Rediscovering Yahweh as an Afrofuturist

Rediscovering Yahweh as an Afrofuturist, a God who cares about my past, my present and my future.

We all come to a point in our lives when all we have buried rises to the surface. From childhood trauma to the reconciling of life choices, we all, at one point or another, have to deal with our soul’s cry.

It doesn’t take much for the souls of the African Diaspora to cry. In fact, all it takes these days is turning on the television. Even now, days after Hurricane Dorian has ravaged the Bahamas, Africa’s Caribbean sons and daughters reel as the death toll rises to 23 with thousands seeking shelter. It seems as though if it isn’t a natural disaster it is state sanctioned violence. Almost exactly a year ago today Officer Amber Guyger murdered Botham Jean. And the jury selection for her murder trial begins tomorrow, Friday September 6th.

The fact of the matter is, it seems that no matter where you look black bodies are in distress. And my soul cries for a God who can help us navigate the destruction and disruption that comes with being black in this world. I need a God who can speak to and heal the triggers and traumas buried beneath the surface of black people’s hearts and minds.

In my devotion, I found my soul longing for a God who cared about my past, my present and my future. A God who dreamed for me as I realized I lacked the capacity to dream for myself. I needed the God of the Israelites, Yahweh, to show me that liberation was not just for the Israelites, that protection was not just for the chosen Hebrews, but that His hands on love was for me too. And I believe all children of Africa all over the world are in need of the same. We are all in need of a revelation of not just any God, but Yahweh.

Who is “Yahweh”?

In the Old Testament of the Bible and the Torah of the Jewish Scriptures, Yahweh is referred to as the God of the Israelites. Yahweh is a personal name for God. During and after Babylonian captivity, the Jews were forced to leave their homeland. But they were not simply a displaced people, they were also forced to leave behind the name Yahweh for God. They did this for many reasons, but the main reason was that during this time Judaism became less of a local religion and more of a universal one. This meant that God needed a more universal name. And so Elohim became the name that was more commonly used.

But the name Yahweh is very important. The intimate nature of the name expressed not just the sacredness of God, but that He was a personal God concerned about the localized needs of the Israelites. For example, when you look at 1 Samuel, we see the translation of God’s name as, “Yahweh Tzevaot” meaning, “ He Brings the Hosts into Existence.” In other words, this all powerful Being brings the hosts of Heaven into existence on behalf of the needs of humanity. And in a time of destruction when life and dignity are constantly stripped from black and brown communities it is vital that we call on the name of Yahweh. We need a local God who has the power to bring salvation and deliverance into existence.

Afrofuturism and the Essence of Yahweh

Rediscovering Yahweh and the true meaning of His personal name causes many to struggle with the portrait of God painted by Eurocentric Christianity. The idea that God does not care about social disenfranchisement, that He is not in tune to the cries of those with physical illnesses and disabilities, the idea that He is only and always meek, mild mannered, and non-confrontational is a picture of God that often disregards the social, economic, physical, and of course, holistic spiritual needs of people. And those people have a tendency to be black and brown.

I believe that we can access Yahweh and understand His investment in the social and spiritual needs of disinherited people by studying the contemporary secular theory of Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism, according to a variety of academic disciplines, is a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of history that explores the developing intersection of African Diasporic culture and technology. The reality is that Afrofuturism as a term is widely debated and difficult to pin down as it has no agreed upon definition.

What is “Afrofuturism”?

One way to define Afrofuturism is to suggest that it presents the opportunity for persons of the African Diaspora to hope. As an artistic aesthetic, African-American artists are empowered to navigate the outer spaces of their imaginations to re-conceive the past and express their vision of the future. Ytasha Womack said it best when she noted that the, “cyclical nature of time” is a favored theme for the afroturist as it gives them the opportunity to redefine culture and notions of blackness for today.

