Jun
16

Opening Day by Randy Rowley 6/15/12 ©

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Texas is a rare state because we’re blessed with, among other things, hunting year-round.  Dove season starts the first day of each September, followed briefly by a two-week-long teal season.  In late September or early October, hunters can begin to chase deer with sticks and strings.  Quail season starts up in late October.  Turkeys, duck, and geese join the hunting menu in early November.  In addition, hunters can finally hunt deer with guns.  Spring turkey hunting starts in March.  Hunters can hunt rabbits, squirrels (for most of the state), and non-game animals such as hogs and exotics year-round.

But hunting usually is impractical during the summer due to the heat.  Meat spoils quickly in the Texas sun, and it’s just not much fun roasting in a deer stand or stalking through the woods in the hotter months.  So after spring turkey season, hunters usually have a four-month wait before they can once again answer the call of the wild.  This four-month hiatus can only partially be assuaged by hunting and gathering trips to Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and similar establishments, fishing trips, shooting clays shoots, etc.

As each opening day gets closer, we become more and more excited.  We begin to relive successful trips in our minds, daydream about upcoming trips, and track game whenever we see it with imaginary shotguns or rifles.  We promise ourselves nothing will keep us from hunting on Opening Day.

We think an Opening Day will never get here, but it finally does.  Most of us get little sleep the night before.  Our thoughts are dominated by what could happen the next day.  Possibilities and strategies blot out any thoughts of problems.  We examine our equipment, making sure it’s clean and ready.  For dove season, we take our turkey chokes out of our shotguns and put improved cylinder chokes in their place.  We also put our plugs back in.  We go through our trip planning list and double-check it for good measure.  Our preparations keep us busy as the clock slowly moves ahead.

Opening Days are almost as important to many hunters as major events such as weddings, births, graduations, etc.  Each Opening Day is filled with possibilities.  I hope your opening days are as special to you as mine are to me!

The Bible tells of an incredible day – the day Jesus Christ returns in secret, gathers those who belong to him, removes them from the earth, and takes them to heaven (known as ‘the Rapture of the church’ or ‘Rapture’ for short).  1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (NLT) says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.  We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.  First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  Then we will be with the Lord forever.”

“Believers who have died will rise from their graves” means that at the Rapture, God will raise Christians who have died from their graves or urns with glorified resurrected bodies suitable for heaven to meet Jesus in the clouds and air, before Christians who are alive on earth during the Rapture join them with glorified bodies, suited for heaven.  Glorified bodies will never age or know sickness and disease.

Paul was more specific as to how quickly this will happen – in the blink (or twinkling) of an eye in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NLT), which says, “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret.  We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!  It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown.  For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever.  And we who are living will also be transformed.  For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.”

The Rapture is quickly approaching.  We are closer to it today than we were yesterday.  It will be a day of rejoicing and wonderment for many, bewilderment for others who will be forced to cope with the fact millions of people disappeared, and bitter tears for many others who knew they needed to become Christians but put it off because they thought they had more time and were addicted to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (see 1 John 2:15-17, Galatians 5:19-20, Exodus 20:17, and Mark 10:35-45).  It will be the opening chapter of extraordinary times on the earth, and people will see things no one has seen before.

The Rapture could happen anytime, but the Bible doesn’t indicate when.  Only God the Father knows that.  Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, “‘But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.’”

Paul expected the Rapture to occur during his life, but it didn’t.  Perhaps he wasn’t privy to Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:8, which says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

The Rapture may happen during our lifetimes; however, it’s also possible it won’t happen for several years.  We who are Christians today should pray for the hastening of the Rapture; however, we should still serve God with the time we have remaining on earth.  Just because we’re going to be ‘raptured” doesn’t mean we can sit around idly waiting for it to happen.  (Many Bible scholars think some of the Thessalonians Christians had stopped work­ing because there was no need to work due to Jesus’s imminent return – Paul instructed them to work with their hands in 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12 and not to be idle and to follow his work ethic example in 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15.)

People often confuse the Rapture with Jesus’s second coming, when he will return to the earth to defeat the Antichrist, judge people who don’t believe in him, and establish his millennial kingdom (see Revelation 19:11-16).  During the Rapture, Christians will meet Jesus in the air.  During the second coming, Christians will return with Jesus to the earth.  The second coming will happen after the great tribulation.  The Rapture will spare Christians at the time of the Rapture from having to live on earth during that terrible time.  The Rapture will happen in secret – the second coming will be visible to everyone.

Christians should look forward to the Rapture with more anticipation than hunters do for any hunting season opening day.  We should live expecting the Rapture and be excited about it.  2 Peter 3:14 (NLT) says, “And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.”

Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord?  Are you living for him and ready for the Rapture?  If you don’t know him, I encourage you in prayer (talking to God) to repent (turn from the direction you were heading and turn to God), confess your sins to God, receive (accept) Jesus as your Savior by asking him to forgive you, and surrender to him as your Lord.

If you’re already a Christian but aren’t living for Jesus and need renewal, you can be renewed by repenting and offering all of yourself to God again, not succumbing to temptation, and frequently renewing your mind through Bible study, prayer (including confession), and fellowship with other Christians.

The day of the Rapture is near.  Just as hunters get ready for their opening days, it’s time for Christians to get ready to meet Jesus in the air!

Categories : Devotionals

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

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