GOD's ARMY, CONTENDING for the FAITH
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murjahel

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Reply with quote  #16 

THE SHEPHERDS of BETHLEHEM

Luke 2:8-20

"And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the         field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the         glory         of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them,

Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of                         great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David,                         a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find                                 the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a                         manger.

And suddenly, there was with the angel, a multitude of the         heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,                         good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them         into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,

Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this                         thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath                         made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the         babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying         which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were         told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her         heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for         all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told         unto them."

An Old Testament prophecy predicted Bethlehem to be the birthplace of the Messiah.

        Micah 5:2

"But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among         the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall One come forth unto         me that is to be Ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth are from         of old, from everlasting..."

According to Roman law, all people in the land were to register for taxation in the city of their birth, Joseph was doing such when he took Mary to Bethlehem.

According to his "house and lineage" (nomen, and cognomen), Joseph was to return from Nazareth to Bethlehem.         Bethlehem is the "city of David", and Joseph and Mary were both of the tribe of Judah, and their common ancestor was King David...

In I Chronicles 2:51, Salma, the son of Caleb is described as 'the father of Bethlehem." In Genesis 35:19, 48:7, we are told that Rachel "was buried in the way to Ephrath (Bethlehem). Tradition tells us that Rachel's tomb is located where the main road to Hebron parts from the side road to Bethlehem.

It was here in Bethlehem, that Ruth came and married her second husband, Boaz. Her son was named "Jesse", who became the father of David. 

(I Samuel 17:12)

Joseph and Mary were poor, and traveling on cool fall days from Nazareth, bringing with them a few necessities for their journey. From Galilee, they likely followed the banks of the Jordan, a common route, allowing them to avoid the mountains of the inland route, and avoid Samaria. The season of the year made the trip uncomfortable and unfavorable to the health of a pregnant young woman.

Likely, Joseph and Mary shared a sense of rest when they finally reached the heights (2704 feet above sea level) of Bethlehem. Because of the half mile height of the town, the only water available was found in cisterns saving rain water, or from a well just outside the little town. The weight of water meant that the shepherds who would have had to carry many buckets of such water to their sheep, would have made sure that the shepherds would fold the sheep near to that gate... Therefore, the rush into Bethlehem after the message of the angels, would be short...

The name Bethlehem means "house of bread"... It is surrounded by rich fields, terraced vineyards, fig and olive yards, and gardens. The nearness to the desert made the town warmer than most, but the height of the city above sea level... made it to receive sufficient rainfall to make it a plush place to grow many desirable crops... The grass would grow very well in that area also. Therefore the city would be very desirable for both the shepherds, but also, to any who were anxious to live in a quiet, obscure town with intellectually enlightened citizens...        

Herod had built a huge castle in this city of Bethlehem. On the highest hill, southeast of Bethlehem, a magnificent palace, strong as a fortress, stood... making this little town very familiar to the one human, Herod, who would want this child of Mary dead more than any other...

The devil knew the prophecy of Micah, and had the demons anxiously watching for the coming Lord...

        Apocalypse of Isaiah

27. And I saw when He descended to the first heaven, and         there He again gave an explanation to its guard, and here He         made Himself appear as do the fallen, evil angels, and they         allowed Him to pass without recognizing He was the One they         had been watching for...

28. And no one in these heavens asked me who I was, since they         recognized the angel with me.

29. Thus did the Lord come to this earth, wherein Belial had         had a watch and warning out for them to beware when the Lord         would come to earth. They did not recognize Him, nor praise         Him. Many were too busy fighting and envying one another to         even notice Him pass.

The devil also had Herod build a huge castle overlooking the little town of Bethlehem... to be very familiar with all the events within this little town, some five miles from Jerusalem... The devil wanted the Messiah dead, and a person like Herod had been driven to a paranoia about someone wanting to take his throne. He had even had his own sons killed if they showed the slightest desire to someday be king... Herod had no qualms about killing anyone who might replace him on the throne.

The town of Bethlehem was crowded, busy, and filled with other travelers coming to taxed, as were Joseph and Mary. The local inn was filled, and Joseph and Mary could only find the shelter of a little stable. The stable was simply a wood frame, sufficient size to hold beasts of burden belonging to travelers in Bethlehem. The frame was surrounded with rocks and earth, until from a distance it appeared as a small cave... The earth surrounding the stable provided an insulation for the animals to be housed there.

Along the roadside on the way into this little town, a group of shepherds were watching their flocks... A passage in the Mishnah indicates that flocks of Bethlehem, as they were being kept there in Bethlehem, must be only for the Temple services.

Therefore, these shepherds were not ordinary shepherds, but were under special orders and allowances of the priesthood... They were allowed more freedom from the law, for as priests needed to trim lamps, and do other work on the Sabbath, so these shepherds needed to do some work on the Sabbath in caring for the flocks meant for sacrifice...

Nearby the shepherds and the flocks that they watched was a Migdal Eder ("tower of the flock"). This is a watchtower meant to allow a watchman to oversee the flocks. This tower was along the road to Jerusalem, but close to Bethlehem... From such a tower calls of danger and warning would be called out... but now, suddenly another type of announcement was about to be made here.

A host of angels, and the 'shekinah' glory of the Holy Spirit enveloped the area... The shepherds, sitting, standing, and reclining on the side of a slight sloping hill... suddenly came to attention to this great sight. Astonishment, amazement, and apprehension gripped these shepherds.

These shepherds suddenly were presented with the gospel message by Gabriel, and heard the host of heavenly angels that worshipped the newborn Messiah. Their lives changed suddenly, and they made the decision to seek out the One being so honored by these angels... Their curiosity led them to Bethlehem, and they found there the fulfillment of the Word preached to them by Gabriel. They became preachers, and proclaimers of this gospel.

Many today are presented by the church with the gospel message, and they test it out... Finding it to be true, many will begin to proclaim such gospel to the world... as did these shepherds... Like these shepherds, they begin to praise and worship the Savior Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The glory of the Lord that shined upon them was the shekinah glory of the Holy Spirit. It came upon "them"... and is representative of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church age. The Holy Spirit:         inspires, blesses, and empowers those who come to Jesus... The Spirit will make such ones to be evangelists and witnesses of the Lord Jesus.

The hymn of the angels had ceased, the shepherds were alone, but the angelic message still gripped and engrossed them. They knew they had grave responsibility to watch these flocks that meant to be sacrificial lambs on the burnt altar... but the desire to see the Messiah, so long awaited by the nation of Israel overcame their training and obligation.

Rushing a few hundred yards into the little town of Bethlehem, they came to the stable to see if the event announced by the angels was true. Perhaps they had anticipated a great sight, a crowd of worshipping townspeople about this Messiah... but instead they found a humble young girl, her husband with the rough, scarred hands of a carpenter... But there, in that dark, cold, un-king-like manger, was the little child the religious of the nation had long awaited.

Startled that no others were there to worship and glory in the awesome event of that night, they realized they were the ones chosen to share their revelation... The infant they had viewed would be the One Who would be the Salvation of the world... They had been chosen by the Temple priests to watch the lambs meant to bear the sins of the people... but now they had just viewed THE LAMB OF GOD, UPON WHOM ALL THE SINS OF THE AGES COULD BE PLACED.

These shepherds, likely Levites, were chosen to watch the flocks of sheep meant to be sacrifices... They knew of the Messianic prophecies, they were waiting for this Messiah, and when the angels told them of the birth of Jesus, they took the role of many Levites... The Levites could become a priest if they chose, or they could simply choose not to... Some chose the life of a prophet...

After seeing the newborn Messiah, they took on the role of "prophet". They began to spread the Word about the birth of the Messiah... Mary and Joseph heard the message of the shepherds... Mary pondered the events of that time... Others heard from these shepherds, and the word spread to many. In Galilee, some thirty years later, Nathanael, Peter, Andrew, and others were studying the Scriptures, awaiting the revelation of this Messiah...

The message of the shepherds had had effect... for some were moved by the prophecies of the shepherds to be ready for the Messiah's coming... When John the Baptist pronounced: "Behold, the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sins of the world..."... some were there who left everything to follow this Jesus...

We live in a day, when angels, the Holy Spirit, and signs predicted by the Word of God centuries ago... are announcing to some today about another coming of the Messiah... We are to spread the Word... as did the shepherds of that age...

The angel, Gabriel, appeared three times in dreams to Joseph (Matthew 1:20, 2:13, 19). Then he appeared to Zacharias, and finally to Mary (Luke 1). Gabriel then appeared before the shepherds, along with a multitude of other angels... (Luke 2:8).

The announcement of the first coming of Jesus had much angelic involvement... There are multitudes of angels preparing and announcing to the world in different ways the second coming of Jesus to this earth.

They will be heavily involved in the outpouring of God's                         wrath during the tribulation (Revelation);

                the six of the seven angels of Ezekiel 9 will soon bring                         judgment upon the hypocrites of the church of the                         last days (Matthew 13, II Peter 4:19);

                and many angels will be present to take part in the                         rapture of the church...

According to Revelation chapters 2 and 3, there is an angel that is given charge to each of the seven churches to which Jesus spoke, and each church age has had an angel to "watch" it, and these same seven angels are the ones Ezekiel saw judging the hypocrites that had held the revival back from the church... Thus, we see, that angels are actively working in the church age.

The messages to Zacharias, to Mary, to Joseph, and to the shepherds by the angels was only the beginning of their work in the church age... We are currently seeing more and more working of the angels of the Lord... preparing for His second coming...

Even some years ago, angels were appearing to many                

saints, warning them of the soon coming of Jesus.                

One of the seven angels of Ezekiel 9 is currently marking  those true saints who will be spared the judgment of  the other six angels...

The shepherds were not overly surprised by the appearance of the angels. They were not incredulous of their message... They were moved to a change of lifestyle, accepting the message of the angels as their own... announcing the coming of the Messiah to all who would listen...

We live in an age, when angels announce and prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus... when the prophetic Scriptures are being fulfilled before our eyes... Are we going to willingly, anxiously accept the message of announcing the second coming of Jesus???

The shepherds accepted such mission... Are we going to bravely announce the coming of Jesus as they did? Can we risk to be like the angels? The message of the angels, the message of the prophetic Scriptures, and the signs and wonders the age all tell us of the soon coming of the Lord...

 

Let us be prepared, let us take the message of angels to our world.  The shepherds then did carry the message received from the angels to those in that time.  We have a message too... They went out and told the people Jesus had come.... we have a message too... that Jesus is soon coming again !


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JOSEPH, MARY,

AND THE

EARTHLY FAMILY OF JESUS

Mary was about 12 years old when betrothed to marry Joseph. Joseph was likely about 40 years old. The betrothal was the only legal ceremony. It took a divorce to be break the betrothal. The betrothal was the acceptance of the marriage to come, taken before witnesses. Jacob took seven years paying the dowry for Rachel, and seven years for Leah... During the betrothal period, unfaithfulness was "adultery" (Deuteronomy 22:23, Matthew 1:19)        

The fact that Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus, was very significant... He had the legal right to the throne of David... His lineage is significant... The Jews put much emphasis on genealogies, so the fact of Jesus being descended from David, of vital importance...

In Matthew, the genealogy is in three parts.

                From Abraham to David

From David to the captivity

From the captivity to Christ

Matthew goes back to Abraham to show that Jesus was not just of Judah, but of the same lineage as all of Israel...

It was unusual to mention, but there are four women listed in the lineage of Jesus...

Tamar, committed adultery with Judah to bring about the lineage as prophesied...

Rahab, was a Gentile who by faith in the God of Israel was included by God into this lineage...

Ruth, a Gentile that love for the people of God, and a love for the God of that same people, was brought into the lineage...

Bathsheba, a Gentile ... David reached out to bring her into the lineage...

 

In the lineage, Joseph is called the "husband of Mary" not the "father of Jesus". Jesus was the legitimate son of Joseph, therefore entitled to the throne.

After being legally betrothed, Joseph learned of Mary's pregnancy... A betrothed man had a duty in the matter...

Being just, righteous.. he could not overlook the apparent sin" of Mary

Being loving, he desired to deal tenderly, not wishing to expose her

So he decided to put her away privately...

Matthew 1:24

"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife..."

The alternatives of Joseph were public exposure and public humiliation possibly leading to stoning... or to quietly cancel the betrothal.

The dream of Joseph gave Joseph the answer. The angel addresses Joseph as a "son of David" to remind him of the expectancy he was to have as to having the Messiah through his lineage... With the revelation of the identity of the unborn child, Joseph ceased from brooding doubts... Then, Joseph was told the name "Jesus" a name all of Judah wanted to give their sons.

God gave more guidance,

"Arise, take the child and His mother..."

The Old Testament had foretold of a Son born of a virgin... and so Joseph hesitated no more and took Mary into his house to assure Jesus the legitimate claim to be Joseph's heir.

This father, Joseph was a carpenter.

Matthew 13:55

"Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James and Joses, and Simon and Judas?"

Joseph was also a just man.

Matthew 1:19

"Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily."

The annunciation to Mary at Nazareth is recorded in:                

Luke 1:26-38

"...Hail, thou who art highly favored, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women... Fear not, for thou hast found favor with God..."

After learning from the angel of her blessed CHILD being placed in her womb... Mary departs to "hill country" "with haste" "into a city of Judah" to see Elizabeth, her aunt... There Elizabeth greets her with:

Luke 1:39-55

"(vs. 42) Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb..."

Mary stayed with Elizabeth three months

Luke 1:56

"And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house."

At Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were visited by shepherds.

Luke 2:8-20

"And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field... And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger..."

       

The Levite shepherds told of the angelic chorus that they had witnessed and these same shepherds became the first preachers... Mary pondered these sayings of the shepherds for many years....

Mary "highly favored"... She was more favored than any other woman, to be the mother of the Lord. The Son she was to bear– was: to be called "the Son of the Most High" (Luke 1:32) to be given the "throne of David"

His reign to be eternal (Luke 1:32-33, Isa. 9:6-7)

to be holy from the womb (Luke 1:35)

to have the name "Jesus" (Luke 1:31)

to be sinless...

Mary accepted all these truths in humility.

Luke 1:38

"And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."

               

Mary was to not only have the blessing of sword to pierce through her own soul...

Luke 2:35

"(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Mary's character was one to be greatly admired... For she had a quietness of spirit, a meditative, inwardness of disposition, self-control, and she was very devout. She was honored and favored of God for such character...

Mary continued to have such disposition and character... because she knew that she was raising the Messiah. The love of offspring was deeply embedded in Hebrew women... (Jacob obeyed his father and mother, the law said to honor father and mother, a child that strikes a father or mother was killed (Exodus 20:15-17)... Thus showing the great respect given by God to the mother...

The Psalmist says that the deepest grief is for a mother

Psalms 35:14

"I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother..."

The Lord tells us that the greatest human comfort comes from a mother:

Isaiah 66:13

"As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you..."

Who did God choose to be the mother of Jesus? Mary, a descendant of David, a young girl, a devout person...

Many false doctrines about Mary...

1. sinlessness

This doctrine is not Scriptural, for "all have sinned..."

2. perpetual virginity

This doctrine cannot be true, for the Bible speaks of the "brethren of the Lord"

Mary had five sons...

Jesus, the Son of God

James, Joses, Simon, and Jude, the sons of Joseph

Mary had three daughters, three half sisters of Jesus

"are not His sisters here with us..."

Mark 13:55-56, Mark 6:3

Jesus was called Mary's "firstborn"

(Matthew 1:25, Luke 2:7)

The terminology "only begotten" is used only of Jesus to the Father (John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18, I John 4:9)

The O.T. prophecies say Jesus was to have siblings:

Psalms 69:8-9

"I am become a stranger unto My brethren, and an alien unto My mother's children."

The brother's of Jesus did not believe on Him until after the resurrection (John 7:3-10, Acts 1:14).

3. Mary's glorification and ascension

This is not true, not recorded in Scripture, nor in early church history... but added into Roman Catholic history hundreds of years later... The grave of Mary is found in Ephesus.

4. perpetual sonship and subordination of Jesus to Mary

Jesus accepted subordination to Mary, only as it applied to His earthly life. Even at age 12, He showed His Own decisive sovereignty, as He remained behind to begin His Father's work.

5. Mary is an intercessor and mediator of mankind to Jesus

There is only 'One Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus', and Mary has the same intercessory ministry as all other saints of God, no more, no less...

       

These kind of false doctrines keep many from talking much about Mary, but we do talk of Paul, Peter, etc.

For forty days, Mary could not come into the temple proper area, but after 7 days, on the eighth day, the male child would be circumcised. (Leviticus 12:1-4)...

After the circumcision, as Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus were traveling back to Bethlehem, the wise men followed the light in the sky... In Bethlehem, the wise men worshipped this new born King of Kings.

The gold, frankincense, and myrrh financed the flight to Egypt to keep Jesus safe from Herod... They then fled to hide in Egypt... The flight to Egypt, right after the departure of the Magi was the plan of God, to hide the new born King from the slaughter of 14,000 babies back in Judah.

In Egypt, near the friendly and refuge of Israel in the former times, Jesus was safe... for He had "come to His Own, and "His own received Him not..."

Note the obedient nature of Joseph, for he was willing, for the safety of a child, not his own, to flee his own country, his professional career, and hide from Herod. How long was his stay in Egypt? a few months? years? We are not sure, but likely around a month. For Herod died in less than a month of the flight of Joseph and the family from Bethlehem... Imagine how many babies would have been killed, if Herod had lived years following the order to kill the babies 2 years and younger!!!

Herod died at Jericho, rotten in body, and was the most unmourned man of his time... News of his death spread rapidly... but Joseph waited for direction from the Lord.

Mary was still a virgin, and technically should not have needed to sojourn for purification for 40 days... On the ninth day after the birth, following the visit of the wisemen, Joseph, Mary and the babe had fled to Egypt...         On the 40th day, Joseph came back to Jerusalem with Mary and the babe... and likely the death of Herod had already taken place... There in the Temple, on the 40th day, a pair of turtledoves offered as part of her purification... and five shekels were offered by Joseph, making Joseph the legal father (Numbers 18:15-16)...

Jewish law required that on the eighth day ... the newborn male was to be circumcised and receive His name (Luke 1:59-63). Then on the 40th day, the purifying of Mary... via the sacrifice of two turtledoves, 5 shekels of silver to be given. The two turtledoves, one for burnt offering, one for a sin offering were offered, indicating that Joseph had already spent the money gained by the gifts of the wisemen... Lodging, food, and travel... had cost much... He was anxious to return to his profession.

       

While in Jerusalem for this sacrifice, Simeon prophesied that this child was born "for the falling and the rising of many... sword should pierce through Mary's own soul" (Luke 2:34-35). Anna also blessed Jesus.

Archelaus, reigned in his father's place ... he had a kindred nature to Herod, he was suspicious... hateful, and would have been nearly as bad a threat to Jesus, as was his father. He was the worst of Herod's sons.

Archelaus was later banished... deposed by Romans for misgovernment in 6 A.D., about the time Jesus would be nearing 12. This is likely why we do not see more of Jesus in Jerusalem, until He was 12 years old.

The nation of Israel had been divided into three parts. The three parts were ruled by three men...

The parts of the kingdom, Archelaus ruled were:

Judea, Idumea, Samaria

Antipas ruled:

Galilee and Peraea

Philip ruled:

Batanea, Trachonitis, and Auranitis

Following the death of Herod, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the other siblings born to Mary and Joseph... went to Nazareth to live, unable to visit Jerusalem for Archelaus was alive... until Jesus was 12... Then the visits to Jerusalem could be yearly...

Joseph -- was a simple, hard working, God-fearing man. He had a warm heart. He was a strict observer of Jewish law. In face of possible slanderings by neighbors, he and his family stayed in Nazareth... He had made complete self-sacrifice (fled to Egypt) to save Jesus from Herod, but now in this small, Galilean town, of Nazareth, he would raise the Son of God...

Nazareth called el-Medinat el- baidah, "the white town" for it was built of white stone supplied by limestone rocks. This little town was on the western and N.W. slopes of a hallow among the hills of Galilee. It was half-way between the sea of Galilee and Haifa (on the Mediterranean).

At the foot of the north hill, a good spring provided water for the little town. A conduit took water to a fountain where women and children would get water to carry home in jars. Another tiny spring in the side of a western hill supplied more water...

On the Northwestern hill was a synagogue. The attempt on Jesus' life may have been on the high cliff of Nazareth, not far from the synagogue.

The view from the hilltop near this synagogue is awesome. The view from which could be seen the Mediterranean Sea, when looking West. Mt. Hermon, the same mountain on which the transfiguration occurred, could be seen to the North. Mt. Bashan could be seen to the East. Samaria could be seen to the South. The whole valley of Megiddo could be viewed from this hilltop...

Jesus first sermon preached there

Luke 4:16

"And He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read."

The people had much unbelief, and found it difficult for them to accept the Boy from Nazareth Who now was preaching, and performing miracles...

Matthew 13:58

"And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."

Nathanael said:

"Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" John 1:46

Jesus learned to be a carpenter (Greek "tekton" a craftsman, a worker in wood, doors, doorways, locks, furniture). But He also studied the Scriptures found in the synagogue of Nazareth, and was told by Mary of the events of the nativity...

By the 12th year of Jesus, Jesus had grown, learned, and become very wise:

Luke 2:40-52

"Jesus grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom and grace of God was upon Him... advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man..."

At 12, Jesus "tarried behind" (Luke 2:43) and was lost for three days... The parents had gone a day's journey, and had rushed back (perhaps a half day to return)... Therefore, they were looking for Jesus for one and half days... Imagine the deep distress of Mary and Joseph, and the stress of watching out for the 7 younger siblings of Jesus...

The rabbis went to certain rooms within the Temple to teach... and Jesus went "in the midst" sitting at the feet of these scholars... asking questions (as pupils were permitted to do). The learned men were startled with His wisdom.

To His distressed parents, Jesus said:

Luke 2:48-49

"How is it that ye sought Me? ...be about My Father's business..."

At 12, Jesus was to be apprenticed to His Father... and He obviously reasoned that Father to be Jehovah, not Joseph... Jesus had been well-taught by Mary.

At the age of 30, Jesus traveled to a wedding at Cana. It was at that age, 30, that priests would begin their ministry in the Temple. At this wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), there was a crisis of need... Mary turned to Jesus and was rebuffed by Him. Undaunted, undisturbed by His reply, Mary still prepared the servants to await and to obey His answer... Mary's quiet and yet forceful personality was thereby shown.

When Mary learned of the plot of the religious of that day to kill her Son, she brought His brothers with her to dissuade Jesus from going to the dangerous area of the country...

Matthew 12:46

"While He yet talked to the people, behold, His mother and His brethren stood without desiring to speak with Him..."

At the cross, Mary was there. (John 19:25) Mary was about 46 years old at the time. Jesus could not have spoken as He did there, had he not maintained and fulfilled the role of "eldest son"... The words of Jesus to John and to His mother, shows the tender love and mutual understanding for each other... Jesus gave a sacred charge to John... She then went with John to Ephesus, remembering the warning of Simeon... that a "sword would pierce her..." via this Son...

At Pentecost, (Acts 1:14), Mary was being obedient to the command of Jesus to "tarry until"...

"And they (the disciples) continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren..."

This is the last mention of Mary in Scripture...

