Archive for June, 2016

Prayer

Thursday, June 30th, 2016
Apostolic Pentecostal Church
Prayer







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Communicating with God

Since the time when Adam and Eve were cast from the Garden of Eden, mankind has struggled to keep a one-on-one relationship with God. Before sin, God walked with Adam in the cool of the day and spoke to man with an audible voice (Genesis 3:8–9).

After the fall of man, God spoke to His people a majority of the time through elected vessels. However, some individuals found they could speak with God themselves (e.g., Abraham, Moses, and Samuel). When individuals spoke to God, they had supernatural results. The manner in which these individuals spoke to God was through prayer.

We can accomplish much in a constant prayer life with the Lord. He has told us if we humble ourselves, pray, and turn from our wicked ways, He will answer our prayers (II Chronicles 7:14). God promised He would maintain a divine relationship with His people if they followed these simple directions—to pray. However, when we forsake the Lord and neglect our prayer life, we will not experience the promises of God (II Chronicles 7:19–22). God’s promises are conditional and based on our relationship with Him.

Why Should We Pray?

Prayer helps us maintain our one-on-one relationship with God. If we don’t pray enough, we can lose out on God’s blessings. We pray because we need His power, healing, salvation, and everything else. Because we need God’s blessings to make it through each day, our prayer life needs to be a day-by-day activity. Scripture admonishes us to ask, seek, and knock, and when we do, we shall receive what we’re looking for in God (Matthew 7:7).

How Should We Pray?

Many people approach their prayer life as a way to fill time and recite empty saying. We’re told in Scripture not to pray with vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7). We should not want to waste our time in prayer, but to make contact with God and feel His presence.

We’re given many examples in Scripture of how to pray, and we can find an example known as “the Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9–13. This was not meant for us to repeat, but to follow its order:

  • Open with praise and thanksgiving to God and for what He’s done in our life and others’
  • Pray for God’s will to happen on earth and in every situation
  • Pray for God’s blessings and provision on our life and for others’
  • Ask for forgiveness and ensure our forgiveness of others
  • Pray God keeps us from the enemy, gives us strength, and arms us with weapons to fight
  • Close with praise to God for what He will do

James also tells us the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). We are to confess our shortcomings to those who are strong in the Lord (spiritual leadership) and bind together in prayer with them to overcome our obstacles. If we follow after righteousness, our prayers will be powerful and will accomplish much in God’s kingdom.

When Should We Pray?

There is never a time that’s inappropriate to pray. Scriptures tell us to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). Don’t ever stop praying! We are to keep our minds focused on the Lord at all times. No matter what we’re doing, we can pray for God to give us strength to make it through, lead us to complete the right actions, have the right spirit/attitude, order our steps, etc.

What Should We Expect When We Pray?

When we pray, we should expect God to answer! Sometimes God’s answer will be yes, no, or wait. Whatever His answer, we should know it’s God’s will, and the outcome will happen according to His timing.

We should also be careful to pray in accordance with God’s will. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed for the cup to pass from Him, but He ended His prayer with, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39, KJV). Even if our flesh wants something to happen, we must always pray for God’s will. We need to follow the example Jesus set for us.

Pray Today

Today is an opportunity for each of us to commune with the Lord in prayer. It’s time to realize what prayer is all about, what it can accomplish in God’s kingdom, and what it will do for us in our relationship with the Lord.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 29, 2016 with Guest Speaker, Bishop Nave

Accentuate the Positive

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Things happen in life and we, or others around us, react differently than expected. A person cries when we think they should laugh, gets scared when we think they should be angry, or is negative when we think they should be positive. Why do we expect a different response?

We assume others will react to varied situations or circumstances based on how they have responded to the same situation in the past. We’re not alone in our assumptions. Someone else is making them too.

The devil, our main adversary (I Peter 5:8), constantly tries to attack us. And, in his strategic plan to assault us, one of his main goals is to elicit a negative response.

Satan is aware from his previous workings with mankind that humans can be deceived, hurt, or stripped of everything in this life, and our knee-jerk reaction is to be negative. Some can override this immediate reaction, but then experience a slow decline into this undesirable state.

Job was man who was blessed and had a wonderful relationship with the Lord (Job 1:1–5). God allowed the devil to wreak havoc in his life—his possessions were destroyed, children killed, and health affected.

While Job never cursed God, after a while his joy started to slip, his emotions started to change, and he started to feel negatively about his life. Between his wife encouraging him to curse the Lord, his friends bringing tidings of depression, and the devils constant attacks, Job struggled to maintain his positive outlook on life.

It’s easy for us to think that life circumstances, other people, or even the devil can affect our emotions—putting us in a negative mindset. But, we have the ability to think and choose how we want to feel. When we experience a trial, we can choose to praise God for it.

Others don’t make us feel poor, sad, or negative. We choose to feel poor, sad or negative. While the devil assumes his attacks on our life will automatically produce a negative outcome, we have a choice in how we want to react. And, that reaction can be the opposite of what he expects and what we, or others, have done in the past.

How can we do this? Keep the presence of God in our life! Not only will we have joy that can’t be taken away by anyone (I Peter 1:8), but the powerful presence of God working in our life will produce continued praise and positivity. We’ll have power through the Holy Ghost to praise when we should weep, fight when we should surrender, and maintain positivity in the negative!

When we have joy deep down inside of us, the devil can throw anything our way, and our response can always be positive. The devil will always look for a negative response, but he discounts what the power joy and presence of the Lord can do in our life.

Today, I encourage you to change how you respond to the negativity in your life. Instead of automatically feeing poorly about something. Choose to experience and maintain joy in your life. It’s up to you to accentuate the positive.

Lost But Looked For

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. and when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost (Luke 15:1–6, KJV).

Being Lost

There is nothing worse than feeling lost and disconnected. Everyone at one point in time in their life has felt lost in one way or another. This is why Jesus told the story of the lost sheep in Luke 15—He wanted to address those who felt lost.

Lost Situations

Jesus shared a story about a sheep that just wandered away (Luke 15:1–6), a woman who misplaced her coin (Luke 15:8–9), and a son who specifically left his father’s house (Luke 15:11–32). In each of these 3 stories, different things were lost in different ways. Whether we’ve left the presence of the Lord because of life, other people, or our own irresponsibility, there’s only one way we can become found.

When Jesus walked this earth, people were drawn to Him. There is was something about Him that made lost people feel found. It doesn’t matter how lost we are, when we get into the presence of Jesus everything can be turned around.

We’re all different. The stories in Scripture were different. But, we all have the same ending. All were found.

Getting Lost

It’s easy to get lost, and lost is an easy place to find. When we get lost, we lose sight of our surroundings, don’t recognized anything, and have no idea how to get back home. Isolation (being lost) is a main weapon the devil uses to attack God’s children. Our adversary is like a roaring lion seeking those whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). He’s looking for those who are on the fringe, lost, and alone. When we’re lost, we’re an easy target.

Isolation breeds contempt, self-pity, and pulls us closer to the edge—away from the Lord. We need to get away from the fringe, and stand in the middle of the presence of the Lord. He has promised never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)! We can’t get lost in the middle of His presence.

Getting Found

Jesus tells His children to come to Him and stay away from the edge (Matthew 11:29). Every step we take in Him, we become close to Him and more connected with His church. God never loses sight of His children. We may be one of many, but He, like the shepherd, will come looking for His sheep. He will leave the 99 and come looking for 1.

Jesus knows what we will become—He gave His life for us! Jesus doesn’t care what we’ve done; He wants to find us and transform our lives. He thinks all of us are worth something! This is why all of heaven will rejoice when only 1 sinner repents (Luke 15:7). What man cannot do—God can do. Stay in the presence of Jesus and be found today.

A Joyful Noise

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

The houselights are dimmed; stifled coughs echo through the auditorium. Somewhere over the sound system, music begins to play. Then, soft waves of shuffled footsteps crest your ears, eventually overpowering the pleasant melody. Risers creak as children began to climb, balance, and position themselves on the cold steel.

Somewhere offstage a pianist strikes up an accompaniment; the lower octave Bb slightly out of tune. The conductor’s hands raise, gathering the attention of the twenty-some sets of eyes on the platform—give or take a few searching the audience diligently for their family members. Very quickly, there’s an overwhelming sound of air being gasped into tiny lungs. Then, the powerful first note.

