Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth
From The Main Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
Just Being A Christian Is Not Enough
Remember that the Bible shows very clearly that just being a Christian isnt enough to make you qualified to receive the Seal of the Living God and escape the plagues of His wrath during the Tribulation. As Jesus said, in Luke 21:36;
"Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen,
and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
Understand that being able "to stand before the Son of Man" means not only being able to survive the Judgment, that is, to end up being sheep rather than goats, but to be able to reign with Christ! These words were addressed to Jesus' disciples, and through them, to us. This has nothing to do with the unsaved. It is the Christians who are called to watch and pray. To again use St. Paul's metaphor, the unsaved arent even in the race. It is the Christians who have to be ready! Being ready for the Tribulation will take serious effort on our parts.
We are in the Age of the Church of Laodicea
Remember that we are living in the Age of the Church of Laodicea. The trouble is, when individual Churches decide to identify themselves with one of the seven, somehow they always see themselves as "Philadelphia" Churches. (Again, I know of specific cases in point.) Which is another manifestation of their state of being proud and deceived. There are very few Churches today that can claim to be Philadelphia Churches, and they are mainly in pagan Third World countries, where they suffer at least minimal persecution. Dont assume that you as an individual, or your Church, fellowship group, Para-Church Ministry, etc., as a whole, is ready. Remember that St. Paul never assumed he was ready, until the very end of his life and ministry (II Timothy 4:6-8). The Epistle of II Timothy was probably written no more than a few months before Paul was martyred. Although this writer had been a Born Again Christian now for 30 years, and has spent over 2/3 of that time involved in some form of ongoing ministry, he is by no means confident that he is ready. So dont you be!
Check Yourself Out First
A seldom recognized part of the problem with the Church of Laodicea is the insidious perversion of the teaching of Jesus about not judging that is prevalent in modern Christianity. Christians have taken the words "Judge not that you be not judged" to mean that we should never call a sin a sin in another person, and that we should never confront a brother or sister about something he or she is doing that is wrong. This idea is allowing all kinds of evil to flourish within the Church, but its contrary to the teaching of St. Paul in I Corinthians 5. It is also contrary to the full meaning of the passage in Matthew 7. When Jesus said, in verse 5,
"First remove the plank from your own eye.....",
He was saying, "If you have a problem with somebody, check yourself out first! Ask yourself why you have a problem with what your brother is doing." This passage is about bringing healing to relationships, not about tolerating sin. On the other hand, Paul told the Corinthians to kick a Christian who was committing flagrant, willful sin out of the Church (I Corinthians 5:1-5). He said that we shouldnt even eat with Christians who sin openly (vs. 11). If you tolerate open sinfulness in a fellow Christian, you effectively become guilty yourself.
A little known but very important passage is found in Proverbs 28:13:
"He who covers his sin will not prosper,
but whoever confesses and forsakes them
will have mercy".
This goes for both Christians as individuals and for entire congregations. If we try to hide sin in our own lives, or overlook it in the Church, we will fail in our Christian lives, and we will not be ready for the Tribulation. We must be very strict in judging ourselves, and we must make a serious, continuous effort to live lives of obedient faith. To repeat what is said elsewhere in this site, if you want to be ready for the Tribulation, you must live such an overtly righteous life that you will be called a legalist if you preach what you practice. In II Chronicles 16:9 we read,
"For the eyes of the Lord range
throughout the whole earth
to strengthen those
whose hearts are fully committed to Him."
You may have to stand up against the full satanic fury of the Beast. You will be able to have God's help in doing so only if your heart is fully committed to Christ.
Bear in mind that if your heart is fully committed to Christ, you will manifest it in the way you live your life. This means that to be sure you are ready, you must examine yourself, your goals, and your priorities before God. What are your career goals? What do you do with your leisure time? Most of all, what are you doing that is Scripturally identifiable as ministry? These questions are not to be taken lightly. Your spiritual preparedness will depend on the answers. And this holds true no matter what your belief about the Rapture is. It holds true even if you die before the Lord comes. Again, I say with sorrow that many people who consider themselves Christians arent ready to meet the Lord, period. On the other hand, if you do make an effort to be ready, and you die before the Lord comes, those efforts will guarantee that "an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 1:11).
