Posts tagged ‘Church’

The Rapture of the Church

I have been wanting to write about the rapture for a few years, but have not felt the okay from the Spirit until now. ¬†So I am a little excited about this post ūüôā

I was raised in the Baptist church, and the idea that there were those in the church who did not believe there will one day be a rapture was a bit of a surprise to me. ¬†When I went off to a Christian college, and sat through a theology class where they told us that their denomination didn’t believe in a rapture of the church because it is only found in one verse in the Bible, I was dumbfounded. ¬†My thought was then, and still is, “So it is okay to say that an idea in the Bible is not true because there is only one verse.” ¬†That is a very slippery slope no Christian should set foot upon. ¬†NEVER disqualify ANY Scripture, EVER. ¬†When you do, you disqualify the very Word of God. ¬†Remember that ALL SCRIPTURE IS INSPIRED BY GOD (2 Timothy 3:16). ¬†But enough of that soap box.

I want to go back to the base argument that the rapture is only mentioned once, because that is also an erroneous statement.  I will go through a number of those passages shortly.

The first thing I want to do is explain the word itself. ¬†Rapture comes from the Latin word rapio. ¬†The same word in Greek is harpazo. ¬†According to Wikipedia’s definition of the word, it means to catch up or take away. ¬†Thayer’s Greek Lexicon expands on that definition for the word harpazo: ¬†to seize, carry off by force; to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly; to snatch out or away. ¬†And Strong’s defines harpazo as: to seize, catch away/up, pluck, pull, take by force. ¬†Now lets look at some of the passages where it is seen.

Acts 8:39 (NKJV) – “Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord¬†caught¬†Phillip¬†away,¬†so that the eunich saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.”

Matthew 13:19 (NKJV) – “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and¬†snatches away¬†what was sown in his heart. ¬†This is he who received seed by the wayside.”

John 6:15 (NKJV) – “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and¬†take¬†Him¬†by force¬†to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.”

John 10:12 (NKJV) – “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf¬†catches¬† the sheep and scatters them.”

Acts 23:10 (NKJV) – “Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and¬†take¬†him¬†by force¬†from among them, and bring him into the barracks.”

2 Corinthians 12:3-4 (NKJV) – “And I know such a man–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows–how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

Here’s a favorite one. ¬†John 10:28-29 (NKJV) – “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone¬†snatch¬†them¬†out¬† of My hand. ¬†My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all and no one is able to¬†snatch¬†them¬†out¬† of My Father’s hand.”

As you can see from these passages, the word harpazo is used several times in the Bible, and is used in varying contexts, some spiritual, some physical, some good, some bad.  The point is that it is not a word that is used only once.

I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t list any verses using harpazo in reference to the church body. ¬†Well of course I saved the best for last ūüôā ¬†Let’s take a look at Scripture passages that do talk about the rapture, harpazo, taking up of the Church. ¬†Not all of them have the exact word in them, but all point to the same event.

Generally the first passage referred to regarding the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.  We will look at that one, but I want to go back further in the history of the New Testament first.

I’d like to start by looking at where the Church will go when Yeshua (the Hebrew name of Jesus) raptures it. ¬†Look at John 14:2-3 (NKJV) – “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. ¬†I go to prepare a place for you. ¬†And if I go and prepare a place for you,¬†I will come again and¬†receive you to Myself;¬†that¬†where I am, there you may be also.

One of the arguments I have heard against the rapture of the Church is this:  why would He come back part way from heaven, only to go back again.  I have also heard that because there is no rapture, this verse then must mean that Jesus will gather us to meet Him, and then we will go directly to reigning with Him during the millenium, or thousand year reign, on earth.

In order to truly understand the meaning of this passage, one must understand Jewish custom. ¬†In these verses, Yeshua, who was speaking to His Jewish disciples, was making reference to a wedding ceremony. ¬†Jesus often referred to His followers as His bride. ¬†This is the context in which we must read these words. ¬†Jewish weddings happened in 2 stages. ¬†In the first stage, the bride would be betrothed, or would commit herself to marrying the groom. ¬†After the betrothal, both would go back to their respective father’s homes. ¬†The bride would prepare her wedding attire, and the groom would pay the bride price (Yeshua’s death on the cross), and ¬†prepare a place for her, a home where they would live together. ¬†When the home was completed, the groom would go to the bride’s father’s home, physically pick up the bride, who didn’t know when he was coming, and carry her to his father’s home where they would consummate the marriage and celebrate the wedding feast, which lasted 7 days. ¬†Jesus’s disciples understood this analogy when He spoke it to them. ¬†He was going to prepare a place for us, and then come to take us to be with Him there.

