Our Loving Heavenly Father

Our Loving Heavenly Father

Scripture: 1 John 3:1, Matthew 7:9-11, John 14:8-10
Date: 07/05/2014  Lesson: 1
"This week we will explore what Jesus taught about our Father and about His infinite love for us. We will look, too, at the close relationship of the Father with the Son and with the Holy Spirit."

Comprehending God, Part 1 by Doug Batchelor

Comprehending God, Part 1 by Doug Batchelor
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elcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. We welcome you to those that are joining us live on the internet this morning. Those that are joining us across the country and around the world, and right here in our sanctuary, welcome and it is by no accident that you have joined us to study God's Word together. As we usually do, we sing together before we jump into God's Word with our pastor and today is no exception - hymn #462 - 'blessed assurance Jesus is mine'. This comes as a request from raquel in belize, louisa in Canada, keryl in France, sveinbjorn in iceland, and richie in new zealand.

Hymn #462 - we're going to sing all three verses. What a privilege we have that that is our story and that is our song and we have the privilege and the honor to share that all over with every person that we come in contact with. Whether it's at the grocery store, whether it's in church, whether it's at work - wherever we are - we can spread the love of Jesus and tell them our story, amen? If you have a special hymn - a favorite hymn - that you'd like to sing with us on a coming study together, it's very simple. You just go to our website at 'saccentral.org', you click on the 'contact us' link and there you can request any song in our hymnal and we will sing that with you on a coming study together. As you - those of you that tune in very regularly, you know that we are making our way through the hymnal and today our new hymn is hymn #70 and this is actually not a new hymn to me, I have been singing this since I was a little girl.

Hymn #70 - 'praise ye The Father'. This comes as a request from James in chile, immanuel in malaysia, howard and diane in Mississippi, ken and verna in New Hampshire, John in Oklahoma, and dolores in peru. Hymn #70 and we'll sing all three verses. Let's pray. Our Father in Heaven, it is an amazing privilege to be able to come before you and call you our father and our Savior.

And so, as we open Your Word, lord, just speak to us - speak to us and help us to hear. Give us ears to hear. Give us eyes to see you more clearly. We just thank you that we have the opportunity to share your love around the world. Lord, help us not to be ashamed.

Help us to just go boldly before the throne and spread Your Word so that you can come soon. We thank you that your promises are true and that you are true and faithful and that we will see you soon. Please be with pastor chris this morning as he opens Your Word to us. Lord, just fill us with your spirit that we can be more like you. I pray these things in your name, amen.

Our study this morning will be brought to us by pastor chris buttery and he is the family life evangelism pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you. Thank you so much. Good morning. Everyone sounded terrific this morning - not that you don't sound terrific every Sabbath morning.

Thank you so much to our song team and chorus team and musicians and everyone else who's pitching in. And thank you for singing so nicely this morning. We want to welcome you and also welcome our online viewers and those that are watching by tv or hearing by radio. Just glad that we could all be sitting here together - even if you're viewing - and study God's Word. What an awesome thing to do.

I want to make sure as we get started here that we send out to our viewers - let them know about our free offer and it's the little pocketbook 'life in the Spirit' by Joe Crews and it's offer #155 and you can collect this - this little booklet by calling in at -866-study-more or -866-788-3966. So glad to have you along and glad that our audience is here and congregation is here so we can study together. We're actually going into our final - it's kind of a bittersweet - going into our final lesson this morning on this quarter's Sabbath school quarterly, 'revival and reformation' and even though we're going to - it's going to come to a close this particular quarter, the work's not done, and it's not all finished until we actually see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven, amen? Sure. And we're going to - we're going to go right into our study here this morning - it's a good one - the promised revival, 'God's mission completed' and we're going to talk a little bit about this. We've got our memory text here and it's James chapter 5, verses and 8 and we want to read this together.

If you've got it there in your quarterly it's from the new king James version - James chapter 5, verses 7 and 8. It says - and if you could read with me - "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 latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

" So we'll - we'll look at a little bit of that here this morning as we study about God's work completed - God's completed mission and promised revival. You probably read in the news, just here recently, about a 64-year-old lady by the name of diana nyad - in the - it took a prominent place, as a matter of fact, in the news, even considering the challenges taking place over there in syria and so forth. But diana nyad made history by becoming the first person to swim from cuba to florida and she did it at the age of 64 and she did it in 53 hours. I think it would have taken me a little bit longer, how about you? 53 Hours - she's a long-distance swimmer so I guess she just preps and does things like this and she decided she'd go ahead and try this - as a matter of fact, this was her fifth try and she did it this time. Another time she was prevented from getting across because she'd been stung severely by some jellyfish and couldn't finish it.

