Friday, November 28, 2014

The Reunion of the Church

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these word.

Insights: The word “meet” in these verses carries the idea of meeting a person of royalty.  It is not by accident that Paul used this particular word.  When Jesus came the first time He came as a lamb led to slaughter.  He was the sacrifice required by God to pay for my sin and yours.  When He comes again, however, He comes as the Lion of Judah, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  He will reign forever and His kingdom shall have no end.  He will appear in all His glory and He will radiate with His majesty.  He is the most royal of royalty and none can compare next to Him.  The beautiful thing is that all of us who have faith, been born again, will be reunited together with each other and with Christ Jesus, this glorious King I have just mentioned.  We will see Jesus in all His glory and it will last forever.  That day will be a glorious day indeed.  If you have never received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you will not be one reunited with Him and the church.  If you have, however, then praise the Lord, you are going home one day.  I pray you are just as excited about this family reunion as I am.  I can hardly wait to see all of my family.

1.  Are you looking forward to your heavenly reunion?
2.  Are you prepared for this wonderful day because you know that Jesus lives inside of you as Lord and Savior?

Prayer: Father, I can almost not contain myself with the desire for eternity.  I want to go home so terribly that at times it hurts, but as long as You tarry and as long as I have breath, let me serve You faithfully so that Your name may be brought glory and praise.  Amen.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Rapture of the Living

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:17
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Insights: The word rapture is not used in the Bible, but the meaning of the Greek word rapto is to seize, to carry off.  It means the same as the word Paul used to describe those being “caught up”. First Corinthians chapter fifteen and verse fifty-two states this moment of being caught up will happen in the twinkling of an eye.  Since the shout, the voice, and the trumpet apply to God’s people, there is no reason to believe that the unsaved masses will hear them and if they do, they will hear sounds without meaning. Millions of people will vanish instantly, and no doubt there will be chaos and great concern.  This verse, however, gives great comfort to those of us who are born again.  We know that we will hear Jesus’ call and we know that we will be caught up into the sky with Him.  We will instantaneously be transformed into glory.  On a side note, today is Thanksgiving.  May this Thoughts by Scott have brought to your heart a spirit of thanksgiving at the promise of Jesus’ imminent return.  It will be a great day of rejoicing and we will truly be grateful; therefore, let us walk this day with this thankfulness on our hearts because of all of God’s amazing blessings.

1.  Do you understand that if you are alive when Jesus returns that the only way you will meet Him in the sky is if you have received Him as your Lord and Savior?
2.  You will know that Jesus is in your heart by the peace and joy you experience on a daily bases as His child who is abiding in Him?

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful that Your Son is going to return and take those that are His into the air.  It is a wonderful promise that You have given to me.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Resurrection of the Dead

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Insights: The doctrine of a bodily resurrection was foolishness to Greek philosophers because they could not understand how a decaying body could be resurrected.  Nor could they understand why one would want a body to be resurrected because they thought the body represented all of their sin and evil. What these philosophers did not grasp was the illustration Paul used in first Corinthians chapter fifteen where he described the resurrection to that of a seed and a plant.  The seed produces a new plant and the new plant is not the old plant, but does bear some resemblance. We will receive a glorified body just like the glorified body of Jesus. This resurrection assures us that death is not the end.  The grave is not the end.  The body goes to sleep, but the soul goes to be with the Lord.  When the Lord returns, He will bring the soul with Him, will raise the body in glory, and will unite body and soul into one being to share His glory forever.  This new body will never decay.  This new body will never get sick.  This new body will do the same things Jesus’ resurrected body does.  As we know from Scripture, His body could go through solid walls (how this was accomplished I don’t know, but He appeared in the upper room even though the doors were locked [John 20:26]).  Again, we know from Scripture, His body ascended into the sky (Acts 1:9).  The point I am trying to make is the Lord redeems His creation that belongs to Him.  If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you are promised this new body.  So, all of the saints who have died before Jesus’ second coming will have a bodily resurrection and then those still living will ascend to meet our Lord in the air.  This day to come will be a glorious day.

1.  Are you grateful for the saints that have gone on before us being raised to a glorious new body?
2.  Does your new body get you excited about your future in glory with our Lord?

