Daily Walk With God

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.

Focus on Christ

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jul• 04•15

 

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV):
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Helen H. Lemmel (1863-1961) wrote the words and the music of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus in 1922. Her inspiration for the song, which Helen entitled The Heavenly Vision, came from the writings of author and artist Lilias Trotter (1853-1928). After struggling in prayer for two years, Trotter came to the conclusion that she must lay down her love of art in order to fix her eyes solely on Jesus, and on His calling to the mission field. She subsequently served for more than 38 years as a missionary to Muslims of Algeria. She also authored several books and tracts. The following is an excerpt from her tract, Which Passion Will Prevail? (http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/hymns-the-songs-and-the-stories/turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus-the-song-and-the-story.html)

“Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen harmless worlds at once — art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the good hiding the best.” It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.”
– Lilias Trotter

Has your walk with God lost its focus? Are you “fixed” on your Savior, Christ Jesus? Are you fixated with the current wave of news and social media that bombards our minds on a daily basis? We are easily drawn into the debate on whether or not we support gay marriage. We are consumed with the debate over a flag that has created constant debate and attention. We seem to have forgotten the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting that took the lives of nine followers of Christ, including the church’s pastor. Our attention and talk has turned to debate over a flag instead of hearing stories about these nine Christians and their walk of faith and their strong desire to follow Christ, even in a world that does not acknowledge Christ.

As followers of Christ, we come face to face with sin and opposition to God’s word every day. We must remember that Christ endured the same kind of opposition and he kept His faith firmly entrenched in God. Christ calls us, as His followers, to do the same. When we become entangled in the endless debates that rage on and on, we take our mind and our focus away from Christ. And that is exactly what the evil one wants us to do. Say “no” to this world and to Satan and “turn your eyes upon Jesus.” Live out a life of faith that keeps its focus on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith.” And do this so that, as the author of Hebrews reminds us, “you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

How do you keep your focus upon Christ? I would love to hear from you.

God’s Familiarity With You

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jun• 28•15

Psalm 139: 1-4: O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

When I feel distant from God, I often go to Psalm 139 in order to draw nearer to God. In Psalm 139, we are given the promise and the assurance that God is always with us. He is there when we wake up each morning and He is still there when we fall asleep at night. Knowing that I have that intimate, personal connection with God helps me to pull in closer to Him. It helps me to realize that God is there, He continues to know who I am and He watches over every detail of my life.

This psalm of David is an appeal for God to examine the heart and even the soul. David is declaring his loyalty to God and the awareness that God knows his every thought. God even knows the words that David (and you and I) will speak before they are formed on his tongue. I wonder how different the words that come out of our mouth would be if we considered that before we spoke.

Knowing that God perceives our every thought and has knowledge of what lies deep in our hearts can be troubling to many of us. We hold grudges, we judge others, we harbor hate, and we want God to bless us but not necessarily someone that we don’t like. This psalm tells us that we can’t hide these thoughts from God because God’s presence is everywhere. God is present in the heavens, the depths of the sea, and all across this world that we live in. God knows what we are thinking at this very moment, as He “searches” our hearts.

Psalm 139: 13-17: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

This passage helps me to remember that God continues to “think” about me and about you. The same God that created us continues to watch over us and wants to be intimately involved in each of our lives through His Holy Spirit. Even in those times when we try to run away from God, He is still there. God greatly desires to draw us close to Him again. I don’t know about you, but that gives me hope and encouragement to continue on my path of following and seeking God.

David then concludes this psalm with these last two verses. Psalm 139: 23-24: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

David is asking God to examine his heart and to make him aware of anything that he needs to correct. The psalmist is declaring his love and devotion to God, while also acknowledging that he continues to have impure thoughts and motives. He is asking God to search his heart for those thoughts and to forgive him. He then asks God to guide him to the path that leads to eternal life. We should all pray that God will lead us down that path instead of the path that lead to worldliness and destruction.

