We are looking at the Rapture. An event whereby God separates Christ believers and non-believers. Although it’s a singular one-time event, different interpretations of its timing have caused it to be labeled; ‘Pre, Mid, or Post’ Tribulation. ‘Pre-Trib’ believers trust the Rapture will happen prior to the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation period. ‘Mid-Trib’ believers think it will occur at the mid-point, or half-way through the seven-years. And ‘Post-Trib’ believers understand it to occur at the end of the seven years.
The seven year ‘Tribulation’ period (also known as the seventieth [70th] week of Israel’s national history) is divided into two parts, each 3 ½ years in length. The first half is also known as the “Tribulation” while the second half is designated as the “Great Tribulation.” They are also often referred to as the “Wrath of Jesus Christ” and the “Wrath of God."
The Rapture as an event will be a ‘spiriting away’ or ‘gathering’ of the spirited souls of Christ’s believers. If the Rapture occurs Pre-Trib, those ‘caught up’ will miss the entire seven-year Tribulation period. If the Rapture occurs Mid-Trib, those involved will endure the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation but miss the "Great Tribulation" (second 3 ½ years). If the Rapture occurs Post-Trib, it will coincide with Christ’s Second Coming and those still alive will have suffered (prior to death) through part or the entire Tribulation years.
For over two thousand years people across the world have been increasingly exposed to the Bible and its story about the role and purposes of Jesus as the Christ/Messiah. God’s call to humanity has always been to know (of) Him [God the Father] and then to know Him again through the role, purpose, and sacrifice of Jesus for the redemptive [spiritual] salvation of mankind.
The dead who heeded God’s spiritual call prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection were taken to heaven. For the “dead in Christ” who heeded Jesus’ spiritual (Gospel) call between His resurrection ascension and the future coming Rapture, their spirited souls will ascend to new life at the Rapture regardless of its Pre, Mid or Post Tribulation timing.
Now that we have an overview of what the Rapture is, and when it will occur (in relation to the Tribulation) let’s look at what being "left behind" means. Those still alive after the Rapture (those 'left behind') will endure the consequences of the Tribulation judgments for as long as they are alive. What will those who are ‘left behind’ endure? Death and destruction by men and nature beyond anything endured in history [Mt 24:21]. The longer one is alive in a post Rapture world the more difficult life will become with ever increasing odds of death.
Since the very beginning of God’s interaction with mankind, He has been warning and chiding those who refuse to recognize Him and heed His instructions as to their moral and ethical obedience, or lack thereof. He has used people and events throughout history to make His Word and commandments known. God’s desire is to lose no-one. That none should be excluded from His Holy presence and eternal life [John 6:39].
However, because His love is unconditional, He allows each of us to decide and choose whether we will believe and trust in His "Word", (Jesus) or not. He gives each of us ‘Free Will’ to choose which path we will travel. The path that leads to Him, or the path that takes one away from Him. At birth we all start on the world’s path. As such, our 'free will' begins on day one. We enter this reality as sparked and energized spirits ready to inhabit a living soul and be challenged by the ‘lessons of life’ that await within the choices and decisions on our return journey to God.
At some point in life we are each introduced to an opportunity to know the Word of God. From that moment on, new awareness colors our previous spiritual ignorance. When our spirit is activated by acknowledgment our spirit enters a realm of being tried and tested. Our choices and decisions are now each challenged with a consequence of coming closer to God, or staying farther away. With each decision we can choose to walk the world’s way or the Lord’s path by our response. With each life lesson consequence, we can learn, grow, discover, or experience new knowledge and a variety of emotions.
From first breath to last, we are on a continuum of choices to come to know (of) God through His Spirit in Jesus, or not. For the spirit filled believer each choice is an opportunity to respond morally and ethical, the same way Jesus did, and as God (our Father) would have us do also. For the believer, God’s indwelt spirit counsels a validated and true response to the world’s challenges or temptations. For the non-believer (with an ‘inactive’ spirit) the Lord’s spiritual counselor remains silent.
Until we, as a corporeal vessel housing our spirit, invite the Lord’s Spirit through Jesus Christ to come and dwell with us, we are on our own. However, when we invite Him by ‘ASKing.’ Ask, Seek, Knock, on the door [Mt 7:7-8] that’s it! When we ask, He will respond as our Lord, who will then send His Spirit to lead and guide ours and His Spirit will spark our inactive spirit into activation.
