Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts

Young Married Group Meeting

I started talking with one of my married friends a couple months ago about how there just doesn’t seem to be many groups for young married people. I’m not sure why that is, but it seems to be true where we live. I’ve tried calling different churches and everything, but there are just not very many places to meet other married couples.

So my friend and I talked with our husbands and we decided that we’d start our own. We picked out a Bible study to do, set up our first meeting and invited any other couples that might like to come.

On Monday we had our first meeting. If you want to call it a meeting. Derek and I kind of messed it up.

When we first set it up we said we’d meet at a Starbucks downtown at 7:00 PM. We figured it would be a good time to meet because then we’d have two hours after work to get down there.

Well, they changed Derek’s work schedule this year so that he doesn’t get off until 6:00 PM. I’m not sure why we thought we’d still be able to make it down there in an hour, but there was just no way. So I called to let my friend know that we’d be there a little late.

As we approached the area we realized that the directions we had printed from the internet to the Starbucks were incorrect. We ended up calling my friend again and one of the other husbands directed us to the Starbucks. By the time we got there we were forty minutes late.

When Derek was on the phone getting directions a bunch of water suddenly splashed onto our windshield. We thought maybe someone had dumped some water out their window or something. Until we pulled into the parking lot of the Starbucks and the coolant light came on. Then we realized that all that liquid was the coolant from our car. I’m just glad that we made it there before we broke down.

Sometimes I think Satan likes to sabotage us when we try to get to know other married couples. This has happened to us before – the care broke down last year when we tried to meet up with another couple for dinner and a movie.

So we went in to Starbucks, feeling a little embarrassed, and let everyone know what happened.

It was a meeting in the sense that we all met there, but the arrival of Derek and me broke up the meeting. The other couples were so nice about it though – my friend told me they were all hoping that we wouldn’t feel bad, because they had a nice time talking, and we weren’t planning on starting the Bible study part until next time anyway.

All things considered the evening turned out alright. We met the other couple and sat and talked for a few minutes, then my friend and her husband took us to a Checkers and Derek bought a wrench and fixed the car himself (I’m so glad I have a husband who knows what to do when stuff like that happens). While the guys were fixing the coolant hose I got to visit with my friend, so it all worked out okay, even though it didn’t turn out like we expected.

I’m pretty excited because it seems like it’s a really good group! It’ll be nice to be able to get to know everyone and to make some friends as a couple. There are only two other couples besides Derek and me, but I think that’s a good number. In three weeks everyone is going to come up to our house for the next meeting.

Looks like I have some cleaning to do!


Of Butterflies and Caterpillars

I read something interesting the other day in the Bible study book that Derek and I are doing together, and I thought I'd share it here.

"Biblical terminology does not say that a Christian has two different natures. He has but one nature, the new nature of Christ. The old self dies and the new self lives; they do not coexist. It is not a remaining old nature but the remaining garment of sinful flesh that causes a Christian to sin. The Christian is a single new person, a totally new creation, not a spiritual schizophrenic. It is the filthy coat of remaining humanness in which the new creation dwell that continues to hinder and contaminate his living. The believer as a total person is transformed but not yet wholly perfect. He has residing sin but no longer reigning sin (Romans 6:14). He is no longer the old man corrupted but is now the new man created in righteousness and holiness, awaiting full salvation (Romans 13:11)."
From Ephesians: Our Immeasurable Blessings in Christ by John MacArthur.

I thought that paragraph was really good, because I guess in my head I always thought some of the old sinful nature must still be there, because I don't think anyone can deny that Christians still sin. But this paragraph is saying that the old nature is completely gone. There isn't even a little bit left.

When I was growing up, I learned in church that there are three things that can tempt a Christian to still sin, even though they are saved - the flesh, the world, and Satan. When they say "the flesh" can cause a Christian to still sin, I always thought that meant some remaining bit of sinful human nature. But when I read the above paragraph in my Bible study book, I realized that "the flesh" is alot different from "sinful nature", or the old man. The Bible states very clearly that when we come to Christ we are a new creation, and the old passes away (2 Corinthians 5:17). So when we accept Jesus as our Savior, the old sinful man is completely eradicated, and inside we are a completely new creation. The list doesn't include "sinful nature", just "the flesh". That old childhood list finally makes perfect sense to me.

