The Obstacle

In Community Bible Study this year we are going through the book of Revelation.  It is a marvelous study.  I think I’ve learned more about the book of Revelation than I ever have before.  It’s fascinating especially in light of current events.  The day when Christ will call His church home to heaven and the beginning of the tribulation seems so very near.

This week’s study was from Revelation 14:1-13 about the 144,000 men, 12,000 from each of Israel’s 12 tribes, who stand on Mount Zion with Jesus Christ.   They have been redeemed and sealed by God to go forth and share the Gospel throughout the world.  They are preaching a message of repentance to a world gone mad.  Even though the wrath of God is being poured out upon sinful man, God continues to reach out to the lost with the message that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone.  Yet most will continue to harden their hearts and go headlong to their eternal destruction as they embrace Satan and reject Christ.   

Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.  And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.  They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.  These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.  And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. – Revelation 14:1-5

The description of the 144,000 men is amazing.  They are chaste virgins, not defiled with women, there is no deceit in their mouth and they are without fault before the throne of God.  That is not to say that these men are sinless.  But they have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior and their sin debt has been paid in full by the precious blood of the Lamb.  They are walking in obedience out of love for their Savior whom they worship. 

What is said of these men and their character should be said of Christians.  Can you imagine how much more effective our witness would be if we were chaste, honest and blameless?  One of the most striking descriptions was, “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” 

In our study we had a question about what obstacle might keep us from following their example.  To answer that question truthfully, I knew it wouldn’t be pretty as I examined myself in mirror of God’s word. 

My biggest obstacle in following their example is me…my own sinful self.  All too often I’m self-focused.  I take my eyes of the prize of my high calling and get distracted.  I can be undisciplined, lazy and disobedient.  I’m prideful and think more highly of myself than I ought to.  Worse yet, I fail to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. 

Lest I get discouraged as I see my many faults and failures…I need get my eyes back on the Lord.  The same Father, who chose these men before the foundation of the world, chose me.  The same Savior, who died for their sins, poured out His precious blood on the cross to pay the penalty in full for my sin.  The same Holy Spirit who seals the 144,000 has sealed me and indwells me. 

It’s not about me and how big or numerous my sins are…it’s about my God and His magnificent plan to redeem those who are lost.  It’s about His Son, Jesus Christ the Lamb of God who alone is worthy to be praised.  It’s about the Holy Spirit who dwells within me and is sanctifying me day by day. 

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.
Jude 1:24-25


Revelation

This year it seems that so many pastors and ministries are going through a study in the book of Revelation   Hearing the studies is exciting, thrilling and horrifying.  Exciting and thrilling for the believer to contemplate what awaits us in heaven and horrifying at the thought of what awaits unbelievers once the church is raptured and the world enters into the seven years of tribulation prophesied in the Bible.
 
When I hear the sermons and Bible studies on Revelation I remember back to the time in my life before I was a believer in Jesus Christ and the fear that I had as I read the book of Revelation.  
 
I came to Christ late in my life at the age of 32.  I had some exposure to Christianity even as an unbeliever…through friends who were Christian and what I had seen on TV or heard on the radio.  I even read the Bible.  But in my unbelief I was blinded to the truth in the Bible.
 
I clearly remember reading Revelation when I was an unbeliever…and I was terrified.  Though I may not have fully comprehended my lost state, there was something in me that knew that if the church were raptured at that time…I would be left behind and face the tribulation. 
 
When I read chapters 4 through 19 in the book of Revelation, it is amazing that anyone can survive the disasters that will come upon the earth.  These are not natural disasters and calamity that just happen in a small area of the country, but rather the wrath of God being poured out upon the earth and sinful man who have rejected His Son.
 
Amazingly enough…during the time of the tribulation some people will survive and some will even come to a saving faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  But the price for their faith will likely be execution.  The destruction and horror that is forthcoming is beyond comprehension. 
 
Praise God that those who chose to believe today will be saved.  Those who repent of their sins, ask for forgiveness and have been cleansed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross will be saved.  Saved from their sins and saved from the wrath to come.
 
These days when I read the book of Revelation…I find comfort in the knowledge that whether I die now or if I am raptured with the church that I will be in heaven with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am saved…and nothing can snatch me from His hand. 
 