Mothers today do not have "perfect children"... Mary had one of eight children who were "perfect"... So even Mary raised imperfect ones... Mary's four other sons would not follow Jesus until after the resurrection... Mary certainly encouraged them to believe in the Lord Jesus, but they could only see a "big brother", and could not see the "Messiah"...

Finally, at Pentecost, they were there... James was probably 31 to 32, Joses was over 30, Simon was in his mid 20's, and Jude was in his early 20's... and they finally became disciples... Though saved, as Jesus knew they would be, Jesus had not trusted them enough to have them oversee their mother, Mary... But they were finally in the fold... James wrote the epistle that we know by that name in the Bible... Jude wrote a short epistle also... James became the head of the Jerusalem church, pastor to even Peter, John, etc. for some time until they left the city...

       


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John D. Ladd
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Reply with quote  #18 

SIMEON, THE PROPHET

of Christmas

       

What do we know about ‘Simeon’? He was a prophet. He prophesied to Mary and Joseph in the Temple when they brought Jesus there as a baby. This is about as much as we ever hear told to us. He gets a sentence of two of a few Christmas sermons. Yet, this man was a great prophet. We need to check out this prophet, and his message.

There are many false and evil methods of prophecy.

In Greece, prophets would use vapors to give a prophecy. In Dodona, prophets would listen to the rustling of the leaves, and the sounds of moving waters, and then give their prophecies. In spiritism, mediums put themselves into semi-waking trances, and demonic spirits speak through them. The Babylonians would cut open animals, take out the liver, and by spots on the liver make predictions. The witches of different ages use tea leaves, crystal balls, tarot cards, lines on the palms of the hands, bumps on the head, etc. to make predictions. In the New Age sects, we find astrology, seances, quija boards, crystals, etc. that are used to give prophecies. Those methods are all wrong. They are not sourced from God.

Simeon’s message was from God, proves true, was not some gentle exhortation promising wealth if they gave him a big offering. No, Simeon’s prophetic word shows us much of what a true prophet is.

Some imitators of prophets today, give psychic type blessings and words that are little more than just soothsaying. Some parts of the Christian church are preaching and teaching a ‘prophetic message’ that is not Scriptural. They want it to have ‘no correction’, ‘no rebuke’. This fits well into the plan of the devil, for the Lord wants to clean up the church today, to get it ready for the revival and rapture. The devil wants to lull the church to sleep, and make it think like ‘Laodicea’ that they have need of nothing. So, some, following that encouragement of devils, are being seduced into reducing the message of prophets to be wimpy, and blessing only.

If such a false prophet had ‘Judas’ come to him, he would have told Judas something like unto:

"I see you having a financial need. Some have offered you a business opportunity. Take it, but then take that money and plant it as a seed. Your seed will bring great rewards. Your name will be remembered through the ages for your investment."

Would that be an acceptable prophecy for Judas? Hardly!!! Rather, Judas needed warned, and told the whole of truth. There is a seed of truth even in that deceptive prophecy. Many so called ‘prophets’ of today are false and are offering a ‘seed of truth’ mixed with a bucket of lies.

If "Demas’ had come to one of those ‘wimpy’ prophets, he could have been told:

‘You have been held back by your associates. You feel blocked from enjoying life as you should. You feel like you are at the starting blocks and the starting gun is about to sound. Race toward your goals. Seek that which you so greatly desire. Do not look back, You’re about to be blessed with the desires of your heart."

Is there a seed of truth in that prophecy? Of course, there is only a seed of truth, but it is not from God, and would lead Demas down the wrong road.

If ‘Mary Magdalene’ had come to one of these modern day ‘wimpy’ prophets, she may have heard;

‘God has blessed you abundantly, by turning your life from sin and degradation to a life of joy and blessing. Take what you have, do not waste it on the temporal. Invest your savings in to helping a ministry. Watch your savings grow. Do not squander it on a ‘dead’ ministry. Do not waste your savings on that which will die and be gone.’

Would that have hindered Mary from pouring out the precious ointment on the feet of Jesus? Would that have made here hoard and seek to get rich, instead of giving her all for the Lord? Yes, it would have. But she did not heed such a prophet, if there were that kind back then.

If one of today’s wimpy and false prophets would have encountered John the Baptist, the prophecy would have gone as such:

"The failures and sins of some have disturbed you, but do not lose your head over other’s sins. Turn your eyes on the goal of building your own ministry. Those who follow you may be confronted with a choice of your ministry or another’s ministry to follow. Do not let the goals of another to interfere with the increase in your ministry. Purpose to increase, not decrease."

Would such a prophecy to John, if heeded, have hindered the kingdom? Would it have really benefitted John the Baptist to have followed such a prophecy? Of course, it would have hindered John the Baptist, if he had listened to that kind of prophet.

The ‘rich man’ who had barns full of goods could have been told by the prophet who is more interested in carnal mammon and wealth than spiritual goals, something like this:

"There are some who would distract you from gaining and keeping the wealth you have. Look away from those who distract you, or who encourage you to waste it on those who are not blessed as you are, for they would not appreciate it as you do. Plant a seed in various ministries, but keep most for yourself, so you can enjoy the things you deserve. Build more, so you can possess more."

The rich man died as a fool, for he lived by what that prophet would have told him. He would have said ‘amen’ to the prophet, for that prosperity obsessed prophet was his kind of prophet.

The rich young ruler who came to find what he needed to do, to have eternal life, was told to sell all he had and give it away, and then follow Jesus. The prosperity prophets of today would have asked for a share of it, and told the man to go and prosper more, and send in his monthly partner amount, and he would be fine. The rich young ruler would not have gone away ‘sorrowful’ after that prophecy, as he did when Jesus told him to give all of his wealth to the needy. Yet, he would gain so much more heavenly wealth, if he would not listen to the prosperity seeking prophet.

If ‘Zachaeus’ had come to one of those ‘prophets’, they would not have wanted to say anything negative. They would have avoided talking about reimbursing those he had cheated. They would have only sought a percentage of his gain from that time on, and sought to have him keep his eye on the goal of making enough to prosper their ministry along with his own lifestyle. Zacchaeus would have had a friend, a golfing buddy, and been awarded the gift of the month from the prosperity prophet’s ministry. Still, he would have missed Jesus.

Prosperity prophets seek to enrich first themselves, and then promise to enrich others, by taking what little they have. They offer blessings and no judgment. They do not point out self sacrificial giving with no hope of enrichment on this earth. They offer acceptance, without demand for purity with God. They offer what you want to hear, instead of what God wants them to know and do. Prosperity prophets speak their own words, of their own minds, instead of God’s words of discernment and spiritual value.

There are many various kinds of prophets out there, with various ministries. Some sound almost Christian, and use the Christian vocabulary. Their dictionary has different meanings for the words, but the vocabulary is the same as the true prophet’s. The Lord is not pleased with any prophet who does not prophesy as He instructs prophets to prophesy. So, how is a prophet to prophesy? How do we know the true from the false prophet?

I John 4:1

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

Simeon’s prophecy needs examined, tested, proven, as we are to do with all prophetic words. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke what God revealed to them. Sometimes they were called ‘seers’, for they were see-ers of visions and dreams.

II Peter 1:21

"Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

So, what do we know about Simeon?

Jewish legend says that Simeon was the son of one of the High Priests, one named Hillel. They also say that Simeon’s son was Gamaliel, the teacher of Saul of Tarsus, before he became Paul, the apostle. Gamaliel was therefore raised by a true prophet, but had been educated by the religious rabbis of the time. Gamaliel lived in the days of Jesus’ coming, but he missed recognizing Jesus while He ministered. His father probably told Gamaliel what happened at this incarnation time, yet, Gamaliel was too worried about the reaction of Herod, than to heed the advice of his father. What a difference it would have made, had Paul’s teacher, i.e. Gamaliel, been aware of the great prophecy of his father to the Messiah’s parents.

Simeon was a just, a devout, a Holy Spirit-anointed man of God. God had spoken to this prophet about the coming Messiah. He had been given a prophetic promise by the Spirit, that he would see the Messiah before he died. Likely, he had long awaited, impatiently longed to see this Messiah.

Imagine having a prophetic promise from God, that you would be one of the first to recognize the Messiah. Simeon was waiting at the Temple, knowing that when only 40 days old, the Messiah would be brought to the Temple for the purification of the mother. That is why the prophecy of Simeon was made mostly to Mary.

The law proclaimed:

Leviticus 12:1-8 (KJV)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.

3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

4 And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.

5 But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

7 Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.

8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

On the 40th day after a birth of a son, the mother was to obey this passage. There were some commands for the purification of women. If a woman had given birth to a male, she was unclean for seven days. On the eighth day the child was to be circumcised. She was to continue in purification for 33 more days (40 days total). She was not to come into the sanctuary until her purification ended. When the days of purification were over, the woman was to bring a lamb and a turtle dove to the priest at the door of the tabernacle which he offered to God to make atonement for her; and she was thereby cleansed from her issue of blood. If she were unable to bring a lamb and a turtle dove, she was to bring two turtle doves, one for a burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering. The priest made propitiation for her, and she was pronounced clean.

It was on this day of purification of Mary that the Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. And while standing there, watching the babies being carried to the temple for their circumcisions, the Spirit revealed to him that the baby being carried by Mary was the promised Messiah. Simeon took the baby Jesus into his arms, and blessed Him. Now Simeon was ready to die. He had witnessed an event that all godly women of Israel had prayed for. He had been allowed to see the coming of the Messiah. His study of the prophecies of Daniel had allowed him to know the day was close, but his studies could not have identified which child it would be, or which mother carrying her child would be the one.

He had likely heard of the wise men who had come some 32 days prior. He had likely heard the words of the shepherds from Bethlehem and the announcement from angels they had proclaimed to have seen. He had witnessed much of the anger of Herod as soldiers had been searching out all babes two years and under to kill. Yet, Simeon needed a word from the Lord to know which child it would be. His faith was strong, and he was listening for God to speak to him.

Simeon gave a very interesting prophecy here.

Luke 2:25-35

"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law.

Then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God and said, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word.

For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people, Israel.

And Joseph and His mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him.

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary, His mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against: (Yea, a sword shall pierce through Thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

THE PROPHECY ABOUT JESUS

Simeon knew that Jesus would be the ‘salvation’. He used the word ‘soterion’ (Greek Strong's #4992) meaning ‘one that brings salvation, one that gives defense, a defender’ . Jesus came to defend us from the curse, from sin, from the one who wants to doom our souls in eternal fire, i.e. the devil. Jesus is a Defender.

Simeon called Jesus to be the "light", and Jesus is the "Light of the world..." Jesus is also called the "glory" of His people. When Jesus came, He came as the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. Before His coming, many believers in God were awaiting a Messiah, but they were in a twilight of understanding of it. Jesus had to come the first time, to bring LIGHT, so that they could see that it was not their nationality or ancestors that made them God’s, but it was a righteous heart. Jesus came, as had John the Baptist, beginning with the message ‘repent’. The LIGHT had begun to dispel the twilight.

While Jesus was here, He was the LIGHT. Now we are to ‘do the works’ that He did. We are all to be lights to the world. The world is approaching the time of the second coming of Jesus, and as John the Baptist was a forerunner to the Lord’s first coming, we are to be Lights in these last days.

The LIGHT is dispelling darkness more and more, and is affecting the ‘twilight’ that has crept into the church. The church first must choose to step further into the LIGHT, and escape the twilight. We are to bear that message of LIGHT to the church, and to the world outside of its walls.

To the church of Laodicea, which is representative of many of the churches of the last days, we see Jesus said they were not ’hot nor cold’ but were ‘lukewarm’ and that condition would soon cause Him to ‘spue them’. The twilight is the same condition, and those who remain in the twilight, will soon be extinguished, and put into darkness or judgment.

The coming of more LIGHT will make the church to not be tolerated as much as it has been.

Matthew 24:9

"Ye shall be hated of all nations, for My name’s sake."

The revival of the last days, will bring more and more LIGHT into the darkness of the world, and into the twilight of the church. We are to be, like Jesus was in His first coming, in the forefront of LIGHT BEARING. And thereby, we are in the forefront of those hated by others. Moslems hate Christians. Media and government laws are often designed to discriminate against Christians. In many countries, Christians are hated and abused. We find in families, the saved one, the new Christian is shunned, mocked, hated, and sometimes divorced. This will become more and more pronounced in the last days, for the LIGHT of the Christians will become brighter, and the darkness of the sinners will become darker. The twilight will soon disappear, for the church will be judged. And we will be left with LIGHT versus DARKNESS.

The world will soon note a marvel and wonder. There will be LIGHT amidst DARKNESS, with no twilight. Of course, I am speaking in a spiritual sense. This lack of twilight will make the world more adamant and hateful toward the LIGHT. The twilight of many in churches has made the world more tolerant of Christianity. The lack of a broad difference between them and the saints, have made them accept what few differences they saw from their own lives and the lives of the saints. Too often, there has been little noticeable difference between those in the church and those good, moral people of the world. There will become more and more noticeable difference.

God began His work of re-creating this world, with the words ‘LET THERE BE LIGHT.’ First the Spirit brooded upon the waters, and the Spirit has been ‘brooding’ and warming up the cold and dark church in the first days of LIGHT coming to it.

John spoke that ‘God is Light’. (I John 1:5).

Paul spoke that God is ‘dwelling in light unapproachable.’

(I Timothy 6:16)

Paul had met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and there saw a ‘great light’. (Acts 22:6, Acts 9:3)

Psalms 119:130

"The opening of Thy words giveth light.’

Proverbs 6:23

"The law is light.’

Proverbs 27:1

"Jehovah is my light and salvation.’

John 1:4

"The life was the light of men."

Isaiah records in Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6 that the Messiah was to come ‘for a light to the Gentiles.’

Ephesians 5:14

‘Christ shall give thee light’.

John the Baptist was spoken of by Jesus, and called a ‘burning and shining light.’ (John 5:25)

The disciples of the church age are called ‘the light of the world’. (Matthew 5:14)

Christians are called the ‘children of light’ (Luke 16:8, John 12:16, and Ephesians 5:18)

Therefore, we see that LIGHT is in Jesus, in His Word, in His followers. We are to receive a great revelation of light, and having been given that, will be greater LIGHT before a darker world.

When Moses came down off the mountain, after having stood before God, his face ‘shown’ with the glory of God. Having been in God’s presence, Moses’ face was also aglow with the LIGHT.

When Stephen was being stoned, and he looked up to see Jesus at the Father’s right hand, his face shown, and was enlightened by the LIGHT from God.

We need that encounter with the Lord, and need to receive many encounters with Him, so that the Spirit of Truth will give a new LIGHT to this us.

The revelation of that great light, made Paul to become one who would be a great light to others.

Acts 13:47 (speaking of Paul and Barnabas)

"For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.’

Paul said that ‘now we see through a glass darkly...’ Yet, the day has now come, when the LIGHT will shine brighter and brighter, dispelling the twilight. The LIGHT came and suffered and died for us, and soon He will come back for us. We are walking more and more close to that time, and the LIGHT is getting brighter and brighter.

II Peter 3:19

"We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arises in your heart."

As we walk and serve the Lord, we need to abide in LIGHT. This life will take on new dimensions, new horizons, new revelations, as we abide in the LIGHT.

I John 2:10

"He that loveth his brother, abideth in light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.’

A new zeal will accompany this LIGHT bestowment from God. Sometimes, the revelation of new LIGHT, will bring some side effects, and one of them is misguided zeal.

There are many prophets in our day, eagerly awaiting the second coming of this same Jesus, longing for His glory, and His light to reappear. We, in these last days, want to see the rapture before our death. Simeon saw that Jesus was that LIGHT to come into the world. He also saw what that ‘LIGHT’ would mean to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

THE PROPHECY TO MARY

Simeon had much revelation from the Spirit, for he knew of the "fall", the "rising again" of this Jesus. He knew that Jesus would be rejected of many, and the painful suffering of Jesus would greatly affect His mother also. And Simeon also knew of the revelation of the sins of mankind, that the coming of this Jesus would bring to the world.

Mary was to be the mother of this Messiah. She was to watch Him grow, mature, but be hated by some family, by neighbors, by the many He came to save. She could not ‘announce’ Him, she had to let Him do it Himself. The pain of watching His suffering, His rejection, His inner hurts from such pain, would be hard for Mary to endure.

Elijah faced hundreds of false prophets upon Mt. Carmel. This was a dangerous place, and Elijah’s life depended on God doing something he had never seen done before. All the other prophets were hiding in caves. Elijah stayed there bravely. Soon Elijah would be under a juniper tree, fearing for his life, due to the death sentence on him from Jezebel. It still took a bit more help from God Who sent an angel to recommend rest and food to the weary prophet. Yet, the events that seemed so horrible, like the events on Mt. Carmel, built Elijah’s faith, and he survived all the later trials.

God allowed Joseph to be thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, be lied about by his master’s wife, sit in a prison with criminals, so that later, he could rise power, and be ready to save his own people from starvation in a time of long famine. Sometimes the hard things in life, are preparation for the great miracles of God to come.

Job was called the ‘greatest’ by God. God bragged on him to the devil. Then the devil was allowed to strip from Job, his wealth, family, friends, possessions, and health. Job stood firm, refused to ‘curse God and die’. He stood strong in faith, and God delivered him.

Why do we face trials, persecutions, mockings, and battles? We face them so we can be overcomers. We are told that ‘all things work together for good to them that are called of God and working according to His will...’ That describes what we are to be.

Mary had to face a ‘sword’ of pain within her, watching her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to suffer, to bear pain, to be rejected, to be hated and finally crucified. She knew Who He is, and yet, watching the suffering her Son endured, would be almost unbearable pain to her.

The messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 says ‘to him that overcometh will...’ God has ‘will’ for each overcomer. The overcomer will receive great blessings for their stedfast faith, for their willingness to not hide. If there were no mountains, not barriers, no burdens, no trials, no persecution, not battles, there would be nothing to overcome. God gave us armor, not tuxedos and wedding dresses. God gave us a sword, not a lazy boy chair. God gave us a shield, to a ping pong paddle. God said we would be hated, not loved. God said ‘many are the afflictions’ not many are the carnal rewards.

Paul and Silas sang in the dungeon. Job said ‘though He slay me, yet will I trust Him...’ Peter said to Jesus ‘bid me come’ when the Lord was walking on the water. Elijah heard the still small voice, Joseph was made second to pharoah in Egypt. Why? They were not hiders, they were overcomers.

Mary was to be an overcomer. She was to suffer a deep, inner sword of pain in her work of raising Jesus. He was to watch Him unfold His work, revealing a plan that was not one she would have chosen for her ‘Firstborn’.

Why do some saints have bland, pew sitting existences? They have no victories to report, no overwhelming joy to express because they are not overcomers. To avoid battle, Jonah took a ship of flight and hiding in it from the storm. Saul hid in baggage. Prophets hid in caves. !3,000 of Gideon’s army would rather be hiding from battle, and 9700 more would like to delay battle for a while so they can refresh themselves. They were rejected for Gideon’s army, and God rejects the same for His army of prophets.

Mary needed to, and she did, endure the agony of watching a ministry for her Son unfold before her. She would not have chosen for Jesus to endure such pain, and Mary’s sorrow was to unfold as His work in His first coming unfolded.

THE PROPHECIES’ MESSAGE FOR US.

Some today can receive the outpouring of the Spirit, and receive the prophetic revelations of the second coming. Jesus is seeking for such people, and the Holy Spirit is anxious to so bless any who will accept this ministry of a Simeon.

In our last days on this sinful earth, we are watching a plan for Jesus’ second coming unfold. It means persecution, it means mockings, it means rejections, and it means a final escape up to the arms of Jesus in the clouds, which we call the rapture. That event will make it worth it all. Mary watched Jesus suffer, die on a cruel cross. Her reunion with Him after His resurrection, made it worth it all.


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ANNA, THE INTERCESSOR

 

Traditional nativity sets include the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, some angels, a few shepherds, and some wise men. A camel is usually added, and a sheep or two. Yet, there was Anna and Simeon who had great prophetic announcement that added to that of the angels, shepherds, wise men, and Mary and Joseph’s.

The wise men came about eight days after the shepherds. So those were two separate events that are made to look like one in the nativity scene. The message of Anna and Simeon happened after the flight of the family to Egypt, and return in time for the purification of Mary.

Anna was a prophetess whose name meant ‘grace’. She had been a beautiful woman, we suppose, for she was of the tribe of Asher. Asher’s daughters, and their descendants, were known for not only an outward beauty, but for their beauty of grace, of spiritual nature.

Luke 2:36-38

"And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all that looked for the redemption in Jerusalem."

This aged woman (likely about 103 years old) had long anticipated a coming Savior, a Messiah. She stayed in the Temple, determined to be ready, and she prayed and fasted much for the sins of the nation. God rewarded this great intercessor of the age, by allowing her to be near to Simeon when he began to prophesy over Jesus. She stepped into that crowd and gave thanks to God for allowing her to see this Jesus.

Of the tribe of Asher

The tribe of Asher is one of the tribes that is said not to have returned from the exile. Yet, a few did. Another few of the tribe had not been taken in the captivity. Anna seems to have had her descendants to have been in the exile, but were so zealous to return that a few of them did make it back. Her great hope for national deliverance had made it possible for her to return, to get into Jerusalem itself. When her husband died, after only seven years of marriage, she had the spiritual desire to not return to her homeland area of past, the land of the tribe of Asher. There would be no one there that would know her, no one to fill the void made by her widowhood. She dedicated herself to prophetic ministry, and began to preach in the Temple day and night, that the Messiah would be coming soon.

The priests of the tribe of Levi, and the royalty of the tribe of Judah, normally looked to the women from Asher for their wives. The nature they had filled a need of those in the priesthood, and those with duties of royalty. Yet, even though she was a very young widow of around 20, she had resisted the offers of her husband’s kin, or of other priests. Her modest desires were only to be near to where the Messiah would soon come, and to be expectant of seeing Him there.

Her beauty was glorious, for it was inward beauty. She had been trained to look forward to the coming of the Messiah. She had a spiritual maturity that longed for spiritual blessings, not earthly ones. Anna had a personal dignity, a spirit of anxiousness for God’s blessings, that made her a well-known speaker to those in the Temple of the soon coming of the Messiah. Anna’s commitment to her chosen calling was serious. She would not leave the Temple area until she had seen the Messiah.

As Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus approached that day, Anna would have noticed that they were not rich, for their offering was turtle doves, which is the sacrifice that was acceptable from the poorest of the people. Turtle doves did not need to be purchased. They were common in the area, and were caught with ease.

Anna saw the family, dedicated to the law of Leviticus, ready to bring the child for dedication.

Perhaps she noticed that the situation was very similar to that of Hannah, the mother of Samuel in the Old Testament. The birth of Samuel had been miraculous, and followed a prophecy given. Jesus’ birth had been prophesied, and to be a virgin birth would require a miracle. Both Samuel and Jesus were presented to the Lord at the house of God. So, Samuel with his mother ‘Hannah’ (same as the prophetess’ name here), came before God to begin their earthly ministry.

Anna was a name rarely given to women in the tribe of Asher. Yet, Anna’s father must have admired the wife of Tobit, whose name also was ‘Anna’. Anna’s father, Phanuel, must have admired Tobit, and his desire to return to Israel from Media. Therefore, the story of Tobit, and of the desire to reach Jerusalem, was so impressed upon Anna, that when given opportunity, she was going to stay in Jerusalem, until the Messiah came. She had learned from her childhood to put God and His will above the earthly comforts.

