This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive) that we have put our hope in the living God who is the Savior of all, and especially of those who believe.
1 Timothy 3:9-10
If the vote were taken
in the pews of evangelical churches this Sunday, I’m guessing the majority vote
would be a resounding “yes.”
So to be honest right
up front, I’m in the minority, which for many, brands me a heretic. But before
you gather wood to burn me at the stake of your judgment, may I explain?
There is a single text
in all of scripture that seems to depict the popularized idea of a rapture.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,
about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no
hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through
Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you
by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming
of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord
himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of
God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise
first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds
together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord
forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
— 1 Thessalonians
At face value, this
sounds like the Left Behind book series, which has now been
made into a major motion picture: rapture movie. Jesus
returns on the clouds, the dead in Christ rise and float into the air to meet
him, then the still-alive believers are snatched up (raptured) to meet him in
the air, and we all leave this old world behind.
At this point, the
narrative usually jumps over to 2 Peter 3:7-10 that says the earth has been
“reserved for fire” and “the elements are dissolved with fire.” In other words,
as we float away, the earth and all who are left on it will be burned to a
crisp. And we go somewhere else called Heaven and live happily ever after. And
the majority said, “Amen!”
But what if …?
In Paul’s day, the
Roman army established rituals of war. When a victory had been secured, the
enemy conquered, and the spoils of war captured, the general would orchestrate
a triumphal entry to his city of origin – a homecoming parade of sorts. Runners
raced ahead of the approaching army and announced the return of the conquering
king. The dignitaries of the city would go out to meet the king and march ahead
of him on his re-entry into the city. Trumpets would herald the coming. This
grand parade became a re-coronation of the victorious king. In the Roman
understanding, he was blessed by the gods.
Paul borrows this well-known
image of the return of the conquering king to write about the return of Jesus
to earth. The question that prompts 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is, “What happens
to our deceased brothers and sisters who have died before the return of
Christ?” Paul views them as the dignitaries who are raised first and go out to
meet King Jesus and usher him back to the earth. Christ descends from heaven
because that is where we saw him go when he ascended to the right hand of the
throne of God following his resurrection. Then the rest of us join the parade
and we are all together again (the dead and the living who are in Christ)—here
on earth, which now becomes one with heaven.
The idea of this text
is not escaping the earth but celebrating the final victory of Christ as King
of all creation, and heaven and earth made one with no veil separating them
anymore. God is reclaiming his creation.
·The Lord’s Prayer gets
answered; the kingdom comes, and God’s will is done on earth even as it is done
·Revelation 21:1-6 happens;
the New Jerusalem comes down, God makes his home among mortals, and everything
is made new.
happens; the earth, which currently groans for redemption, is set free from its
bondage to decay and shares in the same glory as our resurrected bodies.
·Philippians 1:6 happens;
God finishes what God started in the resurrection of Jesus.
happens; Jesus is exalted, every knee bows and every tongue confesses him as
Lord – in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
·Second Peter 3:7-10
happens; fire, the cleansing/revealing power of God, fully reveals evil for
what it is and purges the earth of its presence.
4:13-18 happens; Christ returns victoriously, the dead are raised, and all the
people of God are together again.
We “non-rapture” folk
may be in the minority, but I really like our understanding of God’s future. In
the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:18, I am “encouraged by these words.”
On Sept. 15, a woman named Merrie Pardee Baldwin posted
the video on Facebook, where it had been shared nearly 400,000 times at the
time of this report. Baldwin wrote, “Participatory worship. I love how excited
the men get to sing this song & the camaraderie.” Soon after I posted this on my Facebook page with many comments.
A video of U.S. Marines singing, dancing and worshiping
God at Camp Pendleton in California is going viral on Facebook, prompting
retired Lt. Col. Allen West to revel in the display he says will “drive the
secular humanists INSANE.”
In the video a crowd of Marines sings “Days of Elijah,” a
Christian worship song, while raising their hands in the air and shouting,
“Oorah!” The troops were attending a Christian worship service at the military
base in San Diego County, California.
Today was an emotional day for me at church today. I preached a message that I am confident was God's will for me to share - however I know I reminded people of hurts and disappointments in life.
I hope the final points brought encouragement and joy to their spirits. Here are my reflections:
ancient god of pleasure, Asherah, has invaded our ranks! The spirit behind the
historic god has persuaded us that sexual purity is an outdated and foolish
idea that should be replaced with the mentality of “If it feels good, do it!” Embracing God’s truth about sexuality and its
beautiful place in the lives of his people, within the context of His
parameters, will break the lying spirit of Asherah.
Culture is changing – God does not change….
the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us
who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy
the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will
frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where
is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish
the wisdom of the world? 1 Corinthians 1:18-20
the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is
stronger than man’s strength.
It Feels Good…
not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the
love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of
his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes
not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away,
but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1
– god of POSSESSIONS.
– god of POWER.
ASHERAH – god of
knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And
they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their
minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter
fools…As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies.
