Here’s a photo I took of Stella in North Carolina.
On Tuesday, my wife Cathe and I had the privilege of sharing lunch with Billy Graham. What a wonderful time that was, and I will blog about that on Friday.
We were in Asheville, North Carolina, speaking at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove on the theme of the Lord’s return. It was a thrill to meet so many people who follow our ministry, and I even met a couple of my Facebook friends in person. BTW, if you want to check out my Facebook page, click here.
I was joined by my friends Don McClure, Levi Lusko, Pedro Garcia, Dennis Agajanian, and Marty Goetz. Plus, our whole family made the trip–Cathe, Jonathan, Brittany, Stella, and Lucy–and we took some photos for our Christmas card as well.
While in North Carolina, I also shot a series of eight videos for the holidays (one for each week), focusing on the real message of Thanksgiving and Christmas. We will post the first one in the first week of November.
A good time was had by all!
Thursday in Orange County
Tonight, I will continue my last days series in Orange County with a message titled, “Israel, Magog, and the Rapture.”
We all have questions about these last days events, and I will address them Thursday night.
Looking ahead, I am working on a message for this weekend at Harvest on the Antichrist, America, and Armageddon.
Well, that’s all for now. On Friday, I’ll tell you about my lunch with the greatest evangelist who has ever lived, Billy Graham.
How are we, as followers of Jesus Christ, to live as we await His return? There are three things: we need to wake up, sober up, and suit up.
We need to wake up
Scripture tells us, “Let us not sleep, as others do” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). The Encyclopedia Britannica defines sleep as “a state of inactivity, with a loss of consciousness and a decrease in responsiveness to events taking place.”
There are people in the Church today who have gone to sleep. They are not watching the signs of the times, nor are they observing the “times and seasons.”
There is a lethargy and passiveness, even a laziness. There seems to be a disconnect between their so-called “spiritual life” and real life. Instead of “walking in the Spirit,” they are sleepwalking.
What Paul is saying in this verse is “Wake up and be ready for the Lord’s return!”
The excitement of Christmas Eve
Remember when you were a little kid and it was so hard to fall asleep on Christmas Eve? Maybe it was the excitement of opening your presents the next day. Or perhaps it was the hope of seeing Santa Claus. But it was a joyful anticipation that kept you awake, not some kind of dread or fear.
In the same way, looking for Christ’s return is not a miserable, repressive, or confining way to live. It’s a happy, joyful, purposeful way to live.
It detaches you from the world
Let me close today with the words of C.H. Spurgeon, who said, “It is a very blessed thing to be on the watch for Christ, it is a blessing to us now. How it detaches you from the world! You can be poor without murmuring. You can be rich without worldliness. You can be sick without sorrowing. You can be healthy without presumption. If you are always waiting for Christ’s coming, untold blessings are wrapped up in that glorious hope.”
Yes, Jesus Christ is coming again.
As a student and teacher of Bible prophecy for 35 years, it is my belief that the next event on the prophetic calendar will be the rapture of the Church. That is the event when we will be “caught up to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
I will be speaking on this topic at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove today through Wednesday.
So, in light of all this hope of Christ’s return, how are we to live? What are we to do as we await His return?
Three things come to mind: We need to wake up, sober up, and suit up.
Paul tell us, “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8).
We should welcome His return
The teaching of Christ’s return is real litmus test of where you are spiritually.
For the person who is right with God, it motivates and purifies them. For the person who is not right with God, it frightens and alarms them.
For the believer who is watching and waiting, Christ’s return is welcomed. For the person who is not where they need be spiritually, He will come as a thief.
So how are we to live in light of the fact Christ could return at any moment? More on waking up,sobering up and suiting up tomorrow.
Today at Harvest, I will give the second of a five-part series on the last days. We will talk more about the amazing modern-day miracle of the return of the Jewish people to their homeland of Israel.
The Bible warns that after she is re-gathered again, a large force from the north will descend on her, determined to destroy this nation. The Bible calls this force Magog (Ezekiel 38-39), and it will march with allies that come right from the front pages of our newspapers.
We will also talk about what I believe is the next event on the prophetic calendar, the rapture of the Church. You won’t want to miss this message.
The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove
Then this Monday, I fly to the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove to join my friends Don McClure, Levi Lusko, and Pedro Garcia, as we all teach on the topic of the last days. That conference will conclude on Wednesday, and I will return to California in time for me to speak in Orange County for our Thursday night Bible study.