An intercessor

This teaching from Phanuel, of the importance of the coming of the Messiah, of the vital truths of the blessedness of being in Jerusalem where He would soon arrive, made this woman, Anna, to be ready to prophesy, to preach of the coming of the Messiah, and to intercede daily there at the ‘house of prayer’.

There is a great need for intercessors in our age. and when the Lord finds a faithful intercessor, one who sighs and cries for the abominations of the world, and seeks God's mercy on those sinners. He will reward them greatly.

Her ministry expanded, and she began to be more than an intercessor. She began to speak to all who were anxious for a Savior. She became a prophetess in her last days.

 

Ezekiel 22:30

"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none."

We all seek to protect our children. We make them use car seats while in the car, and later as they mature we train them to use seat belts. Play pens are not little prisons for punishment, but protective devices to keep them from harm. Back yard fences serve the same purpose of protection. We make sure they have soft comfortable beds in which to sleep. The doors of the houses are usually locked to keep burglars from entering. We set curfews, and have watchful eyes when it comes to our children. This is because we love them.

It is easily seen what we love, by what we protect. Children, homes, cars, money, etc. are all usually protected by people. It is unlikely that you would ever say, "Hi ! Thief. I live at ... and I will not be home tonight. My door will be unlocked..." No! rather, we lock our doors, have lights that automatically come on, install burglar alarms, etc. all to protect what we love.

Spiritually, we are in a battlefield. We need to protect what we love from the demonic forces that seek to attack and rob us of our friends, relatives, church brothers and sisters, our possessions, etc. We must learn how to protect these loved things.

Anna was an intercessor at the Temple, in the midst of the Roman occupation of the nation. Sin was rampant, few were honoring the Temple as a place of prayer, of obedience to the law. She interceded for those she saw there. She likely prayed for every child brought in obedience to the law in Leviticus, to be dedicated to the Lord. She prayed she would be able to know which one of those children would be the Messiah. Still, even if they were not to be the Messiah, she prayed for them.

I Peter 5:8

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

How do we protect our loved ones from forces that are unseen, yet powerful? The Lord gave us the answer.

Matthew 21:33

"Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about."

Vineyards were sometimes fenced with a wall of stone, or thorny plants. Sometimes it was a combination of both. Some times, they used mud bricks that were three foot by three foot, and six foot long. On top of these mud bricks were planted thorny bushes. This wall of mud and thorns kept intruders outside. The little foxes could not squeeze through the thorns without doing major damage to their bodies. This hedge is described with the Greek word - "phragmos." This is the word for "a fence, a wall, a hedge."

God is a good husbandman, Who lovingly tends and cares for His vineyard. Jesus said that "I am the vine, and ye are the branches". In this way, He identified us as part of the vineyard with which God is now concerned. Israel had been that vineyard, but at least temporarily, they are "cut off", and the Gentile church has been "grafted in".

Romans 11:22-23

"Behold, therefore, the goodness and the severity of God, on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness; otherwise, thou also shalt be cut off... if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in..."

He does all that He can for His vineyard (which we are a part). He is a good husbandman. He lovingly tends and cares for His vineyard. He does all He can to protect His vines.

Zechariah 2:8

"He that touches you, touches the apple of His eye."

Isaiah 54:17

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment Thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord."

Romans 8:28

"All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose."

Psalms 91:1-2

"He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress."

The enemy that we face is the devil and his forces. They go about "as a roaring lion, seeking ... to devour." (I Peter 5:8) God puts hedges about His saints. These hedges can be gapped or broken down by our sins, and the devil may send in attacking forces to devour and destroy.

Now, before the tribulation, God will keep the hedges up. Barring our sin, He will not allow us to suffer unaided attacks of the devil. Soon, the Lord will call this vineyard (called the "church") home to heaven, while He works to restore Israel back into the vineyard. The wrath that comes to them until they fill the gapped hedge of protection, is not meant for the church. Thus, during that time, the Gentiles that are saved during the tribulation, will not have a hedge of protection about them. The Lord will allow the devil to kill them, and thus they will go to heaven, where God wants them to be anyhow. The purpose of the hedge now, is to allow fruit to be produced by the vineyard. The time of the fruitfulness of the church will be over at the rapture. All of the Gentiles saved after the rapture, God allows to die and go to heaven with the rest of us.

Revelation 13:7

"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Some, who think it will be easy to get saved after the tribulation, had better beware. Even if you survive the war that starts the tribulation, you will die after you finally accept the Lord, and the Lord will not put a hedge of protection to keep you from being beheaded, shot, stabbed, etc.        

Sin lowers or makes an opening in the hedge called a "gap". Our loved ones, our children, our mates, our associates, our relatives, our church friends, our neighbors, may lower the hedge and play with sin. They don't realize how dangerous it is. Wicked demonic forces await outside the hedge for opportunities to get through and devour the vineyard of God.

So what can we do to protect those we love? How do we protect our church congregations when gossip, backbiters, critics, spiritual abusers, hypocrites, are at work creating gaps in the hedge about the church?

We are definitely told that we have power over the enemy. Wicked spirits attack Christians, Jews, Jerusalem, church leaders, as much as they can. The spiritual hedges about these are the protection that God wants. Praying a hedge about these ones the devil wants to attack will give protection.

James 4:7

"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you..."

God wants us to keep ourselves, and our loved ones within hedges. This is why God tells us to intercede for our leaders, for our loved ones, for Jerusalem and Israel. Intercession builds up the hedges, and fills the gaps caused by sin in the hedges.

Isaiah 26:1-3

"We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks... Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee."

Isaiah 60:18

"Violence shall no more be heard in the land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise."

The devil complained of the hedge. Job was protected by the hedge about him, for he was a great intercessor. The devil did not like it.

Job 1:10

"Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land."

God is "no respecter of persons." We too have, or can have, a hedge of protection about us and our loved ones. However, a gap can appear in the hedge, A gap was made in Job's hedge for testing purposes. Gaps can come to our hedges also.

There are three reasons for gaps in the hedges.

a. A test which God is allowing for a time.

b. A sin which put a gap in the hedge.

c. Fruitlessness, which causes God to put a gap in the hedge since the vineyard proved worthless and fruitless.

God desires fruit from His vineyard. He is greatly desirous of fruit, and if it does not come, He will "take away the hedge."

Isaiah 5:5

"I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard; I will take away the hedge thereof, and it (the vineyard) shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down."

Sin gaps the hedge, so the enemy, the devourer, can get inside to do the destruction. God has provided the hedge to protect what He loves.

Isaiah 5:4

"What could have been done more to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes."

Much sickness, trouble, and suffering is unnecessary. Not all sickness is from sin. Some is a result of a test, as was Job's. But much sickness is a result of the lowering or gapping of the hedge. This unnecessary sickness is caused by sin or fruitlessness in the lives of Christians. Israel sinned and the hedges were gapped.

Psalms 89:40

"Thou has broken down all his hedges."

Our prayer lives do have an effect. We are told that our prayers are not meaningless sound. Our prayers can keep a hedge about us, and about our loved ones.

James 5:16

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much."

The prayers and intercession of David was still availing much many years after his death. In the years of Jeroboam, when God should have judged Jerusalem for its sins, He withheld judgment for "David's sake." Intercession will have its impact.

I Kings 11:12

"Notwithstanding, in thy days, I will not do it, for David thy Father's sake."

The intercession of Jesus for His disciples in Gethsemane had its effect. The eleven disciples that were left did survive the great trial. Even though they met temporary defeat, they all came back and were victorious after the resurrection.

Stephen interceded for those who were killing him. His intercession put a hedge about Saul of Tarsus, and this hedge protected Saul. Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus. He became the great apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, because a deacon named Stephen interceded for him. If the intercessor had not done his loving praying for his stoners and the coat holder, the Lord would have judged Saul with death on the road to Damascus, and not blessed him with mercy. Intercession is vital.

Barnabus is called "the son of consolation." This word "consolation" is the Greek word - "paraklesis", which means "exhortation, comfort, advocate, or intercessor for..." Barnabus was the advocate, or intercessor for John Mark. He was also the intercessor for Paul in Jerusalem.

Moses interceded for Israel and they were not destroyed as the Lord had intended, but were allowed to die of old age in the wilderness. If it were not for the intercession of Moses, the children of Israel's history would have been drastically altered. What is altered in time, because of our intercessions?

Walls of the hedges are constantly being broken down. It is the mission of each Christian to build hedges about ourselves and our loved ones, and to keep the gaps filled with our intercessory prayers. One of the sins which often puts gaps within the hedges is a condemning spirit. To be a condemner tears down hedges.

Matthew 7:1

"Judge (condemn) not, that ye be not judged (condemned)."

Proverbs 18:8

"The words of a talebearer are as wounds."

Words are a spiritual attack by a critic. The criticism of another injures the hedge of the one criticized also. That is why, we need to often intercede for those with ministries that keep them in battles that invite criticism. Those who do the criticizing will face loss of their hedge, but their critical words will gap the hedges of the saints whom they criticize. We must pray for pastors, evangelists, prophets, and leaders who are frequently criticized.

When we are the one that is criticized, the way God teaches us to keep our hedge ungapped, is to pray for those who have criticized us. This is difficult, and yet, if undone, will hurt us, more than them.

Matthew 5:44

"Pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you..."

Any willful sin will break down a hedge.

Hebrews 10:26-27

"For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (i.e. no more hedge), but rather a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries."

The willful sin of not interceding for our loved ones, and the church congregation, etc. destroys the hedge they should have had. We need our own hedge, and they need us as intercessors to fill the gaps in their hedges. We had need beware of willfully sinning. Surely, we are saved by grace, but we should not choose to sin, just because salvation is so easy. While we are in the willful sin, the hedge is broken; and the enemy, the devil, will come through the gaps to devour and destroy.

Broken hedges are a crisis. Hedges broken by sin, by failures of our intercessors, by sins against us, and by demonic attack, need constant repair and attention. Sometime the devil tries the "Trojan horse trick." We may welcome some within the hedge, because we do not see the danger within them. The devil comes within most churches that way. He comes within the "tares" that he has sown in the church. These hypocrites, spiritual abusers, and false prophets may seem to have a "form of godliness." They may be respected, hold church offices, and give abundantly in the offerings. The devil uses them to hurt young Christians, and offend any who would protest their abuse. He will use them to start arguments on the choice of brick, the color of the carpet, etc. They will hinder and destroy any revival God tries to give to the church congregation.

All the saints are to be HEDGE BUILDERS. We are to keep the hedges of the church built and strong. When a gap is found, we are to stand in the gap with our intercessory prayers providing the protection.

I Peter 2:5

"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

The "spiritual sacrifices" that we are to offer up are the substitutionary intercessory prayers we pray. Just as a priest put a lamb upon the altar for a sinner who came before him, we are to offer up our intercessory prayers for many sinners with whom we come into contact. We need to intercede for one another. We are to put a hedge about each other and help protect the others from the enemy. A church without intercessors, is in constant turmoil. We must constantly, and frequently, pray for God to look at our loved ones as He looks at His Son, Jesus Christ.

God wants intercessors so He does not need to judge. Our prayers build up a hedge about others so God does "not destroy" them for their sins. God seeks hard for people who will assume the job He has given them of intercession.

Ezekiel 22:30

"And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none."

God planted His vineyard to receive fruit from it. This is His goal. Too many of the vineyards of God are spoiled, devoured, or unproductive. God cannot have productive vineyards if an army of intercessors does not stand forth in these last days to fill the gaps of sin.

Mark 12:1-4

"And He began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat (vat), and built a tower (for watchmen as intercessors who warn of danger, and climb down to repair gaps in the hedges)..."

God wants intercessors to climb up into a tower of prayer and watchfulness. We need to watch for sin, and not then criticize, gossip, or attack the sinners. We must intercede for mercy and for the gap of the hedge to be filled. If we do not intercede, the enemy will come to devour the vineyard. God does not want the enemy to win, He wants intercessors to fill the gaps until the sinner repents, and thus He can bless the sinners until they again become a fruitful vineyard of God.

God has plenty of criticizers, and plenty of gossipers. He has too few intercessors, and too few who want to stand in the gap of another's hedge. There are too few of God's people who will warn of sin, and then intercede when others do not heed the warnings.

Ezekiel 13:4-5

"O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedges for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord."

Thus, the prophets were not protecting the people of God as they should. You are a prophet and priest of God in these last days. You are to fill gaps in the hedges of God's people. You are to stand against sin, but love the ones who are fallen into sin. You are to intercede for the sinner. You are to be the watchmen in the tower to warn of the coming enemy, and if a gap is seen in the hedge, it is your mission to fill that gap with your intercessory prayers.

The Christmas season sees many involved in giving. There are many involved in music and worship. There are those who involve themselves in the ministry of decoration, of cooking and serving. Yet, the ministry of intercession needs to be shown. Having waited over 80 years, Anna was an intercessor of great import at this time. In our day, we need to be more willing to recognize the ministry of intercession.

 

This is the Christmas season, we are thanking the Lord for His gift of Jesus to this sick and sinful world.  We need to also be interceding, for most of the world is still sinful.   Jesus came for a reason, He will soon return for a reason.  Intercessors are needed in this time awaiting His second coming, like unto the faithful intercession of Anna before Jesus' first coming.

 


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John D. Ladd
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THE ILLUSTRATED LESSONS

WE SHOULD LEARN

FROM THE VISITORS

OF THE MESSIAH

 

We have looked at many of the people who visited and saw Jesus upon His arrival at the incarnation. The ‘incarnation’ is the coming of deity from heaven, of One of the Godhead. He chose to be put into the womb of a woman, to be born and become human, while still having His divinity. He left behind His powers of deity, and depended upon the power of the Holy Spirit to do His miracles while He was here. That was to show us how we are to do miracles now, in this church age. His incarnation was necessary before His sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection could take place. Therefore the incarnation is vital to our faith.

The birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, occurred as prophesied in the Old Testament. Nearly nine months after this conception of our Lord into the womb of Mary, Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. There in Judah, they encountered or were sought by various peoples. These peoples represent the seekers of the Lord of the church age. In every age, we find people like the ones who encountered the Lord Jesus in the first ten days of His first coming.

Each of us are like unto one of these groups that visited with Jesus in His time of the incarnation. We need to evaluate our lives. In which group are we? Are we like unto the shepherds, or the wise men, or Anna and Simeon? Or are we like unto the inn keeper, or the chief priests and Herod? We fit into one of those categories. The Holy Spirit can reveal in which group you are in. The blessing is, if we have been in the wrong group, the Lord can forgive and help us to change our status of visitor.

 THE INNKEEPER, THE DISTRACTED SEEKERS OF THE LORD

Luke 2:1, 4-7 "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David

To be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child,

And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."

The innkeeper was more pre-occupied with: his work, his property, his business, his income, and his plans, than the baby to be born in his city. The Holy Spirit and the prophecies of the Word of God were telling the people of a soon coming Messiah, and yet, the innkeeper was too busy: to hear, to discern, or to care about a Savior.

The innkeeper had no room for Jesus, as many today are too busy to be bothered with Jesus.

THE SHEPHERDS, THE EVANGELISTS

 

Luke 2:8-20

"And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them,

Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly, there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,

Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto         us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."

 These shepherds suddenly were presented with the gospel message by Gabriel, and heard the host of heavenly angels that worshipped the newborn Messiah. Their lives changed suddenly, and they made the decision to seek out the One being so honored by these angels. Their curiosity led them to Bethlehem, and they found there the fulfillment of the Word preached to them by Gabriel. They became preachers, and proclaimers of this gospel.

Many today are presented by the church with the gospel message, and they test it out. Finding it to be true, many will begin to proclaim such gospel to the world, as did these shepherds. Like these shepherds, they begin to praise and worship the Savior Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The glory of the Lord that shined upon them was the shekinah glory of the Holy Spirit. It came upon "them", and is representative of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church age.

The Holy Spirit:         inspires, blesses, and empowers those who come to Jesus. The Spirit will make such ones to be evangelists and witnesses of the Lord Jesus.

THE WISE MEN, THE WORSHIPERS OF THE LORD

Matthew 2:1-12

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod, the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is He that is born 'King         of the Jews' for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea; for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda; for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule My people, Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found Him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the         star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the         young child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary, His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not         return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."

 These men of the East, were descendants of Abraham, and had heard from the prophecies of the ages before of the coming Messiah. They were awaiting the Messiah, and each age passed down to the next the anxiousness of the previous age. The anxiousness came from the Abraham who sought a "city whose Builder and Maker was God." This same Abraham had spoken personally with Jesus before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

 When this "star" (See Testimony of Judah 4:20) appeared, they had the spiritual insight to know that the Messiah was about to come into this world... They followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to Judah, and when they saw the star abide over Jerusalem, they knew the Messiah had to be therein. Jesus was, for that day, He was being circumcised.

They went to Herod, who was troubled at the thought of a coming Messiah. There are many today who are troubled at the prophetic message of our day. They will seek to harm, deceive, and lie to any who follow the prophetic message. We call such people to be abusers, tares, false prophets, etc.

This Herod called the religious people of his day, the 24 chief priests, and they were knowledgeable enough to know that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Yet, these same religious people were apathetic about the prophetic message, that they did not accompany the wise men to Bethlehem. They had eyes to see the same star as the wise men, and knowledge of the Scriptures, and yet they sat in their "holy" pew, and did not care to see the infant Messiah. They were "knowledgeable dupes" of the day.

In our day there are "Herod's" and "chief priests" galore. The message that Jesus is about to return to earth is being proclaimed, and yet many today, like these "chief priests" are: apathetic, lethargic, indifferent, unconcerned, uninterested, unresponsive, and dispassionate to the exciting news of the second coming of a Messiah.

The star led the wise men to the small town of Bethlehem, some five miles away. I wonder how far behind Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus they were as they traveled that road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem??? When they arrived the next day, (day nine after the birth of Jesus), they found the Messiah in a house.

They rejoiced, and gave gifts, which the Lord had blessed them to give. These men were like those with a gift of giving of our times, who finance the gospel message. The Lord provides worshipers, and blesses them with guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Herod of that day desired to kill all children who could be the Messiah, and the wise men were there to give the finances to the poor Mary and Joseph to escape to Egypt.

 

ANNA and SIMEON, THE INTERCESSORS AND PROPHETS

Luke 2:21-24

"And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, His name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord.

(As it is written in the law of the Lord:

Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy unto the Lord), and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons."

The "glory" that shined over the shepherds was the same light the wise men followed as a "star". The Holy Spirit thus came with Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as they traveled to Jerusalem and Jesus was circumcised.

The next verse refers to the purification of Mary, and the presenting of Jesus to God, which happens after 40 days according to Leviticus. So there is a gap between the two verses that many miss seeing. At the time of the sacrifice of two turtle doves, Anna and Simeon were awaiting in the Temple.

The two turtle doves offered by Mary were given days after the visit of the wise men. The poorest of people offered turtle doves. Mary and Joseph, since the giving of the gifts from the wise men, had gone to Egypt for about thirty days, and now were back, far poorer again, having spent those gifts on their care. Thus Mary and Joseph were at the time very poor, or they would have offered a more valuable gift to the Lord God.

SIMEON, THE PROPHET

This was: a just, a devout, a Holy Spirit-anointed man of God.  God had spoken to this prophet about the coming Messiah. He had been given a prophetic promise by the Spirit, that he would see the Messiah before he died. Likely, he had long awaited, impatiently longed to see this Messiah. On this day, the Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. And while standing there, watching the babies being carried to the temple for their circumcisions, the Spirit revealed to him that the baby being carried by Mary was the promised Messiah. Simeon took the baby Jesus into his arms, and blessed Him. Now Simeon was ready to die.

Simeon gave a very interesting prophecy here.

Luke 2:25-35

"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law.

Then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God and said, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word.

For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people, Israel.

And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary, His mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against:

(Yea, a sword shall pierce through Thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

 Simeon called Jesus to be the "light", and Jesus is the "Light of the world." Jesus is also called the "glory" of His people. There are many prophets in our day, eagerly awaiting the second coming of this same Jesus. Longing for His glory, and His light to reappear, we want to see the rapture before our death.

Simeon had much revelation from the Spirit, for he knew of the "fall", the "rising again" of this Jesus. He knew that Jesus would be rejected of many, and the painful suffering of Jesus would greatly affect His mother also. And Simeon also knew of the revelation of the sins of mankind, that the coming of this Jesus would bring to the world.

Some today can receive the outpouring of the Spirit, and receive the prophetic revelations of the second coming. Jesus is seeking for such people, and the Holy Spirit is anxious to so bless any who will accept this ministry of a Simeon.

 

ANNA, THE INTERCESSOR

Luke 2:36-38

"And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all that looked for the redemption in Jerusalem."

This aged woman (likely about 103 years old) had long anticipated a coming Savior, a Messiah. She stayed in the Temple, determined to be ready, and she prayed and fasted much for the sins of the nation. God rewarded this great intercessor of the age, by allowing her to be near to Simeon when he began to prophesy over Jesus. She stepped into that crowd and gave thanks to God for allowing her to see this Jesus.

There is a great need for intercessors in our age, and when the Lord finds a faithful intercessor, one who sighs and cries for the abominations of the world, and seeks God's mercy on those sinners. He will reward them greatly.

Her ministry expanded, and she began to be more than an intercessor. She began to speak to all who were anxious for a Savior. She became a prophetess in her last days.

THESE VISITORS OF THE LORD,

ARE ILLUSTRATIVE PICTURES

OF HOW PEOPLE TODAY VIEW OUR LORD.

 

The ones who had contact with the first coming of the Lord Jesus, our Messiah, are a picture of the various groups of the church age.

 

The message of Gabriel to the shepherds represents the gospel proclamation of the church in this age.

The Holy Spirit is in our day directing and revealing many about the second coming of this same Jesus Who was incarnated into human form in that time. There are angelic appearances and messages accompanying this second coming. The light that over-shone the shepherds, the revelation to Simeon, and the star of the wise men represents the Holy Spirit Who is our Teacher, our Advocate, our Guide in the church age.

The shepherds are representative of the witnesses, evangelists, and disciples of the Lord in our church age. Some "shepherds" of this day are rushing to the presence of Jesus, and worshiping, and then going out and spreading the message of His coming.

The wise men represent the ones who worship this coming Lord, and will give faithfully to help the Lord's ministry. Some "wise men" are worshiping this coming Lord, and providing finances to help the gospel proclamation.

Yet there are also many a "Herod" who abuse the saints of today, who lie and deceive, and fall into doing the work of the devil. The Herod's and the chief priests are the religious leaders who have much Bible knowledge but are only "knowledgeable dupes".

Simeon represents the prophets of our age who are tuned into the Holy Spirit, and holding onto a promise to be present when the Lord Jesus returns to this earth. Some prophets as "Simeon" are speaking a revelation of what the coming of the Messiah will be like this time.

Anna represents the intercessors of our age, who daily, faithfully intercede for the sinners of our world. Some intercessors as "Anna" are anxiously praying and longing to see the coming Jesus.

Many today are not anxious or excited about seeing Jesus. Their own spiritual lives have: no expectation, no joy, no expectation.

They are not anxious to leave the world that has given them wealth, power, and prestige.