When you are feeling that God is distant or if you think that God has forgotten about you, I encourage you to read Psalm 139. Remember that you are God’s creation and you are loved and known by God. That same creator God wants to be involved in every detail of your life. God is asking you to seek Him for relief from life’s daily struggles, worry and anxiety. God is with you and He alone can bring peace and assurance to your life today.

Hear these words of promise and hope from James 4:8: Come near to God and he will come near to you.

Praying for our Nation

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jun• 27•15

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ASV): if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

As a country, we are not seeking God. Many have fallen for the countless lies that come from the evil one and the desires of the world that we live in. We are told by the world that we should be tolerant, understanding, and respectful of the views and beliefs of others. However, when Christians begin to talk about our views and beliefs, we are attacked and ridiculed for our values and principles. This passage from 2 Chronicles reminds us that we must first “humble” ourselves and realize that we are all sinners. 1 John 1:8 (NIV): If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. For me personally, I am going to take a deep breath and confess to God my sinfulness, and get myself right with God. That is the first step for all of us before we go around pointing fingers and casting judgment on others.

Then I am going to pray, pray, and continue to pray for our country and for every person in our country. God has established, through His Holy Word, the manner in which we should live our lives as a person that was created by God. God’s intentions for how we are to live our lives are crystal clear and there is not a court or a political leader that can redefine that. God always has been, continues to, and will eternally be in control of this world that we live in.

As Christians, we must seek the “face” of God through daily prayers and the continued reading of God’s Holy Word. Psalm 27:8 (ESV): You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” We must begin to seek God every day and to pray for the healing of our nation. We must pray that people will “turn from their wicked ways” and live a righteous and holy life that pleases and honors God’s design for human beings. If Christians will continue to do this on a daily basis we can have hope that God will work in the hearts and minds of those that are “lost” and help them to “turn from their wicked ways.”

Will you dedicate yourself to pray for our nation and for the healing of our land on a daily basis?

Ezekiel 22:30 (ASV): And I sought for a man among them, that should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.

Job 38:1,4-7
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

God will not be mocked. Even well intentioned Christians, who make light of God raining down judgment upon our nation, are on shaky ground. There is not a person on earth who has the understanding or the right to say what God will or will not do. God is sovereign and He has already decided what needs to be done to get our attention focused squarely back upon Him. 

Paul’s advice to Timothy is good advice for all of us who believe in God and his charge to those of us who belong to Him. As Christians, we are called to bring the “lost” to the saving knowledge of Christ. All of us who are followers of Christ have this duty, especially in light of the events of recent days.

2 Timothy 4: 1-5 (NIV): In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Please join me in continued prayer for our nation and for God’s forgiveness and healing.

Living a Holy Life in an Unholy World

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jun• 26•15

1 Peter 1:13-16 (NIV): Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

1 Peter 2: 11-12 (NIV): Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means for Christians to live “good lives.” How do we live out our life of faith in a world that does not glorify God? As believers, we have a decision to make. Will we lead lives that reflect our faith and God’s guidance in our lives? Or will we only give lip service to our beliefs and surrender ourselves to the desires of this world that we live in?

The apostle Peter tells us that our minds must be “alert and fully sober.” We must constantly be aware of the sinful lures of this world so that we can overcome enticing thoughts and actions before we act on them. We all have sinful desires that attempt to pull us away from God and prevent us from leading a life that is a witness to our faith and pleasing to God. Overcoming these desires is crucial for our soul but it is also important if we desire to be an effective witness for Christ. Our lives should reflect the degree to which God’s forgiveness and mercy has changed us. Our witness then, becomes living a life that demonstrates to unbelievers how our faith and belief in God has changed us.

