Articles from the Blog
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed.… — 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8If Satan has been waiting to introduce the antichrist to the world, what is stopping him from allowing this evil leader to step onto the platform of the world stage right now? Why is it taking so long for the devil to finally bring this man to public attention? Paul answered this question when he wrote Second Thessalonians 2:6-8. He said, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” Notice that Paul says, “And now ye know.…” In the Greek, the sentence could be better translated, “Now, since I have already told you all these things, you ought to already know….” This is important, for it tells us that Paul had already informed the Thessalonian believers about events that would occur in the last days. Paul had only spent a mere matter of months with the Thessalonian church; we can therefore see from this passage of Scripture the importance he attached to their ability to understand end-time events. In the short time Paul was with the Thessalonian believers, he had instructed them so well on the events of the last days that he could now tell them, “Since I have already told you all these things, you ought to already know….” Let me ask you this: If Paul used part of his brief stay with the Thessalonian church to teach them about the events that would occur in the last days, doesn’t this tell us that our understanding of this subject should be a very high priority? We can’t shut our eyes to these truths of Scripture. If Paul considered this theme so important that he would introduce it to a group of new believers, how much more do we who are seasoned believers need to grasp what the Bible teaches about the last days? Paul told the Thessalonian believers that a Force “withholdeth” the antichrist from being revealed. Although the Greek doesn’t specifically state the identity of the restraining Force in this verse, it seems to suggest that Paul is referring to the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Think of it — what if the power of the Spirit of God was suddenly withdrawn or removed from the earth? It would be only a brief matter of time before the devil quickly consummated his dream of world domination. You see, the Holy Spirit is the Great Restrainer, and He is holding back this evil from coming to pass in the world today. The King James Version uses the word “withholdeth” to describe this restraining work of the Spirit. In Greek, it is the word katecho and carries the idea of holding something down or suppressing something. It is clear that this is an evil so horrendous that it must be held down, held back, or suppressed lest it be loosed to release a wide range of wicked effects. The supernatural Force Paul refers to is stalling, delaying, and postponing the evil that is craving to be fully released and set into operation. Peter tells us why the Spirit of God is stalling, delaying, and postponing this dreadful time at the end of the age. In Second Peter 3:9, he says that God is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God is holding back the ultimate day of evil to give unbelievers more time to come to Him in repentance. But a day is soon coming when the Great Restrainer will “…be taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). When this day comes, the hindering Power that has continuously delayed the worldwide domination of evil and lawlessness will be removed. It will be as though He is suddenly lifted out of the middle of everything. At that moment, the evil forces that have long been suppressed will suddenly be freed, and their wicked plans, purposes, and desires will be abruptly energized. When the supernatural hindering Force is removed, these events will quickly come to pass with no hesitation, for the Restrainer will be out of the picture. Once the Restrainer is gone, the antichrist will “be revealed.” The word “revealed” is the word apokalupto. The Greek word apo means away, and the word kalupto refers to something that is veiled, covered, concealed, or hidden. When these two words are compounded, they form the word apokalupto, which depicts a veil that has been removed, exposing what is behind the veil that was previously concealed or hidden from view. When the Holy Spirit’s restraining power has been withdrawn, there will no longer be any force present to hold back the evil forces. Therefore, this evil leader who has been concealed and hidden from public view will suddenly “appear.” In that moment, it will seem as if a stage curtain has been pulled out of the way so that he can make his grand appearance to the world.
Taking all these Greek words into consideration, an interpretive translation of Second Thessalonians 2:6-8 could read this way:
“Now in light of everything I’ve told you before, you ought to be well aware by now that there is a supernatural Force at work, preventing the materialization of this person and the disclosure of his identity.
“This restraining Force I’m referring to is so strong that it is currently putting on the brakes and holding back the unveiling of this wicked person, stalling and postponing his manifestation. But when the right moment comes, this evil one will no longer be withheld, and he will emerge on the world scene! The screen that has been hiding his true identity and guarding him from world view will suddenly be pulled back and evaporate — and he will step out on center stage to let everyone know who he is.
“These events have been covertly in the making for a long time, but the world doesn’t realize that a secret plan is being executed right under their own noses. The only thing that has kept this plan from already being consummated is the supernatural Force that has been holding it all back until now.
