Did you respond to the Wedding Invitation?

f50a5dfa-d83d-4c20-b1e4-5e6bcb295471~rs_768.hAs a professional singer, it was not unusual to be asked to sing for a wedding, but it was a bit unusual to sing for the wedding of a millionaire. I knew the wedding would be picture-perfect and was pleased to be able to participate, but when the invitation to the reception arrived I knew it would be something exceptional.

The reception was held on the top two floors of Seattle’s Columbia Tower, the Northwest’s tallest skyscraper, and it was even more wonderful than I imagined. There were waiters wearing snappy black tuxedos who offered luscious hor d’oeuvres and exotic beverages for the most discriminating tastes. The atmosphere was one of grace and sophistication. After about an hour of merriment the bride and groom approached a beautiful glass and brass staircase that led to the top floor. A satin ribbon, which was draped across the bottom of the stairs, was cut and the announcement made that the wedding feast was about to begin. The bride and groom ascended the stairs and the guests followed. What a lavish event of which to be a part.

A gentleman with a lovely bound book greeted us as we reached the top of the stairs. “May I have your name please?” “I am Ruthanna Metzgar and this is my husband, Roy Metzgar,” I replied. The gentleman searched the Ms. “I’m not finding it. Would you spell it please?” I spelled it slowly and clearly. After searching throughout the book the gentleman looked up and said, “I’m sorry, but your name is not here. Without your name in this book you cannot attend this banquet.” “Oh, there must be some mistake,” I replied. “I am the singer. I sang for this wedding!” The gentleman calmly answered, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you did, without your name in the book you cannot attend this banquet.” As I looked around the room I thought briefly of running to the groom and trying to plead my case, but with a hundred guests on the stairs behind us and every place at the tables assigned according to the thoughtful choices of the bride and groom, I stood silent.

The gentleman with the book motioned to a waiter and said, “Show these people to the service elevator please.” We followed the waiter past beautifully decorated tables laden with shrimp, whole smoked salmon, even gracefully carved ice sculptures. And adjacent to the banquet area was an orchestra, its members all dressed in dazzling white tuxedos, preparing to fill the room with glorious music. We were led to the service elevator, stepped in, and the waiter himself pushed “G” for garage. My husband, thoughtfully, did not say a word, nor did I. As Roy drove out of the Columbia Tower garage, we both remained silent. After driving several miles in silence, Roy reached over and gently put his hand on my arm. “Sweetheart, what happened?” And then I remembered: “When the invitation arrived for the reception I was very busy and I never bothered to return the RSVP. Besides, I was the singer, surely I could go to the reception without returning the RSVP!”

As we drove on I began to weep. I was not weeping because I had just missed the most lavish banquet of my life, but I was weeping because suddenly I knew what it will be like someday for people as they stand before the entrance of heaven: People who were too busy to respond to Christ’s invitation to His heavenly banquet. People who assumed that the good things they had done, even perfect church attendance or singing in the choir, would be enough to gain entry to heaven. People who will look for their name in the Lamb’s Book of Life and not find it there. People who did not have time to respond to Christ’s gracious invitation to have their sins forgiven and accept Him into their hearts.

And then I wept again because I was so grateful that I had, many years earlier, received Christ as my personal Savior and can be confident that my name is written in the most important book of all: The Lamb’s Book of Life. Is Yours?

(Copyright Ruthanna Metzgar, excerpted in Heaven, by Randy Alcorn.)

Is the Great Tribulation the Wrath of God?

Destruction_of_Jerusalem9When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been (Revelation 6:9-11).

In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus was asked as to what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age (v.3). Verses 4 through 31 are an outline of the major events that will happen at the time of the end. These verses describe events almost exactly the same as the outline that the Lord gives us in Revelation 6-7 in the opening of the Seals. After chapter 7, the Lord gets into specific details. We are not told that these events all happen in the seven-year period that starts with a peace treaty in the Middle East (Daniel 9:27) over the land of Israel, but it is an assumption on most Bible teachers part. Jesus calls the first three and a half years after that peace covenant is signed “the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8). As each seal is opened in the Book of Revelation chapter six, a corresponding event happens on the earth that makes the situation on earth so much worse, similar to a woman’s birth pains getting worse as the time for the birth gets near.