However, that new creation is still encased in our sinful flesh, our earthly bodies. And those earthly bodies still hinder us and cause us to sin, even though spiritually we are totally clean and new. Kind of like a butterfly when it's still trapped in that icky cocoon. The butterfly is totally transformed from that fuzzy caterpillar into the beautiful creature with wings - but it's still in the same cocoon that a caterpillar is in.

But someday, we'll shed our earthly bodies, and only the inward spiritual creature that is underneath will show. If you're a Christian, that totally new and clean spiritual nature that the Lord gave you long ago, from the moment you believed in Him, will finally be freed from the corruption of our outward flesh, and we will be able to see the Lord because He has transformed us.

If you're not a Christian, your earthly body will be shed as well; but all that will be left is that old man, the one that is not fitted to fly to Heaven, because you've never let the Lord save you from that sinful nature and make you new and clean.

So are you a butterfly or a caterpillar under that cocoon?

Image from .

Confession Time

With all of these trips that Derek and I have been going on the past couple of weeks, we’ve kind of lagged behind on our weekly Bible study. But we intend to get back on track now that our schedules should be back to normal!

If you remember, Derek and I are doing a Bible study by John Macarthur on the book of Ephesians. This week the chapter was on the body of Christ and spiritual gifts. It was a really good reminder to use my spiritual gifts more, because the church cannot be unified or function as it should if all of it’s members aren’t contributing.

However, that lesson was not what really jumped out at me. Do you ever have one of those times where you keep hearing about one topic over and over again, typically a topic that convicts you, and even though you might ignore it the first time, you eventually have to face the music because you just keep hearing about it everywhere you look? That happens to me all the time. I think that’s the way the Lord likes to show me things – by repetitive references to it.

Well, lately I’ve become increasingly aware of (2) my selfishness, once again. It’s one of those things that is really hard to beat. And I’ve especially been realizing (2) what an envious and judgmental attitude I have at times.

Envy is one of those sneaky sins, at least for me. You don’t do anything wrong – you feel something wrong. Those kinds of sins are a lot harder to put your finger on – you know something isn’t quite right in your heart lately, but it’s hard to figure out exactly what that feeling is springing from.

Well, this past week I’ve been convicted of my envious and prideful attitude, which once again grows from an underlying selfishness – that dreadful sin that seems to be at the bottom of all the others! Boy, do I need to work on it. But I’m talking about envy today, not selfishness – just be aware that selfishness is behind it as I continue.

I get rather jealous when someone else gets something that I want too. It’s not really that I don’t want them to have it, it’s that I don’t want them to have it first. I’ve always been a little competitive, and I like to be ahead of everyone else. So when someone else moves to the next stage of their life without me, or is doing better financially, or anything like that, I’m not happy for their success like I should be. Outside I congratulate them or tell them how great it is that the good thing happened to them, because a part of me really is happy. But another part of me that I try very hard to hide is frustrated because they’re ahead of me. That part of me isn’t really happy for the other person – it’s angry and sad. It rants, it cries, it gets depressed. And it always will, as long as I allow it to stay there.

I’ve realized recently that I really need to eradicate that diseased part of me – it’ll kill my relationships and turn me into a bitter person if I let it. And what grieves me most is that it’s not at all pleasing or honoring to my Lord.

I also realized how judgmental and self-righteous I can be. Lately I tend to think that I’m always right, and I’ve been making judgments about other people’s motives when I shouldn’t be, especially if it’s someone who I think has wronged me in some way. I used to be a lot more merciful – I gave people the benefit of a doubt much more frequently, and I tried to think the best of them. I think that was one of my spiritual gifts, but lately I haven’t been exercising that gift at all – in fact, I’ve let it atrophy to such an extent that I have had the opposite attitude lately. I’m ashamed of myself and my attitude.

