Waiting For Jesus

Message Outline – January 21, 2017

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (1)Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, (4)That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, (3)And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (2)While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”(Matthew 24:42 to Matthew 25:13)

Personally, I am thankful for the prophetic tone of recent messages. Prophetic messages are necessary to guide us into the times ahead.

God has promised to speak to us prophetically so that we know the times, just like “the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” (1Chronicles 12:32)

Waiting for Jesus is really watching (as our text states repeatedly). Jesus taught that we must watch for his return.

Verses 45 to 47 (1)reveal that watching for Jesus’ return involves authority for the believer, and provision through the believer for the family of God and for those outside Christ. (Refer/compare to when Jesus questioned Peter three times, “Do you love me?” When Peter answered yes, Jesus replied,”…feed my sheep”. (see John 21:15-18).

But while waiting for Jesus, the church has become just like the people and religious leaders of Jesus’ day, waiting for the King of Kings to return and set up his physical government in the earth and rule the nations with a “rod of iron”. (see Revelation 19:15)

However this fails to account for the true nature of the everlasting Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God will crush every kingdom of this world (see Daniel 2:35), but this happens one person at a time as God reaches you and me with his everlasting message of mercy and salvation, replacing all other “kingdoms,” erasing all other nationalities, and ending all other loyalties. The kingdom of God is an inward kingdom, of the heart. The rebellion of the nations, led by Satan at the end of one thousand years of perfection (see Revelation 20:7-9) proves that the everlasting Kingdom of God must rule the heart.

Be reminded that God calls us to seek him with our whole heart (in parallel with Pastor Jon’s message – that we love the Lord with all of our heart), because when we seek him with our whole heart, then we will find him (see Jeremiah 29:13).

But in contract to this, the parable of the ten virgins reveals that the whole church has fallen asleep(2), and many are double minded (double mindedness is better understood in the original languages as “having two hearts,” or literally, “a heart, and a heart” (see Psalm 12:2), and ultimately being double minded results in not being ready for the Lord’s return. This is revealed in the fact that the wise virgins could not “give” their oil to the foolish – and as a result the foolish were left outside.

In the parable, the oil had to be purchased at a price, it was not free. The ten virgins represent the church, and the “price” of the oil is our life that we forsake in order to truly learn Christ inwardly. We cannot be his disciple unless we forsake all, and in particular forsake our life and our will in order to truly follow Jesus. Otherwise we are merely imitators of Christ, walking in the flesh, having a form of godliness but not bearing his image naturally and as a result of his Spirit (resurrection) flowing through (quickening) us. In verse 51 (3)Jesus calls that hypocrisy. (A hypocrite is someone who is not what they say they are).

However to those who forsake all, Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, that he (God) shall make him (the believer) ruler over all of his goods”(4). In other words, all of the riches of the Kingdom of God are available to those who seek God, and whose hearts are not divided. The result today is the same as in the parable, the wise have oil in their lamps, meaning that all authority, discernment, and limitless power of the Holy Spirit is ours when we seek him with all our heart.

This message today is a call from God to wake up from sleep. There is no finger pointing in this message, because all of the virgins, the wise and the foolish, all slept. Today we all need to wake up and watch. It is a desperate hour.

The biblical pattern of God’s mercy in a desperate hour is that he first sends his (prophetic) word to awaken his people. When that does not work, judgments follow. In an effort to awaken more and more of his people, judgments escalate.

God is so patient, and it is not his will that any should perish. But ultimately he will thrust the church into the position of providing or being left outside.

It is the promise and the will of God to give “every spiritual blessing in heavenly places with Christ” to his church (see Ephesians 1:3). Plainly stated, when we awake to Christ and give him our whole heart, there will be no lack, God will be plainly seen in us, and those in the world seeking light will come to us.

“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:14 to 5:16)…

…(Quoted from Isaiah 60:1 to 60:3)
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

Jesus is coming. God is calling. “And what I say to you, I say to all. Watch.” (Mark 13:37)

Work Out Your Own Salvation

After six months in our new apartment, we needed to move again. This time God provided a house in the country. We lived there for about three years, but were not well off and only had one car. This left my wife alone with our children and no transportation while I worked very long hours away from home, often six days a week. They were not easy days for her, but she gave herself for our children, God blessed her in many amazing ways, and through it we learned that he is our portion.