“But one day this Force will be removed from the picture — and when that happens, these events will quickly transpire. The removal of this restraining Force will signal the moment when the Lawless One will finally make his grand appearance to the world….”Can you image how quickly evil would take over the world if the Spirit of God stopped restraining the presence of evil? Because God is holding back this force of evil to give men more time to repent, we are still living in a period of grace when men can call on the name of the Lord and be saved. We are truly living in a season of grace that God is extending to the world just before the worst evil in human history is manifested on the earth. If you haven’t been spending much time in prayer for your unsaved friends and loved ones, why don’t you start making it a high priority today to pray for their salvation? Right now God is holding back evil so that your friends — and all mankind — may have one last opportunity to come to Him in repentance before the end of the age is consummated and all the prophecies of the Bible are fulfilled. Which of your friends need to be saved? How often do you pray for them? What are you doing to ensure that they have an opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ? If you possess the answers they need but don’t share those answers with them, how do you think you will feel when you stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ? If you do your best to introduce your loved ones to Jesus but they refuse to listen, at least your heart will be free of guilt on that day when you stand before Jesus. So why don’t you begin to pray for them today? And while you’re in that place of prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to give you another chance to share the Gospel with those whom you know and love!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I thank You for holding back the evil forces that want to manifest in the world today. It’s hard to imagine what the world would be like if Your Spirit no longer suppressed the evil in the hearts of men. I thank You for working in the world today, and I thank You for giving my friends, family, associates, and acquaintances one last chance to come to You. Please help me recognize divinely appointed moments when I can present the Gospel to those who are near me. And I ask You to help me formulate my words so they can understand what I am communicating to them. Holy Spirit, as I speak to people, I ask You to do the work of conviction in their hearts so they will have a desire to believe and to repent.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am sensitive to opportunities that God gives me to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t have a spirit of fear about witnessing. Because the power of the Holy Spirit lives inside me, I am brave, bold, and courageous when it comes to telling the Good News of Jesus Christ. People need the Gospel — and that means they need to hear what I have to tell them. When I speak, God’s Spirit anoints me and people listen. As a result of my obedience, I am being used by God to bring many people to salvation in these last days!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Who are the unbelieving family members, friends, associates, or acquaintances you are most concerned about? Have you ever put them on a prayer list to help remind you to pray for their salvation every day? 2. Before you were saved, did anyone pray regularly for your salvation? Who was that person? After you came to the Lord, didn’t it make you thankful that someone cared enough to pray for you? Have you ever taken the time to thank that person for making your salvation a high priority in his or her prayer time? 3. Is there someone you are going to see today who might be open if you shared the Good News that Jesus died for him or her? Who is that person?
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. — 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4From my early childhood, I heard about the antichrist. In the many years that I’ve been a Christian, I’ve heard people speculate that this person or that person could potentially be the antichrist. However, although these individuals may have been forerunners to the antichrist, none of them turned out to be the long-anticipated Man of Lawlessness described in the Scriptures. The Bible teaches us that at some point in the future, an evil ruler called the antichrist is going to step onto the platform of the world stage and take the leading role for a short time in the affairs of mankind. Many predecessors of the antichrist have already come and gone, but according to this scripture in Second Thessalonians 2, the real antichrist is still yet to be revealed in the last times. Paul tells us about the supernatural appearance of the antichrist when he writes about the last days in Second Thessalonians 2:3,4. Paul writes, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” Paul says that before the antichrist can be revealed, first there must be a “falling away” that takes place in the world. The phrase “falling away” is taken from the Greek word apostasia, which describes a falling away or a revolt. The writer Plutarch used this word to describe a political revolt. In First Maccabees 2:15, the word apostasia is used to picture people who are turning away from the Lord. This word also occurs in the Septuagint version of Joshua 2:22, where it conveys the idea of rebellion against God. Thus, the word apostasia is a word that denotes rebellion, mutiny, and defiance. Before the antichrist can be welcomed with wide-open arms by the world, a change in society’s mentality must first take place. Paul uses this word to predict a rebellion or mutiny against God that will occur in the last days. The text does not imply that this mutiny will occur within the Church; rather, it seems to point to a change in society’s attitude toward God. Paul is describing a time when society’s attitude toward God and holy things will become mutinous. Once this anti-God and anti-godliness mentality pervades society, the world will be primed and prepared to receive this man whom Paul calls “that man of sin.” The Greek word used here for “sin” is the word anomia. Translating the word anomia as “sin” is unfortunate, for the word anomia actually means without law and carries the idea of a lawless attitude. It has a definite article in Greek, which tells us emphatically that this individual is not just any person with a lawless attitude; rather, this is a reference to the man of lawlessness or the antichrist. Paul points to a time when this evil leader will be “revealed.” The word “revealed” is the Greek word apokalupto. It is a compound word, using the words apo and kalupto. The word apo means away, and the word kalupto is something that is veiled, covered, concealed, or hidden. When these two words are compounded, they form