Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When You Pray and God is Silent

Zacharias was performing his priestly service in the Temple when suddenly the angel Gabriel appeared to the right of the altar and said, "Zacharias, your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son" (Luke 1:13). To grasp the significance of this announcement, we must remember that he was "advanced in years" (Luke 1:7) and could very well have been 80 years old. The same Greek phrase "advanced in years" is used in Luke 2:37 of Anna, who was 84.

Elizabeth and Zacharias probably got married around age 20 or earlier and started praying for a child.  Every day for 5 years they pray, but no answer.
Ten years pass. "Lord, please answer our prayer." No answer.
Fifteen years. "God, have we done something wrong? Don't you love us?" No answer.

Elizabeth passes the age to give birth. She turns 60, then 70, then 80. They can't understand why God never answered, yet they both continued to walk blamelessly, and refused to blame God or get angry with Him. Then Zacharias is "chosen by lot" to serve in the Temple that day.  This position of service was decided by lot, and once he was chosen, this was the only time he could serve in the Temple during his lifetime. It was on this day that Gabriel shows up, calls Zacharias and Elizabeth by name, and tells them their prayer had been answered. Yes, the prayer that they prayed 60 years before!

What can we learn from this? Several things:
1.God hears our prayers, even when it seems like He doesn't.
2.He will answer the prayer in His timing, which usually isn't ours.
3.God's delays are not His denials.  Don't give up trusting Him.
4.Angels know our names and where to find us.  Gabriel called them by name and later he knew exactly where to find Mary (Luke 1:26-27).
5.We must continue to faithfully serve God, even when we don't understand. Zacharias and Elizabeth continued to faithfully serve God when they didn't receive a child.  Many people turn bitter if the answer doesn't come when they expect it, but not Z & E.
6.The longer we have to wait, the better the answer will be.  The child of Zacharias and Elizabeth was John the Baptist, whom Jesus said was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.  John fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi 4:6 and was the one who paved the way for the Messiah.  John's ministry made the ministry of Jesus more effective, and that's why He needed a forerunner prophet to prepare the way.

Which brings us back to Zacharias and Elizabeth. They had no idea that their prayer for a child as a young married couple started a chain reaction of events that would change the world.  And so if you've been praying for something and God seems silent, just remember your role models, Zacharias and Elizabeth. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

God's Providential Will

There are three parts to God's will.
1. God’s Perfect Will
This is what God wants to happen. We are in God's perfect will when we obey Him.  Romans 12:2 says “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The greatest blessings are when we follow God's perfect will.

2. God’s Permissive Will
This is when God allows us to choose our own path. We are in God's permissive will when we disobey Him. Acts 14:16 says, “He permitted all the nations to go their own ways.” Everyone has a right to make their own decisions, even if it is a wrong decision!  God’s permissive will went into effect when Israel chose Saul to be their king. It wasn’t what God wanted, but He allowed them to do it. We always suffer the consequences when we choose our own way over God's.

3. God’s Providential Will
This is when God overrules the permissive will. Eph. 1:11 says, “We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, but God later promoted him to be a ruler in Egypt.  Years later, when Joseph was reunited with his brothers, he told them, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Gen. 50:20). The "big hand" and the "little hands" were both working at the same time. It's like a chess game that God is playing with people on earth. God uses evil people as pawns in His hand to accomplish His purposes.  It will be hard for you to see this until you totally submit yourself under His hand. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pit Stops

God gave Joseph two dreams that he would become a ruler over his brothers. His brothers were filled with hate and jealousy, and planned to kill him.  Instead, they changed their minds and threw him in a pit in the wilderness, trying to keep his dreams from coming to pass (Gen. 37:5-24). 
Along life's highway, sooner or later someone will throw you into a pit in an effort to kill your dreams.  The dream is the destiny that God has for you. The pit is the obstacle that tries to kill your dreams. Here are three facts about the pit.
1.The pit was planned by God.
The pit was actually an abandoned cistern, which someone had dug to collect water.  God had led his brothers to Dothan (although they were unaware of His leading them) because that was where the pit was. Someone had to dig that pit at an earlier time without realizing God would use it as a holding tank to save Joseph's life. So that pit had a divine purpose. If the pit hadn't been there, his brothers would have killed him on the spot.
2.The pit makes us think the dream has died.
When Joseph was at the bottom of his pit, it didn't look like he would be a ruler in Egypt one day. There wasn't even one shred of evidence inside that dark pit that God was with him, or that his dreams would come to pass. But He was with him, and his dreams did become reality. Keep holding on to your dreams in times of darkness!
3.The pit makes us more dependent on God.
His brothers stripped Joseph of the multi-colored coat his father had given him (Gen. 37:23). When we are in the pit, we are stripped of our pride. We come to the point of helplessness. We re-examine our priorities. The pit refines us, which takes us to a new level of spiritual growth.
Eventually Joseph came out of the pit and fulfilled his destiny.  So will you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Doubt makes us Double-Minded

Scientists once studied a snake that had two heads. Each head had a mind of its own and wanted to control the body. One moment it would crawl one way, and then the other mind would take over and the snake would crawl in a completely different direction.  The double-minded snake is a picture of a person who doubts--he can't make up his mind.  One mind tells him yes, while the other mind tells him no, and he wavers between the two.  Here is how doubt can affect us.
1.Doubt makes us unstable in all our ways. James 1:8 says, "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." The Greek word for unstable means "restless" and "unsettled." It's like being on the waves of the sea that take you up and down. Doubt takes us up and down on an emotional roller-coaster, which makes us unstable.
2.Doubt keeps us from making decisions. I knew a man who would say, "I think I need to do this" and then a little while later, "I think I need to do that."  Then he would ask, "What do you think I should do?" He wanted someone else to make his decisions for him because he couldn't decide.
3.Doubt keeps us from making commitments. A doubter won't make a commitment because it means you've got to be sure about what you want to do. Doubt takes away that certainty.

