Christ

Where is Jesus?

In Revelation 1, John is in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (Sunday), worshiping in spite of the fact that he is confined to a prison island. As he worships, he hears the voice of the Lord behind him.

When he turns to see the Lord, he describes an indescribable sight of the Lord Jesus in His glorified form, standing among seven golden lamp-stands, and holding seven stars His right hand. Jesus tells John that the seven stars are the seven angels to the churches of Asia, and the seven candlesticks, or lamp-stands, are the seven churches.

“Angels” is translated from the Greek word, “angeloss,” which was a word that simply denoted a messenger. The seven angels (messengers) of the churches were those responsible for delivering God’s message to the churches, namely, the pastors.

It is significant that Jesus held them in His right hand, as He holds all of us in His hands who are His people, and who carry His message forth to the world.

It is also significant that Jesus was standing among the seven candlesticks.

The message to John was bright, if not clear. “John, though you are on this island, I am still holding you in my hand. And though the churches be in disarray and persecuted, I am still among them.”

No matter how bad things get, remember that the Lord still loves us, still holds us, and is still with us.

 

Stuck? Praise the Lord!

The Apostle John did everything right. He loved Jesus, he preached the Gospel, he ministered to thousands, and spend his entire life dedicated to the Lord.

Yet, he found himself imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos “For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ,” meaning he was actually imprisoned for doing what is right.

Yet, when we first see John in the book of Revelation, he is in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, meaning that we can be joyful, hopeful, and have faith in any circumstance, and circumstances don’t affect our worship. Check out the above-posted video for part-two of our YouTube series from the book of Revelation.

Hope (Daniel 9:24)

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Daniel was a man who had done everything right, yet, time after time, adversity and tribulation troubled him. Captured from his homeland of Israel during his younger years, he was one of several elite captives taken from Israel and enslaved in Babylon.

Though Daniel’s assignment wasn’t the worst, he worked personally for the Babylonian king, he still faced troubles, from impure foods being offered, to being thrown in the lions’ den, to seeing his friends thrown in the fiery furnace. (Daniel and his friends were delivered from all of those, by the way).

By the time we get to Daniel 9, the Babylonian empire has been conquered by the Medo-Persian empire, and Daniel is now working for another king. Having lived through the entire Babylonian captivity, Daniel now sees the light at the end of the tunnel,  and the captivity is coming to a close.

Daniel sees God’s deliverance coming, and it is at this time that God begins to show Daniel how He will redeem His people and restore the nation of Israel. In Daniel 9:24, the Lord gives us his plan:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

God would redeem His people, and restore His nation, by ending man’s rebellion, cleansing man from sin, and establishing His Kingdom on earth. Listen to Pastor Leland Acker discuss this message of hope below:

Seeing God pt. 1

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Job both had it all, and lived a life that honored God. The Bible tells us that he was immensely wealthy, had thousands of livestock, hundreds of servants, and a good family. More important than his material wealth, Job was described by scripture as a man who was “perfect and just, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

If anyone deserved the continued blessings of God, it was Job. Yet, God allowed Job to lose everything. Why?

In Job 42:5, after having gone through so much suffering, Job said to God, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now I have seen you with my eyes.”

That was the goal God set forth from the beginning. God used everything Job endured to transform his faith to where God was more tangible to him.

In Job 19:25, Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and will stand upon the earth at the latter day.”

Job’s use of the word “redeemer” is interesting, because it usually referred to the process of being purchased out of a debtors prison, or debt-driven servitude. Job, until chapter 1, had been a rich man. He wasn’t a man sold into a debtors prison. Yet, here, he refers to his “redeemer.”

Job used that word because he understood that life was not about the wealth and experiences he had in this world. Life is about what happens in the next. He was looking forward to the Lord coming, and redeeming him from this life to the next. He had this faith prior to losing everything, and losing everything refined this faith as the book progresses.

Everything God does, He does to bring us into His presence. Once we understand and trust that concept, our life’s experiences take on new meaning.

The first step in this is to understand our redemption. Listen below as Pastor Leland Acker discusses what a redeemer is, Who our Redeemer is, and what we’ve been redeemed from.

Receive! (Mark 9:36-41)

As the disciples argued over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom, Jesus took a small child and placed him in the middle, telling the disciples that those who would receive little children would also receive Christ. In other words, if you want to honor the Lord, receive those whom can do nothing for you.

Listen to the above-posted sermon as Pastor Leland Acker discusses how we are to love others the way Christ loved us.

Who Is This Jesus?