the word apokalupto, depicting a veil that has been removed, exposing what is behind the veil that was formerly concealed or hidden from view. Paul uses this word to inform us that a day is coming when the antichrist — who has been concealed and hidden from public view — will suddenly appear. In that moment when he suddenly emerges on the world scene, it will be as if a stage curtain has been pulled out of the way so that he can make his grand appearance. Paul calls this wicked leader “the son of perdition.” The word “perdition” is from the Greek word apoleia, which speaks of something that is doomed, rotten, ruinous, or decaying. Although this world leader may boast that he will lead the world to a higher and better day, what he will actually bring to the world is doom, destruction, ruin, rot, and decay. No redeeming value can be found in anything produced by the antichrist’s rule. In the Greek text, Paul uses a definite article, loudly signaling that this evil world ruler is in a category like none other before him. He is not simply another evil person. He is THE Son of Doom and Destruction. Next, Paul tells us that this wicked world leader will be one “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” The Greek word for “opposeth” is antikeimai, which means opposed to or against everything that is established. There is no doubt that this is a clear reference to the antichrist. The word “antichrist” means against Christ. Thus, the Greek word used in this verse tells us that this evil leader will be against everything having to do with God. It is important to note that the Greek grammar used in this verse paints the picture of a continual, unending, and perpetual resistance against the things of God. This is not just a one-time resistance against the things of God; rather, this poisonous quality will be deeply ingrained in the character of the antichrist. Everything in this evil ruler will be opposed to God and all that He represents. Paul also warns that the antichrist “…exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped….” The word “exalteth” is the Greek word huperairo, which means to exceedingly exalt oneself or to be exalted highly. In this case, it is the idea of someone being exalted too highly. According to Paul, the antichrist will go to all lengths to exceedingly exalt himself in the eyes of the world. As we continue to study this verse, we discover that this wicked ruler will even attempt to sit in God’s rightful place in the temple and elevate himself higher than God Himself! Paul says that the antichrist will oppose and exalt himself above all “that is worshipped.” The word for “worship” is the Greek word sebasma, which refers to anything that can be worshiped, including God. Here we see that the antichrist will attempt to stop the practice of worshiping God and demand that he become the primary focus of human attention and worship. Then Paul prophesies that the antichrist will sit in the very place of God in the temple. The word “temple” is the Greek word naos. It is sometimes used to refer to the innermost part of the temple and may be interpreted as the Holy of Holies. On the basis of this verse, many scholars assert that the antichrist will enter a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, where he will go into the Holy of Holies and decree himself to be God incarnate. Wasn’t this exactly what Lucifer attempted to do when he declared that he would exalt himself above the very throne of God? Isaiah tells us of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13,14: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Following the long-held desire of Satan, the antichrist will again attempt to take the very place of God in the temple. Paul tells us that the antichrist will commit the ultimate offense of “…shewing himself that he is God.” The Greek word for “shew” is the word apodeiknumi, which actually means to vividly portray; to point out; to illustrate; to show off; or to make a vivid presentation. This is the picture of the antichrist using all possible means to demonstrate that he holds a rank that is even higher than God Himself. In Second Thessalonians 2:9, Paul warns that the antichrist will even employ supernatural signs and wonders to try to prove that he is God. He says, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” The words “with all” are from the Greek words en pase, which emphatically declares that the antichrist will come with all power — implying that he will make his grand appearance with all kinds of power and supernatural displays. The Greek word for “power” is dunamis, which describes something that is explosive or dynamic. It is where we get the word dynamite. This means that when the antichrist appears, he will come with all kinds of powers that are truly extraordinary in the opinion of the lost world. The Greek word for “sign” is semeion. This word denotes an act that points the viewer in a certain direction or an action performed to prove a point. It also means a beacon, a signal, or a sign. Just as a sign on the road gives directions to a driver, these supernatural feats are intended to point the attention and focus of the world to the antichrist. The word “wonder” is the Greek word teras, and it is often translated miracles. This refers to something that causes people to marvel or to be amazed. The same word is used in Matthew 24:24, where Jesus warns that false prophets will perform wonders in the last days to deceive and to draw people away after themselves. Here it is used to say that when Satan finally has the opportunity to introduce his antichrist to the world, the evil ruler will energetically attempt to take the very place of God — even using lying signs and wonders to show that he is God.
When you put all these Greek words together, you discover that Paul’s words in Second Thessalonians 2:3,4,9 could be interpreted:
“In light of these things, I urge you to refuse to allow anyone to take advantage of you. For example, you won’t need a letter to tell you when the day of the Lord has come. You ought to know by now that this day can’t come until first a worldwide insurgency, rebellion, riot, and mutiny against God has come about in society.
“Once that occurs, the world will then be primed, prepared, and ready to embrace the Man of Lawlessness, the one who hates law and has rebellion running in his blood. This is the long-awaited and predicted Son of Doom and Destruction, the one who brings rot and ruin to everything he touches. When the time is just right, he will finally come out of hiding and go public!
“Do you understand whom I am talking about? I’m describing that person who will be so against God and everything connected with the worship of God that, if you can imagine it, he will even try to put himself on a pedestal above God Himself — sitting in God’s rightful place in the temple and publicly proclaiming himself to be God!