I was young and not always wise, and our marriage was relatively new. Things did not always go smooth and we had many things to work on. But we prayed together constantly, even when we were upset with one another. We learned that in the Spirit it is impossible to accuse another at the throne of God. In the presence of God, one is literally caused to look inside oneself. This settled many issues that might have spun out of control.

We also submitted every decision about raising our children, dealing in business, or any issue we could not agree on, to the Word of God. In fact we did not consult any other source but the Bible for many years. We also learned the importance of digesting and knowing scripture in order to discern the safety and validity of other sources of information. Again, we were not always right, but because we threw away every “back-up plan” and depended on God completely, the Holy Spirit taught us. He truly made every crooked path straight.

God also began speaking to us about the idols in our hearts, and about the idols in our home. I remember my wife throwing a number of things out of our home after God showed them to her in prayer.

Eventually we started praying about our television, and we read where Jesus said that the light of the body is the eye (Matthew 6:22-23). In those days TV content was tame compared to now, but even then it was already clear that TV was being used to trick Christians into passively participating in murder, rape, divorce, homosexuality and every other act abominable to God.

Then one perfectly sunny Saturday afternoon, as I sat playing the piano with our eldest daughter on my lap, a single cloud in the sky with no rain in it came over our house. Lightening from that cloud struck our house so hard that it destroyed the tube in the TV set, and blew the telephone off the wall. About 20 minutes later, an electric utility service truck passed our house looking for damage to the power lines. We took that event as a cue from God and gladly disposed of that TV at the dump.

About ten years later, on another Saturday afternoon, we decided we were tired of the isolation, and took the family to pick out a new television. After purchasing and loading it into the car, we started to drive home. We did not proceed one mile before the fear of God came down so powerfully on every individual in the car that even our children were begging my wife and I to return the new TV to the store. The salesman looked at us a bit sideways when we told him God made us bring it back, but we were glad to get our money and leave it behind.

Some things God led us into seemed hard at the time, but we quickly saw the benefit, and today there are absolutely no regrets for having obeyed his voice.

Very difficult times were about to come to us. We made some mistakes (as we all do), and the enemy took advantage of that (as he always does), but eventually God helped us miraculously.

And we can say now, that God never once failed to go ahead of us. Other Christians were praying for us, and we got through it all because of the foundational lessons (and others besides) that I have described.

We stood on God’s word, it proved to be the Rock as promised, and today we’re so grateful.

God Is So Good.

Plain Instructions From God

I hope to re-emphasize that my experiences with God are evidence of his great love. Certainly if he responded in kind to my poor efforts to please him, it would be a sad situation. Fortunately, God is love and everything he does demonstrates that.

From our human vantage point, we call it a blessing when his love is sent in our direction. But when it happens, we should not be surprised or exulted as though something special has happened to us. (See Luke 10:20). God simply does all things well, and sends good at every occasion. He is always ahead of the game. We may view circumstances as an indication that God has changed, or that God has reacted, but that’s just our limited view of things.

I had been saved about 2 years, it was early November, and my wife was expecting our second child, however we lived in an adult only building. No one was complaining or asking us to leave. But we knew we could not stay there much longer.

In prayer one morning, not thinking or praying about our housing situation, God said to me, “by April 1st you will be living in _________.” It happened to be the town my wife spent her teenage years in.

Getting up from prayer I told her about this word of knowledge from the Lord. But there was a problem. We did not want to move to that town. I had just begun working as a tradesman in the city, and after many months of searching we had finally found a really good Spirit filled church. Counting the time before and after we married, we had both lived in the city on and off for approximately six years, and did not want to leave the things we enjoyed or the things we were learning. And we certainly did not want to move back to a small town.

So we continued throughout that winter, looking for a house or apartment to rent. I took a college night class and joined the church choir. My wife was raising our daughter and pursuing her interests. Evenings and weekends we would visit the markets and enjoy the things that only a large city can offer. But we still could not find anywhere affordable to live.