My mom says that sometimes the Lord allows you a time of going your own way so that you can realize how awful you can actually be, and how much you really need Him. I think that’s what I’ve been experiencing lately. And when you do have a time like that, my mom says you need to crawl back to the Lord and let Him help you overcome that struggle – and He’ll never turn you away when you do that.

I had a good cry about my sin one night last week, and I asked the Lord to forgive me and help me to improve. And here is how I feel He answered me.

The next day I worked on the Bible study that Derek and I are doing together, after not doing it for a week and a half. And wouldn’t you know, one of the supplementary passages was Romans 12:4-18:

“4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."

That’s what the passage said. Here’s what the Lord said to me while I was reading it:

“Show mercy with cheerfulness (like you used to do). Let your love be without hypocrisy (that means not secretly grumbling about others or judging them – you’re not really loving them when you do that). Continue steadfastly in prayer (you’ve been neglecting that lately) . Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (that means not being secretly frustrated when they succeed before you do). Do not be wise in our own opinion (you’re not always right, Callie, and you don’t know what I’m doing in other’s hearts).”

The Lord gave me a direct passage to show me what I need to do to improve. And I’m going to be working on it, with His help.

I guess the Lord put it on my heart to share my struggle with you today, because who knows, maybe one of you is having the same problems. I think it’s good to confess our sins to each other, because Christians are not perfect – I think my little confession here proves that. I don’t think we have to pretend to be perfect – in fact, it’s probably better to admit that we’re not. I think so often we Christians avoid talking about our sin because we want to be good examples. But nobody said we would be perfect as long as we live in this world – we’re still going to sin. However, Jesus died to save us from those awful sins, and He’s still working on us. And boy, do I need to be worked on – His work won’t be finished until I get to Heaven, really.

So here’s my game plan to improve on this, based on that Romans passage. It doesn’t do much good to just be sorry, I have to have a plan, right?

1. Pray more! Turn off the radio on the way to work, and pray. Pray about my attitude, pray for other people, especially those who I’ve had a bad attitude toward. My prayer life has been suffering severely lately, and I’m sure that hasn’t helped me in the envy/self-righteousness department.

2. When I feel a little jealous of someone, or have a little envious thought, catch it, pray immediately and ask the Lord to forgive me, and make a conscious effort to be happy for the other person.

3. When I catch myself making judgments about other’s motives or attitudes, pray immediately and make an effort to think the best of that person instead.

4. Admit when I’m wrong more, and open my mind to the possibility that I may be wrong, even when I’m sure I’m right, because I don’t know everything. Be more sensitive to my self-righteous attitude by praying about the subject right away, instead of waiting until later.

Some of that will be hard to do, especially in the middle of the incident, because like I said, I think these sins are kind of sneaky. It’s easy to admit when I do something wrong, because I can usually see it right away, but when I think something wrong or have a wrong attitude it’s not always visible to others. It’s between me and the Lord, and I can be awfully good at ignoring things I think that are wrong, because you can’t help the way you feel, right? Well, that isn’t true, I can help the way I feel, and I think that will come from catching those thoughts right as they flitter across my mind, and confessing them immediately. I’ve been trying to do better, but it’s awfully hard – but I know the Lord will help me improve. It just takes time.

Anyone else have problems with those sneaky, attitude sins? Any suggestions on what has worked for you?

I thought I’d leave you with a prayer that I wrote down after the Lord convicted me so strongly last week. I think it sums up my problem rather nicely, and I know the Lord heard it, and I’m praying He’ll help me to be sensitive to His correction.