But there were a lot of challenges. On a Sunday night, apparently, she was feeling pretty cold so her trainers - those that were with her - by the way, she did this without a cage. She did this without a cage. It wasn't - it was back in 1997 that an australian - and it's not fair when an American just simply outdoes an australian like this, but back there in australian susie maroney crossed across the strait and she did that with a cage - the florida strait - she did that with a cage. But diana didn't do it with a cage and she made it across.

Sunday night she had a bit of a challenge because she was feeling cold so her trainers decided not to feed her and - because they figured if she would keep swimming she'd stay warm, you see. She also had swollen lips and a swollen tongue because of the sun and the sea water and she had abrasions to her mouth because of a special silicone mask that was meant to keep the jellyfish at bay. But she completed - she completed her goal - she completed her task and she was pretty happy about that. If you watch the news clips she was pretty excited and, you know, talked to the news reporter 'never give up'. She completed something that had been her goal for the longest time.

There seems to be, in the human spirit, an inner drive to complete what we start, even though some of us may not complete some things we started, we feel kind of bad about that and wish we had finished what we started. And, for me, I get into it - I eventually get into it after I've looked at it from every - every angle - but once I get into it, I just don't want to stop. And my wife will tell you that when I'm in the middle of a project, nothing is going to just stand in my way - not even food is going to stand in my way. I'm going to get the project completed - that is, if it runs over lunchtime. I'm not talking about days without food, mind you.

But you want to complete what you started and get it done. I guess there have been a lot of unwritten books in history and so someone commented once, 'books' - and it's kind of obvious but it was a bit of a quip - he said, 'books have both a front and a back.' Books have both a front and a back. This person went on to say that 'unfinished books are worthless.' For sure they are. This seems to apply to perhaps any unfinished business that we might have and we want to get done. It was a wise man that said, 'a desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.

' And he also said in Ecclesiastes , verse 8, "the end of a thing is better than its beginning;" of course, this speaks to or says there is pure satisfaction when we complete a project and get it done. I'd like to suggest or submit here this morning that finishing what you start is a divine characteristic. It's a divine characteristic. When you think about God, he ventured into creating this world - six days he was making it and then on the seventh day he rested. Genesis 2:2 and 3 tells us that he had finished his work.

What God set out to start, he ended - he finished. And then, of course, we think about the cross and Jesus' famous words, 'it is' - what friends? - 'Finished.' That's right. Jesus said, 'it is finished.' The plan of salvation wasn't fully complete. He needed to go - be raised and go back to heaven and intercede and wrap things up, but as far as the payment for our - the penalty for our sin was concerned, he had paid it. It was finished.

It was done. Paid in full. What Jesus begins he likes to end. And then when you come all the way down to the book of Revelation, chapter 21, you hear God saying these three words: 'it is' - what? - 'Done' 'it is done.' Alright, so I want to - we're going to look at a couple of verses together this morning - get right into it - someone has acts chapter 3 and verses 20 and 21 for me. We're talking about a completed and finished work.

Wonderful. John chapter 4 and verse 34 - you remember Jesus is - Jesus is talking with this samaritan woman at the well and he has been conversing with her for some time and the disciples are kind of perplexed as to why he is talking with - a woman #1 and #2 a samaritan at that. And so she's - she's impressed, more than impressed by this man, she senses there's something more to him - that he's got to be the Messiah. So she takes off and she goes and tells the men of the town, 'come and see - come and see a man who's told me all that I've ever done.' And while she's gone the disciples come up to Jesus and they - they're concerned because, apparently, he hasn't eaten and they said to him, 'Jesus, you need to take some food.' And Jesus said, 'you know, I have food that you know not of.' And then in John chapter 4, verse 34 he explains. He says - "Jesus said to them, 'my food'" - my meat or my food - "'is to do the will of him who sent me, and'" - do you remember what he said next? To do what - "'to finish his work.

'" Jesus came - his meat - his food - his aspiration - his desire it was larger than food itself, was to do the will of God that sent him to finish the work that he gave him to do. Acts 3, verses 20 and 21 - thanks jolyne. "And that he may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Okay. So this idea - this idea of - this idea of God restoring all things, talks about there coming a time where there'll be conclusion to this issue of sin and salvation. There'll be an - this will come to a close.

