Quick question. Are you holding on for the Rapture or living each day as a witness in ways that will help bring others to Christ? Shouldn't this be the question we need to ask ourselves every day? Read on if you want to know more.
Let's face it, the world is a scary place right now. From a worldly perspective, it seems like our existing society is on a downward slope towards oblivion. Call me a pessimist if you want, but I'm more of a realist than an optimist or a pessimist. Tyranny is growing in most countries around the world and it is completely unchecked. Elites in politics, business, media, and even religion are colluding to crush our existing civilization and so many of the elites are involved that there is nothing to stop them.
Even where laws exist to prevent the growth of tyranny, the powers that be simply ignore them and do whatever they want anyway. The elites have enough friends in high places that they have been able to overcome virtually any challenge that has been presented to them. Even populist wins, such as the election of President Trump in the U.S., are short-term. Through massive amounts of lies and corruption, the elites regained political and military control of the U.S. in 2020. With that power, they are working to systematically dismantle anything that represents or promotes individual freedoms. As others have said, the freedom of the world rests on the shoulders of the U.S. If the U.S. falls, freedom falls everywhere. That's the bad news.
Want some good news? God is STILL in control and He is TEMPORARILY allowing the elites of the world to acquire what they assume to be the ultimate power. While that's Good News for us, it's all bad news for those seeking worldly power. Worldly power is not what they think it is and they will regret it. How do I know? Simple, the Bible tells us so.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46 ESV
I don't know about you, but I definitely don't want to be with the goats!
Back to my original question, are you simply holding on, or are you actively searching for lost sheep to add to the Kingdom? Let me be frank, I, unfortunately, find myself holding on way more frequently than I am actively searching for those that need to hear the Gospel. I mean, who doesn't want to be raptured? The Rapture seems to be so close and life is so challenging these days that it sure would be nice to skip the everyday problems I face here on Earth and go directly to Heaven.
Think about this small depiction of Heaven in the story of the transfiguration. What do you see?
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Matthew 17:1-8 ESV
There are two points I want to make about this passage. First, notice that Peter asked Jesus if He wanted the disciples to build a tent where they could stay. In Greek, the word for tent is "skéné", pronounced like "skay-nay". The word can be translated as a tent, booth, tabernacle, abode, dwelling, mansion, habitation. Clearly, Peter liked what he saw and he would have been happy to stay there. We can assume that James and John felt the same as Peter. This was as close to Heaven as any of them had ever been and all three wanted to stay. In addition, there is a line of thinking that the Transfiguration occurred during Sukkot or the Festival of Tabernacles. If so, Peter may have thought that Moses and Elijah were there to participate in the festival. Regardless, holidays (our modern-day festivals) are the mountain tops of our everyday life. Given that we had a choice, I'm sure that most everyone would prefer to have more holidays rather than less. According to descriptions in the Bible, Heaven is like the best holiday ever, and it will be like that every day for eternity. Sound interesting? For Peter, James, and John it was not time to stay on the mountaintop, and the same is true for us. There is still work to be done in the valley.
Second, did you notice what happened when the disciples heard the voice of God? They immediately fell to their faces and they were terrified. Why were they terrified? They didn't see God's face (which was supposed to be fatal according to Exodus 33:23), they only heard his voice. Most commentators say that this was because God is perfect. When we compare our sinful selves against our Creator's perfection, every human instinctively knows that "None is righteous, no, not even one," Romans 3:10. We pale in comparison and our natural instinct is to fall on our faces and be terrified. This natural instinct explains the verse in Romans 14:11 that every knee shall bow to the Lord. We won't have a choice. Even the most stubborn, arrogant, and self-righteous person who ever lived does not have the ability to stand in front of God...without help. That's why Matthew 17:7 might arguably be the most important verse in the passage. When Jesus tells the Disciples to "rise and have no fear" He is giving them the direction to get back to work. Most importantly, Jesus is telling us to have no fear as we do the work that He calls us to do!