They traded the truth about God for a lie. Romans 1:21-25 NLT
3 examples of the lie:
An ANIMALISTIC action.
A RECREATIONAL activity.
An ISOLATED event.
water from your own well— share your love only with your wife. Why spill the
water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone? You should
reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers. Let your wife be a
fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a
loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always
be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral
woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman? For the LORD sees clearly
what a man does, examining every path he takes. An evil man is held captive by
his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he
will be lost because of his great foolishness. Proverbs 5:15-23 NLT
Breaking the Spirit of Asherah
is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient
paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for
your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16
you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take
the members of Christ and unite them
with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one
flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in
from sexual immorality. All other sins
a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his
own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is
in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought
at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1
GOD WITH YOUR BODY .
are my 3 take a ways to help us:
1. REPENT .
come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and
I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and
daughters, says the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
2. RECEIVE forgiveness.
your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red
as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
3. REORDER your life.
we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything
that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for
up something now for something better later
As we prepare our hearts for worship this coming Sunday at North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene, I am continuing in the teaching series which I have stated is one of the most important series I have ever preaching in my 40 years of pastoral ministry! I continue to hear feedback each week following a sermon in this series. Last Sunday I returned home following church with a sense of exhaustion. I kept my iPhone in my pocket last Sunday on "airplane mode" not to disrupt the worship and discovered through my fit-bit app that I walked over a mile during my presentation time! I received an encouraging text on Sunday afternoon that read: "Hey Pastor Rick. I wanted to tell you that was a great sermon today and I'm looking forward to the remaining 3 in the series. Keep on preaching with that passion and fire you showed today! Hope you have a great week." Get ready for a great time of worship and preaching from the Word of God tomorrow at NRN!
We begin with a countdown to draw our attention to the Lord - then the music starts and we sing together:
Following a welcome and invocation we continuing in our worship through song to the Lord:
And now we sing loud - a great hymn of our faith:
Now, we pause to encounter God in prayer...
It is now time to hear about the opportunities to serve the Lord in ministry and to meet together for fellowship and growing in the our relationship with the Lord. As we present our tithes and offerings unto God - let us join with the worship team to sing a declaration of faith to the Lord!
Prepare you hearts for the preaching of God's Word:
We ask that all children 12 years and younger enjoy the excellent Children's ministries at our church today. Pastor Rick's message is rated PG-13. Rated PG-13 - Not for the content of his words but for the passages of Scripture he will be reading. Some people have the idea that God and Christians today are against sex. This is a lie of our culture. Sex is good and is God's idea. On Sunday Pastor Rick will share God's perspective of sex in contrast to the worlds perspective of sex. The ancient god of pleasure, Asherah, has
invaded our ranks! The spirit behind the historic god has persuaded us that
sexual purity is an outdated and foolish idea that should be replaced with the
mentality of “If it feels good, do it!”
God’s truth about sexuality and its beautiful place in the lives of his people,
within the context of His parameters, will break the lying spirit of Asherah.
we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for
God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1
As we prepare for prayer this evening at NRN I thought I would share a clip from one of my favorite Christian groups of all time - PETRA. A video from the Album "Beyond Belief," 1990. Video produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1994.
Does being a Christian feel complicated to you sometimes?
Do you ever feel like there is a list of rules, of things you should be doing,
and somehow you can never do all of them at once? Rules, and the law, and trying to earn our way into
heaven is something Christians have struggled with since long before Jesus came
to earth. In fact, Jesus came to earth to abolish the law—making faith, not
perfection, the key to heaven.
John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal
That’s it. It’s not a place reserved for rule followers.
It’s not something that can be earned. But sometimes we still find ourselves
The Pharisees, avid rule followers that they were, also
found this concept hard to grasp. They wanted to know which combination of laws
would earn them God’s approval.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And
the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the
Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22: 36 – 40
Instead of giving them a long list, Jesus made it simple.
Love God, and love each other. Love is the greatest commandment.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if
you love one another.” – John 13:35
It’s as simple as love. But just because it’s simple doesn't mean it’s easy.
are three things that stand in the way of us loving like God loves:
Our pace of life
We are all about efficiency in our world today. We judge
our days based on how many things we were able to cram into the smallest amount
of time. We’re maximizers, and multi-taskers. We zip from one thing to the
next, all while emailing, checking the weather, and sending out a tweet.
But while this approach may feel effective when it comes
to whittling down our to-do list, it’s not a great strategy for loving like God
We try to fit in a phone call on the way to work and a
one-on-one during our lunch break. We want to pour as much love into as many
people as possible. But that leads us to a place where we’re trying to be
speedy and efficient with our love, but this is not how God loves.
Love and depth and connection take time — and trying to
be speedy or efficient with our love and connection is one of the main things
that prevents us from loving like God loves.
Another thing that zaps our ability to love each other
well is exhaustion. We wear ourselves so thin and push ourselves so hard that
at the end of the day we have nothing else to give.
Have you ever found yourself on a Saturday with two
options? Either you can work during the day and try to get ahead for the week —
a viable option—or you can take the day to relax and rejuvenate, an option that
seems less productive and vaguely selfish.