Every decision we make has the potentiality of ending 'good, bad, or ugly.' We choose, engage, and experience every activity and its life lesson with its outcome or consequence. We grow through and/or from the lesson, or not. Then move on to the next choice, decision, and (re)action. Remember, the inactive spirit is ‘inactive’. With an inactive spirit, we are on our own. Our choice of action is dictated by our desires, wants and needs, and occasionally by the consequence of a similar past experience.
With the spirit of Jesus counseling ours in every choice/decision/action we contemplate, we are never alone. God’s Spirit dwelling with ours, within us is all we need. When we need advice all we need do for guidance is ask! We ask, He answers through His spirit within us. The Spirit of Christ advises and counsels each time we engage Him. In this way we are given privileged information as to our best interest in that moment of choice or decision, irrespective of the world’s influence or our current moral and ethical strength.
When the spirit of the Lord lives within us, we have the opportunity for a life fully blessed.
Join me for Part 3 when we look closer at the Rapture.
One of the difficulties for bible prophesy readers are the time lines involved for unfulfilled prophesies that lay ahead, before and during Israel’s coming "seventieth week" (the seven-year 'Tribulation' period). The book of “Revelation” reveals an abundance of End Times information, but it is not chronological nor presented in a sequential cohesive manner. Each passage can be read for its own content merit and then be looked at for cross-referenced clues to help flesh out the idiosyncrasies revealed about the people, places, and events of the 'Last Days'.
The Rapture is only one of the End Times events I receive questions about. As we have shared in our previous End Times series, “Hidden in Plain View”, “Out of the Shadows” and “The End? Or just the Beginning?” we can identify three unmissable, unmistakable, and undeniably linked prophesied End Times events the entire world will witness as proof of God’s nature, character, existence, and Word.
"No one knows the day or hour" [Mt 24:36-41, Mk 13:32.-33]. This quote from Jesus speaks of the coming ‘Rapture’ of believers. ‘Caught Up’ in the air to be with the Lord, is how it is described in the bible. The Rapture is perhaps one of the most studied, discussed and disagreed upon prophecies in bible scripture. Regardless of when the Rapture occurs the key is being spiritually prepared.
We will start this series with the Rapture but focus on a possible timeline based on information we have been given as believers and watchers anticipating Christ’s return. The Rapture is one of the most well-known (or at least, most heard of) End Times events. However not everyone who has heard of the “Rapture” knows exactly what it is about, so we will start there.
The “Rapture” is an End Times event for all who have believed in and trusted God’s Word about Jesus Christ and His coming millennial kingdom. Before His ‘kingdom on earth’ begins Jesus will make three ‘visits’ to the realm of the earth. The first will be in connection with the Rapture. The second and third will be associated with the Battle of Armageddon and His physical return for His one-thousand-year kingdom reign.
In the first, prophetic scripture tells us Jesus will return to the sky above the earth to Rapture (or retrieve) the spirited souls of those who have believed in His Messianic role and purpose as redeemer, savior and Son of God the Father. The spirited souls of dead believers will rise from their graves followed by all those alive who believe in Jesus as the Christ/Messiah. The purpose of the Rapture is to remove from the earth those who have trusted in God’s Word, that they may be separated and spared from the wrath of God’s displeasure at mankind’s moral and ethical disobedience (‘sins’) and refusal to believe, understand and heed His offer of redemptive salvation through Jesus.
God unconditionally loves His creation. He longs for His creatures to be reunited with Him spiritually after their mortal passing. As part of this desire for reconciliation, He has warned mankind of a “Line in the Sand” He has established about ending our current world prior to Jesus’ return to claim His inheritance [Colossians 1:15-22].
The Rapture is the event that denotes the final removal of His protective grace upon the earth's inhabitants through the shared gospel of Jesus Christ. Although there may be multitudes who still come to the Lord in the “Tribulation’s” seven-year period, those who are alive during this time may suffer terribly, as the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth.
How to be part of the Rapture, instead of being “left behind” is described in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, and Romans 10:9-10, 17.
Join me next time when we note the difference between a “Pre, Mid, and Post Tribulation” Rapture.
Here To There
One of the greatest testaments to God’s love is that He is always ready to accept us, as we are, when we are ready to turn to Him. No matter our transgressions, mistakes, poor choices, or decisions. No matter how “bad” we and our actions in the past may have been. Even the caustic and toxic ones which have caused us and others so much pain and heartache. He is always ready with open arms to embrace us as prodigal children.
