The latter rain is coming. Joel says, (Joel 2:23) “Be glad you children of Zion and rejoice in the Lord. He hath given you the former rain moderately and He will cause the latter rain to come down in great abundance.” We look forward to that. And it's going to fall on our children.
Theologically, of course, the latter rain, according to Joel, chapter 2. If you want to come to Joel in your Bible, chapter 2. I would like for you to look at verse 28. Let me read. “It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy and your old men shall dream dreams. Your young men shall see visions. Also upon the servants and handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.” Last day men and women are going to be filled with the Spirit of God. A great harvest is coming before the day of the Lord, and verse 31 says it'll be just in the last day. Just before the Lord comes is when the latter rain will fall. And the world needs the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. We need it here in Collegedale. In Acts 17, verse six, when the disciples received the former rain, which was Pentecost, they turned the world upside down. And I think again, the world needs turning upside down.
So we need to look for this power. A tremendous power is coming. So the critical question is, “When does the latter rain fall?” Well, we read there in Joel that it happens in the last days. We know that. I was reading in the first volume of Selected Messages, (Selected Messages, Volume 1, page 363 ) and it says that the loud cry, which is empowered by the latter rain, already started in the year 1888. But then I read in another few pages in that book that the Lord stopped it. It was starting to fall and then it stopped. You ever had a big rain start to fall and then it just dried up and blew away? That's what happened. Years and years ago. That's kind of scary that the Lord sent the latter rain and then He stopped it. And so now we’re in overtime and I think today there are small pockets of rain falling here and there, but we’re still waiting for the latter rain to come over the horizon at the end of time. And we know it will come at the end. Are we in the last days? You think we are. So why aren't we seeing the latter rain? Good question.
I'd like to just point out one prophecy in the Bible telling you that I do believe that in the last days. I think we’re in those last days. Come back to the book of Daniel, chapter 12 in your Bible. I want to read you a prophecy in verse four. “But you Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go to and fro and knowledge will be increased.” Knowledge of the Bible will be increased. General knowledge will be increased. Certainly is increasing.
Let me just examine that a little bit. Knowledge will be increased. Did you know that every day there are 3 thousand brand-new books published? If you were to keep up with what is being published in books you would have to read 3 thousand books a day. That's a lot of books. 3 thousand. One week of the New York Times newspaper, if you were to digest all the information in that, that is more information than would likely come to one person in a whole lifetime back in the 18 hundreds. Sometime next year, in the year 2 thousand and 10, the amount of technical information will double every 72 hours. That is just flabbergasting. In just four years a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capacity of the human brain. Robots are coming. Need to be ready for them. China will be the number one English speaking country in the world. India has more honors kids that America has kids. Things are changing fast. The first text message; do you adults text each other? Your kids do. The first text message was sent in December of 1992. Today the number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the total population of the world. Things are changing. Today the English language has five times more words than in the days of Shakespeare. This year, there will be 4 exabytes of unique information generated, which is more than all the information generated in the past 5 thousand years combined. Things are changing. Knowledge is increasing. In not too many years, they don't know how many, a thousand dollar computer will exceed the computational capacity of the entire human race.
We’re living in the last days. Knowledge is increasing. These are signs of the times, and so we would expect the latter rain to be falling. It's not falling, in a general sense, right now. So one wonders, are we actually living, are we living beyond the appointed time? Maybe. Romans Chapter 13 and verse 11 says, “It is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.” It’s nearer. But when is the latter rain going to come?
Jesus predicted that we would live in overtime. He said that the time lag will be evident in the last days. The bridesmaids will sleep. They will all run out of oil, there in Matthew 25, verse five. Are the church lamps running out of oil? How is this church doing? The Seventh-day Adventist church is a divinely appointed movement that seems about to stop moving. Our growth rate in the year 2 thousand was 2 point 4 percent and the rate in the last year that records were kept, 2 thousand and 7, is 1 point 4 percent. If this trend continues then we could be watching the death of the Caucasian, North American, Seventh-day Adventist church.