And when will it happen 'that he may send Jesus' - the text says - 'who was preached to you, whom heaven must receive until the time of restoration.' There'll come a time when there will be a returning of things to their original condition, according to the Word of God - according to the mouth of his holy prophets since the world began, the text says. So God has to finish it. God is going to finish this thing. Now, certainly, he didn't start this thing, but he's going to finish this thing. The devil and his imps certainly started this thing.

And then our first parents bit on and they took ahold of this thing and said, 'you know what? We're just going to keep moving - moving forward with this' unfortunately, but God stepped in and said, 'we're going to - we're going to end this thing. You started it but I'm going to end it.' And he has to. Do you understand Jesus - he sent his son and he came to die in our stead. He lived to show us how to live. He died and then he rose again and he went back to heaven to be our high priest - our advocate - and so Jesus has to finish it.

He has to come back. There's no point coming and forgiving us - no point coming to send - leaving and then sending his Holy Spirit to give us power and victory over sin and then just kind of leaving the sin condition to continue as it is. Jesus is going to come and it's going to be done and it's going to be all said and done and over with. He has to finish it. He didn't start it but Jesus is going to finish it, amen? Sure.

Alright, so we encounter a bit of a problem here - it's not a big problem for God but there is a bit of a problem. In Matthew and verse 14, we find these interesting - not interesting necessarily, but familiar words and powerful words and hopeful words. Matthew chapter 24 and verse 14, we're told these things, "and this gospel" - this is Jesus speaking - "and this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." And so what must take place first? The gospel, according to what Jesus said. The gospel must go to the entire world. Now, this isn't just any gospel we're talking about here, is it? You remember you go over to Revelation chapter 14 you've got these three angels flying in the midst - there's angels flying in the midst of heaven.

What do they have? They have the everlasting gospel. And so under the umbrella of the everlasting gospel you have this three-point message of judgment and worshiping the creator, you got the message that Babylon is fallen, and then the warning not to worship the beast, worship the image, or receive its Mark. And so, it's not just any gospel - 'hey, Jesus died on the cross for you' - and I don't want to remove anything powerful - that's powerful - I don't want to remove anything away from that, but there's more to it than just Jesus simply coming to live and then die and rise again. As powerful as that is, and as necessary as that is, there is more and the Bible reveals that - prophecy reveals that - and so the everlasting gospel needs to be taken to the entire world. It's not just any gospel, it's the everlasting and people need to hear it.

I think it was in Mark - Mark 16 - Jesus said, 'the gospel must be taken to every creature.' That's everyone on every street in every cul-de-sac, on every rural route, in every high-rise apartment - everyone must hear the gospel. So the question is: is it at all possible that this can happen? In order for this - this issue of sin to come to a close and for Jesus to come back and is it possible that the gospel can be taken to everybody before he returns? Yes, yes. It's not mission impossible because with God it's mission possible. I just want you to consider some statistics here just for a moment and I got these here from a little book - it's interesting - and it says that there are seven, of course, we reached the seven billion Mark on planet earth not too long ago. Presently there are over one billion people in both china and india.

The continent of africa has just topped the one billion Mark. Of the more than seven billion people on planet earth, only 30 percent or 2.2 billion are Christian. There are 1.5 billion muslim, .1 billion secular and agnostics and atheists, 900 million hindus, 376 million buddhists along with hundreds of other religious groups. Now, although the seventh day adventist church is one of the fastest growing Christian denominations baptizing about a million people every year, with over 17 million members, we are approximately one percent of all Christians, which means we are only a fraction of the percent of the population. This proposes a potential dilemma: a very small fraction of people taking this message to the entire globe.

Interesting questions and the lesson brings out some of these questions. How will the work on earth ever be finished with such a small number? If it is possible for the gospel, in the context of the three angels' messages - is it possible for the gospel, in the context of the three angels' messages, to circle this globe to get to every inhabitant in a short time? What - and if it's possible, what will be the breakthrough? What mechanism will God use to bring this about? And that's what the lesson is about here. Romans chapter 9 and verse 28 - you can turn that - look at that in your Bibles - Romans 9:28 - we have this encouraging thought - encouraging words - it says, "for he" - that is God - "will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth." So we have some encouragement here. Who's going to finish the work? God. Now that doesn't let us off the hook here.

God desires to use and wants to use and is going to use flesh and blood - people - human beings like you and i. There's a partnership that takes place. God has assured us that he'll finish the work, but he wants to involve you and he wants to involve me. This is a team effort. Okay, how does he do that? Let's go to Sunday's lesson 'the promised power' - the promised power.