Afrofuturism provides a bi-directionality that bridges the connections between past, present and future. In Mark Dery’s essay “Black to the Future” he explores the many facets of Afrofuturism and its cultural and social significance for black people. A white man writing on Afrofuturism in the 90s, Dery wondered why there were so few Afrofuturists and why the African American community wasn’t as engaged with the topic. Dery felt that Afrofuturism was an important academic and social concept that had the power to, through various artistic movements, reconsider the past as an approach to shaping the social, political, and economic future of African Americans. An important question he asks in his work is,

Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces in history, imagine possible futures?  Furthermore, isn’t the unreal estate of the future already owned by the technocrats, futurologists, streamliners and set designers—white to the man—who have engineered our collective fantasies?

Another scholar studying Afrofuturism, Alisha Acquaye, puts it this way:

Black history often plays out like a horrific, science fiction drama that has yet to fully resolve. Our ancestors were kidnapped from their homeland, taken to a distant country and forced into slavery. They were raped, forced to “breed” for labor and the prosperity of the economy, sold, beaten, separated, denied the right to vote, experimented on, denied equal and civil rights, denied humanity—all the while being brainwashed into believing that our race are aliens—not the abductees. Are robots—not royalty. Black history is more terrifying than any fictional tale ever told.

Yahweh as an Afrofuturist

Afrofuturism has risen to the forefront of the 21st century thanks cultural pieces like the artistic and musical catalog of artists like Janel Monáe and films like Black Panther. It is this kind of thinking, a belief in the reclamation of our past for the constructing of our future that Afrofuturism provides. Therefore, Afrofuturism is a direct response to a lack of black presence as it pertains to the truth of our past and the conceptions of our future. I believe Yahweh engages this very practice long before the delineation of such terminology in Revelation 21. There John writes:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making every thing new…”

Revelation 21:1-5a (CSB)

In this verse we see that John foresees how our personal God, Yahweh, considers the wholistic affects of sin and creates a new Heaven, a new Earth, and a new Jerusalem. Declaring the end to death and pain, Yahweh creates a future that directly responds to and rectifies the triggers and traumas of humanity’s past. At the second coming of Jesus Christ we are promised that there will be no more state sanctioned violence against black bodies, that no more hurricanes will devastate our lands, and that the pain, destruction, and devastation that sin reeked on humanity will not exist. In other words, we serve a God who is creating a future for us that is committed to healing our past and ushering us into a future where our triggers and traumas will be no more.

It is when you understand Yahweh in this light that verses like “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for a hope and a future” come to have so much more meaning. So I encourage you to study your Word this week and rediscover Yahweh as an Afrofuturist, a God who cares about your past, is involved in your present, and is actively creating an incredible future for you.




The Affections Test

This is the Faith I live by: My affections affect my attitude

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, June 13, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the Earth.”

Colossians 3:2

Affection is a strong word! What has your affection? Cars, people, wealth, or gossip? Maybe peace, love, and God have your affection? Perhaps you have an affection for a combination of all these things. But the fact of the matter is, God says that whatever has captivated your affection must be from the world above.

The Affections Test

In our theme passage, the phrase “set your affection on” literally means to “continually think of or continually give keen attention to.” Check this scenario. What if you continually think of or continually give keen attention to your beautiful home in a gated community? Let’s say you need renovations done that cost more than $50,000. You come into some cash and find a highly recommended contractor that you share your dreams for your home with. After paying the contractor to begin, you find his work to be poor. As you walk in you see that your beautiful home retreat is now flooded, the additions are falling apart around you, and to make matters worse the contractor has no intention of making things right. Now what?

This is a true story. Fortunately, while he is extremely disappointed, his “affection” is not for his home. He is able to calmly, and yet courageously stick up for himself without becoming emotionally overwhelmed about the matter. He has a miraculous grasp of the God who sees all and who has his best interests at heart. His respectful reaction to this shows that his faith is strong. He continues to exhibit a godly demeanor, and remains hopeful that God will settle the matter in his favor.