How do we know that this place that Jesus is preparing for us is in heaven, and not on earth? ¬†First of all, because we know where Jesus went after His death and resurrection. ¬†Acts 1:9 says – “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was¬†taken up,¬†and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” ¬†Oh! ¬†Did you catch that harpazo? ¬†Luke 24:51 says – “Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and¬†carried up into heaven.” ¬†So the bride will be¬†taken up/snached up/carried away by the groom to the home that He has prepared for us in heaven.

It should also be noted that, aside from the home that Messiah is presently making for us in heaven, there is also¬†reference to the Church’s presence in heaven during the time of Great Tribulation in Revelation 19:6-8 which says – “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! ¬†For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! ¬†Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ ¬†And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

After the marriage of the Lamb, Yeshua will return to earth to set up His kingdom, and the armies in heaven will be with Him. ¬†Who are the armies? ¬†The saints, His bride. ¬†Look at the words. ¬†Revelation 19:11-15a – “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. ¬†And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. ¬†His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. ¬†He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. ¬†He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. ¬†And the armies of heaven,¬†clothed in fine linen, white and clean,¬†followed Him on white horses. ¬†Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. ¬†And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.” ¬†(A long passage to point to one line, but I couldn’t leave out the impressive description of Yeshua.) ¬†See the words used to describe the armies of heaven. ¬†They are clothed in fine linen, white and clean. ¬†These are the same words used to describe the bride of the Lamb just a few verses earlier (arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright).

Now let’s look at how the Church will get to heaven. ¬†I want to go back to Acts 1. ¬†The disciples had just witnessed Yeshua being raptured up to heaven and are standing there gawking up at the sky when two angels appear and say to them (vs 11), “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? ¬†This same Jesus, who was¬†taken up from you into heaven,¬†will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”¬† This is the same thing we see in¬†1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, and I quote it here from the New King James Version. ¬†“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. ¬†And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be¬†caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. ¬†And thus we shall always be with the Lord. ¬†Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Another reference to this passage is found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. ¬†1 Corinthians 15:50-53 – “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. ¬†Behold, I tell you a mystery: ¬†We will not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. ¬†For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptable, and we shall be changed. ¬†For this corruptable must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” ¬†In 1 Thessalonians Paul tells believers that we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. ¬†Here in 1 Corinthians, he expands on that by telling us that our bodies will be changed at that time from corruptable, mortal bodies to incorruptable, immortal bodies since the former cannot inherit, live in, heaven.

If we are to take the Bible as God’s Word, full of His truth, we must look at these passages and agree that the Church will be raptured, taken up, caught up, snatched away to heaven, by the groom to the place He is preparing for His bride, where we will celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb, and from where we will return, clothed in fine linen, riding on white horses, to be with Yeshua when He sets up His reign on earth after the Great Tribulation.

This has been a very full post, but I want to address the when of the rapture because Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians to “comfort one another with these words.” ¬†But what comfort is there if the rapture comes after the Great Tribulation and we must all live through it? ¬†So let’s look at a couple of things with this in mind.

First, if the rapture happened at the end of the Tribulation, we would go to heaven, then turn around and come right back down for the millenial kingdom. ¬†What then would the purpose be of the home that Yeshua is making for us? ¬†And when would we celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb? ¬†Remember, too, that the time that the bride is at the place prepared for her at the groom’s father’s house is a week, 7 days celebrating the marriage feast. ¬†The Great Tribulation is 7 years. ¬†The analogy is not coincidental. ¬†Since the bride did not arrive half way through the wedding feast, but at the beginning, it can also be understood that the Church will be raptured at the beginning of the 7 years’ of tribulation.

Let’s quickly look at some other passages that help to give us the hope and assurance of the rapture and the deliverance from the Great Tribulation.

Go all the way back to Deuteronomy where Moses prophesies¬†much about the future of Israel. ¬†In chapter 32:21 God says this – “They [Israel] have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. ¬†But I will provoke them to jealousy by¬†those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by¬†a foolish nation.” ¬†The foolish nation, and those who are not a nation are the Gentiles, to whom God would bring salvation after the Judean leadership rejected Jesus. ¬†Paul also quotes this in Romans 10:19. ¬†What would provoke Israel to jealousy for God? ¬†I’ll tell you.

