VIDEO Signs of the Times

You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. Matthew 16:3

An unknown computer whiz hacked into highway signs around Chili, New York, changing their messages. Motorists were surprised to see one electronic sign that said: “Severe Zombie Threat.” Another said: “Bigfoot Sighting.” Authorities are concerned about what else the unknown whiz can hack.

You can’t always trust signs, especially when they’re subject to hacking. But no one can alter the Bible’s signs of the times. Jesus indicated the highway of history would, at some point, begin to display flashing signs of the times. He told us we should be equipped to discern them. That requires studying what the Scriptures teach about the return of Christ. This isn’t an irrelevant topic. It’s a glorious study for every believer. 

As we grow closer to the return of Christ, the study of biblical prophecy becomes increasingly important. There’s no need to panic, but to be awake and attentive. God foresaw everything that is unfolding on our planet today, and He gave us a prophetic message of hope. Let’s discern the signs of the times and pray for His swift return!

Let us be alert to the season in which we are living. It is the season of the Blessed Hope. A. W. Tozer


Adrian Rogers: The Signs of the Times and the Beginning of the End (2454)

What’s Your Name?

I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it. Revelation 2:17

Someone said we go through life with three names: the name our parents gave us, the name others give us (our reputation), and the name we give ourselves (our character). The name others give us matters, as “a good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1). But while reputation is important, character matters more.

There’s yet another name that’s even more important. Jesus told the Christians in Pergamum that though their reputation had suffered some well-deserved hits, He had a new name reserved in heaven for those who fight back and conquer temptation. “To the one who is victorious, I will give . . . a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17).

We aren’t sure why Jesus promised a white stone. Is it an award for winning? A token for admission to the messianic banquet? Perhaps it’s similar to what jurors once used to vote for acquittal. We simply don’t know. Whatever it is, God promises our new name will wipe away our shame (see Isaiah 62:1–5).

Our reputation may be tattered, and our character may be seemingly beyond repair. But neither name ultimately defines us. It’s not what others call you nor even what you call yourself that matters. You are who Jesus says you are. Live into your new name.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How does your reputation match up against your character? How well is your character reflecting who you are in Jesus?

Father, I believe I am who You say I am. Help me to live as Your child.

To better understand the book of Revelation.

Saved by Grace

Romans 5:1-11

Scripture can paint a grim picture of mankind. We’re spiritually dead in our sins, alienated from God, and objects of His wrath. Can you imagine a scarier situation to be in? But there’s hope for us through faith in Jesus. God opens our eyes to our hopeless condition so we can turn to His Son in repentance and receive the riches of His salvation.

By God’s grace, we’ve been reconciled to Him. On the cross, Jesus bore the Father’s wrath for our sins so we could be forgiven and declared righteous. Now instead of being His enemies, we’re His beloved children. He made us spiritually alive by giving us a new nature created in righteousness and holiness. And now His love has been poured out in our hearts, and we have the sure hope of the glory of heaven.

Knowing how amazing God’s grace is, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and wholehearted devotion. In addition, today’s passage tells us to rejoice not only in God and our hope of glory but also in our troubles. That’s because He graciously uses difficulties to make us like Christ and increase our confidence in His love.

Unshakable Things

“And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:27)

In this present evil world, there are many pressures that would tend to shake our faith and tempt us to compromise. Paul would exhort persecuted believers “that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled” by such things, but rather to “stand fast” in the truths God has taught them (2 Thessalonians 2:2, 15).

The “hope set before us:…we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19). The “word” to which our text refers is from Haggai 2:6-7: “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come,” who will establish “a kingdom which cannot be moved” (Hebrews 12:28).

Note God’s amazing promise: “The heavens shall vanish away like smoke,…but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished” (Isaiah 51:6). Similarly, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:17).

The earth may crumble, and even our bodies may return to dust, but God’s Word endures, and so do His righteousness and His kingdom and His great salvation! If our hope is in Him and His Word alone, and if we are seeking to do His gracious will, then our faith and our destiny can never be shaken. “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain” (Isaiah 66:22). HMM

Open Mine Eyes

Gimel

Deal generously with Your servant so that I might live; then I will keep Your word. Open my eyes so that I may see wonderful things in Your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide Your commands from me. I am continually overcome by longing for Your judgments. You rebuke the proud, the accursed, who wander from Your commands. Take insult and contempt away from me, for I have kept Your decrees. Though princes sit together speaking against me, Your servant will think about Your statutes; Your decrees are my delight and my counselors (Psalm 119 vv. 17-24).