The way to stop doubt is to put a filter on your mind. An open mind is like an open window--it needs a screen on it to keep the bugs out!  You must learn to discern God's voice and screen out those voices that contradict it. When you stop the negative thoughts from entering, your doubt will leave.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Trusting God Through Storms

In Mark 4:35-40, the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee when a huge storm hit. Waves were crashing over the sides and filling up their boat. Jesus was sleeping in the stern as the disciples panicked.
Perhaps you are going through a storm and your boat is filling up. What should you do when the storm hits?

1. Remind God of His Promises.
Before they set sail, Jesus told them, “Let us go over to the other side.” He didn’t say, “Let us go under” or “Let us go half way to the other side, and then we’ll sink to the bottom of the sea.” He promised them ahead of time that they would arrive safely. If they would have remembered His Words and trusted Him, they would not have panicked.
We find many places in the Bible where people reminded God of His promises.  You can tell Him, “Lord, you told me in Matt. 6:34 to not worry about tomorrow, so I’m going to trust what you said.” “Lord, you told me in Heb. 13:5 that you will never fail me or forsake me.” “Lord, you said in Phil. 4:19 you would provide all my needs.”

2. Put your trust in the Lord.
Psalm 56:3-4 says “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You . . . In God I have put my trust. I shall not be afraid.” To “put” means to transfer from one place to another. You put gasoline into your car by transferring it from the pump to the gas tank. You put valuables in your safety deposit box by transferring it from your home to the bank. So when you put your trust in the Lord, you transfer it from yourself to Him.

3. Believe that He is in control of your storm. 
The disciples went to Jesus and yelled, "Jesus! Wake up!" I can’t imagine Jesus waking up, rubbing His eyes, and saying, “Whoa! I had no idea that this storm was going on!” Of course He was aware of their situation. To calm down the disciples, Jesus spoke to the wind and waves and immediately it became calm. By stopping the storm, it proved that He had control over it. But most people miss the fact that the storm was also under His control when He was sleeping. Jesus knew that His Father was controlling the size of the waves and the amount of water in the boat.
Are you putting your complete trust in God when you're going through a storm, and when everything is fine?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Walking by Faith, not by Sight

Second Corinthinans 5:7 says “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Does that mean we should close our eyes whenever we walk or drive down the road? Of course not. It means that as we go through life, we can't base our decisions simply on the things we can see, but we must also take into account what God has said.
Abraham had to walk by faith when God told him to leave his own country and go to an unknown land.  We can learn several things from him about how to walk by faith.

1. To walk by faith . . . you must hear God speak to you.
The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you a great nation and I will bless you” (Gen. 12:1-2).  Notice that his walk by faith began with God speaking to him. This trip wasn't Abraham's idea. It was God's. Abraham didn't leave his country because he was discontented, running from bill collectors, or didn't like the people of Ur.  He went on the journey because God told him to.

2.To walk by faith . . . you must obey even when you don’t have much information.
God said, “Go…to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1) What’s surprising about this is how little information God gave him. No map. No compass. We want all our questions answered before we start walking by faith, but then it wouldn’t take faith, would it? But Abraham didn’t know where to go. Once he walked through the front door, he didn’t know what would happen next. But he took that first step by faith, trusting God to lead him. God said "to the land I will show you." He had to get down the road first, and then He would show him.

3.To walk by faith . . . you must believe He is guiding you, even if you have no proof.  Heb. 11:8 says,  By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”  He left his house and just started traveling, having no idea where he would end up.  He had to trust that God was leading him even though he had no evidence of it.  After traveling 450 miles, he arrived in the land of Canaan and God finally spoke again, "To your descendents I will give this land" (Gen. 12:7).  The land turned out to be the Promised Land! 

When you walk by faith, you have no idea what will happen after you take the first step of faith.  Then you take a second step, then a third step, and eventually you end up where God wants you.  You don’t know where you are going, but God knows where He’s leading you. Just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean God doesn’t know. But if you will keep walking by faith, He will lead you to your Promised Land.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Church that Jesus Builds

After Peter told Jesus that He was the Christ, He replied, "Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven...and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not overpower it" (Matt. 16:17-18). This was the first time Jesus ever used the word "church."  The disciples were probably thinking, "What's a church?" 

The Greek word for "church" means "the called out ones." These are people who are called out of the world to follow Him and His ways. What kind of church is He constructing, and what is it supposed to look like? Here are some things about the church that Jesus builds:

1) It is built on revelation, not speculation. Jesus told Peter that His Father had revealed this truth to him. Reveal means "to pull back the curtain or veil," so that you see things that you've never seen before. Once you actually see who Jesus really is, it will change the way you think and act.  It is a life-changing experience.

2) It is built more on followship than leadership.  Jesus continually talked about following and said little about leading.  "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). He was looking for followers who would deny themselves. Leadership becomes easy when you have people who are willing to follow. So where do the leaders come from?  The people who faithfully serve Him with godly attitudes become qualified to become the leaders in His Church. 