We remember the 2003 northeast blackout pretty well. I don't know if any of you read about that or heard about that. It didn't affect you out here. A major blackout across some northeastern-midwestern states - even into eastern Canada. And we remember it well because we were actually moving house at that time in 2003.

We were living in Canada and, fortunately, I was able to pick up a u-haul and get that in time before the power outage, which occurred at 4:00 in the afternoon and it lasted for a couple of days. It affected about 10 million people in ontario, which is where we were living, and 45 million in eight states here in the u.s. And it's the second - it was the second largest blackout in history. In 1999 southern brazil had a major blackout and that has reMained at number 1. Now what was fascinating about this blackout was that most ontarians thought that - or what concerned them or what got their attention was that when they found out that the outage came from a software bug in an alarm system in the first energy corporation in Ohio, it got their attention.

For the first time, ontarians realized that their power - their energy sources - were coming from Ohio? This was odd because on the coast there, of lake ontario, a couple of powerful nuclear power plants, which produces enough energy for the needs in ontario and they found out that they'd been buying energy from somewhere else when they'd had energy right there - power right there - in their own backyard. Thankfully, the Bible tells us we don't have to go anywhere else, conjure up any other device to receive power that God wants to give us for a finished work. Jesus offers this to us freely. Jesus gives us a clue as to how he plans to finish and complete his work so that we can leave planet earth to be with him. Matthew chapter 28 and there's - someone has acts chapter 1, verse 8 this morning - acts chapter 1, verse 8 - right down here.

Okay, fabulous. Matthew 28:18-20 - you remember these words of Jesus - he said - and he spoke to them as he's about to leave - he says, all power - "'all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of The Father and of The Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'" So Jesus gives us a clue right here as to how he's going to get the work done - through human instrumentality. First, before he tells them to go, he tells them what? 'I have given - I have' - what? - 'All power - all authority has been given to me.' And then he closes the great gospel commission with the words, 'lo, I am with you always.' So two things - he prefaces his command with the assurance of two things: he has power and that he will be with us always. Okay, in Luke chapter 24 and verse 49 - I've just got a couple of verse here and you can turn there or you can Mark them down, that's fine.

Jesus continues the thought. He says, "behold, I send the promise of my father upon you, but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued" - or endowed - "with power from on high." And then in acts chapter 1 and verse 8 - thanks brother. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and samaria, and to the end of the earth." Okay, wonderful. So how is it that Jesus will be with us always as a man who dwells in heaven? In a glorified body, you understand, but he's - he has taken on human nature. How is it possible that Jesus says he can be with us always? Through the Holy Spirit - through the comforter.

He said, 'when I leave I'm going to send you a comforter.' As a matter of fact, he said, 'it's expedient that I do go.' And, of course, the disciples were probably just bothered by that to a certain degree. 'How is it possible that it's better that you go so you can send the comforter? We would rather you.' But Jesus was telling us a very powerful truth and that is that the Holy Spirit - 'I can only be in one place at a time, but the Holy Spirit - everywhere. He can be everywhere and he can bring to you comfort and hope and healing and power wherever you find yourself. I'm going to be with you always. It's going to be through that other paraclete - the comforter - that other advocate - the comforter - the third person of the Godhead.

And when he comes, the Bible says he will receive - you will receive power to be my what? Witnesses. The Holy Spirit comes upon God's people so that we might be his witnesses. That word 'power' is from the Greek word 'dunamis' from which we get our english word - dynamite - that's exactly right. So power - explosive inherent power ready to be put to use is what God brings to us in the person of the Holy Spirit, you understand. And what were the results when the early church received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit there? What were the results? I gleaned some of these things from the little - it's a collection of thoughts from Ellen white - 'last day events'.

Here are some of the - here are some of the thoughts and you can read this in the Bible. They were words of penitence and there was confession, mingled with songs of praise, for sins forgiven. There were thousands that were converted. Hearts were surcharged with benevolence. The gospel was taken to the ends of the earth.

Backsliders were reconverted. The desire to reveal Christ-likeness and to labor to enlarge the border of the Kingdom of heaven - all of these took place under the outpouring of the Holy Spirit right there - back there on the day of pentecost. Can it be the same for us today? Sometimes we get a little concerned and we wonder, 'is it possible?' Because we don't see it to that extent - like we saw it in the early church. We're going to explore this here as we go into Monday's lesson. I'm going to submit to us here this morning - yes, yes, what was promised back then we can experience today.