“This evil one will be energized by Satan himself as he makes his arrival known to the world with all kinds of dynamic supernatural powers — powers that are truly extraordinary. These lying signs and wonders and supernatural feats have only one purpose: They are designed to draw attention to the Lawless One and to make the world stand in awe of him.”Any Christian who is sensitive to the Spirit of God is keenly aware that we are living in a time when society’s attitude toward God is radically changing. The world is being primed and prepared to throw open its arms and receive this world ruler who will oppose God and bring rot, ruin, and destruction to mankind. Unfortunately, the lost world doesn’t realize that it is being slowly seduced and trained for this moment the devil has long awaited. As believers, we have no need to be afraid, for none of this will affect those who know Jesus Christ. However, it will affect those who are lost and without God. They will fall under the supernatural hypnotism of this devil-anointed leader. And if they don’t come to know Jesus Christ before all of this occurs, they will be ensnared in the trap that the entire world is about to fall into in the days to come. Please realize what a critical time you are living in right now. Jesus is coming quickly. Those who know Him will escape many of these trials and temptations, but those who don’t know Him will be caught in the delusion and devastation. It’s good to rejoice that you will escape, but what about those you love? What are you going to do to ensure that they escape the evil days that are coming upon the earth? In light of this clear teaching of Scripture, don’t you think it’s time for you to reach out to your unsaved friends and family members and speak to them about the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an opportunity to speak to them; then let Him fill your mouth with the right words as you earnestly plead with them to make Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives.
My Prayer for TodayLord, I ask You to give me the boldness I need to present the Gospel to my friends and family members who are unsaved. I know that if they don’t receive Jesus, they will be lost in sin and caught in the delusion that is coming upon the world in the days to come. I don’t want to stand before You knowing that they are lost because I was too afraid to open my mouth and tell them of Your saving blood. Holy Spirit, please give me the boldness I need and the right words to speak to those who are near and dear to my heart. When I stand before You, I want to be assured in my heart that I did everything I could to rescue those who are lost and perishing. Please help me to do this and to start today!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am not afraid to testify of Jesus Christ to others. In fact, the love of God compels me to reach out to those who are lost. I know I will give account for those I could have reached but didn’t, so I will do everything I can to speak to them, to reach them, and to make sure they have an opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. If they refuse to listen or to receive, I will be freed from my responsibility. My part is just to make sure they had a chance to hear and to believe. The Holy Spirit is empowering me to testify, so starting today, I will follow His leading and speak to unbelievers about Jesus as God provides opportunities for me to do so.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Do you have unsaved friends or relatives who need to know the Lord before all these terrible events begin to unfold on the world stage? Who are these loved ones? Do you regularly pray for their salvation? 2. How long has it been since you have personally presented the Gospel to those loved ones who are still unsaved? Is the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart, trying to prompt you to share Christ with them at this time? 3. Have you asked the Holy Spirit to give you an opportunity to present the Gospel to your friends and loved ones? When the Holy Spirit gave you an opportunity in the past, did you take advantage of it, or did you let it pass you by? If you let it pass you by, why don’t you ask the Holy Spirit to give you another opportunity to present Jesus to those whom you love?
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. — 2 Thessalonians 2:1When Paul wrote his second letter to the church of Thessalonica, he was exceedingly excited at the thought of Jesus’ soon return. In fact, he was so thrilled about the prospect of Jesus’ coming again that he devoted the entire second chapter of Second Thessalonians to the events that would occur in the last days. As Paul wrote this famous chapter about the events of the last days, he began by declaring, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.” Notice that Paul uses the word “beseech” in this verse. Normally the word “beseech” would be the Greek word parakaleo, but in this verse, Paul uses the word erotao rather than the word parakaleo. The word erotao means to ask or to make a strong request. This word calls upon the listener to cautiously listen to what is being said and to respond in a fitting manner to what has been heard. Because Paul is speaking of the coming of the Lord and uses the word erotao to appeal to his listeners, he clearly means for them to take his words seriously and to let these words make a strong impact in their lives. When we think about the coming of the Lord, it should make a strong impact in our lives. It should affect the way we live, the way we think, the way we carry on in our relationships, and the way we invest our money into the Kingdom of God. It is simply a fact that Jesus is coming for His Church, and we should constantly live in the light of His coming. When we live with the awareness that Jesus is coming again, it changes our conduct and behavior. By using the word erotao (“beseech”), Paul is communicating to his readers that they have a responsibility to respond to his message about Jesus’ soon return. They are to live in a godly, upright, and holy manner as they wait for “the coming of our Lord.” Then he begins to speak to them about the “coming of our Lord.” The word “coming” is from the Greek word parousia. This word always places special emphasis on the Presence of the Lord — especially the Presence of God that can be tangibly felt among His people. Here it is used to describe the strong Presence of God that will be felt when Jesus returns to gather His people to Himself. The word implies that the Church will feel a phenomenal divine Presence when it is time for Jesus to gather His people to Himself at the end of the age. This means that as we come closer to the return of Jesus, the parousia — the strong Presence of the Lord — will be strongly sensed among believers. In fact, the ever-growing, strong Presence of the Lord in the midst of the Church will be one of the signals that Jesus’ return is close at hand. As His Presence gets stronger and stronger, we will know it is time for Him to return to “gather” us to Himself. When Paul speaks about “our gathering together unto Him,” the phrase “gathering together” comes from the Greek word episunagoge. This word is used perfectly in the apocryphal book of Second Maccabees 2:7, where it refers to that moment in the future when God will finally gather His people together to Himself. This is exactly how Paul uses it in Second Thessalonians 2:1 as he talks about that moment when God will finally gather His people together to Himself at the coming of Jesus. In Second Thessalonians 2:1, Paul uses the word episunagoge (“gathering together”) to describe that future moment when the Lord will quickly gather or collect His people together to Himself at the end of the age. At that divine moment, all of God’s people will be quickly gathered together and collected in a common assembly to meet the Lord in the air. What a meeting that will be!