Well you know, we were intended to be a one or two generation movement, and what we have found ourselves in is a multi-generation denomination. We used to be called a cult, and now they accept us as an evangelical brother and sister. These are good things, or maybe they're bad things. In America, did you know that in America, more churches die each year than are born. Each year, there are 35 hundred to 4 thousand churches that close their doors forever or become antique malls and yet only 11 hundred to 15 hundred new churches are planted. In the 10 year period culminating in 1997, the combined membership of all Protestant denominations in America decreased by practically 10 percent, while at the same time the population of the United States increased by 11 percent. So it's going like that. The number of unchurched adults in America has doubled since 1991.
So what does that mean? That means that you and I are living in the midst of the largest mission field in the world today. Only three other nations have more lost people than America has, and that’s China, India and Indonesia. We’re in a huge mission field here. No wonder Jesus said in Luke chapter 18 and verse eight, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” It's disintegrating. And meanwhile the prophetic clock of time is ticking along. Christianity is shrinking, but wickedness is increasing. We know that. Every time we listen to the evening news we hear all the signs of the times all around us. There is a frightening acceleration of wickedness and ungodliness just here in Chattanooga. You can see the gang graffiti. You can see the evidence. It's here. What is happening? We need the latter rain, don't we? Self-control is out of control.
The total debt in America is 57 trillion dollars. That is 81 times more than it was in 1957. Each man, each woman, each child and each baby owes a hundred and 86 thousand,1 hundred and 17 dollars. Now I don't know if your baby has that amount of money. I doubt if you do. I don't. So what this means is, that America is actually bankrupt. We’re bankrupt. We had our party and a fine party it was. However, the party is over. The bill is now past due and the bottom line for me as a preacher is, it looks an awful lot like the end of the world. Society is in a moral freefall.
Come over here to Second Timothy in your Bible. Each generation seems to be lower than the generation before. More and more sinking into wickedness. Look at Second Timothy chapter 3 and verse one. “But mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves. Lovers of money.” Do we see that? “Boastful. Proud. Abusive. Disobedient to their parents. Ungrateful. Unholy. Without love. Unforgiving. Slanderous. Without self-control.” This is bad stuff. That's what we are seeing today. This is a sign of the last days and this is exactly what we’re seeing here.
What's going to happen to us? We've got to have some type of intervention from heaven to pull us out of this thing. We need an answer from above. We need a miracle. We need God to step in and take charge. Do miracles still happen? Do they happen in Collegedale? I would like for a young lady, Aline, to come up and share with us something that happened to her on Apison Pike.
Happy Sabbath, everyone. I'm an emergency room nurse and every year we have to do a class called A. C. L. S. and get certified in the class, and two weeks ago I had to take this class, and it's a two day class. So the first day we have a class and the second day we take a test. So on the second day my friend and I, we drove together, and as I was getting in my car, I got my purse and my tea mug and my black binder, and I set everything on top of the roof of my car as I was trying to put everything in.
And inside that binder I had about six envelopes with different bills that I needed to pay, you know, gas and apartment and cell phone and over 6 hundred dollars. And I also had a paper form that I needed to turn in at work and I had my Social Security number and various personal information as well. So I put everything on the roof of my car, and I thought I put everything in my car, and as I drove out of my parking place, and I started heading on Apison Pike in between Ooltewah-Ringgold Road and Little Debbie Parkway I heard a big thump and I thought it was a plastic bottle or something like that, so I didn't really pay attention.
I continued driving to Erlanger, and as I got to Erlanger's parking lot I put on my purse and I started looking for my binder. “Where is my binder?” And I could not find my binder. And it dawned upon me the big thump was my binder, and now I was in a complete panic because 6 hundred dollars plus my Social Security number was flying around at Apison Pike, between Little Debbie Parkway and Ooltewah-Ringgold Road, and I was just stressed out and I had to take a test.
