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A lack of hospitality is a sure sign of selfish, lifeless, loveless Christianity. Though Strauch applies this qualification to hospitality within the body of Christ, there are good reasons to think Paul intended a broader view. Like Paul, he is very concerned about hospitality inside the church. He may be exhorting believers to open upon their home to Christian travelers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Faithful pastors and Christians alike will strive to be good neighbors. Such hospitality is not without cost it takes time and money. Gospel neighboring is important. Just to be clear, I pray tons of impromptu evangelistic conversations are taking place throughout the week. Not only that, I encourage Christians to invite their unbelieving friends to church gatherings. These public meetings are a good place to hear the gospel. But I fear if we neglect the hard work of gospel neighboring, any culture of evangelism we build will be far too thin and shallow. Gospel neighboring makes our evangelism thick and deep.

Gospel neighboring strives to make such relationships a reality. If pastors are faithful to share the gospel to the gathering on Sunday morning, but are not faithful to make Christ known on their own block, are they really evangelistic? All of us need to hear this. The challenge is for every church and Christian to see the importance of engaging our neighbors—the people God has specifically put in our lives.

Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon in their book, The Art of Neighboring , devised an ingenious exercise to see how well we know our neighbors. Draw a chart with nine boxes think tic-tac-toe and mark your home at the center. The other boxes are the eight nearest neighbors in your apartment complex, dorm, or block. In each box, jot down three items of information about each neighbor: First, their name. Second, a simple fact—e. The caution is just as important. We must not to treat our neighbors as projects.

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This is a tension I feel when I look at my calendar. Life is full, and I want to be a good steward of my time. And yet, if I make no room for unbelieving neighbors, am I really living out the Great Commandment Matt. I think so. The challenge is to know our neighbors. The caution is to beware of treating them as objects that need to be fixed instead of people who need to be loved. All of us fall short and deserve eternal punishment.

But God, in his love, made a way of escape. The Father sent the Son into the world. Jesus lived a perfect life and, therefore could die as a perfect sacrifice in the place of all who would turn and trust in him. His resurrection proves he really is the King of Kings, and now all are called to follow him. This is not the only goal of good neighboring, but it is the end goal. I appreciate how Willis and Clement make this point:. Clearly the aim of hospitality is more than merely inviting someone into our home, sharing a good meal and a few stories, and calling it a night.

We are missionaries, after all. I want to share Christ with my Uber driver, my barista, and anyone that crosses my path. However, I want to be especially faithful with those God has planted in my life. These are my nearest neighbors, and I have a unique responsibility to show them Christ. How can you and I grow in being a gospel neighbor for the glory of God? Here are ten imperatives I pray God uses to move us in the right direction. Name the people God has placed near you. Give yourself a few weeks or even months, but do all you can to figure out who is around you.

Start praying for your neighbors by name. Be like that persistent widow in Luke Plead with God to open doors Cor. He can do this. Strategize ways to welcome them into your life. You may already have relationships with neighbors you can pursue. Welcome neighbors into your life. For some of you, this is very easy. This may be due to a lack of time, energy, or courage. Love them for who they are. Enjoy getting to know your neighbors.

Ask them questions. Find ways to serve and spend time together. They did without various things so that the will of God could be followed. They sacrificed so that others might also know about Jesus and be saved. These are those who stood for Bible truth above all other things! So, because of their experience and strong covenant with God, they will be able to look up with happiness at God and Jesus in their glory. They will see the fire and the awesome tempestuous glory that frightens the wicked.

But when they see the approaching monarch of the Universe, they will see that their redemption is coming to them. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

And Other Meditations from a Missionary's Heart

We can also see that death is swallowed up in victory. God's people will never see death again and God will wipe away every tear from off their faces. Now, it is clear from the next few verses that Jesus will not only take all His people who are living, but He will also raise from the dead all of His chosen ones who died. This will happen when He comes again, at His second coming, when the trumpet of God sounds. We can see that in these verses:.

Concentrating on verses 16 and 17, we see that Jesus Himself comes down from heaven at His second coming. This is the big event at the end of the world when Jesus comes to get His people and take them back with Him. With a shout of the archangel's voice and the trumpet of God, the dead in Christ rise up first. Then, all who are still alive in Christ, are brought up together with those who had died in the clouds and they meet the Lord in the air to be always with Him.