And we must experience today if the work is ever going to get done. So we're on Monday's lesson and we're talking about the early and the latter rain. And here's where we will bring it down to our day and age. If you've ever lived in a dry state - I think you do, don't you, yes we do - California - it's a little dry. When the rains come - pretty refreshing, isn't it? Yeah, it's refreshing, it's nice, it's awesome.

You can imagine if you lived in palestine where there'd be a season of rain - the rainy season - you can understand, when the rain would come it would just be a massive relief - a reprieve from the hot arid summers, you understand. But more so, it was more important because - it was very important because of the agricultural - the season or cycles. When the rains would fall it would help to break up the ground and germinate the seed and then at the latter end of the - toward the time of the harvest more rain would come, which would ripen the harvest - very important and so back there in Deuteronomy chapter 11, verse , God promised his people - and you can compare this with Leviticus chapter 26 and verse 3 - God promised his people that if they were faithful and they were obedient and they honored him and put him first in everything, he would send them the early and the latter rain. We'll define that in just a second. Deuteronomy 11, verse 14 - and someone has Joel 2:23 - we're going to look at Joel 2:23 - thank you Michael.

Deuteronomy 11:14 says, "then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil." It's fascinating, when you look up the words 'early rain' and 'latter rain' in the Bible, those two phrases appear seven times together in the Scriptures. We were having fun on Tuesday night at prayer meeting, discussing the latter rain and the early rain and looking at all of those texts. We're not going to do that here this morning, but suffice to say, early and latter rains to an Israelite - to someone living in palestine, even today - very essential. Much more arid today than it was in the days of Jesus and the days of the prophets, you understand. But it was still essential back then and still is very essential today.

The early rains would fall - would fall just around the autumn time and that would be about October. And as I mentioned before, it would cause the ground to become soft so they could break it up, plant the seed, the seed could germinate and then, of course, would get a good start before the cold winter months would set in. The land would be completely dependent upon this early rain. And then, the latter rain fell in the spring just before the summer and that was just before the harvest during the months of March and early April and they brought the crops to full maturity. The barley harvest in palestine would be harvested around the middle to end of April and then a month later you'd have wheat and then you'd go into the summer and you'd have your summer fruits like figs, etc.

And then olives and grapes would come in the late summer into the early fall. So there was a lot of growth taking place and a lot of harvesting taking place from March right through to the end of the summer into the early fall. So that would be the latter rain. And God, it seems, uses this symbolism of the early and latter rain to speak to us of Jesus and to speak to us of the Holy Spirit. In Hosea chapter 6 and verse 3 - we're going to get to Joel 2 in just a moment - but in Hosea chapter 6 and verse 3 the Bible says, "let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.

His going forth is established as the morning; he will come to us" - by the way, who is this talking about? It's talking about the Lord - his going forth is prepared as the morning, you understand, if we pursue after him - "his going forth is established as the morning; he will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth." Talking about Jesus. It's very interesting, you see, God promises to bring an abundant blessing that would nourish and revive the Spiritual life through Jesus. Both the early and the latter rain have a personal application. The early rain refers to the daily work of the Holy Spirit in converting us - convicting us - perhaps even teaching us. And the latter rain would speak to growth in Christ - developing a Christ-like character, of course, all through the power of the Holy Spirit.

But there is - that's a personal application and that's very important. There's also a historical application and we're going to look at Joel, chapter 2, verse 23. "Be glad then you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given you the former rain faithfully, and he will cause the rain to come down for you - the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month." Okay, so God promises to send the early and the latter rain. And notice - jump down to verse now - jump down to verse 28, "and it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;" - God uses the symbolism of the early and latter rain to speak to us of the Holy Spirit. The context for this, if you read right through to verse 31 is talking about the last days.

God will pour out his spirit upon all flesh right before the great and terrible - great and awesome - day of the Lord. That would be just prior to Jesus returning and so the Bible uses water - rain - early and latter rain to symbolize the Holy Spirit. It's not the first time. In Isaiah chapter 44 and verse 3 God does it there through his prophet. He talks about - God's saying, "I'll pour water upon him that is thirsty.