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In the Gospel according to Mark, scripture demonstrates who Jesus is by showing us what Jesus did. Throughout the book of Mark, you can see the various attributes of Christ, from His compassion, to His love, to His righteousness. You also see His power and His authority.

Mark continually demonstrates who Jesus is, culminating in two questions Christ asked His disciples in chapter 8, “Whom do men say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?”

Those questions forced the people, His disciples, and even us today, to consider and understand Who Jesus Christ of Nazareth is. Indeed, this question has gripped the world since His crucifixion, when even the Roman centurion confessed, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Why is He addressed as Jesus Christ, and sometimes Christ Jesus? Is Jesus the Christ? And if so, what is the Christ? These questions are answered in Mark 8.

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I am,” the disciples gave several answers. Some said that Jesus was the reincarnation of John the Baptist. Others said He was the reincarnation of Elijah. Yet others believed He was one of the Old Testament prophets risen from the grave.

King Herod believed that Jesus was John the Baptist, risen from the grave to exact justice for his murder. Others in Jesus’ day believed He was a revolutionary, sent to overthrow the Romans.

The debate over who Jesus is continues to this day. Muslims believe He was a prophet. Many Jews believe He was a man of wisdom. Some believe He was a great teacher. Some a wise revolutionary who changed the world with His doctrines of peace and love. And some deny His existence altogether.

The issue, however, isn’t what others think about Jesus. It’s who YOU believe Jesus to be. Hence, the question Jesus asked Peter, “But Whom do you say that I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

This was a huge confession from Peter. The Christ was the Anointed One God promised to Israel. This Christ would end sin, restore the Kingdom, and deliver the people from Israel. Peter understood, as scripture taught, that Christ would be the Son of God.

In this confession, Peter expressed his total faith in Jesus. The Christ, the Messiah, would deliver Israel. He was the One that the Old Testament foretold, that God promised, and through Whom God’s blessings would come.

Peter’s faith was that God would not only keep His promise, but that He had already kept His promise, and Jesus was the One through Whom God’s promises were kept. In this faith, Peter’s hope was in Jesus, and Jesus alone.

Indeed, our hope is in Jesus Christ, and Christ alone. Our hope for forgiveness of sins, for redemption, for eternal life, is all in Christ.

In Mark 8, Jesus then expounded on Peter’s answer by explaining that Christ must go to Jerusalem, be betrayed, turned over to the Gentiles, and crucified. However, on the third day, Christ would rise from the grave. It was at that point that Peter rebuked Jesus, saying “Be it far from you, this will not happen!”

Jesus then rebuked Peter, calling him Satan, and telling him that he loved the things of man, not the things of God.

Peter’s hope and faith was in Jesus. Peter trusted Jesus in all things, and knew without a doubt that Jesus was the Christ who would come and redeem Israel. Peter was a saved man.

However, instead of savoring the Spiritual salvation and eternal redemption Christ would purchase on the cross, and instead of resting in the love of God and seeing how all other blessings flow from that love, Peter desired the earthly victory of seeing Jesus crowned King, and the Romans overthrown.

Peter was a saved man, but his mind was still on earthly things. He wanted to see his nation restored. He wanted to serve in the King’s court. He wanted to be somebody. Though he were a saved man, his mentality was not really that different than the rest of the world. That’s the mentality that Christ confronted.

Like Peter, we too can become preoccupied with the things of the world. We look to the Lord to deliver us from an overbearing boss at work, or to provide us with the next promotion. We think that if we can just live up to God’s standard, God will bless us with an upper-middle class lifestyle.

We count our victories in terms of checks cashed, promotions earned, recognition given, and status symbols won. A significant amount of Christian literature and Sunday sermons teach that God will reward faith by giving us these victories. But, if checks cashed, promotions earned, recognition and status symbols are what we’re after, then how are we different from the rest of the world? We’re not!

What separates the Spiritual Christian from the worldly Christian, and from the rest of the world, is that we are content to endure whatever state God places us in, knowing that our true reward is when Christ returns and establishes His Kingdom. Our focus is not on this world, but on the next.

This focus brings us hope. That hope is built on the fact that when Christ died on that cross, He took the punishment for our sins. When He rose from the grave, He conquered death so that we can have eternal life.

That’s who Jesus is to us. He is the Only Begotten Son of God who freed us from condemnation by giving Himself for our sins, and rising again to conquer death. Therefore, He is the deliverer who will rescue us from the pain of this world and take us into His Kingdom where there will be eternal peace.

Love Means Endurance

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One of the most profound statements made in the Bible is found in 1 Peter 2:21, “For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.”