Living is not just a meaningless vacuum for this author-composer. The goal of his life is to keep God’s Word. Is this legalism—a slavish adherence to the letter of the law? No! The psalmist depends on God’s truth for strength and sustenance. This Word is supporting him like a life raft would support a drowning man on a storm-tossed sea. This concept is repeated often in this psalm (vv. 24, 37, 40, 50, 77, 88).

He prays that his eyes will be opened to behold “wonderful things” out of the law. He prays for insight and illumination so that God’s commandments will not be hidden from him. So intensely involved is he in this quest that his soul “is consumed with longing” for the Law “at all times” (v. 20).

What “wonderful things” do I find for living life in this troubled century? I love to read the Word aloud; it gets my ear involved as well as my eye. Recently, I read the whole book of Ephesians aloud in one sitting. Often, I put outstanding passages on three-by-five-inch cards and carry them around with me for ready reference. Second Corinthians 12:9 helps me with feelings of inadequacy and incompetence. Jeremiah 29:11 helps me regarding uncertainty about the future. First Chronicles 28:20 gives me encouragement in my work. Occasionally I make Scripture songs out of these key concepts. Then the Scripture, combined with music, comforts and sustains me.

Personal Prayer

O Lord, open my eyes that I may behold “wonderful things” from your Word today.

Why an Inside Look?

He will dwell on the heights; his refuge will be the rocky fortresses.—Isaiah 33:16

Before we can dwell on the heights, we must be prepared to take an honest look at what is going on beneath the surface of our lives. Doing this, of course, can be dangerous unless it is approached in the right attitude. Some Christians use the process of self-examination as a means of avoiding rather than assuming responsibility. They look at what is going on inside themselves and allow what they discover there to develop into a cynical negativism, which hinders rather than helps their Christian life.

Those who do this fail to understand the purpose of godly self-examination: to bring what is discovered to the Lord so that He can deal with it. Many commentators have pointed out, in the incident when the Israelites in the wilderness were bitten by the snakes, that when they looked at themselves and recognized their condition, they were then highly motivated to look to the brass serpent for help (see Nm 21:4-9).

The purpose of taking such an honest look at what is going on beneath the surface of our lives is to promote a deeper dependence on the Lord and thus contribute to our spiritual effectiveness. Recognition of our true condition provides a strong motivation to look away from ourselves and turn in simple faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. As you take this journey into the core of your being, be willing to face yourself in a way that you have never done before. I cannot promise you it will be painless, but I can promise you it will be profitable.

Prayer

Father, give me the courage to overcome the fears that would rise within me saying: “I am not sure that I can face it.” Deepen the conviction within me that with You, I can face anything. Amen.

Further Study

1Co 11:23-33; Lm 3:40; Gl 6:4

How does Paul admonish us?

How does the writer of Lamentations put it?

The Immovable Stone

Matthew 28:2

Every precaution had been taken. Having crucified Jesus, the authorities wanted absolutely no repercussions. People were still talking about the way in which Jesus allegedly had raised people from the dead. All of these reported incidents undoubtedly encouraged the authorities to forestall any possible fulfillment of the prediction that on “the third day He shall rise from the dead”

(Mark 10:34 NKJV). If His disciples had forgotten, His enemies hadn’t (Matthew 27:63).

The hitherto unused tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, as a resting place for the body of Jesus, would have suited the civil powers. A great boulder is rolled across the aperture. Not only can no one enter, but, perhaps more importantly in this particular situation, no one can get out.

Next, the seal is applied. Would anyone dare to tamper with it? All the authority of the Roman Empire is declared in that imprimatur. To see the seal of the Empire would be sufficient to scare off any of the Galilean’s foolhardy followers intent on creating a legend.

The stone said “No Entrance!” It also said “No Exit!” The seal said “No Trespassing!” But, mused the authorities, what if the disciples of Jesus suddenly had a return of courage and banded themselves together to invade the tomb? Well, the legion could take care of that! Some well-armed soldiers could handle the followers of Jesus.

A stone… a seal… soldiers.

And then it happened! The angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat upon it. “The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4). The seal was broken. From the angel there is a triumphant announcement. “He has risen! He is not here” (Mark 16:6).

Now, men need no longer march into the tomb without hope of egress. The stone is rolled away. The tomb is no longer a cavern without exit, but a corridor to a new and everlasting life! The law of mortality which says that every man who is born must die, gives place to a new law of immortality in and through the risen Lord.

Christ is risen! The grave cannot hold Him. Death is vanquished forever. And the truth of it, the fact of it, will echo again and again. Choirs will sing it. Trumpets will sound it. Bells will chime it, and millions of hearts will witness to it. He is risen indeed!

Arnold Brown, Occupied Manger, Unoccupied Tomb