3) It will fight Satan and not other believers.  Satan is the enemy, not other Christians. Jesus said, "The gates of hell will not overpower it." Hell is Satan's domain. I've never seen a soldier attack anyone with a gate because it's not an offensive weapon.  A gate is designed to keep an invading army from taking it over.  The Church is called to plunder the devil's kingdom and set the captives free, and the gates of hell aren't strong enough to keep us out!  Satan knows this, so he plants lies through gossip and slander so that Christians will attack other believers instead of him.

4) It is built on submission to authority, not resistance to authority.  "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable to you" (Heb. 13:17).  Contrary to popular belief, submission is not a curse word. Humility and submission are linked together, just as pride and rebellion are linked together. It's impossible to submit to authority without humility.  Humility is having a cooperative spirit.

5) It is built on love, joy, peace and not hate, anger, turmoil. Having a good attitude is a basic building block of His Church.  Gal. 5:20-22 tells us the works of the flesh are strife, outbursts of anger, dissensions, and factions, while the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace.  James 2:19 says the demons also believe, and tremble.  They believe in God, but they still act like demons.  If our faith isn't producing the character of Christ in us, then something is wrong with our faith!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Three Parts of Faith

Jesus talked about the three parts of faith in Mark 11:22-24.
1)The object of your faith. v.22--He said, "Have faith in God." God is the object of our faith that we look to. It's easy to place faith in our money, our jobs, our own understanding, or something else. Is your faith truly in God, or something else that you think brings security?

2)The potential of your faith. v.23--Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted you." Even though Jesus always told the truth, sometimes He would say "Truly, truly I say to you" because what He was about to say was going to be hard for them to believe. This was probably the most startling illustration He ever used--casting a mountain into the sea by faith! The mountain was the Mount of Olives and the nearest sea was the Dead Sea, which was 15 miles away. Jesus said that telling a mountain to be uprooted and transported 15 miles away actually was possible with faith! The mountain represents your problem and your faith is what can overcome that problem. What is the problem you are facing today?

3)The application of your faith. v.24--"Therefore, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." The word "therefore" means He is connecting what He just said, with something He is about to say. He is saying, "Take what I just said about moving a mountain by faith and apply it to everything you pray for." God doesn't just want us to pray, but to pray with faith, expecting God to answer.
To hear the entire message, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on Faith pt 1 "The Object of Your Faith."

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Heavenly City & New Earth

This is the last in a series I've been teaching on Bible prophecy. Next week I'll have a new topic.

Many Scriptures tell us that this present earth will be destroyed with fire and God will create new heavens and a new earth (See 2 Pet. 3:7-10, Rev. 21:1, Isa. 65:22, Matt. 24:35). Seventy percent of Earth is covered with water, but the New Earth will not have any oceans (Rev. 21:1). The "heavens" that God will create are a new atmospheric heaven and a new universe.

The heavenly city (New Jerusalem) will descend out of heaven and will settle on the New Earth. The city will be in a cube 1,500 miles high, wide, and deep. It's slightly smaller than the moon and could accommodate 100 billion people.

Rev. 21:24 says, "And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it." The city will be so bright that it will illuminate the entire earth. Just like there are nations and kings on the present earth, so there will be on the New Earth. The "kings" of the earth are the people who were the most faithful servants of God in this present life. In the next life, those servants of God will be elevated to the highest positions. The kings of the earth will "bring their glory" into the New Jerusalem. Apparently the "glory" is something that's being produced on the New Earth, and the kings will have the privilege of bringing it into the city as an offering to honor the Lord.

Rev. 22:3 says, "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it (the heavenly city), and His bondservants will serve Him." In the next life we will have job assignments that will be like eternal hobbies. We don't know what these jobs will be because it's beyond our present knowledge, but the best assignments will be granted to those who were the most faithful on the present earth. After we die and stand face-to-face with God, our knowledge will be expanded and then we will understand (1 Cor. 13:12). To hear the entire message on eternity, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on End Times pt. 8--"Eternity"

Monday, July 4, 2011

Satan Released From Hell?

Immediately after Jesus returns at the Second Coming, Satan will be bound in the abyss for 1,000 years so that he cannot deceive the nations. When the 1,000 years are completed, the devil is released for a short time (See Rev. 20:1-3, 7). What does this mean, and why will God let Satan out of hell?
First we must understand that a new dispensation, which we call the "Millennium," will begin after Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth. You've probably haven't heard much teaching on this subject, but many Scriptures talk about this time period. (I recommend Mark Hitchcock's book 101 Answers to the Most Asked Questions About the End Times for further study.) Why is the devil released? Here are some facts that you need know:

1. The saved people who are alive at the Second Coming will enter Jesus' kingdom on earth in their natural bodies. (Matt. 25:34, Zech. 14:16)

2. Jesus will be king over the entire earth (Zech. 14:9, Ps. 2:6). This isn't taking place in heaven, but on earth.

3. The people who survived Armageddon will begin repopulating the earth. Isa. 65:20,23 says, "No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days...for the youth will die at age one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accursed...They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they are the offspring of those blessed by the Lord." Satan is bound in hell during this time, but the people born during the Millennium will have a sin nature and will need to be saved. They must place their faith in Christ as their Savior, just as we do today.

4. The people living on earth during that time will be required to go to Jerusalem once a year to worship Jesus (Zech. 14:16). However, some people will refuse to go there and worship Him! (Zech. 14:17-18).

5. By the end of the 1,000 years, the planet will be covered with people. "The number of them is like the sand of the seashore" (Rev. 20:8). These people will have a sin nature but have never been tempted by Satan. So why is the devil released from the abyss? It's to test the people born during the Millennium to determine which side they are on.