And the emergency room paid all this bunch of money for me to take a test and I'm there stressed out and so I called Austin, my boyfriend, and I called my friend's boyfriend, and I'm calling everybody to go search Apison Pike for my binder and nobody finds it and I'm like, “Lord, please help me.” And as I went in the room, I took the test, and I came out and I did super well. Not only did I do well, but I got a hundred, so I was very blessed and I was like, “Lord, but I still have to have my binder.”
So we drove back and this was a Friday, so everything closes in Collegedale as we all know at 12 o'clock, and the police station was closed and my friend said, “Well let’s go there and see.” And it was closed indeed, so I thought the miracle was going to be the police station was going to be open at 12. And it wasn't, and we sat there in the parking lot and I was just, “Lord, I really do need this folder.” And I saw a police car driving by in the road and I called out, and I’m like, “Hey, hey. Stop, stop.”
Normally I don't call policemen, and I called him and he drove around and came by and parked next to my car, and I recognized that it was a policeman that I knew from Southern. And I had started venting to him. I told him the whole story, and poor policeman, he had to hear the whole thing and I was telling him everything that was going on and he went around his car and he got my binder from his passenger seat and handed it to me.
And I was so shocked because I knew that was no coincidence, but that was a miracle because out of all the policemen we see here at Collegedale, for me to be able to come at the exact time that the policeman was passing by, and not only that, I went to class at nine o'clock, and this was 12:30, so three hours. Not only that, all my checks were inside, all the papers were intact and no tire marks, no anything. So I thank God for the wonderful miracle that he did for me.
That is amazing, isn't it? How many people passed by, and there it was, and all the money was still in it. Miracles happen. They happen today. You need a miracle in your life? Your marriage or your family or your job or something. Miracles happen. Just hang in there. Keep praying.
This world needs a miracle. We need the Holy Spirit to fall upon us here in this world, and I just think as a society we are going downhill, and America… What is the problem? America is bone dry. We need water. We need rain and my understanding is that that water is Jesus Christ. The Water of Life. That's what we need. Jesus is the answer to our problems. So we need the Holy Spirit.
Zechariah, chapter 10 and verse one says, “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of latter rain.” So we need to do that. This is the time of the latter rain. You need rain in your life. You must ask for it. That's one thing that you have to do.
I was gardening one time, and somebody loaned us some ground cause our yard wasn't big enough for a garden and so I had parked my station wagon and was hoeing and I heard thunder and finally, I felt a big drop of rain, cold rain fall on me and I thought, “Oooh, I'm going to get wet.” So I grabbed the hoe and ran to the station wagon. It was open. I jumped in the back and the rain was coming down. Raining pitchforks and shovel handles, really coming. And I sat there and watched and you could see that the water was just gaining and big momentum of the water coming down the ditch. I looked at the black asphalt there that I was parked by and the water was just pouring down the asphalt. I looked at the garden and there was no water moving. It was all soaking in. I looked at the woods which was 15 or 20 feet away. It was all soaking and no water running out of there. I looked back at the asphalt and noticed that there were no potatoes growing there. Not even any weeds. Nothing was growing on the pavement. The water was all running off.
And I want the Holy Spirit in my life. And in order for me to have the Holy Spirit when the latter rain falls, what must I do? If my heart is as hard as asphalt, then I need a new heart. Right? I need a softer heart. I need to be kinder as I'm getting older and kick the cat less and yell at my family less. I need to be sweeter and more mellow and nicer, and the Holy Spirit can do that for me. I need the latter rain in my life. And I bet you need the latter rain in your life.
And what will soften our heart? I was reading in Evangelism, 142. “The teachings and the love of Christ will soften and subdue the soil of the heart.” That's what I need. The teachings of Jesus, the love of Jesus, I need that in my life. Acts, chapter 3 and verse 19 says, “Repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out when the time of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” I need to repent. I need to stop sinning in my life. I pray for victory in my life. I want to be an overcomer. I want the character of Jesus to be reflected in my life. So I need to repent and be converted. I need that new heart. That new heart.