His love doesn’t ‘let us off the hook’. It will however, give us strength to make amends, to forgive, and to be forgiven if we choose to truly move forward as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Coming (back) to God gives us an opportunity to start fresh in His sight. No matter how many times we may have started on the spiritual path to Him, yet stumbled or fell away. When we reach that moment and we are heartfelt to learn more about His forgiveness, mercy and grace, His spiritual presence is available for a new embraced understanding of His love and light.
The world’s way is to knock us off the path. To discourage our efforts. To inform us again and again that we are on our own and that the Lord God is too aloof, too busy or disinterested in us. The truth is God’s unconditional love for those who turn, accept and come to Him is unwavering and is as true as He is.
The Triune Godhead (Father, Son and Spirit) want us to know (of) Him and then to know Him again through His Son, Jesus Christ. I believe this is the fundamental answer to the eternal questions, 'What’s life about?' and 'Why am I here?' Jesus sums it up for us, “Love God first and most, and then, Love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mt 22:37). He explains in every instance of decision that we have a choice to make; will we respond His way, or our (self focused) way.
It’s with these two simple guiding statements that the beginning of wisdom and its practice is encapsulated for us.
All the best,
Here To There
With every choice or decision, we have an opportunity to determine how we will respond and what that response will be guided by. As noted in part five, there can be a variety of different motivators that may spur us to action. Often, we must choose or are influenced by an immediacy of our desires. We set our sights on a particular result and diligently work to ‘move mountains’ to make that dream come true. These efforts can sometimes be described as “trying to force a square peg into a round hole.”
It is amazing the amount of time, money and energy people will invest to obtain or acquire the specific possessions and outcomes they desire. To our own detriment the ‘fallout’ that can occur makes our decision or choice not only not in our best interests, but often difficult or impossible to recover from.
When failure is our outcome we lament, suffer, recover (if possible) and try to move on, readjusted or wiser from the experience. There is however a way to sidestep disruptive adversities on our path. How? By relying on the Lord’s spirit to counsel and guide ours. When we are faced with a choice of options we can rely on His spiritual guidance and assistance to analyze our current position before jumping in or 'pulling the trigger' on an outcome detrimental to our immediate best interest and future.
Should we choose to ask or rely on others we should remember that provincial or parochial advice can come with a preconceived notion or agenda. 'Solutions' from others may not be in our best interests for a variety of reasons. There is however, one we can ask with confidence no matter the ramifications, intent, or consequences. When we spiritually turn to the Lord’s spirit within us, we are automatically guided correctly on the path under consideration.
Because of God’s parental nature (Father) He always wants what is best for us. As His character is fully invested in His Son, Jesus has shown us the way by example through his scriptural recorded thoughts, words, and deeds. As a result of His Holy Spirit dwelling within us, as followers and believers in Christ, the full capacity of his Spirit’s power to resist moral and ethical disobedience (‘sin’) patiently waits to be called upon. Reminding us of the different consequences of our pending decisive actions.
We can try as we might to force that square peg into the round hole. Or, we can respond as God would have us do, by asking and answering ourselves; What Would Jesus Do? Thus, avoiding the hole of adversity before us and subsequently skip all efforts to try and dig ourselves out when the realities of our short-sighted desires collapse and crush us. We can trust our spirit infused with God’s, or we can once again embrace the world’s way. The choice as always is ours to make.
We may be assured of two things. Should we choose the world’s way, we will be on our own and our decision may be fruitful, it may be detrimental, or it may amount to little or nothing. In short it can be 'good, bad or ugly.' Should we choose to trust, depend, and rely on God’s way by asking and then understanding, “What Jesus Would Do?” in the same or similar situation, two amazing things take place. First, we will make the best decision for both the short and long term. Second, our obedient response to God’s spirit and Jesus’ counseled instructions will save us from loss in that current and future related matters. Just as importantly for our spiritual grounding and growth, Father, Son, and Spirit are pleased with our faithful conscience.
The more we ask and respond as God would have us, the more balance we will experience in life, for we will be on a path that brings is closer to Him by our Christ-like responses. If you are desiring to imitate anyone, emulate Christ. The only questions that will remain for your future are: Will you ask for His guidance? Will you hear His answer? Will you listen to His instructions? Will you respond to His way?
Join me next time for Part 7 when we peek under the nutshell.