Get Your Christian Life Together
So, if you want to be ready for the Tribulation, get away from your sitcoms and soap operas. Get away from your romantic or crime or spy novels. Get away from your movies. Get away from your ball games (as a friend of mine once said, "Jesus, Name above ball games"), or whatever else is in your life that is not of God but that takes up a significant portion of your time and energy. Start making a priority of having a closer walk with God. Get into prayer like never before. Immerse your mind in the Word. Find out what your true "talents" are and start using them for something that the Bible specifically identifies as ministry. In addition to Ephesians 4:11, check out Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 for insight on this. All this may sound extreme and legalistic, but it is what is required of you if you want the Seal of the Living God.
Turn Your Back On The World
In turning our backs on the world, we must particularly turn our backs on worldly entertainment. It is almost always in some way opposed to Christ. The exceptions are those few things that have upheld the Name of Jesus for financial gain. As St. Paul said (Philippians 1:18), rejoice for anything that preaches Christ, regardless of the motive. But more often, worldly entertainment outright mocks God and Christianity. Iíve seen Christians watching that kind of thing and laughing at it. That mockery is a serious sin. For a Christian to laugh at such entertainment is partaking in the sins of others, which is something the Bible tells us explicitly not to do (I Timothy 5:22). Again, worldly entertainment communicates and glorifies all kinds of sin, in terms of personal attitudes, values, and behavior. Our attitude toward this must be, again, in accordance with II Corinthians 6:17, "Touch no unclean thing". As in James 4:4, "Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." Remember, you can't take the Bible too seriously. Too many modern Christians are being friends with the world, and they are going to regret it. If we do not take serious heed to these admonitions, and apply them in our lives, we will not be ready for the Tribulation.
Stay Close To The Lord
On the other hand, you must maintain as close a relationship with the Lord as possible. The core of this relationship is prayer, especially intercessory prayer. You must accompany this with regular fasting or something equivalent, like watching. This is a ministry you must commit yourself to on a regular basis. It is the first line of importance in what you must do, regardless of what else you are doing. It is the most important aspect of loving others with the love of Jesus. We know that He spent entire nights in prayer. There is reason to believe that much of His prayer, as shown in John 17, was intercessory prayer for His disciples, and through them for us. Our goal has to be to be like Jesus. The first line of being like Jesus is to be like Him in prayer. If you have a good prayer life, you know how much Satan hates it by how much he tries to stop it. Thats because our prayers do more good than anything else we do. Remember what I said about "reporting the fire". Our power and wisdom are limited. Gods power and wisdom are limitless. When we pray, we are calling down His power and wisdom to do what we cant do. We must all be engaged in something that is Biblically identifiable ministry. Even a Christian who is an invalid in a wheel chair can have a ministry of prevailing intercessory prayer.
Of course, we must all give heed to Bible study, church attendance, witnessing, giving, etc., but all of these things must be undergirded with prayer.
Do It Now!
Finally, we must not procrastinate about doing this. The Bible tells us that we should be "redeeming the time, for the day is evil" (Ephesians 5:16). In Psalm 90:12, Moses says, "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom". Every day we live, every hour of our time, is a gift from God and in a way, is also a "talent", given to us for stewardship, to be invested in the Masterís service. You should really think about how you use your time, and organize yourself to make the best use of your time that you can. Remember, as in the case of the foolish virgins, you can not wait until the last moment to get ready. You may never get the chance.
Again, dont take the attitude "all things are lawful unto me" (I Corinthians 6:12), because the Bible makes it clear that God wants you to do the things that are "helpful" (NKJV). In everything, be one the ball and do the very best you can do. Be diligent. As Jesus said, in John 9:14, as long as it is day, we must do the Lords work. "The night is coming when no one can work." Remember what happened to the wicked servant who assumed his master wasnt coming soon. Get on the ball before that Day catches you like a snare. Dont get rejected or left behind. Jesus REALLY is coming soon. Get ready and stay ready...
See also the Appendix:
"Samson: A Stranger and Pilgrim Who Failed"
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm