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End Times

A Word About The End Times

People love to speculate on the End Times. I have heard many opinions from different people. Some have fought for the truth of their convictions, while others hazard a guess at what might possibly be. Many predicted dates for the End Times that have since come and gone… and we are still waiting.

Does God have anything definitive to say about the End Times? Is there a prophetic word of encouragement for us all today?

While having my own devotional time with God recently, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to go to a certain scripture reference that I did not know by heart. In obedience, I turned to it and the following is where He led me. I believe it is God’s perspective for us about the End Times.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 NIV Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

God’s word to you for the End Times is “Live ready!” God is not going to make the date of Jesus return clear to any person. It is a mystery and it will remain a mystery. Our responsibility is not to work out when, but to live ready now.

When Jesus says “Come” are you ready to go? Here are three things the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Each point is relevant for every person that wants to be ready when Jesus triumphantly returns as King of kings and Lord of lords.

  1. Live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 is often quoted when it comes to receiving the Holy Spirit, and it is a very powerful verse. What is not often stated is the preceding verses which give the context to which Jesus spoke. Let’s take a look together.

Acts 1:6-8 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The disciples of Jesus wanted insight into the Father’s timeline of when certain things would happen. Jesus response is to be our focus today. In effect He said, “Don’t focus on trying to work out when my Father will do what He said He would do. Rather, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and through Him, be my witnesses all around the world.”

The instruction hasn’t changed. We are all called to live full of the Holy Spirit and to be witnesses of who Jesus is. The Father will do what He said He will do and He will do it in His time, but this is not to be our focus.

  1. Live with your bags packed.

When we go away to another place where we are going to stay for a while, we pack a bag. In it we take what we need for where we are going. We don’t pack things that we need in our present location. We pack what we need for our intended destination.

This life is not our final destination. Yes, God provides for our needs here on the earth, but they are physical things that we cannot take with us. They are important in this moment, but they are not the most important.

The things of the Spirit and the things of the Kingdom are most important. Doing the will of our Father now is what we are to pack into our bags for our ultimate destination. Living for the glory of God now is an item worth packing for eternity. Passionately loving God and selflessly serving people will also travel well – we should most definitely pack these!

Here’s what the Bible says:

Matthew 6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 16:24-27 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Is your focus on accumulating what you want for here and now, or is it on having what you need for all eternity?

  1. Live with your affairs in order.

We are called to live right with God. We are also called to live right with people. One of the things that empower both of these principles is our commitment to keep short accounts. 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to ‘keep no record of wrongs’. When it comes to relationships, don’t put off until tomorrow what you should do today.

Ephesians 4:26-27 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.

We have today. In fact, the only guarantee we have is right now. Therefore, the focus of the One who holds the times in His hands and who knows the beginning and the end is for us to live ready now. Jesus is coming again – of that we have no doubt. When? Well, this is what Jesus said:

Matthew 24:36 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Let God do what He said He will do, and let us do what He has called us to do. It’s time to live ready for the return of the King!

The Call of God

Don’t Postpone the Call of God

The call of God is anything God asks us to do; it’s God’s will.

There are general calls: come to the Father through Jesus, talk to God in prayer, discover God in His Word, love people like Jesus loves us, be gentle, patient and kind, be self-controlled, live life according to God’s Word etc.

Then there are specific calls: God may have asked you to go somewhere in particular, call someone to encourage them, forgive someone who has hurt you, or change careers. Father may call you to go to Bible school, lead a home group, get involved in youth ministry or children’s church, give a certain amount of money to a specific cause, stop something you have been doing for a while, or start something new.

Do you know what God has asked you to do? What is your commission? And are you postponing the call of God?

The word postpone means “to cause or arrange for something to take place at a later time than that first scheduled.” (Lexico online dictionary)

The first thing I notice is that when we postpone, there is an intention to do the thing which is asked or planned. Many people have the thought that they will do what God has said…but just not right now. There’s a thought of “I will do it…one day”. However, the longer we delay, the more likely we will disobey.

Why do we postpone what God asks us to do? Might I suggest that it’s because we don’t really trust Him. I’ve learnt that to know the Author is to trust the Author. God’s Word shows us that when God calls us, He enables us to fulfill that call. Therefore, I’ve learnt I can always trust Him!

GOD IS A GOOD GOD:

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

GOD IS A GOD OF INVITATION:

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.

GOD IS ALWAYS WORKING FOR MY GOOD:

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

The enemy tries to convince us that by postponing the call of God we are protecting ourselves from bad things. The truth is, when we delay obeying God’s will, we are keeping ourselves from God’s best. But we need to understand that obeying the call is not always easy.

God’s Will

God’s will comes at a cost – to God and to us

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.”

  • God’s will doesn’t come at a convenient time – to God and to us

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Luke 9:59-62 He said to another man, “Follow Me.” But He replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

  • God’s will in our lives will be contested

God’s will is contested through contradictions (Joseph and his God-given dream)

Genesis 45:5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

God’s will is also contested through disappointments (Job lost almost everything)

Job 1:21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

I have a conviction that we cannot lose when we do God’s will at the time He asks us to do it.

On your way to discovering God’s specific will for your life, commit to being faithful with God’s written will which is found in His Word. We have a call to be about our Father’s business: “Not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42) We also have a call to be a part of God’s family: “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9) We are adopted as sons and daughters, dearly loved children, friends of God.

The Lord speaks to us in the book of Jeremiah about His wonderful will for our lives. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(Jeremiah 29:11) God’s will is always the best place for us. God will always bring His good work in us to completion. There comes a time when we must make God’s will and His call our first and greatest priority.

One Handful or Two

One Handful or Two

God asked me one day, “What do you have in your hand?” Not literally in my hand, but what was I juggling in my life? And when I answered the question honestly, I realised that it was not just one handful that I was carrying, but actually I had both hands full. And my hands were full to overflowing. I was so busy doing things for God that I had been distracted from chasing after God himself.

I have found myself at times chasing many things. And they may have been good things – related to family, ministry, or church life. But as a bit of an over-achiever, I can easily find myself with too much on my plate. I say yes out of enthusiasm to help others, which can result in feeling worn out or depleted.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

When I was younger, my Dad used to have a bit of fun when offering us certain foods – such as a slice of cake or slice of cheese. He would ask whether we wanted a one-handed slice or a two-handed slice. Of course, if my friends were around, they would always ask for a two-handed slice – it sounded like it was going to be so much bigger and so much better! But in fact, a two-handed slice was so thin and fragile that it needed to be held with both hands. It would crumble at a moment’s notice. The one-handed slice was the one you really wanted – it was thick and stable and easily held in one hand.

When both our hands are so full of stuff in our lives, it is like that two-handed slice. Life seems like it will be so much better when we have two hands full – but in fact, too much and our lives feel thin and as if things would easily crumble. We end up chasing after the wrong things, and it takes all of our energy to ensure that things don’t fall apart. But we don’t want to drop the ball or let people down, so we keep straining to juggle our many responsibilities. As a result, our life feels unstable and uncertain.

When I chase after many things that are not in God’s plan, I lose my tranquillity. I forfeit that inner state of being calm and settled. I end up toiling and working so hard I lose my joy. And if we are honest, amidst the many good things in our lives, we can end up a slave to what seem to be good things. But too many seemingly good things are not always right if they are not in God’s plan.

Matthew 6:33-34 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Jesus teaches us not to worry about tomorrow, and to seek Him first. God’s ways are always higher than our ways. If we stick to one handful of the things in life, we have the other hand free – to hold God’s hand. To allow Him to lead and guide us. To ensure that we have the margin and space in our day to hear His voice and be led by the Holy Spirit. With one hand full, our lives are stable and secure in Him. And with just one hand full, we also have the other hand free to help others along the way as He directs.

So, allow Father to speak into what you have in your hands. Don’t get caught up in meaningless toil – live your life with one handful, not two.

Philippians 1:6 (TLB) And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.

Humility and Righteousness

Humility and Righteousness

What is the connection between our humility and our righteousness? Let’s look at the life of Jesus.

