Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Folly of Date Setting

The Folly of Date Setting

Why won't this scourge go away?

by Dr. David R. Reagan

We are in the midst of an epidemic of date setting concerning the return of Jesus, and it is going to get worse the closer we get to the year 2000.

Satan knows Bible prophecy (Revelation 12:12). He can look at world events and discern from the signs of the times that Jesus is coming soon.

But Satan does not want anyone else to be aware of the Lord's soon return, so he is doing everything possible to discredit God's Prophetic Word. One ingenious technique he loves to use is to motivate very sincere people to set dates for the day Jesus will return.

A Satanic Trick

This approach appears to be paradoxical on the surface. Why would Satan motivate people to set dates for the return of Jesus if he does not want people to know that Jesus is coming soon? The reason is that he knows the dates will prove to be false because the Bible states that God alone knows when Jesus will return (Matthew 24:36).

Date setting diverts people's attention from Jesus to a date. It builds expectations that will be shattered by disappointment. That disappointment will, in turn, produce embarrassment and disillusionment.

The disillusionment is usually manifested in the development of an attitude of contempt for prophecy. The individual who was "burned" by putting his faith in a date, often backs off from prophecy and decides it is nothing but a playground for fanatics.

Another negative effect of date setting is that it promotes ridicule and scoffing by the world. The media love date setters. They focus their cameras and microphones on the date setter and let him hang himself with his date. When the date comes and passes, the media then laugh and scoff and do their best to paint Christians as fools.

The Numbing Effect

The worst effect of date setting is that it cools people's attitudes toward the Second Coming. It's the old wolf story all over again: If you shout "Wolf!" enough times when there is no wolf, people will stop paying attention to the shout.

Likewise, when there is an epidemic of date setting — as there is now — people stop paying attention to the dates and grow apathetic about the Lord's return. Then, when a responsible prophecy teacher comes along and says, "I don't know the date of the Lord's return; all I know is that we are in the general season of His return" — the apathetic and the burned-out respond by thinking, "Oh sure, I've heard that line before." And Satan sits on the sidelines and laughs.

Knowing the Season

What we need to keep in mind is that although we cannot know the date of the Lord's return, we can definitely know the season. By season, I don't mean a three month period of time like Spring or Fall. I'm talking about a general time period.

For example, Noah preached for 120 years that the people of his time were living in the season of the pouring out of God's wrath. People mocked him and ridiculed him.

Can you imagine what they must have been saying after fifty years? "Noah is a one issue obsessionist! All he ever preaches about is the pending wrath of God. Why, he's been preaching the same sermon for fifty years, and nothing's happened yet!" Some continued to laugh and scoff until they could tread water no longer.

A season for the Lord can be a relatively long period of time, particularly if it is leading up to the pouring out of His wrath, for He does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). The prophet Nahum put it this way: "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, but the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished" (Nahum 1:3).

Recognizing the Season

As we approach the Second Coming, we are nearing a time when God will pour out His wrath in an unprecedented manner (Isaiah 2:10-19). Jesus is returning to judge and make war against the enemies of God (Revelation 19:11). He is coming to pour out the wrath of God upon those who have rejected the love, grace, and mercy of God (Revelation 19:15).

Since God never pours out His wrath without warning, He is orchestrating the Second Coming patiently, taking the time to alert people to the need for repentance. He is raising up prophetic voices to call their nations to repentance, and He is placing judgments upon the nations to prod them toward repentance. He is also providing many signs of His Son's soon return through the fulfillment of ancient prophecies — like the regathering of the Jewish people and the re-establishment of their nation (Isaiah 11:10-12).

God is not interested in catching anyone by surprise with the return of His Son. That's why He has given us so many signs to watch for. The sad thing is that most people will be caught by surprise, "like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2), because they will refuse to read and believe God's Word.

The signs God is providing are found in both the Old and New Testaments, and there are a great number of them. For example, one out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament specifically covers the Second Coming. But what is not so well known is the fact that there are over 500 prophecies in the Old Testament which also relate to the Second Coming of Christ.

A great variety of signs are revealed in these scriptures. There are signs of nature, spiritual signs, signs that relate to the nature of society, international political signs, signs of technology, and signs that concern the Jewish people.