You’ve been there—a music program of some kind of a beloved child, dear niece/nephew, or annoying sibling. I have, many times, through my sisters’ choir recitals and Christmas programs. It’s an interesting experience by far in many respects, one being the caliber of music. It doesn’t quite meet the criterion of a Carnegie Hall performance…

Between urchins in the front row waving madly to their parents, other youngsters having nervous breakdowns, or the charismatic kids who seem to be out to win the drama award for most exaggerated motions, there is always at least one child who’s voice bellows out over the entire performance. The individual sings loudly, proudly, and most definitely off key.

Children’s music programs don’t hold exclusive rights to amateur singers. I’ve had the distinct privilege of being serenaded by an adult or two in my lifetime who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. They sing loud, proud, and drown out everyone else around them. And, this even happens in one of my favorite places—the house of God.

I’m being transparent here for a minute, so don’t send me to the guillotine yet. As someone who’s derived from a musically inclined family, who prides themselves on musicianship, I’ve been judgmental in the past toward individuals who sing in front of mass audiences when the Lord clearly didn’t bless them with one musical bone in their body.

But, as I’ve drawn closer to the Lord over the past few years, I’ve had a critical revelation—much to the Lord’s prompting, I might add. Psalms 100:1 says, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands” (KJV). As much as I’d like to rush past this Scripture and/or insert my own terminology here, God expects us to make a joyful noise…not a beautiful noise unto Him.

While I like to hang onto the notion that all things should be done with excellence, God reminds me often that my definition for joyful, excellent, or even beautiful is not His measure of joyful, excellent, or beautiful. What may sound like pure noise in my ears is actually a beautiful melody to Him. He looks at the root of the song in the heart, and when it comes out in praise to Him, it sounds wonderful to Him and fits every harmony in His heavenly realm.

It’s common to pray that God gives us eyes to see others from His perspective. But, today let’s pray God gives us ears to hear others from His perspective. We need to hear the joyful noise of our brothers and sisters around us—every tone bellowing out from within, voicing the love and adoration of our Savior. When we hear with God’s ears, I promise you we’ll hear, a sweet, joyful melody every time.

The Glory Days

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers (Proverbs 17:6, KJV).

God created mankind with a desire for a father. Wired into everyone’s DNA is the longing for a spiritual and natural father. God modeled us after Himself—He is a Father to us (His creation) and He made provision for the office of fatherhood for men in this earthy life.

A Father’s Influence

Scripture tells us in Proverbs 17:6 the glory of children are their fathers. Glory means a weight or heaviness, or the ability to keep something grounded. In Scripture, God always uses the word glory to describe something beyond the ordinary; something that has a presence and has the ability to direct because of its influence.

King Solomon wanted to convey the importance of the effect and impact a father has in his children’s lives. Solomon wanted people to understand there is nothing more influential than a godly father in the home.

A father’s actions carry significant weight as the head of his home. Fathers must be careful with to whom and how they carry their weight of influence. Their actions and words will affect the next generation. Men must strive to always make the powerful impact God intended.

If fathers are to have maximum influence, they must do several things:

Teach Children Their Story

Fathers should teach their children all of their stories—the good and the bad. Men should instruct their children on what not to do so their children can learn from their own life’s lessons (Psalms 78:1–4). Fathers should never allow their children to make the same mistake, but will intervene when their child makes the wrong choices.

Be Epic Every Day

A father should be sensational every day in his plight of fatherhood. A father’s best days are not in the past—those were not the “glory days” or the days of their prime. A father’s glory days are in the here and now, each day they get up and decide that today will be yet another epic day.

Children will remember the epic days their father made the unusual the usual; how their father broke the cultural norm. And, even when the children are grown, fathers can still create epic moments with their children. All fathers can inspire their children to have the same impact on their own children.

Be Brave

Fathers need to be brave enough to fear the Lord and work hard for His kingdom. Men need to follow the power of the Holy Ghost working in their lives. Fathers have an incredible responsibility placed on their shoulders and need to have the courage to sacrifice and put their wife and children first. Life may be hard, and the constant fight to remain selfless will be extraordinary. But, men need to be bold in their faithfulness to God and be brave enough to trust in Him.

