I’ll Be Back 

Revelation 22:20-21
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘ Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

If you are anything like me, you have echoed the cry of John, from time to time in your walk with God. It seems whenever things become difficult, confusing or frightening, my heart cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus.” I realize, the only reason for His delay is His desire to see others come to faith in Christ. Peter wrote,

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

There is a day coming, in the not so distant future, when all the promises of Scripture will be fulfilled, and Christ will return for His church and set up His kingdom. As John sat incarcerated on the island of Patmos, his heart longed for the return of his Savior and Lord.

That being said, it has often struck me, that the final promise of Scripture takes us from the promises of the future, to those of the present. After declaring Christ will return for His church, John reminds us that we are living in a present state of grace.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Grace can be defined as the giving nature of God. It i s expressed in His desire to save the lost, and to pour out lavish gifts upon His children. As we await the return of Christ, we live in the age of grace. The closer we get to the time of Christ’s return, the more difficult things will become on earth. As men harden their hearts to God, sin will increase and righteousness will become more and more scarce. It is vital to remember, although God will judge sin, it is His desire to save. The darker the background, the more brightly the message of the Gospel shines. Instead of becoming discrouraged by the present condition of things, let’s remember that it is in the heart of God to save. Let’s be busy praying for, and witnessing to, our friends and loved ones, until the day Christ calls us home.

Until He comes,

Pastor Jim

 

History And Prophecy 

Daniel 8:1
“In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me—to me, Daniel—after the one that appeared to me the first time.”

Daniel is one of the most interesting books in scripture, it is filled with both history and prophecy. It records the encounters of Daniel in the palace of the king, and gives a prophetic picture of things to come. Chapter 7 focuses on two kingdoms that will arise after the fall of Babylon. The first was Persia, which is illustrated by a ram that no one could stop. The second was Greece, portrayed by a male goat with a notable horn. This goat moved with uncanny speed across the surface of the earth, until its horn was broken and four horns grew in its place. Daniel then focuses his attention upon one of the four horns, and watches as it turns against the people of God and His sanctuary.

History records that the combined forces of the Medes and Persian overthrew the Babylonian Empire, and ruled for more than two hundred years. During that time they attempted to spread their empire into Europe by conquering Greece. Although they were unsuccessful, they killed many Greek soldiers which created a hatred in the Greeks for Persia. It was only a matter of time until someone would arise, organize the Greek forces, and come against the Persian Empire. That person was Alexander the Great, who with a small army overthrew the Persian Empire in only a few years. Alexander spread Greek culture and religion from Europe to India, and from Persia to North Africa. Daniel’s picture of a goat moving with tremendous speed is certainly fitting.

At the height of his power, Alexander grew ill and died. Instead of appointing a successor to his newly formed empire, he simply left it to the strongest. His four generals all considered themselves be the strongest, and the empire was divided into four parts. Two of these play an important role as it relates to Israel, for they would constantly vie with one another for power and territory. In the second century BC, the territory of Syria, controlled by one of the successors of Daniel’s generals, came against Israel in an attempt to destroy the people of God and their religion. This man, known historically as Antiochus Epiphanies, made it his aim to wipe out the Jewish people and their religion. It was through the exploits of Judas Maccabaeus, and the intervention of Rome, that he was stopped in his tracks.

If we overlay the book of Daniel atop the events of history, we must conclude, the book is nothing short of the Word of God because of the detailed accuracy in which it foretold the future. Much of Daniel, however, still remains unfulfilled. He describes a time when Christ will return to set up His kingdom, which will have no end. We can be sure this event will unfold with the same accuracy. Are you ready?

Pastor Jim

 

Are You Ready? 

Daniel 7:1
“In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.”

In Chapters 7 & 8, Daniel sees two visions that reveal the future. The events recorded will explain the rise and fall of earthly kingdoms, and will take him all the way to the time when Christ returns to defeat the enemy, and set up His kingdom. Among other things, it strikes me that these events were recorded during the reign of king Belshazzar, who reigned when the nation was defeated. God not only wrote out the script for the future of mankind, but He also warned the king of what was ahead. Belshazzar could have been prepared for what was coming by simply reading the pages of Daniel 7 & 8.

Prophecy is designed not only to reveal the future, but also to prepare us for what is coming. The Bible declares that Jesus will one day return like a thief in the night, but we do not need to be caught unaware (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4). We can be prepared for what the future brings by being familiar with the pages of Scripture.

This principle is true as it relates to prophecy, but also as it relates to life. When trials come upon us, we usually find ourselves completely incapable of facing them. While the Bible might not reveal what specific difficulty is on your horizon, it will prepare you to face whatever challenges may arise.

Spending time with Christ daily, in the pages of Scripture, will build you up spiritually and get you ready for whatever life might throw at you. Too often, we neglect the Word of God until we find ourselves face to face with difficulties too big to handle. Don’t end up like Belshazzar who ignored the Word of God until it was too late.

Pastor Jim

 

New And Improved 

Revelation 21:1
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.”

