Raptured to Attend the Marriage Feast

Raptured to Attend the Marriage Feast  

Daily Reading: (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17):

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 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.”

What is the Rapture? The Rapture is the time when the Lord will come down from Heaven and a trumpet call will precede the rise of “the dead in Christ” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Thereafter, “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” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

The term “Rapture” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible. But don’t get hung up on this fact as some denominations have. “Rapture” the term, was created to describe this future event that Paul writes about that will happen in the last days written about in 1 Thessalonians 4. You can call this event what you’d like, the grand meeting in the sky, the Rapture, just don’t get hung up on the term itself.

“For the Lord himself will come down from Heaven”, many have referred to this as the Second Coming of Christ.  It is clear Jesus doesn’t return to Earth, “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.”

This is not the Second Coming, this is the Rapture. The Second Coming is a different event written about in Revelation 19.

So to find out why we are Raptured and what happens next we have to go to the book of Revelation chapter 19:

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people). Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God” [Revelation 19:6-9].

The reason for the Rapture is because Jesus is taking His bride (the church) and the friends of the bridegroom (Old Testament Saints) to the wedding.

Now Jesus Second Coming is not to welcome the bride because the bride is already with Him. Jesus is coming back to wage war on evil wickedness on the earth.

Revelation 19:11-14: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. This is the bride of Christ the church already with Jesus. Revelation 19:8 just before this tells us so: Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

The wedding feast happens first and then we return with Christ at His Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-14).

Jesus said in Matthew 24:30, speaking of His Second Coming- At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

Why would all the nations mourn? If believers were here on the earth waiting for Jesus’ return wouldn’t this be a mixed reaction? Happiness, joy, excitement for believers and mourning for those who are not believers? There would be only one reaction if the believers were already taken before Jesus’ Second Coming.

Acts of the Flesh

Acts of the Flesh 

Daily Reading: (Galatians 5:16-21):

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

“Freedom in Christ” is the main point of Galatians chapter five. When we reach verse sixteen we have are introduced into the sub-header: “life by the Spirit”. So we have freedom in Christ expressed through life by the spirit.

Which what Paul is saying is “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The question really becomes, “how are we to walk by the Spirit and what does it mean to walk after the flesh?” Most people actually read this verse the other way around. “Do your best not to fulfill the desires or lust of your flesh, and then you’ll walk in the Spirit.” That is not what Scripture says or teaches us here. The Scripture teaches this not in the negative but in the positive. “walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” As you walk by the Spirit you won’t have to worry about the lust of the flesh.” Our focus has to be on walking in the Spirit. If you are focused on trying not to fulfill the desires of the flesh that is living your life under the Law. And if you live this way you’ll end up walking after the flesh. Walking after the flesh is an attempt to meet any of your needs apart from God.Romans 8:13 tells us this is a disastrous way to live.

So, how do we walk by the spirit or what is walking by the spirit? John Piper says, “It is “being led by the Spirit” and it is “bearing the fruit of the Spirit. You allow the Spirit to control you by keeping your heart happy in God. Or to put it another way, you walk by the Spirit when your heart is resting in the promises of God.” [1]

George Müller learned the secret of walking by the Spirit: meditate on the precious truths of the word of God until your heart is happy in God, resting in his promises.[2]

“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” You will have victory over temptation and know the guidance of the Lord if you keep your heart happy in God by resting in his promises.

We get a better understanding in the Greek for the word “walk” (peripateō) which means to be led around. This brings us to Psalm 23:3, “He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” This is what it means to walk by the Spirit.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Habits of the flesh will all fall off as we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

The Spirit of the Lord will move you to a place of rest and refreshment where you cast your cares on Him. Troubles and stresses will come, but walk by the Spirit to the place of lying down in green pastures. Enjoy the feast God prepares for you in the presence of those plaguing enemies that have risen up against you. 

“Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11 WEB)

 Rest is not inactivity—it is Spirit-directed activity. The opposite of being in God’s rest is being in unbelief.

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.” They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. I wanted to point out that the fight is not between you and the flesh, the fight is between the flesh and the Spirit.