Matthew 3:13-15  Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptised by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptised by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

The Eternal Word and Son of God came to his natural cousin to be baptised. What a picture of humility!  John understandably kicked back against this because he knew that Jesus was far greater than who he was. John had received a revelation that his cousin was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. But Jesus knew that this was His Father’s will; that this needed to be done to fulfil all righteousness.

For each of us, humility declares “I am not good enough in and of myself. I need God.” For all of us, humility is an essential doorway to walk through and lifestyle to live if we are going to truly walk with God.

For Jesus, humility was a little different because He was good enough; He was sinless, and therefore, He was perfect. For Jesus, humility was putting aside His will, His desires and His rights for the sake of His Father’s will to be done. For us, this is also an essential element to humility; a submission of our will to our Father’s will. But how is humility connected to righteousness?

The word ‘righteousness’ means ‘a condition acceptable to God, the state of being as we ought to be’ (Strong’s g1343). Jesus knew that being baptised by His cousin John was His Father’s will. Therefore, submitting to His will and doing what His Father said was an expression of His righteousness.

Now let’s lean back into the fact that Jesus was baptised by His natural cousin, and combine it with the following statement by Jesus:

Mark 6:4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”

Jesus knew that people often miss God speaking and moving due to over-familiarity with the vessel through whom God is speaking and ministering. This happened continually with Jesus. And this is why it is so powerful that Jesus was baptised by His natural cousin John. Jesus saw John as His Father saw John, not just how His natural childhood experiences saw him. John also saw Jesus as He was, not just as His cousin. This shows the humility of John too.

Is there someone in your family or in your close friends that is Father’s intended vessel to speak to you and minister to you? Are you missing out on Father’s will because you see “them” as “just them”?

Humility is needed for all righteousness to be fulfilled in our lives. It was true of Jesus. It was true of John. It is true for all of us.

Woman with bible seeking God's revelation

Divine Revelation

Where do we get our interpretation of the Word of God from? Is it divine revelation, or is it our own opinions and ideas? It is important to have a correct definition of interpretation and to realign to what God authors.

“What is your interpretation of this verse?” to most people would mean “What do you think this verse means?”

But this is not what the word ‘interpretation’ means.

‘Interpretation’ from the Oxford Dictionary is defined as:

  • The action of explaining the meaning of something.
  • An explanation or way of explaining.
  • A stylistic representation of a creative work or dramatic role.

‘Interpretation’ from the Oxford Thesaurus is defined as:

  • ‘the interpretation and application of the Bible’s teaching’.
    • explanation, elucidation, expounding, exposition, explication, exegesis, clarification, definition
    • simplification

Other words we see are: ‘meaning, analysis, decoding, translation, transliteration, and paraphrase’.

Here is the bottom line truth about ‘interpretation’:

‘Interpretation’ is about ‘our explanation’, it is not about ‘out opinion’.

Let me put it this way: If it’s not accurate to the original intention, it’s not an interpretation, it’s a distortion!

2 Timothy 2:15 says, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

We have substituted ‘Handle the Word of God correctly’ with ‘Interpret the Word of God as seems best to you’. Interpretation that comes from divine revelation is accurate because the Source is God. Interpretation that does not come from divine revelation is dangerous and erroneous because the source is us. We cannot handle the Word of God correctly outside of divine revelation from our Father in heaven. Our application is aligned to our interpretation, and this is why it must be founded in divine revelation.

We do what we believe, therefore, if our belief is incorrect, our doing will be incorrect. Trying to change what we do without changing what we believe will result in ongoing frustration and disappointment. True freedom is connected to right believing, and right believing is connected to divine revelation, not natural interpretation.

John 8:31-32 states, To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I fear too many Christians are coming up with their version of truth, and it can never lead to lasting freedom. Only God’s version of the truth can result in true freedom.

We must seek the truth.

We must pursue the truth.

We must deeply desire the truth.

We must position ourselves to receive the truth.

God may say different things, to different people, from the same scripture, but He will never contradict Himself from the same scripture.

It’s time to know THE TRUTH and to get our interpretation from divine revelation.