Just yesterday I was reading comments on a Facebook post about a Jewish man who had become a follower of Messiah. ¬†He commented time and again about how Judaism was just a show. ¬†That the actions the people took, the feasts and holidays were in appearance only, not acts of the heart, and not a lifestyle. ¬†A very traditional, and obviously orthodox Jewish woman, argued in multiple strains of conversation. ¬†Her perspective as a Jewish person in DNA and in faith is that God is the only god (she is right), and that salvation is for the Jews only. ¬†Worship of Yeshua is idolatry in her mind. ¬†What would make this woman, and the whole ¬†nation of Israel so jealous of God that they are driven to anger? ¬†Obviously not the Christian faith, or the followers of Yeshua. ¬†What would cause the nation of Israel to become so jealous that they would turn their hearts once again to true worship of God? ¬†What do you suppose is going to be Israel’s reaction when millions of people around the world disappear, and they begin to realize that the people who disappeared are the Christian Church? ¬†Won’t they react like the brother of the prodigal son? ¬†I was here all this time, yet You throw a feast for this one?

God also promises to keep us from the time of trouble. ¬†That would be a reference to Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), and the Last Days which Jesus taught about in Matthew 24, one and the same. ¬†In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul says, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who¬†delivers us from the wrath to come.” ¬†And again in chapter 5, verse 10 – “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

A very telling verse is in Revelation among the letters to the 7 churches. ¬†To be fully understood, however, the reader must recognize that these letters have a 3-fold purpose. ¬†The first was as letters to the actual churches addressing their current state. ¬†The second is as letters to individual Christians to help examine their faith. ¬†The third is prophetic covering the entire Church Age with the first letter going to the earliest church as a whole, and the seventh going to the final church body. ¬†The 6th letter is addressed to the Church in Philadelphia, and says this in chapter 3:10 – “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

This then is the hope that Paul speaks of. ¬†Will we go through tribulation? ¬†Absolutely. ¬†Jesus said we would. ¬†And we do. ¬†We are. ¬†Look around you. ¬†We suffer pain, sickness, death. ¬†Christians all over the world deal with persecution in very wide variances of degrees, from facing mockery to facing death. ¬†But this is nothing compared to the tribulation that is coming during the time of God’s wrath when He punishes the world for rejecting Him and His Son. ¬†That is the time that Jesus talks about preceding His return, the 2nd coming of Christ, which will result in the establishment of His earthly kingdom. ¬†Recall from 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 that the rapture will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. ¬†It will be lightening fast. ¬†But the Bible says about the 2nd coming of Jesus that all the people of the world will look up and see Him coming and they will mourn. ¬†Matthew 24:30 – “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” ¬†Yeshua doesn’t say that they will look up and bam, He is there. ¬†He says they will see Him¬†coming. ¬†Coming is an ongoing action, not an instantaneous happening. ¬†They will see Him and they will mourn. ¬†I guarantee you that mourning won’t be a flash in the pan either. ¬†Especially since this is where we pick up with Revelation 19 again. ¬†Recall that description of Jesus? ¬†Eyes like fire, crowned with many crowns, robe dipped in blood, and followed by the saints wearing fine linen. ¬†If you pick it up there, verses 15-17, you see that He comes to judge the world. ¬†“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. ¬†And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. ¬†He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. ¬†And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: ¬†KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

At the time of the rapture, Jesus comes to take His church out of this world. ¬†God then sends judgement on all the nations of the world who rejected Him. ¬†This is known as the Last Days, and as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble because the entire world will eventually turn against Israel. ¬†Israel will scatter, many fleeing to Jordan. ¬†The antichrist will seek to completely wipe out all of Israel during this time, but God will preserve a remnant. ¬†And then…”Then I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced. ¬†They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for Him, as one grieves for a firstborn.” ¬†Zachariah 12:10. ¬†That is the second coming of Christ, when all that remains of Israel will be saved, not just physically, but spiritually when they finally realize that Yeshua is their long-awaited Messiah.

Our salvation does not depend on whether or not we believe there will be a rapture of the Church, or when we think it will take place. ¬†Some may question then why I take the time to write about it and discuss it. ¬†I do it for this reason: ¬†“Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

The Nearly Obsolete Church

What is the purpose of the Church?  To answer that, we need to ask, what is the purpose of Israel?  Some, or perhaps many, of you may be wondering what the connection is.  I’ll tell you.  “…and you–being a wild olive–were grafted in among them….”  Here is the whole verse.  Romans 11:17-18 – But if some of the branches were broken off and you–being a wild olive–were grafted in among them and became a partaker of the root of the olive tree with its richness, do not boast against the branches.  But if you do boast, it is not you who support the root but the root supports you.” TLV

And your point is???

