July 11: Prophetic Application – Evangelistic Fervor

Read Acts 1:1-11

Three weeks ago, Pastor Nick and Pastor Steve challenged all of us during his Tribulation sermon saying that this knowledge is not something that you keep to yourself. There are ears that need to hear and lives that need to be changed through what you just finished studying in the last four weeks.

In Acts 1, Jesus is just about to ascend into Heaven. He challenges His disciples to wait patiently for the Holy Spirit and when He comes. They will be witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. This was not a suggestion, but a command. After the life change they all experienced over the previous 3 years of being with Jesus, He was challenging them to share the good news with others.

As a Christian, you may not be affected by the tribulation of the end timesime is running short and there are people out there that will be affected by this.  God consistently reminds us in His Word that we need to be ready and expectant for the end time events to occur. For those people that aren’t living expectantly and haven’t given Jesus control of their lives, you are tasked with being God’s witnesses to them. You may be the only piece of hope in their life; you could be the only one that ever shares the gospel with them.

People’s eternal destiny should be the thought that keeps you focused on the gospel. Imagine your co-workers, friends, and family all enduring the Tribulation. That is not something you would want your worst of enemies to experience; you have the hope that can save them from that. Be the person that explains the gospel in a way they understand.  Be the person that draws them closer to God.

If you keep your faith to yourself, it is worthless. James 1 tells us that faith without works is dead. The most evident aspects of a believer’s life are his/her actions. It is what sets us apart from all the rest. If you claim to have faith in Jesus, you should be out there sharing with everybody the hope that you have. Again, this is not something that you keep to yourself because people’s eternity is at stake. Be the voice that people need in this broken world. Be the light shining in the darkness, proclaiming the saving grace that can only be found through Jesus Christ.

jdl

July 10: Prophetic Application – Expectant Living

Read Matthew 25:1-13

Being unprepared is a huge fear for most of us. Some of us would admit to having nightmares of being in front of a group of people making a presentation and realizing that we forgot our note cards, flash drive, or something else of importance. We find ourselves in that specific nightmare because it is a subconscious fear of ours.

If there is something that you don’t want to be caught unprepared for, it’s the end times. Matthew 25 contains one of the best example of expectant living in the Bible. This parable talks about a wedding scene. There are the 10 virgins who are the bridesmaids who are waiting for the arrival of the groom. This is obviously not a portrayal of a wedding in the 21st century, but it was very similar to weddings of that time. As the virgins were waiting into the night for the groom, they fell asleep. “Behold, the bridegroom!” was the cry that woke them up. Rushing to get their things together, half of the virgins ask to borrow some oil for their lamps because they had none. The prudent virgins instead told them to go buy their own. As they were out, the 5 prepared virgins went into the wedding supper and when the 5 foolish virgins came back, they were not let in by the groom.

Key to this parable is the fact that the foolish virgins were not asking to top off their lamps with oil, they were asking for oil to fill their lamp; they had none. The significance of each aspect of this parable can be debated for hours. The bottom line is this: if you are caught off guard by the end times, it will be the worst mistake of your life. Instead of looking towards the future with uncertainty and fear, we must know what is coming and look with eagerness because we want to spend eternity with God.

In our culture today, there many people living against Jesus. They don’t care about Jesus or the Christian life at all. Don’t allow yourself to be one of them. Jesus came to earth to die for your sins and wants to be in a relationship with you! Take advantage of that opportunity, for if you do, you will escape the wrath of the end times and you can look towards the future with absolute certainty knowing that soon you will be in the presence of the God of the universe!

jdl

July 9: New Heaven and New Earth (Part 2)

Read Revelation 22:1-21

In this last chapter of Revelation, John describes two very important details of the new Heaven. Flowing from the throne of God is a crystal clear river, matching the crystal like quality of the city itself. The river then irrigates the tree of life with twelve kinds of fruit.

These two details carry great symbolism. These are two fulfillments of Old Testament prophesies; Tree of Life in Genesis 3 and the river flowing out from the New Jerusalem in Ezekiel 47 all the way to the Dead Sea. God is still showing His power over death, even in the eternal city. The street referenced in verse 2 refers to a “great street” that would run through the middle of the city. The river of life not only comes out of the actual throne of God, but it runs through the middle of the eternal city so everyone can see it. Where the bodies of the two witnesses laid would be the same area where the river would flow.

