Tuesday, August 7, 2018


 by Jack Kelley -

The Lord wanted His people to trust in Him for their security, not in their material possessions. Had man permanently adopted these laws as his own, there would be very little poverty in the world today, and almost no war or oppression...
The folly of becoming obsessed with material gain is mentioned often in Scripture. In fact, the Levitical System included laws specifically designed to discourage it. Money was loaned without interest. (Exod. 22:25) Every seven years all debts were canceled (Deut. 15:1-2), and slaves were set free and given a stake to help them start over. (Deut. 15:12-14) Land that was lost due to foreclosure had to be redeemed by family members, (Lev. 25:25) and every 50 years all land that had been sold, or lost and not redeemed, was returned to its original owner. (Lev. 25:8-17)
There was simply no motivation for empire building in God's economy. The intent was clear. The Lord wanted His people to trust in Him for their security, not in their material possessions. Had man permanently adopted these laws as his own, there would be very little poverty in the world today, and almost no war or oppression. In fact, while giving the Israelites these instructions, the Lord concluded with:
"However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today." (Deut. 15:4-5)
Why was the preoccupation with acquiring wealth discouraged? Having created man with incredible talent and ability, didn't the Lord want him to use it to make his life better? Here's His answer:
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (Deut. 8:10-14, 17-18)
Obsession With Possessions
Notice that the Lord wasn't speaking against acquiring wealth as such. By the use of when instead of if in the passage above we know His intent was that they would all become prosperous as one way of demonstrating the benefits of being in a relationship with Him. But He wanted them to remember that it was a blessing from Him, so He warned them not to become proud of their prosperity, and not to start thinking they had earned it on their own. He knew that this kind of pride would foster feelings of self-determination, replacing their trust in Him with a trust in themselves. That, in turn, would lead to greed and dishonesty and finally an obsession with material possessions. He designed His laws to prevent this, and when they refused to obey, He took everything away from them to humble them and bring them back to Him. (2 Chron. 36:20-21 & Jere 25:8-11)
Who Are You Working For?
Psalm 39:6 is a good example of the folly we're talking about. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. It reminds me of the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21. Having acquired too many goods to fit into his storage barns he decides to tear them down and build bigger ones that will hold everything, so he can relax and take life easy. But he had no sooner made that decision when he got a visit from the Lord.
"You fool," He admonished him, "This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" (Luke 16:20) After telling His disciples the parable, the Lord went on to teach them how to live. And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (Luke 12:29-31)
How far we've fallen from that advice! In America. For example, we've created such a materialistic society that it's taken on a life of its own. It's cheaper for the auto industry to give us rebates and low-interest loans, so we'll buy more of the cars they've already built than it is to shut down some of their assembly lines and make fewer cars. The system demands a certain level of production, whether people need new cars or not.
The advertising industry motivates, manipulates, and cajoles us to spend, spend, spend to keep our economy moving. As a nation, we're spending money we don't have to buy things we don't need. (note: as of 2016, US citizens owe 747 billion dollars in credit card debt.) Marriages fail, children are all but abandoned and bankruptcies are skyrocketing. The idea of trusting the Lord for our security vanished from our culture long ago, and our dependence on material possessions as a substitute has caused many of us to become two and three income families just to fund our debt-ridden lifestyles. We've become slaves to this system in every sense of the word, with no chance of ever getting free by ourselves. Where's the security in that?
Our only hope is to ask the Lord to help us begin downsizing right now, and that means terminating our illicit love affair with materialism and asking Him to forgive us for our unfaithfulness. This is not consigning ourselves to a life of poverty and deprivation, by the way. He has always promised prosperity in exchange for faithfulness, and you can read story after story about people who are happier, healthier, and leading richer, fuller lives after downsizing than they ever could have imagined before. But the history of God's people shows that if we don't choose to do this voluntarily, we'll eventually be required to do it forcibly.
Here Is Wisdom
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart, says Psalm 37:4.
If poverty or economic enslavement were meant to be the lot of believers on Earth, this verse is at best misleading and at worst downright cruel. So if that's what we're experiencing, maybe we've ignored the first part of the verse in our preoccupation with the second.
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. (Malachi 3:9-10)
Giving Him the 10% that's His is a good way to show your delight in Him. It says, "Thanks for the other 90%." Do it, and He'll soon make your remaining 90% bigger than your old 100% ever was.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38.
As we give so shall we receive. Are we skimping on His share? If so we're only hurting ourselves.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor. 9:8,10,11)
Rich in every way includes prosperity without debt.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
The lesson is clear. The Israelites failed to obey the Lord in these matters and wound up losing everything. The Lord is patient, but His patience is not inexhaustible. Eventually, He has to put a stop to such disobedience because if He doesn't we'll totally destroy ourselves and He loves us too much to let that happen.
Out With The Old, In With The New?
But most of that's Old Testament stuff, you say, ignoring Paul's teaching from Romans 15. Please remember that regardless of what you've been taught, the only consequence we, as New Testament believers, escape when breaking God's law is the loss of our salvation. His law was never revoked and carries no expiration date. Thieves and murderers still get caught and go to prison. Adulterers still destroy marriages and families. And excessive debt in our quest for material gain still brings untold stress and even loss of the very possessions we coveted. All this is irrespective of our beliefs.
But because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
No matter what happened yesterday, we will always have a future with Him, and because of the cross our past sins can be forgiven and forgotten. (1 John 1:9) The moment we decide to start over and return control of our life to the Lord our slate is wiped clean and it's as if we never sinned. Plus, we get the benefit of having the burden lifted off our shoulders as He takes over. He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28) Combining the Lord's guidance with our obedience in a guaranteed solution we can implement now to escape the economic oppression that has enslaved us. Remember, He came so that we could have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) Selah