Seek First…

Many times, our affairs to no not go as smoothly as we hope. But scripture promises us that if we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, then He will add peace, power, victory, and eternal life to our spiritual investment accounts. When our affections are set on things above, we can rest assured that these temporary and light afflictions will pass away. We can trust in this because our God who gives love, joy, and peace will soon return to give us our reward. And when He comes He will give us new bodies, and we will live in a new heaven and a new Earth. It’s when we think of or continually give keen attention to these things that are hearts are purified and our minds are renewed.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




Heaven is My Home

This is the Faith I Live By: Heaven is my home
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, May 10, 2019
Audio Linkhttp://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship
“But as it is written, ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'”
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)

There are many beautiful spectacles in the world. In nature, cascading waterfalls, towering trees, and fragrant flowers inspire awe in those who see them. We have built sprawling estates with many rooms, and space to house many families comfortably. In fact, gold and marble cover the floors and fixtures in many of our homes. Residences such as these are captivating.

Nothing on Earth Like Heaven

All this, whether natural or fabricated, is nothing in comparison to what God has for those who love Him. Truthfully, there is no language that can even encapsulate the splendor of all that God is preparing for His people. Many inspired writers have attempted to describe the revelations they received, but many could not find adequate words to capture what they saw. The imagination staggers as it tries to conjure up just a glimpse of God’s reward.

There’s a Place for Us

It is a blessing to know that the Lord loves us so much that He is preparing a place for us with Him. In spite of the obstacles that sin has put in the way of our relationship with Him, He has overcome them for those who simply surrender to His will.

Be encouraged by the promise Jesus made to His disciples. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansion; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3 NKJV). We look forward to that day with great anticipation. If we remain faithful to the end, we will live forever with Jesus.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




Finding Peace With God

The Faith I Live By: Peace with God is available

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2

Friend or foe? Enemy of ally? Consort or opponent? Which of the two do you want God to be to you? We can be friends with the God of the universe, if we choose to be friendly.

An Enemy of God

The sin problem has created a strange situation on Earth. God of love, who desires nothing more than for us to be saved, find Himself at odds with humanity. The very people He risked everything to save continually fail to make peace with Him. See I know what you’re thinking: “but David, we can’t make peace with God. We are powerless to do that.” I am so glad you brought that up!

The Process of Reconciliation

It is true, we cannot seek peace with God on our own. We need the Holy Spirit to activate our repentant search for peace. We need Him to teach us to love the law of God. It is this love for God’s law and His Word that creates a peaceful relationship between us and God. When the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives we become aware of our need for transformation, and then the Holy Spirit performs that transformation Himself.

A Friend of God

Jesus can be our friend, ally, and consort. We can make peace with the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of the universe. All we have to do is allow ourselves to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, seek forgiveness, and ask for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He will empower us both to will and to do His good pleasure.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. I pray the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




There Is No Limbo Or Purgatory!

Limbo” or “purgatory” have long been advocated in some Christian circles as future intermediate states where souls exist after their earthly death. There, according to some, these souls await entrance into heaven or hell. Some believe loved ones who are already in heaven can pray for these souls. Or, they believe that these souls go through a purification process in order to gain entrance into heaven.1

This stunning revelation means our decisions now count most.

Neither limbo or purgatory, however, are advocated, condoned, or even mentioned in the Bible. Instead, the Bible is clear that at one’s earthly death, the deceased body returns to dust, the spirit returns to God, and hence, the soul ceases to exist.2

Moreover, prior to death, one will make a decision to follow Christ. And, if one is living at the time of Christ’s Second Coming, one would have needed to make a decision to follow Christ prior to His advent.

Jesus Calls It

But after death, there is no limbo or purgatory to impact one’s eternity. Jesus says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”3

Christ’s Second Coming will reveal the decisions that humanity has made to follow Him. When He returns, the righteous dead will rise first. Then the righteous living will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.4 Each resurrected and caught up righteous person will then reside in heaven with Jesus. Contrarily, the wicked living will die at the brightness of Christ’s Second Coming. The wicked dead will remain dead for 1,000 years.5

This period is known to many as the millennium, derived from the Latin words mille (“thousand”) and annus (“years”).6 During the millennium, the righteous will reign in heaven with Christ, while the wicked will be dead here on this earth, and as such, there will be no opportunity for limbo or purgatory. While reigning with Christ, the righteous will not plead and pray their loved ones into heaven. However, they will participate in the millennial judgment.7 This judgment affords them the opportunity to review humanity’s decisions, and God’s every effort to save and restore His people.8

So Much Time, So Little to Do

Satan, during this 1,000 year period, will be unable to engage in his primary works of deception or temptation. After all, the righteous reside in heaven then, and the wicked are all dead on earth.

