Lord, we worship you this morning for Your Grace that has been poured upon us so richly, as a nation and as individuals. Thank you for Your blessings and for the very breath that we take in every moment of every day. You are better to us then You should be, and it’s hard sometimes to look at ourselves and see what it is that You see in us. Your love is undeniable because we would not exist without it. Thank you for all you’ve done for us, but more importantly, who you are in us. “Christ in us, the hope of glory!” That says it all! Let us go forward through this wonderful season and look upon all the wonder around us. Let us not forget that it’s not about presents, but about Your presence. We love you today, and pray this all in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, Amen!
“then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (harpazo) together with them in the clouds.”
“the evil one comes and snatches away (harpazo) what has been sown in the heart.”
Harpazo in Greek means to be, “snatched away with force.” The Latin word rapture is what we apply to the first scripture. We see ourselves being snatched away by the Lord as He steps out onto the clouds. He will snatch us out of this dark world and translate us into His wonderful kingdom of light. All the signs of Matthew 24 and Luke 21 are in place so we, as Christians, are spending a lot of time these days looking towards the clouds. We don’t know the time He will step out and call us home, but based on the signs around us in the world, we are definitely in the last season. But the point I want to make today does not have to do with that, but something far more important to us who serve the Lord today. You see there is another snatching away by force that’s happening right now in the kingdom of God. It is our age old nemesis, the devil.
In the second scripture, which comes from the parable of the Sower, he is snatching the Word of God away with force from every human being that he can. That’s right! While we’re just bidding our time waiting for the Lord and cloud watching, we are allowing him to continually steal the Word from us. The Word of God is just as important today as it was when Jesus was speaking it Himself. There is nothing that we can do for the Lord or that He can do for us that doesn’t come directly from the Word of God. The Word is the power of God in this world. So we must get busy and keep watching, but watch that the enemy doesn’t get the Word away from you. We must be studying and praying at all times. We must meditate on the Word, for this will make us prosperous and successful! There is nothing we can do without the Word. Dr. Fuschia Pickett, who was one of my seminary professors, said it this way, ” It doesn’t matter how good the praise and worship is. It doesn’t matter how much the gifts are being stirred up within the body. If the Word of God is not given, there is no power available to change anybody or anything.” The devil knows this so he will continue to snatch the word away every opportunity he has. So what do we do with the Word?
Every time we get a word from someone, hear a sermon, read a scripture, or however we might receive the Word, no matter what form of medium we receive it, we must meditate on it, study it and pray on it until it moves into the fertile soil of our hearts. This is where it will bring forth the fruit that the world needs today. I’m sorry but I can’t stand people using their cell phones in church. I’ve been told that it’s easier. Oh I believe it is easier, easier for the devil to steal the Word. No my friends. We need to be coming to church with Bible, a pad and paper. We must be writing everything down so that we don’t forget it. We must be taking it home and studying it and meditating on it. We must be praying over it until it becomes real to us. This is the only way the enemy will not be able to snatch it away. It’s not a time to be lazy. Some of you don’t believe me. Well let me ask you a simple question. What did your Pastor preach on last week? What about the week before? What where the main scriptures that he/she gave you? There you go! A very large % of you couldn’t say off the top of your heads so you had to check your notes, oh, wait a minute, you didn’t take any notes. Guess what, the enemy just snatched the Word.
So, in conclusion, there is nothing wrong with watching the clouds for Jesus to step out, as long as we understand that until He does, we each have work to do. And the only way to get it done is through the Word of God. So let’s not let the devil steal from us any more. The world needs what we have more than ever. The world needs Jesus. Is His Word living and active in you? Better yet, is He, the Word, alive in you? Good question. So what are you going to do?
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
We must understand that as humans beings, we are all shut up under sin. We all live in a sinful body that has a sinful nature. Even if you’re a Christian, you still have to deal with your flesh every single day of your life. This is not joke, this is simply the truth. So we all sin and fall short of the Glory of God. And the wages of sin is death. This is why our physical bodies have to die, because that’s where sin dwells! God had to send Jesus to take care of this problem. If He in fact had not taken care of it then we are all living a lie and our faith is worthless. But thank God He did! He defeated sin by giving His body to die with all of our sin laid on it. There is no longer a need for constant sacrifices because He has paid the ultimate price and has become the one time, perfect sacrifice. Therefore, His body raised back up! Did you catch that? Listen carefully! If Christ’s sacrifice would not have met all the requirements of the Father, if His sacrifice would not have been worthy enough our sin would still be with us. But more importantly, He would not have raised up because He, in fact, walked this world with a physical body. That’s right! If His sacrifice would not have been good enough He would not have been raised up. But He Was! That is why we can be assured that we will be raised up with Him, because He was raised first, or, He was the first fruit of the resurrection. Therefore we can have the faith to know that we will raise up, not because of anything that we could do but by what He did. He was the perfect sacrifice to put away sin so that we could receive a new, sinless body. And if it’s sinless then death no longer dwells in it. It will live forever. That’s good news to me, how about you?