Monday, August 6, 2018


by Pastor Mike Taylor

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Psalm 23:1-6)

This is a most beautiful Psalm attributed to King David, that most everyone knows, or many have memorized. But do they understand the deeper implications that David was trying to convey about God Almighty that we serve and he served in Ancient Israel?

Let us begin to explore the deeper meaning of what this Psalm 23 means to the individual and the instruction that God gives to each of us to deal with the anxiety produced by a world that is spiraling out of control. If a person is allowed to follow his human emotions, many of us would be filled with dread and fear of what is coming upon the earth.
Like a good shepherd, our Lord and Savior delivers us from the feelings of anxiety and promises that He will always be with us, and will never forsake us. But first we have to submit to His direction, His leading and realize that we don’t know the way through this crooked path in front of us, which is our lives, and that since we don’t know the way, we need a shepherd that does know the way. We must look to Jesus for our guidance through this world in which we are but pioneers, sojourners in a land that is not our home.

Turn with me now to Luke 11:34 and listen to what Jesus says, 

“If the eye is single, then the whole body will be full of light. If the eye is dual (or evil), how great is that darkness”. 
What’s He saying?  He’s reminding us, that we need to keep our eye on Him, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is our light and if we keep our eye on Him, then our body and spirit is full of light, but if our eye is dual and looking elsewhere besides Jesus, then how great is that darkness. We will never find our way.

We are commanded to be Holy as we follow the good Shepherd. How can we follow His leadership, if we fail to live as He lived? Turn with me now to Romans 12:1-2:

“ 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,

v.2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We have to be willing to submit wholeheartedly to the leadership of the Lord God, our Shepherd. We must be willing to say, “I’ll go anywhere, I’ll do anything, I’ll be anything. I’ll carry any load, live anyplace you want me to live, do anything you want me to do. We must be willing to put away sin as He points it out to us. Now that doesn’t mean we’ll be sinless, on the contrary, but if we are following what the Bible tells us and follow the truth that we have, that’s 90% part of the battle , and the rest falls into place that is indefinite or unknown.

If we are willing to be brought into conformity to Jesus Christ in every area of our life, and we are allowing Him freedom to work in us, then He will reveal more truth to us. But He won’t if we are consciously holding out and defending sin in our lives. He reveals His truth only to men and women with an open, and obedient heart. God desires to lead us into greater and greater righteousness in our lives as well,  and we should be concerned about obtaining His righteousness, as humanly possible in this life. Let’s look at what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:7, 

“For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”. 

God has called us unto sanctification and holiness. It is His intention to sanctify us entirely. This verse is referring to not committing fornication, but being sanctified and abstaining from sinful pleasures and acts against your neighbor, your brother, or your sister. We want to know that God is our Shepherd, but we must not tolerate sin in our lives. They may go without confessing them for long periods of time, but if we confess our sins,

“ He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and  to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9.)

