Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 2:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Search Me, O God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 19:1-10 (NASB). True and Righteous (vv. 1-4) After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.” And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” When God formed the earth and he created all things, including his creation of humankind, well, even before that, since he always was, and he is all knowing, and he is completely sovereign over all things, he knew and he planned how things would go for us. With our finite minds, this is difficult for us to comprehend, at least it is for me, but he knew who we were going to be before the creation of the world, and he had a plan and a purpose for our lives. He created Lucifer (Satan, the devil) fully knowing he would rebel against God, along with many of his angels. He could have destroyed Satan and the angels he took with him, but he didn’t. He allowed them to exist. He allowed evil to exist. And, he allowed mankind to be tempted by evil. In other words, he gave us a choice to accept him and to walk in his ways, or to refuse him and to go our own way. But, that choice has consequences. If we refuse God, and all of us are without excuse (see Romans 1), we will be eternally separated from God, and will suffer eternal punishment in the fires of hell. If we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, because of what he did in suffering and dying for our sins, then we have the hope of eternity with God in glory. Yet, there is a time of judgment to come on the earth prior to this final judgment, at which time we will either be rewarded with spending eternity in heaven, or we will be punished with the reality of eternity in hell. Our God has designated a specific period of time in which he will judge the inhabitants of this earth, including his adulterous church, and/or including this great harlot who rides the beast. The multitudes in heaven will then rejoice, not that human lives have been destroyed, I don’t believe, but that God triumphed over evil, and he judged the evil which was corrupting the world, and which was leading many, many people astray. Give Him Glory (vv. 5-9) And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.” There are a lot of professing Christians in the world today, particularly in America, who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church, prior to things getting really bad. From my studies of scripture, I don’t believe that is biblical. Yet, this teaching, which seems to have originated in the mid-1800s, has gained popularity, particularly here in America. Even though the church (followers of Christ), throughout the world, has suffered great persecution and tribulation over the years since Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven, in America the church has largely adopted the idea, not only that they can be “saved” and live however they want and still go to heaven when they die, but that God will not allow them to go through a time of great suffering while they still live on this earth, but that he will remove them from the earth, just because they prayed a prayer to “receive” him into their hearts, even if they don’t honor him with their lives at all. Yet, if we read the book of Revelation, we will see that the book begins, not with a warning to the unregenerate world to repent of their sins, but with warnings to the idolatrous and adulterous church to repent of her sins or face the judgment (punishment, divine correction) of Almighty God. After the church is encouraged in some areas, and warned in others, then the Lamb who was slain, and who was found worthy to open the scrolls, begins to open the seals on the scrolls, and what ensues is God’s divine judgments on the earth. The servants of the Lord are given a seal on their foreheads, and then we are told of a great multitude in white robes from every tribe, nation, people and language standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb, who are coming out of the Great Tribulation, who have washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. I believe there are many prophecies in scripture concerning this time of the end which indicates a revival of God’s church, and the spreading of the gospel, and the salvation of many people from the ends of the earth. Then, we read in Rev. 12 of the dragon in pursuit of followers of Christ – those who obey God’s commandments and who hold to the testimony of Jesus. In Rev. 13 we read that the beast is given authority to make war against the saints of God and to conquer them. “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (v. 10b). In Rev. 14, the redeemed of the Lord sing a new song to the Lord. These are those who not only were righteous because Jesus’ righteousness was credited to their accounts, by God’s grace, through their faith in him, but they are those who live righteously through faith, and in the power and working of the Spirit, as they conduct their lives according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. They follow Jesus (the Lamb) wherever he goes. Then we read of the eternal gospel being proclaimed to those who live on the earth. They are told to fear God and to give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. We then read of the fall of Babylon, and a warning to not worship the beast. Then it says, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (14:12). Then we read about more judgments, though I realize these visions given to John are not necessarily in the chronological order of the events which have taken place or that will yet take place. Again, we are told about the fall of Babylon, and that is where we read of how the bride of Christ, the true church, has made herself ready for her wedding with her groom, Jesus Christ. Since we know that scripture teaches that we are saved (past), we are being saved (present-ongoing), and we will be saved (future – when Christ returns), and that we are being made holy, and we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ, we know we are not made ready just by an initial prayer to receive Christ, but through the process of sanctification of the Spirit in our lives. We also know from our studies of scripture that this work of the Spirit in our lives requires our participation and cooperation. In other words, if we say we have fellowship with God, but we persist in conducting our lives according to our sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit, we lie, and we will die, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who conduct our lives, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Ro. 8:1-14). As well, we know that the Lord disciplines, corrects and rebukes those he loves, and that he has planned that we will go through tribulations, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties in this life, for by them we grow and mature in our walks of faith, we learn perseverance, we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves, and we become much more compassionate towards others who are suffering in like manner as what we have suffered, or are suffering. Through tribulation, in other words, we make ourselves ready by daily putting off the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, and by cooperating and participating in the Spirit’s work of sanctification in our lives. Worship God (v. 10) Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he *said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” So many people within the church today have become followers of humans over and above, or even in place of being followers of Jesus Christ. Some of them may not even realize that is what they are doing, because the deception has been so gradual, and so subtle, to the point to where they believe that what they are being taught is of God, which some is, but much is of man. The problem stems mainly because humans within the church are not testing what they hear against the Word of Truth, but are just accepting whatever their leaders tell them, because it sounds good. Part of the problem with that, I believe, is because the church itself has adopted the ways of the world, and has thus invited the world into the meetings of the church, so there is not much distinction between the world and the church anymore, but they are blended together into one body, but it is not the body of Christ, but the body of institutional Christianity, which is not Christian at all. And, a lot of that has stemmed from the fact that so many professing Christians live just like the world because they are convinced God does not require repentance or obedience from them. So, God is calling out to his church (see Rev. 2-3), to those who are living like the world, instead of being transformed into the image of Christ, and he is saying that they must repent of their sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery, and they must return to their “first love.” He wants to revive his church, and to have his people walk in the fear (honor and respect) of the Lord, instead of living their lives for themselves, to entertain and be entertained. He wants us to do a heart examination, and to allow him to show us where we are missing the mark, i.e. how many are not conducting their lives according to his instructions given us in scripture, but also to reveal to us what scripture teaches us with regard to how we should live our lives, according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. God is judging, and he will judge his adulterous and idolatrous people, in order to bring them back to himself in revival and in renewal, so that they can be the light of the world he has called them to be, and so that many, many will be saved before Christ returns. So, if you are living to please yourself, with little regard for God or for his will for your life, I pray you will examine your heart before him, and turn from your sin, and follow Jesus wherever he leads you from this moment on. A surrendered life is the BEST LIFE EVER! Search Me, O God / An Original Work / July 12, 2012 Based off Psalm 139 O Lord, You search and know me. You know all that I do. O Lord, You discern my ways. I put my trust in You. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? Where’er I am, You are with me, Guiding me in love. O Lord, You made and formed me In my own mother’s womb. Your hands beautif’ly made me. I give my praise to You. My frame was not hidden from You When I was made in the dark place. All the days ordained for me Were written in Your book. O Lord, how precious to me Are Your thoughts, O my God. When I wake in the morning, You are still here with me. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offense. Lead me in Your truth.