Friday, November 23, 2018


Jack Davis

These three little words certainly preach a powerful message to my heart. What ever they mean or express may be understood from their context. Do they say to us, win at any cost or whatever it takes? Does the end justify the means, or the means justify the end? Can we sing, “It will be worth it All when we see Jesus?” Let us touch upon “means” related to serious determination, Satanic deception and self-disqualification.

Phil. 3:11, “If my any means I might attain unto the resurrection of (out from among) the dead.” II Cor. 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” I Cor. 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (disqualified).”

Serious Spiritual Determination: The Apostle Paul here speaks of the means by which the highest privilege will be attained, and also of the greatest Prize to be apprehended in this Age. With this priceless Person, in possession and place before him, he ran with patience the race that the Lord had set him on. He, “following after,” forget those things he had left behind, reached forth to that which the Lord had set before him, and pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling. Paul being so powerfully drawn, called others to the race, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit urges us to run also. I read that he had a good understanding of the Olympic events of his day, but he was not playing games, his earnest attitude is an example to us, Phil. 1:19-21, 2:15-17.

It is important for us to realize that our dear Lord knows just what it takes to get us there on time. He has, and is, our wherewith to get there with. On our course let Him always be the chief of our ways and means. God supplies all that is necessary through Jesus, and by Him we offer “the sacrifice of praise to God continually.” We are made winners through Him that strengthens us, (Phil. 4:13) and more than conquerors through Him that loves us (Rom. 8:37).

This prize-winning does mean that we will experience some major losses of things once held dear to our hearts, but for those that will be victorious, those losses are counted as the divine means to a glorious end. For such, every loss is an eternal gain. Personal gain for the old self-life is also counted as a massive heap of rubbish.

Satanic Deception: Paul, jealous over the saints, having betrothed or engaged them to “one husband,” feared that some of the saints would be cheated out of that glorious bridehood by the deception of their adversary the devil. Throughout this age, Paul has been presenting to the Church his revelation of the Bridegroom. The god of this world has also been at work to blind “the minds of them which believe not” to the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ. Our adversary  uses every trick and every advantage that we give him to rob us of our place and Prize.

Thank God, “we are not ignorant of his devices.” This cunning, crafty foe is “the accuser of the brethren.” We are so very glad that we have a true and faithful Advocate. The means between the fulfillment of serious determination and self-disqualification are many and multiplied. No wonder the Spirit caused the admonition, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing he be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” Phil. 3:15-16. Read also Col. 2:4-7. If you have the same burning desire as Paul to win Jesus Christ as your Bridegroom, thank God. If you do not, I believe you would be wise to ask God to kindle in your heart that “most vehement flame.” Thank God for ever being attracted – drawn to the beauties and glories of Christ.

As the serpent beguiled Eve, deceived and defeated her, so our enemy would use his subtility to take away our simplicity in Christ. He is going all out to corrupt our minds from single-hearted devotion to our dear Lord Jesus Christ. He still appeals to our intellectual pride to make us think we know better than God just what is best for us. He tries to make us think that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is still much more to be desired than the tree of life. Our Adversary, as an angel of light, has his deceitful workers lying in wait to deceive with intelligently concocted forms and formulas, “anabolic steroids.” Things artificially injected into spiritual conflict are not “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” They will tell you, try a little of this, add a little of that and it will give you the racer’s edge, and advantage over others. But spiritual conflict allows no place or space for carnal substances. (II Cor. 10:4-70)

Satanic suggestions: interjected into human minds by what ever the media (any means) that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, are fiery darts meant to corrupt our minds. We can only be prepared for such onslaughts by being wholly receptive to the Holy Scriptures, and responsive to the Holy Spirit, having the mind of Christ. Thank God that we have the privilege of bringing into captivity our thoughts to the obedience of Christ. Oh how great the need to be wearing the “helmet of salvation” today. Our enemy offers so many “corruptible crowns,” high sounding ideals and titles, great achievements and accomplishments, that are meant to distract the spiritual runner.

The “Simplicity” of verse three speaks to us of single-hearted devotion to Christ. Prize-winning calls for a singleness of purpose, concentrating one’s focus on one object. In athletic terms, keep your eve on the ball or on the goal. The apostle Paul wrote, “I therefore run, not as uncertainly.” Ones whole course of life must be Christ centered so as to avoid the many distractions. As the Psalmist wrote, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after.” Jesus told Martha, “one thing is needful,” and Paul wrote “this one thing I do,” these express that single-hearted devotion.