Here is my point.  We, the Church, are grafted in to Israel, to be partakers in the blessings they receive from God.  First and foremost among them the Messiah.  Their Messiah is our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).  Whether all, or some of Israel have received Him or not is beside the point.  The fact is that Yeshua is their Messiah regardless of their acceptance of Him.  And He is our Messiah as well, thanks to them.  It is thanks to them because it is through them that the Messiah came.

Just as we share in their blessings as a result of the grafting in, we also share in their purpose.  Not the purpose of being the physical DNA of Yeshua.  That belongs to Israel and Israel alone.  But all through their history, they have had a purpose beyond the source of the Savior.  That being a nation that has been sanctified and made holy, to be set apart as God’s treasure.  They were to be a nation of people who, by their righteous living, pointed to the righteousness of God.  Who by their small size, yet amazing conquest, pointed to the power of God.  Who by their existence, pointed to the faithfulness of God.  And who by their  actions, pointed to the love of God.  By watching this little nation, the world was to see that Israel’s God was like no other god; that He was near to them, not afar off, in fact, that He dwelt with them.

Exodus 19:5 – “…you will be My own treasure from among all people.”

Deuteronomy 4:7-8 – “For what great nation is there that has gods so near to them, as ADONAI our God is whenever we call on Him?  What great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances that are righteous–like all of this Torah that I am setting before you today?”

Deuteronomy 4:20 – But you, ADONAI has taken…to be a people for His own inheritance….”

Deuteronomy 4:33-35 – Has a people ever heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard–and lived?  or has any god ever tried to come to take for himself a nation from within a nation–by trials, by signs and wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors–like all that ADONAI your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?  You were shown so that you might know that ADONAI is God–there is no other besides Him.

Deuteronomy 14:2 – For you are a holy people to ADONAI your God–from all the peoples on the face of the earth, ADONAI has chosen you to be His treasured people.

Deuteronomy 26:18-19 – Now today ADONAI has affirmed you as His treasured people, as He promised you; that you are to keep all His mitzvot [commandments]; that He will set you high above all the nations He has made, for praise, fame and honor; and that you are to be a holy people to ADONAI your God, as He has promised.

Deuteronomy 28:10 – Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of ADONAI and they will stand in awe of you.

Deuteronomy 33:29 – Happy are you, O Israel!  Who is like you, a people saved by ADONAI, the Shield of your help and the Sword of your triumph?  Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample on their backs.

Ezekiel 37:26b-27 – I will set up My Sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling place will be over them.  I will be their God and they will be My people.  Then the nations will know that I am ADONAI who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever.

The purpose of Israel is to point to God; to be witnesses to who He is (Isaiah 43:10).  The purpose of the Church, as a branch grafted in to Israel, is to do the same.  Of course additional to that, we are to be witnesses of Christ (Acts 1:8), and emissaries of Yeshua making disciples of all nations.

So we have determined the purpose of the Church, but let me ask you this question: how can we point to God, be witnesses of who He and Yeshua are, and make disciples of all nations when we look the same as every other person on the planet?

I remember when I was growing up going to church twice on Sunday and then Wednesday evening prayer service.  Then there were the other things.  There was youth group, Bible studies, choir, etc.  There were any number of ways to be involved, to keep my focus on God and His Word, and not on this world.  My family looked different from the families of my friends and neighbors because our lives revolved around God and His service, whether that was in the Church building itself, or in service to the community, or in worship and Bible study.  Whatever it was, it kept our eyes and hearts pointed in His direction.

What do our churches look like today?  Sunday morning service.  Sunday school during the school year; over the summer, that just gets in the way of family time.  Sunday evening service has been sacrificed on the alter of family time as well.  So has Wednesday evening prayer service…or maybe that was on the alter of school activities and “we are just too busy every other night of the week, so we need that night to just stay home.”  Youth group is attended as long as it doesn’t get in the way of …?  Even Sunday morning service is negotiable depending on 4H, the county fair, this trip to that place, that trip to the other place, and if we are honest, if we are not too tired from the busyness of everything else.

Busyness.  Yes, that is it.  The Church is actively being sacrificed on the alter of the god of Busyness.  I do not write this as someone who has no guilt.  In fact, I could be a lot more involved than I am.  Not that I am not involved at all, I am.  But there are things that I and my family could be involved with that we are not.  And the truth is it is because we have allowed church to have a priority level of about two.

