Friday, October 28, 2016

The Purpose of Preaching Bible Prophecy

Have you ever been asked the question, “How do you know that the Bible is actually the Word of God?” There are several answers you could give in response. You could start by examining the archeological evidence. There have been countless discoveries made and none of them contradicts the Bible but only validate its claims. Then, you could consider the consistency found with the Scriptures. The Bible is a collection of 66 different documents written by 40 different authors who came from different backgrounds. It was written over a period of 1,500 years from three different continents and in three different languages. Yet for all of that the Bible maintains its internal consistency from Genesis to Revelation. You could also investigate the scientific accuracy of the Bible and how it pointed out that the earth is round (Job 26:10) long before that fact was discovered, or how the sun moves on a circuit (Psalm19:6). You could spend your time researching ancient manuscripts and find the evidence overwhelming. But one of the most amazing parts of the Bible is Prophecy.

1.    Prophecy sets the Bible apart

2 Peter 1:19-21 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is a prophetic book. It’s estimated that one third of the Bible is prophecy. Of the 216 chapters in the New Testament there are 318 references to the second coming of Christ. In other words if you left out the prophetic verses you would have to remove one of every 30 verses. Of all of the other religious books that are available today claiming to have spiritual truth, from the book of Mormon, the Quran or Hindu Vedas, none contains fulfilled prophecy. Yet, the Bible is full of fulfilled prophecy.

2.    Prophecy Points us to Jesus

Revelation 19:10 For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

As you study through the Old and New Testaments you find that Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies in His lifetime. The following is a list of examples: Born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14), born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), from the line of Abraham (Genesis 12:6), from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), His death by crucifixion (Psalm 22:16), His resurrection from the dead (Psalm 16:10), and the list goes on. If, therefore, prophecy points to Jesus then we had better be preaching prophecy.

3.    Prophecy is an incentive to live a holy life

Because so much of biblical prophecy has been fulfilled it motivates me to live a holy life. Because the Bible tells us what Daniel and Ezekiel were shown by the Lord it inspires me to live a life that is set apart for the purposes of God. When I read the words of Jesus pointing to the signs of the times it keeps me looking up. John said, “He who has this hope purifies himself just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

4.    Prophecy sparks evangelistic efforts

Think of what Paul said, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess.4:16-17). There is nothing left on the prophetic calendar that has to take place before the rapture happens. And when the Lord descends with a shout there will be many that are left behind. Those who scoffed saying, “where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning” (2 Peter 3:4). If we truly believe the prophecies of the Bible, then we want others to come to know Christ. Studying prophecy and understanding its content motivates me to take the gospel to the world.

5.    Prophecy provides hope for the future

Studying biblical prophecy helps me to understand that there is hope in the midst of a chaotic world. The Lord has revealed the end even before it takes place. And the end of the story is glorious. It’s no wonder that when John wrote Revelation he said, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev.1:3). There is a blessing attached to being a student of biblical prophecy. It gives you hope and reminds you that there is more to come. It helps you realize that your future is as bright as the promises of God’s word revealed in prophecy.

To the pastor who preaches, keep preaching prophecy. Keep pointing people to the signs of the times. Teach the people from Old and New Testament Bible prophecy and how it correlates. Show them what has been fulfilled and what has yet to be fulfilled. Keep heralding God’s unchanging truth in changing times. Until the whole world hears.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Teaching the Whole Counsel of God's Word

The Word of God is living and powerful and sharper then any two edged sword.(Hebrews 4:12) The Psalmist declared that "the LORD has magnified His Word above His name." (Psalm 138:2) Jesus said "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matt.4:4) 
At Calvary Chapel we make it a priority to teach through the entire Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. One of the blessings of going through the entire Bible is that you don't miss anything. 
The Old Testament, although at times challenging to teach, is just as inspired as the New Testament. The Old Testament scriptures are full of God's truth and wisdom. The Old Testament points to Jesus, and the New Testament reveals Jesus; for "in the volume of the book it is written concerning Him."(Hebrews 10:7). 

I think of Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus with disciples after His resurrection. The distraught disciples didn't know that Jesus had risen from the dead, or that He was talking with them at that very moment. While on the road Jesus began to speak to them from the Word of God, and it says, "and beginning at Moses and ALL the prophets He expounded to them in ALL the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:27) What a Bible study that must have been.  Jesus went through the Old Testament and revealed Himself to His troubled followers.