A friend of mine once told me that she had been observing how I led my life as a Christian. To be honest, that scared me. I immediately started thinking about the times that this lady has seen me act in a way that was not consistent with my faith. She told me that she was not a believer but she wanted to know more about my faith because she could sense just how important our faith was to our family. She passed away a few years later but not before coming to accept Christ as her Lord and Savior. This is precisely what Peter is referring to when he urges believers to lead holy lives – because you never know who is watching. In this case, someone who didn’t know God was watching and she saw that my actions were, for the most part, consistent with my beliefs. There are times when my actions don’t correspond to my beliefs, so I constantly pray to God that he will strengthen me to lead a life that always reflects my faith.

The Apostle Peter writes, ‘But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”’ I don’t know about you but I am uncomfortable being called holy. It sounds like someone who never makes a mistake or is somehow above sin. Holy means to be set apart or to belong to God. Being holy is living in a unified relationship with Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

As followers of Christ, we face many sinful desires which “wage war” against our soul. I believe that the forces of evil are constantly waging war against Christians so that our witness will be weakened or ineffective. It’s time that believers live out a life of faith that shows the world that we are set apart from the sin of this world. The way we live our lives will reflect who we are and who we truly follow. Our choice is this: Do we give in to the sinful desires of this world, or do we try to lead holy lives that reflect the love, mercy and forgiveness of our loving God and our Savior, Jesus Christ?

1 John 2:17: The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Faith in God

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jun• 15•15

I heard a sermon yesterday that talked about faith and there was a quote from Corrine ten Boom that really spoke to my heart. So for my devotional today, I feel led to give you some well-know quotes from this woman of deep and abiding faith along with scripture. It is my hope that this will help and encourage you in your own walk of faith with God.

Corrie ten Boom and her family helped Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II and, by all accounts, saved nearly 800 lives. During World War II, she and her family harbored hundreds of Jews to protect them from arrest by Nazi authorities. Betrayed by a fellow Dutch citizen, the entire family was imprisoned. Corrie survived and started a worldwide ministry and later told her story in a book entitled The Hiding Place.¹

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” (Corrie Ten Boom)
Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it keeps you moving but doesn’t get you anywhere.” (CTB)
Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” (CTB)
Matthew 6:25-27: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (CTB)
Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

“There is no panic in Heaven! God has no problems, only plans.” (CTB)
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

“Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.” (CTB)
Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” (CTB)
Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“When I try, I fail. When I trust, he succeeds.” (CTB)
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

¹http://www.biography.com/people/corrie-ten-boom-21358155

Where is God when I need him?

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jun• 14•15

Editors Note: This is a reposting of a entry from February 2014. As I was writing a devotional for today, God led me back to this one from last year and I felt the need to share it again today.

As you read this devotional writing today, it is likely that you are striving to “hear” from God or to at least feel His presence in some way in your life. This world that we live in can be demanding and at times overwhelming. There are moments when we question God’s presence in the midst of our pain and disappointment. This world that we live in can cause us to lose hope. You may be feeling discouraged today because you want to feel God’s presence but instead you feel nothing. Recalling the words of Matthew 7:7, we pray, we ask, we seek, we knock, but yet we are met with silence. God, I know that you promised to never leave me or forsake me but I need some reassurance that you are with me in the midst of my suffering.

Jesus had just shared the Last Supper with his disciples and was explaining to them the events that would soon take place. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet in order to show them how much he loved them. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1). Our Lord and Savior then predicted that one of his disciples (Judas) would betray him and even Peter would soon disown Jesus three times. Jesus then tells his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1). Do you trust in the things of this world or do you place your faith and trust in God?

Yesterday was one of those days in which the world sent a lot of trouble my way. Normally when this happens, I remind myself to stop and seek God and ask for guidance and peace. However on this occasion, things began to unravel so quickly that I failed to seek God or ask for His calming presence. I was reminded of just how difficult the world can be to those who follow Christ. As followers of Christ we are warned that this world will cause disappointment, heartache, and pain. Jesus said to his disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

So where is God in the midst of our pain and suffering? Why does it seem that God is silent when we call out to him and plead for some assurance that He is with us? There are times when God chooses to not reveal himself to us and we must honor that because God has given us that same free will to make our own decisions in life. I believe that God often is working on a solution to our present problems while we are in the midst of them. We all must make a choice; do we follow the world or do we follow God? If we decide to follow God we can be assured that God is always present with us, whether we can sense His presence or not.