But let’s notice something in the beautiful Psalm 23 we are exploring. At the end of verse 3, David makes an assertion. Why does the good shepherd lead us in the paths of righteousness? He guides us “for His name’s sake.” That is for the sake of His glory, and the reputation of His own name and honor. What kind of reputation would a shepherd in Ancient Israel earn if everyone knew he was careless and irresponsible with his own sheep?

Let me ask you another, more important question. What kind of reputation would God earn for Himself if He were careless with those who belong to Him and are in His charge? Those that are following and faithful to His call and responded to His invitation from the Holy Spirit to accept His free gift of grace? What is His promise? Understand that God’s name is on the line here, in your life, and others who have been redeemed by His own blood. He wants to show the world that He is faithful to provide for all your needs and guide you in righteous paths, and lead a holy life, as much as possible, this side of glory.

So far we have seen that the LORD should be trusted as the good Shepherd, especially as One who provides for His own and faithfully guides them as well. But in shepherding in the land of Ancient Israel, it consisted of more than just providing for and guiding one’s sheep. The Shepherd must also PROTECT them. This of course, is the focus on verse 4.


 David wrote “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”.  (Psalm 23:4)

The phrase “valley of the shadow of death” most likely refers to the shadows cast by deep ravines with sharp cliffs, possibly in the Jordan valley. There is actually a place along the road to Jericho, I’m told, that is called “the valley of the shadow of death,” where robbers would hide and wait for the unprepared and unsuspecting victims.  A shepherd leading his sheep had to pass these dark areas with the Shepherd guiding them.

Maybe this was a time when David was fleeing from Saul, and his attempt to try and kill him, but the point of the verse, is that God uses His rod to deal blows to the enemy, not to His sheep. They are tenderly pulled out of danger with his staff, which was a long crooked pole that could pull a leg away from danger, or a tap on the side to get them back in line, tenderly and with love. He doesn’t whack us over the head with this rod, saying, “you bad sheep. Get back in line” and use a heavy rod on us. No, He lifts us up in His arms and gently leads us away from danger, but only if we trust and allow him to do so.

It is not that God will shield us from every harmful circumstance, as this is patently false as many of us can testify. People actually die prematurely, at least in our mind. But even in death, God is with us, so why should we fear something so natural? Death is a part of life and will visit all of us, if the Lord should tarry. But Paul wrote in Romans :

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

v. 39, 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 8:38-39)

Three things we must know. First nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ, during these experiences. Second, He alone passes approval on what things are permitted to afflict us and the trial we must bear. And thirdly, He will only test us for our own good and deeper knowledge of Him. We need to know that God will never abandon us. He is not the hired hand, but the faithful Shepherd.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

v2, But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

v3, To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

V4, And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.”(John 10:1-4)

Dropping down in the chapter

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

. 12,  But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

13, The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

14,  I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”(John 10:11-14)

Can you see how He calls His sheep, and that He is the gate in and out of green pastures? He has only permitted what in His wisdom is ultimately good for you and will never allow permanent separation to come between you and Him. You can trust Him to protect you from anything He does NOT desire for you life.

In the Old Testament, God the Father is designated as “The Shepherd of Israel.” He is the Pastor of the Jewish nation. When Jesus declared Himself, “the Good Shepherd” in John 10:11, the Jewish people knew that He was claiming to be Jehovah, in the flesh and that He was proclaiming Himself to be God. God has lifted the name of Jesus above every name and He is the good Shepherd of the Church on earth.


Moving onto verse 5 and 6 of this beloved Psalm, the picture here is of God as a gracious host, and throwing a banquet and sparing no extravagance for the invited guest. David says, “my cup overflows.” Which could either mean that the quality of the drink is absolutely superb or that the host had provided him with an abundance. Either way, the tremendous grace of God is evident in David’s experience here. In the land of Ancient Israel and surrounding areas, no one was more safe from his enemies, as when he was in a Bedouin Chief’s tent and a meal had been placed before him. His enemies could not touch him. His head was anointed with oil, a generous gesture from the host and implies honor and favor.