Here is the good news: you are not under the Law any longer because we have freedom in Christ, freedom to live by the Spirit that He has placed inside us. Live as the new creation we have become. Live out of our new God-given nature that reflects His glory. Galatians 5:16 promises victory over the desires of the flesh, not that there won’t be a war, but that the winner of that war will be the Spirit.


[1] John Piper. The War Within: Flesh Versus Spirit. June 19, 1983. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-war-within-flesh-versus-spirit

[2] George Müller. Autobiography 152–154.

Hey, There Delilah

Hey There Delilah |Judges 16 | Samson is a Story of Rest |The Exhausting One Robbed Samson Of Rest – YouTube

Hey there Delilah

Daily Reading: (Judges 16:1-3):

“One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”

Samson was born to a man named Manoah (Judges 13). Manoah’s name means rest. Samson was born of rest (Manoah). God would lead His people into the Promised Land by crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan River to a place of rest. A place where they did not have to labor to enjoy the fruit of the Land (Deuteronomy 6). The Red Sea they crossed is a picture of water baptism, a picture of the cross, and it tells us that you cannot enter the promised land, without the cross and the finished work of Jesus.

Samson was born in the village of Zorah. His home is on a mountain where he looked down at the Valley of Sorek where Delilah was from. Sorek means choice vine- where we get grapes, and the best wine. Samson’s home overlooked the place known for the thing he was not permitted to do (Judges 13). 

“The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him” (Judges 16:5). Before temptation can betray us to destruction, it must woo us with some promise of satisfaction (Judges 16:5).

Delilah wasn’t able to make progress through seduction to gain his secret, so she started questioning Samson’s integrity instead. She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies” (Judges 16:15).

Delilah seduced Samson (Judges 16:5), then she shamed him (Judges 16:15), and eventually she exhausted him (Judges 16:16). “When she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death” (Judges 16:16).Delilah’s name in Hebrew means “the exhausting one” (Judges 16:16).

What did Delilah do? She has robbed Samson of rest, by exhausting him. When Samson is out of rest, he will be in a place that will lead to the loss of his sight.

“So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man” (Judges 16:17).

How do you picture Samson (the man who killed 1,000 with a jawbone), in your mind to look like? I always pictured Samson as being the strongest man on the planet with big muscles. If that’s the case, why would they wonder about the secret of his strength? If Samson’s strength came from his physique then if you cut his hair, he still would have been stronger than most. Samson’s strength came from God, it was not of himself. In the story of Samson, we find God uses weak things so that He might be glorified.

We learn earlier in verse 13 that Samson has seven braids of hair on his head. Seven is a number of perfection and completion and also rest, because God made everything and on the seventh day God rested. We know his hair doesn’t represent his perfection, because he was imperfect with his interactions with Delilah. What the seven braids of hair represent instead is rest. He was born of rest. So, Delilah cutting his hair isn’t a separation of perfection, it is a separation unto rest. We had the clue from her name all along. She is the exhausting one. Samson stayed around the temptation so long it separated him from rest and it led him to reveal his secret.

What the Philistines did to Samson once they captured him is they gouge out both his eyes and now he is blind. When you lose your rest, you lose your perspective and your vision. Captured by his enemies, disoriented and blind is where Samson is at. But God is the God of a second chance. God is a God of hope. The Bible says: But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved” (Judges 16:22).

“Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. So that day he killed at his death more than he had killed in his life” (Judges 16:28, 30b).

At the cross, Jesus Christ saved way more than all He did in His three and a half years of earthly ministry. At the cross Jesus has healed more people than He healed in his three and a half years of public ministry. At Jesus’ death and Resurrection, He accomplished much more victory for us.

Look beyond Samson to see the shadow of a cross made by his arms stretched out between the columns. Picture Jesus on that cross crying out to God, fulfilling His destiny, the weight of the sins of humanity on His shoulders. Instead of praying for the destruction of the people around Him that day, Jesus prayed that the Father would forgive them. It was through His death that we might receive the salvation of the Lord.

As a Man Thinks…

Daily Reading: (Proverbs 23:7): “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”   

What you think has a great bearing on what you do. However, Proverbs 23:7 is not saying that you are what you think.