Considering the Greek words that Paul used in Second Thessalonians 2:1, this verse could be interpreted the following way:
“Brothers, I make this urgent, heartfelt request to you today, earnestly and sincerely pleading with you from the bottom of my heart to hear what I’m telling you and to do exactly as I say. The appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ is very near. In fact, it is so close that we can almost feel His Presence as if He were already here among us. The moment we have all longed for and waited for is almost upon us! I’m talking about that moment when Jesus will finally gather us together to Himself.”The apostle Peter warned us that at the end of the age, many scoffers would mock at the promise of Jesus’ return, asserting that if Jesus was going to come, surely He would have already come. Peter wrote, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?…” (2 Peter 3:3,4). The word “scoffers” is from the Greek word empaidzo, and it described one who makes fun of another through mockery. It conveyed the idea of disdain, scorn, derision, and ridicule. The Greek word empaidzo also meant to play a game. It was often used for playing a game with children or for amusing a crowd by impersonating someone in a silly and exaggerated way. For instance, this word might be used in a game of charades when someone intends to comically portray someone or even make fun of someone. We find this word used in Luke 22:63, where the Bible tells us, “And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.” The Greek word empaidzo categorically lets us know that these men turned a few minutes of that nightmarish night before Jesus’ crucifixion into a stage of comedy at His expense. They put on quite a show, hamming it up as they almost certainly pretended to be Jesus and the people He ministered to. Perhaps they laid hands on each other as if they were healing the sick; or lay on the floor and quivered, as if they were being liberated from devils; or wobbled around, acting as if they had been blind but now could suddenly see. Whatever these leaders did to mock Jesus, it was a game of charades to mimic and make fun of Him. Now Peter uses this same word to depict mockers in the last days who would make fun of those who believe in Jesus’ coming. I can almost hear them saying, “Come on, if Jesus was going to come, don’t you think He would have been here by now? Quit hanging on to this false hope, you dreamers!” But the grammar used in Second Peter 3:3,4 tells us that this mocking is the characteristic behavior of these scoffers. It could be more accurately translated, “Mockers will come mocking.” In other words, they don’t only mock on occasion; they are mockers by habit. They find great delight in regularly mocking and making fun of those who believe that Jesus is coming to gather His Church to Himself. But regardless of what doubt-filled believers or antagonistic unbelievers say as they mock us, the truth is that Jesus is coming again soon! Second Thessalonians 2:1 gives us one of the signs that will occur to let us know His arrival is upon us: We will suddenly be aware of the supernatural Presence of Jesus in the Church like never before. The closer we come to the time of His return, the more strongly this phenomenal Presence of God will be felt in our midst. In fact, it will seem as if His coming is already upon us! That strong Presence of God will signal to us that it is just about time for Jesus to quickly gather us and collect us to Himself! So in the days to come, close your ears to the mockers who make fun of you for believing in Jesus’ soon return. Then open your heart to the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to make you sensitive to His voice inside your spirit. As you are faithful to do this, you will recognize that moment when the Presence of God becomes much stronger in the Church, and you’ll know that moment for what it is — one of the greatest indications that Jesus’ return is upon us!