The river then flows into the tree of life, which is symbolic of the tree that was in the Garden of Eden. This was the tree that God intended for good with Adam and Eve and He uses it in eternity as a focal point in the new Heaven.

At the end of the chapter, the angel confirms that all his visions were both inspired by God and accurate. They are so serious about this that the angel tells John that if anyone adds anything to this book, the plagues of this book will be upon them. Likewise, if anyone takes words out of this book, their name will be taken out of the Lamb’s Book of Life.

It is in this state that we reign with God for the rest of eternity. Life is perfect. There are no more tears, no more pain, and, best of all, no more sin. The story of the human race has been completed and we are living in a perfect city with a perfect God in a perfect eternity. I can’t wait.

jdl

July 8: New Heaven and New Earth (Part 1)

Read Revelation 21:1-27

The story of the human race has been completed. Believers have been raised, judged, and given resurrected bodies. Satan, the great deceiver, has finally been defeated. There is no more sin and everything stands perfect.

Now what? The last two chapters of Revelation tell us what the eternal state will be like. When the Bible tells us that we will be with God for eternity (1 Thess. 4:17), it means just that; for a time longer than our minds can comprehend. We will be one WITH GOD! I can’t even imagine what this is going to be like!

Revelation 21 talks about the New Jerusalem that will be established. After all the events of the end times have taken place, the entire universe will be wiped away and the eternal state will be ushered in. The first half of the chapter describes the kind of relationship we will have with God. How we will be one with Him and He will be living among us!

John speaks in verses 10-27 about the New Jerusalem descending from Heaven onto the earth. The city is said to be made of pearls and jasper stones and the commonly known streets of gold. Because gold was the purest thing they had at the time, this is likely saying that the streets will be crystal clear, not literally gold (v. 21).

This devotional cannot fully describe the glory of the eternal state! We will be in the New Jerusalem with God living among us! The chapter tells us no sun or light will be needed because the glory of the Lord will illuminate the city!

Are you going to be celebrating in the New Jerusalem? Time is running out, so do not allow yourself to be caught off guard. Trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins! I would love nothing more than to be celebrating with you all for eternity! Will you join me?

jdl

July 7: Great White Throne Judgment

Read Revelation 20:11-15

We have constantly heard how God will one day conquer evil for good. That day is the day of the Great White Throne Judgment, and this is where it ends. From the Fall of Man, sin has plagued the human race. Death and crime have run rampant; people have preached against Christ, and Christians have been killed for their beliefs. Some claimed to be Christians, but have led people astray. But, I’ll say it again, the Great White Throne Judgment is where it ends.

After the 1,000 years of Jesus reigning with Satan bound, Satan is released on the earth to tempt the nations one last time. Satan meets his demise as fire falls from heaven and as he is thrown into the lake of fire.

The judgment is not only called “The Great White Throne Judgment” because of the color of the throne, but because of the purity and magnificence of the Judge who resides on it. In order for God to be perfect in every way, He must be the perfect judge. God cannot be perfect and allow sin to go unpunished. At this judgment, all actions and motives are taken into account.

This judgment is for all people who have rejected Jesus’ free gift of salvation. Here is where they pay for it. The Lamb’s Book of Life is opened once more, not for the names that are written in it, but for the ones that aren’t. The grave and Hades will give up all of their dead and the multitudes gather in the throne room of God…all about to hear bad news.

The burning question is “what did they do with what God gave them?” Some may say, “Well, as you can see, I did this certain thing that should give me some heavenly credit.” However, Jesus + NOTHING= Salvation; Just because you do good things in your life does not mean you enter into Heaven. If you lose everything but you get Jesus, you don’t lose anything because Jesus IS everything. He is the ONLY way, the ONLY Truth and the ONLY Life.

The unfortunate, yet holy truth is that, once the judgment has finished, everyone who was not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. Time is short, if you haven’t trusted solely in Jesus with your life, today’s the day! But not only for you.  Invite your “5” to take advantage of this offer!

jdl

July 6: Satan’s Release and Doom

Read Revelation 20:7-10

In the first part of Revelation 20, we read about the Millennium. This will be a time in which God will rule the earth with man while Satan is bound for 1,000 years; life will be as God designed it. At the end of this time, I can’t even imagine what life will be like! Just finishing your 1,000th year living WITH God and no evil. Life is truly perfect.

Then, Satan is released from the abyss only to tempt the nations yet again. Often after great times in our lives, temptation seems to make a way into our hearts or minds. When someone gives their life to Christ, they are on cloud nine. They know Jesus and they believe that the rest of their life is going to be nothing but great. But then comes the next day when Satan tempts them with their past. They then discover that giving God control of their life actually means 100% of it. Doubt can creep into our thinking. But we do not only experience this as new believers.  People can come back from missions trips feeling pumped up to serve the Lord, only to have that fire quickly extinguished.

Why would this happen? God knows that you are the most susceptible to temptation when you’re at the highest point in your life. During the last days of the Millennium, God seems to be testing the true allegiance of those in His kingdom. Are you really dedicated to Him? When life gets hard are you going to fall back to yourself or step out in faith? Sure life is good without evil, but when it’s allowed back into your world, how are you going to react?

Reading about Satan’s release could cause one to question God’s intentions. What we MUST remember is that where we are inadequate, God is adequate. Where we are flawed, God is flawless. Satan’s “glory” is quickly diminished and He is once and for all thrown into the Lake of Fire for eternity. Through all the temptation and evil in this world, we need to remember that God still has the power over evil and He always will!

jdl

July 5: The Millennium

Read Revelation 20:1-6

When I was young, mom and dad would often take us to some east coast beach for a few days. Something that you need to know about me is that I hate the beach. My not so fond memories are that I would sweat through my sunscreen, therefore get burnt, sand would constantly be between my toes and saltwater would always make its way into my mouth and eyes. Needless to say, the whole idea of being at a beach makes me cringe. My Floridian fiance doesn’t even like the beach.  We are a couple made for each other if I’ve ever seen one.

My mom, however, does not share the same sentiment as I do. When all of us were ready to leave, mom would be standing shin deep in the waves, eyes closed and smile on her face. Her perspective is not the same as mine when it comes to the beach: she sees it as a beautiful thing, and I see it as uncomfortable. The truth is that getting away from the grind of our everyday lives and being together as a family is how life should bend that is the beauty that my mother sees within the beauty of His creation.

During the Tribulation, there will be a lot of horrible things happening day after day from judgments, false teachers, the antichrist running rampant and people crying for salvation. Then, after all the panic and chaos, there will be a lull in the events. Satan is going to be bound and thrown in the abyss for 1,000 years.The abyss is a temporary dwelling place for demons and Satan, a place of confinement unto judgment that is under God’s control.

God ruling the world and no sign of Satan is how it should be. The peacefulness of that time will be amazing. This may be the closest to the Garden of Eden we will ever experience before the eternal state – just God and man.

Understanding that God waits because He is showing His power over the evil is essential. At any instant, God can conquer evil with no effort. However, God offers you a choice. Are you going to trust Him with your life or are you going to hold onto control for as long as possible? Will you turn to the respite God offers to you in Himself during the trials you are facing in life? God will prove Himself to you countless times in your life.  Are you going to make the most of it?

jdl

July 4: Sheep and Goat Judgment

Read Matthew 25:31-46

The Tribulation is going to be the worst event this world has ever known. The plagues that will be released on this world will bring horror upon every person still on earth. Some will go their entire life without trusting God with their lives; some will even doubt God exists.

As hard as it may be to imagine, there is hope for those left behind. God is a god of love and reconciliation. Despite people cursing His very existence, God still offers hope. During the tribulation described in the book of Revelation, people will have the opportunity to come to salvation, while others will become even more hardened against God. Those that come to Jesus will spend eternity in Heaven while the others will be damned to Hell.

After the Tribulation has concluded, God will gather the rest of the people to Him and judge them based upon their belief or lack thereof. Matthew 25 references this as the “Sheep-Goat judgment”. To His right will be the sheep (believers) and to His left, the goats (nonbelievers).

Jesus uses this phrase, “…I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink…etc.” To this, the “sheep” will respond,questioning when they ever provided for Jesus Himself. Jesus responds by telling them that their actions toward other people are what sets them apart. “…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” James 2:14-26 tells us that you will know someone is saved by their actions. One of the ways God knew these “sheep” were saved was because their actions proved the life change that occurred in their hearts during the Tribulation.

It still amazes me how God would allow people one last chance to come to Him. He is truly a God that desires to be with those He created (2 Peter 3:9). Imagine the stories these believers from the Tribulation will have! Sadly, there will still be people that will blow every opportunity God offers them. Allow this to inspire you to serve your “5” in faith, knowing you could save them from so much!

jdl

July 3: Satan Bound

Read Revelation 20:1-6

After such a great victory at the Battle of Armageddon, Jesus will lay hold of Satan and will bind him for 1,000 years. Once again we find that Jesus is victorious over evil. The Son of Man on that white battle horse (symbolizing both war and victory) was again too much for Satan to handle.

Throughout your study of the end times, it is very important to know that victory has already been achieved. This is a common theme throughout the Bible and it is one that we should focus on today. When Jesus rose from the grave, He conquered death; Satan has already been crushed (Gen. 3:15). In the End Times, we will see that the future has already been decided.

There is never a time in which God is out-witted or out-maneuvered by Satan. There is never a time when Satan is more powerful than God; he will never have the upper hand. Throughout the entirety of the gospels, Jesus specifically shows His power over evil.

In Matthew 8, there were demon possessed men who were pestering Jesus. The demons asked Jesus that, if He was going to cast them out, he send them into the pigs feeding nearby. They already knew that Jesus was more powerful than they were. He had control over where they would be sent. In any other circumstance, they would do it themselves, but in the presence of God they had to ask permission.

In the gospels, in the epistles, in the Old Testament and even in the End Times, Satan will never win. Consistently, God has and will display His power over evil. Allow this to encourage you whenever you feel life getting too hard for you. Maybe you are strongly tempted or you are really struggling with something; maybe you feel your life is spiraling out of control. You must have the resolute assurance that God has both the interest and the ability to deal with your problems. God knows where you are and what you’re going through; better yet, He has the ability to see you through. The very God that will throw Satan himself into the abyss and will conquer all evil once and for all is the very God that personally wants to have a relationship with you. He knows you, He loves you, and He wants nothing better than for you to succeed!

jdl

July 2: The Revelation of Jesus

Read Revelation 19:11-21

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Israel standing on the historic Mount Carmel. Just to my left was the supposed spot where Elijah rained down fire from heaven in front of the prophets of Baal; just in front of me was the mountainside down which the prophets fled and Elijah slew them. Off in the distance to my right was the very road on which Jesus healed the ten lepers.

However, straight in front of me was the Valley of Megiddo. I had heard about how big it was. Take it from me; it’s even bigger in person. This was probably the site I was most looking forward to seeing during my trip to Israel. In this valley, set in front of me, is where it all ends. Millions of troops will gather in this valley and get ready for the battle that will usher in eternity. On one side are the armies of man, the demons of Hell, along with Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet, and on the other side are Jesus, the saints of Heaven and believers.

Revelation 19:11 starts into the description of the General of Heaven: He is riding a white horse – symbolizing the fact that the one riding it will be victorious in battle. Victory is sure. The physical descriptions of Jesus are enough to give you chills. Just as He approaches the valley, you can’t help but think of the reactions of Satan and his army. James 2:19 tells us that demons already know their destiny. They will know their demise is at hand.

Through the crucifixion, Jesus has defeated Satan, and, here, that victory is demonstrated once again.  Ever since Jesus died for our sins, sin no longer has power (1 Corinthians 15:55). When Jesus rose from the grave, He secured for us eternal life through His sacrifice and resurrection.

The principle in all of these studies is consistent: God has a plan for the end times. The purpose of the end times is to display God’s power and justice and show us, as believers, that He knows what is to happen because He crafted it into place.

While the victory over the Enemy happens at the Valley of Megiddo, victory has already been secured as Jesus died and rose from the dead. Jesus said, “… the prince of this world now stands condemned” (John 16:11). You have victory, and He planned for it!

jdl