Revelation 21 begins the final section of the book. Pastor, preacher, theologian, and early radio pioneer Donald Barnhouse put it like this, “In this chapter we see that the history of time is finished; the history of eternity is about to begin.” Just as Jesus promised, the heavens and earth have passed away, and in its place a new heaven and earth have been created. The word ‘new’ carries the idea of what we might call “new and improved.” Just as our heavenly bodies will be superior to our earthly ones, so will the new heaven and earth be far beyond anything we ever experienced here. John goes on to describe just a little of what we have to look forward to.

Heaven is a place where we will experience fellowship with God. No more will we look at God through the stained glass of human experience. Today our understanding of who God is, and how He feels about us, is often confused by the difficulties we face. Some, because of difficulties in their past, have a hard time relating to God as father. Others, because of pain, struggle to understand His love. The day is coming, when we will dwell with Him and see Him as He really is. This is the essence of God’s desire and man’s purpose. God desires to live in close fellowship with man, and man’s purpose is to be the people of God.

Heaven is a perfect community. All sin, and everything that defiles, is removed from heaven, and we will live in perfect harmony with one another. The idea of heaven being a lonely, isolated, and boring place, where we go through eternity as ghoulish figures without purpose, is totally foreign to the Bible. Heaven will be a place of community. We will sit together with the heroes of old, our saved friends, and our loved ones, and forever be in the presence of the Lord. Heaven will include feasting and celebrating, with those from every nation, tribe and tongue, as we experience glories that this life could never reveal.

John is reminded that entrance to heaven is solely for those whose names are in the Book of Life. The only way to ensure that your name is there, is by placing your trust in Christ for salvation. If you have never done so, pray right now, “Jesus I ask you to come into my life and forgive me of my sin. I want you to be my Savior and Lord.”

If you have prayed this prayer contact us at ccvb.net

Pastor Jim

 

Exonerated 

Daniel 6:5
“Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.’”

Daniel is one of the greatest heroes in all of Scripture. His personal commitment and public ministry impacted the lives of his companions, co-workers, and even kings. We know he had opportunity to witness to the most powerful and influential men in the world, and it seems some of them were converted. One of the reasons for his success in ministry was his faithfulness. Daniel set himself apart to the Lord and sought to live a godly life. His commitment to the Lord affected every area of his life. Privately, we know he was a man of prayer and the Word. Publicly, we know he was a man of commitment, faithfulness and conviction. When his accusers sought to find some charge to bring against him, they realized that the only way they could find fault was if his religious convictions forbid him to obey an earthly law.

We should seek to follow the example Daniel set. The secret to being found above reproach, when examined by others, is to first carefully examine yourself in light of the Word of God. If we will daily let the light of the Word shine into the dark places of our lives, and make the appropriate changes, we will find ourselves absolved of all charges when examined by others.

Take a few moments to allow God to examine you. If you find you are practicing something He forbids, or holding on to something you need to let go of, then respond appropriately. Lay those things at the cross, where you can be forgiven and they can be removed.

Pastor Jim

Sky Writing

Daniel 5:27
“You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting”

Have you ever wished God would write a message specifically for you? Perhaps hoping His finger would suddenly appear writing upon the clouds. Belshazzar had that experience. On the night before his death, the silence of heaven was broken when a warning was written on the walls of his palace. Sadly, Belshazzar ignored the warnings, did nothing in response to the message, and died that night not prepared to face eternity.

While I do not expect God will write upon the walls of my home, I have found heaven is not as silent as we think. The Bible is filled with page after page of messages for mankind. Like Belshazzar, the question is not whether heaven speaks, but whether we are willing to listen.

If you want to measure up when weighed in eternity’s balance, then you must look into the Word of God and live accordingly. The first step is to have our sins forgiven. This happens when we receive Christ and the pardon He offers through the cross. Second, we must decide to follow Him by looking into the Bible and doing what it says.  Similarly, when a road map says turn and we turn, so when Scripture says change we change.

Let’s not find ourselves in Belshazzar’s shoes, face to face with eternity and unprepared to go.

Pastor Jim

 

End Of The Road 

Revelation 20:12
“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

Have you ever heard someone say, “All roads lead to God”?  While it is not true, according to Jesus Himself, that all roads lead to heaven, it is true, all roads lead to God. Whatever road you choose to travel in this life, it ultimately ends at the throne of God. John explains that he saw every person who had ever lived, the good, the bad, and the ugly, all standing before the throne of God and awaiting judgment for sin. There is no road you can travel that will not ultimately lead to the throne of God. Even those who stubbornly resist the Spirit of God and refuse to accept Him, will stand before this throne, along with those who refuse to believe He even exists. There is no way of escaping the throne, but there is a way of avoiding judgment.

John records that a book was opened which contained a list of all the sins that each person had ever committed. One sin is enough to condemn, and every sin is recorded. However, there is a second book; the Book of Life, which contains the names of all who have received Christ and His forgiveness of sin. Those whose names are in the Book of Life have had all the charges against them erased. Paul put it like this,

Colossians 2:14 “. . . having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

The most important decision you will ever make is the one regarding Jesus. If you choose to accept Him as Savior and Lord, your sins will be forgiven and you will be excluded from judgment. If you choose to reject Him, for whatever reason, you are left in your sin. One day you will stand before the throne of God and the book of deeds will be opened, read, and you will be sentenced. It seems like a pretty straightforward decision. Joshua put it like this;

Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Pastor Jim