The Judgment Seat of Christ

Whether you believe in the pre-trib, mid-trib, post trib-rapture
No matter if you favor a pre-millennial or amillennial reign of Christ
One thing is certain
The ungodly will be judged

Those who have died in their sins
Will be resurrected for judgment
They will stand before Him who is
Holy, Righteous and Just

Until that day, those who died without Christ
Those who declared their innocence
Rejected the free offer of forgiveness through the blood of the Lamb
Are bound in Hades…waiting to present their case

Before heaven and earth pass away
The sea will give up it’s dead
Graves will be emptied and the eternal souls of the ungodly
Will be summoned to stand before God for their final sentence

God the Father has given all authority
To Jesus Christ His Son
The ungodly have chosen to be judged according to their deeds
By the One who is Holy, Righteous and Just

God who is omniscient
Has kept a detailed, perfect, comprehensive record
He has flawlessly recorded every thought, every word and every deed
Omniscience has recorded it all

Mans works vs. God’s perfect standard
Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect
Be ye holy; for I am holy
God declares, “All your works are as filthy rags!”

God will bring to light that which is hidden in the darkness
He will expose the motives of men’s hearts
By their own words they will be condemned
The Charge:  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God

Rather than plead guilty and receive a pardon through Jesus Christ
The One to whom they must give an account
Those who plead innocent
Have chosen to face a tribunal before God

Each punishment will be unique
Torment will come from a conscience that cannot be silenced
The Sentence…GUILTY
The Punishment…eternal suffering in the Lake of Fire


By Susan Bunts Wachtel
June 2, 2010


It seems as if my prayer list for salvation has grown exponentially.   Knowing the reality and the permanent eternal consequences of rejecting the offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ…I am compelled to pray. 

This poem was inspired by our Kindred’s Berean Bible Study on Sunday morning and John MacArthur’s sermon on Revelation 20:11-15

Glorious Return

Each day I long for
Look for
Eagerly anticipate
Your glorious return

The time seems short
You will be coming soon
For Your bride, the church
Any day now

When I see a flash of lightening
Hear the thunder roar
I wonder
Is my Savior coming

Even as I long for that day
Desire it with an unquenchable thirst
I’m reminded
Of those for whom I pray

Each day I lift up their names
Before Your throne
Pray for their salvation
For deliverance from darkness

I pray that family and friends will be set free
Those who believe in counterfeit Jesus
Those who worship a god of their own making
Those who deny the very existence of God

For their sakes
I wait patiently
Pray that they will call upon the name of Jesus
And be saved

Yet…I desire
To gaze up Jesus
Worship Him
The One who is good, lovely and pure

I long to spend eternity in Your presence
Even here may my lips overflow with praises
Even now may my heart sing with thanksgiving
Of Jesus who gave Himself up for me

Susan Bunts Wachtel
June 16, 2009

Glorious Return

Each day I long for
Look for
Eagerly anticipate
Your glorious return

The time seems short
You will be coming soon
For Your bride, the church
Any day now

When I see a flash of lightening
Hear the thunder roar
I wonder
Is my Savior coming

Even as I long for that day
Desire it with an unquenchable thirst
I’m reminded
Of those for whom I pray

Each day I lift up their names
Before Your throne
Pray for their salvation
For deliverance from darkness

I pray that family and friends will be set free
Those who believe in counterfeit Jesus
Those who worship a god of their own making
Those who deny the very existence of God

For their sakes
I wait patiently
Pray that they will call upon the name of Jesus
And be saved

Yet…I desire
To gaze up Jesus
Worship Him
The One who is good, lovely and pure

I long to spend eternity in Your presence
Even here may my lips overflow with praises
Even now may my heart sing with thanksgiving
Of Jesus who gave Himself up for me

Susan Bunts Wachtel
June 16, 2009

Susan Blog Sig 2

Speak Lord, Thy Servant Heareth

With the busyness of the holidays and a brief break from the usual Bible studies and church related activities…I have felt a silence from God. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been distracted…this servant has not had ears to hear.

This week…I’m starting to get back into my normal schedule…which includes a prayer meeting and a couple of Bible studies during the week.

