The Signs of Thy Coming

Matthew 24:3.”And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world? “

This chapter is the great Olivet Discourse, in which Jesus revealed important prophecy of things to come.  He started with the near-future prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem.  Now, in answer to the disciples’ questions, He talks about other, far-future events as well.

This first part of the discourse relates to disciples, which at this point concerns His Jewish disciples. Jesus speaks of the ending of the age, the great tribulation, and His coming again following the terrible days of the Great Tribulation.

Some want to interpret this part of His discourse as having already been fulfilled in the past, and that Jesus came again in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.These people believe that the year a.d 70 was the year in which Jesus came “in the clouds of heaven with great power and glory.” I won’t take the time to deal any further with this interpretation.  If you’re interested, you can probably find information both supporting and refuting this position quite easily in the internet.  In Luke 21:20-24 you will find a more detailed description of what Jesus foretold would soon happen in Jerusalem, an event which does not include His second coming at all.

There is more to be said concerning this chapter before we actually dig into the verses. It’s a fascinating study.  Stay tuned.

Just for Fun

People are still having trouble with this link.  I’m not a techie, so I don’t know why.  Try this:  go to Godvine.com and in the search option type “they thought her prayer was over”   This worked for me.

I was just informed that the link takes you to a “page does not exist” message.  Be patient.  I’ll try something else. . . beep beep boop. . . . .

Ok, if you copy and paste the link into a new tab, it will take you to the video.  Worked for me.  Good luck.!

Please do yourself a favor and go to this link.  You’ll have a good laugh, and you’ll be glad you did :)

http://www.godvine.com/They-Thought-Her-Prayer-Was-Over-Until-She-Said-THIS-About-Getting-Old-HILARIOUS–6136.html

Counseling Issues: Self-forgiveness

“I know God has forgiven me, BUT  I just can’t forgive myself!”

I hear this one all the time, and it usually takes only one session with a client to help dispel this false concept that we must forgive ourselves before we can be truly free of whatever wrong we have done. Here is what I share with my clients:

There is no scriptural support whatsoever for the idea of self-forgiveness.  You won’t find it anywhere.

But—how can I stop feeling so guilty?  Don’t I need to forgive myself for what I’ve done?

No,  As I just pointed out, self-forgiveness is not in God’s Word.  So here’s the process.

First, we have to acknowledge our sin.  If we have hurt, offended, wronged someone else, we need to go to that person, if possible, and confess what we have done. We can’t say, “IF I hurt you, then I’m sorry.” That puts the responsibility right back on the person we offended. We must SAY the wrong we did, SAY we are truly sorry, and ASK the person for forgiveness.  This is a humbling and cleansing process, when done in sincerity.  Usually, the offended person will agree to forgive.  Don’t let him get away with “Oh, it’s ok, don’t worry about it.”  No, that’s not good enough. Tell him, “I need to hear you say you forgive me.”

If you have not already gone to the Lord about the issue, now is the time. “Father, I sinned against my friend.  I hurt her with my words.”  This is confession. to confess is to agree with God, to say you were wrong. Then, “I confessed my wrong to my friend, and she forgave me.  Lord, please forgive me for what I did, and thank You for always forgiving me when I sin.”

You will not hear Him say, “I forgive you,” except through the Word. I John 1:9 says that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  So if your confession is from the heart, if your repentance is true, then you are forgiven by the only One Who has the absolute authority over sin. You are cleansed from that sin, free of it, forgiven.

Then why do I still feel so bad?  Why does the memory surface every now and then?  Don’t I need to forgive myself?

You feel bad because you are sorry, remorseful, perhaps ashamed, regretful.  Remember that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, accusing us before God day and night (Rev. 12:10).  He is the source of this ongoing sense of guilt and shame over past, confessed and forgiven sin. When these emotions surface, you go back to God and you say, “Lord, I KNOW You have forgiven me!  Please help to know right now that I am forgiven, and help me to resist Satan’s temptation to fall into misery over what YOU have erased.”

Here’s the thing. God is the ultimate authority over everything, including my sin. He is the only One Who has the power to completely forgive me. To believe that even though He has forgiven me, I still need to forgive myself, is to believe that His forgiveness is not effective or complete until I myself have added my own forgiveness to His.

In other words, we are saying that His forgiveness isn’t quite enough.  Not quite sufficient.  My own forgiveness is needed to make it complete.