Lord, I am a wretch. I’ve been spiteful, prideful, bitter, impatient and envious. I haven’t overlooked offenses as I should, I’ve been thinking only of myself and my own feelings. I am stubborn in my pride, thinking that I am always right and others are wrong. I’ve been judgmental, self-righteous, and ungrateful. Please forgive me. Help me in my attitudes and thoughts this week, help me to think of other’s needs before my own comfort or feelings. Help me to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, and weep with those who are weeping. Help me to be grateful for what I have, not constantly comparing myself to others or being envious. Forgive me for grumbling about others and holding grudges, for being a hypocrite. Forgive me for not using the spiritual gifts you’ve given me, but going my own way instead. Help me to change my attitudes and behaviors, especially toward those that I feel have wronged me. Help me to show mercy within my own heart. Thank you, Lord, for being my “God Who Forgives.” In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

A Mind-Boggling Thought

This week when I was working on the Bible study that Derek and I are doing together (Ephesians: Our Immeasurable Blessings In Christ by John MacArthur), I had an epiphany. The lesson was on Ephesians 2:1-10. Here it is (just in case you are not near a Bible at the moment):

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:1-10

The lesson focused first on how absolutely lost and evil we were before we came to Christ (verses 1-3). Then it focused on God's grace (verses 5-8). The whole book of Ephesians so far seems to have a recurring theme of "the riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (verse 7).

The part that really got me this week was when I read verses 8 and 9 carefully. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." You know that line that says "and that not of yourselves"? Well, I always thought that meant that our salvation is not of ourselves (which is true), because that is always the context in which I hear this verse in sermons and such. But when I read it in the context of the whole passage (which I've done before, but I really read it carefully this time), it seemed to make more sense that the "that" in the above line is talking about our faith. Our faith isn't of ourselves.

This made me really think. Because if our faith isn't of ourselves but is the gift of God (which makes sense, because if it was of ourselves then people could boast in their faith, could they not?), then God not only showed us grace by dying on the cross and taking the punishment for our sins, but He also gives us the grace to have faith in Him. Without His grace, we couldn't have faith in Him. So it's His grace that gives us something to believe in, and it's His grace that gives us the ability to believe it. It's mind-boggling, isn't it? Especially if you've never really thought about it that way before, like me.

It seems to me that when we hear the gospel message preached the focus is always on our faith. And we do indeed need to have faith in order to be saved. But if our faith isn't of ourselves, but is instead a gift of God (which He gives us in His grace), then God's grace would be even a step above faith in importance. Our faith is very definitely necessary, but His grace is the pre-requisite even to our faith. "For by grace you have been saved through faith" (emphasis mine). Grace is really the centerpiece, the critical element, of our salvation; God gives us grace to have faith and be saved. So if His grace is so important, maybe we should focus a little more on His grace, not just on our faith. The whole reason we were saved was to bring glory to Jesus, right? We're not really doing that if we focus only on our faith (on ourselves, really), and neglect the importance of His grace, because we wouldn't be saved coming or going without the grace of God.

I hope this thought has given you reason to ponder, and even more reason to praise and thank our Lord for that incredible grace.

Superficial Prayers

Recently Derek and I decided to do a Bible Study together. We went out and bought a couple Bible study books by John MacArthur on the book of Ephesians, and we're trying to do one of the lessons each week and discuss it together each Saturday. We haven't got to discuss this week's lesson yet, but I was working on my lesson this morning, and it really convicted me.

The lesson this morning was on Ephesians 1:15-23. In this passage Paul talks about how he always thanks the Lord for the Ephesians when he thinks of their faith and the love they have for each other, and then he goes on talking about the things that he prays for them.

It just struck me how Paul didn't pray that the Ephesians would have a good day, or that everything would go smoothly for them. Does anyone else pray for others that way? I know I do - I want to pray for other people, but my prayers for them always end up being so superficial. My prayers for my own situation are the same way - I pray that the Lord would allow work to go well, or that he would help us with our discipline efforts for our dog, or that he would lead us in the way we should go when it comes to Derek's job.

Not that there is anything wrong with praying about our specific troubles. But I realized as I did the lesson this morning that though I do cast those cares on the Lord, as we are encouraged to do in 1 Peter 5:7, that's pretty much all I do. All my prayers consist of earthly concerns. And the Lord does care about our earthly concerns, and He wants to hear about them. But shouldn't I be focusing a little bit more on eternal things, especially when I pray?

