Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:1-3

Moving On Up!

Ascending to Heaven is a once in a lifetime, out of this world trip.  We must pack for most vacations; however, you must unpack in preparation for this trip.  The love of the trappings of this world will hold you down when Christ comes.  Therefore, the reconciliation of the world is a time to remove the hold the things of this world have on you and yours so that when Christ comes, your ascension will not be resisted. 

You may wonder if there is anything from this world that you can take with you, but remember Lot’s wife.  She looked back with longing upon the things of destruction and was turned into a pillar of salt.  Also, remember the things Lot could take with him–loved ones.  During the time of reconciliation many loved ones, unwilling to hear the Word of God today, will develop ears to hear during this time of travail.  Your place and purpose is to help them prepare for the journey by persuading them to unload all the trappings of this world’s wealth and reinvest in the world to come.

The inhabitants of this world only know the propaganda that has been spread.  Our loved ones will choose to believe a lie unless God mercifully intervenes.  His intervention plan includes you and me as members of His volunteer army.  God does not draft.  Following Christ has often meant a trip to the cross for many.  God establishes the path, but the choice to walk in it is ours alone.  It is a hardship, but also an honor to be part of the intervention plan.  Serving as an ambassador of the kingdom to come is a great privilege for mere mortal mankind.  Following Christ may cost you everything you have in this world, but when He comes, the things of this world will be destroyed by fire.   For a sure investment lay up your treasure in Heaven.  Matthew 6:20

It is wonderful and easy to deliver a message of good will to a nation that is an ally to your homeland during peace time.  However, it is another thing to be an ambassador from a foreign land that is considered hostile.  The world considers Jesus and His followers as hostile to this planet.  Everything they have is invested in this world and they want a ruler that will honor their claims.  Anyone else is considered an usurper.  Most of the children of this world will not recognize Lucifer as the true usurper and will welcome him as their savior.  2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Isaiah 66:4  The ambassadors of Christ and His kingdom have been commissioned to warn them.

Like the faithful in Hebrews 11, the believers in God long for a better country and a Heavenly city.   Jesus will come again, this time as a warrior.  He is so loving that He wants to warn the people of the world that He is coming so they will be prepared to meet Him in peace.  It is the designs of the usurper, appearing to be lamb-like, to persuade the world that he comes in peace.  He will also convince the world that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is coming to destroy them.  With Lucifer there is always a measure of truth in His lies.  Jesus is coming in destruction, but He offers rescue to anyone willing to receive it.  Many people will claim Satan as their real savior, but because of the saints, a remnant will recognize Satan as a deceiver and wait on their Lord for deliverance.  I pray that my loved ones and yours are persuaded to patiently wait for their God.

The enemy will not lie down and just let us reveal his deception.  This is the rightful place to tell you that this battle is not to be fought with swords and guns because we do not war against flesh and blood.  It is a spiritual warfare that is fought in the hearts and minds of men.  The faithful of every era have forsaken their livelihood, lifestyle, and their very lives for the sake of Christ to faithfully deliver the message.  The apostles and disciples, like the patriarchs and prophets, suffered heinous mistreatment often from those believing they were doing God service.  Without a knowledge of church history, believers are clueless regarding the commitment of the early church.  The enemy was intent on stomping out every utterance and mention of the name of Jesus of Nazareth, but the name lives on in the lives of the faithful.  It is the work of the church of the last days to complete the work the early saints began.  They begged Jesus to rapture them out, but He told them He would come again to get them.  Their greatest sorrow was that they could not come home until Jesus comes again because they had a work to do, but He would send them the comforter.   John 14:1-3; 16:7

Bail Before the Battle

As a young Christian the pre-tribulation rapture was my favorite Christian teaching.  It is a beloved notion among Protestantism and greatly desired by American and European Christians.  It is not so widely embraced by the rest of the Christian world.  Perhaps because many of them live a daily life of hardship requiring endurance that most Americans know very little about.  I long to embrace the idea of the pre-tribulation rapture, but it can only be supported with a shallow surface understanding of prophetic things.  When I try to establish it by digging down into the scriptures, I lose hope in the pre-tribulation rapture.  I am fully persuaded, regardless of my personal desires, that God is looking for an army of Christian soldiers that will battle powers and principalities for the sake of flesh and blood right up to the very end.