My Prayer for TodayLord, help me to be sensitive to Your Presence so I can be aware of that moment when Your coming is near to us. Help me close my ears to those mockers who say You will never come. By Your grace, I will hold tightly to Your promise that You will come one day to collect Your people to Yourself. Help me live a life that is holy — one that pleases You and for which I will not be ashamed when You suddenly appear to gather the Church to Yourself.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am living a holy life that pleases God, a life for which I am not ashamed. I say no to sin; I crucify my flesh; and I do my very best to yield to and walk in the Spirit. I am sensitive to the Presence of God. And when the moment draws near for Jesus to come and collect His people to Himself, I will sense the growing strength of His Presence in the Church and will recognize it as a signal that God’s people will soon be leaving planet earth! I believe in Jesus’ coming; I expect it in my lifetime; and I am doing all I can to preach the Gospel to the lost so they won’t be left out when Jesus gathers the Church to Himself.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Are you living a life that makes you feel confident about seeing Jesus face to face when He returns for His people? Or are you allowing secret sins in your life that make you fearful about Jesus’ soon return? If you answered yes to the second question, what are those secret sins, and what steps do you need to take to remove them from your life? 2. What can you do to increase your spiritual sensitivity so you will recognize the moment when the Presence of God suddenly and supernaturally energizes the Church, alerting God’s people that the time for Jesus’ arrival is upon them? 3. Write down two lists, answering the following two questions: What things do you need to remove from your life because they adversely affect your spiritual sensitivity? What do you need to add to your life to help you become more spiritually sensitive?
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. — 1 Timothy 6:19When Russian Czar Peter the Great died, his daughter Elizabeta Petrovna came to the throne and became the Empress of Russia. She was perhaps the most flamboyant ruler ever to reign over Russia. The extravagance of her lifestyle was legendary. She owned more palaces than she could use, and the Cinderella-type carriages she owned were hand-carved and gold-leafed. In addition, the carriage doors and spikes of the wheels of each carriage were studded with dazzling diamonds to match the solid gold crowns that were laden with emeralds and rubies and affixed to the top. The Empress Elizabeta also had an abnormal love of clothes. She completely changed her attire three times a day and never once wore the same article of clothing twice. This was no problem for her, given the fact that she owned 15,000 regal gowns, many of which were spun from pure silver and gold and encrusted with precious gems. This ruler of Russia came to be known as the “party queen” because she threw hundreds of parties in her massive gold-gilded palaces. To make sure no royal woman ever wore the same gown to such an event twice, she established a new rule: Servants were to be stationed at all the doors; then as each woman left the palace parties, the servants were to stamp the back of these fabulous gowns with a huge black ink stamp. The ink stamp declared that the dress had already been worn to one party and could never be worn to another one. That stamp literally ruined the dress, ensuring that no one would ever dare attend one of the empress’s celebrations in an already-used garment. During the rule of Empress Elizabeta, she ordered the hundreds of massive columns and statues that adorned all her palaces to be covered with pure gold. However, when Catherine the Great came to power and became the Empress of Russia, she considered that much gold on the exterior of a palace to be garish and unfitting (although Catherine’s lifestyle was actually no less ostentatious than Elizabeta’s). Therefore, Catherine ordered her servants to scrape all the gold off the columns and statues and to throw it away, replacing it with white paint. When the news of this disposal of gold reached the ears of the wealthy class in Saint Petersburg, a successful merchant came to Catherine the Great and asked if he could purchase the gold she was throwing away. Catherine sternly replied to him, “Excuse me, but who do you think I am? Do you think that I, the Empress of Russia, am so poor that I need to sell my rubbish?” With that, she ordered all the old, scraped-off gold to be thrown away. Once when I was visiting Saint Petersburg and touring some of these vast historical palaces, I pondered the way these wealthy rulers spent such massive fortunes on themselves. I thought, Today we visit the palaces of people who once lived luxuriously but whose bones now lie in their graves. Although these people lived in opulence during their lifetimes, what good does their wealth do for them now? Did they spend it all on themselves, only to spend an eternity in spiritual impoverishment? What is the eternal condition of these people? If we are to live wisely, we must invest not only in temporary moments of pleasure, but also in the eternity that lies before all of us. Moments of pleasure in this life are enjoyable but fleeting; however, what we invest in eternity never fades. This is why Paul told the rich in Timothy’s church that they were to be “laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19). The same message applies to us today. The words “laying up” are from the Greek word apothesauridzo. This Greek word is a compound of the word apo, which means away, and the word thesaurus, which is the Greek word for a treasure. The two words compounded together mean to store away treasure or to amass a fortune. The new word depicts people putting their investments in a safe place where they cannot be stolen, ruined, or diminished. Most affluent and prosperous people work very hard to see that their money is invested in safe, profitable, money-making investments. This is why they put their money into stocks and bonds, property, art, or other investments that will eventually reap healthy dividends. They want to see their fortune grow. And if they are wise, they will not invest in ventures that are too risky because they don’t want to see their fortunes stolen, ruined, or diminished. Likewise, God expects you to be wise with the finances He has entrusted to you. This is made clear