VIDEO The Sound of the Trumpet

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52

Years ago, a strange phenomenon had residents of Hawaii scratching their heads. It’s the occasional sound of a trumpet that can’t be explained. Some people have speculated the eerie sounds are caused by tidal waves, underground earthquakes, or shifting sand dunes. Some people have called the sounds “unearthly.” A few people wonder if the sounds come from extraterrestrial beings. 

Who knows? Strange phenomena happen all the time. 

But one thing we know for sure: One day the trumpet will sound, signaling the return of Jesus Christ in the skies above our planet. The Bible says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). It’s going to be a trumpet loud enough to awaken the dead!

Despite the chaos of the world around us, we can be confident that Christ will return for us. We can almost hear the trumpet sounding now!

Human history, as we know it, will end with Your loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the blast of Your trumpet. Anne Graham Lotz

The Mystery of Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)

Companions in Christ

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is a decades-long project that’s resulted in a greater understanding of the importance of healthy relationships. The research began with a group of 268 sophomores at Harvard University in the 1930s and later expanded to, among others, 456 Boston inner-city residents. Researchers have conducted interviews with the participants and pored over their medical records every few years. They discovered that close relationships are the biggest factor in predicting happiness and health. It turns out that if we surround ourselves with the right people, we’ll likely experience a deeper sense of joy.

This appears to reflect what the apostle Paul is describing in Philippians 1. Writing from prison, Paul can’t help but tell his friends that he thanks God for them every time he remembers them, praying “with joy” (v. 4). But these aren’t just any friends; these are brothers and sisters in Jesus who “share in God’s grace,” partners in the gospel with Paul (v. 7). Their relationship was one of sharing and mutuality—a true fellowship shaped by God’s love and the gospel itself.

Yes, friends are important, but fellow companions in Christ are catalysts of a true and deep joy. The grace of God can bind us together like nothing else. And even through the darkest seasons of life, the joy that comes from that bond will last.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

Who are the friends that surround you? What’s the substance of your relationships? How has the grace of God shaped your choice of companions?

Dear God, thank You for the gift of friendship. Help me to express my gratitude to those who have been faithful companions to me. Give me the grace to strengthen and encourage them.

Wholehearted Devotion

2 Chronicles 31:20-21

King Hezekiah of Judah faithfully served the Lord with his whole heart (2 Chronicles 29:2). After the nation had fallen into idolatry, he reestablished proper worship of God. But his devotion to the Lord also extended into his personal life, and that’s exactly how we should live as well.  Our seeking after God should be characterized by:

• Wholeheartedness. A united heart has one preeminent desire—to please the Lord. But a divided heart tries to live both for self and for God. Warning that we cannot serve two masters, Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him (Matt. 6:24; Luke 9:23).

• Diligence. Devotion to God includes careful attention to His Word and unwavering effort to obey Him. Faith is the foundation upon which we diligently build qualities of Christian maturity (2 Peter 1:5-8).

• Persistence. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. We need endurance to overcome obstacles that hinder us from finishing the course God has set for us (Heb. 12:1).

Living wholeheartedly for the Lord is impossible in our own strength. But if we’ll humble ourselves and ask, He will give us the grace to diligently and persistently live for Him.

Becoming the Gospel

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)

The Greek word translated “conversation” emphasizes “citizenship,” with all of its attendant loyalties and expectations for appropriate behavior. The structure of the introductory word “only” indicates that it is an adjective, not an adverb. Thus, the opening phrase could be rendered, “Your only citizenship must be lived out so that it becomes the gospel.”

The New Testament employs three different Greek terms that are translated “conversation.” Anastrepho is best understood as “dwelling” or “remaining” in a certain place. “Put off concerning the former conversation,” we are commanded in Ephesians 4:22. Tropos stresses the manner of life, perhaps implying the reputation one gains by the lifestyle. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example” (Jude 1:7). Politeuo, the term used by Paul in our text, conveys citizenship. “For our conversation is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20, politeuma). The emphasis of our text is on our lifestyle and testimony as “ambassadors” in a foreign land (2 Corinthians 5:20). As such, we are to live in a manner that “becometh” the gospel—“that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1).