Teach Your Family

Fathers need to teach their family what is important and unimportant in life. What a father decides about God will impact his wife and his children. Fathers need to teach their families the Word of God is more important than anything else in this life. When a father passes away from this life, his goal should be to have set the right example for his family so they continue down the right path even after he is gone.

Glory Today

Fathers need to realize today is their glory day—they have an opportunity to start today or to continue the pattern already established in their lives. Today is the moment to stand strong and to realize the man God made them to be. Father’s day is just a day, another date on the calendar. But, can fathers are challenged today be a true father the rest of the year, and make every day a day to remember as father’s day.

Adapted from Sunday Morning Service on June 19, 2016

The End Times: Part VII

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

This week marks the end of our series on the Book of Revelation and the End Times. Last week, we discussed the first (Antichrist) and second (false prophet) beasts, the abomination of desolation, and the battle of Armageddon. This week we will end our study on the unrepentant, 1,000 year Millennial Reign, Battle of Gog and Magog, the last judgment, and the new heaven and new earth.

The Unrepentant

Scripture refers to a place called hell (sheol in Hebrew, and hades in Greek). Prior to the coming of Jesus, when people died, they went to hell—an intermediate state where all people were held. Scripture talks about how there were divisions of hell in the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:20–31). Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom (paradise) and the rich man was in torment, but there was a division between the two.

After Jesus died and rose from the dead, he led those souls in Abraham’s bosom (Ephesians 4:8) to the current location under the throne of God (Revelation 6:9). The righteous souls are no longer in hell but in heaven. But, the unrepentant, like the rich man, are still in torment in the lower part of the earth (Ephesians 4:9).

We learned in previous weeks the righteous will be caught up (raptured) to meet Jesus (I Thessalonians 4:16–17), which is known as the first resurrection. The unrepentant will not participate in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5)

1,000 Year Millennial Reign of Christ

The righteous Saints, who were a part of the first resurrection, will reign with Jesus for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:6). Theologians have deemed this period of time as the “Millennial Reign of Christ.” Those who are left on the earth who survive the tribulation will enter into this period of time as well, but the Saints will be given ruling power over them.

During the 1,000 year period, the devil will be bound and will have no influence over mankind (Revelation 20:1–3). Even with the devil bound, there will still be people who will not follow after Jesus even though He will be present with us. During this time, God will be fulfilling promises made to the Patriarchs of faith (Psalms 89:4).

Battle of Gog and Magog

At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be loosed and he will go out and deceive nations all over the earth. He will gather them together to come against the believers at the battle of Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:7–8). Gog represents the Antichrist and Magog represents the anti-Christian. This battle includes people who don’t want to serve God, obey His will, worship Him, etc.—these people want to be like the devil.

But, when these armies of the unrighteous attempt to attack, fire will come down from heaven and destroy them (Revelation 20:9). Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10) to join the beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet, and will be tormented for day and night for all eternity.

The Last Judgment

Everyone who was not caught up (raptured) in the first resurrection will stand before God to be judged. This is known as the “Great White Throne Judgment” (Revelation 20:11). God will open the books and they will be judged according to their works (Revelation 20:12). Finally, death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire, and everyone who’s names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life will be cast into the lake of fire as well (Revelation 20:14–15). This will be eternal separation from God—the second death—where all will be tormented forever.

New Heaven and a New Earth

After the last judgment, the righteous souls will live peaceably with Christ. God will create a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). Heaven is referring to the place where God will actually dwell (location of His throne). While Scripture describes 3 heavens (earth’s atmosphere [Genesis 1:8], celestial heavens [Genesis 22:1], and God’s dwelling place [Revelation 4:2]), this will be the physical heaven where we will spend eternity.

The new heaven and new earth will no longer have any sin (Revelation 21:27), but will be a wonderful place with our Savior! The streets will be made of pure gold, gates made of one pearl, and everything have the beauty of all kinds of precious stones (Revelation 21:18–21). We will not even be able to comprehend its beauty when we actually see it. There will be no need for a sun or moon because the glory of Jesus will illuminate everything—He will be our light (Revelation 21:22).