In fact, the implication in v. 5 is that this has been David’s experience with God up to this point in his life and verse 6 seems to indicate that David is confident such grace and fellowship with God will continue throughout all his days. And so it will be with us in our time, and in our life.  He says, in verse 6,

Surely (notice David’s confidence) goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”

Rather than being pursued by his enemies, (eg. Saul) the goodness and mercy and God’s loving kindness will follow him all of his days and he knows that he will dwell in the house of the Lord for as long as he lives. David envisions the direction his life will take as centered around fellowship and communion with His God, our God.  The grace of God can accomplish that in our lives as well. Do we realize how gracious God has been to us in Jesus Christ? He has forgiven us our sins against Him and given us His Spirit to enable us to walk with Him.

Read with me 1st Corinthians 2:12-16:

“And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

13, Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

15, But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

16, For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”( 1st Corinthians 2:12-16)

We ought to rejoice in God’s grace toward us, rather than be overcome with anxiety over the circumstance the good Shepherd allows in our lives. Even in trials, He is right there with us.


 Psalm 23 “And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Unbroken, eternal fellowship with God! What fellowship! What joy divine! His coming Kingdom is a place where we will be in eternal fellowship with our Shepherd, King Jesus Christ.

Jesus promised in John.
Let not your hearts be troubled. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go , I will come again to receive you unto Myself: that where I am, there may you be also.” (John 14:1-3)

He’s building us a mansion right now. And it’s not here, but there in Heaven, somewhere, out there beyond the stars. He’s coming to bring us to His place at the future rapture of the church. We are going to Him, not the other way around.

No one says it better than Kyle M. Yates. “It is all made possible because of the love of God for us and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who paid it all that we might be ransomed. He died in our place. We received eternal life through faith in Him as our crucified and risen Saviour. The condition of our salvation is faith in Him. The real ground of our redemption is the blood of Jesus Christ. He died and rose again for 
US. Now He lives in US. God the Father is the source of our salvation. God the Son is the channel through which it comes to US. God the Holy Spirit is the agent who makes it effective in US. His provision for US is the costliest transaction ever conceived in the heart of God. It took the precious blood of His own Son to pay the debt. We enter into the full realization of this salvation by complete surrender to Him with the certain trust in Him to provide all our needs. We continue in Him as the Shepherd continues constantly with US.” (Preaching from the Psalms, p. 74).  

Indeed, this is the only way we can live the Christian life. Our Shepherd has provided us all we will ever need. As we hand over to Him our needs, He graciously hands over to us the provision. All we have to do is acknowledge our needs and surrender them to Him. I exchange my need for His abundant supply.


Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” ( Hebrews 13:20-21)

Think on that: "He has risen from the dead and He has ‘equipped you in every good thing to do His will.” He “works in us to do that which is pleasing in His sight.” It is all done to glorify Him forever and ever.

 “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:4)

The word for “appear” means “ to make visible, clear, manifest, know, to  uncover, to lay bear, to reveal.” One day he is coming and every eye will see Him. It will be at banquet of awards in heaven. He will honor those who have been “good and faithful,” It is another trophy of grace, our crowns of gold upon our heads. Under-shepherds will “receive the unfading crown of glory.” It will not be a bouquet of flowers that will fade and die and it won’t be a wreath that will fade away in a day or two. It won’t be the applause of men that diminishes over time. No, it will be the eternal crown of Glory that we will cast at His feet to worship Him on that day.

If the LORD is your Shepherd, what can you hold onto and be fully confident of?

Because the LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not lack any provision of needs in this life.

Because He makes me to lie down in green pastures, I shall not lack nourishment.

Because He leads me beside quiet waters, I shall not lack rest.

Because He restoreth my soul, I shall not lack forgiveness and restoration.

Because he guides me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake, I shall not lack a right relationship with God.

Because I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, and I shall not lack encouragement and hope.

Because Thou art with me, I shall not lack for a constant companion.

Because Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me, I shall not lack guidance and protection.

Because Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies, I shall not lack honor and respect.

Because Thou hast anoint my head with oil, I shall not lack power and authority.

Because My cup overflows, I shall not lack joy, and an abundant life.

Because goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life, I shall not lack contentment.

Because I dwell in the house of the Lord forever, I shall not lack assurance of eternal security in the Lord.

Yes, my friend, the LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not be in need of anything.

The LORD is my Guide, I shall be led by Him.

The Lord is my King: I shall be a guest in His palace.

The LORD is coming soon, and I shall be with Him in His Kingdom!!!

Does this world try your soul? Does it drive you to fear and a feeling of hopelessness? Are you at your wits end wanting someone to throw you a life-line? I am throwing you a life-line of eternal life found in only One Way, Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory.