"And [Satan] will come out to deceive the nations which are on the four corners of the earth" (Rev. 20:8).

Suddenly, the people on earth are faced with temptations they didn't have before, as the devil and his demons bombard them with rebellious thoughts. They surround Jerusalem in an attempt to overthrow Jesus and His throne. Immediately fire comes down and destroys them (Rev. 20:9). Satan is thrown into the lake of fire forever (Rev. 20:10). This time he won't get out.

To hear the entire message, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "End Times pt 7: Life in the Millennium"

Monday, June 27, 2011

The "End of the World" is not the End of the World

When Jesus returns at the Second Coming, it will not be "the end of the world." There are two Greek words for "world." One word refers to the planet, while the other word means "the age," which is the way God deals with His people during a certain period of time. God will not destroy the planet when Christ returns, but this age as we know it will end. Then a new time period will begin called "The Millennium," which is the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth (Rev. 20:4). What are some of the things that will happen during the Millennium?
1.Satan will be bound up in the abyss for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:3).
2.The saved people who are alive at the Second Coming will enter the kingdom in their natural bodies (Matt. 25:34).
3.The lost people who are alive at the Second Coming will be cast into hell (Matt. 25:41).
4.Jesus will be king over the entire earth (Zech. 14:9).
5.The curse on the earth as a result of Adam & Eve's sin will be lifted (Zech. 14:11) Thorns, thistles, and weeds will be gone. The earth will become like the Garden of Eden.
6.The animals will be changed back to their original state when they were created. (Isa. 11:6-9). After Adam and Even sinned, many of the animals became predators. They will become peaceful again. The wolf and the lamb will lie down together.
7.Sickness will be removed (Isa. 33:24).
8.The saved people who enter the Millennium will repopulate the earth. (Matt. 19:28) The word "regeneration" in verse 28 means repopulation.
9.The 12 apostles in their resurrection bodies will rule over the 12 tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28).
10.Many children will be born to the saved people who entered the Millennium in their natural bodies (Isa. 65:23). This is one proof that the rapture cannot happen at the Second Coming. Resurrected people cannot reproduce offspring (Matt. 22:30). We know only saved people will enter the Kingdom. But if everyone is raptured at the Second Coming, every saved person would have a resurrected body and no one would be in a natural body.
That's why the rapture must happen some time before the Second Coming. The people entering the Millennium are the people saved after the rapture, and they are the ones in their natural bodies who will repopulate the earth.
11.At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be loosed from the abyss and will deceive the children who were born during the Millennium (Rev. 20:7-10).
To hear the entire message, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "The Millennium."

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Power of Peer Pressure

A study was done where 10 high school students were brought into a room. They were shown 3 lines of different lengths on cards labeled A, B, and C. The researcher instructed them to raise their hand whenever he pointed to the longest line.
But what one of the students didn't realize was that the other 9 students had been previously told to point to the second longest line. The purpose of the experiment was to test the effects of peer pressure on an individual.
When the 9 teenagers pointed to the wrong line, the lone teenager would get a confused look and then slip up his hand with the rest of the group. He knew it wasn't the longest line, but he didn't want to be the only one who didn't raise his hand. As they kept bring in new teenagers, they kept producing the same results. They found that 75% of teenagers would conform with the group and give the wrong answer!
1 Kings 11:2 says, "You shall not associate with them, neither shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods."
You can't do anything about peer pressure, but you can do something about your child's peers. As a parent, make sure your children are hanging out with the right friends. They need to be involved with the youth group Bible studies at church. If they don't make friends with the right crowd, they'll be submitting to the peer pressure of the wrong crowd.
To hear the entire message on this subject, go to www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "Parenting 101."

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture

Will the Rapture happen before the 7-year Tribulation Period, where God pours out His judgments on the earth (Rev. 6-19)? I believe so. In Rev. 4, the apostle John is caught up into heaven and what he sees is interesting. Here are some clues that rapture takes place at this time.
1.He is seeing something happening in the future. Jesus tells him "I will show you what must take place after these things" (Rev. 4:1). What he is about to see is something that will take place in the future.
2.A door is open in heaven (Rev. 4:1). John has already seen Jesus in all His glory in heaven in Rev. 1:12-16, so why is it necessary for a door to be open in heaven? Many Bible scholars believe the door opens to let the Church in at the rapture. The next time heaven is opened is Rev. 19:11-14 and His Church is following Him out. Presumably the Church goes in at Rev. 4:1 and comes out in Rev. 19.
3."Come up here" (Rev. 4:1) This phrase is also used in Rev. 11:12 when the two prophets are killed, then resurrected, and ascend into heaven. "Come up here" could mean the Church is being called into heaven in Rev. 4:1.
4.The 24 elders are wearing crowns (Rev. 4:4). After John gets caught up into heaven, he sees 24 elders around the thrones wearing crowns on their heads. Why is this significant? Because Christians will be rewarded at the rapture. The rapture is a resurrection of those who have died in Christ (1 Thess. 4:16-17). Jesus said, "You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (Luke 14:14). Peter said the crowns would be given out at the rapture (1 Pet. 5:4). Paul also said he would receive a crown at the rapture (2 Tim. 4:8). No one in heaven has been rewarded at this time. So if John is looking into the future and sees 24 elders wearing crowns, it must mean the rapture has taken place.
5.The Tribulation doesn't begin until Revelation 6. John sees that the elders have been rewarded in Rev. 4, and then Jesus takes the scroll in Rev. 5, and He breaks the seals on the scroll in Rev. 6, which starts the Tribulation Period. This shows the rapture happens before the tribulation, which means a "Pre-Tribulation" rapture.
To hear the entire message on this subject, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "The Pre-Tribulation Rapture."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Rapture is No Joke

