Prophecy Update Newsletter
December 1, 2016
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
A Cosmic Battle for Jerusalem - Alf Cengia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8339
The destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple occurred way back in 70AD. Yet the desire for Zion has continuously burned in the hearts of the Jews throughout the centuries in exile. One might even say that Jerusalem is written in their DNA.
Though Jerusalem was rebuilt as a Roman city in 135AD - and except for the crusade periods - it has lain fallow, largely forgotten by the world for centuries. Photos of the Temple Mount taken at Israel's recapturing of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War attest to its desolation under Islamic jurisdiction.
It was only after Israel's historic victory that the world cast its collective eye on Jerusalem once again. I rather imagine a vision of Sauron sitting in his Dark Tower discovering the location of the Ring and suddenly turning all his attention to it.
From a secular viewpoint it is remarkable that in recent years it has become such an intense focal point of conflict, drawing global attention. Why would western nations bother about what happens in a far away place? Why does the United Nations conspire to remove Jewish history from Jerusalem?
We know why.
The United Nations is an Islamic devotee. Despite the terrorism associated with Islam, its demands are appeased, and it seeks to purge Israel from the region. It is because of the Jewish presence that Jerusalem has once again become a precious jewel to be protected from the Jew.
The church has done its share to disqualify Jewish claims to Jerusalem. Evangelical Lutheran Minister Barbara Rossing was content to note that the Dome of the Rock was an obstacle to the construction of a Jewish Temple. She wrote in awed exultation:
The Dome of the Rock is a beautifully proportioned octagonal building with graceful columned arches covered by turquoise and blue tiles, crowned by a golden dome. Take off your shoes to go inside, and a sense of peace and tranquility surrounds you. ~ The Rapture Exposed (p 59)
While you're standing there in rapt wonder you may also note the denial of Christ inscribed on its walls. Unless you want to shatter that "peace and tranquility," make doubly sure you don't get caught praying in Jesus' name as you admire the building.
Why are some Christian leaders comfortable with an edifice in Jerusalem which denies Christ, but not a Jewish Temple? Rossing didn't say. But she isn't alone.
There is a majority tendency for theologians today to spiritualize Zion and the kingdom. Christian writers and pastors deny a relevance of Zion as a location of value for the Christian. Typical of this, Peter Walker cites T. L. Donaldson:
If there is a "new Zion", therefore, it must be identified no longer with a place, but rather with a person. "Jesus replaces Zion as the center of the gathered people of God" and "as the center of eschatological fulfillment." ~ Jesus and the Holy City (p 41)
Reformed Theology has served Christianity admirably in expounding the glory of the Triune God in Scripture. Unfortunately, its "new Zionism" is carryover baggage from Roman Catholicism. Why else would these theologians struggle with straightforward eschatological passages such as Acts 1:6-7?
We're told we no longer need an outward physical temple (i.e., Jerusalem) to worship in because we are all temples of God (John 14:23; 1 Cor 6:19). This is true. Ironically Christians have buildings used for corporate worship. Roman Catholics have Rome. Catholics and Protestants alike have their Cathedrals.
It isn't an either or proposition. There is a spiritual and physical dimension to the kingdom.
In The Greatness of the Kingdom (p 520), Alva McClain tells the story of a non-premil preacher who was denouncing the carnality of a proposed millennial kingdom (as Augustine did). McClain noted that he was doing so while generously helping himself to fried chicken. Could we not, then, have a godly Millennial Kingdom which involves eating and drinking?
McClain also noted the irony of those who propose to influence society through moral and political means in the "present kingdom." Why, then, cannot the rule of God be applied by the Mediatorial King during the millennium?
That there will be a future temple in a physical location is supported by a straightforward reading of Scripture. Some theologians appeal to complex allegory and supersessionism, not to defend Scripture, but to protect a presupposed theology.
Jerusalem cannot be expunged from eschatology.
In The Temple and Bible Prophecy (p 524), Randall Price suggests several verses supporting a Millennial Temple. Joel 3:17-18 contradicts Walker's assertion that Zion must be understood as Christ. These verses speak of Zion as a future dwelling, and a fountain flowing from the "House of the Lord." See also Isaiah 2:3, 60:13 and Haggai 2:7, 9.
In Matt 24:15, Jesus warned of a future Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place. That this is speaking of a temple is confirmed by Jesus' referring to Daniel (Dan 9:27, 11:31 and Dan 12:11). Paul further corroborated this future abomination by an individual in "the temple of God" (2 Thess 2:4).