Have you found the LORD as your Shepherd? Believe right now, that you’re a sinner. Admit that you have fallen short of the mark to stand before a Holy God. Believe in your heart that God has raised His Son Jesus from a grave in resurrection after being crucified on a cruel cross. Believe that He came and died for your sins, my sins and wants only to save you from the penalty of death that we all deserve for sinning against God. Believe that He ascended to Glory to sit at the right hand of the Father God in Heaven and waits only for the signal from the Father to come reclaim what He has already bought with His own blood…His creation, including YOU. I ask you to make that prayer right now, with your mouth, confess the LORD as your Savior, and follow Him in obedience in water baptism.

He will become instantly, the Shepherd in your life, the answer you seek, the filling of an empty space in your life, and in your heart…do it today, while there is still time…

Yes, my reader, we live in a time that tries the unanchored soul that has no mooring to anything solid. Cast your cares upon Him and anchor in the solid Rock that will keep you and guide you through the storms that are sure to come. As I think on the cares of this life, and the devastation surrounding every man, woman and child on this planet, I rely on another promise that God gave, that applies to only those found in the loving arms of the Shepherd, my Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 91:

“ A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come nigh thee.

-Only with thine eyes, you shall look and see the reward of the wicked,

-Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place,

-No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”(Psalm 91:7-10)

This is a time that does try a man's soul, but those who look to the “Good Shepherd”, need not fear, but confidence by faith, in the provision's of God.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIM, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying you will find my Good Shepherd, my Rock in this life, my firm foundation. May God richly Bless you. Contact me at 
realteam1999@sbcglobal.net for comments , prayer, or biblical answers to your questions. Or visit me online at my ministry blog at www.pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com,  May God richly bless you all.

                    TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET.


