Just recently, a neighbor brought over a CD video of a country gospel concert by Bill Gaither filmed in New Orleans called "I'll Fly Away". Gathered together were many of the famous singers past and present, and as each brought their renditions some were contemporary, some of the foot-stomping hallelujah praise songs variety, others were old favorites. It was wonderful music. But near the end of the performance, a woman got up to sing a song called "Four Days Late"...the story of Jesus when He delayed his coming to Lazarus' tomb. Suddenly, there was a distinct change in the atmosphere. A Holy Hush descended on everyone in that auditorium...there were no more people seen talking, moving around, joking. It was as if each person was a candle that began to melt under the fire of that anointing, until all that was left were puddles of wax. The Holy Spirit had stripped everyone of their pride, their flesh, their showmanship, and Jesus alone stood there like a gigantic tower that overshadowed the entire place.  People were weeping, trembling. All was laid bare. No one seemed able to do anything but sit with inward reflection.

When the presence of the Lord is so strong and so powerful, nothing in this life can rival its consuming fire on the human soul. It remains the most awesome experience a person can witness.  It defies description, it sweeps away everything in its path, its' fire consuming spiritual flesh like it was tissue paper. It brings godly fear and humility....

Several years ago while I was in Singapore, I had a vision one night that was so powerful it brought me to that very point.  I was out in the countryside with many, many people.  We had been walking for a long period of time and were very hungry and thirsty.  Then we saw a small hill with a tiny cabin on top.  A man stood outside looking down at the crowd.  "Are you hungry and thirsty?" he asked.  Everyone said yes.  Then he went inside his small house and came out with and drink for all.  Eagerlly, all the people sat down and enjoyed the feast.  One by one they finished, and began to leave. Some thanked him, most did not.  I was standing at the end of a big semi-circle of people gathered underneath that hill, and I overheard two people talking.  "Just look at that little shack on top of the hill.  Did you know that that man who just fed us was once a king?  But now look at him--now he lives like a pauper; so sad!"  Their remarks were mocking and full of ridicule. Then they too left. I was now by myself.  I stood there alone, finishing my meal.  But I thought inside myself, "if that man were once a king, then he is still a king because he has the blood of a king inside him.  When it comes my time to thank him, I am going to fall on the ground before him and do obesience."  And so, I did.

"Sir, if you were once a king, you are still and king and I honor you as a king.  I thank you for these refreshments."
Just then, the man stood before me.  It was Jesus. He said these words to me:
"Because you have bowed before Me and so honored me as a King, everything I have is yours...all you need to do is ask Me.

The world sees me as "poor Jesus."  Poor Jesus--the carpenter's son.  Poor Jesus--wearing a homemade robe.  Poor Jesus--no place to lay His head.  Poor Jesus--naked on a cross. They see me just like a man living alone in a small poverty and ridicule.  I was those things once, but not now.  I left my throne of glory to come to this earth to live as a common man.  But I am not "poor Jesus" anymore--I have returned to My Father and regained My glory, and now I am King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and all who see me as King and honor Me as such have been granted the same promises."

The Bible describes an event even more powerful than this that will one day soon happen, when every knee will bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. There will be no snide remarks and caustic ridicule of Jesus...He will come in such majesty and glory that there will be no mouth argue or dare to challenge His Kingship...for every man will know who it is that speaks. All other ideas, philosophies, and opinions will become as worthless as Confederate money. No one will boast or exalt one another anymore...only Jesus will be the center of attention. Kings will throw down their crowns, the rich will cast their money aside, the famous will hide their faces, the strong and boastful will shrivel into dehydrated nothing when He walks by. Books written to tear down His truth will be thrown into the gutters, glib tongues that proudly exalted their talents will lose their ability to even speak of themselves anymore. Stunned silence will evaporate the roar of stadiums, bars, and dance halls.

Isn't it sad, however, that when this event happens, some of those bowed knees and those confessing tongues, who stand shaking and in great fear and awe, are too late.  The watchful, true believer has already gone from the earth, and even as those left behind plea their case, they hear the dreaded words, "Depart from me. I never knew you".  Then begins the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, the running for the caves and caverns, to hide themselves from the "face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb"... their hearts failing for fear of the things coming on the earth. No catastrophe that has ever happened can come close to this event...yet mankind remains in a stupor, sampling occasional conviction, yet returning time and again to its love of the world, gambling they will somehow escape what is to come.

When one reads the New Testament, there is a thread throughout which addresses the urgency of the hour. "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil," Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:16.

And in Colossians 4:5: "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time".

Peter added: "..the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer" (1Peter 4:7)

Admonishments for God's people to never slack up, to never become complacent or assuming that there would be plenty of time.

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.  Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless".(2 Peter 3:9-14)Why the anguish when He returns?  I think the greatest pain will be from knowing we have only ourselves to blame.  We do not like to accept a God of wrath, yet the Apostle John describes them as hiding from that very thing.  Jesus, the kind and loving Savior, also picked up a whip and drove out the moneychangers from the temple.  There was no question He was angry...he overturned their tables of money and shouted, "you have turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves!"Consider some of what Jesus spoke to the seven churches of Asia in the book of Revelation: "Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them (those teaching the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes) with the sword of my mouth"."I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wast cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot; I will spew thee out of my mouth". "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent". The church has become zealous to provide the best entertainment, the best facilities, the best programs, the best singers and musicians, the best motivational speakers, the best experts on human behavior, yet it has been neglectful to teach the fear of the Lord and the consequences of sin.  It is not a popular subject nor what we like to hear.

But it was to the church at Philadelphia that Jesus spoke a word which should make us run to the altars: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth".  

Folks, we are already in that great hour of trial and testing at this very moment.  There is a sifting, a chastening going on in the churches. Was it not prophesied that judgment would first begin at the house of God?   It comes in many forms.  Churches that have spent money on frivolous worldly pursuits instead of the propagation of the Gospel will soon feel their money-changing tables being overturned...their financial backbone being herniated.  We look with silent gasps at what happened to Annanias and his wife Saphirah when they lied to the Holy Ghost, with little notice they had no time to repent.  The lies, the deceit that is in the hearts of God's people is about to be discovered and tried, and the verdict and sentence could be appeals allowed.  What is happening at this very moment...the thing that is consuming the hearts and lives of every living human upon this planet is not just a problem of worldwide terrorism, but a religious upheaval...a stirring of the batter that is about to be put into the fire.The church of Philadelphia was a type and shadow of those who today have their lamps trimmed and burning, who have been faithful and kept true...they will escape this "hour of trial".  They will not be around to be tried...they have already passed the test. Personally, I believe this speaks of the "catching away" of the church that Paul wrote about in I Thessalonians:"For this we say unto you, by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.   Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

But of the times and the seasons brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, Peace and safety: then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.  But ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief.   Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.   Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night: and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.   But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith, and love: and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.   For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. who died for us that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do". (1 Thess.4:15-18; 5:1-11)

There will be no "silence of the lambs" when Jesus returns.  I have seen lambs so exuberant they jumped and leaped for sheer joy.  Those who love his appearing will no doubt be doing the same.  When Jesus arrives, his lambs will be found bleating thunderous hallelujahs all the way home to the sheepfold!

Comfort one another with these words...