We are to stand fast in a unity of one spirit with one mind. Paul closed his letter to the Philippians with this: “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved” (Philippians 4:1). HMM III

Just Wait on God

Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. —Psalm 62:1

I think we are the busiest bunch of eager beavers ever seen in the religious world. The idea seems to be that if we are not running in a circle, breathing down the back of our own neck, we are not pleasing God!

When Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), Peter probably leaped to his feet and, no doubt, scooped up his hat on the way out. He was going to go right then!

But the Lord said, “Peter, come back, and ‘tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49).”

I heard a Christian leader warn recently that we are suffering from a rash of amateurism in Christian circles. Christianity has leveled down and down and down. We are as light as butterflies—though we flit, flit, flit around in the sunshine and imagine that we are eagles flapping our broad wings.

Sometimes I think the Church would be better off if we would call a moratorium on activity for about six weeks and just wait on God to see what He is waiting to do for us. That’s what they did before Pentecost.   COU095

Lord, this morning I’ll stop for a while at least to “just wait on God.” I know You’re wanting to work, and I for one am willing to wait this morning to hear Your voice and discover what You want to do for me today. Amen.

Breathing Out and Breathing In

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. —Proverbs 8:13

Our attachment to the Person of Christ must exclude all that is contrary to Christ. These are the days when we are trying to be 100 percent positive. But the Scripture says of Jesus, “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness” (Psalm 45:7)….If He had to hate in order to love, so do you and I.

To be 100 percent positive would be as fatal as to inhale steadily all your life without exhaling. You can’t do that….

When the Church inhales the Holy Spirit she must exhale everything that is contrary to Him.

I don’t believe any man can love until he’s able to hate….I don’t think he can love righteousness unless he hates sin; for the Scripture leaves us with the belief that in order to accept there are some things you must reject. In order to affirm there are things you have to deny; in order to say yes you have to be able to say no. TCC008-009

Jesus, breathe Thy Spirit on me,

Teach me how to breathe Thee in,

Help me pour into Thy bosom

All my life of self and sin. HCL251

What If?

1 Corinthians 15:20

What if His practiced and ruthless executioners were deceived? What if He never really died after the tortuous hours endured in measureless agony on the cross? What if Jesus had planned all along to dupe His loyal disciples into believing Him to be the victor over death, finally fleeing away to somewhere in the Himalayas to live out His days in obscurity? The grave clothes discovered by Peter as if His body had simply evaporated? That memorable early morning encounter with Peter and his friends on the shores of Galilee; and even Thomas’ confession wrenched from his cynical soul: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). What if it were all a dream?

The resurrection was the consistent testimony of the Gospels, the defining affirmation of the apostles and the early Church. This was the central theme—an inescapable, incontrovertible, indispensable fact: Christ is risen from the dead. To this they bore their testimony with their blood!

Doubt it if you will. The consequence is a gutted gospel, powerless to offer the peace of God or the possibility of transformed lives. And a never-ending stream of witnesses will rise up joyfully and irrepressibly to declare with the Apostle Paul: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!” (I Corinthians 15:20).

We heard the thousands of believers crowded into a Beijing church on an Easter morning sing it: “I know that He is living whatever men may say. He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart!” Fifty years of determined denial had not quenched the fire of their faith.

Because Christ is now risen from the dead, we live in the “now” of God’s salvation—the day of His grace and favor (2 Corinthians 6:1-2). His presence can be real to us. His power can be released within us, by faith.

So many of us are boxed in by circumstances. We are paralyzed by the impossibility of our situation. We have long since exhausted our options. We are in the grip of a “fatal attraction.” Addictive behaviors are sapping our strength and destroying our will to freedom. Why dream any longer of what cannot be? There is no way out. No hope.

But now hope lives again in Jesus. Christ is now risen from the dead! The power that burst the bonds that held Him and broke open His tomb to the brilliant light of an Easter morning can open again the airless grave where your dreams may have been entombed.

Paul A. Rader, The War Cry