To make matters worse, when we put church on the back burner, God tends to get pushed back there to the other back burner.  Our Bible reading and study at home slips until it is maybe once or twice a week, or not at all.

So what do our lives point to?  Who or what are they a witness of?  They point to Busyness.  They are a witness of Busyness.  Do we lead people to Christ?  No, why would we talk about Him when we barely give Him the time of day?  He’s an afterthought…oh yah!  It’s Sunday.  Maybe I should go to church.

Look at Israel!  Read through the book of Leviticus…its in the Old Testament.  Their entire lives revolved around keeping themselves righteous for God.  Being an Israelite was not just DNA, and it was more than cultural.  Being an Israelite was the definition of being set aside as a unique person for God.  They were intended to look different from everyone else.  God lived with them, and their lives revolved around Him.

Look at the Church.  The Spirit of God lives right inside each one of us!  How much more should our lives revolve around Him?  We already have righteousness through Messiah.  We have already received the salvation that they (Israel) worked for.  And yet we find it nearly impossible to set ourselves apart from the world.

How can the world see that God is worth living for if we don’t live for Him?  It is high time the Church tear down the idles of this world, and turn our faces to YAHWEH, the God of the Israelites and the God of the Church.

 

Sunday Services Cancelled…Because of Christmas

A friend and I were talking this week about Christmas.  She mentioned that the church she attends has canceled Sunday services on December 25th this year because it happens to be Christmas day.  We discussed how we both found this disturbing, and I assured her she would be able to attend services at my church on that Sunday.

Unfortunately, after checking my church bulletin, I discovered that my church has done the same thing.  This led me to a search of the other churches in town.  As far as I can tell, the majority are going to have services of some kind on Sunday, December 25th.

Pardon my language, but what the HECK is going on here???

Sunday is the day of the Lord.  And Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of His Son.  We attend church every Sunday to worship Him; to pray corporately; to receive teaching from His Word.  But when the celebration of His birth falls on a Sunday, we not only skip church, we outright cancel it?  Are you kidding me?

Everywhere I go, I see Christians spouting the need to keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas.  How do we keep Christ in Christmas if we cancel His holy day, set aside for worship and rest?  How do we keep Christ in Christmas when we replace worship of Him with family, presents under the tree, a bountiful table, and football… all celebrated (apparently hypocritically) in the name of the One we have replaced?

Christmas becomes more materialistic every year.¬† It is something Christians have lamented, and have worked too hard to counteract.¬† How many radio programs, books, and articles have been dedicated over the years to encouraging our brothers and sisters to keep the focus on Chris? ¬†Don‚Äôt let the Santa Claus, gift buying and giving, decorations, and business overtake the true meaning of the celebration.¬† Remember ‚ÄúJesus is the reason for the season.‚ÄĚ

I guess Jesus is the reason for the season, and Christ is in Christmas, only when He doesn’t interfere with family, presents, food and football.

Never mind Christmas for one moment.  What about Sunday?  Do not Christians claim Sunday as their Sabbath?  Is it not considered the Lord’s Day?  Did God not command us to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy because He separated it from the rest of the days of the week for Himself?  (Exodus 20:8-11).

Check out Isaiah 58:13-14 (NKJV) ‚Äď ‚ÄúIf you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob, your father.¬† The mouth of the Lord has spoken.‚ÄĚ

Christians, we have moved far too far away from honoring the Lord on the Sabbath.  Truthfully I believe it begins with moving it from Saturday to Sunday in order to sever the link between the church and the Jews thousands of years ago.  It was a slippery slope that has landed us on a day that looks very little like a day to honor God, and mostly like a day to please ourselves.

I remember going to church Sunday morning and evening, and then again for prayer meeting on Wednesday night.  Today Wednesday night is reserved for youth group, and I would be hard pressed to find a church that has services on Sunday night.  Are we too busy with the things of this world?  Or are we too lazy and callous to care about dedicating a day each week to God?

Perhaps if we all spent more time in church, working at His business, and less on our own, we would not have a world so hell-bent on going to hell.  We would have children who find and attend a church once they go off to college.  We would still have prayer in school and children who honored their parents and teachers, and didn’t have more sexual experience than street walkers.  Maybe we would have people who helped their neighbors when they were down, and people who had the decency to get a job and work for a living.  Maybe we would see moral character on display.  Can you imagine that?