You know, this summer I was driving back from Northwest Montana, from Glacier National Park. We were in Kansas, and I saw these huge combines. We saw these huge combines coming up out of Oklahoma into Kansas, and they were coming. They were going to harvest wheat. Some of the wheat fields looked to be almost a mile long. And I thought, “When does the farmer call for the combine to come?” When does that happen? Does he go by the calendar or does he go by the crop, and what is the farmer looking for? He's looking for fruit. He's looking for the harvest. The crop. That's what he's looking for. And when does Jesus come? Why is Jesus waiting? What is Jesus looking for? Jesus is looking for fruit and when the fruit comes the harvest will come. That's a true statement.
Mark chapter 4, verse 29. “When the fruit is brought forth, immediately He putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” We keep thinking well, this sign has to happen, that sign has to happen. When does the sickle go in? When the fruit comes. The Lord is looking for fruit. And then I want to continue this quotation. It's found in Christ’s Object Lessons, page 69. It says, “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. And when the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then[snap] He will come and claim them as His own.” When does He come? When the fruit is there. Is the fruit what saves you? No, you’re not saved by the fruit. “Don Gettys saved by fruit.” No, I'm saved by Jesus. But what is the fruit? The fruit is the manifestation of what Jesus has done in my life. It's the evidence that I'm connected with Jesus. So I want fruit in my life. I want fruit.
There was a little boy, it was raining and he was passing out gospel tracts and the little boy only had one tract left and because of the rain everybody was off the streets. It was getting dark and finally he knocked on a door rather than just wait for passersby to come and he knocked,.and louder and louder and finally a voice from within answered and an old woman came to the door and he said, “Pardon me lady. I just have one tract left. I wanted to give you this. This is to bring the gospel to you. And here, if you read this you will find Jesus.” And then he turned and went home.
Almost a week later he and his father were in church, and it was a small church and they were having a testimony service in this little town, and an old lady with the light and joy of Jesus in her life stood up and she said, “You know, the other night, it was pouring down rain, last Sunday night, and I was discouraged. I'd lost my husband. My son died. Two deaths. More than I could take. Just totally, just in despair, and I got a rope and tied the rope and was just about ready to hang myself when this knock kept knocking at the door. And I was real quiet. I thought, ‘Well maybe it’ll go away.’ But the knock kept coming so I got down and went to the door and there was a little boy with the light of Jesus in his face and he gave me a tract and that tract, I knew that God loved me. That he intended to manifest Himself to me, and so I read the tract and I've given my heart to the Lord and I am saved because of that little boy.” You know, that boy was rained on twice, wasn't he? We need the rain of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
And I want to invite you just now to give your heart to the Lord. Maybe some of you, you’ve come here today and you are just totally discouraged. You need Jesus in your life. You need an answer. You need something in your life to answer your prayers. You’ve been praying a certain thing. You need an answer, and I would like to give you an opportunity to stand. I'm going to ask that if you want to surrender your life to Jesus, if you want to just give Him your life in totality, holding nothing back, and if you want to just place on the altar your request, your prayers, the problems you’re facing, if you need that, I'm just going to ask you to stand at this time. Would you stand, please. And I hope as many will stand as possible. Maybe some of you are giving your life to Jesus. I don't know. But the lord knows why every one of you is standing. He knows your problems. He knows the big burden that you have in your life and He will help you in the way that you need it.
Let's pray together. Dear Father in heaven. We’re living in the last days. The signs are evident all around us, and the latter rain is about to fall. We pray that our hearts would be softened so that when that happens, we can absorb the Holy Spirit's power into our lives. Give us answers to our problems. Power and strength and forgiveness and fruit in our characters, for we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
You may be seated. We want to sing our closing hymn. The closing hymn is about the showers of blessing. They're coming. And we need to be praying that they will fall upon us.
Dear Father in heaven. We know we’re living when the rain is due. It's forecasted, and we pray that our hearts will be ready. Please answer the problems that we face. Clear the way for the beautiful manifestation of your Holy Spirit in our lives and hearts and homes. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Hymn of Praise: #82, Before Jehovah's Awful Throne Scripture: James 5:7-8 Hymn of Response: #195, Showers of Blessing
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 9/18/09