As Joshua was preparing to succeed Moses and lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, Moses spoke these words from God to all of Israel. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:eight). That same promise applies to all believers today. God is always with us and God goes before us to guide us along the path that He calls us to follow.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). May the peace of Christ be with you and guide you in the knowledge that Christ has already overcome this world and defeated Satan and all the powers of evil. In this world we will have trouble, but in Christ we can experience complete peace. As followers of Christ we have been given the assurance of eternal life. Remember that promise when the world sends trouble your way. May God be with you and bless you today.

Big Problems, Bigger God

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jun• 07•15

Psalm 8:1-9 (NIV): A Psalm of David

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

5
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.

6
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:

7
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
9
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Most of us tend to go through life without ever slowing down and noticing the beauty of God’s creation. We often take the beauty of our world for granted and in doing so we fail to see God all around us. This past week, while sitting on the beach and enjoying the view of the ocean, I was reminded of the vastness of God’s creation. The book of Genesis describes to us how this world looked just before God spoke His creation into being: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).

Do you sometimes doubt that God cares for you or even considers you? David, future King of Israel, probably felt that way as he was on the run from King Saul’s men. He had proof of God’s presence with him over the course of his young life, but he surely must have felt that God had at times forgotten him or was too busy with other matters to look after him. David was aware that God was all around him through the created world. And although he couldn’t actually see God, he sensed his presence by gazing at the “moon and the stars” and he saw God in the beauty of God’s creation. David needed this reminder of God’s presence with him.

I imagine that David felt small in comparison to the vastness of God’s creation. It’s possible that, as he wrote this psalm, he was lying on his back looking up at the heavens, gazing at the constellations and the splendor of the night time sky. God’s universe is so vast that we as humans can’t begin to comprehend just how expansive it is. You may feel that you are not important enough for God to be concerned with your life and with your problems. Does God really care about the mounting bills, the car that needs to be repaired or replaced, or the tumor that is not responding to treatment?

Like David, we may not understand how God can juggle our needs with the needs of the whole world and the running of the universe, but rest assured; God cares deeply for each of us. Trust God and have faith. God may be working out an answer to your prayer at this very moment. While you may not receive an answer immediately, have faith in God and trust that He is aware of your specific need and know that He is with you as you walk through the valley of shadows. God cares for you and He will not leave you. God, who created this magnificent world and universe, is much larger than all of our problems and worries.

 

Perseverance and Hope

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Jun• 06•15

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV): Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I have always admired people that refuse to quit. Over the course of my life, I have witnessed those types of individuals who refused to let a setback or failure define them. It seemed that they believed something greater was almost in their grasp. That greater “thing” could have been the dream to start a new business in order to better provide for the hopes and dreams of their family. It could have been finding a cure for some terrible disease or identifying solutions to meet the growing demand for energy in our world. Whatever the goal might be, I have always respected those who refuse to give up until they reach their goal.

My youngest daughter loves playing, and sometimes watching, basketball. Her immediate dreams are to play for her middle school and later high school basketball team. Her long range goals are to play for the University of Georgia and eventually the WNBA. A few nights ago, she and I were watching the NBA finals and we saw a great example of a player refusing to give up. Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavilers was defending Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Curry, who is an excellent ball handler, drove past Irving and appeared to have an easy layup that would have put his team ahead. But Irving, refusing to give up, hustled and made a fingertip block of the attempted layup by Curry. Slow motion replays showed that Irving had blocked the potential go-ahead shot with his fingertips. That type of determination and effort is what makes good players great and I used that example to teach my daughter a valuable basketball and life lesson – don’t ever give up!

