The Fox News headline read: Man captures image of Jesus shining through the clouds: ‘I was enchanted.’ I must admit that I tend to be skeptical of things in nature that resemble Jesus. The article also referenced another popular occurrence where someone saw and image that resembled Jesus in an ultrasound. But this one is a bit more obvious and hard to deny. As the article says, this image does bear a striking resemblance to the famous Rio de Janeiro statue of Christ the Redeemer. What does the Word have to say about such occurrences in the last days?
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: Acts 2:18-20
Luke’s Gospel records that “fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven (Luke 21:11).” Given the context of Luke’s account, I would say these signs are specific to the judgments that are being poured out in the Tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In the Acts’ account, the manifestations of God’s Spirit are not confined to the Tribulation period, so what sense does it make to pin the wonders in the heavens and signs in the earth down to the Tribulation? God can pour his Spirit out any time he wants, so if he chooses to make a display in the heavens, he can do that too!
Another phenomenon along these lines, I find inspiring and convicting is the flood of accounts of Jesus appearing to Muslims in dreams. Of course this is not on the mainstream media, but you will hear from various ministries that have their ear-to-the-ground that Jesus is showing himself mightily in these areas where the governments try so hard to keep the lid on the gospel. This too should alert us that we are living in the last days, for the preceding verse in Acts says exactly that:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: Acts 2:17
By convicting I mean that here are people that receive a dream from Jesus the Messiah and surrender the lives in unquestioning faith to him knowing that they will be disowned by their families. They even run the risk in some countries of being the victims of ‘honor killings’ where the lives of those who embrace any religion contrary the Muslim faith are taken. I think the time for being skeptical is over, and the time for unquestioning faith is here! Don’t get me wrong. If we jump on everything chain-email or claims on social media, we could end up nutty as a fruitcake, but on the other hand, if clamp down in unbelief and question every sign and wonder that comes our way, we may miss the boat!
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:18-19 KJV
How do we know that it is the last days? John tells us that we know this because many antichrists have come. We know earlier from verse 3 that the spirit of antichrist does not confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and is not of God. Next, he tells us of a group that left the church that may help us to understand what is going on in churches today!
First off, he says that they had a belonging problem! They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. Their leaving showed that none of them belonged to us. Stop running after people that don’t even belong to you! Let them go! You don’t want to invest a lot of time in, go into business with, partner with, or give too much responsibility to people who don’t belong to you. Paul used a term that clarifies the reason we needed to be so discerning with whom we connect with when he said, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14).” The only cure for this belonging problem is that we must first of all belong to God by becoming His child. The only way to become His child is to receive Jesus, for the Word says, for as many as received Him, to them gave He power to be the sons of God.
We even have to go beyond distinguishing between those who claim to be believers or not. Sad to say there are many who claim to know God, but John further says that the one who claims to know God and does not keep his commandments is a liar (1 John 2:4). Speaking of using discernment, Jesus from the very launch of his ministry, when many were believing on him as they saw his miracles, John record that he did not “commit himself to them because he knew all men.” John further explains that Jesus “needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man (john 2:24-25).” We especially have to be discerning when appointing leaders of the flock. In Timothy were are warned to “lay hands on no man suddenly” (1 Tim. 5:22).
Secondly, they had a remaining problem. John didn’t simply say they left; he said they did not remain. The reason John said they did not remain is that the did not belong to them. As a believer matures by spending more time with Father God, he will show them their church assignment. The Bible says that God places members in the Body as it hath pleased Him (1 Cor 12:18). Once a believer understands this, then church hopping will be a thing of the past.
I have noticed a lot of men who will move in with a woman and do all the things to take care of a family, but he will never make a commitment. Woman of God, if he won’t commit to you, you don’t want him because he won’t remain! Oh, he will be there as long as he is getting what he wants and he doesn’t incur too much heat in the kitchen! But, stop giving him what he wants, then watch and see what happens when things get rough! I am here to tell you, you don’t want him! Jesus said, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed (John 8:31). Your commitment and longevity is of the utmost importance to God.
Thirdly, this group also had a listening problem. Now if you have ever done any counseling, you will understand that there are those in the body that will consume large amounts of your time with a ton of questions, but they never follow any of your instruction. In other words they aren’t listening; they are just taking up your time! There are many that are simply looking for people to agree with them in their wrong doing. Then there are those who will appear to be right there with you. They will promise to be with you to the end until you correct them, and then they are gone! The problem is the same; they don’t listen.
It is my prayer that in these last days, God would give us more and more discernment. It is certainly not our job to judge people, but we sure had better get God’s direction and guidance before we get “yoked up” with anyone. For years, as a pastor, I spent a lot of time begging people to stay in the ministry until I heard Bishop Jake’s take on this. He said in his ministry, when he sees people in his church start to complain and have the itch to leave, he would without hesitation bless them and hand them their hat. At first, that sounded a bit harsh and unshepherd-like, but I think he must have gotten the message that God is conveying to us here from First John.
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication; and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have waxed rich through the abundance of her indulgences pleasures." ……… How much she hath glorified herself and lived voluptuously! That much torment and sorrow give back to her; for she saith in her heart, ‘I sit a queen and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.' Therefore shall her plagues come in one day" death and mourning and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. ………. The merchants of these things, who were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing and saying, `Alas! Alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and bedecked with gold and precious stones and pearls! For in one hour such great riches have come to nought!' …. weeping and wailing, saying, `Alas! Alas, that great city, wherein all that had ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her extravagances! For in one hour is she made desolate!' Revelation 18
In Revelation chapter 18 we read of the destruction of political Babylon, whereas, in chapter 17 we read of the destruction of spiritual Babylon. I like to think of it as the economic portion of Babylon’s judgment, for in one hour the economic mega center of the world will be made desolate! To me, it is hard to imagine an economy that impacted the whole world was gone in an hour, but we know that in the future this will happen just as the Bible predicts. Verse 17 tells us, “For in one hour such riches have come to nought.” Also, in verse 18 it put it this way, “For in one hour is she made desolate.” Read the rest of this entry »
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no more sea. 2And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of Heaven, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them; and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God. 4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away." 5And He that sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said unto me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." Rev. 21:1-5
Recently, I taught a lesson on heaven from Revelation chapter 21. While studying the teacher's book in preparation for the class, I noticed the focus of the lesson was on the beautiful city and the long awaited relief from the pains and sufferings of this life. Also, in many cases, the songs and hymns about heaven focus on either the reunion with loved ones or on the victory we are going to have. As, I read the whole 21st chapter, I began to have a much different focus. Look with me at some familiar song lines to give you an example of what I am talking about. A hereafter focus would be, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!" A focus that helps us to overcome while we wait on our departure would be, "Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!"