An Area of Ignorance

Many if not most Christians have ignored the study of these signs because they believe that since "Jesus is coming like a thief in the night," it is a waste of time to try to interpret the signs to anticipate the time of His coming.

It is true that Jesus said He would come like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-43). But Paul later explained that Jesus meant this statement for non-believers, and not for Christians.

Paul's Revelation

Paul makes this point in his first letter to the Thessalonians. In chapter five he says that although Jesus is coming back like a thief in the night, there is no reason for His return to surprise any Christian (I Thessalonians 5:4). Why? Because, as Paul puts it, "You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day" (I Thessalonians 5:4-5).

What does Paul mean by this seemingly enigmatic statement? I think he was referring to the fact the when we accept Christ as our Savior, we are given the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit we receive the power to become spiritually enlightened. John says in I John 2:27 that the Holy Spirit can illuminate our minds to understand the Word of God.

In other words, Paul is saying in I Thessalonians 5 that we can know the season of the Lord's return because we have been given spiritual discernment through the gift of the Holy Spirit. For that reason, Paul says point blank: "You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day [the day of the Lord] to surprise you like a thief" (I Thessalonians 5:4).

But the spiritual discernment Paul is talking about is not gained by praying for God to zap us with it. It comes through the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we study God's Word. And because the study of prophecy has been so sorely ignored, many, if not most, Christians are going to be surprised by the return of Christ.

Jesus' Concept

In Matthew 24, Jesus compared the signs of His return to the signs of a pregnancy. Think of it this way. You may not know the date when a pregnant woman is to deliver, but sooner or later, as you watch the development of her pregnancy, you will think to yourself, "That baby is going to be born soon!" Why? You can tell by looking.

Jesus said the sign pointing to His return would be like "birth pangs" (Matthew 24:8). Any woman who has ever given birth knows what Jesus meant by this remark. He was referring to the fact that as the time neared for His return, the signs would increase in frequency and intensity.

This is a crucial point that is usually overlooked. Thus, people often scoff at the signs by saying, "There have always been wars and rumors of wars and earthquakes and famines." Yes, there have always been such calamities, but they are now increasing in frequency and intensity, just as Jesus prophesied.

Peter's View

Peter tells us that one of the signs of the end times will be an outbreak of scoffing at the idea of the return of Jesus (2 Peter 3:3-4). We live in such times. The tragedy is that so much of the scoffing comes from Christians who are ignorant of God's Prophetic Word.

Peter also tells us that "God does not wish that any should perish but that all should be brought to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). That's why God has given us so many signs to watch for. As the prophet Amos put it: "Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).

Jesus' Warning

Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His time because they refused to heed the signs of the times. On one occasion they came to Him and asked Him to perform a miracle to prove He was the Messiah. Jesus rebuked them severely. "You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky," He said, "but you can not interpret the signs of the times" (Matthew 16:3).

Jesus was trying to point out that although these men could predict the weather by reading the signs of nature, they could not interpret His significance by reading the signs of God's Word. What did Jesus mean by the "signs of the times?" He was referring to the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures contain more than 300 prophecies about His First Coming.

As I have already pointed out, these same scriptures contain many more signs about the Second Coming of Jesus, and those signs point to this day and age as the season of our Lord's return.

Living in the Season

I personally believe we have been in the season of the Lord's return for almost 80 years — ever since the beginning of World War I in 1914. My conclusion is based upon the fact that God worked through that war to begin the implementation of His end time program to regather the Jewish people and re-establish them in their land. World War I resulted in the land of Palestine (as the world called it) being transferred from the Turks to the British. The British immediately proclaimed it to be a homeland for the Jews.

But the Jews did not return in large numbers because they had become acculturated to the nations where they had been dispersed. God worked through the horror of the Holocaust of World War II to provide the motivation for the Jews to return to their land to create their own state.

The Old Testament prophets teach that the Messiah will come in triumph to reign over all the world at a time when the Jews have been re-established in their land and in their city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:10-12; Jeremiah 23:5-8; Ezekiel 37; and Zechariah 12).

The state of Israel was proclaimed to the world on May 14, 1948. The Jews reoccupied the city of Jerusalem on June 7.