in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, where Jesus commends the servants who caused their resources to grow and rebuked the servant who did nothing to increase his financial capacity. Based on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25, we know that each of us should do everything possible to increase the size of our wealth. However, this financial increase isn’t to be gained so we can hoard it or spend it on ourselves! Paul says that if we’ve been blessed with wealth, we need to also think very seriously about how to “lay it up” where it will never be diminished. In fact, he goes on to say that we should use our money to amass “…a good foundation against the time to come….” The word “good” in the phrase “a good foundation” is the word kalos. As noted in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, the word kalos pictures something that is sound, healthy, fine, or excellent. The word “foundation” is the Greek word themelios. This word is most likely an early combination of the Greek word lithos, which means stone, and the word tithimi, which means to place. It depicts that which is set in stone; a foundation that cannot be easily moved or shaken; or something so solid that it will endure the test of time. This is the reason it later came to be translated as the word foundation. The words “time to come” are taken from the Greek word mello and describe events that are coming in the future. Later in the verse, Paul proceeds to talk about eternity, leaving no doubt that he is referring to eternity when he speaks of a “time to come.” He wants to urge people to invest not only in the present, but also in the eternity that lies in all their futures. You see, the money you spend on your own pleasures right now is gone once it is spent. As noted earlier (see November 23), it is normal for you to enjoy the finances you have worked so hard to attain. You should enjoy them. But to spend all of it on yourself here and invest none of it into your eternal future is simply stupidity. What you spend on yourself right now in this life is gone once you have died. On the other hand, what you sow into the Gospel reaches into the next life as an investment that keeps growing for all of eternity — an investment that amasses for yourself an enduring, never-ending reward in the life to come! If you are a wise investor, you are already aware that you must think long-term when you make your investments. Likewise, as you sow your seed into the Gospel and into those who take it to the ends of the earth, you must remember that you may not see the tangible fruit of your investment in this life. But one day when you get to Heaven, you will at last see the phenomenal reward of your giving. Then you will reap the dividends of the finances you sowed into the Kingdom of God! So don’t spend all your money on your earthly existence and forget to lay up a good foundation for the eternity that lies in your future. Give now, and by faith prepare for yourself a wealthy existence in the eternity that lies before you!
My Prayer for TodayLord, help me to always keep in mind that eternity lies before me. Too often I get so consumed in the affairs of this life that I forget to think about my eternal existence. I don’t want to be so focused on making myself comfortable in this life that I forget to do what I must to make myself comfortable in the next life. Help me lay up a good foundation for the eternity that lies in my future. Holy Spirit, I ask You to teach me not only how to cause my personal wealth to grow here and now, but also how to sow financial seed into the Gospel that will benefit many and cause me to reap great rewards when I pass into the life yet to come!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI boldly declare that I am investing in my future! All of eternity lies before me, so I am sowing seed into the Kingdom of God, believing that it will be multiplied back to me now as it is also laid up for me in my eternal future. I am a wise investor, so I sow regularly and faithfully into the work of God’s Kingdom — and my faith investments are reaping for me a great harvest in the days to come!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Are you sowing for eternity, or are you investing only for the dividends you can reap in this life right now? 2. What can you do to make sure you are not spending all your money on your present pleasures, forgetting to lay up a good foundation for the eternity that lies in your future? When you evaluate what you sow into the Kingdom of God, can you conclude that you are serious about investing into eternity? 3. What changes do you need to make in your spending and investing habits in order to ensure that you will reap strong eternal dividends
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate. — 1 Timothy 6:17,18I am so thankful that my wife and I personally know many godly wealthy people who are mission-minded and who generously give to see the Gospel go to the ends of the earth. Although they could selfishly use their money merely for the sake of self-embellishment, they have learned that God gave them money for a purpose: so they could empower preachers of the Gospel to take the message of Jesus Christ to people who need to hear it. Therefore, in addition to personally enjoying their wealth as they should, they have also learned to do a great deal of good with their finances. I’ll never forget the time we sat down with a particular family who fits this description. They invited us to dinner; then while we were at dinner with them, they told me and my wife that they had decided to invest into our ministry. We sat in shock as they told us how they had looked into our finances and checked us out as thoroughly as they possibly could. Then they said they were so blessed with what they had discovered, they decided to channel some of their money into our ministry for the advancement of the Gospel! After researching our ministry, they felt confident the finances would be used properly. So from that day onward, these precious people began to regularly sow into the work God has given us to do. This wealthy family is diligent to fulfill God’s command to the rich as presented in First Timothy 6:17,18. In these verses, Paul gives Timothy instructions for those who were rich in the younger minister’s church. Paul tells Timothy to charge the rich that they “…do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.” Today I want us to delve deeply into this verse to see exactly what God’s expectation is for those who are financially blessed in His