I will pour my spirit out upon him who is dry." And so, of course, that's just a common Hebrew parallelism where, instead of rhyming words, there's rhyming thoughts - pour out water - I'll pour out my spirit - you understand. And then, of course, Jesus referred to himself as water and the Spirit of God as water in John chapter 7, verses 37 to 39. Now, Peter, on the day of pentecost - and we're talking about a local - we're talking about a historical application for the early and the latter rain. We've talked about a personal - bringing conversion - bringing conviction, bringing conversion and instruction and the latter rain - the Holy Spirit working in us to develop a Christ-like character. And in a historical sense, the early rain fell in the time of - at the time of pentecost - at the time of the early church.

Peter applied the verses of Joel 2:28-31 to his time. Remember folk were saying, 'you guys are drunk. What's going on? You've never said or done anything like this before. You must be out of your minds.' Peter said, 'no, no, no, what you're seeing today is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel in chapter 2, verses 28 to 31.' It happened then. But here's the question - here's the question - Joel 2 - it's context - is for the last days.

Was Peter wrong in applying those verses to his day? No, he wasn't. He was under inspiration and he used that verse to describe a partial fulfillment - a partial fulfillment of what took place - a partial fulfillment of that particular Bible passage, you see. It wasn't wrong for Peter to use that. Historically speaking, the early rain fell at the time of pentecost. Then in acts chapter 3, verses to 21, it's interesting what - what Peter goes on to say - and this is another sermon that he's preaching - acts chapter 3, verses 19 through 21 - he says, "repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that time of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus.

" The ideas of the refreshing rains from the Lord speak to early and latter rain and these refreshings will come before when? Before Jesus comes. Did you see that? Did you read that? That he may send Jesus who has preached to us before, you understand. If you go back to acts chapter 2 and you look with me over there at verse - oh, see if I can get that - yeah, verse 39 - I want you to notice - 38 and 39 - he says, "repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of" - whom? - "The Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to" - who else? - "Your children, and to all who are" - where? - "Afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." It's very important we understand this. What they experienced on the day of pentecost, Peter says can be continually experienced - your children will experience it, those that are far off - anyone who calls on the name of the Lord can experience what we experienced here - back here at the day of pentecost.

That's very important for us to understand, you see. And we just went to acts chapter where Peter talks about this time of refreshing - the time of the early and the latter rain that must be poured out before Jesus comes back. Why must the latter rain be poured out? Why must the latter rain be poured out? Why must the Holy Spirit be poured out in power upon God's people? Why? To ripen the harvest. Isn't that what the latter rain was for? That's what the latter rain is for over there in palestine today, to ripen the harvest. You know, when Jesus comes back in Revelation chapter 14 and verse 14, we're told that he - when he comes back - he has on his head a golden crown and in his hand a sharp - what friends? Sickle - a sickle is an instrument used to harvest and, as a matter of fact, the angel tells him, 'thrust in your sickle for the earth is ripe - ready for harvest.

So before there is a harvest there must be rain - latter rain. Before Jesus comes there must be the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The promise is to you and to your children and to all those who are afar off. That's a wonderful promise for you and for me. God is helping us understand, here how the work is going to get done.

Through the outpouring of the latter rain. And if you read about it and you study about it also in the 'spirit of prophecy', you come to understand that what's going to take place is going to be greater than what took place back then on the day of pentecost. Now some folk get a little worried about the latter rain - they're not quite sure whether they're fitting themselves getting ready for - they're getting ready - if they're going to be ready to receive it when it does fall. They get all concerned and discombobulated and all freaked out and then they start getting discouraged and backpedal and then they leave the church and they get all worried. They don't have to worry.

I've got a little statement here for you. It's found from the devotional book 'upward look' - I want you to listen to this - page 283, "we need not worry about the latter rain." Now, what she's not saying is that we need not - she's not saying we shouldn't be praying for it or we shouldn't be seeking after it - we're going to come to that in just a moment. "We need not worry about the latter rain. All we have to do" - listen carefully - "is keep the vessel clean and right side up." Now some of those that were with us at prayer meeting, we read this statement. Powerful statement.

All you need to do is keep the vessel clean and right side up. Powerful. She goes on to say, "and prepared for the reception of the heavenly rain and keep praying. Let the latter rain come into my vessel, lord. Let the light of the glorious angel which unites with the third angel" - what she's referring to is that angel from Revelation 18 - the fourth angel that unites with the message of the third angel, which is justification by faith in verity.

The third angel's message, of course it all encompasses the first and second angels' message as well, but as that is being swelled and as the message is going to the world, the angel comes down with great power and lightens the earth with the glory of God through his message and his messengers. "Let's keep praying," - she says - "that the glorious angel, which unites with the third angel, shine upon me. Give me a part in the work. Let me sound the proclamation. Let me be co laborers with Jesus Christ, thus seeking God.