Prayer: Father, I truly am grateful for the body with which I will spend eternity.  I am so glad You truly redeem, for those in Christ Jesus, all aspects of this sinful world.  I look forward with great anticipation my eternity with You.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Return of Christ Jesus

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

Insights: Notice what the passage states about Jesus - He DIED. Notice what the passage states about us in Christ - We SLEEP. The emphasis here is that Jesus died so that we don’t have to fear death.  Death does not apply to us who are born again in Jesus. Notice with me that Paul did not say that the soul went to sleep at death.  We know from other passages of Scripture, like second Corinthians chapter five and verse eight that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  It is for this reason we know that the soul of the individual who dies on this side of eternity will be with the Lord at the moment of their death. In other words, it is not the soul that went to sleep when they “died” here on earth, but rather their body is what went to sleep.  Let me overemphasis this, the soul went to be with the Lord.  There is a second thing about Jesus return I want you to notice.  Paul used the word we, in reference to those who would still be alive at the Lord’s return. The point is Paul thought he would be alive when Jesus returned.  The fact that Paul thought Jesus would return in his lifetime helps substantiate the doctrine of Jesus imminent return. Imminent means about to happen.  In other words, Jesus’ return is about to happen at any moment.  He can return at any minute. The point of these verses is this:  Jesus is returning!  Because we know that Jesus is going to return, we must be ready to meet Him.  The only way to be ready is to have a relationship with Him.  The only way to have a relationship with Him is to have received Him as your Lord and Savior.  The moment you receive this grace gift, He promises to come and live within you and you are from then on known as having been born again.  You are new creature in Christ Jesus and He is returning to take His own back home with Him.  I pray you are ready for that day!

1.  Do you understand the distinction between “soul sleep” and “bodily sleep”?
2.  Do you understand that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord?

Prayer: Father, I am so grateful I get to be with You the moment I die in this mortal realm.  I am also grateful Your Son, Jesus has promised to return to and usher in the eternal life with all of its radiant glory.  Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Revelation of God's Word

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 15a
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope…. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord,

Insights: The church of Thessalonica was very concerned and confused about what happened to their brothers and sisters in the faith that had passed away.  Paul wrote the verses which we will examine this week to help comfort these confused baby Christians about what happens to a person after they die.  The first thing I want you to understand this week is that God’s Word is the authority by which we live our lives.  Notice in verse thirteen Paul tells them not to grieve as those who do not have hope, and when you get to verse fifteen, Paul tells them why they don’t have to grieve as one without hope.  The answer is because God has given them a word regarding this subject matter.  His word is a promise and can always be counted on as being good.  We have God’s words given to us in the Bible.  Those words are inspired, infallible and without error or contradiction.  We as His children need to learn how to live life based on the authority of the Bible and not based on our experiences or the advice of others.  Let me give you a Scott’s paraphrase of a statement Dr. Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was quoted as saying in an article recently published.  He said, “I don’t base my theology on polls.  I base my theology on what the Bible says.”  Dr. Mohler’s point is that public opinion does not shape his theology.  Just because the masses may think something is okay or acceptable, if it is in contradiction to the Bible, then it is not okay or acceptable.  It may be hard to live life under these kinds of perimeters and one may experience great pressures to fall sway to the public opinion of the day, but God’s Word is the standard by which Christ-followers live their lives, period.  It is for this reason these individuals from Thessalonica could take comfort in Paul’s words because they were inspired by God and were really God’s words to them.  As we progress through this passage this week we will discover God’s promises to us which are very comforting.  Beloved, run to God’s Word and drink from His rich truths and by guided by His wisdom.  

1.  What is your authority by which you make life beliefs?
2.  Are you aware the only true authority we have here on earth is the Word of God, the Bible?

Prayer: Father, thank You for giving me Your Word, the Bible.  Thank You that no matter what the world says, I can always trust and rely on Your Scriptures to give me guiding advice as I travel through this world.  Amen.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Supernatural Conversion

Scripture: Acts 9:17-19a
So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened.

Insights: Today we conclude this passage of Scripture surrounding the conversion of Saul.  The final step is the step required of everyone to enter into heaven.  That step is the receiving of salvation and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Lord coming to dwell within His own is what conversion is all about.  The only One that can bring this gift of life into a human being is the Lord, and because He is the only One that can do this work, then it is supernatural in nature.  The key evidence of life change is the filling of the Holy Spirit.  It is at this point in the history that Saul, who becomes Paul, really is born again.  Notice that the first thing Saul did was to become baptized.  Baptism is the first step of obedience and demonstration of evidence of a life truly surrendered to the lordship of Jesus.  Beloved, on this day in history the heavenly hosts rejoiced over this conversion.  Today, for every soul that comes into a saving relationship with Jesus, the hosts of heaven are still rejoicing.  Let us be diligent to go out into this dark world and share the love of Jesus with all the Lord prompts our hearts to share.  May our lives reflect His glory!

1.  Have you received the gift of eternal life found in Jesus Christ and become born again?
2.  Do you understand the only way to heaven is through Jesus?

Prayer: Father, all week has been a celebration for Your wonderful gift of salvation.  Everyone that enters into heaven must first experience supernatural conversion because You did all the work.  Let me never forget what You did for me and may I spend all of my eternity worshipping You for Your grace.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Surprising Response

Scripture: Acts 9:10-16
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Insights: At this point in the text the historical emphasis changes to another character in the story.  Ananias is a believer and he has heard of Saul’s murderous intentions; and yet, the Lord has just told him to go and visit this man.  I have titled this Thought by Scott as A Surprising Response and have done so because I think if Jesus came to a Christian today and given this command, most of us would have not complied with the commission.  We would have made the same excuses Ananias made, but at the end of the day we would have chosen rebellion instead of obedience as he did.  We would have said the cost was too great and the task to challenging.  I believe the reason for this cowardly response, by the way, of which I am all too often guilty, is because we have left our first love, Jesus Christ.  We no longer understand the cost of discipleship, to quote the title of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic work on what it means to be a Christ-follower.  Beloved, let me again challenge you to not let your moments of obedience be surprising to a watching world, but rather let your actions be stalwartly pointing to the hope of your salvation, Jesus Christ.  May your actions of obedience bring our Lord glory, honor and praise.

1.  Is God surprised when you choose to obey Him?
2.  Or, is it your natural response and it brings a smile to His face?

Prayer: Father, I know that Your love for me is not dependent upon my actions or my obedience.  Your love is unconditional, but just like with an earthly father, it blesses Your heart when Your children live in a way that honors You and that is displayed through obedience.  Help me, O Lord, to live a life like this for You.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Simplistic Obedience

Scripture: Acts 9:6-9
but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Insights: After we have an encounter with the Savior there is always a command to be followed.  As with the encounter this command can look differently for each individual.  For example, the rich young ruler was told to go and sell all he had and give it to the poor and then to come and follow Jesus.  Zacchaeus was told to climb down from a tree.  Saul was told to go into Damascus where he would be told what he must do later.  The point is a command is given and what Lord requires is obedience.  Beloved, tomorrow I will discuss this a little bit more fully, but I think the primary problem of the church is a heart issue.  Because we have left our first love, we do not hear Him clearly, and as a result, we do not follow Him with simplistic obedience.  Let me encourage you and help you understand that the Lord Jesus still is calling people, and that includes you, to a loving relationship with Him.  He is still giving people a chance to express their love to Him though obedience.  He is still merciful and willing to take back His wayward children.  He is still on His throne and is still the God of redemption and restoration.  The question of what will you do with Jesus is still being spoken to this day.  How you answer that question determines if you are walking in simplistic obedience or selfish rebellion.  It is my prayer that we all, myself included, will choose obedience to this loving Savior.

1.  Are you obeying the Lord’s commands?
2.  If not, what is standing in your way from walking in obedience to our holy Lord?

Prayer: Father, forgive me I pray for my rebellion against Your commands.  So often I choose to live life under my authority and power and not by Your Spirit’s guiding presence.  Transform me quickly through Your gracious plan of sanctification.  Amen.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Sudden Encounter

Scripture: Acts 9:3-5
As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,

Insights: To understand today’s verses we need to understand the background a little.  The early church had some up and down moments after Pentecost.  Deacon’s, for example, were established because of some widows not being ministered to effectively.  Shortly, after these deacons were commissioned they began preaching as well.  Stephen began to preach so powerfully that the religious rulers decided they needed to put an end to his spreading of the gospel.  Saul, a religious leader, was present the day Stephan was stoned to death.  In fact, he held the robes of those who did the stoning, and in so performing this act, he gave his blessing to Stephan’s death.  Saul became emboldened to put the rest of these Christians to death; and therefore, procured papers granting him the authority to take Christians from Damascus back to Jerusalem for trial.  The verses we read to day explain what happened to Saul on this journey.  He had a sudden encounter with Jesus.  Every single person who has ever come to faith in the Lord has had a sudden encounter of this kind as well.  Ours may not have been exactly like Saul’s, but we had an encounter still the same.  We were living life as usual.  We were doing our own thing, when suddenly, Jesus came on the scene and began His work of drawing us into a relationship with Him.  It is because Jesus loved us so much that He revealed Himself to us and drew on our hearts to enter into this relationship with Him.  I am so grateful Jesus did this work for me.  Beloved, I pray you are just as excited and satisfied in Jesus because of His sudden revelation in your life.  I pray you are compelled by His great love to go and share with others about the good news of the gospel, which is found in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.  May your words be filled with power by the Holy Spirit and may it be used as the catalyst by which Jesus makes Himself known to others in sudden and miraculous ways.  To His great name be praise!