At the opening of the fifth seal (Rev 6:7), a great persecution will be initiated against believers in Christ and those Jews who will not take the mark and worship Antichrist. Some, perhaps many, believers will be martyred for Christ at the time of the fifth seal. The opening of this seal, I believe, corresponds to Jesus’ warning about the Great Tribulation (KJV) or great distress (NIV) that He spoke about in Matthew 24:21. I believe this time should be called the Great Persecution. However far ahead in time this is, we as Christians need to be ready to endure and not compromise our faith. Many will fall away when this persecution starts (2 Thessalonians 2:3). We cannot expect to be delivered (raptured) from the earth until some time into this Great Persecution of the saints.

There are some teachers who say we needn’t be worried about this time that is ahead (how far ahead, we do not know). They say that this period of time is the wrath of God being poured out on those who are left on the earth. They believe that the church will be raptured out of here before the Antichrist comes on the scene and the seals begin to be opened with terrible consequences on earth. They say that the tribulation is the wrath of God, and that Paul taught that, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). How can the Tribulation or Persecution be the wrath of God? In the passage at the top of the page, we are told clearly that some believers who had died in the Great Persecution, will ask God, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10). This happens at the fifth seal, some way after the mid-point, perhaps well into the second half of the seven-year period. The wrath of God is the judgment on those who are persecuting His church. At the fifth seal and the persecution, the wrath and judgment has not started yet. The Lord answers for those believers to wait, “until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been” (Revelation 6:11). The rapture will not happen until sometime into the second half of the seven-year period and before the wrath and judgment of God begins. However, many years ahead this time is, we need to be spiritually ready. It’s time to put away our toys and get serious about our faith. It’s time to get close to Jesus. When the darkness gets worse, God will pour out His Spirit and the Church will shine with His love, life and light (Isaiah 60:1-2. Daniel 12:3).

Keith Thomas

What Happened the Day Noah Entered the Ark?

9782917_orig26“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:26-30).

Jesus shares two examples from history. Two times when there was unrestrained evil, one in a local area, and one that was worldwide. At both times in the examples given, life was going on seemingly as normal, people were eating and drinking, there was long term planning, as in planting for a harvest, building homes, marriages being planned, etc. But all of a sudden there was a day when Lot and his family disappeared with a couple of angels, and Noah and his family got into his boat and the door was locked. Guess what happened next? Just as soon as the righteous was safe, at the same instance, the same day for each of them in our two examples, the judgment of God fell on those that did not get their lives right before the Lord—those that had not turned around from their deeds that were displeasing to the Lord.

Notice that there was no seven years in between, no seven days, and no second chance where the Lord tells those left behind to come back later and they would get in. No, sorry, my dear friends, there is no biblical truth in the Left Behind series of books, it is completely fiction and a deception, I believe. Jesus is saying in this passage above that it is a back-to-back event. We are never told in scripture that the tribulation is the wrath of God. How can Antichrist be setting up an image of himself at the midpoint of the seven-year period if we believe that the seven-year period is the wrath of God? Do you really think that Antichrist is going to be able to make war against the saints (Rev 13:7) if that period of time is when the wrath of God is being poured out? When the wrath of God comes on this earth, Antichrist will be under some rock hiding from the face of the Lamb! (Revelation 6:16). The wrath of God is only poured out after the church has gone through the time Jesus warned the church about, the time he called the Great Tribulation, where the church is raptured at some point during that time, no man knows the day nor the hour (Matthew 24:30-31), but at some point during the second half of the seven-year period. The tribulation is a time of persecution on those who will not go along with Antichrist’s one world economic system of taking a mark on our wrist or forehead (Revelation 13:16). We must prepare ourselves to stay pure in a time of unrestrained evil that is being poured out on our planet. We are not to compromise with evil, even when everybody seems to be doing it:

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).

There will come a day when our God will intervene and what an awesome day that will be for every one of us who has chosen to walk with Christ and to not compromise our faith in Him. How are we to keep ourselves pure? That’s exactly what the psalmist, David, said:

9How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:9-11).