Unless one takes liberties in spiritualizing the texts, there's no evidence that what was spoken by Jesus and Paul was fulfilled in 70AD. Some claim a future Jewish temple cannot be deemed holy. But if the Jerusalem Temple was no longer "holy" after the Cross then how does one consistently apply Matt 24:15 and 2 Thess 2:4 to the events of 70AD.
Amillennialist Riddlebarger deals with these problems by asserting that there is no gap between the 69th and 70th week. According to him the first half of the 70th week involved the three-and-a-half years of Christ's earthly ministry. Riddlebarger then arbitrarily squeezes the entire church age into the last half of the 70th week!
Premillennialist Robert Duncan Culver (Daniel and the latter Days) notes that the very language of Dan 9:26-27 specifies that the cutting off of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem, not only follows after the 69th week (v26), it also precedes the 70th (v27). Culver's study of Daniel is recommended reading and can be accessed online.
See also John Walvoord's Daniel the Key to Prophetic Revelation.
Zechariah refers to Jerusalem as a stumbling stone in which all who come against it shall be cut in pieces and destroyed (Zech 12:3, 9). The future tribulation is designed to show Israel that it can only trust in the Lord, not its so-called allies (Zech 14:3-4). God will answer their call when they recognize their Savior (Hos 5:15; Zech 13:9; Matt 23:39).
The focal point of this future conflagration is Jerusalem. Compare Zech 14:4, 12; Joel 3:14-16; Matt 24:15-30 and Rev 16:14.
Note the mourning of the tribes in Zech 12:10 and Matt 24:30. Not only didn't Israel mourn for their Savior in 70AD but they didn't ask Him to return at that time either.
After the Messiah's return, Jerusalem will become the center of government of the Millennial Kingdom. See Isaiah 60:12-14, 66:20 and Zech 14:16-19.
Christians look to a Heavenly City and Kingdom at the moment, yet the heavenly New Jerusalem will descend to a physical location on the new earth. See Heb 8:1-2, 12:22; Rev 16:17, Rev 21:1-2. This location won't be in New York, Rome, London, Mecca or Paris. The headquarters of the future Kingdom of God in the Eternal State will be Jerusalem.
It is only by respecting God's eschatological plan that we can understand the dynamics which drive world events. Why is Jerusalem such a jealous hot-bed of conflict? Why do the nations constantly rage against Israel? Why is there a steadily growing desire in Israel for a Jewish Temple?
The Lord returns when Israel repents. When Jesus returns Satan will be incarcerated (Rev 12:12, 20:1-3) Jerusalem is at the epicenter of a Cosmic Battle which will ultimately usher in God's Kingdom.
It's all in God's Word. Read it and believe what it plainly says.
Abbas Vows Never to Recognize Jewish State - By Abra Forman - https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/79467/abbas-vows-never-recognize-jewish-state/#zOAbecDYRPqZo239.97
"The eternal God is a dwelling-place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He thrust out the enemy from before thee, and said: 'Destroy.'" Deuteronomy 33:27 (The Israel Bible™)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in his re-election speech on Wednesday that Palestinian Arabs will never agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or compromise on its peace demands, putting Western perception of the Palestinian leader as a "moderate" into question.
Abbas, the leader of Fatah, his political party, declared that the faction would not sacrifice its principles, character, or identity in order to achieve a free, independent Palestinian state, Arutz Sheva reported.
Speaking at the Seventh Fatah Congress in Ramallah a day after he was re-elected, Abbas said that he will not accept temporary borders or interim solutions, but is determined to push for an end to Jewish presence in the West Bank and the implementation of a two-state solution drawn up on the terms of the Arab Peace Initiative, without changes.
He said that Palestinians need only be "patient" as they wait for Israel to inevitably leave its communities in Judea and Samaria, pointing to the 2005 evacuation of Gaza as proof that it is possible and even likely.
Abbas promised his listeners that 2017 would be the "year of the Palestinian state and end of the Israeli occupation."
Next year, the annual Fatah Congress would be held in Jerusalem, he vowed, calling the city "the eternal capital of Palestine."
Abbas, who has been lauded by Western leaders as the best partner for peace that Israel has, invited representatives from terrorists groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad to attend the Congress. Both organizations have called openly for the destruction of Israel and routinely plan and carry out terror attacks within the Jewish state.
In response to the speech, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) called Abbas "the number one enemy" of Israel, "Even worse than [former Palestinian leader Yassar] Arafat."
"Abbas is talking about stopping his recognition of Israel, but first he should start recognizing Israel. Abbas has never recognized Israel's right to exist. To this very day he rejects Israel's right to exist," MK Steinitz said in an interview with Israel Radio on Thursday.