For more information on that, click here.
Whew! I get tired just thinking of all of this! I do appreciate your prayers, and I pray that God will bless all of these messages for His Glory.
This Sunday at Harvest, I will be speaking about the events of the last days I will share with you reasons why I believe Jesus could come back at any moment.
As I pointed out in my last post, a key to understanding Bible prophecy is to see the role of the nation Israel.
God promised that she would be established in the land in the first place, scattered, and then regathered. And when the Jewish people returned to their homeland of Israel, that would be a “sign of the times,” telling us that Jesus is returning.
In his book Israel Under Fire, John Ankerberg points out that this was all predicted in Ezekiel 37:21-22:
- He “will take the sons of Israel from among the nations. whererever they have gone.”
- He “will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land.”
- He “will make them one nation in the land.”
So has this happened?
1. God promised that, in the last days, He would gather the Jewish people from all over the world, from the different nations where they had been scattered.
2. God promised the Jewish people that He would gather them to a specific place: the land of Israel.
3. God promised the Jewish people that not only would He gather them to Israel, but He would make them into a nation once they arrived in the land.
4. God promised the Jewish people He would give them back the city of Jerusalem.
A modern-day miracle
All this, of course, became a reality on May 14, 1948.
This was against all odds. After losing six million Jews to the Nazis in World War II, the Jewish people returned to their homeland.
Today, the modern state of Israel stands as a monument to fulfilled biblical prophecy. As Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, stated, “If you know the story of Israel and what happened here, and you do not believe in miracles, you are not realistic. Something is wrong with you.”‘
I’ll have much more on this tonight and next Sunday at Harvest in Riverside.
I believe that Jesus Christ is coming back again.
In my understanding of Bible prophecy and what theologians call eschatology, the next event on the prophetic calendar is the rapture of the Church. That is the event where Christ Himself will call all true believers to join Him in heaven.
It will happen, as the Bible says, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” I hope you are ready for that event.
I will be speaking this Thursday night in Orange County on this topic. The title of my message will be “Signs of the Times,” and it is the first of a five-part series on the last days.
I will also be speaking on this same topic next week at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in North Carolina. Joining me will be my friends Don McClure, Levi Lusko, and Pedro Garcia.
There is still time to sign up for that. For more info, click here.
Israel is the key
The Bible is very specific in saying that a sign of the times would be the re-gathering of the Jewish people into their homeland of Israel. When that happened, the prophetic clock would be ticking.
The Bible tells us, “When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory” (Psalm 102:16). So it is not just a sign of the times, it is a “super-sign.”
Never had a nation been able to regain its national identity, 300-500 years after being removed from its homeland, until Israel!
Today, you will look in vain for the descendants of the Hittite and Babylonian nation, even though both were major powers in the ancient world. In fact, if it were not for the Bible, the Hittites would never have been remembered by history, so far had they sunk into the sands of time.
At one time, scoffers used to ridicule the Bible for even mentioning the Hittites. It was thought that they were fictional. But archaeologists in the 19th century eventually confirmed the accuracy of Scripture when they uncovered irrefutable evidence of the extensive Hittite Empire.
Still, you won’t find any Hittites today or Assyrians or Babylonians.
Not so with the Jews!
Why did they survive, while the mighty Hittites, Assyrians, and Babylonians have vanished? Because God promised they would!
That prophecy came true on May 14, 1948, when Israel became a nation again.
I will talk about this more tomorrow, but here’s a closing question for you: If Jesus came back today, would you be ready?
Are these the end times? Are we seeing Bible prophecies fullfilled before our very eyes? Are we close to the return of Jesus Christ?
The short answer to those questions, in my opinion, is “Yes!”
This Sunday, I am starting a new series on this very topic. It’s part of our Essentials series, and we’ll start by taking a “big picture” look at the order of events in the last days.
I hope you can join us, as I believe it is information you need to hear.
Back from Chicago
I just got back yesterday from Chicago, where we had a great time. I was able to hang with my buddy James McDonald, and sample some killer
Chicagoland cuisine. That would be deep dish pizza and the very unusual but delicious Chicago hot dog.
But the real reason I was there (besides getting heartburn) was to speak to a group of more than 400 Chicagoland pastors. I’ll be making more trips to the “Windy City” in the months ahead as we prepare for our first Harvest Crusades event in Chicago.
This and that
We sometimes wonder, “Can good ever come out of bad?”
The answer is yes; and to make my point, consider the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. What was more tragic than that?
However, we have to acknowledge that God allowed it. He not only allowed Satan’s rebellion, but He allowed Satan’s orchestration of Jesus’ death!
What could seem more tragic and inexplicable than when Jesus Christ was crucified? The disciples were devastated by it, having no idea how it could possibly bring good.
And yet, this greatest of tragedies turned into the greatest of victories. For it was not only Satan’s plan, it was the Father’s plan as well. It was one of the rare occurrences when both God and Satan desired the same thing (for different purposes, of course).
We know that it was the will of God for Jesus to die on the cross. Scripture tells us, “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer” (Isaiah 53:10 NIV). This was because there was no other way for mankind to be saved.
Satan and God moved toward the same event
Satan wanted Jesus killed in order to humiliate Him and stop His powerful ministry. Blinded by his own rage and hatred for Christ, Satan unwittingly played into God’s plan when he inspired Judas to betray Jesus and got the religious leaders to push for death.
Even the fact that they wanted the Romans to execute Jesus was a fulfillment of God’s plan. Psalm 22 speaks of the Messiah being crucified, a Roman form of punishment.
God wanted the Son to die for the sin of the world and then rise from the dead.
Satan can serve God’s purposes
So, ironic as it may seem, even as Satan opposes God, he works for Him at the same time, accomplishing His divine purposes.
Did you know that even in our daily lives, Satan accomplishes God’s purposes? It is through the trials, temptations, and afflictions Satan sends us that we become stronger spiritually.
Trials are hard, but they produce good things. The Bible says, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:11 NLT).
There’s a good quote in Randy Alcorn’s new book, If God Is Good:
If God brought eternal joy through the suffering of Jesus, can He bring eternal joy through my personal suffering, and yours? If Jesus endured His suffering through anticipating the reward of unending joy, can He empower you and me to do the same?
The answer to the problem of evil and suffering is not a philosophy, but a Person; not words, but the Word.
A grieving father once asked, “Where was God when my son died?” His friend answered, “The same place He was when His Son died!”
When we feel upset with God and tempted to blame him, we should look at the outstretched arms of Jesus and focus on His wounds, not ours.
This Sunday at Harvest, I will respond to the question, “Can God bring good out of bad?”
I believe the answer is a resounding yes! That is not to stay that bad things become good, but rather that God can bring good despite the bad.
We have all had bad things happen to us–for some of us, really bad things. Yet Scripture promises that God can work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).
Here is a verse specifically written to people who are suffering and mourning. Though originally given to Israel, it certainly pertains to all of us as well.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory. (Isaiah 61:3)
Six reasons why God allows suffering
The title of my message is “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” It is primarily based on Job 2 as we finish up his amazing story. I will also give six reasons why God allows suffering in the life of a believer.
You can come to our service at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, or watch online at 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., and 11:45 A.M. The 9:45 A.M. service is also broadcast live in all of Southern California on KWVE (107.9 FM).
Devos and more
I have an article at WorldNetDaily this weekend on the topic of prayer. Click here to check that out.
Also, here is my long-form devo that we prepare especially for the weekend.
I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of long lines.
When I am at the supermarket, I will even go to the 12-items-or-less line, so I don’t have to wait. The problem is that I usually need to get more than 12 items, but I do it anyway, just so I don’t have to wait in another line!
Of course, I will still count the number of items the person in front of me is buying too!
And when a new lane opens and they say, “Next in line,” I’m a happy camper.
Getting into Disneyland
Imagine that you are standing in the hot blistering sun, waiting for Disneyland to open. You are far back in line, and it seems to be taking forever.
Suddenly, a man comes to you and identifies himself as the CEO of Disney. He invites you to step ahead of the line and get in the park before everyone else.
Would you be happy about that? Of course you would, though I’m sure the other people waiting might resent that a bit.
An early crown
That’s how it is when a Christian dies young or unexpectedly. They get to go ahead of the rest of us, not to Disneyland but to heaven!
Getting into heaven early is a privilege , not a punishment. It’s a promotion, not a termination. An early death means an early crown.
Our deepest regret is we didn’t get to go with them.
Gone for now
We should not think of our loved ones in heaven as being gone. That word is taken from the vocabulary of death, and it implies that the loved one no longer exists, which could not be more false.
The Bible says that they have departed to be with Christ, which is far better (Philippians 1:23).
If you must use the word “gone,” then you should say, “They are gone from me now, but I will see them again.” This is the great hope of the Christian!
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)