If Satan has resurrection power, Satan has 1,000 years to prove it. The reality is he doesn’t have this life-giving power. Only God has the power to give life. Jesus made it clear, “I am the resurrection and the life.”9

At the end of the millennium, the wicked will be resurrected.10 Jesus Christ, accompanied by the righteous, will begin descent from heaven to this earth.11 Satan will deceive the wicked one last time into the belief that they can defeat our God by surrounding the Holy City as it descends from heaven to earth. But, God will rain down fire destroying Satan and sin forever!12

Decision Point

No, there is no limbo, and no purgatory! We are all now being given the opportunity to make a decision for or against Christ. The Bible makes it plain, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”13

Your future is in your hands. Your eternity is decided by you. Christ loves you, died to save you, and is coming back to get you! Be sure of your future and choose Christ today! 

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CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1  www.urbandictionary.com  and www.wikipedia.com

2  Ecclesiastes 12:7 and Job 27:3

3  Revelation 22:11-12

4  1 Thessalonians 4:16

5  2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 and Revelation 20:5-6

6  www.en.wiktionary.org/wiki/millennium

7  Revelation 20:12-13

8  2 Peter 3:9

9  1 John 11:25

10  Revelation 20:5-6

11  Revelation 21:2-4

12  Revelation 20:7-10

13  2 Corinthians 6:2



This article is part of our 2018 November/Decemer Issue
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Faith That Doesn’t Shrink: Enter His Presence

O For a Faith That Will Not Shrink “Enter His Presence”  Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, October 15, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 10.15.2018” on Spreaker.

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said,

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:1–8).

Is This The End?

You knew things were bad, but you never thought they were this bad. Things were already making you feel oppressed, and you were being opposed at every turn. You already felt like nobody could be the voice of the people in this time of greatest turmoil, but then it happened: things things got worse. The dividing line among the peoples grew into a seemingly unbridgeable, yawning chasm. You don’t know how long you can take this. You are ready to throw in the towel.

As Isaiah was getting his prophetic feet under him to really settle into his divine calling, the people of God had been rocked back on their heels because of one man, Tiglath-pileser, who was subverting the lives and consciences of people all around Asia. What impact do you think his oppressive ways had on the people of God?

Well, when they thought it could not get any worse, it did! The one hope they had amid dismal times was dashed violently to the ground with the death of King Uzziah. What would be the remedy for their fears, consternation, uncertainty, and desire to overcome the oppression?

 

There are certain things that do not change. God’s remedy for things that disturb our peace has always been clearer vision of Him. In the prophet Isaiah’s case, as he needed to overcome many of the same concerns the people did, and others, the Creator gave him a vision of the throne room. He gave Him a vision of the heavenly unity of angels who had themselves experienced turmoil.

There was a covering cherub named Lucifer who had clearly lost his spiritual mind in heaven. He set himself up as the king, but he was not. There were many casualties in the war there. Many angels fell into sin and have become our enemies. But there are holy angels, who excel in strength, who have never lost their focus.

Can You See It?

We need to take a page out of their book. Isaiah saw them worshipping God on such a level that the heavens shook! Do not miss this. God gave Isaiah a vision of the heavenly atmosphere of victory over every evil plot, plan, misunderstanding, oppressive action, political difficulty, interpersonal schism, and unholy character attribute. He gave him a vision of His glory, power to forgive, and mission to save bullheaded people from our sins. We can learn a lot when we enter into the presence of God to worship Him.

If we are to develop a shrink-resistant faith that will not fail when tested, we need a constant view of God our King that eclipses the frailty of humanity.