Coming Quickly

Jesus closes out Revelation by telling us that He is coming quickly. We need to work hard while we still have time to obey His Word and to ensure our own salvation. And, we also need to persuade men to follow after Christ (Revelation 22:12–16). This world is not our home; we’re just passing through. We need to prepare to make heaven our home—because that’s where we will want to spend eternity.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 15, 2016 with Guest Speaker, Brother Jonathan Pierce

Do You Believe in Unicorns?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Have you ever met one of those people who never accept anything said to them at face-value? They need a fact, figure, statistical report, chart, or pivot table to back-up what was said? Or, they get out their calculator, abacus, Encyclopedia Britannica, or telescope and look it up themselves?

Not everyone you meet will be like this breed of human, but I promise there are a few of us around who like to see the occasional “proof” for something casually mentioned in conversation, book, or even a sermon.

Most adults have been jaded by their childhood experiences. After being beguiled into believing silly stories, fairy tales, and deceptive jokes, we’ve set our “belief meter” pretty low. We have a tendency to ignore hard-to-believe comments unless we have a notion to pull out our mobile device and say, “Siri…” or “Ok Google…” and ask for the real answer.

All of our belief standards may get a little rattled when we read Scripture. We know the Bible to be the infallible Word of God, and understand it was written by holy men as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21).

God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), and therefore, everything in His Word is truth. But, when we read Scriptures about dragon wells (Nehemiah 2:13) and unicorns (Job 39:9), we might get a little skeptical. When we can’t understand God’s Word at “face-value” our first instinct is to write it off as untruth.

I’ve had a shock or two when reading Scripture in my lifetime. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to double-back through a passage and reanalyze particular words, phrases, and/or concepts. Early in my Christian walk I was totally hung up on the unicorn thing. I stumbled at believing Scripture a bit—one, because I knew in my adult mind unicorns were creatures only mentioned in fairy tales. Two, I didn’t know how to read the Word of God.

There are concepts in God’s Word we can comprehend very easily. And, most of the time, the easy-to-understand stuff is easy for us to believe. But please understand, dear reader, God’s Word isn’t always meant to be easily understood at “face-value.” The deeper things, revelation that requires a little digging or studying (II Timothy 2:15)—like the passages about the unicorns—is intentional.

Believe it or not, God wants us to have a bit of an attitude when we read His Word. We shouldn’t accept something until we dig deeper and are sold out on some things. When we actually study God’s Word, and pray about understanding it, that’s when we’ll find out a unicorn isn’t some mystical white horse, with a pink flowing mane, pixie sparkles, and a golden, twisted horn protruding from its forehead. We’ll find out unicorn comes from the Hebrew word reem, which actually is a wild ox. Can you believe that? I sure can.

Understanding the Word of God is about having a relationship with Him and a willingness to draw closer to Him. We’re not going to find truth by pushing off Scripture as hard-to-believe. And, we’re not going to find Jesus that way either. When we study Scripture, with the help of the Holy Ghost (John 16:13), we’ll know truth and we’ll know why we know. And, we’ll be convinced of that truth without a shadow of a doubt—cynicism in our spiritual life can take a hike.

If you’re skeptical about Jesus today that’s okay. But, do some digging, praying, and maybe some fasting and you’ll get the answers you’re looking for. You’ll find the truth you need in life and your salvation. Bonus? You’ll lay hold to the truth that there are unicorns in the Bible.

Eternal Weight

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

The End Times: Part VI

Thursday, June 9th, 2016
Apostolic Pentecostal Church
The End Times: Part VI







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Last week, our study of the Book of Revelation and the End Times overviewed what will happen to the church after the rapture—our physical appearance/capabilities and our judgment before Jesus Christ. This week, we will talk about the 2 beasts John sees in the last days, the abomination of desolation, and battle of Armageddon.

First Beast—The Antichrist

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority (Revelation 13:1–2, KJV).

John describes the first beast in Revelation 13. The first beast is referencing the Antichrist as well as the government he will create. From this figurative language/imagery, we can discern the Antichrist will have power and authority, and will gather 10 nations together, leading to a one-world government.

The animal descriptions represents the nations that will be brought together under this governmental structure. Many theologians have tried to identify these nations, but regardless of the nation, we know these future nations will be under one rule of the Antichrist.

The Antichrist will lead people to worship Satan and will delude people into thinking they are not in a time of God’s wrath (Revelation 13:3–4). For the first half of tribulation, the Antichrist will be consolidating his power into a one-world government, but during the last half, he will be exercising his power. It is during this time, he will “make war with the saints” (Revelation 13:7–10).