Two Jewish Signs

Jesus emphasized the significance of these two signs in His teaching. He mentioned both of them in His "Olivet Discourse," delivered to His disciples during the last week of His life.

Regarding the re-establishment of the state of Israel, He told his disciples to watch "the fig tree," because when it blooms again, all the things prophesied about the end times will come to pass (Matthew 24:32-34). The fig tree is one of the symbols of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures (Hosea 9:10, Jeremiah 24:1-10, and Joel 1:7).

The day before, while walking with His disciples, Jesus had spotted a fig tree with no fruit. He pointed to the tree and put a curse on it. The tree immediately withered (Matthew 21:19). This action was a symbolic prophecy pointing to the fact that the wrath of God would be poured out on Israel because the nation had rejected its Messiah.

The next day Jesus referred back to this fig tree and said to watch for it to rebloom one day. "When it does," He said, "the generation that sees it bloom will not pass away until all the end time events take place" (Matthew 24:34).

The fig tree bloomed on May 14, 1948. We are the terminal generation.

In the same discourse Jesus said for His followers to watch Jerusalem. "The Jews will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all the nations," He prophesied. Then, He added, "Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."

Forty years after He spoke these words, the first part of His prophecy was fulfilled as the Romans conquered Israel, destroyed Jerusalem, and scattered the Jews worldwide. Jerusalem passed from the Romans to the Byzantines, and from them to the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Mamelukes, the Turks, the British, and — finally — the Jordanians.

For 1,897 years Jerusalem was under Gentile control. The liberation came on June 7, 1967. It is the surest sign that our time is short.

Can We Know?

The answer is, "Yes and No." No, we cannot know the date. Yes, we can know the season. Jesus is coming soon. All the signs point to it. He is at the very gates (Matthew 24: 33), and for all those who have studied God's Prophetic Word, He will return as their "Blessed Hope" (Titus 2:13) and not as a thief in the night.

We are in the season. We are living on borrowed time. Therefore: "Be dressed in readiness and keep your lamps alight. And be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes..." (Luke 12:35-37)

Maranatha!

Friday, July 10, 2009

To My Beloved Friends -

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making
my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love .... I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.

They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful.
But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers,
or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and
compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.
So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their
hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore.
I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever,
but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day(if I feel like it).

MAY OUR FRIENDSHIP NEVER COME APART ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART!

Agape
Zelma

Friday, July 03, 2009

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

A study in contrasts

The rapture of the Church is very near. Most of humanity is on the brink of eternity. The average person does not realize this because they are so caught up in their own life. Most people don't give a whole lot of regard for their afterlife. This article is called,"A study in contrasts." The reason for the lack of thought is because the average individual does not know some of the contrasts between God and the devil.

After the rapture of the Church a seven year tribulation will begin when the peace covenant is confirmed. Daniel 9:27. According to the book of Revelation over 50% of the population of the world will die in this time period. This is why I titled this article, "A study in contrasts" because people in general really don't know their options.

If you were to take a personal survey as to whether people care about their eternity, more than likely in one way or another the results will be apathy regarding this subject. Satan is having a field day when he sees this because people end up rejecting Jesus Christ.

I want to give some of the passages that talk about eternal life through Jesus Christ but I also want to list verses that talk about the other side if a person rejects Jesus Christ in one way or another.

The rapture is so close. Now is the time when you want to accept Jesus Christ into your heart if you have not already done so and live for Him through obedience.The other way will be complete fear and despair. This is what the Bible teaches. Let me show you some contrasts in the Bible. Society is kind of streamlined but eternity is not.

Jesus said, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." John 4:14. Jesus does not want us to thirst but have everlasting life through Him.

If we reject Jesus Christ our thirst will never be satisfied because the Bible says, "Send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." Luke 16:24. Notice the rich man only wanted a finger of water. That is how bad his torment was in an environment that was completely void of mercy. If some kind of comfort or mercy existed in hell he probably would have asked for a glass of water. I never heard anybody ask for a finger of water. Jesus was trying to make a point.

Jesus Christ offers us everlasting life but Satan will always leave us thirsty, lingering in our suffering. Don't reject Jesus Christ in any way because He wants to give.... "Him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

John 3:16 says God loves people and wants an individual to believe in Him so they will not perish. "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17.