Jesus’ Promised Coming in Revelation

For many years, preachers, teachers, theologians, and churchgoers alike have all proclaimed that the coming of Jesus is very soon. “Get your house in order;” “your redemption draweth nigh;” and “the end of the world is near” are just some of the phrases that have been echoed in churches, on street corners, and in revival meetings. Despite these passionate pleas for vigilance, we have been desensitized to the urgency of Christ’s coming. Our current “postmodern” society, and perception of Christ’s delay in redeeming His people from this earth contribute to our lack of readiness.1

The Bible’s book of Revelation, however, makes it very clear that Jesus is coming–“Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him!”2 Notice in this encouraging promise the word “shall.” “Shall” doesn’t suggest speculation, supposition, or conjecture, but rather, definite promise, guarantee, and surety. Jesus is coming!

Revelation not only assures us that Jesus is coming, but it also confirms for us that He’s coming real soon! Jesus says in Revelation 22:20, “Surely I come quickly.”3 This statement of Jesus regarding the imminence of His coming is a reiteration of what He said in Matthew 24 when He described that state of the world just before His coming.

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?’ And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.’4

Many of the aforementioned occurrences have either transpired or are transpiring. Deception, calamity, strife, natural disasters, and false prophets are rampant in our world. Globally, the climate of war is also escalating by the minute. And while we may experience daily tests and trials, there is still hope! Jesus is coming and He’s coming soon!

Revelation closes by telling us that Jesus wants to spend eternity with His people, and is coming for those who love and obey Him.5 Persons who do not love or obey Him would be unhappy to live infinitely with Him and reside in the Holy City.6 Yet, Jesus desires for everyone, regardless of background or past, to accept Him as their personal Savior. He wants you, me, and all of humanity to live with Him eternally. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”7

Praise God for the following promises: 1) Jesus is coming; 2) His coming is soon; and 3) He wants us to be ready when He comes enabling us to live with Him forever!

With these words, may our collective prayer be, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”8

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CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1 Revelation 7:1-3

2 Revelation 1:7

3 Revelation 22:20

4 Matthew 24:3-13

5 John 14:15; Revelation 22:12, 14.

6 Revelation 22:15.

7 2 Peter 3:9

8 Revelation 22:20.



This article is part of our 2018 September/October Issue
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You’ve Seen Nothing Yet

“The Gospel According to Paul: Our greatest hopes and dreams are yet to be seen. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, May 13, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.13.2018” on Spreaker.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

What a Wonderful World

There are many beautiful spectacles in the world. In nature, cascading waterfalls, towering trees, and fragrant flowers inspire awe in those who can appreciate such things. We have built sprawling estates with many rooms, and space to house many families comfortably. Some use gold and marble as flooring and covering for fixtures situated all over their properties. Residences such as these captivate the eye and the imagination.

God’s reward for His faithful, however, eclipses everything on this earth, whether natural or fabricated  There is no language that can encapsulate the splendor of all that the Lord has been preparing at least since time began. Many inspired writers who attempted to describe the revelations they received could not find adequate words to capture what they saw. The imagination staggers as it tries to conjure up just a glimpse of God’s reward.

Promise of More to Come

It is a blessing to know that the Lord loves us so much that He is preparing a place for us with Him. In spite of the obstacles that sin has put in the way of our relationship with Him, He has overcome them for those who simply surrender to His will. Let the promise of Jesus encourage you.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). We look forward to that day with great anticipation. If we remain faithful to the end, we will live forever with Jesus.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Imagine Now. Fly Later!

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, February 4, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 02.04.2018” on Spreaker.

This is devotional thought number 70 and final in our devotional series, God’s Promises are Sure!

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7).

We are awaiting the most cataclysmic event this world has ever witnessed. In precise fulfillment of His promise to the disciples more than two thousand years ago, the Lord is coming back to take His children to live with Him. For years, this promise has gladdened the hearts of millions of people. In every era, there has been a God-inspired anticipation of the event. It has been the blessed hope of every believer that Jesus would return during his or her lifetime.

When Jesus returns, His coming will not be as it was when He arrived as a babe lying in a manger. There will be no need for us to follow a lone star in the sky to see where the baby lay. No! We will not need to line up at the door of a stable awaiting our turn to see the Master.