Second Beast—The False Prophet

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed (Revelation 13:11–12, KJV).

After the first beast (Antichrist) creates a one-world power, the false prophet will rise to create a religious system. He will be able to demonstrate supernatural powers and perpetuate the agenda of idol worship (Revelation 13:13–14). Continual miracles will be performed during this time to try to “explain away” the wrath of God (Revelation 13:15). Whether by economic drive or supernatural workings, people will be convinced to worship the devil.

It is this figure who will cause all to receive a mark in their right hand or their forehead. All who buy and sell will need to have this mark (Revelation 13:16–18). We don’t know what this mark is today, but we do know technology will play a huge part in bringing this to fruition.

Abomination of Desolation

During the first 3.5 years of the tribulation, the Antichrist will make a covenant with the Jews. After gaining their trust, he will set up the abomination of desolation in the temple; he will defy the temple the Jews use to worship God (Daniel 9:27). Jesus even warns us that we will see the abomination in the holy place (Matthew 24:15)—all that has been prophesied will happen.

However, during the second 3.5 years, the Antichrist will set himself up and the one-world government to destroy God’s chosen people. The one-world system will persecute the Jews (Revelation 17:4–6). Once the system has fulfilled its goal in global Satan-worship, the system will be destroyed (Revelation 17:17–18).

Battle of Armageddon

Revelation 18 marks events leading up to the battle of Armageddon. The world’s epicenter of economic activity and power will be torn down (Revelation 18:1–4), and such destruction will culmination in the last battle—the Antichrist, economic system, false prophet, religious system, etc. will all be destroyed.

Demonic spirits will gather all to the valley of Megiddo (Armageddon), a place strategically placed between mountain ranges, which will be the best place to fight Israel (Revelation 16:13–14). When the world comes against Israel, Jesus will return to the earth (Acts 1:11) and fight for His chosen Nation (Revelation 19:11–13). He will come back to the earth with His armies (Revelation 19:14, Jude 1:14)—with 10,000s of His saints!

The beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire and the rest will be slain with the sword (Revelation 19:20–21). The church needs to be ready for the rapture because in this last battle we need to fight with God, not against Him.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 08, 2016

Look, There’s a Neighbor

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Do you live in one of those neighborhoods that has a “wave at everybody” mentality? Everyone is enormously friendly—you can’t help but smile when you see people?

I appreciate the sense of community emulated by certain residential areas—gathering at the end of the driveway on weeknights for a quick chat, bonding over a backyard bonfire, pitching in to heave snow after a blizzard, assembling for a 4th of July parade, or gathering all the kids together for an Olympic game of firefly catching.

My husband and I have a great neighbor relationship with the families living on either side of us. We all “house watch” when someone’s gone, bring in garbage cans, swap goodies at Christmas, and help with the occasional home/lawn project.

Whether we realize it or not, many of us get locked into the cultural neighbor mindset. We draw imaginary lines around our homes, neighborhoods, communities, etc. and deem that as our area of effort, expenditure, energy, or emotion…

We define neighbor as someone in close proximity, whom we might see every day, and warrant those people the worthy recipients of our graciousness. We’ve jumped ship to the true idea of neighborliness and adopted a less-effective, and ungodly ideal that we practice religiously day after day.

Yes, I’m being a bit harsh, but can I tell it like it is? I’m sure we’ve all lost track of the times we’ve heard messages preached on the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). But, do we listen and actually practice the principle behind the parable? Do we really see everyone we come in contact with as our neighbor? Someone we are to love and care for without limitation—someone that doesn’t live within a 2-house or 2-block radius from us?

Would we spend hours raking someone’s lawn that we’ve never met? Are we inclined to talk with a random individual about their problems in the checkout line at the local grocery store? Can we flash a genuine smile and wave heartily at the person who just cut us off in traffic? Are we willing to invite someone into our home that probably could use a shower and a change of clothes?

Or, are we confined to a physical neighborhood?