In recent months…I was listening to Beth Moore’s Bible studies…and oh how God speaks to me through her personal and powerful teaching. But a few weeks ago…as I was about to pop in one of Beth’s CDs…and I thought “No…I want to hear the study of Luke”.

Shortly after Kindred Community Church became a church, our Pastor Chuck Obremski started a study in the book of Luke. That study lasted 87 weeks…and it is a phenomenal study. During the course of the study…Pastor Chuck was diagnosed with cancer…thus began his “cancer coaster”…and as a church we were on the cancer coaster with Chuck and his family. While I had attended the study live…I had forgotten how awesome that study was.

Going back and hearing it again…takes my breath away. Each week the Gospel was preached…and no one could sit in class and not hear of their need for a Savior and that the Savior is Jesus Christ. The word of God is so powerful and it transforms lives. It is with delight and awe I am listening the Luke study again.

Today…God in His sometimes not so subtle way…had a few messages for me.

As Chuck taught about the parable of the sowers in Luke 8…he brought it home by reminding us that we have to use what God has given us or it will be taken away.

“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. – Luke 19:26

When I heard that verse…I didn’t have to think how that applied to me. I knew immediately that the Holy Spirit was reminding me that God has given me a measure of faith. The question is…am I believing God? Am I exercising my faith? Or am I like the fool who buries his treasure? Make no mistake…faith is more valuable than all the treasures on earth…but only when it exercised.

When I fail to exercise my faith…when I choose to believe the lies of the enemy…then my measure of faith that God has given me will be taken away. Actually I will have surrendered it. Do you know any men or women of great faith? Do you find yourself admiring their faith…and wishing you had a powerful deep abiding faith like they do? Well God wants to make each of us great men and women of faith.

There is an issue in my life that has been one of the biggest areas where I struggle with faith. That’s with regards to being single. This is where I allow my hurt and loneliness to cause me to believe the lies of the enemy. That God doesn’t love me or care for me…and that He will never change my circumstances.

I see what’s going on around me in the lives of unbelievers and believers alike…and I hear Satan reminding me that God has provided them with a spouse…or has allowed them to live together outside of marriage seemingly no consequence to something that God has clearly stated is wrong.

It’s so easy to turn my inability to understand what God is doing…and His plan and timing into doubt and unbelief. But when I do that…I’m falling right into the hands of the enemy. I’m handing over the measure of faith that God has given me. Instead of shoring up my mind with scripture that reminds me of God’s faithfulness…I give in to defeat.

God continued His message to me tonight through our study in Revelation 12. Elder Dave Dunn reminded us that those who believe Satan’s lie that God is a liar…have abdicated their faith over to the enemy. It’s what he’s been doing since the beginning. He did it with Eve when he questioned, “Did God really say…?” And he continues to use that which has been very successful to this day.

There are times I’m a little slow on the uptake…so God made sure that He reinforced the message as I drove home from Bible study. I was listening to Chuck teach on four meaty verses.

“Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” – Luke 8:22-25

Now this is a story I’m very familiar with…I’ve heard so many times before. But I never heard this before, “Where is your faith?”.

Indeed…where is my faith God? I have surrendered it too many times to the enemy. I’ve believed his lies…that You don’t love me, or care for me and won’t act in my situation.

The other thing that struck me…is that the storm was stilled immediately. The disciples fretted and worried needlessly before they awoke Jesus. In nothing flat He attended to their needs.

It will take no effort for God to change my life and my situation. With just a word…He can rebuke the enemy and answer my prayers. The question is…where is my faith? In Whom is my faith? Will I choose to exercise my faith?

As Dave taught us tonight he said one thing in particular grabbed me. He said that God had used Paul so much because he had yielded, obeyed and submitted himself to God. Dave challenged us to do the same. God desires to use each of us greatly if we will but yield, obey and submit ourselves to Him. For me part of that is having faith and believing God even the storm wails about me…when the dark clouds obstruct the sun…and waves threaten to sink my boat.

Right now that stormy sea is an apt description of my struggle with faith. I’m like the father who cried out to Jesus, “I believe, help me with my unbelief.”