When Jesus returns, it will be a glorious and unmistakable event. Far greater than even worldwide satellite telecasts and breaking news coverage will be the coming of our Lord. The revelator says, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:17). Every eye will see Jesus come.

Imagine that it is the end of time. You are eagerly awaiting Jesus’ arrival because the times have become unbearable. Suddenly, you hear in almost deafening tones, a trumpet blast. Immediately you hear the voice of God Himself, and millions of graves begin to open right before your eyes. Even the seas and oceans begin to give up those who died and their remains were scattered there, along with those who drowned and were never found.

You notice that your perspective is changing. What you once saw at eye-level, you now see beneath your feet. The ground seems to be moving farther and farther away, and you realize that you are floating on air. The blessed hope is finally a reality. Jesus has come and you are finally going to heaven. It will be impossible to miss an event as widespread as this (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).

From another perspective, others witness the coming of Christ as lightning. “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:27). Can you imagine an event so visible that it appears in the sky as does lightning?

Soon, none of us will need to imagine any longer. The Lord will be here to take His people to the heavenly kingdom. When He arrives, He will not keep silent. It will be a glorious day! He will soon keep His greatest promise. Even so Lord Jesus, quickly come. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Our next devotional series is titled, Wisdom for the Ages.




The Overcomer’s Truth

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, January 29, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 01.29.2018” on Spreaker.

This is devotional thought number 64 in our devotional series, God’s Promises are Sure!

“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” (Revelation 3:9).

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” (Revelation 3:12).

The Truth

Love reigns when truth reigns. Do you see the correlation? The Bible says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. It also says that God is love. Therefore, when the One who is the epitome of truth and love is reverenced and His words are explored for the purpose of having a living connection with Him, those who do so will experience revival and reformation. Yesterday, we took a brief look at the Philadelphian church era and God’s promise to keep those who obey His command to persevere. Today, we will continue the thought.

Imagine a time when the dry forms of false religion and deception blew through the church and religious persecution held sway. Imagine a time when the Bible was not accessible to common people. Rather only the religious leaders, the ones who deemed themselves the only sanctioned purveyors of truth had access. Imagine the darkness that would overtake society and the church.

Lifeblood

Now imagine a time when stalwart men and women would stand and protest the heavy-handedness. They rejected the unholy hierarchical structure, and lack of love. They refuted the supplanting of truth by those same self-assigned religious leaders.

Imagine them as they experienced the power of the gospel in their own languages. What was it like to search the Scriptures for themselves? Imagine a time when God’s people could experience the Word, which had been under lock and key for so long that every word read and applied now felt like water to a thirsty soul.

Pillars In His Presence

In many ways, this was the experience of the Philadelphian church. Love began to reign, because truth began to reign. They were not without their challenges. However, Jesus promised that if they continued to excel in their love for truth, one another, and commitment to the truth, they would become immovable pillars in God’s presence.

David said: “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10).

Promise of Jesus to Those Who Love Him, and Those Who Hate Him

Jesus reiterated the promise He has made so many times before, that He would write God’s name upon all overcomers, which signified their redemption and eternal marriage to their Creator. Jesus also promised that He would humble those who did not know Him, before the feet of His children.

There are many times that those who hate love, disrespect God’s people, and cast us aside like chaff, but God promises that those who endure until the end will be exalted. We do know that even though God promised to humble our enemies, that only He is worthy of holy worship. So when some Bible translations use the word worship in this context, they mean to give deference and honor to. Joseph’s family showed deference to and honored him when He was exalted in Egypt. King Solomon was honored and showed deference to by all kinds of rulers, wealthy people, and common people, because he represented the wisdom of God on the earth.

Fixed Forever

Ask God to make you an overcomer. Ask Him to help you continue the search for truth and perfection in love that the ancient Philadelphian church did. Then, continue the journey to reformation, which the early reformers started but many of us have abandoned.

If you do so, God promised that you will be a permanent fixture in His presence, be finally vindicated before His enemies, and be given a new name that matches the character of Christ in our lives. Let love reign. Let truth reign. Become an overcomer, by God’s grace.The mouth of the Lord has spoken.