In Matthew 24 and Luke 21, Jesus is asked by His disciples, “when shall these things be? And what shall be the signs of Your coming, and of the end of the world?” He proceeded to look across eternity and tell them what the signs would be, or, He answered their question. The signs would be false prophets and teachers, wars and rumors of wars, false Messiahs, pestilence, earthquakes, famine. He said that some would be handed over and that some would even die. He said other things, I suggest you read these two chapters, but most of all He said not to fear. When these things happen we should lift up our heads and look up, for our redemption is drawing nigh.
So we must understand that Jesus wasn’t trying to scare us with all the details, but He was simply trying to answer the question for His disciples. He said to not worry about these things or even dwell on them. He was simply telling them what would be going on, and what the signs would be on the earth at that time. So what is your point Rusty? Well, my point is simple! These signs are definitely all around us today. You can watch the evening news and see them all laid out before your eyes. But, remember, it’s not about the signs at all, it’s about Jesus. We are to have faith and watch for Him. We are to keep our lamps trimmed and full of oil. We are not to fear these things, but embrace them. We are to focus on Jesus (up) and not the signs around us (down). We are to see the signs and go tell everyone we can that, ” Jesus is near. It’s time to get your hearts right with the Lord. It’s time to receive Him as your Savior now.” While we’re doing that, we are to rejoice in the fact that He’s coming back soon! He is standing at the door waiting for the Father to say, “It’s time. Go bring them home.” Any day now He will step out on the clouds and we will see Him. According to Acts 1 we will see Him come back just as they saw Him leave that day. “a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Soon and very soon we will look up and see a cloud bring Him into our sight as He calls us home. Are you focused on the things of the world? Are you afraid? Keep your Faith and look up. You never know. You could see Him today! So don’t be afraid of anything and don’t be down cast. Don’t be afraid, which is the opposite of faith, but stand strong in faith. He will not leave us or forsake us, He’s coming for us!! I’m ready for it. How about you? Hallelujah!
“Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
All through the book of Galatians, Paul tells us about a battle that defines our daily battle better than anything else I could say. “In one corner, wearing the fiery breath of the God of creation, with a record of always doing good, being true and never failing, stands our human spirit. In the other corner, wearing the sinful flesh of humanity, with a record of always doing bad, having a dark nature and all that is basically against the truth, is our human flesh!” These are the main players in our daily walk.
“Our first contestant, your spirit, hails from the realms of Heaven. He was given a new spirit, a heart of flesh, and has had the Law of God written within him. His trainer is the one and only Holy Spirit. His strategy is to always follow the Word of God.
“Our second contestant, your flesh, comes form the earth. He was cursed and given a sin nature, which contains all the lusts and temptations of the world. His trainer is Satan, who’s strategy is to disobey the Word of God.
We come to you today from your mind’s arena, right in the middle of your soul. This contest is a lifetime battle and will never cease as long as we breathe breath on this earth. The opponent that will win is the one who’s in the better shape. You know, the one who has exercised more and eaten properly. But more importantly, the one who is stronger and is able to carry out his trainers strategy. This one will always win within us. The one who trains properly and understands how his enemy works will always come out on top. This is the battle you face every second of every hour of your life. So, have you prepared for today’s bout. Oh, I’m sorry, you don’t get days off if you want to walk in victory. You must train and prepare for the battle that is about to unfold. You might say, “When?” The answer is simple, “as soon as you get done reading this!” So are you ready? Will you win the fight today? Will you win by decision or by knockout? Who’s strategy are you going to follow today? I pray that you’re ready for what is right around the corner. There’s the bell!