II Corinthians 12:9  tells me that His grace is sufficient. It is enough!  Grace that is greater than ALL  my sin.

One Stone Upon Another

Matthew 24:1-2. “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Does it seem here as if the the disciples still didn’t really have a clear understanding of Who Jesus was? Why would they take Him to show Him the temple if they understood that He was God, Messiah, Immanuel? He designed the temple!

This was the temple that King Herod had built, and it was one of the wonders of those times.  Built of white marble, it was about 500 cubits squared.  Five hundred cubits is just a little more than 820 feet.  For the sake of comparison, a football field is 300 feet. You can see that this was a very large building, very impressive in its size, it’s materials, and its workmanship.

Jesus made the astonishing prophecy that not one stone of this building would be left standing upon another, and we know from 3:36 that He said it would happen in that present generation. His prophecy was fulfilled in a.d. 70, when Rome brutally destroyed the temple and subjugated Israel completely, dispersing many of the people to other lands.

What Rome didn’t understand is that this dispersal would be the vehicle of Christianity throughout Asia, Europe, and into Africa.

O Jerusalem!

Matthew 23:36-39. “Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto  you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.”

There must have been such pathos in His voice, on His face, as He mourned over the Holy City that had killed the prophets and would soon kill Him! He spoke to them in language they understood, because the Rabbis spoke of Messiah under the name of the Shekinah, and declared that Israel would be gathered under the wings of the Shekinah, where they would find rest and blessing.

But not yet. The religious leaders had rejected the Shekinah, Who was now in their midst, and the people would soon follow suit as their cries of “Crucify Him!” rang through the city streets.  The crowd that sang Hosannas as He entered the city would turn into a lynch mob that hurled curses at Him as He carried His cross outside the city. The city, He said, would not see Him again until the time that they returned to Him  As soon as He said those final words of doom, He turned and walked away from the temple.

The good news here is that there will indeed come a time when they shall say, “Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!”  This is the promise of His second coming, and when He comes He will find a believing remnant of  faithful Jews. Then the Shekinah glory will spread over Jerusalem, and Israel, and He that scattered Israel will gather them from all the corners of the earth.

Prophets, Wise Men, and Scribes

Matthew 23:34-35. “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.”

Persecution is not new.  Satan will do everything he can to destroy that which God loves, including those who love God. He knows the final victory will be God’s.  That doesn’t stop him from causing as much pain, damage, and despair as he possibly can.

Jesus told the Pharisees that their  doom was sure. His words in these verses were not in a future prophetic verb tense, but in a present tense. They would kill His prophets, and all the righteous blood shed through the ages would be poured onto their heads at the hands of Rome. The killing of the righteous started when Cain killed Abel way back in the beginning, and it would continue after Jesus’ death and resurrection, with Stephen becoming the first martyr of the church.

The Zacharias mentioned in verse 35 was no doubt the prophet (Zechariah 1:1) who spoke very strongly against the lack of true faith and worship of God in Israel. His death is described here, not at the hands of some foreign enemy, but at the hands of the  people to whom he preached.

Not much had changed in the hearts of God’s chosen people in the years between Zechariah and Jesus.

(I’ve done some research on Zechariah.  My conclusion is that his death is assumed to have been by murder, but the historical  records are somewhat foggy. There was another Zechariah mentioned II Chronicles, but he was not the son of Barachias.  Conclusion:  We need to take it as fact that Jesus knew of whom He was speaking.  I did the research to provide some clarification, if I could.  Truth is, though, that Jesus needs no clarification.)

Generation of Vipers!

Matthew 23:31-33, “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

Pounding the final nail into His own coffin, Jesus ended His denunciation of the Pharisees by telling them that by their own words they have proved that they are indeed the children of those who had killed the Old Testament prophets;  not just children by lineage, but children of the heart. They were the same as their fathers and their fathers before them.

“Go ahead, then,” He said, “and fulfill your hearts’ desires to be just like your fathers, you snakes, you vipers, because you will not escape the damnation of hell!”

In using such strong words, Jesus made it clear that the men He addressed had no knowledge of true faith; that they were unbelievers with evil hearts, that they would fulfill their goal of putting Him to death, and they would not escape their own fate in hell.

The woes He pronounced are finished, but He still has some important words for this angry, self-righteous bunch of blind leaders of the blind. It’s almost as if He wanted to leave no chance at all that they would fail to seek some means of killing Him.