The Israelites traveled a great distance to get right up to the border of the promised land and failed to enter in because their faith was obscured by the obstacles they saw.  These were mighty obstacles that were humanly impossible to overcome.  They were fearful and unwilling during the time of their visitation to battle the giants of the land and left the work to their children and grandchildren under the leadership of Joshua and Caleb.  The Israelites even believed that the challenge was evidence that God hated them.  Deuteronomy 1:21-27 

God had just delivered them from the mightiest army of the then known world, but they were not convicted that He would deliver them from the giants in the land of Canaan.  This new task required more participation from the Israelites than when God destroyed Pharaoh’s army.  At the crossing of the Red Sea all they had to do was run!  At the entrance to Canaan God asked them to enter the frays of the battle with Him as their captain.  They were fearful and so are we.  I believe the timidity of the church explains the popularity of the secret rapture theory.  I am concerned that many in the church today will also get right up to the entrance into Heavenly Canaan and will not enter in because of fear.

Many in God’s house today require that He prove His love for them by beaming them up prior to the time of trouble.  Since they will not settle certain things in their hearts and minds, they will be like the five foolish virgins without oil in their lamps when the time of trouble begins.  Matthew 25:1-13  I hope I am wrong, but it appears that our indulgent American lifestyle has pampered us into believing that Christian entitlement demands that God fulfill our pursuit of happiness without hardship.

Our God has promised to bless us in this world and longs to do so.  However, of all the things God promised us, He included tribulation with peace.  John 16:33  We ignore the tribulation part and interpret peace as in a piece of the pie.  It is a common desire of people all over the world to partake of a piece of the American pie.  The American pie used to be about abundant life, liberty and the pursuit of higher designs.  Today the American pie is about the pursuit of the things of this world.  We grab for the gold and pull back a fist full of frustration in the piece this world gives you.  God longs to give you a place in this world with a measure of peace this world does not understand.  In addition, He will impart to you a place in the kingdom to come and in the New Heaven and Earth with a generous slice of his abundance.  Take God up on His offer, it is the best opportunity you will ever have.

I am sad for the generation of Israelites that never entered into the promised land because of fear.  In Revelation 21:7-8 there is a list of sinners that will partake of the lake of fire and I want you to notice that the fearful or cowardly are mentioned before all other sinners.  The idea that believers will not have to be in the tribulation has great appeal.  If you can not see another possibility, I hope you are right.  However, my heart is heavy because some of my beloved family and friends are still in the valley of decision.  Satan works in the valley of decision because all the valley residents are vulnerable to his deceits.  Our goal is the mountain top, but our work is also in the valley.  If God can use this old clay vessel to persuade valley girls (and guys) to hear the word of God, then for the sake of their eternal soul please join me in saying, “Lord, send me.”

This time of the end is designed to test our faith to prove us like Job.  Many will find the test too harsh for their fragile belief system and like the Israelites, they will deny the love of God.   If the thought of the time of trouble scares you witless, I understand and share your concern.  I am also afraid.  However, we must be like Moses, Joshua and Caleb and know that our God will fight for us and if God be for us, who can be against us?  Deuteronomy 3:21-22  God hears the cries of his saints and longs to avenge their blood beginning with the righteous blood of Able, but for the sake of those yet to receive Him, He is long-suffering and patient.  We must also be patient. 

Fear God and Make Peace

Each generation of believers can testify that tribulation is harsh.  In Luke 18:7-8 Jesus promised us that God hears the cries of the of the Godly and will avenge them quickly, but Jesus knows that the trials of the end times will surpass all others and asks the question:  When the son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?  The answer is yes, because the Godly take a stand on the Living Word.  The most immediate question is will he find faith in me and you.  Again, the question is yes, but only if we believe our stand on the Living Word is a firm foundation.