Satan not only wants your soul condemned into Hell but desires to accuse you because the Bible says...."For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." Revelation 12:10.

Jesus Christ became our sacrifice when he died on the cross. Satan wants you to be the sacrifice. What I found out is almost nobody understands that anybody who goes to hell is a sacrificial lamb for the devil. They rejected the sacrificial Lamb who is Jesus Christ. As you can see there is a lot at stake because this is our eternity, not a 50 year prison sentence. A time confined verdict would be really bad but forever is beyond horror.

When Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, He did not accuse her but told the woman that the way of salvation was through Him. She was so convicted that she embraced the love of Jesus Christ and became the greatest soul winner in her town.

In the Bible Jesus is described as the Light. "And the Light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." John 1:5. Jesus is the Light and He wants us walking in the Light. The Light is Jesus Christ Himself.

The devil wants you not only living in darkness but can't wait for you to go to a place of outer darkness. "These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." 2nd Peter 2:17. Jude says... "For whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." Jude 13. This darkness is evil because it is separated from Jesus Christ."But the wicked shall be silent in darkness." 1st Samuel 2:9.

Jesus Christ is the Light. This is His Holiness and love. The darkness is fear and torment.

Another contrast that I would like to talk about is Jesus heals but Satan binds. "And great multitudes came unto Him, having with them those that were lame, blind,dumb,maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and healed them." Matthew 15:30. Look at all the different people with problems that went to Jesus Christ. "Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them." Luke 4:40. Notice this verse says Jesus did not turn anybody down. He has compassion.

Satan does not have compassion. He torments. "And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day." Luke 13:16. The devil had no intention in releasing her from any pain or agony. In fact Satan desired to put Simon in knots. "And the Lord said, Simon,Simon, behold Satan halth desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." Luke 22:31. Did you ever see wheat being sifted?

Jesus desires to make us whole. Satan wants to tear us up. "But Jesus turned him about, and when He saw her, He said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour." Matthew 9:22. So many people that were around Jesus when He walked on the earth knew and understood that they could become whole through Jesus Christ. "And besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole." Matthew 14:36.

Satan has a different motive and idea in mind. "Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." Psalm 50:22.

When Satan saw Jesus heal people in His name he must have been really upset.1st Samuel 2:10 says, "The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces." He does not want anybody being made whole through Jesus Christ because he wants to destroy you.

If the Word of God is presented to you, the devil is right there to steal it from you so he can ultimately tear you up. "And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts." Mark 4:15.

Jesus loves people. The devil hates us. The Apostle Paul did a great job in portraying through the penned Word of the Holy Spirit how much God really does love us." Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39. There is another side to this.

We are free in Jesus Christ. He gives us true riches. "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. "Eph.1:7." But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ." Phil 4:19. If we are truly rich in Jesus Christ, we are free in Jesus Christ. As His children we don't know all the freedoms we have in Him.

If there is a remnant that is free in Jesus Christ, then of course there are the masses in bondage. I only say this because the Bible teaches this horrible truth. "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leatheth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:14. If a person gets confined to Hell, "His soul draws near the pit, and his life to the executioners." Job 33:22. "Let us swallow them up alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the pit." Proverb 1:12. A Pit is not freedom but confinement.

There are so many examples I could probably give you but I will just show one more contrast. God gives us trials for the purpose of teaching His children His love for us but Satan persecutes us for the purpose of defeating our spirit.

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perished, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." 1st Peter 1:7. When we have faith in God through our trails, this gives praise, honor and glory to Jesus Christ.

Satan has a different approach toward our trails. He tries to capitalize on them. "Above all, the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." As you can see we need to have strong faith in Jesus Christ because the devil is attacking our life.

These are some biblical facts of opposite contrasting truths. Jesus Christ is righteous and loves you so much that comprehension is impossible. Satan hates you and wants to confine your spirit in darkness. The choice is obvious that Jesus Christ should be our Savior and Lord.

After reading these contrasts our choice should be pretty clear. Accepting Jesus Christ and living for Him is my only choice. The other choice would be unthinkable. If I feel myself drifting away from God I always do my best to allow the Holy Spirit to bring me back into the yoke of Jesus Christ.

Bob D.