Keith Thomas

The Parting of the Ways

UnknownThere is coming a huge parting of the ways between the two kingdoms that are at war with one another on a cosmic scale on planet Earth. The Bible makes it plain that you are either in the kingdom of Satan, or you are in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other. You may think you are serving a different God, but it is a deception of Satan. Here’s what Jesus said: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30).

If you are not walking hand in hand with the Lord Jesus Christ, you are walking with the enemy, Satan, the arch deceiver, the one who Paul the apostle called:

…The ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:2).

God does not want you to keep walking in disobedience to the good news of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness of sin and rebellion against Him. This world is being led away from the straight and narrow path on a downward curve to immorality, violence, greed, murder, etc. Worse still, many of God’s people are compromising their faith and are being led by the ways of this world system onto a similar path away from true holiness, purity and simplicity of godliness in Christ. There is a weak insipid thing that is presented to us as the church; this organization has also taken the curve along with the way of the world system. This is not the true church. The true church is composed of those who will not compromise their faith, no matter what the cost. They are those that are like the three young Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that would not bow down to the spirit of the age, the false idols that are set up before us.

16Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

There is coming a time where an event will happen where there is a parting of the ways between the weak insipid thing that is presented as the church of Christ, and the true Church of the Living God. Paul the Apostle in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 calls this event the “Rebellion,” or some translations render it, the “falling away,” or the “apostasy” in yet another translation. Here’s what he wrote: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessnessa is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” It is hard to say what will cause this. It will be an event in history, not just a gradual falling away from the faith of Christ, because in the Greek language the phrase has the definite article that speaks of an event. What will cause many “so called” Christians to fall away? I think it will be the forcing upon the world’s population of a “mark” on their foreheads or right hand. All those who will not take this “mark” will not be able to buy or sell. The world is heading toward a one-world-currency set up by our slave-owners that will be digital money—no cash will be allowed. All true Christians will not receive this mark, and will take a curve going in the opposite direction away from this world kingdom that is being set up at the moment. The passage below gives us more detail for this event that will bring a parting of the ways between the “so called” church and the true church of Christ:

16It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name (Revelation 13:16-17).

We are living in the times before this event that has been foretold by the Holy Scriptures. My concern is for those of you who have already taken the curve towards the world system. This is a time to be to walking away from the spirit of the age we live in towards Christ. My dear friend, your eternity is at stake, give yourself wholeheartedly to Christ and the Holy Spirit will strengthen you for the days, months or years ahead, however long we have left before the coming of the Lord.

Keith Thomas

Who Are the Believers Who Go Through the Great Tribulation?

tumblr_inline_ned665FUkB1qkqzlv9After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, 
who sits on the throne, 
and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: “Amen! 
Praise and glory 
and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength 
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!” 13Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-14 Emphasis mine).

There are those who tell us that the rapture (the snatching up of the saints from this earth) will happen before the tribulation starts. Well, how can that be? The passage above tells us that a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language will stand in white robes before the elders (v.11), before the living creatures (v.11), before the angels and before God, after going through a great tribulation. This is obviously the rapture. How do I know? We are specifically told that this great multitude that are seen are those who came out of the great tribulation (v.14).

Some say that these are believers who were left behind after a pre-tribulation rapture. They got saved during the tribulation, they inform us. But over the last two devotionals we have alluded to the fact that in two passages we are told that the door is shut at the rapture—there is no second chance after a pre-tribulation rapture (if there was such a thing). The door was shut when the bridegroom came for His bride (Matthew 25:10, Luke 13:25). If there was a rapture before all the trouble (tribulation) starts, then why do we not see the pre-tribulation saints welcoming this great multitude and giving high fives upon their coming to heaven? We see the angels, the living creatures, the elders and God Himself welcoming this great multitude, but no pre-tribulation saints! Why not? Because there is no pre-tribulation rapture! The Church must wake up and prepare to endure hardship and persecution at the hands of Antichrist. We are told that we will be delivered by a catching up (rapture) at some point (no man knows the day nor the hour) during the tribulation. It’s time to wake up from sleep and prepare to endure hardship for Jesus Christ—it’s time to get close to Christ.

Prayer: Father, help us to be a powerful expression of the church in these dark days. The world is crying out for truth and to see the light in believers.

Keith Thomas