Glorifying Conviction

“Do you glorify God with your life?”

With the above question from Elder and Teacher Dave Dunn…I found the Holy Spirit giving me not just a nudge…but a good old whack upside the head. It kind of took me by surprise.

As we’ve studied the book of Revelation…God has brought forth lessons that I need to apply to my life. At times the Holy Spirit has convicted me…reining me in as I get off course.

But now that we are deep into the book of Revelation…chapter 15 talks about upcoming judgment of unbelieving people who have utterly rejected God. They are committed to living a life of utter depravity. While it’s not the very end of the book…in the timeline of the events in Revelation…it’s in the latter part of the 7 years of the Tribulation. So I wasn’t expecting God to get my attention on sin. Oh maybe the sin of not sharing the Gospel message as much as can and should with people in my sphere of influence. But conviction of my sin that’s on par with those facing God’s condemnation and destruction…now I wasn’t expecting that.

That’s exactly where God got my attention tonight. When Dave asked, “Do you glorify God with your life?”…I don’t remember if I looked up and caught Dave’s eye or whether I felt too convicted to glance up. But I did write a note in my Bible…I wrote down Dave’s very question.

Quite obviously…the answer is no…I don’t glorify God with my life…or least not as consistently as He deserves or as much as I should.

They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the ages.
Who will not fear you, O Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Revelation 15:2-4

Do I glorify God with how I act, what I say and do and even think? Do I sing His praises from my lips regularly? Do I have a deep abiding peace and joy within my spirit which causes people to look to my Lord and seek Him? Do I fully trust Him, knowing that He alone is good and has a good plan for me that He laid before the foundations of the world? Do I trust Him in all circumstances? Do I trust Him to bring good out of evil and wrong that was done? Do I trust Him to execute His plan and promises that He laid out in the Bible? Do I act loving…not just toward those whom I love…but even my enemy? Am I burdened to pray for their lost soul…or do I prefer to complain about what they’ve done? Do I love the un-loveable? Do I seek to do good to them? Do I choose to worry about my circumstances instead of going to God in prayer knowing that He cares for me? Do I thank Him daily for all the blessings and provisions He has given me? Do I seek Him and to know Him better each day through prayer and reading His word? Is Jesus pleased to know me? Do I cause His heart to swell with overflowing love for me? Or am I like the family member that is put up with…because after all…they are family? Am I pleased to know Jesus? How, where and with whom do I share about my love for my great and magnificent God, Lord and Savior?

I’ve been a Christian for sixteen years now. While I came to Christ late in my life…I’ve had the privilege to sit under some wonderful Bible study teachers who teach the full counsel of God’s word. I am most blessed by God to attend a church I am most unworthy of, Kindred Community Church. I have fellow Christians which show me great mercy and love…and what it truly means to be a Christian. When I see them…I see a little bit of Jesus. I listen to God’s word daily through Bible study CD’s and sermons. I attend Bible Study and read God’s word regularly. Most of the music I listen to is Christian music. And yet…I can honestly say…that I don’t consistently glorify God with my life.

No better example of that…than my reaction this week as I heard of the unjust and mean treatment of an alcoholic towards his wife and family. My first response was a desire to beat him up. Next I thought how great it would be to dish back to him some of the demeaning and humiliating remarks he so easily delivers in his drunken state.

I didn’t think right off the bat we need to pray for this man’s salvation and for God to deliver him from alcoholism. My first reaction was not to lift up the wife in prayer and ask that God would give her wisdom and discernment on what to do.

I wanted to act in the flesh…and use my tongue to tear down and hurt a person…not lift them up in prayer.

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” – Romans 7:24-25

As I read God’s word, study the Bible and pray…the closer I draw to God. As I draw closer…I see all the more clearly my sin and unworthiness. Thankfully…my salvation is not dependent upon my good works…but on Jesus blood shed on the cross. Not just to cover my sins…but to take them away completely. In Him…I am white as snow. As a bonus…He has given me His Holy Spirit to dwell within me…to guide me and correct me.

Good gracious…the Holy Spirit has boat load of work left to do in this here unworthy sinner…saved by grace alone, through Christ alone. He should be getting some serious overtime pay for the work He has to do in me!