I suspect that many of you who read this post are like me. I would MUCH prefer to be on the mountaintop than be in the valley. However, it is obviously not yet time for the rapture. From my perspective I can't understand why wouldn't it be time, I mean how much worse can it get here? I suspect most of you know the answer to this question. Unfortunately, the bad news is it can and it will get WAY worse here before Jesus' Second Coming. If what the Bible says is true, the Earth will be almost unrecognizable by the time the Tribulation is over.
So why is the seaming delay of the Rapture good news? Simple, God's not done yet. In His indescribable Grace, He is still reaching out to people who do not yet know Him. Even if a person has rejected God an infinite amount of times, He is still reaching out to them. How amazing is that? It does not matter what we have done previously in our lives. No matter how badly we have rejected Him, His Grace is still available to any and all who would simply say yes.
When I struggle with personal disappointment that the Rapture has not already occurred, I find hope in the TobyMac song "Help Is On The Way", especially the idea that God is never early or late but always right on time.
It may be midnight or mid-day
He's never early, never late
He will stand by what He claimed
I lived enough life to say... (Say, say, say)
Help is on the way
Roundin' the corner
Help is on the way
Comin' for ya
Help is on the way
I lived enough life to say...
Help is on the way
Here's the song if you need a refresher.
Again I go back to my original question. What, if anything, are you doing to serve Jesus in this late hour?
I have a friend who is absolutely amazing at finding "lost coins," people who are lost and need to be told or reminded that God loves them more than anything and regardless of what they have done in their lives. This friend and his wife are consistently witnessing to strangers and bringing them to Christ. He finds lost coins seemingly on a daily basis and sometimes multiple times once each day. How does he do it? Simple, he's opens himself to the Holy Spirit to find lost coins and he follows wherever he is led to go. And wherever he is, he is not afraid to reach out to strangers he meets in random places and he shares the Gospel with them. He leads many to Christ for the first time and for others he helps them renew or refine their faith. While this friend clearly has the God-given talent to find lost coins, he also has such an incredibly close relationship with Jesus that he is able to hear the call when the Holy Spirt prompts him to share with someone close by.
I have another friend who regularly goes to a busy intersection in his city and walks around it for several hours at a time carrying a sign warning people that Jesus' return is near. He's been doing carrying his sign on that corner for a number of years. I'm sure you can imagine the number of rude responses he has received from motorists passing by. However, my friend reports that sometimes his presence and his sign produce a visceral response from people passing by. When this happens it is as if the Holy Spirit has been preparing the motorist for just this moment. We don't know if the sign viewing pushes someone to accept Christ for the first time, or pushes someone to go deeper in their relationship. However, it is very clear that his work is effectively planting and watering seeds and preparing them for growth as Paul described in 1 Corinthians 3:6.
Does that sound as exciting to you as it does to me? If so, how many of you are searching for lost coins and sharing the Gospel with them? If not, why not? What do we have to lose?
I know all the excuses why someone would not want to go out and witness to strangers because I'm really good at using them myself. I would love to do something like the things my friends are doing. I know my gifts are not the same as these two friends so my labor will be slightly different. However, I am convinced that I can be equally effective. How do I know I can be effective? Easy, it's because the power to succeed is not mine. It is the Lord who moves mountains. My only responsibility is to faithfully make myself available to be used.
The concept of witnessing is simple. It's the execution that's hard, and the only reason it's hard is that my stubborn self rebels at letting go. All I need to do is to have faith, pray for the opportunity, and accept the call no matter when or where you hear it.
What if I reminded you (and me) that finding lost coins is not only something that would be a great way to spend our time waiting for the Rapture, but it is also what Jesus commanded us to do?
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 ESV
Does this passage make a difference? Do you feel like the disciples who spoke with Jesus on the road to Emmaus?
32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:32 ESV
Then may I suggest that each of us (and especially me) "Go and do likewise" as Jesus suggested in Luke 10:36-37.
I would be grateful for any of you who are willing to share your witnessing struggles and successes in the comments below.
God Bless and Marantha!