Think positive thoughts, make positive confessions and you’ll become a positive person. Whatever your focus on the inside is, will become the reality on the outside. Thoughts shape destinies. Of course, there’s truth to all of those sayings, however, this is not what Solomon had in mind when he wrote Proverbs 23:7. Solomon is referring to a specific kind of person in verse seven. But who? The answer is right there in the passage.

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments (Proverbs 23:6-8).

Clearly, this passage has nothing to do with positive thinking. This text gives a straightforward warning to keep your guard up around selfish people.

Now that we cleared that up, now I want to talk about the power of our thoughts. Our spirits are made new the moment we are born again, but from then on our minds have to play catch-up. They have to be renewed. We need to take on new attitudes, new ways of thinking. We need to cultivate the habit of saying yes and amen to the promises of God. We need to call things that are not as though they are. Because what we believe can be contrary to who we are or who Christ made us to be.

Your erroneous thinking does not change your identity of who you have become. For some reason, there is the tendency to think of saints as people who became saints, sainthood based upon what they have done in their lives. It’s not true. You don’t become a saint by what you do but by what has been done for you and what you received (2 Corinthians 5:21). Saints (holy people) are not a special group of people but are all believers. The qualification to be God’s holy people (saints) is that a person be in Christ (Ephesians 1:1).

The devil works hard to win the battle in our minds. He doesn’t want the church to walk in Christ’s victory. He wants you to believe the lie that you are defeated so that you don’t tap into the divine power you have to demolish strongholds he has set up (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Be encouraged to know that you don’t have to be afraid of the battles in your mind. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Right believing is based on God’s Word and it is the key that unlocks the treasures of God in your life. Right believing gives you access to the fullness of His love, grace, and many blessings. The hindrance to your victory is found in your wrong beliefs. The battle has to do with your beliefs (John 8:32).

The enemy knows that if he can control your thought life, he can manipulate your emotions and feelings. If you entertain thoughts of guilt, failure, and defeat, you will begin to feel lousy about yourself, physically weak, and even depressed. Our emotions are the flags that indicate to us if our thoughts are negative or positive. Your emotions follow quickly after your thoughts. If your thoughts are negative, you will naturally produce negative emotions. If your thoughts are positive in Christ, you will produce positive emotions. That is why there is a battle for your mind. The devil wants to keep your thoughts negative so that he can keep you defeated. Through the power of right believing, you will win the battle for your mind.

More Than Conquerors

More than Conquerors

Daily Reading: (Romans 8:37): “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Cyrus the Great, and even Hitler what did all these men all have in common. They were all conquerors. When we hear the word conqueror we might think of ones of these individuals, but the chances are we might not think of ourselves in that way. You are not just a conqueror, but more than a conqueror. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Since we know our battle is a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12) it is significant to know that we are more than conquerors in the spiritual realm.

More than a conqueror- (hypernikaō)- to gain a surpassing victory.

What are the things that we are more than conquerors against? Paul list what we are more than conquerors against (in verse 35) and verses (38 and 39) and if you read the chapter in its entirety you would see a header that identifies the fact that Paul is talking about us living our life in the Spirit. Victory in the spiritual, (the battle in our mind), will manifest itself into the physical realm.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.” Do you believe the battle you are going through is for your good? If you see yourself as more than a conqueror in Christ you will. 

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” God > Everything Else  (Against Us) [Romans 8:31]. I recently taught my daughter Ava how to play the card game of War. I was dominating her early on and she was getting frustrated, but I hadn’t seen an Ace come up yet. I told her don’t lose heart because I have all your two’s, three’s, and four’s. I said it’s not the number of cards you have, it’s really about who holds the ace’s. And then she began to dominate me even though I had more cards because she held all four aces. If God is for us (the Ace), it doesn’t matter how the cards fall in the moment- who could be against us? The victory is ours in Jesus. As a child of God, you have an inheritance. Knowing the victory we have in Christ is crucial as we move forward, led by the Spirit as more than conquerors.

Do You Know Who You Are?

#Do You Know Who You Are?

Daily Reading: (Judges 6:11-16):

“The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

There will be fearful times where we might be afraid of something in our future but the words of God will fill you will faith and initiate a boldness inside of you to be courageous in the present. In the process of immersing ourselves in the story of Gideon we will see what God has already done in the life of a believer – and the question becomes who do you identify with? Do you identify as your new self a courageous champion warrior in Christ or as your old defeated wimpy self before Christ transformed your life?