Although it seems to be smarter to work through the
weekend or to push harder to get things done, it leaves us exhausted and at the
point of burnout. We’re pouring out without ever filling back up.
In order to be in a place where we can love like God
loves, we have to take care of ourselves, and give ourselves time to rest, relax,
and fill up on God’s love.
Trying to love in your own strength
The last mistake we make when trying to love like God
loves is this: We try to love in our own strength. If you are married, or are a
daughter or a son, or a brother or a sister, or a friend or a mom or a dad, you
know how hard it can be to love sometimes.
No matter how kind we try to be, we fall pathetically
short of God’s ability to love.
We can’t even compare.
But we don’t need to feel discouraged, because our
ability to love like God loves comes directly from Him. We can’t, and aren’t
expected to, do it on our own.
Scott Wilson is the Senior Pastor of The Oaks Fellowship,
ministering to about 3,000 people every week in Dallas, TX. He is a frequent
conference speaker, and provides mentorship for dozens of pastors and church
leaders through Scott Wilson Consulting. Scott is a loving husband and proud
father. Scott and his wife, Jenni, have three boys: Dillon, Hunter, and Dakota.
Today was an awesome day at North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene. As I stood to preach I was still encouraged in my soul by the prayer encounter last Wednesday. As I have stated before, I truly believe this is one of the most important teaching series I have ever preached. As our world and culture is changing - it is so vital for Christians that we set ourselves apart from the world in many areas. Today's message encourages us to be aware of the subtle messages of our culture. We
are learning that there are spiritual forces driving the “New Norm” that is
permeating our society. The spirit of Baal, the pagan god of power worshipped in
biblical days, is still influencing our culture today. The drive for power,
wealth, and control has produced a burned-out people filled with pride, and
sacrificing the best in their lives on the altar of busyness and unending
desire to attain.
BREAKING THE RULES
2: Breaking the Spirit of Baal
For the message of the cross is foolishness to
those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of
the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where
is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 1
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s
wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.1 Corinthians
Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples
around you; for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God. Deuteronomy
Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away
and worship other gods and bow down to them. Deuteronomy
– god of POSSESSIONS.
– god of POWER .
ASHERAH – god of
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable
for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her
husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6
Good for food -
Pleasing to the eye - Mammon
Desirable for gaining wisdom - Baal
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the
Son of God, tell these stones to become
bread.”… Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the
highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.”… Again, the
devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the
world and their splendor. “All this I
will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Matthew 4:3, 5-6, 8-9
Turn stones into bread - Asherah
Throw yourself down - Baal
All this I will give you - Mammon
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If
anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in
the world--the cravings of sinful man,the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes
not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away,
but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John
Cravings of sinful man - Asherah
Lust of his eyes -
Boasting of what he has and does - Baal
Breaking the Spirit of Baal
This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the
crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk
in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16
THE SABBATH DAY HOLY
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six
days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to
the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter,
nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your
gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that
is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the
Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11
By CEASING .
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people
of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as
God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so
that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11
By WORSHIPING .
A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day. It is good
to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your
love in the morning and your faithfulness at night…You have exalted my horn
like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me. The righteous will
flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in
the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they
will stay fresh and green. Psalm 92:1–2, 10, 12, 14
By REPLENISHING .
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie
down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he
refreshes my soul. Psalm 23:1-3
me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew
As we prepare for church tomorrow at North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene, I am praying for many people to join us for this teaching series. Last week was awesome as we welcomed many first time guest to our church. I was amazed how many regular attenders missed the service. I am praying God will speak to the hearts of many of our people to be with us. I feel like this is one of the most important sermon series I have ever preached. Here is a preview of our worship and the message tomorrow:
We begin with a welcome and and invocation. We stand and sing our praise to God!
Now we greet one another int he Name of the Lord. We take the time to hear about the opportunities to gather for fellowship and service the Lord in ministry into our community. Then we continue in our singing in worship to God. Consider the words of the next song we present to God:
Let us quiet our spirit before the Lord as we go to Him in prayer... It is now time to worship the Lord by bringing our tithes and offerings to show that God has first place in our life. All good things come from God. We may strive to be good stewards of the environment and of our world - but few truly grasp the importance of being found faithful by God as a good steward of our material wealth. The church is the hope of the world - the plan by which God called on mission to reach the world with the message of forgiveness and salvation. Without the faithful and generous giving of God's people the church is reduced to simply trying to exist by paying it's operating expense - not investing in ministry to change lives. Let us be found faithful in our giving! Worship the Lord with the financial gift you have prepared and join the worship team in singing this song of adoration to our Great God!
We are learning that there are spiritual
forces driving the “New Norm” that is permeating our society. The spirit of
Baal, the pagan god of power worshipped in biblical days, is still influencing
our culture today. The drive for power, wealth, and control has produced a
burned-out people filled with pride, and sacrificing the best in their lives on
the altar of busyness and unending desire to attain.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone
who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that so that no one
will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11