- Pete Garcia -
No topic is as sought out, as picked over, and as intriguing as it is despised, as is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
No claim ever made was as audacious as was Christ's, because by boldly proclaiming that not only could death not hold Him, but that the whole earth would one day mourn at the sight of His return (Revelation 1:7). Think about it, either Jesus had serious delusions of grandeur, or He is who He says He is, God in the flesh. The humbled Servant, faithful to the point of death, who willingly allowed His creation to brutally beat, strip Him, mock Him and finally subject Him to a humiliating death by crucifixion, would one day return victoriously in the clouds with the armies of heaven behind Him (Phil. 2:8/Matt. 26:64).
It did not make sense to His disciples, nor would not until after His resurrection. The paradoxical nature of God's methods (Isaiah 55:8) abounds in the man Christ Jesus. Not only in His Sermon on the Mount or parables, but also in His death, burial, resurrection and ascension. To live is Christ, to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). To save our life, we must lose it (Luke 17:33). To be first, we must be last (Matt. 20:16). Victory in what seemed defeat (Mark 15:32/1 Cor. 1:18). Longsuffering in what seems abandon. Justice in what seems silence (2 Peter 3:9).
A persistent lie from the very pit of hell is that the cross was a setback and that we worship a defeated Savior. As the author of Hebrews appropriately notes, we should be...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2). Without Christ's sacrifice on the cross, ALL would be lost. There was NO other way to reconcile fallen man, with a holy God. If anything, the cross demonstrates the lengths He will go to demonstrate His love for us, by sacrificing that which He holds most dear on our behalf. The cross was a down payment on His rightful inheritance (Psalm 2:7-9). We (the Church), are His prize.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
As we look back to antiquity and wonder about our ancient history, the peoples of the millennium will do likewise. They will marvel at our struggles, and all the trials and tribulations the church underwent as we lived in a fallen age. They will marvel at the retelling of the very moment Christ tore open the sky and came back to earth in the absolute grandest, and most terrifying of fashion. Those who are born during this coming millennial reign, will hear of how Christ singlehandedly defeated all the armies of the world; how He threw the Antichrist and the False Prophet alive into the lake of fire. They will hear of Satan's binding in the abyss, not having experienced life in a world under his control. They will hear of the judgment of the nations, and marvel that there was a time when national Israel wasn't the center of the universe.
Moreover, they will hear about the Rapture of the Church.
The Rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4:13/1 Cor. 15:51-55) will not only be the moment of our birth (into our glorified bodies-Romans 8:28-30), but will also serve to terraform the geopolitical landscape for that coming final week of years. World leaders today think they can use this crisis to their advantage, but in reality, God is simply removing the restraint (the Spirit indwelt Church) so that His plan can go forward (2 Thess. 2:7). That final week, Daniel's 70th, will be a time of unprecedented terror and sorrow, such as the world has never seen (Matt. 24:21-22).
There has been seventy-three years since the world was at war, and even now, the nations of the world grow restless. The nations are like racehorses, violently snorting and stamping, impatiently waiting for the gates to swing open and the horn to blast so they can charge out. All the restless riders appear to be in place, and prophetic track with its soft unbroken earth, lay open before them, eagerly awaiting to swallow their hooves. The current world order is inadequate for what Satan has in mind, global domination, so he must capitalize on the next major crisis to align the nations as he sees fit. He knows it is the Rapture of the Church, but he does not know when. So leading up to that event, he needs the nations at a point where one man can assume total power. Not just political power, but economic, religious, and military power as well.
Even now this man lives, and is quietly and unassumingly positioning himself to be at the right time and place. Whether he knows it or not, he is being groomed for this role as we speak. He is preparing for the singularity. The Singularity will not come in some glorious fashion where men evolve into the next big thing. Rather, the Singularity will be where one man assumes control over the entire planet (Rev. 13:7). He will not face the divine restraint the world is currently under, but instead, will have the full backing and authority from the god of this age (Luke 4:5-6, 2 Cor. 4:4).
What the world leaders are waiting for now, they are not entirely sure; but they sense something coming, like one who smells the rain before the storm. There is an energy in the air, and the time seems ripe for transformation. The unbelieving and Christ-rejecting world thinks they are entering into the Age of Aquarius, but what they will get instead, is the age of antichrist. The age of antichrist will be filled with false signs and wonders. This age begins shortly after the Rapture of the Church, this where Christ triumphantly reclaims His bride (both the living and the dead) to Himself in the air. There, we will be paraded before the prince of the power of the air as a cherished prize, and we will go to be with the Lord forever.
Once the church is removed from the earth, Satan will have to move quickly to consolidate all authority under this one man. He will be a god of fortresses, who understands dark sentences, blasphemes God, and will do all that he pleases (Dan. 8:23-25, 11:36-39). The world will marvel after the beast. While they will initially be brought into some apostate form of religion known as Mystery Babylon, ultimately, they will be instructed by the False Prophet to abandon their apostate devotion to her and instead, worship the man of lawlessness directly. He will have supernatural power, but not of his own, but from that of his benefactor, Satan.
But in the midst of this global turmoil, will come judgments. One after another, unrelenting in their delivery, terror, and ferocity. Bunkers and caves will not save men. Great armies will not save men. Technology will not save men. Luxuries will not save men. In fact, the only salvation found in this final week of years, will come at great suffering and ultimately martyrdom, because that will mean you did not surrender to the lie and follow the beast and his false prophet (Rev. 13:7). If you did not follow the beast or his prophet, it is ONLY because God spares you from the delusion coming upon the earth in those days by way of death (2 Thess. 2:9-12).
But as our days grow shorter, and twilight's shadowy reach keeps extending over the horizon of man's domain, we lose heart. We may marvel in our technology, yet, we cannot solve the riddle of our own hearts. The further we transgress down this path, the further we drift away from what saves us. For many even today, redemption is almost completely lost, as they have been given over to a debased mind (Rom. 1:28). They are unable to come to the knowledge of the truth as to be saved, but instead, trade eternal redemption for momentary pleasures. Even those momentary pleasures are fleeting and cannot feed the gaping hunger each of us feels when we are apart from our Creator. We were created in the image of God, and nothing but union back to Him through Jesus Christ will suffice.
Nevertheless, our struggles remain oppressive and burdensome. Though at present they seem permanent, these afflictions are really only momentary. If you are reading this, you were chosen to live in these very days before our Lord's return. Our works and struggles are being reconciled to our own fullness of time, one which God has seen and set aside for us from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
Each of us has a particular mission to accomplish at this particular point in time (Eph. 4:11-16). We are to let the light of Christ so shine in our lives, that others are drawn to its warmth and security. We are to do this until we fulfill our own roles. We are to do this until our world comes to its end, whether that end is our death and we go to be with the Lord, or at the glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in the air for His Church.
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18