It is at the second coming of Jesus, the time of the end, when both those who died and those who are alive, will be taken up into heaven. This was the wonderful news that Paul had to tell those who lived in Thessalonica, because they were crying for the dead as if they had no hope of the future! If Jesus rose from the dead, then we know that those who sleep in Jesus will also rise in the last day. In verse 14, it should be clear to us that Paul was saying that even those who sleep in Jesus will God take back with Him to heaven. Paul did not say that Jesus would be bringing the dead people from heaven because of what he said in the next few verses.

Paul gives an order of events of what will happen on the day that Jesus comes:. The dead in Christ are raised up to life when Jesus comes! So, it looks like Jesus is taking all His people back to be with Himself. From that time on, all the saints will always be with the Lord! The idea in 1 Thessalonians is a common theme: that if Jesus died and rose again, so will God rise us up.

In Romans, we see paul saying it again but in a different way. Looking at 1 Corinthians, we find that Paul is consistent. Jesus is the firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus and here again Paul says that the dead in Christ will be raised at the time of His coming:. All who have died in Christ, shall be made alive at Christ's second coming. It doesn't happen before His coming at all.

So, it looks like Jesus is taking all His people back to be with Himself, because there are places for His saints to live and He wants us to be with Him. We will see this in the next Scripture. In the book of John, there is a discussion that Jesus had with His disciples about His leaving them. In that discussion, Jesus told them that they could not go with Him then, but that they would be able to follow Him when He comes back to take them Home with Him.

So, Jesus agrees with Paul. When Jesus comes again, He will take us unto Himself! In His Father's house, in heaven, there are many mansions.

And if He goes to prepare places for us, Jesus will come again and take us unto Himself, so that where ever He is, we may be with Him. There are places for His saints to live and Jesus wants us to be with Him. At an earlier time, Jesus told His purpose in coming to our world. He specifically points out that His people will be raised up at the last day. Again, we repeatedly see in the Bible that all those who believe in Jesus and are His; Jesus will raise him or her up at the last day, when Jesus comes to take His people Home with Him to Heaven.

Remember, those who are living when Jesus comes will not see death. We saw that was true in 1 Thessalonians Now, Paul talks to the Corinthians more specifically about those who will not see death when Jesus comes.

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So Paul tells of a marvelous mystery concerning all those who would be alive when Jesus comes: " We will not all sleep ". You see, they all thought they were living in the very last days and they figured that they would experience immortality without seeing death. They were not living at the end of time, but maybe, we might be able to experience immortality without seeing death, years later.

We need to realize that ultimately, it is the last generation that will have the blessing of not seeing death when that day comes! The following verses are short descriptions and expressions of joy and hope, looking forward to that day. Daniel describes one like the Son of man Jesus Christ who is given dominion and power from the Ancient of days God the Father. Here it is described that all people will serve him. However in most of the other passages we see that it is the righteous only who are left. They will receive the kingdom under Christ.

Here in Daniel, we see that it is those whose name is written in the book of life only, who are delivered. We also get a glimpse that there are two resurrections. One for the righteous and one for the wicked. Let's look to see what the wicked will experience when Jesus comes. However, before we do, we must realize that we do not need to look at the coming of Jesus with fear and uneasiness.

Don't find yourself among the wicked when Jesus comes! Click on: Are You Saved? How do you know if you are saved? Is it a feeling or is there a more sure way to know? Please find out for yourself what the free gift, that Jesus has for us, is all about. Jesus wants us to experience the same joy that the righteous will feel when they see Him coming in the clouds. OK, now what is it that happens to the wicked when Jesus comes? It is going to be a very traumatic experience. When Jesus comes, all will be rewarded according to what they have done in their life.

He will be coming with great power. There will be a fire around Him and it will be tempestuous which means, wild, raging, furious, and angry. The earth will be self-destructing in front of the eyes of the wicked and their hears will fail them for fear. And they start to realize that it is going to get worse. In terror, the wicked will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud and they will hunt for holes and caves to craw into so they don't have to see what is coming.

It is the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb that they want to hide from. And God will kill the inhabitants of the earth. The dead bodies will be everywhere on the face of the earth. The wicked, those who are left, will mainly be destroyed by the brightness of God who is coming. All the wicked will perish in that day. Here is the description of the final battle as it is described in Revelation. In verse 21 we see that the remnant of the wicked are slain with the sword. If you were to read Revelation 19 starting with verse 11, you would find that the one who rides the horse is Jesus.