Paul's prayer for the Ephesians was a request that the Lord would give them "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" . . . "that you may know the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward those who believe".

Do you see what I mean? Paul didn't just pray for the immediate benefits of a blessed day, or that all their present troubles would work out okay. He prayed that the Lord would give them things that would last forever, things that they truly needed - to know God better, and to understand His power, the hope we have in Him, and the riches He gives us when we know Him.

The knowledge of those things is of lasting benefit to those who have them - they can get through all their troubles because they understand God and can be focused more on what is really important. They can appreciate everything they have in the Lord and bring more glory to Him through their troubles, because though the cares they have may not work out exactly like they wanted, they have so many spiritual blessings that are of a more lasting value.

This verse seemed to go well with this concept: "Therefore do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:31-33. If we focus first on honoring the Lord, drawing closer to Him, and keeping our mind on eternal things, everything else will fall into place. And I realized I need to do this not only just in my daily actions, but also in my prayer life. Those unseen, eternal things last a whole lot longer than a good day at work, so I think the proportions of the time I spend praying for each of those things should fit accordingly.

Proving Our Quality

"'Now look here Sir!' He turned, facing up to Faramir with all the courage he could muster. 'Don't you go taking advantage of my master because his servant's no better than a fool. You've spoken very handsome all along, put me off my gaurd, talking of Elves and all. But handsome is as handsome does we say. Now's a chance to show your quality.'"
-Samwise Gamgee speaking in The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

Have you ever read The Lord of the Rings? The above excerpt from The Two Towers always says something to me, particularly that last line. "Now's a chance to show your quality."

The other night in Bible study we were studying in Philipians, where Paul is talking about sending Timothy to the Philipians. One of the recomendations that Paul mentioned about Timothy was that he had proven worth (Philipians 2:22). That phrase srtuck me and made me think of this part in The Lord of the Rings.

There is something about the thought of proving our quality that appeals to me. It somehow seems noble to try to act in such a way that we prove what we are made of. I don't think aspiring to be someone of proven worth is a bad or selfish thing, because it is mentioned in the Bible as a favorable quality in Timothy.

I knew there was a reason I always liked that part of The Lord of the Rings, when Sam challenges Faramir to prove his quality by acting honorably in regards to the Ring. Faramir does indeed pull through and decides to let Sam and Frodo continue on their mission, instead of giving in to the temptation of power and taking the Ring for himself. Faramir was faced with a choice, a choice that would show his quality, and he chose in such a way that proved that he was of a high quality indeed.

Everyday we are faced with choices that will show our quality. Do we choose to do the good that we know is right? Do we choose to act in a way that shows good character and godliness? Do we choose to put others before ourselves, to act in a way that pleases God instead of ourselves?

Let's endeavor to choose in a way that proves our quality to be of the very highest.

To Please God

Last night Derek and I went to our church Bible study. We haven't been going as regularly as we'd like, but we decided to start trying to go every week. It was such a blessing to go spend time with fellow believers and study God's word! Last night we were studying 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22. Our church elder, Herb, who leads the Bible study called these "Admonitions On 'How To Live In Order To Please God'", and I thought they were really good things to work on in my own life. I thought I'd share this list here; you can also look up the Bible verse and read them for yourself!

Admonitions On How To Live In Order To Please God

1. Appreciate those who labor among you and have charge over you in the Lord; esteem them highly in love.

2. Live in peace with one another.

3. Admonish the unruly. (Other versions said the lazy or idle as well)

4. Encourage the fainthearted.

5. Help the weak.

6. Be patient with everyone.

7. See that no one repays evil for evil.

8. Seek after that which is good for each other and all people.

9. Rejoice always.

10. Pray without ceasing.

11. In everything give thanks.

12. Do not quench the Spirit. (I was a little confused on this one at first, but we read different Bible versions, and it was explained to me that this means not to ignore the Holy Spirit when He convicts you, or when He is leading you to do or say something. I usually pay attention when the Holy Spirit convicts me, but I don't always listen when He is calling me to some action - that is something I need to work on).