1.  Have you experienced an sudden encounter from the Lord?
2.  Do you recall the specifics of your moment with Him?

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your sudden encounter in my life.  You brought me to Your Son in miraculous ways as You revealed to me my need for a Savior.  Thank You for loving me enough to reveal Yourself to me.  Amen.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jesus Bore Our Punishment

Scripture: Matthew 27:46
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Insights: The last thing I wish to point out this week is how Jesus bore our punishment.  The concept of what actually sends a person to the Lake of Fire can be at times difficult for some to grasp.  I also understand that throughout church history there have been varying interpretations as to what actually sends a person to the Lake of Fire, which is the second death, or eternal separation from the love and grace of God.  So, in my explanation, I am tipping my hand and revealing my theological position.  It is my interpretation that on the cross of Calvary Jesus bore the full weight of God’s wrath for sin.  In other words, ALL sin was covered on the cross; therefore, what prevents us from going to heaven with our Lord and Savior is not our sin, but our rejection of Him personally.  If one does not receive the free gift of eternal life offered and purchased by Jesus, then the Lord God will give that person exactly what they desire, which is eternity in the Lake of Fire.  The wrath which was dispensed upon Jesus, however, was rightfully mine because of my sin.  I was the one who acted in rebellion to our loving Lord and deserve such judgment.  Jesus, however, displayed His grace, mercy and love for me by taking what was rightfully mine and bore God’s wrath.  This work is beyond my comprehension and I will truly not know how much my sin truly cost this righteous and holy God, but I am so grateful He bore my punishment.  Beloved, let me encourage you to contemplate the work of Jesus and then to go and share His hope to a world in need of a Savior.  To His great name be praise for His incalculable mercies and grace!

1.  Have you rejected the grace Jesus provided for you by taken your punishment?
2.  If you have rejected this grace, why and what will it take for you to reconsider this decision?

Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son and taking my punishment.  Just as I said yesterday, I will never be able to appropriately express my appreciation for Your gracious gift of mercy and love.  Amen.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jesus Took Our Pain

Scripture: John 19:18
There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

Insights: Thousands of people have gone through the pain of crucifixion throughout the Roman period of history.  In light of that sentence I believe I need to do some clarifying.  My title today for Thoughts by Scott is Jesus took our pain.  In some ways this topic overlaps with tomorrows thoughts, but they are slightly different.  In this world we have pain and sorrow.  The Father is not blind to our plights of suffering.  In fact in the Psalms, the Lord tells us He bottles up our tears (56:8).  In eternity, however, there is pain and suffering that does not equal anything we can possibly image on this side.  It is this pain that the Lord Jesus took from us.  Whatever we go through on this side of eternity will come to an end for those of us who are in Christ Jesus.  The reason it ends is because we have received His gift of salvation.  I do not mean to belittle or make light of the suffering you may be experiencing right now.  What I am saying, however, is it will come to an end and in Christ you will receive perfect peace and rest after we enter into eternity.  So, Beloved, let us truly cast our cares on Jesus because He cares for us.  Let us run to Him in the midst of our pain and sorrow and ask Him to relieve us of this burden.  He may not eliminate it completely right this minute, but He will collect your tears and treasure them as He brings you safely home to His celestial shores.  As a result of this promise, walk in the midst of your pain with dignity and grace.  Always trusting and resting in the Lord to provide you with the strength to make each day possible.  May the Lord be praised for His taking of our pain.

1.  With what kind of suffering are you presently undergoing?
2.  Are you aware that your true suffering and pain has been taken by Jesus?

Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son and taking my pain.  I will never be able to appropriately express my appreciation for Your gracious gift of mercy and love.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jesus Walked Our Path

Scripture: John 19:17
They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.

Insights: For the next three days we are going to be looking at three aspects of Jesus’ work on the cross of Calvary.  The first work is actually accomplished just before the cross and it is Jesus’ walk to Golgotha.  One of the sad truths about humanity is we really do want to be our own gods.  We want to walk our path the way we want to walk it.  We want to make God in our image and have Him fill our emotional needs.  The problem is that we are incapable of walking such a path.  We needed another to walk this path and Jesus is the One who did such a work.  He carried His cross to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.  It was because of Jesus’ walk to this place that paved the way for us to have access to the Lord God.  Now, it was not just because Jesus walked this path, but also because of what He did once He arrived, but that is for tomorrow and Friday.  Understand, Beloved, this path of pain, known as the Via Del Arose, was really our path.  In other words, our sin meant that someone had to walk this way of suffering and it out to have been us.  The problem with us walking this path would have been that we would never have made it to the end.  It took the perfect One to bear up under the weight of the judgment placed on Him.  Our response to Jesus’ walking of our path ought to be one of immense gratitude.  May we express our joy in Him for the walk He took on our behalf.  May we never forget what it cost Him and what it gave us.  We now have access to eternal life with our loving Lord because Jesus walked this path of pain which was rightfully ours to walk, but we was incapable of walking it.  Thank You Lord for Your wonderful grace!

1.  In what ways are you trying to walk your own path?
2.  Have you come to the realization that you are incapable of walking your own path to the Lord?

Prayer: Father, forgive me for being so self-sufficient.  Let me experience Your conviction in regards to my prideful heart and grant me the grace to be humbled by Your immense love and receive the gift which You Son gave to me.  Amen.