Because of His great wrath all the wicked are slain and no one is left on the earth. Friend, I do not want you to die with the wicked. Please consider the fact that Jesus loves you and that He would rather have no one experience destruction. Jesus has such strong love for us, and he longs to gather us together and to take us up with Him to Heaven. When Jesus was on earth the disciples asked Him to look at the wonderful buildings of Jerusalem.

When He looked at the place of the temple and Jerusalem, He broke down and cried. I pray that we are willing to be part of this gathering that is taken to Heaven because the things that He has planned for us is unimaginable. Friend, why don't you try out what God has planned for you? When Jesus comes, you can be among the group that exclaims: "Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us.

So, lets look to heaven where something special happens to make it possible for Jesus to come again:. Here it is described that all people will serve Jesus because He has received the kingdom from His Father. As we will see, from the other passages of the Bible, that it is only the righteous who will be present when this happens, and they will receive the kingdom under Christ.

In Revelation, John describes the same event.

In this event The Earth will become part of the kingdoms of Jesus, and He will reign forever and ever. It is at this point that Jesus rewards his people and He also destroys all the wicked people who destroy the earth. When Jesus comes to the earth the first thing He does is to reap the earth of His righteous people. In Revelation, John's visions of the end, that there will be a great reaping.

Reaping usually involves good grain, not tares etc. So this must be the gathering of the righteous. In my church, the Pastor is teaching that The rapture is before the great tribulation and that some how Jesus will come but in an invisible way to rapture the church and take it to heaven, that we do not have to understand the great tribulation because we shall be with Jesus for 7 years celebrating the wedding of the Lamb, then Jesus is coming back in a visible way, and that the second coming is a different fact then the rapture, what do you think?

Is the rapture before or after the great tribulation? Is the rapture separate from the second coming of Jesus? Does the rapture save God's people from having to experience the great tribulation? Point 1: All through the Bible, the Second coming of Jesus is described as being anything but Secret. When Jesus comes everyone will know that He is coming. It says:. I have two other links on the second coming.

Point 2: In Daniel and Revelation, God's people are described as living through the great tribulation. Let's look at a few verses. Here we see that the dragon, who is Satan, is wroth angry with the woman the church and makes war with the remnant of her seed he makes war with those who are still alive. And how do we identify this group? This is God's people in the great tribulation! Here we have a mouth, which is the same as the little horn in Daniel, and we see that this mouth is given power to make war against the saints of God and to overcome them!

On another web page that I have, I made a synopsis of Satan's actions against the Righteous in the great Tribulation. This synopsis is from the legal battle page. Point 3: Nowhere in the Bible is there any scripture that speaks of another rapture that is separate from the second coming of Jesus. There is no secret rapture before the tribulation time. None at all. In 1 Thessalonians we see that both the dead who have died and also those who are yet alive God's righteous people will rise together to meet the Lord in the air.

Also we see that this is not a secret event. It will be a very visible event. See the text below:. Now in the secret rapture, do they say that only those who are yet alive go up? What about those who have died? In this text, Paul is trying to give comfort to the Thessalonians, because they expected Jesus to come in their day. And yet, people were dying one by one. What would happen to these people who died? Paul talks about the time when Jesus comes with a shout and with the trumpet of God, that both those who have died and those who are yet living will be taken up to heaven to ever be with the Lord.

There is no mention of any previous secret rapture. Paul says both those who have died and those who are yet alive are all taken up to heaven together. That includes everyone. All of God's people will be raised together at one time. Point 4: Some people use Luke as evidence of a secret rapture. Let's look at the text:. It seems to suggest a secret rapture. However when we read more of the text we find that it is not referring to a secret rapture at all. We can see that Jesus is drawing a parallel between the second coming and the days of Noah, and also between the second coming and the days of Lot.

In Noah's time there were two classes of people; Noah and his family were taken into the ark and saved, while all the rest who refused to enter the ark were left outside to be destroyed by the flood. They did not get a second chance. Once the door closed on the ark, they were doomed. In Lot's time there were two classes of people; Lot was taken out of the city of Sodom, and saved, while all those left in the city were destroyed by fire.