In Revelation 14:7 we are told to . . .fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters reminding us that He is the Creator and not an usurper.  Lucifer is the usurper.   It is God’s nature to be a creator and before He commits His strange act of destruction by expressing His wrath, He will do all He can to save anyone held captive behind enemy lines desiring to be set free.  Of course, Satan will resist; therefore, all hell will break loose.

Believers have been given a mission to deliver God’s good news since the dawn of the ages.   We are ambassadors of the heavenly royal family and we have a ministry.  We have been given the word of reconciliation and have been commissioned to join heavenly emissaries to deliver the message of good news to others.  The good news is that we have been enemies of God, but through Christ we can be reconciled as friends of God.  We are God’s friend, and it is as if we were never offensive to Him because our trespasses are applied to another.  Commit to joining with Christ and His angels in delivering this message to a hopeless world.  Revelation 14:6-13

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by  Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of  reconciliation;  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the  world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and  hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you  by us:  we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20

In Exodus 19-20 God told Moses to put up barriers to keep the people from breaking through to God.  However, when they heard the trumpets and thunders then saw the lightening and smoke, they were afraid and told Moses to talk to God.  They did not want to hear the voice of God.  That is how it will be when the seven thunders of Revelation 10 utter their voice.  John heard the thunders and started to write them down, but God wanted them sealed until the end.  Only a minority of last day believers will desire to hear the voice of God as it thunders because the rumbling will scare the rest of the congregation.  The larger part of the congregation will miss the message because they are afraid and refuse to hear the Word of God.  The ones that fully embrace this mountain top experience will be to the world what Moses was to Israel. 

After forty days,  Moses came back down from the mountain, saw the Israelites worshiping the golden calf and broke the commandments.  He went back to the mountain for forty more days to intercede for Israel because they had already broken the covenant, but God was not moved to forgive.  Since they did not keep their part of the contractual agreement, God was considering getting out of the covenant while the getting’ was good.  Exodus 32:9-10  On the first of Elul, again Moses went back to the mountain and stayed for another forty days which ended with the ten days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  This time of intercession for Israel was a total of 120 days, and in the end God forgave Israel and gave Moses another set of commandments.   Exodus 32-34   That is wonderful news for all of us.

On the 7th of Sivan, Moses went up onto the mountain…. On the 17th of Tammuz the Tablets were broken. On the 18th he burned the [Golden] Calf and judged the transgressors. On the 19th he went up for forty days and pleaded for mercy. On the 1st of Elul he went up to receive the Second Tablets, and was there for forty days. On the 10th of Tishrei G-d restored His goodwill with the Jewish people gladly and wholeheartedly, saying to Moses “I have forgiven, as you ask”, and gave him the Second Tablets.

Rashi, Exodus 32:1 and 33:11
Judaism 101:  Days of Awe
The 120-Day Version of the Human Story
http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/2508/jewish/The-120-Day-Version.htm

The Jewish fall festivals have specific meaning to the Jew, but they are not to be ignored by the Christian.  In understanding what the festivals mean to Israel, the church can receive the blessing.  The fall festivals include the month of Elul-30 days and the Feast of Trumpets-10 days (Rosh Hashanah, Days of Awe) the last day being the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).  The greatest mountain top experience by Moses began on the first of Elul and ended with God’s forgiveness and willingness to accept intercession for His people.  We can also have the Moses experience which is typified by the month of Elul.  This will be an experience as sweet as honey, but the recipients will prophesy during a time of bitterness which is typified by the Days of Awe. 

When Moses came down from the mountain on the Day of Atonement, he carried the evidence of God’s great benevolence toward mankind in the form of the 2nd tablets of stone.  The gift of the second set of commandments clearly indicate the renewed covenant and God’s desire to willingly forgive us our trespasses.  The Day of Atonement marked the day God visited with Moses and typifies the coming of Jesus revealed as the Word of God.  Revelation 11:19; 19:13-15

I have stated and will repeatedly state that I do not know when the time of trouble will begin, but the harvest will not begin until the church has received restoration through the blessings of Elul.  Christ said we would not know the day or hour, but we should know the season.  Matthew 24:30-36  Elul is an invitation to the church to do as Moses and enter into a wonderfully blessed restoration experience with God prior to the reconciliation of the world.  This 30-day period will prepare the church to participate with Christ in the intercession of the lost of the last age during the Days of Awe calling them to repentance in preparation for the Day of Atonement when they will meet their Maker.