Let me tell you" - she says - "he is fitting you up all the time giving you his grace." Now if you're not praying, 'lord, fit me up for your work, don't excuse me anymore, but use me, lord in your work. Make me an instrument fit for your use. Use my words, use my life to be a blessing to somebody.' If you're not praying that then you can forget about the latter rain falling on you. The latter rain is given to, yes, ripen our characters, but also to share the message. The two go hand in hand.

You can't be growing in grace if you're not sharing the love of Jesus with others. It's impossible. You can't be - you can't be growing in Christ-likeness unless you're like Christ - helping others and serving others. The two go hand in hand, you understand. It's very important.

But you need not worry. Keep the vessel clean. Keep it right side up and pray, you see. Powerful stuff. That brings us to Tuesday 'the prerequisites for the latter rain'.

How is it that we can receive the latter rain? God has promised it. It's assured to us. How do we receive it? We get a lot of clues, of course, from the experience of the early disciples on the day of pentecost and also from other Bible passages. We're going to look at a few here, Zechariah chapter 10 and verse 1 - and someone has for me - does someone have acts 4:13? You do? Okay, wonderful. Acts 4:13 down here.

The prerequisites for the latter rain. I'm going to go through these relatively briefly. Zechariah 10:1 says, "ask the Lord" - do what, friends? - "Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain." - Let me ask you a question. Prophetically speaking - historically speaking, is this the time of the latter rain? If you say no then you deny that we are near the second coming of Jesus. Now, we don't know exactly when that's going to be, but what we can be assured of is that he is near.

He is very near, even at the door. You understand? This is the time of the latter rain so we're encouraged to do what? Ask. So first prerequisite - ask. 'You have not' - James said - 'because you ask not.' Jesus said, 'ask and it shall be given to you.' Yeah. Man, some parents may withhold from their children some things that they need, but God says, 'unh uh, I'm willing to give you every good gift.

I'm willing to give you my Holy Spirit, you understand, if you just ask." That's the first prerequisite. Acts 3:18 to 20 - we read that just a little bit ago, where Peter says, 'repent and be converted - be converted that your sins may be blotted out so that the times of refreshing' - the latter rains - 'may come from the presence of the Lord and that he may send Jesus, who was preached to you.' Jesus cannot come until the gospel has gone to the world. The gospel cannot go to the world unless we receive the times of his refreshing. We cannot receive his refreshing - the refreshing rains of the Holy Spirit unless we repent and are - what friends? - Converted. So second prerequisite, we must be thoroughly converted.

Jesus must have our entire hearts. Not part of it. Not 99 percent of it. He must have one hundred percent of it. Not some - he wants even that secret little corner way back there in the back of your heart.

He wants that as well. We must be thoroughly converted, allowing the Holy Spirit to change and transform our lives. And then Psalms 119:25, the psalmist said, "my soul clings to dust. Revive me according to Your Word." We need to saturate our minds with the Word of God, amen? Sure. Then acts 1:14, "these all" - talking about the upper room experience back there with the early church - "these all continued with one accord" - that is they were together - "in prayer and supplication with the women and mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.

So we must be putting away all dissention and all strife. No claims for this position or that position. We are all brethren. We are to serve with humble hearts because we love the Lord Jesus. And then acts 4:31 says, "and when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.

" So another prerequisite for receiving the latter rain is that we must be willing to share with others. That's why he is given - so that we might share it more fully - more powerfully, you understand, before Jesus comes back. Now, what will be the results of that? Acts 4:13 - if you would read that for us. Thank you. Acts 4:13, "now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled.

And they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus." Amen. What was the result? Folk were astounded at the transformation that took place in their lives and they took note that these folk had spent time with Jesus. Can that be said of you and me today? That folks, 'man, there's something different about that guy. And it's not a weird different. Something just special - the peace, the power.

' Can it be said of us today that, 'man, they've spent time with Jesus and it's telling'? Man, what a testimony. So there are some prerequisites for us, you understand, praying and being led of the Spirit, filling our minds with the Word of God, being thoroughly converted, being willing to share the Word of God with others. Well, Wednesday's lesson talks about the baptism of fire. Man, I wanted to talk a little bit more about that but because of technical difficulties we're going to have to move on. But just suffice to say the baptism of the Spirit and fire - same thing - and it simply refers to total immersion in the presence and power of God.