Self-disqualification: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” I Cor. 9:24. Paul was a winning example, and urges us also to run like winners. He had to lay aside many corruptible crown. There was no way he could fool or pay off the Judge, that is righteous and looks on the heart. God has used the apostle Paul to call others to the race. He has powerfully urged us to join the winning team. He calls out, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” God also gave Paul the rules of the contest, the rightly divided Word of truth. These are plainly posted so that no one will have an excuse. We read in Gal. 5:7-8, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.”

We each must be responsible before God. “Let no man take your crown.” We will not be able to use someone else for an excuse, before the righteous Judge. “And if a man also strive for masteries, (goes for the championship) yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully,” II Tim. 2:5.

The Apostle Paul tells us of the “means” by which he could be disqualified to teach us how to avoid being disqualified. Every thing necessary to make us the most victorious saints has been set before us, Let us run!


Anita Clark – Pastor, Carbondale, KS

Much controversy takes place over this subject. It takes a study of the Word of God to “rightly divide the Word of truth.” Some say that He will come to take away all the believers of this Church Age before the tribulation begins, while others teach that He will come in the middle of the tribulation, and others only see one coming in power and glory at the end of the seven years of tribulation. What is the answer? What does the Scripture state? Only it is Truth!

In I Thessalonians 4:13-18, we read of the coming of the Lord before the tribulation. In verse 13, Paul says, “I would not heave you ignorant brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not as those who have no hope.” In I Corinthians 15 he dedicates the whole chapter to the subject of the resurrection of the believers. You would do well to read the whole chapter.

We see from this chapter that because Jesus rose from the grave, the believers in Christ are guaranteed to be raised up in new bodies like unto His glorious body, which He possessed after His resurrection. (Phil. 3:21)

In I Corinthians 15:22-23, we read, “For as in Adam all die (all the progeny of Adam are subject to death in their time), even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” But in I Corinthians 15:23, Paul adds another dimension, “But every man in his own order.” The word, “order” in the original Greek means, “turn, something in orderly arrangement, rank or cohort, a series or succession.” This means that the admonition of Jesus, “to watch and be ready” is showing that not all believers of this age will go at the same time. Some are watching and some are not. “Everyman in his own rank” is not speaking of their dying, but of their resurrection from the dead - “in orderly succession, or rank. etc.” The Amplified Version which follows the Greek original language, presents this Scripture, “But each in his own rank or turn: Christ , the Messiah, [is] the first fruits, than those who are Christ’s [own will be resurrected] at His coming.” These words, “His coming,” is the Greek word “par-oo-see-ah” which means “presence or coming.”

I Thessalonians 4:15 mentions “the coming” which is the word again “par-oo-see-ah” Then is verse 16-17, we read, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first, Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up to be with the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” The words “caught up” mean the same as “par-oo-see-ah.”

Further consideration of verses in the fifth chapter show that there are conditions which may prevent the believer in Christ from being ready for this coming of Christ the first time. Verses, 1-3 are a warning that Christ will come as a “thief in the night.” Verse 4-6 warns of spiritual sleepiness, “But ye brethren, are not in darkness, that day should overtake you as thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of the darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.” These verses show the possibility of believers in Christ becoming complacent and careless about the things of God, not watching and waiting for the Lord to appear. Consequently, they will be left to go into a part of the tribulation of seven years that will come upon the earth, after the catching away of those who have faithfully watched and looked for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Apostle Paul was warning the people of God of this problem.

In the book of Revelation 7:9-17, we read of a group of believers who come out of the tribulation. This group is “a great multitude, which no man could number” Rev. 7:9. Some believe that these are all saved during the tribulation of seven years, but they are taken to heaven during the first few years of the tribulation. They were those who were saved during this age, but were walking after the world, those who were sleeping and not watching for Jesus to come. Look around and you will see that not all people who know Christ as their Savior are actually yielding to Christ in full commitment, watching and waiting for Jesus to come. This is why some believers will go into the tribulation.

In contrast to these sleepy believers is those who yield fully and are watching and waiting for the Lord to come. The promise to them in Revelation 3:10-11 says, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation (tribulation) which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Vs. 21 says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne...”

In Revelation 4 we see the Lord Jesus Christ taking His throne in heaven and in verse 4 we see twenty-four elders taking thrones with Him - around about His throne. In verses 6-9 we see the Living Creatures giving glory to the Lord by falling down in worship. Note that the Four and Twenty Elders have crowns which they cast down before the throne of the Lord Jesus. (Remember that the Lord promises in other Scripture crowns to those who yield to Him). Then, importantly in chapter 5:8-10 it details some information about who these beings are. Verse 9 it says, “For thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, tongue and people, and nation. And thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign on (over) the earth.” They are not angelic beings.

Revelation 19 shows us a preview of the people of God in heaven with the Lamb - the Lord Jesus. In verse 1 - “A great voice of much people.” In verse 4 - the Twenty-four elders and Living creatures are mentioned. They are the overcomers who have stood fast in their faith all down through the Age of Grace, from Pentecost until Christ’s coming before the tribulation began, which we see reigning with Christ in Ch. 5. In verse 6, we see “the great multitude of Revelation, who came out of the tribulation period in chapter 7. They are full of praise and sound like a mighty thunder. They exclaim in verse 7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come and His wife hath made herself ready.” Note they are not the Bride. They draw attention to the Bride of the Lamb. Note that the Bride arrayed in “fine linen, clean and white” while back in chapter 7, the great multitude was dressed simply in white robes (Vs 7).

The Finale of this study is the Second Coming of Christ in Power and Glory, chapter 19:11-16. This is at the end of the tribulation. Note again the believers from all the past ages are already in heaven with Him. Now, He rides down in judgment. In Revelation 16:16 it speaks of the Battle of Armageddon, where the Lord will pour out His wrath upon the unbelieving world and the Antichrist. His people will already be with Him there in heaven when He comes back with them to pour out His final judgment. These verses correspond with other prophetic Scripture: II Samuel 7; Psalms 2, & 110; Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:7; Daniel 7:13-14; Zechariah 14:1-21; and Matthew 24:27-31. All these foretell Jesus Christ’s Kingdom reign.

Let us remember that we are the people of God right now in this present evil time and we need to yield to God and be ready to rule and reign with Christ. Colossians 3:4 “When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” I Peter 5:4 “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

His Glory

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Paul speaks of us as “earthen vessels” to help illustrate the great dichotomy between us and the exceedingly valuable gift that we have been given. In the verse above this, he tells us that God “hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” God put the very life of Christ in us. Colossians 1:27.

The purpose of using fragile, ugly “earthen vessels” is to demonstrate His Glory. If the vessels were marvelous, strong and capable, the vessel would receive the glory. However, God is able to use us as vessels to show others His glory.

These “earthen vessels” will not last long, and they just return to the dust. In 2 Corinthians 5:1, Paul reminds us that these bodies dissolve. However, there is something eternal that is within us when we are saved by God’s grace.

The work that God is doing with these vessels is more than just some fixing up. He is creating something useful and beautiful. “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” Jeremiah 18:3-4. We are not making ourselves better. We are not creating something beautiful. God is the only one that can do that.

What results will only bring glory to God. Anything that brings glory to ourselves, is not useful or beautiful. If we do something that is good, where does that come from? Who gets the glory? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.

What about the things that happen in our lives that seem bad or difficult? Sometimes pressure is what is required to mold the clay to its best. God can use anything to display His glory if we let Him.

In John 11, we read of Mary and Martha and Lazarus. When Lazarus falls ill, Mary and Martha send for Jesus, knowing full well that He is able to heal Lazarus. Here is Jesus’ response: “When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” John 11:4 Jesus could have healed Lazarus and Mary and Martha would have been extremely grateful and would have worshiped Jesus. However, they would have missed out on the revelation of His glory in a much greater measure.

We need to be willing to allow God to do the work that He wants to do in our lives, so the He will be glorified. We so not know the end result of what is being worked right now. We cannot see the final piece, but God can. We need to be careful of limiting God to only working in ways that we understand and think are best.

Gordon Crook


Pastor Debra Isenbletter

Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri

Valley of Weeping (Ps. 84:5-7): “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the ways of them or (whose heart is set on a pilgrimage). Who passing through the Valley of Baca (weeping) make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.” How wonderful and instructive are these verses concerning the one who passes through the valley of weeping.

“Baca” means “weeping” and yes, there will be times of weeping, times of sorrow. We all at one time or another go through this valley, but notice that we only pass through, we don’t stay there and we always find grace there! There is a wonderful promise of provision given to the one passing through this valley seen in the description of this man, the heart of this man and the refreshing for this man. The provision begins with how this man is described: “Blessed is the man” – He is a blessed man and where is the blessing seen? It is seen in statement “whose strength is in thee.” This is a fundamental truth that we each need to lay hold of – that we have no strength in ourselves! This is a hard place to come to, a humbling place to come to, but it is this realization that takes away our helplessness and gives us an endless supply of strength found in the Lord. To be able to say when we feel the weakest and most vulnerable that my “strength is in thee” is the first step of victory in this valley.

What about the heart attitude of the one who is passing through this valley? The latter part of V. 5 says, “in whose heart are the ways of them” or “in whose heart are the ways.” The Amplified Bible translates this, “whose heart is set on a pilgrimage.” The “ways” are described as a pilgrimage and journey. Our heart attitude affects how we perceive things around us. Is our heart set in the way or the path the Lord has put our feet upon? Is our heart set on a pilgrimage? Do we realize every day that wherever we are and whatever the circumstance that we are only passing through? So we realize that this is a journey that we each must make, that sometimes we can’t avoid the painful experiences or the heartbreaks. It’s a little like seeing the cup as half empty or half full. The attitude of our heart makes all the difference, we can choose to make this valley something wonderful or we can choose to make it something terrible.

What is the provision in this valley, beyond the strength the Lord provides? It is seen in what we do while in the valley, the provision flows from the heart attitude, from the knowledge that this is a journey, we must make, it is a journey we can’t avoid and that the Lord will give us strength and grace as we need it. So while we go through this valley what can we do? We can “make it a well.” I was struck by the statement “make it a well.” We can make this valley experience into a well, a place where we are refreshed and others are refreshed. We can look for the blessings along the way or look for ways to be a blessing to others. It is as though all the tears shed, all weeping in this valley become a well that can comfort and refresh. Not only can we make it a well by the Lord sends times of refreshing. He sends “the rain” that “filleth the pool.” We can take that rain the Lord provides, lay hold of those moments of refreshing and store them up, let the pools fill up, so that we are sustained and strengthened. We can overcome in this valley and not be overcome.


By Orville Freestone

Lakewood, Colorado


“God let none of his words fall to the ground” –
I Sam. 3:19

Samuel was born in a most difficult time for Israel. The old confederacy of the tribes was badly fraying and the period of the Judges was coming to an end. It was a time of anarchy and chaos. Worse, most of the country was occupied by the Philistines. Samuel was the last of the Judges and also a prophet who would be the transitional leader to the age of the monarchy. 

Samuel was remarkable even as a child. In fulfillment of her vow, his mother took him to live at the Tabernacle with an aged priest as soon as he was weaned. In those days a child was weaned at about the age of three years. Imagine leaving such a small child away from mother the father and far from home! But there is no record of his crying for his mother. He always accepted life from the hand of the Lord. Most remarkably, as a child he heard the voice of God. How difficult it must have been for him to tell Eli that God said judgment would come to Eli and his sons.

Israel early accepted that Samuel was a prophet (I Sam. 3:20) and leader and his was a long career. Being a Levite, Samuel served Eli in the tasks allotted to the Levites, but he was not a priest and did not fill the office of priest. He offered the sacrifices that the Patriarchs and prophets such as Elijah offered, that is, the whole burnt offering. There were seers, “men of God,” and even prophets before Samuel, but he founded by his example the prophetic movement in Israel. (I Sam. 9:9)

Israel also accepted Samuel as a Judge and resorted to him for guidance and advice. Samuel also has a “circuit” as Judge where he traveled yearly to judge Israel. (I Sam. 7:15-17) As prophet and judge, he invested first Saul, then  David as king thus completing the transition from Commonwealth to Kingdom. Israel universally honored him. God attested to his life and ministry, for He  “let none of his words fall to the ground.” All that he said was true and all he foretold came to pass. (I Sam. 3:19) This is said of no other person in the Bible!

Samuel was a faithful and godly leader in the most adverse of circumstances. His character is in stark contrast to Eli and his sons, who were “corrupt and did not know the Lord.” Eli, himself, was rebuked by “a man of God” for not restraining his sons. (I Sam. 2:27-36) With so many leaders of high promise failing so miserably in office, Samuel shows what faithful leader, today as then, is like and what he can accomplish. May we be faithful  in whatever position we find ourselves and leave the outcome to the issues of our lives to God.

A Bride For Christ

Earlene Davis - Pastor - Wichita, KS

 It is God’s purpose for Christ to have a bride. This truth is brought out in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. In Genesis chapter 2, the LORD God said it is not good that man should be alone and He caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh thereof; and builded he a woman and brought her unto the man. The first man Adam was a type of Christ as we read in Romans 5:14, it says that Adam was a “figure of him that was to come,” speaking of Christ. Leading us to see a beautiful type of the bride being taking out of the body of Christ.

In I Cor. 12 we learn that all believers are members of Christ’s body, the church - Vs. 12-14,20,27. Now let us read Eph. 5:25-27,29-30,32. It was in God’s purpose for all the church to be Christ’s bride. The provision has been made. Just as Salvation for all mankind has been provided by Christ’s death, yet not all accept God’s free gift that they might be saved. The same is true of this provision to be the bride of Christ.

Paul the chief apostle to the church has espoused (betrothed) or engaged all believers (the whole church) to one Husband (Christ) by his gospel - II Cor. 11:2-3. This espousal was that Paul may have the joy of presenting “a chaste (or pure) virgin to Christ” (without spot, holy and without blemish).

Paul’s Gospel has called the whole Church to this attainment. Christ must have a bride, a mature companion, full grown in every respect. But even though the whole church has been betrothed, not all will qualify as the pure virgin who shall be presented. Many go the way of satisfying their fleshly nature instead of running to win Christ as Bridegroom. There are qualifications to be Christ’s bride. She must be proven and tried. She must hold Christ as her head and absolutely be dependent upon Him.

The purpose in an engagement is to become better acquainted. The relationship we might say is on probation. Of course Christ is not on probation, for His love has already been proven. He left the glory of heaven to win the desire of His heart. He stooped down to the death of the cross and the humiliation of the tomb to deliver her from her former lord, the Old Adam. Therefore it is impossible for Him to fail her.

But this is her day to be proven and found faithful. She has conditions to meet to win Christ, even as He had to win her. She learns obedience by the things she suffers – II Cor. 4:6-10, 15, 17-18. Paul is not making light of the suffering, but making a comparison, in that the afflictions are working a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Paul feared for the Church that some might lose, not their soul, but the opportunity of this attainment. Paul knew the subtilty of Satan, that is why he warned of the danger as we read in II Cor. 11:3. The Church as a whole did not see the trap, because they failed to read and heed the warning. Like Eve who was beguiled and acted independent of her head, her husband. The Church has moved and acted independently, not depending upon Christ, the head of His body, the church. That is being corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ

Let us leave the responsibility upon Him and be subject unto Him. II Cor. 11:4 There are those who preach another Jesus and how to be strong and able in themselves. But that is not Paul’s gospel, he preached a humble Jesus, rejected by the world. His wife must go the same way of suffering, which also let us not forget, brings victory.

Romans 8:16-18 – May we embrace that which has been set before us. This calling is to a service of love that is unknown by many believers. Why is that so? They don’t bother to read God’s Word written to them, where we learn God’s purposes for us. Let us covet this place with our Lord and Savior as His bride.

In Philippians Chapter 3, Paul says “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Vs. 12-14). The Prize is Christ Himself -verse 8, – “that I may win Christ.”

Philippians 3:15 – “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”


Debra Isenbletter

“Therefore, let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.” I Thess. 5:6-7

Paul is admonishing these saints to “watch” and not to sleep, and the sobering thought is that there are those who are asleep.

The first point about sleeping is who is sleeping. Sleepiness is not a word used to describe the sinner, for he is already “dead in trespasses and sins” Eph. 2:1. Sleepiness is a word used to describe saints who are not watching, who are unaware of what is going on around them. When one is asleep, one is alive, but not aware of what is going on in the real world. Sleepers cannot see, cannot hear and cannot move, but when they dream, they think they are doing all of those things. It is just the same with sleepy saints, they may not even be aware that they are asleep. Their dreams give a since of realty to all they do. There may be a lot of activity and they may even think they are serving the Lord, but there is a difference between carnal activity and spiritual activity.

The second point about sleeping is when it occurs. Paul says, “they that sleep, sleep in the night.” Night is a time of darkness, a time when light has departed, a time when people slow down, lay down and finally sleep. It is the morning light that wakes us and energizes us.

The admonition Paul gives is to watch, and it is to saints who are not asleep. And who are not in the night. Paul tells these saints in V. 4, “But ye brethren are not in darkness.” He tells them they are not in darkness and darkness is the absence of light. They are dwelling in the light, they are awake and not asleep. They have received that light and received it in all its fulness. They are walking in that light and walking in full obedience. They are shining as lights, as beacons for others to see and in the end they will reflect the fulness of the glory of Christ.

Paul warns of “that day” which is a day of darkness and a day of judgment. What makes the day dark is that there is a loss of light as the night progresses. During the night there were four different time frames or watches beginning at sunset and ending at sunrise. The night hatches were divided into the following four watches. 1st Watch: sunset – 9:00 pm; 2nd Watch: 9:00 pm -midnight; 3rd Watch: midnight – 3:00 am; 4th Watch: 3:00 am – sunrise. Those watching watched the light as it departed and sounded an alarm when the next watch began.

In a spiritual sense, what makes the day dark is the loss of light and what and who is the light in this world? It is the Lord Jesus Christ and it is His saints. John spoke of Jesus and said, “light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light” John 3:19. Paul tells the Thessalonians they are “children of the light” I Thess. 5:5. He tells the Philippians they are to “shine as lights in the world holding forth the word of life” Phil. 2:15. And he tells the Ephesians they are “light in the Lord” and to “walk as children of light” Eph. 5:8. It is our light, which is the life of Christ, that hold the darkness back. What will make the day dark is taking the saints (lights) out of this world. Paul told the Corinthians that in the resurrection we will each reflect a glory, either that of the sun, the moon or the stars. We each have different degrees of light that are seen in us as the life of Christ glows. Yes, there will be a glory seen at a later time, but right now there is a glory that is hidden, a light that is Christ in us that is holding back the darkness. What happens when some of that light is removed? It begins to get dark.

There are watching saints and there are sleeping saints. It is these saints who are awake, who are not in the night that will lay hold of the admonition to watch and be sober. They are watching during the day, they are watching before the sun sets. They are watching before the First Watch begins.

These four watches could picture different period and even different groups of saints during the seven-year tribulation period. The tribulation is a time of darkness (night) and there will be degrees of darkness until all light is gone. The question is, what is it that brings on this darkness or absence of light? Night begins with a departure of light, and it is a gradual departure and night ends with the return of light. If the saints are lights in this world (and they are) and if each rank of believers reflects a different degree of light i.e. sun, moon, stars, then we can see what brings on this darkness. It is the departure of the saints. When one rank leaves (translation or resurrection), then there is a loss of light and the next rank wakes up and begins watching. The loss of light, the taking out of that light by translation is a wake-up call that will awaken those that had been asleep. When one rank leaves, light departs, the sleepy wake up and being to watch and the same pattern follows until all the light is gone.

Paul is writing to a group of saints who are already watching, they are not asleep. They are the first group to be watching and they watch while others are asleep. They are watching during the day for the light has not departed yet, the sun has not set. They are that light that must depart before it begins to get dark. They are those that shine with a sun glory and as long as they are here, the darkness and the night are held back. Remember the first night watch begins at sunset, when the night begins. There will be a group of saints, the Bride, the first rank, the full-overcomers, who will be taken out (by translation or resurrection) before sunset, before the first watch begins, while it is still day. It is their departure, the loss of their light which will begin the 1st watch, for the sun has set, light or saints have departed. It is the departure of this first group that will be a wake-up call for those left to watch and they will begin the 1st watch. When they are caught up, others will wake up and begin the 2nd watch and the pattern continues until all the watches are complete.

Though this group of saints, taken out first, taken before the 1st watch, may be small in number, they will manifest the greatest amount of light. It is after their departure that the tribulation, the time of great spiritual darkness begins, and the darkness increases as each rank of believers is taken out. During this time “a man of sin” will be revealed, and the world will believe “the lie” II Thess. 2:3,11. It is a time of great deception, of great darkness.

Each rank of believers will reflect a glory, a degree of light and a degree of fellowship with the Lord; but the degree of glory, the amount of fruit and the depth of the fellowship is determined by their love for the Lord and their submission to the Lord. Paul describes the glory of this first rank, this group of saints whose departure brings a great loss of light and whose departure begin the first watch and wakes other up. Their glory is the glory of the sun, I Cor. 15:41. It Is the full glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. One definition for glory, besides just brightness, is the “unfolded fullness of all that Christ is.” This group will fully reflect all that Christ is, they will have come “unto a perfect man and unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” Eph. 4:13. Their fruit will be 100-fold fruit (Mt. 13:23) or “a full corn in the ear” Mark 4:28. All the growth will have taken place, they are not just a blade of a stalk, but there is a complete and full fruitfulness in their lives. This group has overcome because they have held their “first love: and done “the first works: (Rev. 2:4-5). The relationship they have to the Lord is that of His Bride, His wife, who “hath made herself ready” Rev. 19:7.

Let us lay hold of Paul’s admonition to “watch and be sober.” To look with longing and love for the Lord’s appearing. Let us watch now, while it is day!