This whole thing about canceling church on Sunday because it is Christmas is the biggest bunch of hogwash I have heard in a while.  If I suggested that we cancel church on Easter Sunday, people would tell me that was absurd.  You tell me then, what is the difference??  We worship God on Sunday because WE decided to move it to that day.  We have removed God from more and more of that day to the point that He gets a whole 2 of 24 hours during the school year and one during the summer months.  Gee, what a sacrifice we make for Him.

WE have chosen to celebrate the birth of our Savior (it was never commanded in the Bible) in order to honor His sacrifice for us, and yet we hypocritically spend more money, time, and attention on Santa Claus and presents then we do on Him.  And now-  now we cancel the 1-2 hours of worship on HIS day so that we can celebrate His birthday without Him? 

Congratulations. 

We have removed Christ from Christmas.  I guess the next step is to remove Christ from Christian.  After all, why not?  We are really no different than unbelievers anymore, are we?

Baby Ruth in the Swimming Pool!

Baby Ruth Purchased Feb. 2005 in USA

Baby Ruth Purchased Feb. 2005 in USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Years ago there was a movie in which someone floated a Baby Ruth candy bar in a swimming pool. ¬†I don’t think I ever saw the movie. ¬†I can’t remember what it was called, who was in it, or what it was about. ¬†But I remember the trailer that showed the floating candy bar, and all the people clearing out of the pool thinking it was something a lot more disgusting! ¬†Yep, you are thinking what I am thinking. ¬†Just like quickly moving away from someone you are swimming next to when the water suddenly gets warm in that spot. ¬†Gross!!! ¬†And you are wondering what in the world this has to do with Christianity. ¬†Fear ¬† not, I am going to fill you in.

The Christian church at Corinth was having some trouble. ¬†For the sake of the faint of heart and those who aren’t raising boys, I will refer to the gross as a Baby Ruth. ¬†The church had a Baby Ruth, or two, or three floating in the pool. Of course, it wasn’t anything fake. ¬†It was the real deal. ¬†Some nasty, ugly sins in the midst of God’s holy church, floating in and among His people. ¬†You know the really yucky part? ¬†They didn’t move away from the Baby Ruth. ¬†They didn’t remove it from the pool. ¬†In fact, they were proud of it!!! ¬†Just like boys!

1 Corinthians 5: 1-2 (NCV) – “It is actually being said that there is sexual sin among you. ¬†And it is a kind that does not happen even among people who do not know God. ¬†A man there has his father’s wife. ¬†And you are proud! ¬†You should have been filled with sadness so that the man who did this should be put out of your group.”

I admit, my first thought was, “Eeew! ¬†Nasty!” ¬†A man having his father’s wife is a definite Baby Ruth in the pool!! ¬†If you read further into chapter 5 and on into chapter 6, you will find more Baby¬†Ruth’s¬† ¬†The pool was full of them! ¬†Those who were sinning sexually, including, but not limited to prostitution, adultery, and homosexuality. ¬†The greedy. ¬†Robbers. ¬†Idol¬†worshipers. ¬†The verbally abusive. ¬†Drunks. ¬†Cheaters. ¬†Liars. ¬†Thieves.

That is not a pool I would want to swim in!!! ¬†It was so full of the filthy Baby Ruth’s it would be next to impossible to not bump into one. ¬†Then you would have it on you! ¬†What’s worse is that after a time, you would become so used to having it all around you, you might begin to forget how disgusting it all is, and be tempted to add a Baby Ruth of your own!!!

Paul told the Corinthians they should have been sad and put the Baby Ruth out of the swimming pool.  The hope was that by doing so the Baby Ruth might be cleaned up and the owner would then be able to return to the pool clean and pure.

Unfortunately the church of today is no different from the church of Corinth. ¬†There are so many Baby Ruth’s floating in the pool with us that we really don’t look any different from the ocean in which the rest of the world swims in. ¬†Our pool (the church) has been cleaned by chlorine (sanctified by Christ). ¬†All of the muck has been filtered out. ¬†When the world looks at us, they should see pristine water glittering in the Son. ¬†But that is not what they see. ¬†We are full of all the same Baby Ruth’s that were in Corinth. ¬†Idolatry, greed, steeling, adultery, homosexuality,¬†pornography, lies, gossip, cheating, bickering, unkind words, and the list goes on and on. ¬†The sad thing is that we let it float. ¬†We allowed our pristine swimming pool, the church, the Body of Christ, to become so contaminated with Baby Ruth’s, filth, dung, that we have begun to accept it as normal, and even¬†right,¬†going directly against the clear teachings of the Word of God!¬† God is not pleased with this, my brothers and sisters!!! ¬†He is heartbroken, but He is righteously angry as well!! ¬†We have defiled His church. ¬†And even if we haven’t done some of these things ourselves, we have allowed others to do them and not said a thing. ¬†We are equally to blame!