That's all it refers to. Fire is used in the Bible to symbolize God's presence. The flaming sword of the angel to fend off those who would think to enter the Garden of Eden. Fire came down from heaven that consumed the sacrifice that Elijah had built and had prayed to God about. The pillar of fire by night that led the children of Israel.

Fire represents the presence of almighty God and so the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire simply refers to the idea of being totally immersed and engulfed in the Holy Spirit. Letting him clean up our lives. Letting the fire of - his purifying fire - clean up the dross and the impurities of our lives so that he could present us as gold tried in the fire. It's going to get hot, but God wants to burn up all the sin in our lives so that when he comes up we won't be burned when he burns up sin when he comes. He wants us to become - not combustible.

He wants to burn up the sin so we can stand in his presence without sin and we've got to let him do that work in our lives on a daily basis. It's more urgent than what's taking place in syria. What's happening in syria is important, but this is far more urgent because when this is done in our lives, when we allow God to do that, we're fitting ourselves for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and then Jesus will come. The work will be finished. No more wars.

No more rumors of wars. No more death. No more bad political decisions. None of that. It's all going to be over.

And Jesus will come and say - this, my friend, is so imperative - it's so imperative for a finished work. Someone had Revelation 21, verse 6. Okay, we're going to read that here in just a moment. Jesus wants to finish the work. In Revelation 19:11 through 16 you have this awesome picture of Jesus coming back.

"Now I saw heaven opened" - this is verses 11 through 16 - "and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness he Judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God.

And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed him on white horses. Now out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should strike the nations. And he himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God. And he has on his robe and on his thigh a name written: king of Kings and lord of lords.

" Friend, Jesus is coming back soon. And when he comes he's coming with the armies of heaven. He's not - he's not - listen, you've got to understand the picture here - right down here - the Mark of the beast issue - image to the beast issue - and God's people need rescuing. So he's on his horses and he's coming to rescue his people to take them - to get them out of here to take them to be where he is so that God will finally get what he wants. Revelation 21 and verse 6.

"And he said to me, 'it is done! I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.'" Amen. It is done! Don't you want to hear those words? A time is coming, friend, when it will be said, 'it is finished!' A time is coming when it is done. Sickness will not get the last word. Death will not get the last word.

None of that's going to get the last word. God gets the last word. He's going to say, 'it is done!' A man - the decision for you and me today - that is, the question that you and I have to answer is 'are we going to be part of the solution? - God's solution - and allow him to so fill us that we might be used of him by the Holy Spirit when he pours out the Holy Spirit and the latter rain so that the work can be done. It can be finished and Jesus can wrap things up in heaven and he can come back. It's the question you and I have to ask - answer.

Are we going to be a part of the solution or are we going to be a part of the problem? There's a part within me and I hope it's within you that's pulling for God. God wants to ultimately be with you. He ultimately wants to just be with his people. That's what he's wanted from the beginning and that's what he's going to get when we understand the book of Revelation. He's going to spend time with us.

We're going to tabernacle - he's going to tabernacle with his people and this place - this earth - will become the home of the redeemed. Man, can't you just - can't you just wait for that? No you can't wait for that. You can't wait for that at all because Jesus wants it so bad. There's got to be a part in us pulling for - pulling for God and hoping that he gets what he wants. My friend, we've got to keep moving forward, amen? We've got to keep allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

Keep the vessel clean and keep it what? Upright. Keep it upright. Keep it right side up and you will experience - pray like there's no tomorrow - and you will receive the latter rain. God wants a finished work, amen? And I want to be a part of that, how about you? Sure. And I want to tell you, these have been an exciting series of lessons and it just - it doesn't end.

There's more lessons to come and we want to remind - we want to remind you here today to make sure that you pick up your lesson. I'm going to talk to you about that in just a moment here, but I want to make sure that you understand that it's not done. Jesus is still to come and the best is yet to come as we prepare our hearts and our lives for the great outpouring of God's Holy Spirit. Hey, God bless you today. We want to remind our viewers as well to call in to receive their little gift - free gift - 'life in the Spirit' by Joe Crews and it's offer #155.

You can call in at -866-study-more or -866-788-3966. 'Life in the Spirit'. And you can call in and it will be yours if you're within the United States and u.s. Territories. God is good, amen? Amen.

And thank you so much for being with us today. Thank you for joining us as well online or on tv or listening by radio. Glad you could join us and we're looking forward to seeing you next time. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at 'amazingfacts.org'. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs, including Amazing Facts presents.

One location. So many possibilities. Amazingfacts.org.

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