Kingdom. When Paul instructed the rich to “do good,” he used the word agathoergeo, which is a compound of agathos and ergos. The word agathos means good or beneficial, and the word ergos is the most common word in the New Testament for work, presenting the idea of someone who is very active. When they are compounded together, the new word means to do works that are good, beneficial, excellent, profitable, or helpful to others. These are deeds that leave people in a better condition than they were before the deeds were performed. But because the word ergos is used, it pictures one who really works at doing good, not one who lazily or thoughtlessly performs these actions. The rich are therefore instructed to be thoughtful, serious, and fervent about their giving, like the family I mentioned earlier who blessed our ministry. They should work hard at giving to the right people and to the right places. Paul goes on to say that the rich are to “be rich in good works.” The word “rich” is the word plousios, describing incredible abundance, extreme wealth, and enormous affluence.The word “works” is ergos, the Greek word for work. It tells the rich that they should be constantly working to use their wealth to benefit other people. Their giving should be something they do seriously and with focused attention. To describe the level of works they are to perform, Paul uses the word “good.” This is the word kalos, and it pictures something that is sound, healthy, fine, or excellent. These are excellent works. You could say that these are works that are done soundly and that leave the recipient in a healthy position. Paul then tells the rich that they must be “ready to distribute.” The words “ready to distribute” come from the Greek word eumetadotos. It is a triple compound word of the words eu, meta, and didomi. The word eu describes a feeling of elation and ecstasy. It is what a person feels when he is simply thrilled about something. It is where we get the word euphoria.The second part of the word is meta, and it can be translated a variety of ways, depending on the particular grammar being used in the sentence. In this verse, it means with or about.The third part of the word is from the word didomi,which simply means to give. Once these three words are compounded together, the new word literally means that those who possess a lot of material resources shouldbe elated, thrilled, and euphoric about every opportunity they have to give. Next, Paul tells the rich that they must be “willing to communicate.” This phrase comes from the single Greek word koinonikos. This word is taken from the word koinonia, which expresses the idea of anything that is shared in common. But when the word koinonia becomes the word koinonikos,as it is in this verse, it pictures a person who is a champion at sharing what he owns. This person doesn’t begrudgingly share what he owns; he liberally, generously, and joyfully shares it! He is big-hearted and open-handed — just the opposite of one who is tightfisted and stingy. This is a heroic giver. Therefore, when Paul tells the rich to be “willing to communicate,” he is teaching them that they should be champion givers!
When we put all these Greek words together, we see that Paul is urging the rich to:
“Work diligently at richly performing good deeds with the resources God has given you. Put your whole heart into using those resources to leave people in better shape then they were before you acted on their behalf. You should be elated, thrilled, and euphoric about every opportunity you have to give. You should be excited about every chance that presents itself for you to be generous!”God requires everyone to be a giver, but when a person is especially blessed financially more than others, God expects that richly blessed person to do more than others can do because he has more. So if God has financially blessed you, He is calling you to use your wealth to become rich in good works! God expects you to go above and beyond what others do because you have the ability to do more. And God expects you to be excited about it! So I want to ask you — when you are confronted with an opportunity to give of your finances, do you get excited about it, or do you begrudge every gift you give? Do you feel like you’re losing something when you give of your finances, or do you see your gift as a welcome opportunity to help enrich someone else’s life? Do you receive joy from giving, or does it break your heart when you see your money pass from your hands into someone else’s hands? Today I urge you to go before the Lord and allow His Spirit to speak to your heart about your giving. Rather than just thoughtlessly drop money into an offering plate or into some project, begin to give serious prayer and thought to the question of how and when you should give. Study those to whom you wish to give. Make sure you are giving to the right people and to the right places. And when you are confident that you’ve found a place that will handle your finances responsibly, begin to sow your finances with joy! When you find good soil to sow your financial seed, you should be euphoric! And you should also rejoice in the fact that you have the ability to make a huge difference in other people’s lives!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I ask You to help me see exactly where I should sow my finances. Please help me to see those people and organizations that will wisely handle the money I sow; then give me the ability to sow into those places with elation and joy! I want to be excited about my giving! I want to give, knowing that my gift is truly going to make a huge difference. And as I give to benefit others, I ask You to honor Your Word and multiply it back to me again so I can continue to give and be a blessing to the Christian community.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that God’s Spirit speaks to me and helps me know exactly where I am supposed to sow my finances. I am serious about my giving; therefore, I sow carefully and thoughtfully. My money is not to be spent selfishly only on myself, for God has richly blessed me so I can be a rich blessing to others for the sake of the Gospel. I therefore use my resources to do good works that will leave people in better condition than they were before I gave. I am excited about living my life as a liberal, generous, open-handed giver. Therefore, God continues to richly bless me, for He knows I will be a channel through which His blessings can keep flowing out to those who need it.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!