We Know How it Ends!

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Well, here we are, study mates!  It’s the last lesson of our study, Why Israel Matters.  We’re closing out 11 weeks of in-depth study of Israel, end times and the return of King Jesus.  Let’s finish on a high note!

The good news is that we have read the Book (God’s Word) and we know how it all ends!  We have cause to celebrate, and reason to rest in God’s sovereignty and love.  He guides us every step of the way if we will only heed His voice!  Yesterday we reviewed signs of the times and dove into Scripture that tells us how to live in these last days.  Today, we’ll return to God’s Word for words of encouragement.

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
~Luke 21:28

Friends, we are long past seeing signs “begin to take place.”  A huge sign occurred May 14, 1948 when Israel was re-born, and argument can be made that there were signs before that.  Nonetheless, the signs did not suddenly begin a short time ago…they have been present for a while.  Therefore, the urgency is great.  We can confidently straighten up and lift our heads, knowing our redemption could occur at any moment!

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
~Romans 13:11-12

Our salvation (redemption of these bodies from this earth) is near!  The night is almost gone and the day is upon us, thus we must be awake!  Our Lord is coming for us, and He will take us to a home He has spent almost 2,000 years preparing!  Hold fast, dear friends.  Our time is coming!

Now, the very theme verses of the ministry, Looking for the Blessed Hope:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.
~Titus 2:11-13

Indeed, the grace of God appeared, and it brought salvation and taught us to live.  Now, we look expectantly for the Blessed Hope…the rapture that puts us face-to-face with Jesus!  It’s coming!

Just as the Jewish people must invite the King home (Matthew 23:39), we (the Bride of Christ) join with the Spirit to say, “Come!”  (Revelation 22:17)  Jesus’ response in Revelation 22:20: “Yes, I am coming quickly!”

 

PS: To those with whom I have shared the study table, thanks for following.  I pray you are blessed and will share what you know with others.  Though our official study together is done, I invite you to continue to follow as I teach, relate current events to God’s Word, and provide interesting information from Israel each day.  Many blessings!

Signs and Instructions

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Pull up a chair and get your Bible ready, study friends!  We’re diving into it today.

We have spent almost 11 weeks studying Israel, the covenants, end times and Jesus’ return.  But I want to make one thing clear before we make practical application today.  Roughly 25-35% of the Bible is prophetic (depending upon what Bible expert you ask!)  But we must not focus there while ignoring the rest.  All of God’s Word teaches us how to live, and that is critical.  If Israel and/or prophecy become the only focus, we will be lop-sided Christians!  Know and understand the place of Israel and prophecy in the context of all of Scripture.

Now, let’s make our way toward practical application of that idea!  We’ll consider the signs of the end, then look to “non-prophetic” passages to help us understand how to live.

Here are some signs of the times:

  • Re-birth of Israel.  (Ezekiel 36-37)  Israel cannot invite their King home if there is no home to invite Him to! This is the key prophecy of Jesus’ return, and it occurred May 14, 1948.
  • Godlessness around the world.  (2 Timothy 3:1-5)  In his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul provided a very long list of moral failures that would occur in the last days.  Take a look at that list and decide for yourself whether or not those verses describe today’s culture.
  • Related imageTremendous increase in natural disasters. (Matthew 24:7)  Worldwide natural disasters have more than doubled since 1980.  Moreover, the intensity of storms and the resulting damage has increased far more.
  • Wars and rumors of war.  (Matthew 24:6)  War has been constant in our world for decades, but nuclear capabilities have risen to a level making those threats of war much more apocalyptic.
  • Russia, Iran, Turkey in coalition.  (Ezekiel 38)  The stage is set for the war of Gog and Magog as described by Ezekiel.  Russia, Iran and Turkey are undeniably identified as the primary players (along with other minor players) in the northern invasion.  Each of those nations now hold military positions on Israel’s border with Syria.
  • Signs of the rise of the false prophet and Antichrist are all over.  Though we (Christians) will be raptured prior to the Antichrist being revealed, we see false prophet and Antichrist-like figures in the world today.

The signs are everywhere! So, what instructions are we given?  Now is the time to open God’s Word, so crack open the Book and let’s take a look!

  • 1 John 2:15-18.  We are not to love this world or the things of it.  Those who please God will live forever.  The last hour is here and the Antichrist is coming.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.  We are all running a race, and we must run to win.  To compete, we must persevere and not give up.  We discipline ourselves so we will not be disqualified.
  • Hebrews 12:1-2.  We must lay aside every encumbrance (sin) that entangles us and keeps us from running the race to win.  When we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, we are guided rightly.

Finally, let’s consider Luke 19:11-13:

While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’”

Friends, the kingdom of God is about to appear.  Jesus told a parable that mirrored Himself when He described a nobleman going to a distant country.  He has gone to the heavenly kingdom to prepare a place for us!  But, just as the nobleman in the parable, Jesus left us here, with His resources, to do His business until He returns!