In essence, this verse teaches us everything we need to know in relation to Christ, and in our relationships with each other.

Christ suffered for us. He was arrested, mocked, beaten, flogged, scourged, rejected, then nailed to the cross, where He suffered the wrath of God for our sin, clearing us from a debt owed to God that we could never be able to pay, thus purchasing our eternal salvation and giving us the confident expectation that one day we will enter His Kingdom.

For that reason, we live with hope, we gather as a church, we teach our children and we minister to our communities. “For hereunto were we called,” for this purpose, and as a result of this.

It is in that context that Peter gives us marital advice in 1 Peter 3. 1 Peter 3:1 says, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.”

That verse starts with “likewise,” which refers back to 1 Peter 2:21, “that Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.”

Basically, like Christ suffered for us, we should be willing to suffer, or better yet, endure for each other. Peter’s call for wives to submit to their husbands in 1 Peter 3 differs from Paul in that Peter acknowledges that this can be rather difficult, especially if the wife is married to a non-believer or an idiot.

He is saying, “I know it’s difficult, but Christ suffered and endured for you. You can in turn glorify Him by enduring with your husband.”

Furthermore, Peter writes that by enduring with (suffering) your husband, you can actually win him to the Lord, just as Christ redeemed us through His suffering.

*NOTE: This is assuming that this is a safe marriage. This verse neither justifies abuse, not encourages a woman to remain in an unsafe situation.*

You see, when we love, suffer for, and endure with each other the way Jesus suffered for and endured for us, then good things happen. In 1 Peter 3:5-6, Peter points out how Sarah did the same thing, when she obeyed Abraham, calling him, Lord. As a result, she gave birth to Isaac, who fathered Jacob, who fathered the nation of Israel, from which Christ was born. God’s promises to Abraham were fulfilled because Sarah obeyed him, even when Abraham acted like a fool.

When we trust the Lord, good things happen. When we trust the Lord enough to love one another as Christ loves us, really good things happen.

After addressing the wives, Peter addresses the husbands, saying in 1 Peter 3:7, “Likewise, husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

Again, that word, “Likewise.” Husbands get a double-helping of “likewise.” Peter was saying, “Like Christ suffered for you, and like your wife continues to suffer with and endure with you, dwell with her!”

When Peter said to “dwell with our wives according to knowledge,” he meant more than sharing the same address and roof. To dwell with our wives according to knowledge means to live with, do life together, get to know, become more intimate with, understand, and fully love our wives. This is something a husband should want to do, if he loves his wife as Jesus does.

However, our flesh does not love as Jesus loves. Therefore, men find it just as hard to “dwell” with their wives as wives find it to “be in subjection” to their foolish husbands. Wives would rather handle business than watch their husbands bungle it, and husbands would rather talk to solve a problem rather than communicate to connect. Therefore, scripture must teach us to go against the flesh and do that which takes a little more effort. Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, and husbands, dwell with your wives.

“Giving honor unto the wife as the weaker vessel” simply means to cherish her as you would a fragile, priceless antique. We should want to love, cherish, protect and spoil our wives.

Yes, it can get exhausting, which is why Peter gives us the suffering of Christ and the patience of wives as examples.

Finally, Peter discusses Christians at large. In 1 Peter 3:8, we are commanded to “be all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”

This verse teaches us to be unified, gathering together around our common belief of Jesus Christ as our savior, and our faith in the redemption He purchased for us on the cross. Doing this, we should be compassionate and sympathetic to one another, and love one another.

This may seem like a tall order, but Christ loved us before any of us were lovable. So should we love one another.

All of these concepts are premised upon us loving each other as Christ loved us. Such glorifies the Lord. Are we willing to learn to love each other, endure with each other, and work to help and edify each other. May God bless you.

Ashamed

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In Romans 1:16, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” That statement not only framed the rest of the book of Romans, but also much of the New Testament.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is how Jesus died for our sins, according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the scriptures. Romans 5:8 tells us that the Gospel was the ultimate demonstration of God’s love toward us, because God loved us enough to send Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners. John 3:16 openly declares that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life.

God’s love for us is both unmerited and inexplicable. There was nothing we did, no inherent value within us that would warrant God giving His only begotten Son for us. Disagree? Romans 5:6-7 points out that none of us would die for a righteous man, or even a good ole boy. We don’t even see each other as worthy to die for. Why would an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever present God see that value in us? It’s inexplicable!

That’s what the Bible calls, “grace.” God loves us. God loves you. That love is so strong and so deep that He gave everything He had to redeem you from sin, condemnation, death and degradation.