After radio preacher Harold Camping wrongly predicted the rapture on May 21, this billboard appeared along highways. Matthew 24:36 tells us that no one can predict the day or hour. If the Father didn't tell Jesus when it would be, why would He tell Harold Camping?
This false prophecy by Camping has made the rapture a big joke on the Internet and by late night comedians. But the fact is, the rapture IS are real event that's going to happen some day. First Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout...the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." The words "caught up" in the Latin Vulgate is "rapturo" which is where we get the word rapture. The Greek word means "to rapidly snatch up."
Jesus will come in the air to receive His Church to Himself and take us to heaven. He will not return to Earth at this time. John 14:3 says, "And if I go [to heaven] and prepare a place for you [in heaven], I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am [in heaven], there you many be also [in heaven]." The rapture is when He takes His Church to heaven, but the Second Coming is when we return with Him at a later time to Earth.
First Corinthians 15:52 says it will happen "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." The Greek word for "moment" is atomos (where we get the word atom) and means "an indivisible unit." It will happen so quickly that it will appear to the unbelievers who have been left behind as if all Christians have disappeared.
To understand five differences between the rapture and second coming, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "Rapture vs. Second Coming"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Who is the Antichrist?

I hope you weren't duped by the TV preacher who claimed the rapture would happen last Saturday. Jesus said no one can know the day or the hour when He comes (Matt. 24:36). Many people have also tried to figure out who the Antichrist is. You can't figure that out either because "he will be revealed in his time" (2 Thess. 2:6).

The Bible speaks a lot about a man who gets his power from Satan and will rule the world just prior to Christ's Second Coming. He is called by many names: "the prince who shall come" (Dan. 9:26), the "little horn" (Dan. 7:8), the "willful king" (Dan 11:36), the "man of sin" (2 Thess. 2:3), the "beast" (Dan. 7:11, Rev. 11:7, Rev 13:1-8, 19:19-20, 20:10), and "the abomination of desolation" (Matt. 24:15).

In the last days, a ten-nation kingdom will arise out of the ruins of the old Roman Empire, which is depicted by 10 toes (Dan. 2:42,44) and 10 horns (Dan. 7:7,20,24, Rev. 17:7,12). The Antichrist will subdue 3 of these kings and take over the kingdom (Dan. 7:7-8, 24-25). He will then become a world ruler and control all buying and selling with a mark placed on the right hand or forehead (Rev. 13:2-8, 16-18). He will sign a 7-year treaty with Israel, which allows the Jews to rebuild their temple and start sacrificing again. In the middle of the 7 years, he will stop the sacrifices, walk into the temple, and declare himself to be God (Dan. 9:27, 2 Thess. 2:3-4.) This starts "the Great Tribulation" where God pours out most of the judgments on earth in the book of Revelation. The Antichrist will be thrown into hell when Jesus returns to earth (2 Thess. 2:8, Rev. 19:20.) To hear the entire message on this subject, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "The Antichrist."

Monday, May 16, 2011

How Can the Bible Predict the Future?

How can the Bible predict future events when they haven't happened yet? It becomes simple once we understand three things.
1.God knows everything that will happen in the future. Isa. 46:9-10 says, "I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done." Our awesome God can see future events, so He is able to tell us ahead of time what will happen. This also shows He is in control of those events or He would not be able to predict them.
2.God told His prophets what would happen in the future and they recorded His words in the Scriptures. Acts 3:21 says, "God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time." He spoke to the prophets, who were His mouthpiece and they recorded the prophecies about the future in manuscripts.
3.The prophetic Scriptures were copied and preserved until the prophecy was fulfilled. The original manuscript was carefully copied by scribes. To ensure accuracy, each letter of the manuscript was counted and rechecked. If they made one mistake, the manuscript was burned and the scribe had to start over! The manuscripts were continually copied and passed on throughout the centuries. The reason you have a Bible today is because of the incredible faithfulness of the scribes who very carefully copied the manuscripts for over two thousand years. I challenge you to copy just one page of your Bible without a single mistake and see how difficult this would be. (By the way, have you read the entire Bible through even one time?)
Now that we have the manuscripts, we can look back and see how hundreds of prophecies by Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zechariah, and others have been fulfilled. Jesus fulfilled 315 Old Testament prophecies concerning His first coming, so we know the prophecies of the Second Coming will also come to pass. This just goes to show that you can trust the accuracy of the Bible, not just concerning future events, but everything else it says as well. http://www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 9, 2011

Limburger in Your Mustache

A little boy snuck into the bedroom of his grandfather when he was sleeping. He stuck some Limburger cheese on his mustache and then slipped out the room. A little while later, the grandfather woke sniffing. "This bedroom stinks," he muttered. He walked into the living room and said, "This living room stinks." When he entered the kitchen he griped, "This kitchen stinks too!" Finally he walked outside, took a whiff and yelled, "The whole world stinks!"
Some people have Limburger cheese in their attitudes and so wherever they go, it stinks. Discontentment is a restless spirit that can never be satisfied. As a result, it goes on an endless search to find greener grass--that mythical place where everything is perfect. Contentment is just the opposite. It's having a peaceful spirit that has learned to be happy in every situation.
Do you have Limburger in your mustache? Paul said, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation" (Phil. 4:12). There's good and bad in every situation. Contentment comes by finding whatever is good in your situation, focusing on it, and making it bigger in your mind than your problems. To hear the entire message on this topic, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "A Contented Heart."