Romans 7:18+19: For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. 7:24: wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Have you ever struggled with something in your life that you know is not right, but you just can’t seem to break free from it? Have you ever been torn between your love for the Lord deep within and your strong desires on the outside? If you have then I have great news for you. The Apostle Paul, perhaps the greatest of all the Apostles, had the same struggles going on in his life. I don’t know about you but I’m comforted knowing that Paul had struggles just like I have. Paul loved the Lord more than he loved life. He gave up everything for the Lord, that’s how deep his love was for Jesus. But he still struggled with things of the flesh. I am aware of the same struggles in my life. You see, the truth is, that we all struggle with something in our lives. Some things are visible to others and some are not. Some struggles are internal and some are external. My wife and I minister to all kinds of people with all kinds of struggles at our “Recovery Center” called the “Jesus Inn”. Everyone has problems they deal with every day of their life. We will never get rid of these while we live on this earth. It’s true that we get rid of a lot of them over the years, but we all are imperfect living in an imperfect world.
Someone once said to me about one of my clients,”Well if they really loved the Lord they would stop doing that!” Wow! That’s so easy to say. But for those of us that have ever been addicted to anything, the answer to us is obvious, “You don’t have a clue what addiction does to people and how hard it is to stop doing something.” It’s easy to judge the ones whose addiction we can see, but what about the the hidden struggles inside of us that no one else can see. I would venture to say that ever one will struggle with something their whole life, told or untold, seen or not seen.
So what is the answer to life’s struggles? Simply, His name is Jesus. He loves us! He will always love us! He’s not unaware of our struggles, but it was for this very reason that He came to us. He knows our heart and that’s what He’s really concerned with. Sometimes we have a hard time in this world showing Him how much we love Him, but He knows the whole truth.
King David was caught up in being a peeping tom, an adulterer and a murderer, and these were just some of the things in his life, but God knew David’s heart. God Himself said that David was, “a man after His own heart.”
I really get scared when someone is not struggling with anything because I doubt their salvation. You see most of my struggles really began when I started to love the Lord. That’s when the real battle begins. The battle between good and evil. It rages inside of us causing us to have some victories and some defeats. We always try to do good but don’t always succeed. Jesus loves the fact that we want to do right. Besides, all the wrongs in our lives have already been paid for at Calvary. So if you’re struggling today take courage and just don’t give up. No matter what, keep fighting. God will never let us down. He always fights with us, and when we fail, He picks us back up. So get back up and keep trying. The effort you make to break free, in the end, is in its self the victory!
“Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in the body.”
A lot of new converts, come to me and say, “What do I do now?” Some of us have been with the Lord for many years and the same question comes to us at different points in our lives, “What do we do now?” It’s a simple question with a simple answer, although most do not like the answer. The answer to all of us, no matter what stage of Christianity we’re at, is simply, “We must die!” That, my brothers and sisters, is the whole point of walking in grace. Grace doesn’t give us the right to keep on sinning. Grace gives us the right to die. If we want the resurrected life of Jesus to live within us we must do what He did. He is our example. He said, “I don’t do anything unless I see the Father doing it!” Well, we should not do anything unless we see Jesus doing it. We are to imitate Jesus. We are to do what He did. Therefore we must pick up our cross daily and carry it to Golgotha. We must crucify our flesh so that we may live. His life was a life of constant death so others could live. Friends, I’m truly worried about the body of Christ in this hour. We are so intent on building our churches and having the best of everything. We want nicer homes and better cars. We want better jobs and more pay. We want the things the world wants, but we are unwilling to lay down our life for Jesus. You don’t have to take my world for it, just go to a church prayer meeting and see how many are there, that’s if your church even has a prayer meeting. Look at the number of people in churches that have been there for years and still have the same old habits. We don’t want to lay down anything, we just want to be able to worship the Lord and listen to our favorite preacher. We want to feel good, you know, “Don’t worry, be happy!” We need to understand that Jesus killed our flesh spiritually on the cross, but it’s our job to kill it in the physical realm. It’s our job to crucify our flesh. This is the way the world will see Jesus. As we put our life to death, and we can because God’s grace is always sufficient, His glory is seen through us. There is no longer a veil that separates the Lord’s glory from the world. Moses was told that He couldn’t see God’s glory and live. That is truth! If we want to see His glory, we must die. Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket, but crucify the veil of flesh that’s keeping the world from seeing Jesus in you. If we want the world to be saved, we must lay our lives down and pick up our cross. That’s how you become alive in Christ! Have you shed your blood lately to the point of death? It’s time. The world needs to see Jesus and it’s up to us in this hour. So, the question is, “Are you hungry enough to do what it takes?” I will leave you with that so I can pray and contemplate my own life. God’s Blessings!