Once you understand the love that God has for you, that He openly demonstrated in the Gospel, you will never be ashamed of that Gospel.

That word, “ashamed” is an interesting word. In modern times, we understand “ashamed” to mean “embarrassed” or “humiliated.” However, the scriptural use of the word “ashamed” really means “disappointed.” In other words, you put your faith into something that didn’t pan out. You were left with the short end of the stick. You were left holding the bag.

Think of the man who has worked 10 years for one company, loyally paying his dues in hopes of being promoted to partner, only to be passed over for the promotion in favor of the boss’s friend. That man feels that the past 10 years of his life has been wasted. He has to go home and tell his family he didn’t get the promotion. His friends will all know he came up short. He is “ashamed.”

However, the Apostle Paul says that he “is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.” He is not left disappointed in the Gospel. He has not come up with the short end of the stick. He has not been left holding the bag, and he hasn’t been passed over or forgotten. He is not ashamed.

Paul said “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ” because he understood the love God had toward him. The Apostle Paul understood that no matter what happened to him in this life, God loved him, and God’s hand was upon His life.

Therefore, Paul understood how to “abound and be abased,” how to be full and hungry (Philippians 4:12). When times were good, Paul celebrated and praised God for His abundance. When times were bad, Paul praised God for leading him through the challenges. Even in the worst of times, Paul knew God was with him, so he was at peace. He understood God’s love for Him. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Therefore, Paul was able to write in Romans 8:35-37:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Regardless of how bad things got, Paul knew that He could not be separated from God’s love. Therefore, he felt peace, and he felt victorious, no matter the circumstance. Because after all, the Christian life has less to do with our current circumstances, and more to do with our eternal destination. Paul also understood that, and he knew that eternity in God’s kingdom would more than outweigh any suffering he endured in this life.

Hence, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.

Therefore, no matter what happened, Paul was not left high and dry, he was not left destitute or hopeless, because he knew God’s love, and trusted the promises God had made.

Paul was not ashamed.

If you know Jesus Christ as your savior, remember that God is with you through the good times and bad. Remember that He will care for you and meet your needs. Most of all, remember that your eternal destination in His Kingdom will be far greater than anything you can imagine here.

If you are not a Christian, know that God loves you, and gave His only begotten Son to redeem you. Rejecting Christ will bring God’s wrath and judgment. However, turning from sin and trusting the Lord to save you will bring you the same blessing and peace Paul had. You will not be left high and dry. You will not be ashamed of the Gospel. Will you consider repenting and trusting the Lord for salvation?

To share your story of salvation, or to ask for more information, contact us below. Pastor Leland Acker will follow up with a response.

When life is out to crush you

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Are you stressed? You’re not alone.

Survey data reported by Vox, the Times of Israel, Gallup, and Pew reports that Americans, as well as people around the world, are becoming increasingly unhappy and stressed.

Why are so many people unhappy? It’s hard to tell. There are more theories on the rising discontentment in the world than there are sources reporting it.

The fact is that in today’s world, stresses are piling up and problems are multiplying. Bills, health problems, family problems, work problems, social problems, so on and so forth. So, you go online to escape reality for a moment, and story after story is posted about some politician who is intent on destroying America as we know it.

Spend enough time in this situation, and you’ll start to feel hopeless, like the obstacles are too much to overcome, and there is no escape.

Such was the case for King David when he wrote Psalm 3. He had fled from Absalom his son, who had overthrown his government, and was chasing him down to execute him.

David had lost his kingdom, his home, the military, his family, his wealth, everything. He was fleeing to the wilderness where there would be little food or water, and safety would be hard to find. However, the hopeless wilderness was his only option.

People turned against him. His enemies far outnumbered his friends, and many of his friends were throwing in the towel. It was hopeless.

Yet, in Psalm 3:3-4, David wrote, “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.”

David knew His only true friend, and the only One that could help him was God, and he trusted God. So, he cried out to God, and God heard him. Thus, in Psalm 3:5, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked, for the LORD sustained me.”

Knowing that he was in God’s hands, David slept. What faith that showed! To be able to step away from his daily struggle and rest. It showed that David understood that God was in control, and that God held him in the palm of His hand.

That faith was validated the next day when David awoke. He awoke, because God sustained him.

Life may be crushing you right now, and you may be struggling to keep your head above water. Yet, the Lord never intended for you to continue the struggle on your own. He loves you, and cares for you. So, be like David. Trust God. Call out to God. Then rest, and trust Him to take care of that which you cannot control. You will find that He will sustain you.