Another important point to consider when teaching through the Old Testament is prophecy. One-third of the Bible is prophecy. We recently went through Ezekiel and Daniel and it was such a blessing for our church. I have found that one of the things that motivates me to live a holy life is consistently being reminded of fulfilled prophecy as well as the rapture of the church. Why would I want to go and reach anyone for Jesus with the gospel if I didn't recall to mind the reality of His imminent return? 
I believe the generation coming up needs to be reminded that JESUS is coming soon. In fact I don't think we can say it enough. Although we don't know the day or the hour, we are to be living expectantly and looking for the LORD. And I believe that based upon biblical prophecy that the birth pains are increasing with frequency and intensity. (Matthew 24:8)

I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul said to Timothy, "But you MUST CONTINUE in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you learned them, and that from childhood you have known the HOLY SCRIPTURES, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ. ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Timothy was raised on the Old Testament Scriptures. 

As a Pastor it's easy for me to become intimidated when teaching through the Old Testament. Yet I have found that God is so faithful to help me overcome my own inadequacy. We have been given a wonderful pattern and template of teaching through the entire Bible. We have seen the fruit of that labor, and therefore let's continue in the things which we have learned and been assured of. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Special Thanks to Pastor Gary Neumann

It was my first year of junior high at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa when we were introduced to the weight room. They issued us white shirts along with some blue p.e. shorts. I will never forget the day when we came around a corner and I heard loud screams along with the sound of clanging iron. When we entered into the weight room I saw a mountain of a man on the bench press. He had a spotter shouting the number of reps. When he stood up his face was as red as his shorts and he let out a loud shout.  I thought to myself, "that must be the strongest man in the world." My first impression was, "that guy is scary." Little did I know he would become a lifelong example and someone I not only admired, but hoped to be like one day. My first year of junior high was Pastor Gary Neumann's first year of employment at Calvary Chapel. 
Gary was my coach, mentor, and friend. He labored tirelessly for over 30 years at Costa Mesa. He served countless children and their families. He ministered to untold thousands of Jr. Higher's through difficult circumstances. He taught them the Word of God. He helped us understand the importance of loving the Lord, and being respectful to our parents. He gave of his summers to minister to kids at camp every year. He was a man's man, but he also has an extremely tender heart for the Lord.
I remember when we moved back to California and I got to take my oldest son to camp with Pastor Gary. My son was now the same age I was when I met Gary the first time. Amazing how time had gone by, and how faithful Gary was to the ministry God had called him to. Many people were scared of Jr. Highers, but Gary loved the kids and still does.
He has raised a wonderful family along with his amazing wife Joy. Their youngest son Andrew is an assistant pastor at our church in San Juan Capistrano. He has his dad's pastoral heart and love for people. 
Today was Gary's final day at Calvary Costa Mesa and I want to personally say on behalf of all the kids that you have ministered to and given of yourself we are so thankful for you. 
I can honestly say that any fruit that comes from my life in the ministry is partly added to your account my brother. Thank you for your friendship, your example, and your love for JESUS!!!
I believe that the Lord still has work for you to do.  Love you bro. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Old Paths

Thus says the Lord“Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16
Jeremiah was sent to give a warning to the Nation of Israel. At this time the Word of the Lord was a reproach to them and they would not listen. The false prophets were saying "peace" when there wasn't any. Even the spiritual leaders were committing sin and were not ashamed of it. The people had come to a crossroads and a  needed to make a desicion.
The prophet exhorted them to stand in the way and see. To take a moment and stop what they were doing and look where they were heading. Inspect the fruit that was being produced as a result of the decisions they had made. Then he encouraged them to ask for the old paths.  The old paths that they walked on when they were trusting in the Lord. The old path of obedience. The old paths of worshipping the true and living God. The old paths of reading and meditating in the law of the Lord. If they would return to the old paths they were promised rest for their souls. Tragically they said they would not walk on the old paths. 
Jesus said that there are two paths that a person can walk on. There is a narrow road that leads to life, and a broad road that leads to destruction. Which path are you walking on today? If your on the wrong road it's not too late to take the exit. Choose to walk along the road that Jesus walked on, and you will find rest for your soul once again.