Perseverance is something that we as followers of Christ should be reminded of from time to time. We often tend to lose our focus and we aim for quick solutions to our problems. This passage from Romans serves to remind us that, we grow and mature (hopefully), as we endure the many challenging and difficult moments of life. “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Years ago, I remember an interview that a local news station did with an elderly grandmother, who was talking about the advice that she constantly gave to her grandchildren. I had heard this advice before but I just loved the way that this lady expressed it. She said, “I always tell my grandchildren to never get tired of doing what’s right.” That is certainly good and timely advice for many of us today, as we continue to persevere, whatever our situation in life. The Apostle Paul put it this way in Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Prayer: God, we often feel weary and heavy burdened. We feel that the load we carry is too heavy for us and it seems that we are about to buckle under the enormous weight of our problems and worries. It is tempting to just give up and be crushed under the weight of our doubts and unbelief. But you call those of us who believe in you to persevere and to refuse to give up. Our calling is not to place our hope and trust in the world, but rather in you, our Creator and our Redeemer, the One who sustains us. I pray for your presence today God, for those of us who are struggling to persevere. Constantly remind us Lord, that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Amen.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV): For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

 

The Rapture

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - May• 24•15

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

There are many believers who have taken the time to study their Bible and actually know a great deal about what we refer to as the rapture of the Church. However, there are many other believers who are confused and uncertain about that glorious day when Christ will return for His body of believers, the Church. After a lengthy time of study, I am writing to explain my beliefs about the events surrounding the rapture of the Church. I hope that it will encourage you to open up your Bible and study more about that blessed day when Christ returns to gather His Church. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in Thessalonians 4:18, “Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

The word rapture means to be “caught up” or “taken away.” The only place that we find this reference in the Bible is from the Apostle Paul, as he was writing to the Thessalonians. Paul describes believers being “caught up” in the air to meet Christ. Although the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible, this phrase “caught up,” from v.17, is a clear reference to the rapture of the Church. The rapture will bring to a close the Church Age and the Age of Grace.

What is the Church Age? This is the period of time from Pentecost to the Rapture of the Church. This encompasses the complete period of time that the Church is on the earth. The Church Age will come to a close when Christ returns “in the air” to gather His Church. Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 tells us what will occur when Christ returns: 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. Our weak and decaying human body will be changed in a instant. We will be given an eternal, glorious body and we will be with the Lord forever.

This will certainly be a public event, not a secretive one, because Paul tells us that the “trumpet will sound” and “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Those of us who believe in Christ will be taken up to heaven and we will come back with Christ at His Second Coming, at the end of the seven years of tribulation. William E. Blackstone in his book, Jesus Is Coming (chapter 9 – Rapture and Revelation), writes: “At the Rapture, Christ comes into the air for His saints. At the Revelation (Second Coming), ‘He comes to the earth with them. He certainly must come for them before He can come with them…”

When will the rapture of the Church occur? While we don’t know the exact date or time that this will happen, Paul tells us from Romans chapter 11 that the rapture will occur when, “the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” In other words, when the last person has been saved and completes the Body of Christ, the rapture will take place. Romans 11:25: I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in…

The “full number of the Gentiles” refers to the Body of Christ. From Pentecost until now, we have had the out-calling of the Gentiles into the body of Christ, which is the Church. During this time, the nation of Israel has been spiritually blinded, but that will end with the rapture of the Church.When the last believer has been brought into the body of Christ, the Church Age will end and the seven years of Tribulation will begin. This is why I believe that the rapture will occur just before the period of Tribulation. Jesus confirms this for me in Revelation 3:10: “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” That “hour of trial” will be the seven years of tribulation. This is Jesus’ promise that the Church will not have to endure this terrible time of testing.

In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” And in Matthew 24:50, Jesus in telling the parable of the servant whose master left him in charge says, “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.” Think about that for a moment. If the Rapture occurred during the mid-point or at the end of the tribulation, we would know exactly when Jesus would return. However, with the rapture at the beginning of the Tribulation, that could occur at any moment.

I leave you with the words of Jesus from the Gospel writer Luke about what the world will look like just before Jesus returns to rapture His Church. You could certainly make a strong case that this is what our world looks like today. Luke 21:34-36: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

The End Times – Daniel

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - May• 20•15

Daniel 12:1-4 (ESV): “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

I remember hearing a sermon when I was a teenager, that referred to a time when travel and knowledge would increase and the resulting connection those things would have on the end times. You have probably heard a sermon based on this text and it’s likely that many of you may believe that this phrase, “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” comes from one of the Gospels. This passage is only found in the 12th chapter of Daniel just as God’s vision to Daniel is concluding.

Lately, I have been reading and studying about the signs at the end of the age. God has placed this study upon my heart and I have been reading and trying to fully understand the importance of these things for believers today. There are two reasons why this study is important to me: 1) it gives us as believers – hope! Paul, in Titus 2:13, reminds us of the “blessed hope” that we as believers have as we await the return of Christ, and 2) it should motivate us as followers of Christ to try and reach everyone who is not saved so that they will believe in Christ and not have to face the period of tribulation that is coming on those who do not believe.

Going back to the Daniel 12:4 text, we recognize that Michael is the archangel who is essentially the spiritual protector of Israel, God’s chosen people. Daniel’s prophecy reveals to us that, at the Great Tribulation, Michael will emerge (“shall stand up”) as he continues to wage spiritual battle for Israel. I believe that this period of tribulation will begin after the church has been taken away (raptured) and the last seven years of God’s dealing with Israel will begin.

In Daniel 9:26, we can understand that out of the 490 years that had been determined on Israel, 483 of those years ended at the Crucifixion of Christ. The 7 remaining years are believed to be the 7 years of Tribulation. At the beginning of the Tribulation, the Anti-Christ will emerge and will sign a peace treaty with Israel, that will only last for the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation. The second half of the Tribulation will unleash Satan’s fury against the Jewish people and the world will also see many judgements from God, making this period of history unlike any other.

Daniel 12:4 (ESV): “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Many of us only think of world knowledge when reading this passage but God also intended for it to include biblical knowledge. Remember in Daniel’s time, Daniel did not have any knowledge of the Church Age, he could only recognize what God had revealed to him and the Church Age was not a part of Daniel’s understanding. In our day and time however, God has opened up our understanding of Biblical knowledge, as we are on the other side of the cross, in comparison to Daniel and his contemporaries. We are able to more fully discern scripture and its meaning that the people of Daniel’s time simply could not understand. 

In his book, The Final Generation, Mike Evans writes (p.48): “When a vision of the end times was given to Daniel in the last three chapters of his book, he was told to seal it up for the generation in which “many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4). No generation in the history of the world has traveled so much or seen knowledge increase so quickly as ours. Today, we can be anywhere in the world in hours and have even stepped from Earth to the moon within days. What humanity knows, is inventing, or is discovering is increasing at an exponential rate. Literally anything you want to know in the world is accessible through a few keystrokes or clicks of a mouse.” Evans make a valid point that we are certainly living in the age where knowledge is increasing at an incredible rate.

Daniel 12:3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. This verse is perhaps the most important to me as I continue to study end time prophecy. While scripture tells us that we should pay attention to the signs of the end of the age, our most important focus should be to bring those who are lost to belief in Christ. That is the assignment that Jesus gave to his disciples as he ascended into heaven and that same mission is ours today. God doesn’t want anyone to suffer the wrath that will be poured out onto this earth during the Tribulation and it is our duty as followers of Christ to do our part to save as many as possible. And as we lead unbelievers to righteousness, we are given the promise that we “shall shine…like the stars forever and ever.” We will live in the presence of God in heaven, and will receive our reward for being faithful to our calling, while living out our time on earth.

Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV.