After battling a monster cold this week, I finally feel up to taking up my sword (the Bible) and seeing what the good Lord has in mind for our battles to be revived and reformed. I know His battle plans will see us through to the end.

This week we see the ultimate culmination of our struggles too. We are in “boot camp” right now, preparing for the greatest Battle this world has ever seen, taking place when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords steps up to conquer His old enemy Satan at the Last Day.

Memory Text: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and the latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7-8 NKJV

There you have it. We must be patient and establish our hearts. What does “establish” mean? Other versions say, “take heart” or “have courage”. And according to the original Greek, “to turn resolutely in a certain direction”, “to confirm”, “to steadfastly fix”, or “to strengthen”. All of these meanings for establishing our hearts point to the work that is accomplished by our revival and reformation.

Sunday: The Promised Power

Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” NKJV This announcement tends to send a flurry of panic to Christians, because they see how immense the task is. But on the other hand, it may send some Christians into a mode of apathy, because they see that the amount of time to achieve this gives them plenty of time to “get their act together”.

What both groups fail to remember is that Jesus’ Gospel Commission, as set forth in Matthew 28:18-20, reveals how the task of taking the gospel to the world will be accomplished. It’s through God’s power. His Holy Spirit will enable us to do it, when and how He sees fit. We just have to decide to be His willing vessels, just as the first praying, united disciples found out at Pentecost, when those tongues of fire gave them the power to take the message of a risen Savior to the then known world in the first century.

Thought Question: What can I do to further the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14?

Monday: The Early and Latter Rain

Our memory text alluded to an early and a latter rain. Just what is meant by this symbol for the Holy Spirit’s power? We know that water has often been associated with the Holy Spirit in baptism, for instance, and the Living Water referred to in John 7:37-39. But not being farmers, how are we to understand the meanings of these two rains?

We must go to the book of Joel. Several passages there are very descriptive of the work of both the early and the latter rains, both in an agricultural sense, but also in a spiritual context. See Joel 2:21-24, and v. 28-32. Joel was one of those minor prophets we studied last quarter. So, test yourself in finding him. Hint: He was the second minor prophet in your Bible after Daniel.

Tuesday: Prerequisites for the Latter Rain

Reflecting on the early rain that fell at Pentecost, we see that they were united with each other in prayer, asking for the Holy Spirit’s comfort and power. They were also immersed in Scriptures, especially prophetic messages. The result was an overpowering desire to witness.

The Old Testament seems to emphasize this same point of asking for the Holy Spirit and revival in Zechariah 10:1 (right before Malachi) and Psalm 119:25. (Reminder: “quicken” means “revive”.) Just as at the early rain, the latter rain of God’s Spirit will produce global results in our witnessing efforts.

Discussion Question: How can the church in the last days “turn the world upside down” again, as at Pentecost?

Wednesday: The Baptism of Fire

There are a variety of symbols for the Holy Spirit: water, wind, oil, and fire. We find both symbols in the ordinance of baptism, however. In both Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16, being baptized in water and fire are mentioned. Not water OR fire, but water AND fire.

Fire, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, stands for the presence, power, and glory of God. (Remember Moses and the burning bush and the pillar of fire that later guided the Hebrews.) Being immersed in God’s glorious presence through His Holy Spirit enables us to witness in His power, even today.

We also have a future to look forward to when “…the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14 KJV

Thought Questions: How can I reveal the power and presence of God in my life? What will it require on my part?

Thursday: The Great Controversy Ended

The final display of God’s power using fire will be at the end of this world. This fiery demise of Satan and all those who have taken his side is not only found in the book of Revelation. In Ezekiel 28:18 we find, “…therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.” and Malachi 4:3 says, “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” KJV

We have seen the earth destroyed by water once–at the time of Noah. But the next time it will be by fire. As Noah faithfully preached for 120 years prior to the flood, let us not shirk our duty to witness to the world about the impending event of Christ’s Second Coming and the glorious New Earth we’ll one day enjoy.

Discussion Question: What meaning or significance can be given to this statement: “The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God.” ~The Great Controversy, p. 612.

Next quarter we will take up a study of the sanctuary, a topic I dearly love! Please let Outlook Magazine know if you are getting a blessing from this blog series. I will gladly continue it, if some are interested in following it.