"We should not kid ourselves. Abbas in his ideology is the number one enemy of the very existence of Israel."
UN General Assembly supports resolution ignoring Jewish ties to Temple Mount - By Danielle Ziri, Tovah Lazaroff - http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/UN-General-Assembly-supports-resolution-ignoring-Jewish-ties-to-the-Temple-Mount-474107
The UN General Assembly overwhelming voted to support a resolution that used solely Muslim language to describe the Temple Mount.
Out of the United Nation's 193 member states, 147 voted in favor, seven voted against and eight abstained.
The Jerusalem resolution was one of six resolutions condemning Israel and supporting the Palestinians that the General Assembly approved on Wednesday, as part of its special annual session for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which began on Tuesday.
All the European member states present in the room voted in favor of the resolution - countries such as France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom.
The states that opposed the Jerusalem resolution were the United States, Canada, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Naura and Palu.
Those that abstained were Australia, Guatemala, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay and Vanuatu.
The Jerusalem resolution, numbered A/71/l.22, addresses the situation in Jerusalem and its holy sites and states that "any actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to immediately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures."
The text calls on Israel to have "respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem" and "urges all sides to work immediately and cooperatively to defuse tensions and halt all provocations, incitement and violence at the holy sites in the city."
The resolutions were introduced by a group of mostly Arab countries, including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority, but also some Asian countries, such as Indonesia and Lao People's Democratic Republic, as well as a few African countries.
Resolutions A/71/l.18 and A/71/l.19, the first in the series, pledge respectively to support the UN's Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in its efforts to end the Israeli "occupation," and extend member state's cooperation with and support to the division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat.
Draft resolution a/71/l.20, also adopted on Wednesday, with 153 votes in favor of it, seven abstentions and seven negative votes, aims to disseminate information on the Palestinian narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as on all the activities of the United Nations system relating to the question of Palestine. The resolution also states the need to organize and promote "fact-finding news missions for journalists to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel."
In resolution A/71/l.21, the General Assembly calls for "a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine." It also "calls upon Israel, the occupying power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and to cease all of its measures that are contrary to international law and all unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem."
The last draft text adopted by the assembly, resolution A/71/l.8, adopted by a vote of 103 in favor, six abstentions and 56 votes against it, demands that Israel withdraw from all of the Golan to the line of June 4, 1967, and hand it over to Syria.
Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said, "Today's resolutions are yet another example of the daily bias Israel faces in the UN.
"At the same time that Israel is celebrating the historic decision to reestablish the Jewish state in our homeland, the UN continues to fund organizations and pass resolutions that do nothing to better the lives of the Palestinians."
The United States voted against all the resolutions. The representative of the US Mission at the General Assembly session spoke out against the "disproportionate number of resolutions condemning Israel."
He further stated that voting on these resolutions "damages the prospect for peace."
"All parties to the conflict have responsibility to end the conflict," he said.
The US representative added that his country is "disappointed" that the General Assembly chooses to single out Israel, which is "counterproductive."
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed by the United Nations on November 29 each year, the date marking the anniversary of the General Assembly's 1947 adoption of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.
Balm of Gilead: Ancient Plants Revived in Time for Third Temple? - Julie Stahl, Chris Mitchell - http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/israel/2016/december/balm-of-gilead-ancient-plants-revived-in-time-for-third-temple
The Bible speaks of the Balm of Gilead. It was a real plant in the ancient Holy Land, used in medicine and cosmetics and even for worship in the Jewish Temple. Now a modern-day Israeli farmer is reviving that biblical agriculture, along with Frankincense and Myrrh, but he's also getting some resistance.
Meet Guy Erlich - visionary, farmer and possible provider of plants needed for incense for a future Third Temple.
"This is the balm of Gilead Farm," Erlich told CBN News. "This is the nursery. The vision was to make agriculture of the Balm of Gilead and then to make an industry out of it."
Erlich's still in the early stages, but already he's helping turn the desert green on a tract of land near the Dead Sea and Jericho.
"Along the years, I built a collection of rare biblical and medical - medical perfume - plants, and I understood that there are more very interesting plants in my collection that have potential to benefit humanity.
Balm of Gilead
It started with the Balsamon tree, better known as the Balm of Gilead.
For 1,000 years, ancient Hebrew farmers in this area were the only ones in the world known to cultivate this exotic plant, using it for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Now Erlich's biotech adventure is reviving that trade and more.
"He knew how to make out of it most important medication of the ancient world, a perfume that was considered to be the best perfume in the Roman Empire," Erlich explained. "It says it's the first ingredient of the incense of the Holy Temple and since the Second Temple period, it says (it was used) as the anointing oil of the kings of Israel. At the sixth century, it disappeared from here, together with the Jewish people."