The Israelites were in a bad situation because sin robbed God’s people from the abundant harvest that should have been rightfully theirs (Judges 6:1). Finally, the people of God reached the point that this was a bigger issue than anything they could resolve for themselves that they cried to God for help (Judges 6:6).

The text reads that Midian or the Midianites “so impoverished” and that Hebrew word means to be brought low. They were brought so low to the point they cried out. This is a demonstration of God’s great love and His grace- they were doing evil which opened the door for the enemy to come in and steal from them, and God uses the situation where they were brought low to help them recognize their need for God. 

The angel of the Lord is as a theophany – an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ, in human, bodily form, but before His incarnation in Bethlehem.

It shows that God himself, appearing in human form through Jesus, spoke to Gideon:

This is important for you to see because Christ gives us a new identity just as He did for Gideon. Jesus calls Him as He will make Him not as He was (Judges 6:11-12).

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Good question. If God is with us- why does evil things happen?

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

I am on a rescue mission and I choose you to go. Instead of focusing on the problem (sin) and the consequences to the problem Jesus provides us His salvation- the solution to our sin problem. Gideon was perfectly positioned to be used by God because Christ was with Him. The last possible choice was chosen because this demonstrates that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone (Judges 6:15).

If you keep believing the lies of the enemy you are allowing the enemy to continue to rob the blessings of Christ from you. See yourself as God sees you, who Christ in you has already made you to be, a mighty warrior. For us, to have faith to see God work remarkable things through our lives we need to remind ourselves that God’s favor is on our lives (Judges 6:17).

 

Triumph in Jesus

Daily Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:14:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

Question: How can we be victorious and triumph in life?

Answer: It is clear in the Greek… Grace. When we read verse fourteen we might think the answer is “thanks”. I don’t think that is what Paul meant because in all of Scripture there is only three other places (charis) is translated as thanks. 130 times it is translated as grace.  In this particular text it reads (de charis) or but grace. If you had a setback in your life “but grace” will lead you to triumph. But the grace of God always leads to my triumph in Christ.

How is that possible? Good question and that is found in the second half of the same verse, part B-

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession.” This doesn’t mean what you probably think it means. The word translated “lead in triumphal procession” (thriambeuō) refers to what a great Roman general does when he leads in captivity those enemies he has conquered and takes them to their death or to slavery.

Paul alludes to one of the most spectacular celebrations in times of antiquity, the Roman Triumph. Awarded by the senate to honor a victorious general, the Triumph was essentially an enormous parade through the heart of Rome. It was designed to display the glory of the Roman general and offer thanks to Jupiter for granting the victory. The imagery of 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 actually represents Paul’s theology of the cross in its most vivid and arresting form. As the analogy of the Roman triumph and the incense-filled parade route continues in verses 15 and 16, we find Paul illustrating his struggle in ministry to the Corinthians as the means through which the aroma of the crucified Christ is mediated to those around him. Paul understood the paradox that God’s strength is most potently displayed through his own weakness and suffering.

Paul’s words may be difficult to comprehend but what Paul is saying is that God ministers more powerfully through our tragedies than our triumphs. It is the broken vessel that reveals the treasure within (2 Cor. 4:7-12).

 

So in Colossians, Paul says God leads the devil in triumph, and in 2 Corinthians, he says that God leads Paul in triumph. Both have been defeated in their rebellion against God. In other words, Paul was defeated and taken captive; but he was brought to faith and forgiven and justified and made a glad and willing servant of the greatest General who ever was.

So Paul pictures his missionary life and ministry as spreading a fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. In other words, when we suffer as missionaries in the service of Christ, it’s like Christ suffering for the lost, and God smells this fragrance of sacrificial love and it pleases him.

Smelling Christ as the aroma of life gives life. So, life has battles everyday. There may be the smell of death and defeat all around you, but may I remind you that Christ is the sweet aroma of life and victory. How do you triumph in your life today? You triumph through God’s grace which is Jesus Christ our Lord. His victory is for your battles today. His victory led us to a triumphal procession into new life in Him and an everlasting victory to come.