The physical application of Psalm 3:5 is that we should trust the Lord, knowing that He will sustain us. However, there is a Spiritual application as well.

So many of us are struggling with our Spirituality. We doubt whether we will enter God’s Kingdom when we die. Is it possible for a man to know that He is saved? Is it possible to know for sure that you will go to Heaven when you die?

These questions being unanswered for many, some stress out, trying to follow religion to the “T” hoping to be good enough to go to Heaven when they die. Others reject the Lord altogether out of frustration. Both approaches are equally wrong.

Psalm 3:8 says “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people.”

We don’t determine whether we get into Heaven, God does, hence John 1:13, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

There is nothing that we can do in and of ourselves to warrant our entrance into Heaven. God determines who gets in and who doesn’t. But praise be to God, He told us how He will make that determination, so that we can have blessed assurance. In John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

All God wants us to do is to believe on the name of Jesus, to trust Him for salvation, and by doing so turning away from sin. Repent, and believe. And the repenting is inherent in the belief. By trusting Jesus Christ as your savior, you confess that you are a sinner, that the sin is bad, and you have set your mind to be rescued from it. Once you have done that, the Lord wants you to rest… not work to get into heaven, but rather to trust Him for that salvation, then spend your time on this Earth glorifying Him for the salvation He freely gave you.

Hence, you lay down, you sleep, you awake, for the Lord sustains you. Also, Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Furthermore, the Lord sustains you… so He keeps you saved. You never have to worry about losing that salvation.

Finally, there is a future application of Psalm 3:5, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked, for the LORD sustained me.”

The day is coming when we will close our eyes one last time in this life. We will close our eyes in death, as the Bible says, we will sleep. Yet, as we close our eyes in death, we will turn right around and open them to eternal life, because the Lord will raise us up and receive us into His Kingdom, if you know Him as Savior.

We will lay down and sleep, we will awake, for the Lord will sustain us.

All of this possible, because the Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life on the cross, was buried, then rose again the third day, because God resurrected Him.

God’s eternal plan for you is to bring you into His Kingdom, where you can live forever in His presence and glory. Everything He does in your life prepares you for that day. Will you trust Him? Are you looking forward to that day?

Knowing these things will not only comfort us during stressful times, but will also help us put the stress into perspective. May God bless you as you continue to follow Him.

If a farmer plants his seed, he plans to harvest

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In agricultural operations, seed is planted for survival. For many, farming is not a recreational hobby, it is a means of providing for oneself and one’s family. It’s also a risky proposition. Seed planted may grow, or may be wiped out by drought, catastrophic weather events (like hail or windstorms), or by pests.

A farmer’s income is also subject to the whims of the market, with sudden drops in commodity prices cutting into his bottom line. Therefore, when a farmer plants seed, he prepares his field, and he sows in such a way to maximize the yield from his field. Efficiency is a matter of life and death. And if the farmer has made the investment of purchasing seed, then planting it in the field, he has every intention of reaping that harvest, and getting a return on his investment. It’s the only way he keeps the farm, and provides for his family.

The idea of planting a seed without harvesting is not only foolish, but unheard of in the agricultural community. If a farmer plants a seed, he intends to harvest that seed, and he will.

It’s this concept that Jesus teaches in Mark 4:26-29:

And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

In those verses, Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a man who plants his seed into the ground, and watches it grow. When it has fully developed, the man harvests his crop. Simple concept. So, what does that have to do with the Kingdom of God?

To answer that question, we need to go back and look at the pattern set forth in the other Kingdom Parables, namely, the parables of the sower and the wheat and tares. In those parables, Jesus explained that the field is the world, the man is the Son of Man, and the seed is the Word, the Gospel.

The man in the story plants, and harvests. Likewise, Jesus Christ sowed the seed of the Gospel, and He will harvest His believers.

You see, 2,000 years ago, Christ came, preached the Gospel of His Kingdom, called the world to repentance, and then was crucified for our sins, thus taking the punishment of God for those sins, thus freeing us to be able to enter His Kingdom if we repent and believe.

Over the centuries, the Gospel has spread throughout the entire world, with billions being saved over the history of Christianity. As time moves forward, prophecies are fulfilled, and we see that the time of the return of Christ draws closer.

The day is coming that the time will be fulfilled, “the full corn in the ear,” and it will be time to harvest, that is, it will be time for Christ to return to Earth and establish His Kingdom.

What the parable of the growing corn teaches us is that as certain as a farmer will harvest his crop, you can depend upon the Lord to return and establish His Kingdom. Are you ready for that day?