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5: 11-13 that we are not to associate with the people who are living these lives of sin. ¬†We are all sinners. ¬†But there is a big difference between someone who gossips, or even commits adultery, and repents and never does it again, and someone who habitually gossips, lies, stirs up trouble in the church, lives with someone without being married to them, practices homosexuality (yes, I include this explosive topic!) as a way of life. ¬†Verses 11-13 – “I am writing to tell you that you must not associate with those who call themselves believers in Christ but who sin sexually, or are greedy, or worship idols, or abuse others with words, or get drunk, or cheat people. ¬†Do not even eat with people like that. ¬†It is not my business to judge those who are not part of the church. ¬†God will judge them. ¬†But you must judge the people who are part of the church.¬†¬†The Scripture says, ‘You must get rid of the evil person among you.'”

Go back to verse 2. ¬†The man with his father’s wife should have been put out of the church. ¬†I recall attending a small church in my early teen years. ¬†A man and his wife were one of the biggest financial backers of the church. ¬†But they used that money to control what was happening. ¬†They were greedy for power. ¬†They should have been asked to leave the church, but they weren’t. ¬†As a result, the church ended up collapsing, and the pastor (who was a wonderful man of God) was never a pastor of another church.

It is time for the Church to step up to the plate.  It is time to clean the pool!!!!  We are a disgrace!!!  We dishonor God by allowing all of this filthy dung to co-exist with us in His house!!  It is time for our pastors and church leaders to stand firm on the teachings of the Bible, not twist them, and mutilate them, and distort them into something that belongs in the dirty ocean that world swims in.  We do not belong in the ocean!  Christ lifted us out of it with His death on the cross, and resurrection from the grave.  Do not forget that!!!!  We have been cleaned up and set in the purified, chlorinated water that is the Church.  And it is time for the Church body to stand behind the pastors and leaders.  Keep them accountable to start.  Support them when they  are standing strong and doing what truly honors God, His house, and the Body and bride of Christ!!

Christianity: Is It Down-to-Business, Or Child’s Play?

Do you take your faith seriously? ¬†I don’t mean, “Yeah, sure I do.” ¬†I mean, “YES LORD!! ¬†AMEN & AMEN!!!” ¬†Do you attend church on as many Sunday’s as you are able? ¬†Or do you skip because the pastor is at a conference (the shepherd is away, so the sheep will play)? ¬†Do you read your Bible every day, or at least most? ¬†Or is it that you skip most days, and read it occasionally? ¬†Do you take time to pray every day? Or do you pray at mealtimes…when you remember? ¬†What does Christianity mean to you?

I was in church this morning, half full. ¬†Perhaps because our pastor was gone, or perhaps because it is summer and it is much more enticing to be at the lake with a fishing pole or water skis. ¬†During the service, I noticed that at least 3 cell phones went off. ¬†And one adult person was using their smart phone for something other than reading an online version of the Bible. ¬†The service is only an hour long. ¬†Can God ask that much time of us? ¬†Shouldn’t it be possible to sit through a one-hour church service without having to answer a cell phone or surf the web? ¬†If church is not important enough to give your undivided attention to, then why attend? ¬†I’m not perfect. ¬†I have skipped church because it is inconvenient, or I am tired. ¬†I have had Sunday mornings when my mind wandered to so many places during that one hour that I would have needed a map to find my way back home. ¬†But I wonder, what does this kind of behavior say about the value I put on my faith, and on what Jesus did for me? ¬†Shouldn’t we all be more than willing, eager to go to church to worship and praise the one, true, living God? ¬†Shouldn’t we yearn to delve into the Scriptures and devour whatever message the Holy Spirit delivers through the pastor?

Speaking of the Scriptures, I see a lot of people being spoon-fed at church. ¬†There are so few people who bring their Bibles to church anymore. ¬†Why? ¬†Too lazy to carry it? ¬†Is it forgotten because it is so seldom opened during the week? ¬†Is it because the pastor always puts the words up on the screen anyway? ¬†Let me ask you something…what if he is putting up the wrong words? ¬†What if he is taking the verses out of context? ¬†Just a thought.

There are a lot of reasons to bring your own Bible to church. ¬†One is to test the words of the pastor. Recently I was listening to a nationally known pastor speak. ¬†He is a true man of God, and I have a great deal of respect for him. ¬†But, as I was following along with his message in my own Bible, I realized that he had taken the verse out of context. ¬†He was preaching a true message, but the verse he was using had nothing to do with what he was saying. ¬†This is bound to happen. ¬†The scary thing is that sometimes it is done intentionally, and a congregation is led astray by meanings twisted and warped to stress a particular agenda. ¬†If we believers do not have our Bibles in front of us, how will we know? ¬†We must be on guard at all times. ¬†Peter warns us of this in 2 Peter 2:1 – There used to be false prophets among God’s people, just as you will have some false teachers in your group. ¬†They will secretly teach things that are wrong–teachings that will cause people to be lost. ¬†They will even refuse to accept the Master, Jesus, who bought their freedom. ¬†So they will bring quick ruin on themselves.”

False teaching aside, how can we learn from the Bible if we do not study it? ¬†I don’t know about you, but when I was in school and had a test coming up, I hit the books. ¬†If I needed to rely just on my memory of the lectures, I would have been a straight F student!! ¬†I sat down with my notes, and my text books and read. ¬†I poured over the words. ¬†I jotted notes. ¬†And re-read what I had read before. ¬†The same is true of studying the Bible. ¬†Even in church, you can be studying. ¬†Look at it as school. ¬†A college class that had a fee to attend. ¬†You didn’t pay it, but Jesus did, and it was a high price. ¬†Don’t waist the opportunity to learn! ¬†Pour over the Bible passage that the pastor is preaching from. ¬†Read the verses before and after. ¬†Write notes in the margins. ¬†Underline. ¬†Highlight. ¬†Re-read. ¬†Make that time worth the effort it took to get out of bed that morning. ¬†Get down to business in church. ¬†Come to worship. ¬†Come to praise. ¬†Come to learn!!

Take your faith seriously, Jesus did. ¬†He died for your faith. ¬†Dig in. ¬†Get down to business. ¬†Stop the child’s play. ¬†It is time to grow up, and stand firmly on the promises of God, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. ¬†Jesus is coming again soon. ¬†Would you rather be caught studying His Word or reading a text?

Come Lord Jesus, come!!!

My Goal, God’s Plan

I own a number of Bibles. Different versions. Some study Bibles. Some pretty basic. Some large, some small. I have marked in a few. Others could be re-sold as new. When I bought an iPad, I downloaded a Bible app…then another, and another. Different versions. You get the picture. I began using the iPad Bible exclusively. I highlighted verses and recorded notes. Then one day I heard a song, or read something. I can’t remember anymore, and it was only a few months ago!!! The words talked about a man looking through his mother’s Bible after she had gone to be with The Lord, and how blessed he was by that. It occurred to me that by recording all of the things God has taught me in His Word on a digital Bible, I would really be leaving no tangible legacy for my 4 boys.

I felt driven to go back to the good old fashion paper Bible. I have read through the Bible completely one time. I wish I could say it has been more considering I accepted Christ as my Lord when I was four! But it is what it is. I have made a new goal, though. I am going to read through the Bible at least 3 more times, each time in a new Bible. I will highlight, and jot notes, etc. And when I go to be with Jesus, there will not be just one Bible for my boys to share, or decide who will keep. Each boy will have a Bible that God taught their mother through. They will have the verses that spoke to me, the lessons I learned, the messages I felt led to share with them as I studied.

The thought did occur to me that, with all the driving I do, I may not be able to complete this goal. (Morbid, I know, but a possibility none-the-less.) But as I considered that, God gave me a real peace about it, and I knew that He will give me the time to complete this for my boys.

God has revealed something else to me, though. This may be the point where I lose some of you. The point where you say, “That’s it. She’s flipped a wig, gone wacky, white coat and rubber walls.” But maybe you won’t. Either way, I will write what God has put on my heart, because I have promised Him my obedience as I seek to be a faithful servant with this blog.

I won’t get into all the prophecy stuff. I will say that the end of this present age is drawing ever closer. Whether you are a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, post-tribulation whatever…it doesn’t matter. Jesus will be returning soon. I do not say that Jesus will return tomorrow, next month, next year, or a decade, two, three or more from now. But the time is coming, and it is coming sooner than what we all may think. Here is what God revealed to me today. The Bibles I intend to leave for my boys when I leave this earth, are Bibles that God intends to be used when all of His people, the Church, are gone. I think my idea of a legacy for my boys is a good one. God wants to take that so much further than I would have ever imagined. He continuously leaves me in a state of awe and wonder. Praise be to the God who’s ways are higher than my ways and thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9)!!!!!

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NCV) – The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

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