A coworker of mine shared a humorous story with me regarding her young son. She would often point out the folks living on her street and say, “Look son, there’s a neighbor.” Identifying the neighbors became a regular practice, but unbeknownst to her, her son misunderstood the contextual reference of neighbor. Then one day, when she and her son were out running errands, her son pointed at a random person—unfamiliar to either of them—and proclaimed, “Look mom! There’s a neighbor!” To her son, anyone was a neighbor.

We all need to assume this child’s mentality and recognize that anyone we see is a neighbor. We need to identify them as such, and treat them as such. Jesus isn’t a respecter of persons (Romans 2:11)—and we shouldn’t be either.

Can we be a servant to everyone we meet? Let’s challenge ourselves to see the world as a big group of “neighbors” that all need love, attention, and our help. That’s truly the neighborhood God always had in mind.

Think and Turn

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies (Psalms 119:58–59, KJV).

Seeking After the Blessings

The psalmist voiced his desire to experience the Lord’s blessings. His conclusion? He determined the only way to be blessed was to look at his life and make a change—to turn his feet toward the Lord.

Today, we need to understand there is a way to receive God’s blessings; there is an order to things. Throughout Scripture, we’re presented with endless examples of how blessings are bundled with behavior. Noah obeyed God and he and his family were blessed. Abraham obeyed the Lord, and all of his seed was blessed.

If we desire to receive a blessing from the Lord, we need to envision the blessings we want in our life, evaluate our lives, and adjust where necessary. This is why the psalmist said he had to turn His feet toward the Lord’s testimonies. We need to look down the road of our lives, and figure out what we need to do to experience the Lord’s blessings.

Turn with Wisdom

We cannot look at the world and use this as our measuring stick to get into the presence of the Lord. We also cannot look at other people and determine if the way we live our life (compared to theirs) warrants a blessing. We must get into the Word and us this as our standard—our instructional manual for what we must do in our life to be touched by God. We need to stop being like everyone else today, ponder our ways, and turn our feet!

Today there is a significant gap in the way we understand consequences. If we embark after problematic events and actions in our lives, a particular sequence will follow. If we choose not to obey the Lord we will not experience blessing, but judgment and cursing. Life is about cause and effect—what will we do to change it?

If we are going to change our steps, we need the Lord’s wisdom to help us. Wisdom is already crying out and trying to pour into us (Proverbs 1:20–23), but we frequently reject it. God wants to pour His wisdom and knowledge into us to help us make the right decisions in our lives, follow after His Word, and learn to plan for the future.

Everything we do in life needs to follow the “wisdom test.” If we think about what we know (what the Lord has revealed to us) and think about what we’ve seen, we should determine what we should do. If we think about our ways, and realize they’re wrong, we can change the direction of our future.

The Power to Turn

It takes courage and honesty to look at our lives and realize something needs to change. Zacchaeus was a dishonest tax collector. But, he had an encounter with Jesus that completely changed his life. Zacchaeus decided to give half his goods to the poor and to restore back to all to whom he had taken advantage of fourfold (Luke 19:8). Zacchaeus, who robbed from the people, took a look at his life and changed from someone who was selfish, dishonest, and greedy to a loving, caring, and charitable person.

We need to remember today that change will not happen just from realization. Once we get ahold of Jesus and step into His presence, He will help us change. Jesus helps us see the gaps in our life and provides the wisdom to close them—to bring us closer to Him. We need to allow God to work in our life and be our guiding light to manifest a change in our life. It’s time for us to stop to turn and think.

God’s Time is On Time

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Some people live their life by the motto:

To be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late; to be late is to be forgotten.

Growing up, my family lived by this mantra everywhere we went. My parents had a detailed plan regarding how and when to leave the house for any occasion. Traffic patterns were analyzed, wind trajectories were compensated for, meteorology reports summoned, travel routes and arrival times calculated, alternate/detour routes were mentally noted, and even a potential child meltdown was anticipated in the leave time.

And today, nothing has changed. But, now I’m the one ensuring my arrival is at least 15 minutes prior to start time. Therefore, my departure time reflects this calculation, including the “madness” noted above, and then I tack on an additional 5–10 minutes for good measure.

I know I’m crazy—and my husband does too—but I’m not a party of one here; there are many people in this world obsessed with time. And, if I get real granular about it, as a whole this “group” is fanatical about punctuality.