Here To There
We know who we are, right? We know who we think we are, right? We know who we think we are showing to others; who we are, right? We know who we think others think we are, right? Who are we really? More precisely who is in charge of our decisions? Mind? Body? Spirit? Joint venture? Yes. Responsibility? Depends. It always comes down to a question of ‘this or that’? However, when the ‘Other’ is in the mix, subconsciously the answer is grounded in the strength of ‘right or wrong’, ‘sin or not’, ‘obedience or not’ ‘moral / ethical, or not.’ Life, in a “nutshell”.
Instead of separating God and setting Him apart as unattainable and unreachable, as many religions do, by flipping our life’s lesson chart, making our awareness and attention focused on Him as the grounding force in life, we ensure His spiritual connection with and to us in an active and purposeful manner.
Several decades ago there was a ‘movement’ more like a fad really, for a brief period of time (meaning perhaps six months) when many were wearing beaded bracelets with lettered beads 'WWJD' (an acronym to describe the words, “What Would Jesus Do?”). It, like most 'religious' inspired yet morphed applications, lasted but a brief time. For a number of weeks WWJD had the country and the media captivated. But what happened? Like other momentary fads (pet rock, mood ring, cabbage patch doll) in a world seeking respite from the stress, struggle, and conflict of everyday life decisions and their consequences, WWJD had its brief flash of notoriety in the media spotlight, and was soon replaced by some other instant gratification money making promotion.
For a very short time in the limelight, Jesus was on many minds. Once or twice a generation, Jesus, and/or God manage to get enough attention in the public to circumvent and surpass the confines of dogmatic religious existentialism. “WWJD” a post-modern twist on Nietzsche’s “God is dead” theme garnered magazine covers and headlines again, to brief intense exposure.
Mankind’s occasional dalliance with God; Father, Son and/or Spirit follows two predictable re-occurrences. First, for those in dire circumstances or life-threatening events who call upon His name. And second, those who deny or doubt His veracity, presence, or eternal existence. Individuals in both or either of these group circumstances soon turn from their precursory desire to develop and cherish His involvement in their lives. Abandoning a continued return to scripture to renew their faith and belief as an essential part of their life’s fulcrum, their new normal is their old normal revisited and embraced.
It’s those who invest in and rely on this pivotal point of a spiritual relationship as their ballast keel for mind, body and soul balance who then observe a momentary frenzy surrounding a sudden rush of “God’s” new found exposure and may just as easily dismiss its temporary blush of excitement. God is eternal and therefore so too is His Word. Many seeds are scattered to be sown, some take root and grow, while others are lost once again to the world's elemental ways.
The biggest disappointment with the faddish nature of the WWJD movement was, it hit the nail on the head! For believers in the Holy Trinity of God, “What Would Jesus Do?” is the central and quintessential question to be asked. Eventually by everyone, but in particular, the professing new believer and follower of Christ. For it is THE guiding and ultimate responsive action question; "What Would Jesus Do?" Or as we have been sharing, what would God have me do? How would He have me respond in this situation I find myself in? How do I know? How should I respond? Who/What is my example? "What Would Jesus Do?"
When we have the Spirit of the living God within us, we have the right and privilege to ask of Him, and to expect a response through His counselor (Spirit) dwelling within our now activated spirited soul. He tells us this (Jn 14:15-17). In every quandary we face, the Spirit of God living within us through our acknowledged acceptance of Christ is indwelt, to aide, guide, direct, and protect.
If you wish to have balance in your life, you can. If you want to know and believe you are never alone, you can. If you long to live a more fulfilling and fulfilled life, you can. How? Allow the seed of spirituality to be planted and take root in your life. Why? Because once you invite Christ to be part of your life, He will be. He will never abandon you when you have surrendered your heart and spirit to His unconditional love.
Life’s daily question since the beginning, and until the end, has been and always will be the same; “How will I respond? In this situation, faced with what I am about to confront, what will my response be guided by?” My mind? My body? My desires? Or my spirit? My activated spirit living with and supported by His?
Join me next time for Part 6 when we discover how to avoid attempting to put that square peg into a round hole.
Here To There
If you’ve chosen to change your life by activating a spiritual relationship and coming to know Christ, you’ll soon learn that your “insecurity(s)” no longer have the power or sway over you, they once did. Knowing and exercising forgiveness in your life will release you from the grip of drama your insecurities once traumatically had over you through actions/reactions.