Again, those who were still in the city were destroyed. Jesus says that it will be the same when Jesus comes. God's people will be taken to heaven to be with Jesus, while all the others will be destroyed. Notice that in verse 37, the disciples asked " Where, Lord? Notice the clear answer that Jesus gives: " Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

This is similar to in Revelation where the remnant the wicked who are slain, are fed to all the fowls birds of prey. Jeremiah also helps to show that there will be no one left on the earth after Jesus comes. It is interesting that he uses the same words used in the book of Genesis to describe the Earth. The Earth was without form and void.

So we can see that Luke 17 is looking at the same second coming that all the other verses in the Bible refer to. Some will be taken and saved, but all the rest will be left to be destroyed. So we can see that the rapture is at the same time of the second coming of Jesus. Its the same event. Point 5: Some people use 1 Thess. Here is the text:.

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They assume that this must be a quiet, secret coming. But when we start opening the Bible to read more of it we find that it definitely does not speak of a quiet, secret coming at all. Let's look to see what it really says:. So, we can see that in these three scriptures, the thief in the night means that it comes in an unexpected time. It is not talking about how Jesus is coming. This can be understood from the text itself: " be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect " " But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief ".

Each time the thief in the night is mentioned violent signs are spoken of, like: " Sudden destruction comes upon them " " as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west " " the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat ". It does not sound like a secret rapture to me! All these verses are really referring to the second coming of Jesus that will come at the end of time. So it should be clear that the rapture occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation when Jesus comes back.

Remember the verses above in Daniel and Revelation that speak of God's people living through that Great time of tribulation. Also remember, that when Jesus comes, the righteous are taken up to heaven while all the rest are slated for destruction. Those who are still living are killed by the brightness of His coming.

A very interesting addition to the thief in the night subject is found in Revelation During the time of the plagues, the 7 last plagues in the great tribulation, between the 6th and 7th plague, Jesus says this:. After 6 of the plagues, demons are gathering the kings of the earth together for this great battle of Armageddon.

It is at that time that Jesus says: " Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame ". Right after this event, then the 7th and last plague occurs, " in which a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne of God , saying, 'It is done! So, the second coming of Jesus clearly comes at the end of the great tribulation time. The second question: Have you ever wondered, what if you already missed the Return of Christ? I am especially intrigued by the statement: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night" Doesn't that imply that the Lord will return almost unnoticed?

Until after He has returned to the heavens again? The thief in the night can mean one of two things. Either the whole thing is going to be done in secret, which might easily be missed, as you are suggesting; Or it means that it will be a surprise, a sudden and unlooked calamity that everyone will experience with horror, thus it will be extremely noticeable. Lets look at the Bible verses below, the two Texts of Scripture are placed side-by side, both having the statement we are looking for: " The Lord comes as a thief in the night ".

It's labeled with the color green. When we look at more of the verses we find that the event describe is not a secret event at all. But instead, we see violet statements like: "sudden destruction comes"; "they will not escape"; "the heavens will pass away with a great noise"; the elements will melt with fervent heat, both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up". These statements from the Bible tells us that the thief in the night experience will be a very sudden event that will surprise the people of the world.

Believe me, it will be noticed! The people of the world will probably wish with all their hearts that these terrible events would not happen at all. Now, Paul gives a special message to Christians in verse 4 that adds to the urgency of the surprise event:. So, Paul says that since you are brethren of Christ and you are not living in darkness; This Day should not take you by surprise as a thief.

So this event of the second coming of Jesus will surprise the people of the world and they will face sudden destruction. But Paul says that this event should not surprise us who are followers of Jesus because we are not living in darkness. We are actually looking forward this event.

That means we will not be surprised by it. We expect it to happen and it will be a happy event because Jesus will come to rescue His people from certain death. It is the wicked who will be surprised. They will not be ready nor will they welcome Him because they will see that they are all about to be destroyed by that same event. As for missing the event, saying that we might not even notice that Jesus comes; That is not possible! We know this because the Bible is very clear! It says that every eye will see Jesus come in the clouds and the wicked will see this and they will morn and wail!

It will be such a noisy and dramatic event with fire, lightning, and destruction, etc. It will be impossible for the return of Christ to be unnoticed!! So, we cannot imply that the Lord will return unnoticed at all because the Bible says very clearly that it will be a violent and definitely a noticeable event. The context of the thief in the night means sudden destruction. The third question: We are not immortal now, but does it not say in 1 Corinthians that all people will be made alive? It does seem like the verse says that Jesus shall raise all people!