Love God and Come Home

The word Elul means search as in searching your heart, mind and soul.  The month of Elul is a time for repentance by those that are the closest to Yahweh.  It is a time for those that once professed their love for God to renew their vows and restore their relationship.  Elul is the time set aside for believers that have lost that loving feeling to reestablish their relationship with God. 

The letters in ELUL are acronyms for a Jewish phrase that means “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.”  This beautiful phrase reminds us of the Song of Solomon and is a clear invitation to those that once greatly beloved God to renew or restore their first love relationship just as the church in Ephesus is commanded to do.  Revelation 2:1-7  During the time of the end and because of God’ grace, this invitation will be extended to the church, Israel, and the world.  A time of searching the heart and mind will be established for the church first because God is looking for volunteers for His salvation army and He will expect His house to respond.  Judgment is about to come upon the surface of the earth and judgment always begins in the house of God 1 Peter 4:17; Revelation 11:1-3

There are many who are confused regarding their conduct as Christian soldiers.  It does not mean taking up arms against your fellow man.  If you are confused, remember that you are in the salvation army.  The widely recognized Salvation Army that we make contributions to because they have been commissioned to serve so many is a type of the conduct of a Christian soldier.  The creed of the Salvation Army proclaims man’s desire to relieve pain and suffering and a willingness to place others before personal gain.  They do not hoard munitions, but distribute staples to unknown, needy individuals without regard for creed and/or color.  This is a small, volunteer army was formed to impact lives all over the globe for good and should serve as a typical Christian soldier. 

God never drafts or deludes, he persuades and prepares.  Relationships that are ignored will become stale and lukewarm like Laodicea.  God despises a lukewarm relationship with His people and commands all Laodiceans to repent and be renewed.  Revelation 3:14-22  Those that renew their vows will enter into a relationship with their God that will surpass imagination and can only be compared to the experience Moses had with God after climbing to the top of the mountain.  Those that partake will no longer be lukewarm but will be like the early church on Pentecost after their upper-room (mountaintop) experience.  The flames of the Holy Spirit will come upon them and men will be drawn to the warmth of the church during the coldest of times.  At the same time, Satan and his followers will burn with envy and seethe with rage while pursuing the church and her children.  Revelation 12:13-17

The portion of the church that hears the seven thunders will have the mountaintop experience with God.  Just as Moses received commands from God, this group will be blessed with the message of the seven thunders and will begin prophesying to the world.  Revelation 10  Moses delivered the message to the Israelites and compelled them to repent.  The last-day prophets will do the same for the world in preparation for end times.  They will deliver the utterances of the seven thunders with an invitation to repent and be reconciled.  The Feast of Trumpets (also known as Rosh Hashanah or the Days of Awe) herald the time set aside for the people of the world to reconcile themselves to their God before He appears on the Day of Atonement known as Yom Kippur.   

Just a Thought:  The Jewish festivals of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a ten-day period that is a type of the last days.  Since it is a type, the anti-type may be a longer period of time.  I suspect that it will last 3.5 years.   I will discuss the fall festivals in additional lessons.  I believe the time of the end is reflected by the following time-line.

Be reconciled to your God.  He is beckoning you, holding back the winds of strife while waiting patiently and longingly until you return home.   Do not delay, the day of opportunity will close its doors and those on the outside will not even know to beg to be let in until it is too late.  Matthew 25:11-13

For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.  Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.  For that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

Hebrews 2:16-18

“Softly and Tenderly”

(Words and Music: W. L. Thompson)

 “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

Verse 1
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Verse 2
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me, you and me.
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me.

Verse 3
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, death’s night is coming,
Coming for you and for me.

Verse 4
O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me
Though we have sinned He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.

Chorus
Come home, come home, come home,
Ye who are weary come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling us,
Calling, O sinner, come home!