There are also many religious in our day, who like the "chief priests" are duped by the Herod's, and are too dispassionate to care to be ready for the coming Messiah. They are the pew sitting, 'vegetating', tired, apathetic, unexcited multitudes found in many churches.

The angels rejoiced, the shepherds rejoiced, Simeon and Anna rejoiced, and the wise men rejoiced.

However, many are not rejoicing in our day about the coming Messiah.

We are in a day similar to the one of Jesus' birth, and we are each in one of these groups. In which group are you???

MERRY

CHRISTMAS !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Communion to Start 2012

                                                As we start the new year, let's start it with Jesus.  I recommend you get a small glass of grape juice, and a piece of bread or small cracker.  And, by yourself, or with a loved one with you, take communion this first Sunday of the new year.   It is not mandatory to be done in a church building, no preacher is needed to read the verses.  This is a personal thing between you and the Lord.

I Corinthians 10:16-21, 11:17-34

How important is communion ? 

 

Some Christians place great importance on it. Others minimalize it. Some ignore the subject. Some will seldom take communion. Some will want it with every church gathering. Some will do it so often that it becomes a ritual. A study of the Scriptures concerning it, will enlighten us as to the importance of the communion.

In Corinth, there was some misuse of the communion. Paul was very upset about this, and he expressed to the Corinthians that God put great importance to communion.

It was common in the early church to share a common meal, and then have communion follow this meal. Christ had instituted the first communion in this way. He served the bread, and the wine following the Last Supper. The motive for this supper preceding the communion was good. The rich and the poor could each bring what they could, and all was to be shared. Everyone could then have a decent meal, without the poor needing to ask for charity.

However, at Corinth, the "love feast" (as it was called) degenerated into a time when the sharing ceased. The rich ate alone with what they brought, and overindulged. The poor had little to bring and were going home hungry. The poor were shunned and ignored. With all the other problems at Corinth, it should not be surprising that this supper of fellowship (koinonia) was defiled and very appalling to the apostle.

 

Paul said:

"THIS IS NOT THE LORD'S SUPPER." I Cor. 11:20

Paul was ashamed to call this the "supper" instituted of the Lord. He said that it would be better to eat at home, than to have shameful church suppers. Paul censured them for their abuse of the church service, and for their entering into communion with the sins of selfishness, divisions, and unconcern for others evident.

 

Still, today, we find that many observe communion with the sins of selfishness, pride, unconcern, divisions, etc. still evident.

 

Paul indicated that communion was meant to be a time when such sins were discovered and eliminated.

Paul mentions several sins that were present in Corinth.

DIVISIONS

In I Corinthians 11:18, Paul mentions "divisions". This is the Greek word "skismata." It refers to practical heresies, i.e. one group feeling superior to another group. The one group in Corinth felt that they deserved more than the others and that they should not need to share. They thus sat at an opposite corner of the room and ignored the needs of the others.

HERESIES

In I Corinthians 11:19, the Greek word - "hairesis"- is used to refer to "theoretical schisms." These are purposeful departings from the doctrine taught by the Lord. He taught that the whole of the law could be summarized in these two commandments--love God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself. Any other doctrine taught that violates these two commandments is called "heresy." In Corinth, the "heresy" that Paul mentions here is the thought that some are not as good as others in the church.

SELFISHNESS

In verse 21, Paul says that the one group was selfish with what they had. In the case of Corinth, it was food and riches that they did not want to share. In some churches today, the one group tries to control power, or position. Whatever the commodity is, the selfishness, and not sharing of it - will defile communion.

SHAMING THE POOR

In verse 22, Paul censures them for treating some Christians different than others. This sin in Corinth is found in many churches. Those who cannot dress as well as the wealthy are often shunned in some churches. Those of social status are often given preference over the more common laborers when positions of authority are awarded. Riches are not to be the status mark to determine the spiritual worth and value. Peter and John said, "SILVER AND GOLD HAVE I NONE..." and the same can be said of many today who earnestly love the Lord.

Some PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER UNWORTHILY if they take communion with those sins mentioned, and are unrepenting for them.  So, repentance for sins should always precede communion.

I Corinthians 11:27-30, shows that the Lord considered events and actions in the church, to be defiling to the communion being observed at the end of their feasts. 

 

The event that we call "communion" is so special to the Lord, that if we observe it correctly, we are blessed, and if it is done incorrectly, He considers it to be gravely sinful.

FAILURE TO JUDGE SELVES is a sin that makes us take it unworthily... so 'judge yourself',

talk to the Lord about your failures, your sins. Get those sins under the blood.

The last sin of Corinth, that Paul mentions is found in I Corinthians 11:31-34. 

 

Here, Paul refers to the failure of the people to examine, and judge their own lives to see if they are worthy of taking communion. Paul insisted that the communion was serious enough that people must judge themselves, or God would examine their lives and give damnation to those are not purified at the time of partaking of communion.

HOW DO WE PARTAKE UNWORTHILY?

I Corinthians 11:27,29

"WHEREFORE WHOSOEVER SHALL EAT OF THIS BREAD, AND DRINK OF THIS CUP OF THE LORD, UNWORTHILY, SHALL BE GUILTY OF THE BODY AND THE BLOOD OF THE LORD... FOR HE THAT EATETH AND DRINKETH UNWORTHILY, EATETH AND DRINKETH DAMNATION TO HIMSELF, NOT DISCERNING THE LORD'S BODY."

The word "unworthily" is a frightening concept in regards to communion. What does it mean ? We need to analyze, and not ignore this teaching. The word comes from the Greek word - anaxios - which means -"irreverently, unfit." The idea is that we are not to casually, without proper preparation, partake of communion. Paul spells out the proper preparation, and the possible punishment for not following it.

Those who partake "unworthily" are guilty as those who crucified our Lord on Calvary (vs 27). Those who partake "unworthily" of these communion elements are eating and drinking "damnation" (vs. 29). 

 

Some hope that the Lord, at worst, has a scolding for them for their failures. Yet, here we see that a possible punishment is "damnation." 

 

In I Corinthians 11:30, we find that many are weak, sickly, and some are even dead as a result of incorrectly partaking of communion. The healing lines in many churches would greatly shorten, if people would truly study the subject of communion.

I Corinthians 11:30

"FOR THIS CAUSE, MANY ARE WEAK AND SICKLY AMONG YOU, AND MANY SLEEP."

When Paul spoke to the Corinthians about the "church", he was not speaking about a building, or a sanctuary. There were no church buildings at that time. Paul was not condemning the misuse of a building, but rather condemning the misuse of a gathering of believers.

I Corinthians 11:18

"WHEN YE COME TOGETHER IN THE CHURCH..."

The idea is that whenever two of three believers come together into any location, you have a church. Whenever we are gathered, the care must be taken to not grieve the Holy Spirit. In a communion service, the Lord has an agenda. He has a purpose in the way in which we are to observe the communion. If we do it wrongly, He will be upset, and judgment will come. This is not a popular concept, and in many places communion is little more than a ritual.

 

When Moses struck the "Rock" twice in the wilderness, instead of once as the Lord commanded, the Lord punished that disobedience with the refusal to let Moses enter the Promised Land with Joshua and the rest. 

 

We too can fail to observe an example of type, as did Moses, and come under the judgment of the Lord.

KOINONIA - FELLOWSHIP

The word "communion" comes from the Greek word - "koinonia." 

It means a "participation, fellowship."

 

We use this word to refer to the time when, as a body of believers, we join in a fellowship with each other, and the Lord. This "fellowship" is to remind us that we are linked together, not only with each other, but with the Lord.

I Corinthians 10:16

"...IS IT NOT THE COMMUNION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST..."

The term - "body of Christ" - refers to the "body of believers", according to the context of the verse. (See I Cor. 11:29, 12:12, 13, 20, 26, 27.)

 

So, at our communion service, we should recognize our "fellowship" together. We, together as the body, meet to remind ourselves that we are part of One body--of which Christ is the head.

If we are indifferent toward another part of the "body of Christ," we are not creating the proper atmosphere for communion. Some are insensitive toward the hurt, pain, loneliness, suffering of a part of the "body." 

 

Like those of the Corinth church, who were insensitive, proud, and intemperate toward the poor of the church, many today partake of communion with little, or no concern and love for a part of the same "body of believers." 

 

This brought God's serious displeasure with those in Corinth, and was recorded in the Word of God to warn us that God feels the same today about this type of sin.

THE ELEMENTS OF COMMUNION

The elements of communion are the bread and the drink. The bread represents the body of Christ, and the drink represents the blood of Christ.

I Corinthians 10:16-17

"THE CUP OF BLESSING WHICH WE BLESS, IS IT NOT THE COMMUNION OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST? 

THE BREAD WHICH WE BREAK, IS IT NOT THE COMMUNION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST? FOR WE BEING MANY ARE ONE BREAD, AND ONE BODY; FOR WE ARE ALL PARTAKERS OF THAT ONE BREAD."

At communion, we all partake of the bread, that represents that One (Jesus), and are all part of that One. We are all united - believers in Christ. That is why we are told to "TARRY ONE FOR ANOTHER."

EXAMINING - JUDGING

I Corinthians 11:33

"WHEREFORE, MY BRETHREN, WHEN YE COME TOGETHER TO EAT, TARRY ONE FOR ANOTHER."

So if we come together for communion, and do not first become concerned about the feelings, hurts, and concerns of the others with us in the service, we are out of order. The proud, despisers of others, have no business at communion.

Since, it is so important to be thus concerned, we are told to judge, examine ourselves.

I Corinthians 11:28, 31

"LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF, AND SO LET HIM EAT OF THAT BREAD, AND DRINK OF THAT CUP... FOR IF WE WOULD JUDGE OURSELVES, WE WOULD NOT BE JUDGED."

The Greek word for "examine" is - "dokimatzeto." 

 

It means "to prove to test worthiness." 

 

It is used of Paul in I Corinthians 3:13 to refer to putting our works to a test of fire. The fire brings the dross to the surface, so that it may be removed. 

 

We need to examine our actions, thoughts, and motives to see if we have the proper concern for the other parts of the body. 

 

Some Christians, who are judgmental, critical, dominating, unloving, selfish, etc., are to find through this examination those faults. 

They are to be repented of and changed. 

Then communion is to be taken.

The Greek word for "judge" (vs. 31) is - "diakrinomen." 

This word means to "make a distinction between."

 

In preparation for communion, we must make a distinction between our correct, and incorrect behavior and thoughts. We must analyze ourselves so we can repent of the incorrect. Too many partake of communion without this self-examination. Some want to judge the ones who have mistreated us. But the Bible says to examine ourselves, not others.

This examination should not make any of us avoid communion, for the purpose is to make us able to partake of communion. If we examine ourselves, and repent of any, and all failures, we then can partake of the elements, and receive a blessing.

A BLESSING

I Corinthians 10:16

"THIS CUP OF BLESSING..."

The elements of communion are meant to bring us a blessing. This is like the blessing which the striking of the "Rock" once by Moses was to bring. The water was to flow freely as blessing to the people. When he struck the rock twice in disobedience, the water still flowed, but a judgment also came upon Moses for his disobedience. 

 

In the same way, if we do not partake of communion properly, we come under the judgment of God.

The lack of self examination, and repentance, will bring damnation, weakness, sickness, death, and the chastening of the Lord.

( I Cor. 11: 29-32 )

I Corinthians 11: 32

"BUT WHEN WE ARE JUDGED, WE ARE CHASTENED OF THE LORD, THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE CONDEMNED WITH THE WORLD."

The word - "chastened" comes from the Greek word - "paideuometha." 

This word means "to be disciplined by deed." 

 

We are not just to be scolded by the Lord, but the Lord works out deeds that discipline, and chasten us.

WHO MAY PARTAKE OF COMMUNION?

Should we worry about others who are taking communion with us who are not partaking worthily? You may pray for them, and be concerned for them, but do not try to stop them or judge them. 

 

Think of the first communion. 

Jesus was in charge. With Him was Judas, who was about to betray Him. Also, there was Peter, who would deny Him three times that same night. The rest of the disciples would all forsake Him before the night was over.

 

Jesus served bread and drink to them anyhow. He knew what was in man, yet did not refuse to serve any.

IN REMEMBRANCE OF CHRIST

I Corinthians 11:24,25

"THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME..."

At communion we are to remember Jesus Christ. What kind of person are we commemorating at communion? John said that the world could not contain all the books that could be written about this Jesus.

About Jesus, we should especially remember:

A HUMBLE PERSON

Psalm 113:6

"HUMBLES HIMSELF TO BEHOLD THE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH."

He has to humble Himself to behold us, and yet He did more that this, by humbling Himself enough to come as a babe in a manger, live as a human being for us, minister to the common person, die on a rugged cross between two thieves, etc. We should greatly love such a Person.

Knowing that these same disciples would soon forsake Him or follow afar off (one would betray Him within hours), Jesus still offered them the first communion elements, washed their feet, and worshipped with them. Humbly He shared the last supper with those who would soon greatly disappoint Him.

A FRIENDLY PERSON

John 6:37

"HIM THAT COMETH TO ME, I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT."

Jesus is the kind of Person that the adulterer, the thief, the hated tax collector, the wayward, the child, the religious, the blind, the leper, etc. could easily approach... and know that they would be accepted. Jesus died for all, and loves all. He was friendly to all.

A TENDER, AND FORGIVING PERSON

This Jesus could be merciful to the woman caught in adultery, tender to a doubting Thomas, and forgiving to the woman at the well. He is tender and forgiving with our sins also.

A SOMETIMES ANGRY PERSON

This Jesus sometimes was very angry. He was angered at the hardness of the legalists who wanted to make rules beyond the two that He said were sufficient (Love God supremely, and love your neighbor as yourself.) He was angry at the disciples who sought to turn the children away from Him. He was angry at the Pharisees who felt holier than the common person who could not keep all the rules they added to the law. He became very angry at the moneychangers in the temple who cheated the people who came to worship and pray.

A REJECTED PERSON

John 1:11

"HE CAME TO HIS OWN AND HIS OWN RECEIVED HIM NOT."

When we remember this Jesus, we realize our own unworthiness. We realize that without Him we are helpless. We are all dependent on this One. Since we all are unworthy, helpless, and dependent on the same One, we see barriers break down between the saints.

The breaking down of the barriers between the saints is God's ultimate purpose in a congregation taking communion. God does not want divisions, schisms, grudges, controversies, and hurts amidst His children. We should partake of communion properly so these "cancers" cannot remain in a congregation.

Communion is also a feast of testimony. A testimony that we are all part of ONE body because Jesus died on a cross to make us all ONE in Him. We are to remember Him, His sacrifice, and discern that we are all part of that ONE body now, when we partake of communion.

A RETURNING PERSON

I Corinthians 11:26

"...YE DO SHEW THE LORD'S DEATH, TILL HE COME."

We not only commemorate the fact that this Jesus died for us, wants us to be forgiven, and took the penalty for sin... we are also to remember that as a risen and ascended Lord, He is coming again for us.

With these facts presented here, we are now ready to prepare to take communion. 

 

If we remember to examine, and judge ourselves, and to repent of incorrect relationships with any within the body of believers; we will be able to receive the elements of communion and be blessed of God.

 

The communion should be a blessed time of restoration of relationships, healing, revival, and fellowship. 

 

Let's restore communion back to the place God desires.

 

Have you repented of sins?  Have you gotten things right with Him, and with anyone else present there with you? 

 

Now, if you are willing, take the bread and the grape juice, and take first the bread, remembering the broken body of Jesus, Who died for us. 

 

Then drink the juice, representative of the blood of Jesus, and thank Him for the blood He shed that we might be forgiven for the sins we have sinned. 

 

Remember, He will soon be returning, and we want to be in 'communion' with Him and with other believers, rejoicing in His coming.

 

We begin the new year, with everything right between us and the Lord...  Amen.

 

 


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                THE MINISTRY AND WORSHIP

 

I Peter 2:5,9

"...a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ... Ye are a chosen generation... that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."

We now should know our basic Bible doctrines, our hope for the future, our message for the world, our power through the Spirit, our fellowship with other saints... so what else is there for this revival? There is really much more! This is just the start. It is not enough to just be a unified, empowered group of happy believers in this revival!

Unity is not enough. If you recall in Ezekiel 37:1-10, Ezekiel is told to "prophesy unto the wind." He had previously spoken the words that God had commanded, and bones had been brought together, and clothed with flesh. Then he is commanded to prophesy to the wind, and as he obeyed, the wind moved over the bodies, and they stood to their feet -as "an exceeding great army." The unity of the bones and the flesh upon them was not enough. There had to come a new life into the bodies.

Many congregations in our day are like the disassembled bones. Some have been unified, and come together. Few are experiencing the "wind" of the Spirit creating a new life, and transforming them into a great army. Real revival will bring us to new life, and new action. The ministry of the true Word of God, and the gentle moving of the Spirit will create revival life in us.

With the coming of this life, comes movement. The dry bones become a moving, speaking, active army. Unless the unity brings such life and action, it is worthless. It is time for this latter rain revival to become an army, and not just corpses.

Many build church buildings, gymnasiums, and sanctuaries. Unless these buildings have a spiritual function, they are folly. If a church building has not a spiritual purpose, it is only a building. In the former rain revival, they knew their purpose, and they did not build buildings, but they moved forth as an army of the Lord. They "turned the world upside down..." with their ministry and worship.

Every revived saint should have a ministry. The ministry of the Word of God is not to be reserved for a special class, but is to be embraced by every member.

Paul uses the idea of the church being a body. Every part of the body is important to the whole.

I Corinthians 12:21

"...eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you..."

In the body, there is a variety of form, and a variety of function... but the body thrives and grows when every part functions properly.

The revival of the last days suffers when people seek the supernatural for its own sake. Some hunger for experiences, and want a "closed shop" of private exclusivism. They seek to keep the revival pure by excluding those who look, talk, or seem different. The real latter rain revival will reach out to all... all who will listen... all who will yield to the Spirit's movings... all who will come to the Lord... regardless of background, race, color, gender, financial status, etc.

There are two wrong extremes. The MINISTER-CENTEREDNESS in which they pay lip service to the "priesthood of believers". These tend to feel that anything not done by a full-time minister is not official. They relegate most to a "amateur" status. The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, mentioned in chapters 2 & 3 of Revelation was this doctrine. The Lord said that He hated this doctrine of creating separate classes of "clergy" and "laity". We are all priests to God, and all Christians are to have a ministry. The extreme of putting the ministry upon a minister... and the rest being pew-fillers to attend and support the ministry... is anti-revival. True revival cannot come to such congregations.

The other wrong extreme is a FREE-FOR-ALLNESS which fails to realize that in the revival church, there is to be orderly arrangement. If everyone simply goes out to do ministry without direction, training, joint-worship, and Christian fellowship... there is simply anarchy. God has "set some in the church" to be lead, guide, and help others with their individual ministries. These are not to be "lords" over the flock, but are to be "examples" to the rest (I Peter 5:3).

The first of the two extremes leads to an overworked professionalism. The other leads to a spiritual anarchy. Neither extreme is correct. We need to adhere to serving the Lord Jesus as the Head of the church, and we need to accept "ministry" as norm of everyone in the church.

The early rain revival had a strong emphasis on ministry of the Word of God. The apostles eased themselves from other pressures by appointing others to do the lesser duties. The most emphasis was put on prayer and study of the Word of God. Then deacons were appointed to the visitation and serving the widows and orphans of the congregation. The apostles could spend more time studying the Word, communicating with Jesus, and ministering the Word that they received from the Lord during those times.

Paul constantly urged the studying of the Word.

I Timothy 4:6, 13-16

"If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou         shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained... Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that they profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."

II Timothy 4:1-5

"I Charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."

 

Titus 2:1

"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine."

I Timothy 5:17

"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."

The basic element of the ministry is evangelism. The Word of God brings life to the one being evangelized. Then the Word brings nourishment, protection, and awareness of being part of the flock of the Lord. Some think that a great program that is professionalized as well as the world's programs, will bring revival and salvation of souls. This is contrary to the Lord's teachings. We have tried and tried, and there is nothing wrong with the professionalization of the program of itself, but it is the Word of God that is preached that saves the souls, the nourishes the listeners, that allows the Spirit to convict and encourage.

Acts 20:32

"And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up."

One of the worst eras of Israel's history was during the period of the judges, when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes." They recognized no leadership, they sought not the authority of the Word of God.         The early rain revival, not only recognized the equality of believers, but also recognized the need for leadership, discipline, and looking to the Word of God as the final authority.

There were some qualities that the early rain revival church sought in their leadership. They first ought persons who had the evidence of being already selected by the Spirit.

Acts 20:28

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers..."

The early rain revival also sought those who had spiritual and moral qualities.

I Timothy 3:2

"A bishop must be blameless..."

Titus 1:5-9

"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee; If any be blameless, the         husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of         riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been         taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers..."

Thus, the ministers that are made overseers and examples to the rest of the congregation, are to have a loving heart, a dedicated life, a watchful, praying spirit, and be patient with painstaking concern.

There seem to always be some as Diotrephes (II John 9). This type of minister is concerned with his own image and position. He wants to be the shepherd of the flock, and tell everyone to listen to him as though he were a "lord." He will try to get the others to ignore any other man of God, or other minister... as Diotrephes who tried to keep John, the apostle, from coming to his church. This type of minister likes to "throw his weight around." He is not the humble servant of the flock, but tries to be the "lord-shepherd" of the flock.

The gifts of the Spirit are divided to many within the church. This is because the Lord does not want the ministry to be monopolized by any one person, or by a clique of persons.

Romans 12:4-13

"For as we have many members on one body, and all members have not the same office; So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy... or ministry... or teaching... or exhortation... he that giveth... he that ruleth... he that sheweth mercy."

 

I Corinthians 12:8-11

"For to one is given by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healings by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that One and self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will."

The revival church has these gifts, and has coveted these gifts, and maintains the operation of these gifts -- under the leadership of the Spirit. The revival church recognizes the value of these gifts... They are not "pentecostal playthings", nor "spiritual novelties". They are not simply talents or natural gifts... but they are expressions of supernatural power of the Spirit. The true motives for every use of the gifts in the revival church is love, and the glory of God.

The revival church has more than correct doctrines, emphasis on the Word of God and prayer, spiritual leadership, spiritual gifts... The revival church has WORSHIP. The correct doctrines, when written upon the heart, should create a worshiping congregation.

Never underestimate correct doctrine, but it should lead to worship... Sound doctrine does not have to be "sound asleep." There is too much of the "deep frozen" religion. There are many who know the Word, know the doctrines, know the prophecies, -- but do not worship the Lord. The scribes and Pharisees of the time of the Lord's first coming, knew the Word... but failed to worship the Messiah when He stood in their presence. Today, we find many such people also.

The true vocation of the congregations includes WORSHIP.

I Peter 2:5,9

"...to offer up spiritual sacrifices... that ye should shew forth the praises of Him..."

The congregation that fails to worship, has failed at its real vocation. God meant for us to learn to worship... then learn to work. Mary and Martha were distracted by much serving. Mary chose the "better", and sat at the feet of Jesus. Had Martha also sat at the feet of Jesus, I am sure the meal still would have gotten prepared, as both could have periodically gone to the kitchen for a time, and then returned and still had time to learn and enjoy the presence of Jesus. The church needs to learn to get its work done, but put worship ahead of the "nitty-gritty" duties of the church.