By engaging our spirit as guide and counselor in every situation of choice and decision we find ourselves more confident and secure. Our insecurities become a fading mindset of the past. Why? Insecurities no longer influence our perceived worthiness or 'define' our perception of self. We are worthy of God’s love as His children, through His spirit, by our belief and faith in His Word. This acknowledgment and new understanding of worthiness allows us to put into a more proper perspective the power insecurities once had, but now, no longer merit consideration. They were a self perception fomented and promulgated by others, which we accepted as true, grounded in a belief of unworthiness (to love or be loved).
With the realization that God's love for us, through Christ's unconditional love and acceptance of us, as we are, fully and completely, provides all the worthiness needed or necessary to see and recognize love and truth in all things created. Acknowledging love in all things provides the foundation necessary to understand love within and of ourselves as part of creation.
When we engage our activated spirit as our aide before choosing or making a decision, we immediately know how God would have us respond. He always has our best interests at heart and always wishes us to be blessed. He responds the way every loving parent responds to their child in need. He guides and counsels through our spirit.
Remember, Christ said He would send His Holy Spirit as guide and counselor to all who would choose to emulate His thoughts, words and deeds. This behavior exercise of 'Asking and Receiving' brings us to “a fork in the road” on every path. In every choice or decision, we have a choice of responding the way God would have us, through our spiritual connection to Jesus Christ or, the way our human nature and the world would have us react, behave and respond. In every instance of decision we must ask and answer, “Will I respond God’s Way or my way?”
When the Spirit of Christ lives within us truth is revealed in every situation. Thereby, allowing us to respond accordingly. That’s the difference between having an active vs. inactive spirit. Every Christ 'reactivated' (now active) spirit is a pathway for blessings. So, let’s start the journey. We know where we are. We now know where we would like to be. We want to go from ‘Here to There’. This is our first cognition.
The question is not ‘does it have to be all or nothing?’ The question is, ‘How do we bring more spiritual balance into our lives and still survive in the world?’ Don’t think of it as ‘this or that’. Think of a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Sounds odd at first but oh, that second bite. A great combination of balance.
We are spirit living in a soul housed within human body. A great combination. There can be great balance. There can be balance or out-of-balance. Our challenge is to bring body and mind together, with new spiritual keel for balance and ballast. We can do it. People change for the better all the time. It’s a choice. Spiritual grounding and growth provides a platform for a better life.
Next time, ‘the other’.
Here To There
There is a difference between an active and an inactive spirit. That difference is contact with the Spirit of God through recognition of Jesus as the Christ/Messiah.
As discussed previously, we are, at our essence, spiritual. We are each spiritual energy created for and by the Holy Spirit of God. When our spirit energy inhabits our soul to combine body and mind as a living human, our spirit is present, but not 'activated'. Activation transformation requires a spark of ‘recognition ignition’ because the Holy Spirit is the same spirit shared by Father, Son, and each of us as His creation.
Not until re-activation of our created spirit, through and by Christ (acknowledgement), does our spirit possess His, as counselor and guide. The inactive spirit innately knows 'right from wrong' by its existence, yet only recognizes consequences as reward vs. punishment. When Christ's active spirit is one with ours, making ours 'active' we can begin to understand the influence that the shadow of moral and ethical strength play in decisions going forward.
Our spirit must be “reborn” with and within our Christ supported cognition. We must voluntarily seek out rekindling that singular connection between us and God, Father and Spirit because Father and Son have the identical spirit, and because as believers in Christ we have that same spirit living within us. As believers in Christ, with every choice or decision, we can access our connection with the Father, through the Son, because He, Jesus, was man in flesh and blood and yet, Holy in spirit.
We have but to surrender the desire of our heart from the things of man to the spirit of God. When we call upon His spirit in the name of Christ, our spirit is ‘reborn or (re)activated’ from its inactivity. When our spirit is active our ‘Life’s Lessons’ now look like this:
When our spirit becomes ‘active’ with the Spirit of Christ we can now start with God as our base. When He is our foundation then all the lessons take their rightful positions because we accept the challenges of life with love, truth and the power of God’s Spirit guiding ours. We walk with God; we talk with God. We ask, He answers, guiding our steps around the holes of our life's adversities.
When our spirit is active in His we easily identify the truth in every situation which gives us the strength to be responsible, reliable, dependable, accountable, credible, risk identifiers, trust worthy, committed to right, able to forgive, see the truth and respond by coming from a place of understanding. Does that sound like your life? If not, it can be!
Join me next time as we start our exploration and journey.
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