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Joyful Heart

A man walked by a table in a hotel in Las Vegas and noticed three men and a dog playing cards. Amazingly, the dog appeared to be winning. The man said, "That must be a very smart dog." One of the card players replied, "Nah, he ain't so smart. Every time he gets a good hand, he wags his tail!"

If you were a dog, would your tail be wagging today? If you are happy on the inside, it will show on the outside. Proverbs 15:13 says, "A joyful heart makes a cheerful face." If you have anger on your face, it's because you have anger in your heart. And if you have a big smile on your face, it's because you have joy in your heart.

Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). The best advertisement for Jesus Christ is a joyful Christian. It has been said that 18th century evangelist George Whitfield had so much joy that people wanted to be saved just by seeing the joy on his face. Do you have that kind of joy? To hear the entire message on this topic, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "A Joyful Heart."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Removing the Sting of Death

A family was riding in their car when a bee flew in the window. The son in the back seat was allergic to bees and could die if he got stung. As the bee buzzed around the car, the little boy became terrified and was in a state of panic. Just then, his father reached out and snatched the bee out of the air. A few seconds later, the father let the bee go and it started flying around the car again. The son panicked again and asked, "Dad, why did you let it go? If it stings me I'll die!" The father said, "You don't need to be afraid any more. The bee only has one stinger and it stung me in the hand." He held up his hand for his son to see. "Now it can't hurt you because its stinger is gone." When Jesus rose from the dead, He removed the sting of death. Referring to the resurrection of Christ, 1 Cor. 15:55 says, "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" Just as a bee loses its stinger when it stings someone, death lost it sting when it stung Jesus. For those who love Him, there is no pain in death. Death for the Christian is like going to sleep and waking up in heaven. To hear the entire message on this topic, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "The Death of Death."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Using the Right Bait

Jesus said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt. 4:19). If you aren't fishing, you aren't following! We fish for men by telling them about Jesus and that He is the only way to heaven. Bait is what attracts fish. If you want to catch fish, you must choose the right bait. Different kinds of fish don't all bite on the same kind of bait. A good fisherman knows how the particular fish thinks that he's trying to catch, and what kind of bait it will like. If you go deep sea fishing for marlins, you won't catch them using worms. They want a large chunk of bait. If you go trout fishing in a mountain stream, you will use a fly on top of the water. Catfish in a lake swim closer to the bottom and they like stink bait. Bluegills swim closer to the top and like worms and crickets. Just as fish are different, so are people. They all need the Lord, but everyone thinks differently. A person won't get saved until they realize they need to be saved. Not everyone is convinced in the same way, so here are some are the different kinds of bait to use, according to the person's need.

  • Fear of dying. Most people are terrified of dying because they don't know what lies beyond the grave. You can tell the person that Jesus died for them to take away the fear of death. (See Heb. 2:14-15)

  • Lack of purpose. Many people are asking, "Why am I here?" Tell them that Jesus came to give them a reason to live. (See John 10:10, 11:25-26)

  • Life is in turmoil. Tell them that Jesus can give them inner peace, even when going through trials. (See John 14:27)

  • Confused and need guidance. Tell them that God wants to guide them through life (See John 10:27, 14:6, 16:13)

  • Something is missing. Tell them that everyone has a God-shaped void inside that only Jesus can fill. (See John 10:10).
After explaining how they can be saved, be sure to lead them in a prayer of salvation. "Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for me on the Cross. Come into my life and save me. I will follow you for the rest of my life. Thank you for saving me. Amen." To hear the entire message on this subject, go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "Going Fishing." http://www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 14, 2011

Drifting from God

Every summer when I was a kid, our family would travel from Texas to Florida to go to the beach for a week. Every day I would dash into the water and lay on my inflatable raft. One day, I got on my raft and closed my eyes. I enjoyed the gentle waves rocking me like a baby, and wasn't paying attention to the shore.

When I finally looked up, I was shocked to discover that I drifted a long, long way from land. I hadn't noticed that I was being gradually pulled out to sea! Fortunately, I could still see land and hurriedly paddled back to shore.

I drifted away because I wasn't paying attention. Hebrews 2:1 says, "For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it."

We drift away from God in the same way. We quit paying attention to Him, and little by little we move away. When we quit spending time with God each day by talking to Him and reading His Word, it's inevitable that we'll drift away from Him. It happens so gradually we don't even realize it. Then something happens and when we finally look up, we see how far away we are.

When I realized I was far from the shore, I didn't get back to the beach by drifting. I had to make an effort to go against the current and paddle my way back. And you must also make an effort to get close to the Lord again. Start talking to Him throughout the day. Meditate on His Word. Get back to doing what you used to do when you were close to Him.
To hear the entire message on this topic, go to:
"Drifting from God."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Healing Hurts from the Past

A man carrying a big stone, a sledge hammer, and a suitcase walked into a talent agent's office. He said, "I've got an act everyone would love to see. I place this big stone on my head, and then my assistant swings the sledgehammer as hard as he can and breaks the rock on top of my head."

The agent said, "Wow, that does sound like a great act! I see why you have the stone and sledge hammer, but why are you carrying that suitcase?" The man replied, "Oh, that's what I carry my aspirin in!"

Many people are carrying a suitcase through life because they are in a lot of pain. They've been hurt by someone in the past and haven't gotten over it. King David said, "My heart has been wounded within me" (Ps. 109:22). How do you know if you have a wounded spirit?

Symptom #1: If you are easily offended.
People with a wounded spirit have a very low tolerance for pain. If someone makes a innocent comment, it can trigger the hurtful memory, which causes the person to overreact.

Symptom #2: If you are always talking about how you were hurt.
I've known people who are continually talking about how they were hurt years before. They keep replaying the hurt in their minds, and every time they do, they get hurt one more time.

Symptom #3: If you are overly suspicious of others.
People who are wounded view others with suspicion because they imagine everyone is out to hurt them. This causes them to be distrustful and defensive.

Symptom #4: If it's hard for you to love others.
A person with a toothache has a hard time loving people because all of his attention goes to his hurt. He's so consumed with his own pain that it prevents him from seeing others in need.

How can you be healed? First, you must desperately want to be healed. Jesus asked a man who was lame for 38 years, "Do you wish to get well?" (John 5:6) He wasn't joking. Many people really don't want to get over their hurts.

Second, you must forgive and let go. The reason why some people are still hurting after 15 years isn't because of what the other person did, but because they haven't forgiven them. What is forgiveness? It's releasing the anger out of your heart.
To listen to the entire message, go to
"Healing Hurts from the Past."

Monday, February 28, 2011

How Does God Heal Today?

When Jesus was on earth He healed many people. Since Christ is no longer here in a physical body, how does God heal today? He does it in four ways.
1.God has designed your body to heal itself to some degree.
If you have a minor cut, you can stick a Band-Aid on it and your body will heal itself. If God hadn't created our blood to clot, the entire human race would be dead! In His wisdom He gave us white blood cells to fight off diseases.

2.God uses medicine to heal us.
1 Tim 5:23 says, "Take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." Paul told Timothy to drink some wine for medicinal purposes to cure his stomach problems. God has given us the knowledge in our present day to develop medicines to treat all kinds of illnesses.

3.God uses doctors and surgeons to treat us.
Jesus said, "The sick have need of a physician" (Mark 2:17). Luke, who wrote the books of Luke and Acts, was also a physician (Col. 4:14). However, sometimes doctors aren't able to fix everything that's wrong. A woman in the Bible had a hemorrhage for twelve years and the physicians couldn't help her. She touched the cloak of Jesus and was healed. (See Mark 5:25-34). When the first three methods don't fix the problem, don't give up hope. God can heal supernaturally too.

4.God can heal through prayer.
James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed." We may be holding unforgiveness or another wrong attitude in our hearts, which blocks the answer to our prayers. That's why we need to bring those hidden things to light by confessing them before we ask others to pray for us. God heals people through His mercy (see Matt. 20:30-31). When He answers your prayer, don't forget to thank Him!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Making Today Count for Eternity" is now available as eBook!

Making Today Count for Eternity
By Kent Crockett

What is the meaning of life? Your time on earth is just a test to determine what you'll be doing in your next life, after you die. In Making Today Count for Eternity you will find the answers to these questions:
  • How can I know that I'm going to heaven?

  • What will people be doing in heaven forever?

  • If God has forgiven all my sins, why will I have to stand before Him to be judged?

  • Is heaven going to be the same experience for everyone, or will some have it better than others?

  • Will people have to do "work" in heaven, and if so, will it be fun?

  • How will our minds and bodies be different in the next life than this life?

  • Will God repay me for the things I've done for Him during my life?

You can download this book on your Kindle http://www.kindle.com/ , Nook http://www.nook.com/ , iPad, or whatever eReader you may own.

To buy this book in paperback (new or used): www.amazon.com

Monday, February 14, 2011

Being Savers, but Not Misers

Hetty Green (see picture) is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's greatest miser. In the early 1900's, she had more than $95 million in the bank. But she only owned one dress and wore it for years. She ate cold oatmeal because she didn't want to pay for the gas to heat it. Her son had to have his leg amputated because she took too long to find a free hospital to treat him. She knew how to save money, but she didn't know how to let go of it.

Jesus told a parable about a wealthy man who decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to store up his goods. He thought he had many years to live, but that night he died and left it all behind. Jesus concluded, "So is the man who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:21). This man lived only to accumulate for himself and never gave anything to God.

One reason the Lord wants His people to be generous is to keep us from becoming misers. Psalm 37:21 says, "The righteous is gracious and gives." Stingy people aren't gracious and they don't give. Yes, the Lord does want us to save part of our income to be ready in case of an emergency, but He doesn't want us to be so dependent on our money that we trust in it rather than God (see 1 Tim. 6:17).
To listen to the entire message on this topic, go to
http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/ and click on
Financial Freedom Pt. 3 "The Saving Factor"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting Out of the Boat

When Jesus came to the disciples walking on water, Peter said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." Jesus told him, "Come." Peter was about to do something he had never done before. He got out of the boat and walked on water (Matt. 14:28-29).

Why did Peter ask Him to say, "Come"? Because to do something that scary, he had to hear a word from God. When Peter heard Jesus say "come" it produced faith in his heart (Rom. 10:17) and he knew it was God's will. He got out of the boat to get into God's will.

This incident is recorded in Scripture as an example for us. God is calling us out of our boats to do things that we've never done before. The principles are the same as Peter's experience. To get out of the boat, we must ask God to speak to us. We must overcome our fear of the unknown. We must place our complete trust in Him. We must decide to leave our comfort zones. And we must commit ourselves to step over the rim with both feet.

Unbelief keeps both feet in the boat. Doubt takes one step out of the boat and keeps one foot in. Faith steps completely out of the boat.