13. Do not despise prophetic utterances, but examine everything carefully. (Test everything against Scripture).

14. Hold fast to that which is good.

15. Abstain from every form of evil. (Or every appearance of evil; the Greek word there is eidos, which means "that which strikes the eye").

I thought these admonitions for living were really good, and I'm going to work on these personally; because what better goal is there than to live in order to please God?

Musings of a Bookworm - Signs and Library Books

Those of you who check my blog every now and then might recall that about two months ago I made a post regarding a book I was reading. The book was entitled: "Are We living in the End Times?" by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Well, I'm still reading it. It's a library book and I've had to renew it twice at the library already, and I'll probably have to try to renew it a third time this week. I tend to take a while at reading non-fiction books because my fiction book usually distracts me. Since this book is coming up for renewal yet again, I decided I better wait on starting my next novel until I get a little further in "Are We Living in the End Times?" It's an excellent book really, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in doing more research on Bible prophecy.
Reading about Bible prophecy and the end times also tends to inspire me, so I thought I'd finally follow through on that promise to blog about what I learn from reading this book.
One of the major focus points of "Are We Living in the End Times?" is that many of the conditions that must be present before the major end times prophecies can be fulfilled are already in place today, and that the Rapture of the church could occur in our generation. I certainly am looking forward to the day when the Lord will return and instantly take us home, as any Christian does, and I found their arguments for an emminent Rapture very encouraging. I thought I would paraphrase a few of those arguments here.

One thing I have learned from this book was that Matthew 24 and 25 are two very important chapters on end time prophecy. I've read those chapters many times, but I never actually took the time to try to understand exactly what was being said. Tim Lahaye considers this to be a sort of outline of the end time prophecies given to us by Jesus Himself.

One thing that I never really noticed before (or maybe it's just that I never appreciated it before - it's amazing how the Lord can show you something new in something you've read a thousand times already) is that in Matthew 24:3 the disciples specifically asked Jesus what would be the signs of the end times and of Jesus's coming. Isn't it nice that the people who were closest to Jesus when He was on this earth had the foresight to ask a question like that? Jesus's answer was that (1)"Many will come in My name saying 'I am the Christ' and will decieve many", and (2) that "there will be wars and rumors of wars".
If we look at those two signs and consider the state of the world today it's amazing. The book discussed how at this time in history there is more deception and division within the church than ever before. And it's true, there are so many different denominations of churches, and some of the doctrines presented today are not supported by scripture.

As for the second sign Jesus mentioned that there will be wars and rumors of wars, and that "nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom". The authors said in their book that they believe that Jesus was referring to a specific kind of war. The authors compared the the term nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom to other portions of scripture, and they surmise that this phrase could be referring to a war started by two nations that would quickly involve the whole world, which could fit with the curcumstances of World War I. The pestilences and famines that are mentioned after that would match up with the flu epidemic and famines that killed so many people right after World War I. More people have died in wars in the last hundred years than in any other period of human history.

After listing these two signs Jesus said that these would be "the beginning of sorrows" which is a term that is used elsewhere in scripture to describe a woman in labor. These signs represent the very first birth pains, and as Tim Lahaye describes it in his book "in most cases she does not look for the birth of the child immediately; she looks for another birth pain".
Tim Lahaye's interpretation of the "signs" Jesus mentioned may or may not be accurate - only time will really tell. But the book definitely convinced me that the world is in a better position for the return of Christ to Rapture His church than at any other time in world history.