Punctuality is important in life: business, relationship, family, education, etc. Show up late for your kid’s school play and you’ll miss your child’s one-minute-to-fame. You might be out of a job because of failure to abide by company attendance policies. You can miss an entire class or fail an assignment because a teacher has a zero tolerance policy on tardiness.

But, there’s this thing called humanity and it affects us all. Humans are prone to error and whether we like to admit it, we’re going to be late at one point in our lifetime. We may not make tardiness a habitual practice, but our ability to appear at a designed place, on time, 100% of the time, isn’t going to happen. The truth? We’re going to let someone down at least once.

We can, however, find comfort in knowing we serve a God who is able to defy the limitations of humanity. He alone is able to do everything and anything we cannot do. He, unlike the human population, is able to be on time—100% of the time!

How is this possible? He completes a work according to His time, and not our time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). His time isn’t charted by 24-hours, day of the week, or even the year. Because God operates in another dimension of time, He’ll always show up right on time; He’s never late. And, that is the only time that matters.

So, the next time we see someone in need, we can offer up a prayer to the One who is always on time. God couldn’t be late even if He tried! God is perfect in all of His ways and knows what we need, when we need them (Matthew 6:8).

And, we don’t have to worry about being late when doing a work for God. If we ask Him for help, He will help us complete the task, or come to a person’s aid, on time—whether we feel like we have or not. Remember all things are possible with God, and He will help us stay on (His) time!

The End Times: Part V

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016
Apostolic Pentecostal Church
The End Times: Part V







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Last week, our study of the Book of Revelation and the End Times revealed theories identifying the 2 witnesses in Revelation, their characteristics, and purpose. We also uncovered the symbolism of the woman and child—pointing to Israel (the church) and Jesus Christ—and ended with a discussion of the Marriage Supper. This week, we will continue our study on what we will experience after the rapture as well as the Judgment Seat of Christ.

How We Will Be After the Rapture

We learned last week the church will engage in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7), which will be an experience unlike anything else on this earth. However, there is much question as to what will happen to each individual after the rapture occurs. Scripture gives us varying clues.

Changed

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (I Corinthians 15:51–53, KJV).

Not everyone will be asleep (dead) during the rapture, but everyone will be changed. Scripture tells us this change will happen quickly, and we will be changed to something immortal.

Like Jesus

John gives further insight into our future state:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (I John 3:2, KJV).

John may be writing from the context of how He knew and recognized Jesus when He was alive during His 33.5 years on the earth, and/or during the 40 days after his resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:3). John saw Jesus “show” Himself to the disciples after the resurrection (John 20:19, 21:1), which theologians indicates a supernatural manifestation. On several accounts, Jesus appears in the middle of a room without entering through natural means.

Jesus was also a very tangible being; He encouraged Thomas to touch Him (John 20:27). Additionally, Scripture notes when Jesus had risen from the dead, He dined with His disciples (John 21:12–15; Acts 10:40–41).

Our immortal body will not have constraints of this life, but will be “glorified.” We don’t know if eating and drinking will be required nourishment, or if it will be something we will partake in only for fellowship purposes. And, we don’t know if we’ll be able to manifest ourselves in places like Jesus did to His disciples. All we know is we will be like Him—the rest is yet to be determined!

Judgment Seat of Christ

The Judgment Seat of Christ is not referring to the final judgment (White Throne Judgment). This is an event in itself where all caught away (raptured) believers will be held accountable for what they did or did not do in the kingdom (Revelation 14:13). Paul states:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences (II Corinthians 5:10–11, KJV).

Before we come to Christ, it’s about what He can do for us: salvation through baptism and remission of sins. But, after we’ve followed the plan of salvation (repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost), we are to work hard to minister unto others about the judgment of God and how to escape His wrath.

The Judgment Seat of Christ will be to determine our responsibilities and rewards in Christ’s new kingdom in the Millennial reign (a time period where there will be a new heaven and new earth). We will be judged on our priorities, if we were faithful stewards of treasures God put in our hands, if we sought His kingdom, if we loved others, if our goal was to be like Him, if we put His kingdom before our own life, etc.

Scripture tells us every man’s work will be put through the fire and judged (I Corinthians 3:10–15). If our works in life were only wood, hay, and stubble, we’ll have made heaven, but our reward won’t be as great as those who build their foundation on solid materials.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 01, 2016