTURE MAY 21?

And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matt.24:11-14

People have been making predictions about the return of Christ since the time of Christ. Paul wrote his letters to the church in Thessalonica to correct one of these predictions. Some of the believers in Thesalonica had believed Christ had already returned and others had left their daily lives to go out of town to wait on a mountain for the Lord’s return. Paul wrote his letter to correct them about their thoughts about the coming of Christ. He said that we could be ready for that day and it should not catch true Christians “like a thief in the night”.
Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, believed Christ returned spiritually in the 1800’s, and the end of the age would be 1914. He proved to be a false prophet. In the 1970’s, David Moses, the founder of the “Children of God” set a date predicting the destruction of America, most of his followers left the country until the date passed (we were actually glad to get rid of them). May 21 will undoubtably prove to be another false prediction, but that should not cause us to fall into a spiritual sleep. These false predictions themselves are an actual sign of the end of times.
The signs of the nearness of the end of the age and the coming of Christ are all around us, but know one can know the day of His return. The surprise element not only keeps us guessing, but is intended to keep us ready. If the end of the world, as we know it, is upon us, how should it effect our behavior? It is kind of like getting ready for your wedding, but not knowing exactly when the date will be. There is a joyful anticipation as the longed for date draws near, the excitement deepens as you make final preparations. What kind of preparations need to be made? Most importantly, we must prepare our hearts. Our God is a jealous God and He will not share our affection with anyone else. He wants to be our first love, friendship with the world is considered adultery and disqualifies us from our relationship with Christ. Make improving your relationship with Christ a priority in your life, that is the only way we can be prepared for that great and terrible day.

WILL JESUS RETURN MAY 21?

WILL JESUS RETURN MAY 21?

“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. “Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!'”
Mk. 13:33-37 NASB

There have always been people that make predictions about the date of Christ’s return (Jesus called these people false prophets). The Lord clearly told us that we could recognize the spiritual seasons we live in but no one could know the day or the hour of His return. The most recent prediction is May 21, 2011. This prediction was made by Harold Camping who has also made other predictions of the return of Christ in the past that obviously proved to be wrong, there must be good money to be made making false prophecies.
One of those previous predictions of the coming of the Lord was October of 1988. Many Christians bought in to that prediction, even some of my friends. I remember a Sunday just before the predicted date someone put tracts with this prediction on all the cars in our church parking lot. This made me think about the ridiculous fruit of these predictions, when Christ comes, what will determine if you are ready? It seems the implication of these messages is that you must believe their prediction in order to be spiritual and to be really safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being prepared for that great day has nothing to do with knowing dates. Being prepared for the coming of Christ is all about the heart. Jesus warned us about being spiritually asleep when the day of His coming arrives. Having a daily, personal relationship with Christ is what it takes to be ready for the return of Christ. Do you have a daily walk with the Lord?
The story I am always reminded of when I think about the Second Coming, is the parable of the ten virgins. Jesus told this story as an illustration as to what being ready would look like. Five of the virgins had no oil in their lamps and were called foolish, they were fast asleep when the Master returned. Five were called wise because their lamps were full of oil, when their Lord returned, they were ready. Of course the meaning of this story is obvious, the oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit. When a Christian walks with Christ, he is continuously filled with the Spirit, his lamp stays full of oil. The person who neglects Christ has an empty lamp. How is it with you today, is your lamp trimmed and burning? Mr. Camping has been wrong before, but what if he gets lucky this time, will you be ready?