Well, rats, I wanted to write about some of the other signs mentioned in this book, such as Israel becoming a nation(Ezekiel 37), and the belief that the generation who sees Israel's "fig tree" blossom "will by no means pass away before these things are fulfilled" (Matthew 24:32-34), or the increase in knowledge and travel predicted in Daniel 12:4, or the rise of China and China's significance in the war of Armaggedon (we're the first generation to see China expand and grow like it has since World War II). But I think this post is already extraordinarily long, so I'll close for now. If you want to read more about it you might just have to stop at the library and rent the book. Or maybe I'll have time to do one more post about it before I return it; we'll see!
I hope you've found some of these "signs of the end times" as encouraging as I have. Since I've begun reading "Are We Living in the End Times?" I'm more encouraged and hopeful that the Lord will indeed take us home before I die, and I feel like I have more reason to really believe that than I had before. If you've never done it before, I recommend you pick up a copy of a book on Bible prophecy by an author you trust and start reading it - I think it's one of the best things to boost your walk with the Lord, because it will remind you that He could return at any time and will encourage you to live as if He might!

"Facing An Uncertain Future with Peaceful Confidence"

After the election I was really depressed that Obama won. If it was any other democrat I think I would have handled it better, but this guy is about as radical as they get. I was mostly depressed because he says he's going to "fundamentally change this country", to use his own words. And anyone who has really been listening to him knows what that means: socialism. He'll do it sneaky at first and make it seem like he's just trying to "help the middle class", by taxing rich people to death. However, at first he was only going to raise taxes on anyone who makes more than 250,000 dollars a year, but now he's lowered that number to 120,000 dollars a year. Any doubt that the number will go down again? I wouldn't be surprised one bit. Pretty soon we'll all be giving up most of our salary for "redistribution" - "spreading the wealth around". When you think that our ancestors formed this country as a capitalist society, and that's one of the reasons why America is so great - why everyone else in the world wishes they lived here - and that Obama is going change all that - well, how can you help but be depressed?
Boy, when I start to think about it I just start getting sad again. It still makes me depressed, but thanks to my sister, I now have a better perspective on things.
My sister is notorious for thinking about things like this differently. Of course she's no happier than I am that Obama got in, but she's very optimistic that this is a sign that Jesus is coming back soon. She's been looking up all these websites regarding the Rapture and Jesus's Second Coming, and she's gotten me re-interested in it too. Now I've always loved thinking about the end times when Jesus will return, but I haven't heard a good message on it in a very long time. Some pastors preach on the prophecies all the time and some don't, and I haven't had an opportunity to listen to a sermon on prophecy in a while. Considering this, and with some encouragement from my sister, I rented several books from the library, and I'm doing my own study on the end times. One of the books I rented had a very good section that I found encouraging, and I'd like to share it here. This is from Charting the End Times by Tim Lahaye, Chapter 3, page 14: the section entitled "Prophecy Offers Confidence in a Hopeless Age":

"The world in which we live has no hope. . .The whole world yearns for peace, but knows no peace. Mankind's problems continually worsen, leaving many people without hope.
Prophecy students, however, not only know what our loving God has planned for the future of this planet and the billions who live on it, but they also have a firm confidence toward the future and are not afraid. They not only know what the future holds; they also know the One who holds the future. . .
This cofidence or hope is not automatic; it comes in response to the study of the Word of God in general as well as those passages that pertain to prophecy. And when we speak of hope, wer'e not talking about a casual hope that says 'We hope things will turn out all right.' No, we who are Christians are confident that the future will happen exactly as Christ predicted. We do not merely wish that Jesus will come again; we are confident that He will come again because He promised He would. The more we know about God's prophetic promises, the more convinced we will become of their future fulfillment. Those who are familiar with Bible prophecy are the only ones who can face what seems to be an uncertain future with peaceful confidence."

I think we can all agree that the times ahead of us are uncertain (especially with You-Know-Who in office). Obama may be able to change our country and take everything good away from us, but he can never take away our belief and confidence that Christ is going to return for us. Through the study of prophecy God tells us exactly how things will turn out: He will prevail. This eases our worries and doubts about the future, because in the end God wins. And that is what gives me hope.
My sister is one smart girl. I'm looking forward to learning more about biblical prophecy; it gives us the proper perspective, and it has been much too long since I have studied it. I'll be sure to share anything else interesting that I learn with ya'll!
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