However, let's look at more of the surrounding verses:. If we look at verse 23, we see that it tells who the " all " are. All will be made alive, first Jesus, who is the firstfruits, then those who are Christ's at His coming. It is only those who belong to Jesus, they alone will be raised to life and be made immortal. The fourth question: How can Jesus be coming to get us at His 2nd coming if the bible says in Zechariah 14, Jude 14, and 1 Thessalonians that we come back with Him?

How can He keep the promise of John 14 where He takes us to heaven if He does not take us until the 2nd coming? Zechariah 14 says He comes back in His 2nd coming and sets foot on the mount of olives and takes over His temple to rule for years. So Jesus cannot take us to heaven at His 2nd coming, because He will remain on the earth. Jesus cannot come back with us at the 2nd coming if He has to come get us first. Please help me understand these things. So you are suggesting: Since Jesus has promised to take us to heaven John 14 ; And since Zechariah 14 says Jesus will rule on the earth when Jesus comes; That Jesus cannot both take us to heaven and also setup an earthly kingdom at the same time when Jesus comes at His second coming.

So, you are suggesting that the only way for Jesus to keep both of His promises is for Jesus to take us to heaven when we die.

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The dead in Christ would have been in heaven already, before His second coming. Then, at the second coming of Christ, at the end of the world, Jesus would bring the righteous dead back with Him to the earth. Let's look at the promise in John 14 to see what Jesus' promise is about.

This promise centers on the fact that Jesus will come again and take God's people with Him to the place of His Fathers House where there are mansions just waiting for them. So, Jesus says that He will keep His promise when He comes, not before. Because He says that when He comes, He will receive us unto Himself.

So, when does Jesus come for His people? Is is when His people die? Or is it at the Second Coming, at the end of the world, the last day? Let's look more closely at the verses which clearly show when Jesus will raise His righteous ones from the grave:. Many times Jesus has said that He will raise his people up on the last day. So it should not be surprising to see that Martha repeats what Jesus says when Jesus says to her: "your brother will rise again.

The righteous will rise in the resurrecton at the last day and it will be Jesus who raises them. In that discussion, Jesus told them that they could not go with Him then, but that they would be able to follow Him later. Jesus specifically tells them that He will personally come back to take them back with Him to His Father's house:. Jesus was going to heaven. So He told them that they could not go with Him at that time, but that they would follow Him at a later time. Finally in verse 3 of John 14 He says that He will come again to receive them unto Himself.

So, Jesus tells us that He will keep His promise when He comes, not before. Let's look more closely at other verses which clearly show when Jesus will raise His righteous ones from the grave:. In verses 21 and 23 we see that Jesus is the firstfruits of those who slept in the grave. Jesus rose from the dead. Now in verse 23 we see that the righteous will be made alive at his coming. Now, lets look at Thessalonians 4 where Paul describes with more detail how Jesus will wake up His people when He comes:. In verse 16 we see that Jesus descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God.

The very first thing that now happens is that all those who were dead in Christ are brought to life. If everyone wakes up from the dead when they die, they would all wake up at different times since people die at different times. But that is NOT how it happens in verse All the dead wake up at the same time! So it is when Jesus descends from heaven with a shout that the dead rise, not when they die.

Then in verse 17 the very next thing that happens is that all the rest of the righteous, the ones still living at that time, they are brought up together into the clouds. So all those who are dead in Christ and also all those who are yet alive, they are all brought up together in the air at the same time and in the same event, when Jesus comes!

The rising of the dead in Christ does not happen when God's people die. It happens only at the end of the world when Jesus comes to pick up all His people at the same time, both the dead and those who are yet alive. This was wonderful news to those in the Thessalonian church because they were crying for the dead as if they had no hope of the future! Now, lets look at the verse that many people think says that Jesus will bring the dead in Christ back with Him from Heaven to the earth when He comes:. Clearly, verse 14 is saying that even those who sleep in Jesus will God take back with Him to heaven. Paul did not mean that Jesus would be bringing the dead people from heaven because Jesus comes at His second coming in order to wake up the dead and bring them with Him back to heaven. We have just looked at these things in verses 16 and 17 above. Near the beginning of this page we also saw that Jesus preached that the Saints will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Heaven is part of our reward. Here is a quick list of the verse that we covered:.