What is God calling you to do? Take a step of faith and trust God. It will be much more fulfilling for you to walk on water than to stay inside your boat.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Three Things to Believe

A little boy threw a quarter into a wishing well and said, "I wish I had my quarter back." Some people give to God with that same attitude. When we give our offerings to God, we need to believe three things about Him.

1.You must believe that God sees what you give.
God saw what Cain and Abel offered Him (Gen. 4:4-5). In Malachi 1:7-8, God could see the sacrifices the people were offering. And whenever you give to God, He sees it. If your offering means nothing to you, it means nothing to God.

2.You must believe that God knows about your financial situation.
A widow once put her last two coins into the temple treasury. Jesus told the disciples that she had put in all that she had to live on. How could He say that? Because He knew about her financial situation. You don't see Jesus running over to her saying, "Stop! Don't you realize that you will starve to death if you give away all that you have?" He didn't stop her because He knew the Father would supernaturally bless her for her sacrificial gift.

3.You must believe that God will reward your giving.
Prov. 3:9-10 says, "Honor the Lord from your wealth and the first of all your produce, so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine." When we give to God with a cheerful attitude, it releases the blessing of God on us. God can make the barns filled and the vats overflow. He promises to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing (Mal. 3:10).
To listen to the entire message on this subject, go to
Financial Freedom, pt. 1 "The God Factor"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting Your Priorities Straight

A man decided to build a wagon for his horse to pull so he could show it off at the county fair. It took him several days to draw up the plans and several more days shopping around the various lumber yards trying to find the finest wood. He chose the best lumber and spent a couple more weeks cutting the boards, assembling them together, sanding, and painting. After putting on the finishing touches, the wagon looked absolutely beautiful. He knew it would be envied by everyone in the county.

On the day of the fair, he was ready to hook up his horse to the wagon. He went into the barn, walked into the horse's stall and was stunned to discover that his horse was dead. He had been so busy building his wagon that he forgot to feed his horse. It was a case of putting the cart before the horse.

You might not be building a wagon for the county fair, but are you putting the cart before the horse? Your priorities are the things that are most important to you. To some people, entertainment is the thing that's most important to them. For others it's a hobby or a sport. It's their greatest passion. They spend huge amounts of money and time on it. Why? Because that's what they love the most. Matt. 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." If you were put on trial, what evidence could be presented to prove that the Lord is your highest priority?
To listen to the entire sermon on this topic, go to
http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on
Fulfilling Your Destiny, pt. 4 "Priorities"

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Root Bound Christians

When my wife and I bought our house in Florida, the previous owners had planted some azalea bushes in the backyard. The bushes looked rather scrawny and didn't bloom like they were supposed to. We watered them and put fertilizer around them, but they still didn't bloom. The next year the same thing happened. Watered. Fertilized. No blooms. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with them.

The following Spring all the azalea bushes died. As I dug them up, I discovered the problem. Their roots were in the exact shape of the container that they were in when the previous owners bought them! The bushes struggled and eventually died because they were root bound.

How did the plants become root bound? When they were in the container, the roots hit the side of the pot and then turned around and grew inward. Some of the plants had roots growing in circles because they followed the curvature of the plastic container.

If you want a bush to grow in a healthy way, you've got to take a screw driver, stick it in the root ball, pull all the roots apart so they can grow outward, and then plant it in the ground. But when the previous owners pulled the azaleas out of the pots to plant them, they just stuck them in the ground and skipped breaking up the roots. As a result, the roots stayed in the shape of the container and never grew out into the dirt. The plants couldn't get the nutrition they needed and eventually died.

Is it possible that you are root bound? Perhaps you're stuck inside a comfort zone, doing the same things over and over again. You do the same religious rituals without even thinking about it. You're afraid to try something new and different. Your spiritual life is dull and boring because you're like the root bound azalea bush. Surely there is more to the Christian life than that!

God is calling you to spread your roots. He wants you to take a step of faith out of your comfort zone. It may be just a few small changes, or it might be a major change. Ask Him what He wants you to do differently and then do it. Take the screw driver to the roots. If you don't, you'll shrivel up like those azalea bushes and never bloom. To hear the entire message on "Breaking Out of Comfort Zones" go to http://www.churchoflivingwater.net/node/23 and click on "Fulfilling Your Destiny, part 2"

Monday, January 3, 2011

Who Are You?

A boy found a brown egg in the woods and brought it home to the barnyard. He placed it in the goose's nest with the other eggs she had laid. When the goose's eggs hatched, the little birds all emerged with yellow feathers and webbed feet. But when the brown egg hatched, out came a strange looking creature with brown, greasy feathers and twisted feet.

As the months passed and the hatchlings grew, the brown bird just didn't fit in. When the others went swimming in the pond, he followed them and almost drowned. Instead of honking like the other geese, the brown bird let out a shriek. He told himself, "I can't do anything right. I'm just a failure."
One day the birds were in the barnyard when the shadow of a huge bird passed over them. The geese went running for cover, but the brown bird looked up and suddenly realized he wasn't a goose, but an eagle. He started flapping his wings and before he knew it, he was up in the air flying with the other eagles.
He had been an eagle all along, but he thought he was a goose. He had to realize who he was, his true identity, before he could fulfill his destiny.
In the same way, you cannot fulfill your destiny until you realize your true identity as a child of God. 2 Cor. 5:17 says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come."

When you are born again, God gives you a new identity. The only way you can fully grasp this new life is by listening to what God says about you. You can't base your identity on what others think about you. You can't even base it on what you think about yourself. It only comes from what God says. Do you know who you are?