Again, I say: We must be about our Father’s business in these days until He returns.  The time is now…we have no time to delay.  Are you doing business with the resources He left you?

That is my prayer for all of us (myself included!)  As we do His business, let’s be faithful watchmen who shout the warnings to those around us!

We’re nearing the end of the study, but we’re not there yet!  So, I’ll see you tomorrow!

Living Between Two Worlds

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For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
~Philippians 3:20

Believing friends, have you noticed?  We are not at home in this world!  Our passports say, “Heaven,” yet we live physically in a world that hates what and who we stand for.  We are waiting to be taken to heaven, where we belong!

Jesus actually prayed for us in John 17.  Take a look at verses 13-19.  Jesus Himself prays to His Father, acknowledging the world hates us as they hate Him.  We are not of this hateful world, yet Jesus did not ask the Father to take us out of here, but to keep us from the evil one.

Hey…wait a minute!  Jesus gets to leave this place, yet we are to stay?  Why is that?  Well, just 3 chapters earlier (John 14), we’re told Jesus went to prepare a place for us!  He’s preparing our heavenly home, but meanwhile, we remain in this foreign place because we have work to do!  Do we know our purpose?  Are we living it out?  Are we content to sit around saying, “Maranatha, Lord come quickly,” or are we committed to finish the work the Father has left for us to do?

One thing for sure…we live in unprecedented times.  As we discussed in a previous week, we are living in the calm before the storm.  This is a time of urgency…a time to prepare for what is coming.  In fact, I personally believe God honored the prayers of many in giving America one last chance to repent and turn to Him in righteousness.  It is a short window of time, so now is the time to be about our Father’s business.

As I write this, a large monsoon storm, typical of the Phoenix area, just blew through.  It was not a surprise because the signs were clear: the sky grew dark, the wind picked up and it is monsoon season.  Well, dear believers, we live in the season described as end times in the Bible, and “skies are growing dark” in areas of the world Scripture tells us will be embattled in the end.  Winds of war are blowing.

In Matthew 16:1-3 and Luke 12:54-56, Jesus admonished religious leaders and crowds that followed Him because they knew how to discern the weather, but did not discern the signs of the times.  I wonder…would He admonish us today?  The signs are clear, and we must be alert to them.  Jesus is coming soon.  Are we ready?

Why not end today’s study by taking a few moments to honestly appraise the Father’s work assigned to you.  Are you about your Father’s business?  If so, press on, friends!  If not, it’s not too late!  Seek out His plan for you, then take the first step.  He will bless you!

See you tomorrow!

The King Awaits His Invitation

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Hold on to your hats, study friends, as we’re taking a whirlwind ride today!

Recall that after Jesus lamented over Jerusalem, He proclaimed they will not see Him again until He hears “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”  (Matthew 23:39)  Jesus, a gentleman, is not going to barge on to the scene, but rather will wait for that special invitation, signaling His people are ready to receive Him.

But, before we get there, let’s talk briefly about the immanency of His return.  This week’s study is focused on the return of Jesus to His people.  That occurs after the tribulation, which means at least 7 years after believers in Jesus are taken out by rapture.  Thus, while we see signs pointing to that, we must be reminded that our departure via the rapture is indeed very imminent.

Here are some signs of the times, some of which will happen before the rapture, some of which will happen later.  All of which we see lining up right now!

  • Prophetic signs of Jesus.  Example: Matthew 24 warns of false messiahs, wars and rumors of wars and natural disasters, all of which have greater prevalence now than ever before.
  • Prophetic signs of Paul.  Try reading 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where Paul leaves a laundry list of moral failures that characterize the last days.  We’re living in that time!
  • Prophetic signs of Isaiah.  There are many, but perhaps none making today’s headlines more than Isaiah 17:1, indicating the destruction of Damascus.  How much longer can Damascus stand?  Almost the entire city is destroyed right now.
  • Prophetic signs of Ezekiel.  It is likely no one needs to remind you that the Ezekiel 38 coalition of forces that will attack Israel is now firmly in place on Israel’s northern border.  The stage is set.

Luke 21:28 says:

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

The King is coming, and He is awaiting the Matthew 23:39 invitation.  However, I believe there is another invitation that pleases Him also.  It is found in Revelation 22:17:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

This is a wedding scene where the Spirit of God and His bride (believers!) join together in a chorus of “Come!”  Can you even imagine what heaven will sound like when God brings His family together as one to wed His Son!

It doesn’t hold a candle to it, but perhaps the imagery in your mind is kindled with this:

 

Indeed, the grandest wedding celebration of all time will occur when God establishes His family and brings us all together in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant…the Millennial Kingdom!

Meanwhile, we keep looking for the Blessed Hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)!  (That is the topic of our last week of study together, so be sure to stick with us!)