We honestly had put God’s instruction completely out of our minds, when early in March, during prayer again, God spoke to me, reminding me about moving by the 1st of April. Getting up from prayer I said to my wife, “You’d better get in the car, drive to ________, and look for a place.” She did, that morning, and late that afternoon called me. In spite of almost zero vacancies, the main floor of a house was newly advertised that day. She had met the owner and placed the deposit. The new apartment was empty and available for April 1st.

Our landlord in the city forgave our lease, returned the last month’s rent without any dispute, and on April 1st we were sitting in our new apartment, in the town God appointed, on exactly the day he said.

At the time I was too immature to realize that God had gone ahead of us, and just how wonderfully he had provided. In fact I am only recognizing the depth of it for the first time now as I write this. That he would be planning every detail, ahead of our need, without being petitioned. That’s amazing.

Oh, if we only knew how much God loves… then I believe we would find rest.

He is so good, and I feel so encouraged writing about this. I hope you are encouraged too.

Prayer and Fasting

Immediately after filling Jesus, the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness to fast and pray. Fasting, as a biblical discipline, is practiced primarily to increase faith (or dissolve unbelief, see Mark 9:29), and is mentioned repeatedly in scripture for that reason.

When fasting is ignored, a great disservice is done. Since our battle is against principalities, powers and spiritual wickedness, we need every spiritual weapon offered to us. The amount of scriptural evidence for fasting should convince Christians everywhere to practice it.

I have encouraged you in previous posts to allow the word of God to wash away all of your doubts. But now, also let the word of God completely transform your view of things. We see men, and the effect of their unbelief as sin dictates their actions. But we need to see beyond that, to spiritual realities. The forces who originated this rebellion against God must be dealt with, we cannot avoid it. And whether or not we understand how power over Satan is obtained through prayer and fasting, we need it, and should trust and follow Jesus’ example and instructions.

In my experience, practicing fasting is far more important that understanding fasting. You don’t need to answer every question regarding how and why. Simply believe, Jesus said. Every example of prayer and fasting in the Bible demonstrates that faith increases, power increases, and victories are won. And that is all you need to know.

It should be acknowledged that fasting is easy for some individuals, difficult for others, impossible for some people, and also impossible in certain circumstances. No one should ever be proud of their ease, or embarrassed by their struggle when fasting. Neither should anyone feel guilty if they simply cannot fast. Although it is very valuable, fasting is not obligatory. God gives different abilities to each of us, and His plan includes times and seasons for everything. And fasting has absolutely nothing to do with punishing or buffeting the flesh, there is enough adversity in everyday life for that.

So, learning to fast one meal or two in the beginning, and extending the length of time as spiritual hunger increases is recommended. Keep in mind that God is more than patient while we learn, and if we think we have mastered anything, we have not. God looks on the heart, sees our spiritual hunger, and guides us every step of the way. Learning the faith building, power producing practice of fasting is no exception.

Fasting is by definition, “to not eat food,” and there are two main types of fasting in the bible.

  1. A Public or Proclaimed Fast called for in times of national or spiritual crisis and entered into by the entire, repentant, congregation.
  2. A Personal Fast performed simply out of an individual’s hunger for God, with the power obtained having a great variety of personal and corporate manifestations.

Then there are three methods of fasting.

  1. Partial fast – John Wesley (for example) would eat nothing but bread for various periods of time. In captivity, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego ate only pulse and water. At the end, the king of Babylon “found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” There are no health concerns restricting the length of a partial fast.
  2. Normal fast – Luke 4:2 “And in those days he did eat nothing.” Jesus had no solid (or liquid) food, only water. A normal fast should not extend beyond 21 days (the time when excess fatty deposits are all used up and the body starts to convert protein and muscle, harming the body).
  3. Absolute Fast – In the Book of Ester they fasted from food and water for three days. An absolute fast should never extend beyond three days.

Although Moses, Elijah and Jesus experienced miraculous 40 day fasts in the bible, a normal fast should never extend beyond 21 days.

Fasting, like praying and giving, should be a private matter between you and God. (Matthew 6:18)

A highly regarded, expert resource for biblical fasting is Arthur Wallis’ book, “God’s Chosen Fast.”

And an excellent video teaching is available at http://media3c.tscnyc.ws/2016/04/10s2/20160410s2.mp4

Fast and pray… you will not be disappointed.