Samuel was busy in the temple service, and yet in I Samuel 3:7 it says:

"Samuel did not yet know the Lord..."

It is possible to be busy in church work, and not truly know, or enjoy the Lord Jesus.

The Greek word commonly used for "worship" is "proskuneo," which means "to kiss the hand toward." This suggests an outward action which shows an inward realization of the greatness of another. The idea of "worth-ship" is recognized in real worship. In true worship is the recognition of Who the Lord truly is.

On the isle of Patmos, John was shown the future rapture day. In his vision, he saw the saints singing:

Revelation 4:8-11

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and         power..."

Worship delights in the sheer glory of God. Worship revels in His Person, His Nature, and His being. Worship recognizes what He has done.

Our actions and behavior should make others rejoice and worship in the Lord. When unbelievers see our good works, our attitudes in crisis, our love in the midst of hatred, our patience in the midst of trial, and our honesty in the midst of dishonesty... they will glorify God Who has given us the grace to so behave.

I Peter 2:12

"Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."

In this way, our behavior is an act of worship. We can glorify God, not only with our mouths, but with our lives, our attitudes, and with our actions. We should therefore be glorifying God most every moment.

I Corinthians 10:31

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Romans 12:1

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

The Greek word for "your reasonable service" is the Greek word "latreia". This word could also be translated - "your spiritual worship." The original word is capable of both renderings. The RSV translates it this alternate way. The idea is that giving our lives to be a living sacrifice, and living a holy life for the Lord Jesus, is a form of worship.

True worship is spiritual. Though it is expressed in outward expression, or with the actions of our lives, it must come from our inner being. It springs from the depth of our spirit.

John 4:24

"God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and truth."

Worship can be expressed in physical ways, words, and actions. It will be centered in the Holy Spirit, and will be from the depth or our being. Any worship that comes simply from the mind, or is hollow, outward show with no inward life... is not true worship. Often in congregations, there are hymns sung, wherein the words are sung - but not felt. These songs are only echoes of a shallow or dead faith. The Lord is not fooled by the harmonious beauty of the song... the heart is seen by God... and He recognizes true worship.

It is like the fancy wrapped boxes a lady left in her car. Knowing they would likely be stolen, if she left her car unlocked, she had wrapped her garbage in the fancy wrappings. Many people in congregations have wrapped their shallow faith in beautiful songs, and exuberant praise and worship. The enthusiasm does not fool the Lord. If the inside of a person is the filth of sin, the outward worship... no matter how enthusiastic or harmonious... is rejected by our God.

In the real and true worship... there is no set pattern. Yet, it never becomes disorderly or confused. Since the Spirit is in control, the Spirit directs us to worship in manifold ways. Nothing is more disastrous than to try to create an atmosphere of worship. While we may try to create exuberance and rejoicing, the Spirit may be seeking to get us to weep and cry our love for Jesus. When we seek the weeping worship, the Spirit may want to direct us toward praise and shouting.

What we must do in revival is -- to create an atmosphere that allows the Spirit to create -- a worship. When people try to recreate what they saw God do in another service, it will fall flat. Spiritual worship, since it must be Spirit directed, cannot be produced by even the best of worship leaders. It can only be -- prepared for, -- by the worship leaders... and the worshipers. We must prepare our hearts and minds with the knowledge of the "worth-ship" of the Lord, and the thankfulness for His mercy and grace.

True worship in the latter rain revival will be directed by the Spirit. We will find that:

        The doctrines of mankind -- that have attempted to direct                         how the Spirit can work -- will have to be pushed aside.

        The locations of worship -- that men have built -- will                         prove too small and confining.

        The restrictions to worship -- that dogmas have defined -                         - will be forgotten

in the times of Spirit-directed, Spirit-filled worship.


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UNLEASHING THE POWER 

OF THE SPIRIT

 

 

II Timothy 3:5

"HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS,

BUT DENYING THE POWER THEREOF,

FROM SUCH TURN AWAY.."

 

I Corinthians 14:1

"FOLLOW AFTER CHARITY,

AND DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS,

BUT RATHER THAT YE MAY PROPHESY."

Many want power. Healings, miracles, etc. are desired by the churches. It is frustrating when the power is missing from the churches. They have the "FORM" (morphosis, an outward semblance), of religion. This "form" is often called "tradition," and may be beautiful, and meaningful. 

 

Yet, the power of the religion is missing. The gifts are not in operation. There is a reason. The reason is that they are "DENYING" (arneomai, to act in opposition to profession, to have deeds show that the profession was false), the power.

How do we "deny" the power of our faith? 

 

The context of II Timothy 3:5 shows the reason. 

 

In verse 2, "LOVING SELF", and not others is shown as the cause. 

 

In verse four, "LOVING PLEASURE MORE THAN GOD" is shown as a method of "DENYING" the "POWER."

 

Misplaced love saps the power out of Christianity.

 

        In verse 1 of the context, we are told the time of this is to be "IN THE LAST DAYS." So the last days are to see a powerless religion. At the same time, the latter rain revival is to be in operation. Power is to be flowing through the revived saints, as never before. In others, the power is to be missing. How do we get the power?

 

        Misplaced love caused the power to dissipate.

 

        So we need to look at the subject of love, and discover its secret.

 

        Ephesians 4:30

"GRIEVE NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD."

        Grief is deeper than sorrow. Herod felt sorrow when he took the head of John the Baptist. Grief springs from love. The deeper the love, the greater the grief. Herod felt no grief, only sorrow. The Spirit feels grief, because He loves greatly. If the Spirit can be grieved, He must love us greatly. If we grieve the Spirit by our lack of love, the power of the Spirit cannot flow.

        Note the context of the verse on grieving the Spirit. 

 

In the context the emphasis is love,

 or rather the lack of it,

that grieves the Spirit.

 

vs 25 "PUT AWAY LYING"

vs. 28 "STEAL NO MORE"

vs. 29 "LET NO CORRUPT COMMUNICATION PROCEED OUT OF YOUR MOUTH"

vs. 31 "LET ALL BITTERNESS AND WRATH AND ANGER AND EVIL SPEAKING BE PUT AWAY FROM YOU, WITH ALL MALICE"

When the Spirit sees the lack of love in the midst of Christians, it grieves Him. The gifts and the power of the church is sapped.

Galatians 5:22

"THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE..."

If the Spirit brings a harvest of love, He Himself must be love. The word "love" is the Greek word, "agape." This word refers to a strong, tender compassionate devotion, recognizing the spiritual worth of even the most unlovely of personalities. If the Spirit is to bring this into our lives when He dwells within, how can we deny this kind of love and expect Him to be there to let power flow through us.

Romans 15:30

"THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT"

       

The Holy Spirit engenders us with a personal love, a love pure in content. Paul, in the context of Romans 15:30, recognized the need of prayer and power to come upon him while on the way to Jerusalem. So, by "the love of the Spirit", Paul requests prayer. Without the love of the Spirit, the prayers would have little power.

II Corinthians 6:6

"BY KINDNESS, BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, BY LOVE UNFEIGNED..."

Note that the "Spirit" is sandwiched in the verse between "kindness" and "love". 

 

Whenever the Spirit is allowed to work, kindness and love flow.

I Peter 1:22

"SEEING YE HAVE PURIFIED YOUR SOULS

 IN OBEYING THE TRUTH

THROUGH THE SPIRIT

UNTO UNFEIGNED LOVE OF THE BRETHREN,

SEE THAT YE LOVE ONE ANOTHER

WITH A PURE HEART FERVENTLY."

When your soul is purified into obedience to the Holy Spirit, the result will be true agape love for the brethren. When this happens, the Spirit's power will be able to flow.

Colossians 1:8

"WHO (Epaphras) ALSO DECLARED UNTO US YOUR LOVE IN THE SPIRIT."

Your love is inspired by the Spirit. We become like those with whom we live. Because we dwell with the Spirit daily, and His presence fills us, we should have a great amount of love. In the context of the above verse, Paul says that because of their love, they will be "STRENGTHENED WITH ALL MIGHT..." (verse 11) If love is present, power will be present.

The Holy Spirit is likened unto a dove (Matt. 3:16). 

 

The dove is a lovebird. As God spoke out of heaven -"THIS IS MY BELOVED SON...", the love-bird dove descended upon Jesus. The Trinity loves each other. When this Spirit comes upon us, His nature should also come upon us. Jesus began His powerful ministry after the dove descended upon Him. We need the Dove of love upon us.

The Holy Spirit is called the "COMFORTER." (John 14:16) 

 

He comforted the early church. Comfort is an outlet of love. If the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to comfort the believers, how can we get grudges, bitterness, anger toward those He is showing love and comfort, and not grieve Him and His power?????

 

Romans 5:5

"AND HOPE MAKETH NOT ASHAMED, BECAUSE THE LOVE OF GOD IS SHED ABROAD IN OUR HEARTS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHICH IS GIVEN UNTO US."

The Spirit floods our hearts with love. 

 

The more He has of us, the more we can exhibit the love of heaven. If we are co-workers with God, then we possess love.

A lawyer may not love his clients.

A doctor may not love his patients.

A merchant may not love his customers.

But God does not want His co-workers to not love others.

 

  It is easy to work with God and the Spirit, if you love. When we cease to love another, the Spirit is grieved and the power of the Spirit dissipates. The Spirit is shedding love upon us, as we receive it and let it flow from us, so will His power.

The Spirit is pictured as a jealous lover.

James 4:5

"DO YOU THINK THAT THE SCRIPTURE SAITH IN VAIN-

'THE SPIRIT THAT DWELLS IN US, LUSTS TO ENVY.'"

God has even told us in the Word, that His name is "JEALOUS". He wants love from us. As we show Him our love, to both Him and to His children, His power will flow through us freely. If we love the world instead of the Lord and His children, He is jealous, and will not be able to bless us as before. God demands first place. His jealousy is insistent upon love being shown.

II Corinthians 13:14

"THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU ALL. AMEN."

Note that it is the "communion" that we are to have with the Spirit. 

 

Communion is fellowship. Fellowship is impossible without love. The communion of the Spirit demands love between the brethren, who also are in fellowship with the Spirit. We need to show unmerited favor like Jesus did. There is great power available when we get into harmony with the communion, fellowship that the Spirit operates within the body of believers.

If we are filled with the Spirit, we must be filled with love.

 

John 13:35

"BY THIS SHALL ALL MEN KNOW THAT YE ARE MY DISCIPLES, IF YE HAVE LOVE ONE TO ANOTHER."

The disciples at one time were anxious for supremacy over each other. Jesus said that greatness came through love for others. This love is to be our trademark. To deny the trademark that Jesus insisted that we have, and then to ask why there is no power in our midst, is foolish. To avoid love, avoids the power.

I Corinthians 14:1

"FOLLOW AFTER CHARITY (love),

AND DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS."

If we follow the order of the above verse, we will first "FOLLOW AFTER" the love for the brethren, and then DESIRE spiritual gifts.

 

        To "FOLLOW AFTER" is from the Greek word - diokete. It                         means "to chase down and pursue." This indicates                         there should be a great effort made to achieve love.

        Then we are told to "DESIRE" the gifts. The word                         "DESIRE" means "to earnestly want."

We earnestly want the gifts and the power of the Spirit in operation. Yet, some don't want to chase down the love that God wants in the body of believers. If we seek the gifts, and do not have love, we become "LIKE SOUNDING BRASS AND A TINKLING CYMBAL." (I Cor.13:1)

Gifts are linked to love in many places in the Scripture. We want gifts. Some have been given a gift many years ago, and haven't seen it operate for years. Some have never seen God use them with gifts. The reason deals with the flow of love. If we learn to unlock the flow of gifts, by using the key of love, we shall have gifts and power in abundance. In the flow of love will come the gifts. In the lack of love, we will find a "FORM OF GODLINESS, BUT DENYING THE POWER THEREOF."

 

I Corinthians 14:12

"EVEN SO YE, FORASMUCH

AS YE ARE ZEALOUS OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS,

SEEK THAT YE MAY EXCEL

TO THE EDIFYING OF THE CHURCH."

The reason that the Spirit requires love to be flowing before the gifts can flow, is that the purpose of the gifts is to edify the church. To have the gifts in power as we desire we first must get into harmony with the reason for the gifts of the Spirit.

What is this love ?? See I Corinthians 13:4-8

"SUFFERS LONG" 

= patient, will allow others to hurt them                         without retaliation

"KIND"  

= love in action, deeds that show love

"ENVIES NOT" 

= not envious or upset by another's blessings

"VAUNTS NOT ITSELF" 

= humble, love in hiding

"NOT PUFFED UP" 

= not stuck on self, not glued to a mirror                         admiring oneself

"DOES NOT BEHAVE UNSEEMLY"

=polite, not rude

"SEEKS NOT HER OWN" 

=seeks good for others

"NOT EASILY PROVOKED" 

= good tempered

"THINKS NO EVIL" 

= not looking for faults in others

"REJOICES NOT IN INIQUITY" 

= not happy when others fail

"REJOICES IN TRUTH" 

= not deceitful

"BEARS ALL THINGS" 

= does not retaliate

"BELIEVES ALL THINGS

= trusts

"HOPES ALL THINGS"

= has positive goals

"ENDURES ALL THINGS" 

= works hard, no effort is deemed to                         great for the other

"NEVER FAILS" 

= doesn't quit

Peter and John loved enough to stop at the gate of the                         temple and speak to a lame man. The result was a                         miracle.

Friends lowered a man down through the roof to Jesus,                         because of their love for the man, and the result                         was a miracle.

Jesus loved Lazarus and the result was a resurrection                         from the dead.

Whenever love is poured out, the result is the POWER of the Spirit will flow.

 

If we want miracles, healings, prophecies, words of wisdom, etc., let us chase after the love we need to allow the Spirit to flow with power.

 

If we have grieved the Spirit with a lack of love, let us repent.

 

We can unleash the power of the Spirit,

see many signs and wonders,

if we simply let love flow.


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John D. Ladd
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THE RAPTURE

John 14:3 "If I go away, and prepare a place for you, I will come again..."

Acts 1:11 "this same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go up into heaven.'

There is a difference between the rapture of the church and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second coming of Jesus is when He comes visibly to the earth and His feet touch the Mt. of Olives. He will remain for 1000 years and rule and reign with us. (Acts 1:11, Matt. 24:20, Zech. 14:4) The rapture occurs seven years earlier, before the tribulation. The rapture is the summons of the church to go to heaven. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

                PROOFS THE RAPTURE IS BEFORE THE TRIBULATION

1. No mention of the church is made in connection with the tribulation. Only Israel and nations are mentioned.

2. The promise to the church at Philadelphia (which represents the revived church of the last days) states:

                "I will keep thee from the hour of temptation

                which shall come upon all the world, to try

                them that dwell on the earth." Rev.3:10

3. The tribulation is a time of God's wrath on an apostate church, a backslidden Israel, and an ungodly world. Believers are "not appointed unto wrath." (I Thess. 5:9)

4. We are to be "delivered from the wrath to come." (I Thess.1:10)

5.Types in the Bible

Enoch--raptured before the flood

Lot and his family--delivered before the judgment on Sodom

6. In Revelation 4:1, the "Come up hither." represents the rapture. Following that - the church is seen in heaven with crowns on their heads--which Paul said would be received on the day of the rapture.

Following the rapture day scene of Rev. 4 & 5, the tribulation starts in chapter 6.

7.Greek words used to describe the rapture:

harpadzo =caught away by force out of harm's way

ekphugein = to escape clean away from a person or condition

apolutrosis = to take unto oneself a valued object that was paid for in full earlier

optomai = appear

THE SEVEN THOUSAND YEAR THEORY

II Peter 3:3-13 esp. ver. 8

"But beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as 1000 years, and a 1000 years as one day."

This verse is in a prophetic section. It is often misinterpreted. It refers to the creation week, with the seventh day being a day of rest, and the millennium being a 1000 years of rest. So as the creation week was 7 days, so the time of God's dealing with mankind will be 7000 years.

Let's see how the early church interpreted that verse. In the book of Barnabus (13:3-5), we read:

"And God made in 6 days the works of His hands and He finished them on the 7th day... Consider, my children, what that signifies, He finished them in 6 days, the meaning of it is this--that in 6000 years the Lord will bring all things to an end-- For with Him one day is 1000 years, as Himself testifies, saying, 'Behold, this day shall be as 1000 years. Therefore, children, in 6 days, i.e. 6000 years shall all things be accomplished."

Hosea referred to this same concept in Hosea 6:3:

"After 2 days will He revive us, in the 3rd day He will raise us up, and we shall dwell in His sight."

There was 2000 years between the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, and the second coming of Jesus when He will have the Jews recognize Him as the Messiah and they will dwell in His sight for the 1000 year Millennium.

If we use the Bible to calculate years, we have roughly 2000 years from Adam to Noah's death. From that time until Jesus' first coming is another 2000 years. From Jesus' first coming until His second coming should be a third 2000 years. This leaves 1000 years for the millennium.

The "day of the Lord" is referred to many times in Scripture. It refers to the time of the Second Coming of Christ through the Millennium--which is 1000 years.

In the Book of Enoch (referred to by Jude [ vs.14-15] and often referred to by the early church), there are ten 700 periods described. This too totals 7000 years.

There is harmony now with the 7000 year theory, the ten 700 year periods of Enoch, history so far, and Bible prophecy. This should tell us that we are in the last days. We can know "the times and the seasons." Jesus was angry with the Pharisees when they did not recognize Him --yet there are 7 times more scriptures on His second coming than on His first coming.

ALPHABETICAL SIGNS OF THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS

by K.A. Murch

Apostasy in the church                 II Timothy 3:5

Blood, fire, pillars of smoke                 Joel 2:30

Counterfeit Christs                 Mark 13:22

Distress of nations                 Luke 21:25

Earthquakes multiplying                 Matt.24:7

Famines                 Matt. 24:7

Great tribulation                 Mark 13:19

Hearts failing for fear                 Luke 21:26

Increase in travel and speed         Dan.12:4

Judgment by pestilence         Matt.24:7

Knowledge increases         II Tim.3:7

Lawlessness spreads                 II Tim. 3:3

Mockers, scoffers                 II Pet. 3:4

Noah's day revived                 Matt. 24:37

Outpouring of the Spirit                 Joel 2:23

Portrayal of God's Power         Haggai 2:6-7

Quest for pleasure                 II Tim.3:4

Riches accumulate                 Jas. 5:1-3

Spiritism increases                 I Tim. 4:1

Turning from truth                 II Tim. 4:3-4

Unprecedented warfare         Lk. 21:9-10

Vast northern power to arise         Ezek.38-39

Worldwide evangelism         Mark 13:10

eXceptional astronomical signs         Luke 21:25

Youth disobedient to parents         II Tim.3:2

Zionism (restoration of Jews to Israel) Lk. 21:29-31

 

 

CHURCH HISTORY OF THE RAPTURE TEACHING

Some have said that if we would search we will find no history of the teaching in the early church record. They say that it did not exist until the 1830's. But that is not true... let us examine some early church writings.

Justin Martyr 100 A.D.-

" The man of apostasy shall venture to do unlawful deeds on earth against us the Christians."

(Trypho, cx)

This is true, for many will be saved during the tribulation, after the rapture of the church, they are called the ‘tribulation saints..." So this statement does not teach against Pre-trib rapture.

 

The Pastor(Shepherd)of Hermas 150 A.D.-

"Happy ye are who endure the great tribulation that is coming."

(Vision Second)

" Those, therefore, who continue steadfast, and are put through the fire,

will be purified by means of it… Wherefore, cease not speaking these things into the ears of the saints. This then is the type of the great tribulation that is yet to come."

(Vision Fourth)

The early church was going through great tribulations... burnings upon crosses, crucifixions, throwing to lions, imprisonments, scourgings with 39 stripes...etc. So when they spoke of enduring tribulations, they meant the tribulations they were currently in... and note that they also said "‘this then is the type of the great tribulation that is yet to come." They knew another, greater tribulation was still to come, but only the tribulations they were currently in would be the ones they endured before the coming of the Lord.

Barnabas 130 A.D.- "Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are called by God, we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord."

(The Epistle of Barnabas, chapter IV)

This indicates that salvation can be lost, and the hope of escaping the tribulation and the Antichrist would have to be faced... if one ‘falls asleep in their sins"... as the five foolish virgins will have to go through the tribulation, but not the five wise ones... This is of what Barnabas was speaking.

 

Irenaeus 130 A.D.- " And they (the ten kings) shall give their kingdom to the beast, and put the church to flight."

(Against Heresies, V, 26, 1)

Where two or three are gathered in His name, is a church... So after the rapture of the church in a pre-trib rapture, there can be a ‘church’ of tribulation saints which will endure some trib. before being killed.

George Mueller 1805-1898-

"The Scripture declares plainly that the Lord Jesus will not come until the apostasy shall have taken place."

(Mission Tour and Labors, p. 148)

Spurgeon 1885- "First, then, there is a terrible time, a time of fearful national trouble. When the Lord Jesus shall come, the heavens shall tell us: ‘There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.’ And then our own eyes shall tell us for they shall see ‘ the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’… ‘Look up, and lift up your heads’ because graves are opening and you will quit the grave never more to die."

(Charles Hadden Spurgeon, April 23, 1885)

Billy Graham- " Perhaps the Holy Spirit is getting His Church ready for a trial and tribulation such as the world has never known."

( San Shoemaker’s Under New Management, p. 72)

There is currently an apostasy, and a great falling away, and perilous times, and much tribulation upon saints... and trials galore... but that is not the 7 year tribulation spoken of in Revelation and Daniel. So the above quotes refer to this type of trials... not to the 7 year period of the wrath of God.

Hermas

There is an interesting paragraph in the Shepherd of Hermas... that shows that the early church spoke of tribulations often, for they were going through many... but they also knew of a separate tribulation, through which they believed the church would not pass.

Hermas tells us that he passed by a wild beast and met a virgin who saluted him saying. Hail O man.! He returned the greeting... Lady, hail! Then she asked... Has nothing crossed your path? Hermas replied... I was met by a beast of such a size that it could destroy peoples, but through the power of the Lord and His great mercy, I escaped from it... The virgin said... Well, did you escape from it, because you cast your care on God, and opened your heart to the Lord, believing that you can be saved by no other than His great and glorious name? You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. God therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be free and spotless in serving the Lord blamelessly."

Hermas, The Shepherd of Hermas, Book I, fourth, ch. ii, also ch. iii)

This shows that the teaching was definitely in the early church... of a pre-trib rapture...and that the teaching of the pre-trib rapture was not added in 1830... but to a restoration of the doctrine that had been lost when the church apostatized in the dark ages. The church lost not only the pre-trib rapture doctrine, but salvation by faith, not works, became powerful feeling, and persecuted and tribulated (excuse the word) the world for a time, instead of wanting an escape of the tribulation.

After the first early rain revival of the church, the church became powerful... and ruled over the wicked... and the hope of the rapture waned. The church was joined by many wicked, with teachings from heathenism... for it was illegal not to belong to the church. The corruption of church doctrine explains the lack of the teaching of the pre-trib rapture, or of a rapture period, during the middle ages. Thus it is not strange that in the post-Nicene period, and the leaders in the middle ages, there is silence regarding the rapture of the church.

The early church did believe in a pre-trib rapture.

As evidenced by Hermas’ teaching.

And the promise to the church of Philadelphia... (Rev. 3:10) "I will keep thee from the ‘hour’ of temptation." "Hour’ designates a time of coming trial, a period of tribulation... that comes upon not only a part of the earth, but upon ‘all who dwell upon the earth." The word for ‘dwell’ is not then normal. "oikeo" but the strengthened "katoikeo" meaning all who are identified with the earth.

Alford refers us to other examples in the Bible of this word being used, which shows it refers to "those who are not of the church of Christ".

The nature of the 70th week of Daniel is one in which it is Israel who is to be dealt with, not the church. (Daniel 9:27)

Isaiah 26:20-21

"Come, My people enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For behold, Jehovah cometh forth out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."

The twenty four elders, representing the 24 divisions of the heavenly priesthood all have crowns on their heads in Rev. 4 and 5... and Paul clearly teaches that no saint, not even him, would get their crown until the rapture time... and the tribulation is starting in Rev. 6 -19... so this would indicate a pre-trib rapture.

There is a necessity for a period between the rapture and the second coming of Christ.

The judgment of believers will take some time... the passing out of rewards.

And then the second thing... the marriage supper of the Lamb, the opening of the New Jerusalem... will also take some time.

If we go up to the clouds, and then immediately come back to rule and reign with Christ for a 1000 years... when do these things occur?????

Why would we be constantly exhorted to watch, if we could date the Antichrist’s coming, note esp. the date of the abomination of desolation... for if we were here, and knew that date, we have revealed in Scripture to the day, how many days after that is the second coming... and we would know the day of His return.

The rapture is soon to occur. We need to be ready, and to work on our unsaved loved ones, to get them ready.

 

  Even So, by Terry Macalmon


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MINISTERING IN THE KINGDOM

Matthew 16:13-20, ch. 17, ch. 18

The sermon on the mount told the disciples how to live and act in the kingdom. The standards of Christian living is given in Matthew's account of the Sermon on the mount in chapters 5, 6, and 7. Yet, we are do more than to live, but we need to minister.

The standards of living given by Jesus exceeded the standards of all others. Consider that the Pharisees condemned murder, but Jesus condemned hatred... The Pharisees condemned adultery, but Jesus condemned lust... In the same manner, the standards of ministry given by Jesus also exceeds the standards of all others...

Ministering in the kingdom demands more than the average saint wants to give. The standards are higher than the church denominations expect... and more than the world demands... There are very high standards for ministry...

Since the kingdom of heaven is here... now... we must abide by these high standards ... now!

John the Baptist preached:

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

(Matthew 3:2)

Jesus began His ministry:

"Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

(Matthew 4:17)

The kingdom of heaven is not the kingdom of the millennial years, or later. No, it is a kingdom we can be in now. We need to first enter into the kingdom, before we can minister in the kingdom.

Matthew 16:13-18

"He asked His disciples, saying, whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?

And they said, Some say that Thou art John the baptist; some, Elias, and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answered and said, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My father Who is in heaven.

And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter (petros, a little stone); and upon this rock (petra, an immovable stone, i.e. Jesus, see I Cor. 3:11, Isaiah 28:16, Psa. 118:22), I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Jesus is the foundation of the kingdom into which we enter. We make up the "house", but the foundation of the house is Jesus. Peter was one stone of the house, as are each of us. "Peter" is the word "petros", meaning "a small stone." Jesus is the "rock", and this is from the word, "petra" meaning "a great immovable stone, a foundation." Jesus is the foundation, but the house is the kingdom of heaven, into which we entered when we repented of our sins and accepted Jesus as the foundation of our lives.

I Peter 2:5

"Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house."

Great power is given to those in the kingdom. Keys of power are given to the saints.

Matthew 16:19

"I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

"Keys" are a symbol of authority. The keys refer to the authority to do works, miracles, and speak rhema word against demonic powers.

John 14:12

"The works that I do shall ye do and greater works."

Matthew 16:17

"These signs shall follow them that believe."

 

Simple faith produces this binding and loosing power.

Matthew 17:20

"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed."

James 5:14-16

"...the prayer of faith shall save the sick."

John 14:13

"whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do."

We are to use the power that God has given to us in the kingdom of heaven. Some things need to be bound, and others need to be loosed. We are the ones who have been given the ministry of Jesus, and are to do what He would have done if He were still here.

Isaiah 58:6-8

"break every yoke... hide not thyself from thy own flesh them... thine health shall spring forth speedily."

We can bind:

1. Satan's power in a situation...

James 4:7

"Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Luke 10:19

"I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you."

2. forces of nature in order to bring God glory...

Elijah shut up rain for three and a half years...

Elisha shut up rain for seven years...

Christ calmed the sea...

laws of nature can b e bound...

3. troubles within can be bound...

Guilt, bad memories, fear, torment, shame, and any tormenting thoughts that trouble one's mind can be bound and thereby the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) can be loosed.

We can loose:        

       

1. men from infirmities...

the woman with the spirit of infirmity (Lk. 13:11-16)

the deaf and dumb (Mk. 7:32-35)

the blind (Mt. 9:27-31)

lepers (Mt. 8:1-4)

2. men from bonds...

Paul and Silas (Acts 16:26)

Jesus about to be seized by angry pharisees, but passed through their midst unnoticed.

3. sins grip upon mankind...

false guilt from mankind...

 

Miracles are for every generation.

Daniel 4:2-3

"I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. Ho great are His signs! and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion is from generation to generation."        

The kingdom of heaven began during the first visitation of Jesus Christ to this earth. In fact, eight days after Jesus predicted that they would see the beginning of the kingdom of God, three of the disciples went to the mount of transfiguration, and there saw Moses, Elijah, and Jesus discussing the coming events. This in type showed the saints that had died, the saints of the rapture, and our glorified Lord in preparation for future occurrences.

Luke 9:27-30, Matthew 16:28

"...But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God."

The transfiguration pre-figured the kingdom of heaven, and soon, the kingdom was to be birthed.

Matthew 17:1-

"After six days, Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them into a high mountain apart.

And was transfigured (metamorphoo, to change form) before them; and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light.

And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with Him.

Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus, Lord it is good for us to be here, if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them;         and behold a voice out of the cloud, Who said, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.

And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face and were sore afraid.

And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid!

And when they had lifted their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them saying: Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of Man be risen again from the dead."

Six days after the prediction of the kingdom of heaven being seen, Jesus takes three disciples to a high mountain. It took a couple days to climb the mountain, for on the eighth day (Luke 9:28) they reached the top and saw the vision. Mount Hermon is 9000 feet high, and the terrain is treacherous in parts.

Moses, who had been dead, and in paradise for 1500 years, appeared with Elijah who had been raptured alive for nearly 1000 years. There, with the Lord transfigured to as He would appear in heaven after His death, resurrection, and ascension, they discussed the beginning of the kingdom of heaven, which would occur shortly in Jerusalem.

The pre-figuring of the kingdom of heaven, began with three disciples who were "heavy with sleep." (Luke 9:32). The kingdom of heaven has slowly been unfolding, for much of the church has been spiritually asleep. Those who awake from such sleep, can enjoy the kingdom now. Some will not enjoy the kingdom until it has fully come in. We are in the battle part of the kingdom now, and the ruling and reigning part of the kingdom is soon to come.

HOW TO MINISTER IN THIS KINGDOM

THE KINGDOM IS AT WAR AGAINST THE DEVIL AND HIS COHORTS

Matthew 17:14-18

"When they were come to the multitude, there came to Him a certain man, kneeling down to Him, saying:

Lord, have mercy on my son; for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed; for ofttimes, he falleth into the fire and oft into the water.

And I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Then Jesus answered and said: O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to Me.

And Jesus rebuked the devil, and he departed out of him, and the child was cured from that very hour."

Do not think this kingdom is already to the ruling and reigning part. The devil still attacks, and is trying to control the weak and helpless. We battle against him and his cohorts... and sometimes we still need direct intervention of the Lord against the attacks of the devil. Some evil forces are more powerful than others, and we need strong faith in the kingdom.

Matthew 17:19-21

"Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could we not cast him out?

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief; for verily, I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible         unto you.

Howbeit, this kind goeth out but by prayer and fasting."

       

There are different evil powers that we face, and the enforcing of the rhema of the Lord requires some fasting and prayer to handle some situations. Though we are at battle with the evil forces, we are to be victorious in our engagements against him... Yet, victory is not very common for many saints. Much of the kingdom truths are not understood by disciples.

Matthew 17:22-23

"And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, the Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of men;

And they shall kill Him, and the third day, He shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry."

Jesus was hated, and would be attacked and killed, so will be the disciples of the last days. "Perilous times" have arrived, and yet, as Jesus ultimately conquered sin and death, so we will also be conquerors through Him. The disciples heard about the betrayal and killing of Jesus, but could not comprehend it. They completely missed the blessed third part ( i.e. the resurrection on the third day) or else they would not have been "sorry" but rather "joyful!"

IN THIS KINGDOM, WE DO NOT PAY TRIBUTE, BUT GIVE OUR ALL

Matthew 17:24-27

"And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter and said, Doth not your Master pay tribute?

He saith, Yea. and when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute of their own children, or of strangers?

Peter saith unto Him, of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea and cast an hook and take up the fish, that first comes up, and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money and take, and give unto them for Me and thee."

       

This was not a tax by the political rulers, the Romans, for Jesus taught there, to "render to Caesar the things that were Caesar's." This was the temple tax of a half shekel of silver that all males were to give to the Temple yearly. Jesus is here dealing with religious tribute. The tithe and offerings to the Temple are Jesus' concern here.

In the Old Testament, a tribute was to support the priesthood. Now, in the New Testament, we are all the priesthood. God does not ask a tithe, He does not ask the 23 1/3 per cent that the law demanded in the Old Testament...

We, as Christians, have given 100 % to Him, and are now in the family of the King of Kings. All we have is His, and we are not to go back to just "paying tribute". The "tithers" of the church age have short-changed themselves, and have missed the calling and demands of this ministry in the kingdom of heaven.

THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, IS MEASURED BY HUMILITY, CHILDLIKENESS.

Matthew 18:1-4

"At the same time came the disciples to Jesus saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them.

And said, Verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever, therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Too many Christians seek applause, greatness, and fame. The seeking for recognition, for a name in lights, and to be a celebrity. Jesus came to this earth, being One of the holy Trinity, and yet, His claim was that He was the "SON OF MAN". This is a claim to be a "descendant of Adam..." It took some time for most to realize that this One was truly the "SON OF GOD".

Too many saints today, and in that day, try to do the opposite way, seeking to be acknowledged, advertised, and recognized. If they are not announced, proclaimed, and publicized they are angered and embittered. This is contrary to the desires of the Lord for the kingdom of heaven.

HOW WE TREAT OTHERS DURING OUR MINISTRY IS WATCHED

Matthew 18:5-7

"And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones who believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh."

There has been in the church, in the kingdom of heaven, too much abuse, offending, and hurting of others. Most ignore this teaching, and squabble, hurt, criticize, fight, etc., in congregations.

The treatment of one Christian upon another is closely watched by the Lord, by the King of the kingdom of heaven. It would be better if a millstone were hanged upon their neck, and they would jump in the sea, than to face the angry King of the kingdom.

A millstone was a stone about 18 inches in diameter, and three inches thick. It was a mode of punishment used by the Syrians, Greeks, and Egyptians. It was a feared and hated form of punishment to those to whom this was first written. We, too, should fear and dread doing anything that would make our Lord as angry as our King of kings says that He becomes when one mistreats one in His kingdom.

THOSE WHO OFFEND NEED TO BE REMOVED

Matthew 18:8-9

"Wherefore, if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee; it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands and two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee, it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire."

Offenders, if left in the kingdom of heaven can bring many others into judgment. Too many church congregations are filled with abusers... and many have tolerated such abusers. Perhaps they are family, or big givers. Perhaps the ones who tolerate are just uncaring about the victims.

The King of the kingdom of heaven, tells us to stop offenders by cutting them off.

EACH ONE IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN HAS AN ANGEL

WHO REPORTS TO GOD ABOUT ANY MISTREATMENT

Matthew 18:10

"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven THEIR ANGELS do always behold the face of My Father, Who is in heaven."

We do have guardian angels. The ones abused by others have guardian angels that report every abuse to God the Father Himself. To choose to face the angel would be irresponsible and moronic enough, but to face an angry God is beyond mere stupidity.

GOD WANTS ALL TO BE SAVED

Matthew 18:11-14

"For the Son of man is come to save those who are lost.

How think ye? if a man have 100 sheep and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the 99 and go into the mountains and seek that one who is gone astray?

And if so be that he find it, verily, I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than the 99 who went not astray.

Even so, it is not the will of your Father, Who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."

       

The King of the kingdom of heaven wants to bring the lost back to the kingdom. Too many have sat within their little building and filled their comfortable pew. They have allowed abusers to chase little one after little one out of the kingdom. The King of the kingdom tells us here that He desires for us to rather, be seeking to bring in others to the kingdom.

THERE IS A METHOD TO BE FOLLOWED IN DISCIPLINE WITHIN THE KINGDOM

Matthew 18:15-17

"Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be to thee as a heathen man and a publican."

There are three steps to follow in discipline in the kingdom of heaven...

1. Settle all differences by yourself if you can.

2. Confirm your personal efforts by two or three witnesses.

3. Take a stubborn and unforgiving brother before the church if he refuses all means of reconciliation. If he still refuses to get things right, then the person is to be excommunicated from the assembly.

The reasons for such excommunication are:

a trespass (hamartia), with an unforgiving spirit.

false doctrine or offenses contrary to Scripture. (Romans 16:17)

hating Christ (I Cor. 16:22)

disorderly conduct and disobedience (II Thess. 3:6, 14-15)

apostasy (I Tim. 1:19-20, 4:1-8, II Tim. 3:5, 4:1-4)

heresy (Tit. 3:10, I Tim. 6:3-5)

fornication or other gross sins that damn the soul (I Cor. 5:1-13, 6:9-11, Gal. 5: 19-21, Mark 7:19-21, Rom. 1:18-32, Col. 3:5-10, I Tim. 6:3-5)

The "binding and loosing" of the kingdom of heaven is applied to church discipline also.

Matthew 18:18

"Verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth         shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven."

       

POWER IN AGREEMENT IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

Matthew 18:19

"Again, I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father Who is in heaven."

       

God wants those in the kingdom of heaven to link up and to work in harmony. This is more difficult than we like to admit. Jesus even had trouble with those in His chosen twelve. We need to work hard at this one, for it is not a very powerful church that cannot get into agreement. There are many weak and powerless congregations of the kingdom of heaven.

FORGIVENESS MUST BE EXTREME

Matthew 18:21-22

"Then came Peter to Him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin and I forgive him? till seven times?

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, till seven times, but until 70 times 7 times..."

For some in the kingdom of heaven, unforgiveness, anger, wrath, and grudges are common. Yet, the King of the kingdom demands forgiveness... to the extreme.

OUR FORGIVENESS DEPENDS ON OUR BEING FORGIVEN

Matthew 18:23-35

"Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, who would take account of his servants.

And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought to him, who owed him 10,000 talents.

But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold and his wife and children, and all that he had and payments to be made.

The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

But the same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him 100 pence, and he laid hands on him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him saying. Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

And he would not; but went out and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very         sorry and came and told unto their lard all that was done.

Then his lord after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me.

Should not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?

And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due him.

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."

God cancels all debt for the penitent sinners, as this king did for the man who owed him an amount that was beyond ability to repay. This same God demands fair treatment between those in His kingdom. This same God will cancel our forgiveness, if we are not forgiving.

CONCLUSION

We need to measure our ministry in the kingdom of heaven, by the standards given by the King of the kingdom. We do not measure our ministry by the size of the congregation, for too many congregations are too big, for they have not excommunicated the abusers. We are not to measure our ministry by our fame and prestige, for it is the childlike, and the humble that are considered great. The King of kings has a totally different measure of our ministry!

 


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PARABLE OF THE FATHER

OF THE PRODIGAL SON

 

Luke 15

11

And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

13And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

14And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

17And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

19And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

20And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

22But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

25Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

26And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

27And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

28And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

 

 

29And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

30But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

31And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

32

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

 

 

The purpose of a parable was both to reveal, and to conceal.

The disciples were to understand, and know the spiritual meaning behind the story, but the Pharisees and hardhearted were to hear only the story.

The Lord tells this parable, not as a story emphasizing the son, but to emphasize the love of the Father. It is set in the context of the murmuring of the pharisees, because Christ was received by the publicans and sinners. Jesus was feasting, eating, enjoying the company of the publicans and sinners, and the pharisees were obviously upset about it. The Pharisees were offended by the feasting, and caring of Jesus for the publicans.

To exemplify the love of the Father for sinners, this parable is given.

The father is the foremost figure in the parable.

The location of the parable being first given was in Capernaum. Likely, Jesus reiterated this parable often. The wording is such (exact words, carefully reported) that Luke likely got this parable from the original Hebrew gospel penned by Matthew, noted in history as the "Logia", and wrote it down, just as the note taker of the disciples had transcribed it.

This parable follows the parable of the "lost sheep", which showed the love of the shepherd for the one sheep that needed to be sought and found. And it also follows the parable of the "lost coin" in which the woman needed to light a lamp, and search diligently for the lost drachma, which was one tenth of her whole life savings. She called for neighbors to come and rejoice with her, when the coin was found. God rejoices together with the heavenly angels when one lost soul is re-claimed into the kingdom.

The parable of the lost sheep showed the love of the shepherd, but showed a lamb that was just found, and had played no part in deciding to return. The second parable of the lost coin, showed the joy of the finder, but the coin had just lay there with no input into the finding. The parable of the prodigal son, shows a son who plays a part, in remorse, humbling, choosing to return. It shows a son who had been greedy, self-indulgent, and finally ‘hit bottom’ before he decides to recognize his sin, become miserable enough to repent and return. So this parable is an integral part of the puzzle of understanding the nature of the Father’s joy.

The fault-finding pharisees had criticized the love of the Lord, His acceptance of the publicans and sinners, and His willingness to rejoice and feast with them. Jesus wanted them to know the source and motive of His joy and celebration. It was a heart of love, and a joy of having the sinful come home into the kingdom.

11

And he said, A certain man had two sons:

12

And the younger of them said to his father,

Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.

And he divided unto them his living.

25Now his elder son was in the field:

and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

 

And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

27And he said unto him,

Thy brother is come;

and thy father hath killed the fatted calf,

because he hath received him safe and sound.

28And he was angry, and would not go in:

These two sons had different dispositions. One was hard working, quiet, zealous, and desirous to get the work done. The other was foolish, giving free reins to lusts and pleasure seeking. The older, more zealous one, deserved two portions of the inheritance. The younger deserved one portion.

The younger wanted his portion, and the inheritance was given. The younger later decided to go to some far country, and there he wasted the inheritance. Sin led to misery, and misery makes one reflect on life. That is why God allows sinners to reap the misery they sow. It finally makes them think.

The prodigal son had a choice then. He could return home, but that would mean humbling, and repenting, and admitting error. How hard that is for the natural man. Even in churches today, there are many who could not tell you the last time they repented to the Lord, or to a person they had wronged. Repentance and sorrow for error is rare these days, and therefore, misery is abundant.

The prodigal could attempt to work his way out of the mess. This he chose to do, for working in a pig pen, was easier for him than to humble himself. The workers in the pig pen were the lowest of society in those days. They were not allowed in the heathen temples even, to worship their gods. These same workers in pig pens, were not allowed to marry even the lowest class of people. This job that he took was the one no one else would have taken, if their were any other job available. The prodigal did not want to humble himself, but events took him to a great humbling.

A famine also arose...

14And when he had spent all,

there arose a mighty famine in that land;

and he began to be in want.

15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country;

and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

The famine made it so that the owner of the swine would have been giving the prodigal only the barest of meals, famine rations. He was feeling that he was starving to death. The food of the pigs looked better and better each day. He became tempted to fill his stomach with the horn shaped pods of the carob tree, that the pigs ate. This food is used almost exclusively for livestock, for humans have to be nearly starved to death to desire to eat it.

The choice now was, swine’s food, or semi-starvation, or home. Each day the choice became harder, more difficult. Now the thought of home seemed better, and the remembering of the good food, that even the servants of his father ate, made him decide that perhaps he could humble himself that much. He decides to go home, confess his faults, and work for a hireling’s wages.

No details are given for the journey. The details given are of the father’s watching for the return. There is instant pity in the father, when he sees the son, yet a great distance away, but making his way home. Remember this parable is mainly focused by the Lord, on the Father, not on the prodigal son.

The Father sees that his son does not have shoes, and no ring, and his garments smell of a pig pen. Servants had their shoes removed when they were made a slave, and only when liberated could they again have shoes. The slaves of that day wore an iron ring, but the sons had gold rings. The feasts and celebrations of the day, would have beautiful garments awaiting them at the door, and were put on and worn during the celebration. So when the Father, has the son given a robe, a ring, and shoes, he was denying the slavery of the prodigal, announcing to the world that this was his son, not a slave... and calling for celebration of that fact.

The son tried to give his premeditated speech to the father. But was met only with an embrace, gifts, restoration, and celebration. No, he would not be a slave working for slaves’ benefits, he would be honored son, at a celebration such as the family had not seen before.

The announcement to the servants was that ‘this is My son, who was dead." And the celebration was that the dead was now ‘resurrected’. The lost son was found, and this was reason to celebrate. There are many spiritually dead, whom the Lord wants to resurrect to spiritual life in Him. He does it daily in our world. Some churches have taken such events too calmly, too apathetically. All of heaven rejoices over the salvation of a lost soul. Jesus had just been criticized for caring for the publicans who were seeking out Jesus, for in Him they found a Person, Who did not despise them, as did the Pharisees. They responded to His love, and were in the process of accepting Him as the Messiah, as had Matthew, shortly before.

The elder son, represented the Pharisees in this parable. He was the ‘wet blanket’ of the day. The attitude of him (and of the pharisees) was complaining, fault-finding, critical, harsh, unloving, and certainly not celebrant.

This elder son had spent the day laboring, and when arriving home he finds a party. He complains and gives a bitter speech to his father. He felt all his work was drudgery. He grows angry, and refuses to celebrate with the others. The father answers his criticism with meekness, apologetically, and justifies the celebration. The father does not retaliate, for the penalty for such attitude of the elder son, is already there. The elder son, missed a celebration, a missed a delicious steak, missed the Father’s joy, and created in himself a misery that it would take a humbling and confession to others to dispel. Quite a penalty.

And this is what Jesus was showing the pharisees, what they had missed, not being joyous for the sinners who were finding Jesus, no longer being prodigals, but finding the One Who could give them joy. The most miserable ones when Jesus told this parable, were the pharisees to whom it was directed. The happiest people in that event, were the publicans and sinners, feasting with Jesus, seeing One Who cared about them. We are faced with choices, to decide to know the Father’s heart, and longing search for prodigals today, or to harden and burden ourselves with misery, by despising the joyous celebration of the loving Savior.


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Reply with quote  #27 

 

 

Peter,  a Man Changed by the Lord

 

 

 

Before the Day of Pentecost, Peter seemed to have many objectionable qualities. 

 

He was PROUD, EGOTISTICAL, BOASTFUL, SELF-CONFIDENT, and SELF-ASSERTIVE

(Matt. 26:31-35, Lk. 22:31-34, Jn. 13:36-38). 

 

This chosen disciple of the Lord also showed himself to be IMPULSIVE, RASH, VACILLATING, and UNSTABLE

(Matt. 8:32, Jn. 18:3-11). 

 

He indicated COWARDICE when he denied the Lord three times on the eve of the resurrection

(Matt. 26:56,58, Mk. 14:50,54). 

 

This DISLOYALTY was an infidelity to Jesus. He probably shocked himself when he was ashamed to be identified with Christ

(Matt. 26:69-75).

 

This man we know later became a great leader of the early church even was PROFANE, and cursed when he denied the Lord Jesus Christ

(Matt. 26:74).

        Some qualities that were shared by all the disciples, of course, apply to Peter also. 

 

All were WEAK IN FAITH. Peter showed this when he began to sink while walking on the water (Matt. 17:14-21). 

 

The disciples were SLOW TO UNDERSTAND (Mk. 9:32). Peter didn't understand when Jesus often explained about His soon coming crucifixion on the cross. 

 

All the disciples had a distorted view of what the coming of the Messiah would mean, and were AMBITIOUS FOR THEIR OWN SELFISH ENDS (Matt. 18:1-6). 

 

The disciples were SECTARIAN in Spirit. Peter wanted to build three temples on the top of the mountain, and let others come to them (Mk. 9:38-41).

 

  The disciples were RUDE to children who wanted to approach the Lord. Peter also had this quality (Matt. 19:13-15). 

 

Peter was a man who needed some drastic changes.

        There were some commendable qualities present in Peter

 

The Lord saw some FIRMNESS, and STRENGTH in Peter. Jesus changed Simon's name to "Cephas" (Aramaic), and "Peter" (Greek). "Cephas," and "Peter" mean "stone." 

 

The Lord also saw some POTENTIAL in Peter, for the Lord called him to be his disciple (Matt. 4:18-20).

 

Peter did exhibit the ability to be a LEADER; he had INITIATIVE, BOLDNESS, and DARING.

 

Peter was an ARTICULATE SPOKESMAN (Lk. 8:45).

 

He was OPEN, HONEST, and ABOVEBOARD (Lk. 5:8). 

 

This man was also a SENSITIVE person who was RESPONSIVE to the Spirit of God. 

 

At times, Peter was PERCEPTIVE TO SPIRITUAL TRUTH. 

 

Peter could be HUMBLE at times (Jn. 13:6,8). 

 

This man had LOVE FOR JESUS (Jn. 21:15-17). 

 

Basically, Peter was a MAN OF FAITH, though at times, his faith faltered.

        Peter was a man of contrasts and contradictions.

                LOYAL                 -- DISLOYAL

                BOLD                 -- TIMID

                BRAVERY --                 COWARDICE

                PRIDE                 --HUMILITY

                FAITH                 UNBELIEF,-- FEAR

                SPIRITUALITY--         CARNALITY

   So often, a strength has a corresponding weakness. The devil works on us in the same ways, as he did on Peter. The Lord said that the devil wanted to "SIFT" Peter "AS WHEAT." You are not as different as you thought. We all seem to think that we are uniquely attacked by the devil, and no one has been attacked as we have.

        Peter was converted, and was a true follower of God before he backslid on the eve of the crucifixion. 

 

There are many signs of this in the Scripture.

 He believed Christ came down from the Father (Jn. 17:8).

        He confessed Christ (Matt. 16:16, Jn. 6:68-69).

        He received spiritual revelations (Matt. 16:16).

He had eternal life (Jn. 17:1-3).

        He was convicted of sin by the Spirit (Jn. 16:8-11).

        He was cleansed of sin (Jn. 13:8,10, 15:3).

        His name was written in heaven (Lk. 10:20)

        He had the Spirit (Matt. 10:20).

        He had power over sickness and disease (Matt. 10:1-8).

 

        Yet, Peter backslid, and needed to be restored.

 

Some think that they can arrive at a point in salvation where they will never need to fear backsliding. Peter found that there is a way to insure that one will not backslide. He recorded the steps one needs to follow, if they want to stay saved. Peter is one who learned by experience that one can backslide if careless with spiritual things.

        The steps in the backsliding of Peter are these:

        Boasting in self confidence (Matt. 26:33, Proverbs 6:18)

        Disputed what he was told by Jesus (Matt.26:33-35)

        Slept instead of praying (Matt. 26:40)

        Failed to mortify the flesh (Matt. 26:4)

        Resisted instead of submitting (Matt. 26:51)

        Forsook Christ and fled (Matt. 26:56)

        Followed afar off (Matt. 26:58)

 Sat with Jesus' enemies (Matt. 26:58)

        Gave up hope, was discouraged (Matt. 26:58)

        Became afraid of men (Matt. 26:68-72)

        Lied, denied the Lord (Matt. 26:69-72)

        Cursed (Matt. 26:69-72)

 

        This failure of Peter was devastating. 

 

How could he have failed the Lord that he loved and respected so much? Peter was totally shaken by his failure. The memories of his 3 1/2 years of Jesus' teachings made an indelible impression. The time that Jesus washed his feet probably weighed heavily upon Peter. Peter knew that Jesus had warned of the devil's desire to capture and to hurt him. Peter could remember that Jesus had promised only a few hours before that He would intercede for him. Jesus had also told Peter that he would be restored, and would strengthen his brethren. Jesus had even in detail predicted how Peter would have a three-fold denial. These recollections brought Peter to the place where the Spirit could impart a godly, repentant spirit.

How anxious Peter must have received the word after the resurrection, to meet Jesus in Galilee. 

 

This special appearance to Peter lifted the devastation that he felt. After the weary night of fishing, Peter could still throw off his garment and swim ashore to see his Savior. Jesus assured Peter that he would be of great use to the Lord's plan. (Mk. 16:7,Lk. 24:34, Jn. 21:15-19) We all face failure, for none of us are as perfect as we'd like others to think. We have the same loving, forgiving Lord. Jesus wants to restore each of us back to useful service.

        The day of Pentecost marked a distinct change in Peter. 

 

Nearly everything he did from that point was a witness of the power of God to change a life. He became a predominant figure in the apostolic church. His daring faith released God's miracle working power. His first sermon resulted in 3000 conversions. He was no longer timid. He bravely told the lame man at the temple to rise and walk. When arrested by the Sanhedrin, and told to cease preaching Jesus, Peter refused to be silent. He was the spokesman for the church when the Lord cleansed the revival church of the sins of Ananias and Sapphira. There were many other miracles in his ministry. Even his shadow, falling on the sick, brought healings. An angel released him from prison. Tabitha was resurrected at Lydda. Aeneas was healed of palsy. He was the one chosen to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Then he defended the spreading of the gospel to the Gentiles to the others at Jerusalem. These showed great, and abrupt changes in the person of Peter.

        Peter's nature had been refined by the Spirit. 

 

He had overcome his carnality. He had experienced a powerful change. In his epistles, Peter tries to teach others what helped him make such abrupt changes. He tries to help others make the same abrupt changes. 

 

In his epistles, Peter teaches the necessity of:

        Heart purification in obeying the truth (I Peter 1:22)

        A meek and quiet spirit (I Peter 3:4)

        No longer living in the lusts of the flesh, but according to God in the Spirit (I Pet. 4:2,6)

Submitting, humbling self (I Pet. 5:5-6)

        Studying the prophets, and Paul's deeper insights (II Pet.3:15-16)

        Feeding the flock (I Pet. 5:2)

 

        Peter died as a martyr, as was foretold by our Lord

(Jn. 21:18, II Peter 1:14).

 

Tradition says that he was hung upon a cross with his head downward. Peter had requested that they crucify him in this way, if he had to be crucified. He did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as was his Lord. Thus even in death, he was a witness of the greatness of Jesus Christ.

        The epistles of Peter are probably the most beautiful, warm, and flowing pieces of literature in the New Testament. He uses the most skillful Greek. The composition is smooth, and it is definitely the finest prose in the New Testament. Yet, Peter was an uneducated fisherman. The Sanhedrin had marvelled at Peter and John's defense, because they were uneducated men.

The answer to the skillful writing is found in I Peter 5:12:

"THROUGH SILVANUS, OUR FAITHFUL BROTHER, ...I HAVE WRITTEN TO YOU BRIEFLY..."

        Silvanus is the long form of Silas. Peter probably dictated to Silas. Silas then wrote it in grammatically correct form.

        The books of Peter show more that correct grammar. They show that Peter was a great student of prophecy. He briefly mentions many prophetic truths. He does not go into detail with these truths, for Peter knew that his readers had already been acquainted with these teachings. Today, though, if one tries to read the epistles of Peter without understanding these truths that Peter mentions, a great deal is lost in understanding what Peter is trying to say. 

 

Peter used prophetic truth to be the motivator in his exhortation.

        Peter had always seemed to love prophetic truth. Peter came to the Lord in response to his brother's announcement that he had found the one prophesied to come as the Messiah. Peter often quizzed the Lord about things to come. He watched, listened, and was one of the first to proudly proclaim Jesus to be the Son of God. He came to that realization before the Lord was ready to have it publicly announced. Peter knew many Messianic prophecies, and he stayed close to Jesus through most of His ministry to see Jesus fulfill them.

        Peter's ministry was exhortation. Peter used his knowledge of prophecy to be the motivator. He taught- "Live right, because of ..." The prophetic truths that Peter mentions, when understood, should motivate us to follow the teachings of Peter.

The life of Peter tells us many things. 

 

He became a changed man. From failure to success, from backsliding to preacher, from denial to prophetic student... but all due to a love for His Lord.

 

 


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John D. Ladd
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Reply with quote  #28 

HIS WORDS FLOWING FROM US !

John 15:7

"If ye abide in Me, and MY WORDS ABIDE IN YOU, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you..."

We all love the final part of the verse above... We quote it often, and have forgotten the rest of the lesson. We need to have come step by step through the teachings of the previous lessons, and now find that the Word (rhema) of God is abiding in us... and we will find the powerful, dynamic, revival dunamis is easily available... We need that power for the latter rain revival... How do we get it???

 

WHAT ARE THE "WORDS" THAT ARE TO ABIDE IN US?

First, let us consider what is the "WORD" that is to abide in us... It is part of the armor we need to stand up to the devil and to defeat him as never before... in this latter rain revival!

Ephesians 6:11-13, 17-18

        "PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD, THAT YE MAY BE ABLE TO STAND         AGAINST THE WILES OF THE DEVIL. FOR WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST         FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT AGAINST PRINCIPALITIES, AGAINST POWERS,         AGAINST THE RULERS OF THE DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD, AGAINST         SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES. WHEREFORE TAKE UNTO YOU         THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD, THAT YE MAY BE ABLE TO WITHSTAND IN         THE EVIL DAY, AND HAVING DONE ALL, TO STAND...AND TAKE...THE         SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD. PRAYING ALWAYS         WITH ALL PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION IN THE SPIRIT, AND WATCHING         THEREUNTO WITH ALL PERSEVERANCE AND SUPPLICATION FOR ALL         SAINTS."

        We are not to be "foxhole Christians." We are to attack the devil and his strongholds. God did not put us here on earth to suffer, die, and hope our defensive armor protects us until the rapture. We are to be offensively minded against the devil, to tread on him, and to defeat his plans.

        John 20:21

"AS THE FATHER HAS SENT ME, SO SEND I YOU..."

        Did Jesus come to be beaten by the devil? No! He healed the sick, preached the Word, raised the dead, cast out devils, etc. In the same way, we are to attack the devil, demons, and the destructive work they are doing in this world.

        The part of the armor described as the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God," refers to the "machaira" of the Roman times. It was not a sword as we usually think. We think of a sword as one that one of the three musketeers would have used. This sword though was a short sword, a dagger, or like one of our knives. It was used in close combat.

        God did not offer us a spear, to throw at the enemy 20 yards away. Nor did He offer us a bow and arrow, to shoot at the enemy on a hillside away from us. No! He gave us a short dagger, that we must march right up to the enemy and bravely use. We are to come face to face with the enemy. Not hiding in a foxhole, occasionally rising up to hurl a spear and then duck into safety again. We are to get into the battlefield, bravely confront the devil and his plans... and use the short dagger that the Lord has given us, i.e. the Word (rhema) of God.

        A sword is an offensive weapon. It is used to destroy the enemy, and bring him to surrender. Fighting with a sword is difficult and dangerous. It takes much practice. Yet, in spiritual sword fighting, many Christians are novices. Many have never attacked the enemy. Many don't know how to use the "sword." Many carry a sword they have seldom used. This is not how the Lord planned our attack.

        What is this "sword?"

        Ephesians 6:17

"...SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD..."

        The "WORD" referred to here is the Greek word "rhema" and not the word "logos" that many have assumed it to be. Rhema denotes an "utterance of God." Logos denotes the "Word of God, i.e. the Bible." Rhema is the speaking of God through us, perhaps using God's Word, or by prophecy, by word of knowledge, or by inspiration. Now that we have learned how to have Jesus abide in us, we should expect Him to speak through us. As we learn to ABIDE IN HIM, and find that He also begins to ABIDE IN US, the end result is that we will have His RHEMA WORD in us... and can therefore begin to speak it.

        Matthew 12:36

        "BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT EVERY IDLE WORD (rhema) THAT MEN         SHALL SPEAK, THEY SHALL GIVE ACCOUNT THEREOF IN THE DAY OF         JUDGMENT."

        Here the word, rhema, refers to the times when one may say: "God is saying... to you." Whenever a person of God speaks for God in this way, he or she must be very careful to be sure it is truly God speaking. For we shall someday have to account to God if it was not God speaking through us. Rhema is the uttering of God's message to someone. Jesus, Who had the Father ABIDING in Him so much, that from the Father He knew that Peter would deny Him three times, uttered that fact to Peter.

        Matthew 26:75

        "PETER REMEMBERED THE WORD (rhema) OF JESUS, WHICH SAID UNTO         HIM, 'BEFORE THE COCK CROW, THOU SHALT DENY ME THRICE...'"

 

        This was not a quote from the Bible that Jesus spoke to Peter. A rhema word does not need to be a quote from the Bible. This was a message from God to Peter. Jesus spoke this rhema to Peter. In the same way, when we speak rhema, we are speaking a message from God through our lips.

 

THE SOURCE OF THE RHEMA

Jesus spoke the words of the Father, for the Father dwelt in Him, in the same way that Jesus seeks to abide in us. Jesus spoke the words of God... these were His rhema words.

John 8:26

"I have many things to say and to judge of you; But He that sent Me is true. I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him."

We are to follow the Lor's example, and seak to the world the things we hear of the Lord Who abides in us.

John 8:28

"But as the Father hath taught Me, I speak these things..."

If we are learning from the Spirit of Truth, and abiding within Jesus, and allowing Him to abide in us... we will have rhema word to speak to the world... When they listen to our words, in this latter rain revival, they will hear what we have been learning from Jesus... We will speak of His coming, of His love, of His concerns over the need of repentance, etc. The world will see and hear Jesus in us, as the world saw and heard God in our Lord in those days.

        John 12:45-50

"He that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me. I am come a light         into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not         abide in darkness. And if any man hear My words (rhema) and         believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the         world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth Me, and         receiveth not My words, hath one that judges him in the last         day. For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father Who sent         Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I         should speak. And I know that His commandment is everlasting         life; whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said         unto Me, so I speak."

        Our source for the rhema words is the Lord... and He will speak to us concerning ourselves, the world, our lives here, and his blessings to come upon us... In fact, if we are sent into a ministry for the Lord, we will have the Holy Spirit without measure given to us... So the speaking of rhema to us, for us to pass on... will be abundant...!

        John 3:34

"FOR HE WHOM GOD HATH SENT SPEAKETH THE WORDS (rhema) OF GOD;         FOR GOD GIVETH NOT THE SPIRIT BY MEASURE UNTO HIM..."

        The rhema here are the words that God gives His servants to speak when He sends them. Rhema is not our own word, but it refers to the message of God. This verse says that whenever God sends us forth to do His work, He will give us rhema to speak. We will be able to speak for God, or rebuke the devil with the rhema of God. We have been empowered by the Spirit of Truth, and we are abiding in Christ, and He is abiding in us, and we are sent to be a blessing for the Lord to the world in the latter rain revival... so why would God give us only a little rhema, or just enough rhema...??? No, He gives us Spirit "without measure..." and the Rhema will flow abundantly in the latter rain revival.

        The rhema of God is the message with which we will proclaim in the last day revival. The early church had rhema word abundantly in the former rain revival... Notice what Paul proclaimed:

        Romans 10:8,17

"BUT WHAT SAITH IT? 'THE WORD (rhema) IS NIGH THEE, EVEN IN         THY MOUTH, AND IN THY HEART, THAT IS THE WORD (rhema) OF         FAITH, WHICH WE PREACH... SO THAT FAITH COMETH BY HEARING, AND         HEARING BY THE WORD (rhema) OF GOD."

        The Word of truth is near ("nigh") us also, as it was for them, for the Lord dwells in us, as Emmanuel. He uses our lips, our tongues, and our voice box to speak to this world. It is Jesus, Who is "the Truth" abiding in us, and the "Spirit of Truth" Who works with us - and both of Them are creating the "Word" (rhema) that is abiding and resident within us...!!!

        John 17:17

"Thy Word is truth..."

        Where the Spirit of Truth is at work, the Lord will be speaking His word through His children. The Spirit will be encouraging the message of Jesus so much that somehow the Word of truth will become heard... We can be a part of the Spirit's work by uttering the rhema Word.

        John 8:31-32

"If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed.         And if you know the truth, the truth will set you free."

       

        Continuing to speak the rhema word of the Lord will show we are truly the disciples of the Lord. Knowing the truth that His rhema word will show... will set us free from worry, doubt, and fear. We can grow in faith more than we ever dreamed if we learn to listen to the rhema word, and speak it forth as the Lord directs.         Faith is built up in us, and through us, by the speaking forth of the rhema of God.

        This gift of Rhema is for all ages, and for all saints... but we in the last days can have a double portion of it for this last revival before the coming of Jesus for His church. Do not believe the lies of the hypocritical, dead, Laodicean saints... it is not something for only past Bible times...

        I Peter 1:25

"BUT THE WORD (rhema) OF THE LORD ENDURETH FOREVER, AND THIS         IS THE WORD (rhema) BY WHICH THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED UNTO YOU."

 

                                REVIVAL OR REJECTION

        When Jesus spoke the rhema of God, He was hated, and many sought to kill Him. They desired to destroy Him, but God kept them unable to do so until the proper time. Many will hate us, despise us, scheme against us, and perhaps even want to kill us... but do not fear.

        John 8:20

"These words (rhema) spake Jesus in the treasury, as He taught         in the temple; and no man laid hands on Him, for His hour was         not yet come."

        Jesus indicated that many will not be able to understand the rhema of God. Those who are of God will recognize God's rhema word, and the ones who are of the devil will not be able to understand or accept the rhema. You will find this out by experience in the next few weeks, as you speak rhema, many people will not be able to accept the rhema, and many will show to us, the truth about themselves (i.e. who their true father is!).

        John 8:43-47

"Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot         hear My word (rhema). Ye are of your father, the devil...         there is no truth in him... when he speaketh a lie, he speaks         of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it. And         because I tell you the truth, ye believe Me not... if I say         the truth, why do ye not believe Me? He that is of God heareth         God's words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of         God!"

 

        When Jesus shared the rhema word with His disciples, and they began to share the same with others... they were hated...

 

        John 17:14

"I have given them (the disciples) Thy Word (rhema), and the         world hath hated them (the disciples)..."

 

        In the midst of the sermon of Jesus to the disciples of the rhema word, and how to be used of God in delivering such word to the world, Jesus gave an illustrated lesson. We find the story of such in John 9. Jesus came upon a man born blind. The disciples asked if the man was blind because of his owns sins, or because of the sins of his parents. Jesus told them that this man was blind due to the desire of God to manifest something to those who behold the miracle that Jesus was about to show.

        Jesus took clay and spit, and anointed the eyes of the man. The clay and spit indicated a type of the human and divine... (clay = earth = the human vessels that God uses were created originally from the earth; the spit of the Lord = the divine anointing upon the earth, and upon mankind created from it). The man was told to then go wash in the near-by swimming pool. When he did, he received a miracle of sight. Many have wondered why Jesus did this healing in this manner, instead of simply saying: "Receive your sight!" The truth Jesus sought to teach is the reason for this unusual miracle.

 

        There was much rejoicing, and the Pharisees became upset that the man gave Jesus credit for his miracle. They tried to force him to recant his praise of the Lord, and threatened him and his parents with excommunication from the synagogue if he did not rescind his testimony. Instead of rejoicing in the miracle for the man, the Pharisees were angry at Jesus, at the man, at his parents, and at all who were rejoicing for the miracle. The man was a bit taken back, confused, and did not comprehend their anxiety... He was too busy enjoying his miracle.

        The blind man was given sight, but the Pharisees were blinded to the miracle by their jealousies, fears, and sins. In the same way, Jesus told the disciples that some will find sight when He speaks the rhema word... but others will be made blind by the same rhema word. We will find the same true as we utter rhema words from the Lord.

        John 9:39-41

        "And Jesus said, for judgment I am come into this world, that         they which see not might see, and that they which see might be         made blind... Are we (the Pharisees) blind also? ...If ye         were blind, ye should have no sin, but now ye say 'We see!'         Therefore you sin remaineth."

        Therefore, we must still speak the rhema word, though some will be blinded, and reject the words... we still speak. Others will accept and rejoice as the blind man did at the revelation of sight. We will find one of two reactions as we speak the rhema word... rejection or revival...

 

Do not be discouraged! Speak on! For the time is coming when we will not be able to speak... Jesus faced an end of His earthly ministry, and He had to relinquish this ministry to His disciples.

 

John 9:4-5

"I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

 

                        THE POWER OF RHEMA WORD

 

Whenever the word rhema is used, it refers to the words spoken under the authority of God. We have been given the right by our Lord to speak the words of God through our lips. We need to learn how to use this rhema of God properly. It is our "SWORD" of offensive power against the devil.

Matthew 16:19-20

"AND I SAY UNTO YOU - THAT THOU ART PETER, AND UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH; AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT. AND I WILL GIVE UNTO THEE THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; AND WHATSOEVER THOU SHALT BIND ON EARTH SHALL BE BOUND IN HEAVEN, AND WHATSOEVER THOU SHALT LOOSE IN EARTH SHALL BE LOOSED IN HEAVEN..."

The "keys" are symbols of authority. We speak with authority. This same power is promised to all Christians.

Matthew 17:20

"IF YE HAVE FAITH AS A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED, YE SHALL SAY TO THIS MOUNTAIN, 'REMOVE HENCE TO YONDER PLACE, AND IT SHALL REMOVE, AND NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO YOU.'"        

 

Matthew 18:18

"VERILY, I SAY UNTO YOU, WHATSOEVER YE SHALL BIND ON EARTH SHALL BE BOUND IN HEAVEN AND WHATSOEVER YE SHALL LOOSE ON EARTH SHALL BE LOOSED IN HEAVEN."

Matthew 21:22

"ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER YE SHALL ASK IN PRAYER, BELIEVING YE SHALL RECEIVE."

 

Then, do not forget the verse with which we began:

John 15:7

"IF YE ABIDE IN ME AND MY WORDS ABIDE IN YOU, YE SHALL ASK WHAT YE WILL AND IT SHALL BE DONE UNTO YOU."

Thus, the Christians are promised to have the authority and right to speak the rhema. We are offered the armor of God. We are to use the "sword" which is the "rhema" of God.

With this rhema sword we can:

                Bind Satan and his angels in chains (Revelation 9:14,                         20:2)

                Bind men by God's power (Matthew 16:19, 18:8)

                Loose infirmities (Luke 13:12-16, Mark 7:35)

                Loose men from chains and prisons (Acts 16:26,                         22:30,24:6)

                Loose men from sin (Revelation 1:5, I John 1:9)

                Loose men from bonds of death (Acts 2:24)

                Loose from deafness and dumbness (Mark 7:32-35)

                Loose from blindness (Matthew 9:27-31)

                Loose from leprosy (Matthew 8:1-4)

                                etc.

There are many examples of this rhema power of God in operation.

        Elijah - the woman with the cruse of oil and handful of meal

        Elijah - woman who filled many jars with one small vessel of                         oil

        Elijah - shut up rain for over 3 years

        Elisha - shut up rain for 7 years

        Christ - calmed the sea

        Christ - walked on water and bid Peter to come to Him

        Christ - fed the 4000, and the 5000 +

 

The laws of nature can be bound and loosed by the rhema of God. We have this authority and power when God gives us the words to speak.

 

Luke 10:19

"BEHOLD, I GIVE UNTO YOU POWER (exousia, authority) TO TREAD ON SERPENTS AND SCORPIONS (demon powers) AND OVER ALL THE POWER OF THE ENEMY, AND NOTHING SHALL BY ANY MEANS HURT YOU."

Don't be afraid to expect and to use rhema. Go to situations where rhema is needed. Go to where the devil needs bound, or where blessings need loosed. Then expect God to give you the words to speak. The rhema can be spoken, and it will be as though God spoke the words Himself.

Many improperly try to use rhema, and seek to get all their carnal desires fulfilled with speaking "rhema". This is contrary to the plan of God, for God told us not to seek earthly treasures, and if we are seeking earthly treasures, and speaking "rhema" to claim cadillacs, mansions, and spectacular vacations, it only proves that we are not speaking the "Word" of the Lord that abides in us... For if the Lord were abiding in us, and we were being filled with His word (rhema), we would be claiming what He wants for us, for the world, and for our ministry...

Examine your rhema, and see if it matches what should be flowing out of a person entirely filled with the Lord and with the Spirit of Truth. If it does not, forget speaking rhema, until you are abiding in Christ, and He is fully abiding in you.

In order to properly use rhema, communion with the Lord is vital... That is why we first had to study about having the Spirit of Truth working in our lives... And then we needed to learn how to abide in Jesus, even though it means suffering with Him. Finally, we find Him abiding in us... and the power is therefore ready...

Too many want to speak rhema without the relationship so far described in these lessons. To run off to battle without THIS RELATIONSHIP is like running into battle with an empty gun. Many Christians do that. There is no power in your "word", there is only power in HIS WORD THAT ABIDES IN US. His word (rhema) abides within us, when we have Him abiding in us, fully, completely, and unreservedly... Our words (rhema) will betray any hypocrisy or deception in that claim...


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THE WORD OF LIFE

 

 

I John 1:1-4

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."

 

The tone of the epistle is that of a loving pastor addressing his congregation. This prologue (1:1-4) is reminiscent of the first 18 verses of the gospel of John. Both passages are concerned with the same central figure, Jesus Christ, the Word.

The apostle crowds much into his first several sentences. The main verb is "declare" The object of the verb, "declare" is verbalized in the prologue.

John is stating that he is declaring:

        the One that was "from the beginning"...

        the One that they had "heard"...

        the One that they had "seen"

        the One that they had "gazed upon with         admiration"...

        the One that they have "handled" and touched personally...

THE WORD

This One that he is thereby declaring is called by John, the "Word of life". This is the Greek word, "logos" that is translated "Word". John, most likely (according to internal evidences) wrote the gospel of John, and his three epistles, in Hebrew first, and later, either he or someone else translated it into Greek. Therefore, the word that he would have used for "logos" was the Hebrew word - "memra" which means "wisdom, the whole realm of thought."

Therefore, what John is telling us, is that Jesus was the embodiment of all wisdom, and that His whole realm of thought, design, and plan for the universe was designed to bring "life". He is the "Word of Life..." Jesus came to bring us life, abundant life, and joyous life. If we truly find Him, have Him abide in us, we will find life... as never before experienced.

John emphasizes that this One Who is the Word of life, and has been historically manifested, is also the same One that the disciples had seen, handled, listened to, and admired. If we deny such a One, we deny the fellowship with Him, and lose out with the fellowship of brothers and sisters who are likewise sharing the fellowship Him, and the Father.

The One called the "Word of life" is, of course, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the One in Whom God chose to reveal Himself to the world. One of the trinity actually chose to become a man... and live amidst us... suffer the same human frailties as we do...

John tells us that this One "was from the beginning" and yet He was also "manifested" to humanity. This is two forms of the same existent One... Jesus existed in heaven, and later became the Son of God when He was implanted in the womb of Mary. This was the way that God chose to manifest Himself to us. By becoming a real human, and by having the disciples (amidst others) see, hear, listen to, and admire Him personally, Jesus could now have the church declare His wondrous works and words to others.

The gnostics denied the incarnation of the Lord Jesus. They said that Jesus was merely a phantom spirit on earth, and never had human form.... John wants to confirm and assure us that Jesus was in a real bodily form, and was flesh and blood as are we. He makes it very plain that the One who "was" in the beginning, is the same One Who was manifested in human flesh before them.

THE LIFE

The word "life" is from the Greek word "zoe", and is the antithesis of "thanatos" which speaks of a spiritual death. We have a new life inside of us, by the "Word of life" Who dwells within us. A spiritual life that overcomes even the physical death of the body... and continues to exist though the body dies. Jesus was born into human flesh.... lived a life of real victory and blessing to others... and then when physical death tried to claim Him, the plan that He had, the wisdom and "memra" design that He had devised and mapped out, was put into effect for all that would accept Him as Savior.

This philosophical expression of God is called "logos", (or in Hebrew - "memra", the "Word". In verse 2, John uses the word "manifested" twice... This word means "to bring to light, to make known that which already exists..." The One Who has always existed was made to be in a tangible, visible, and human form. He "was made flesh" (John 1:14).

The reason that He was made manifest to us, was to bring us this life. John shows in detail the message of the Lord concerning this "life."

John showed through his epistles and gospel that:

1. Men can have this life by believing on Christ and God...

John 3:15

"That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

John 6:47

"He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life..."

John 5:24

"He that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life."

2. Life comes through searching the Scriptures...

John 5:39

"Search the Scriptures: for in them ye thing ye have eternal life..."

3. God has commanded us to have this life...

John 12:50

"I know that His commandment is life everlasting..."

4. We must permit it to remain, after we receive it...

I John 2:24

"If that which ye have heard, remain in you, ye shall continue in the Son, and in the Father..."

5. No person who breaks the commandment of love given by Jesus can continue to possess it.

I John 3:15

"Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him..."

6. Life comes from God and through Christ...

I John 5:11

"God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son..."

7. We can know that we have this life...

I John 5:13

"These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life."                

John spends much effort in his gospel, and in his epistles to tell us how to find and participate in this life.

He tells us to:

a. Come to Christ for this life...

John 6:37

"All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me; I will in no wise cast out."

b. Partake of His flesh, drink His blood... to share His life...

John 6:50-58

"This is the bread that cometh down from heaven... a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread... Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood ye have no life in you... he that eateth of this bread shall live forever..."

c. Labor for the meat (doctrine) that endures unto life...

John 6:27

"Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you; for Him hath God the Father sealed."

d. Put the Lord above all selfish concerns...

John 12:25

"He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."

e. Allow the love of Christ to fill this new life...

I John 3:14

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we live the brethren. He that loveth not his brother, abideth in death."

THE PURPOSE OF THE PROCLAMATION

John is relating this message to us so that "ye also may have fellowship with us." (verse 3) To not understand this manifestation of life is necessary for us to come into a relationship which allows a fellowship. There is no satisfaction in the church unless one comes into such a relationship. 

 

It is relationship that is vital, and not simply a knowledge about it.

The tense of the verb "have" in "have fellowship" means literally "continue to have fellowship..." This fellowship is not a one time meeting and acquaintance-ship... but is to be a continuing relationship. An on-going, enduring, and through-trial-and-blessing relationship is not only possible, but designed and planned by the Lord.

"Fellowship" is the Greek word "koinonia" and it occurs 20 times in the New Testament, four of these 20 times in here in these verses of I John. The reason for the spread of Christianity in the former rain revival is the "fellowship" with not only the other believers, but with the Lord Jesus and with God the Father. This "fellowship" was a restoration of what sin had robbed of mankind in the garden as Adam and Eve sinned. Now since the manifestation of Jesus, a "fellowship" with the Trinity was made possible again.

The understanding of this fellowship was lost for much of Christianity, and until we come back to an understanding of such, many will not experience the latter rain revival.

Jesus announced such a relationship possibility in the gospel of John. Now John is explaining it in detail in the epistle of I John. And until we, the saints, come to understand the relationship we are to have with the Son and the Father abiding within us, fellowshipping with us, filling us with the rhema word, and speaking through us to a sinful and dying world.

The Greek word for "fellowship", "koinonia" means "participation", not acquaintance, or friendship.

 

God wanted a plan whereby we could participate with the Son, and with the Father... and have a relationship with both... and in-dwelling of both within us. This is why the word "koinonia" is the word used to refer to what we now call "communion, eucharist, and the Lord's supper". When we partake of the bread and the drink representing the body and blood of Jesus, we are participating in His sacrifice for us, and becoming part of His body...

Our fellowship results because of the joint-fellowship with the Father and the Son. And with this fellowship, our "joy may be full..." The reason John wants the believers to understand this... is to have full joy...

This verse 4 is similar to John 15:11:

"These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."

There is the suggestion in the tense of "made full" that this is a permanent joy... The joys of the world are temporary, fleeting, and of very short duration. Why would we want those, when we can have a joy that is permanent, lasting, and enduring?        

What a great privilege that John had to be able to "look upon" ("Greek - "theaomai") the Word of life, manifested into human form. He was there to "gaze with purpose, see with desire, regard with admiration" (the meaning of "theaomai"). John had a prolonged gaze upon the Lord, and followed Him for His three year ministry, and gazed upon His crucified body... He was there when the resurrected Lord taught him again the lessons that had been too deep for him before... Fortunately, for us, we can read these truths, first taught by Jesus, and now related to us by John... about the primary message of "life" given by the One that John had gazed upon with great admiration.

 


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IS IT TRUE? 

IS THE COMING OF JESUS SOON?

 

There are some who think Jesus will come soon.  There are signs talked about that some see as fulfillment indicators that He is soon to catch His church away.

 

All the signs of the Bible are for the second coming of Jesus, which is seven years after the rapture.  So, when we see signs of something that has to be at least seven years away, we should be excited, anxious, and be getting ready for the second coming and its predecessor, i.e. the rapture of the church.

 

Here are some of the signs we are seeing now, and seeing almost to be fulfilled.

 

POLITICAL AND NATIONAL EVENTS

LUKE 21:28

"AND WHEN THESE THINGS BEGIN TO COME TO PASS, THEN LOOK UP, AND LIFT UP YOUR HEADS; FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH."

 

There are many similarities in today's newspaper and the Bible. Prophecy is being fulfilled daily. The purpose of this course is:

to alert us to the end times        

to warn the wicked of the end times

to be a beacon to more future events about to unfold.

 

II PETER 1:19

WE HAVE ALSO A MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY; WHEREUNTO YE DO WELL THAT YE TAKE HEED, AS UNTO A LIGHT THAT SHINETH IN A DARK PLACE, UNTIL THE DAY DAWN, AND THE DAY STAR ARISE IN YOUR HEARTS."

SOME SPECIFIC SIGNS

 

1.BABYLON REBUILT

Rev. 18:10,18...Rev. 19:2-3

"Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour thy judgment is come...What city is like unto this         great city...for He hath judged that great whore, which did corrupt the earth..."

2.FIVE EGYPTIAN CITIES

Isa. 19:18

"In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the         language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of Hosts; one shall be called the 'city of destruction'."

3.JERUSALEM

Luke 21:24

"...Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

4.ANTI-SEMITISM

Luke 21:17, Gen.12:2-3

"And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake..."

5.COMPUTER OF THE ANTICHRIST

Rev. 13:16-18

"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

6.PETRA READIED

Rev. 12:6,14, Daniel 11:41, Isa. 26:20-21, 16:1-4,

Ezek. 20:33-38, Matt. 24:16

"And the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God..."

7.ISRAEL BLOSSOMING AS A ROSE

Isa. 35:1, 6:7, 27:6

"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as a rose..."

8.FINAL REGATHERING

Dt. 28:63-68, Jer. 30:1-11, Ezek. 33:21, 34:24, 39:21-29, Matt. 24:32-34, Isa. 11:11-16, 18:3,*Jer.31:8-11*

"Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child, and her that travaileth with child together, a great company shall return thither."

CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF SOME LAST DAY EVENTS

Partial return of the Jews

(Ezek. 35-36:5)

Great world wide persecution of Jews

(Ezek. 37:1-14)

Expulsion to Egypt

(Ezek.20:33-44)

Palestine troubled by Arabs

(Ezek. 36:5)

War in Ethiopia against God's people

(Isa.18)

The ark recovered

(Isa. 18, Isa. 11)

Revival to Judaism

(Ezek. 20:33-38)

Miracles of return

(Isa.11:111-16, Ezek.36:7-38)

Tabernacle rebuilt

(Amos 9:11)

Temple finished

(Ezek. 41,42,43, Mal. 3:1)

       

PSALMS 119:105

"THY WORD IS A LAMP UNTO MY FEET, AND A LIGHT UNTO MY PATH."

 

EARTHQUAKES, FAMINES, AND ASTRONOMICAL SIGNS

 

EARTHQUAKES

SCRIPTURES PREDICT

Ezek. 38:19

"Surely in that day, there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel."

Zech. 14:4

"...the Mt. of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof...'

Matt. 24:7

"...earthquakes in divers' places."

Lk. 21:11

"great earthquakes shall be in divers' places."

Rev. 11:13, 19, 6:12-14, 16:18-20

"great earthquake."

 

CENTURY                             MAJOR EARTHQUAKES

13th                                                                  84

14th                                                                 115

15th                                                                 137

16th                                                                  174

17th                                                                 258

18th                                                                 378

19th                                         640

20th                                       Over 3000

21st                         Ever increasing in number and strength

 

 

FAMINES

SCRIPTURES PREDICT

Lk. 21:11

"And great earthquakes shall be in divers' places, famines, and pestilences."

Rev. 6:5-8

"...A measure of wheat for a penny (a day’s wage)..."

Mt. 24:7-8

"...famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers' places."

Mk. 13:8

"And there shall be famines and troubles, these are the beginnings of sorrows."

 

 

ASTRONOMICAL SIGNS

SCRIPTURES PREDICT

Psalms 19:1

"The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork.

Lk. 21:11,25-26

"And great signs shall there be from heaven."

Matt. 24:27-29

"...the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."        

Acts 2:19

"...I will show wonders in the heaven above..."

Rev. 6:12-14

"the moon became as blood,...the stars of heaven fell...the heaven departed as a scroll..."

Isaiah 13:10-13

"Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of Hosts, and in the day of His fierce wrath."

Joel 2:30-31

" I will show wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."

Ezek. 32:7

"...All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee..."

II Pet. 3:10

"But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth also, and the works therein shall be burned up."

Isa. 47:13

"Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee."

LUKE 21:28

"AND WHEN THESE THINGS BEGIN TO COME TO PASS, THEN LOOK UP, AND LIFT UP YOUR HEADS; FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH."

 

That passage needs to be seen in context... for it speaks of some astronomical events which we are seeing occurring right now.         

 

ASTRONOMICAL EVENTS

Luke 21:25-28

AND THERE SHALL BE SIGNS IN THE SUN, AND IN THE MOON, AND IN THE STARS; AND UPON THE EARTH DISTRESS OF NATIONS, WITH PERPLEXITY; THE SEA AND THE WAVES ROARING; MEN'S HEARTS FAILING THEM FOR FEAR, AND FOR LOOKING AFTER THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE COMING ON THE EARTH; FOR THE POWERS OF HEAVEN SHALL BE SHAKEN. AND THEN SHALL THEY SEE THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD WITH POWER AND GREAT GLORY. AND WHEN THESE THINGS BEGIN TO COME TO PASS, THEN LOOK UP AND LIFT UP YOUR HEADS; FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH.

Some astronomical events are so rare that people in one generation who have not seen, or even heard about them...are totally unaware of their possibility. The Bible speaks of some mind-boggling events that have or will occur. Some occurred millennia ago and mankind has forgotten. They can happen again and some will.

The Bible predicts some extraordinary events to soon occur.

Luke 21:25-26

Mark 13:24-25

Isaiah 13:13

Jeremiah 50:46

Amos 8:8-9

In Noah's day, the whole climate changed, the year was shortened. This ended the "greenhouse effect" that the earth had and resulted in the fall of the waters in the thermosphere. This water, with the waters from the "deep" resulted in the flood and the extinction of all who were not safe inside the ark.

In "The Book of Enoch", we are told that God used an astronomical event to cause the flood.

Enoch 65:1

"In those days, Noah saw that the earth had tilted, and that destruction was near."

In the "Tractate Sanhedrin" of the Talmud it says:

Seven days before the deluge, the Holy One changed the primeval order and the sun rose in the west and sat in the east."

Thus, it is taught that the earth's tilt changed, and the earth actually turned over...resulting in the total change of the earth's climate. Before the flood, the year was 364 days long. After the flood, the year was 360 days long (until Isaiah's day). What caused this to occur? Did an asteroid strike the earth? Whatever occurred--the earth had an abrupt change.

The earth's tilt has been starting this change.  We have already seen more than the government wants us to know.  The GPS has had to be altered slightly already, for planes to land it needs to be exact.   The tilt has also spawned some great earthquakes.  The Japan earthquake was preceded by a 'tilt' change, not followed by one.  I was reading about the change in the tilt in the earth, days before the earthquake happened. 

Though the media and the governments are trying to keep these things quiet, the truth is still out there to be found.  They may downplay these things, try to calm fears, but we are not afraid, we know the Lord foreknew the change in orbit, the change in tilt, the change in the length of the year, and we are in the time of watching those things be fulfilled.

 

In the book of Joshua (10:12-13), we read where the rotation of the earth stopped for about 24 hours. This is also recorded in the Mexican "Annals of Cuauhtitlan." There it tells of a cosmic disturbance where the night lasted an extremely long time. (Since it was daytime for an extra long time where Joshua was, it had to be nighttime in Mexico for that same length of time. What did God use to cause the earth's rotation to stop? Scientists have proven that the earth is 24 hours behind in its revolution about the sun also. They have speculated on what cosmic events might have caused this to occur.

Amos predicted that God would send fire to devour Syria, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Philistia, and other countries. He also said that God would cause "great tumult" upon the mountains of Israel, houses would break and crack, unnatural darkness would occur, tidal waves would come, the sun would go down at noon, and men would hide in caves. (1:14, 3:15, 6:11, 5:18-20, 5:8-9, 8:8-9, 9:2-3) For this kind of prophecy, Amos was persecuted and killed.

Then a few years later, Isaiah began to prophesy. He said a great "commotion" (raash) had occurred. That Hebrew word means "shaking, upheaval, undulation." He said that the country was left desolate (1:7), cities were burned with fire (1:7), the hills had trembled (5:25), light had darkened during the day (5:30), men had hid in caves (2:19), waters had flooded the land (10:26), and their had been a loud noise (13:4). The events prophesied by Amos had been fulfilled. It was at this same time that suddenly calendars in the various parts of the world were changed to a 365 1/4 day year instead of the 360 day year. What event caused the orbit of the earth to change? ? ?

Those events and others have occurred already. But more are now in the beginning stages of occurring.  We are in the last days, Jesus is soon to come !

Notice what Isaiah prophesied for the last days.

Isaiah 13:13

"Therefore, I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of Hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger."

Also, during the tribulation, the Bible predicts meteorites that are the size of mountains striking the earth. (Rev. 8:8-11)

Enoch's book (quoted by Jude [14-15], and mentioned often in the early church) says:

"In the last days, during the judgment time, the year will be shortened, and the seasons will be affected, drought will afflict the earth." (80:2)

"The moon will change its customary practice, it will not show its light as before." (80:4)

This is what Jesus was speaking of when He said:

"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring. Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking at those things which are coming upon the earth: for the powers of Heaven will be shaken."

(Luke 21:25-26)

 

These astronomical events will cause the year to be shortened. We are told that the tribulation will be 7 years long, two periods of 1260 days. That is 2520 days--divided by 7--equals a 360 day year. Daniel tells us that God is the One who "changes the times and the seasons." (2:21)

Some astronomical event will cause these changes. Enoch gives us a clue...

In those days the moon will give off more than normal brightness for a time, because of a new heavenly object         that shall appear below it as it sets one night. Many stars shall seem to have altered their positions because of a change in the earth's orbit. (80:5-7)

Fear is an all-consuming thought pattern. It is the natural consequence of these mind-boggling astronomical events that will soon transpire. When meteors, asteroids, etc. are seen heading for the earth, strike the earth with the force of many atomic bombs, or even just whisk by the earth--causing orbit changes, year length changes, death, destruction, pollution, etc.--great fear will consume the minds of many.

"Men's hearts (minds) failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken..."

Luke 21:25-28

God is to be feared, but not by we, the Christians. We are to "look up" for our "redemption draweth nigh" when these things are "beginning to come to pass."

II Timothy 1:7

GOD HATH NOT GIVEN US A SPIRIT OF FEAR, BUT OF POWER, AND OF LOVE, AND OF A SOUND MIND.

I JOHN 4:17

HAVE BOLDNESS IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.

"Fear not." is found over 80 times in the Bible.

Fear is growing in these days. There are many phobias.

claustrophobia                                         fear of closed places

hydrophobia                                             fear of water

acrophobia                                             fear of heights

optophobia                                         fear of closing ones eyes

gamophobia                                            fear of marriage

bathophobia                                            fear of depths

ombrophobia                                                fear of rain

agorophobia                                               fear of outdoors

nyctophobia                                                 fear of night        

thantophobia                                              fear of death

even-pantophobia                                           fear of fear

 

Psychiatrists have identified more than 700 phobias. But even with the events about to transpire...we should resist fear...by looking up for our Savior, Jesus Christ. He will rapture (harpadzo=catch up out of harm's way.

Again, let me remind you of this passage:

Luke 21:28

"...WHEN THESE THINGS BEGIN TO COME TO PASS, THEN LOOK UP, AND LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH."

 

 Are we soon to be raptured?   Not all these signs are to be fulfilled before the rapture.  Some follow the rapture, in the seven years between the rapture and the second coming of Jesus.    Rejoice... Jesus is coming soon.  If this message does not bring rejoicing, you need to get on your knees, and talk to a forgiving Jesus Who can put a joy in your heart.


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murjahel
John D. Ladd
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