Erlich got his first plant from a shoot that was smuggled by a German scientist out of Saudi Arabia and brought to Israel. Oddly enough, the plants he grows are thriving in the intense heat and salty soil on the shores of the Dead Sea.
"I believe that in the future, it will become a medicine," Erlich predicted. "Before it will be a medicine, it will be a nutraceutical and a cosmetic. Before or after, it might serve as the first ingredient of the incense of the Temple."
Erlich has six acres of Balm of Gilead trees so far and another 5,000 plants ready to be planted.
"Right now I'm the only - and the biggest - Balm of Gilead farmer in the world," he said.
The resin from the bark, the berries and the leaves of the Balm of Gilead can all be used, and each has a different fragrance and properties.
Frankincense of the Holy Temple
Erlich also grows Frankincense on his plantation.
"This is my second baby after the Balm of Gilead. It started with the vision of bring back the Balm of Gilead to the shores of the Dead Sea, but after a few years, I understood that I have some very interesting plants in my collection," he said. "And now I have a team of plants that I want to make into products."
There are more than 20 varieties of Frankincense, but this is the one from the Bible - and it's considered an endangered species.
"This is Frankincense of the Holy Temple. Now there is no agriculture for this tree. This tree only grows wild in different countries in the Horn of Africa and since there is such a big demand for this, there is an overusing of the plant," he said.
Myrrh and the Gifts of the Magi
Erlich is also growing Myrrh and there may be a connection to the gifts the magi brought to Jesus at his birth.
"Another way to introduce myself is as a magi," he said. "We know the three magi that brought Miriam presents. They gave her Frankincense and Myrrh and gold. Now there is a claim that the gold is the Balm of Gilead because it was more precious than gold. This is the diamond of the incense, the diamond of the medical plants."
Erlich, who describes himself as a man of faith but not religious, is also growing a number of other plants need to make the incense for the Temple. That has caught the attention of some religious Jews who would like to see a Third Temple built in Jerusalem.
But despite his excitement over his team of plants, Erlich has also had some big challenges. His plantation is in biblical Judea, known to the world as the West Bank. And that has scared off an American company who partnered with Erlich for years. One reason: backlash from BDS - the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions - movement.
"I'm sorry for this company - that they surrendered for this wicked movement - but what can I do about it?" he asked. "I can only fight it by succeeding without them."
Erlich has had to dismiss his Israeli and Palestinian workers and rely on volunteers like Kinneret Norin and her friends, who spent a week here pulling weeds, among other things.
"If this is what we can do to help, this is what we could do to make the world better at the end, so this is our job," Norin said.
The setback isn't stopping Erlich. His goal is to start a research and development center for medical plants that he hopes will benefit the area and the region and, as the Bible says, make the desert bloom.
Do Good, Eschew Evil - Nathele Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
"For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it." 1 Peter 3:10-11.
The battle between good and evil has been around since time began. Ever since Satan rebelled against God his goal has been to deceive as many people as possible and turn them against God. It's up to us individually to choose to do good and eschew evil. When Peter wrote the above words he was quoting from Psalm 34, which David had written during a time of trouble in his life. He could have made the choice to let his troubles guide his actions, but he chose to not allow evil to rule his life. He chose God. "What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good. Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from peaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good, seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth." Psalm 34:12-16. We all face troubles and situations in life that can turn us to bitterness and make us contemplate doing evil. For instance if someone does wrong to you, you may want to get even. That's a choice that is wrong for anyone to make, especially a Christian. "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21.Doing evil should never be a choice that a Christian makes. If you choose to do evil then you turn against God and will become angry and bitter. Evil never makes a person happy and always is against God's will.
There is much evil around us and it's easy to get discouraged. If we keep our hearts turned to God and choose to follow Him we will not be overcome by the wickedness around us. "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." Romans 12:9.
All evil and wickedness comes from Satan; he is a liar and deceiver. On the other hand good comes from God and the closer we walk with God the less evil can affect us. I've heard many people try to justify why they choose to participate in the wickedness of sin by blaming what other people have done to them. Some have been abused as children and use that to justify promiscuity. Some will say they are alcoholics or drug addicts because of emotional pain caused by others. Some can justify bad attitudes and backbiting because they are just trying to repay what a certain person has done to them. None of this can be justified. We all have a choice in the way we react to life. If you have been walking the path of wickedness, Jesus offers His love and forgiveness to you. Jesus will heal your wounds, whether they are physical or emotional. Come to Him just as you are and let Him forgive you and begin to heal you.
The Bible is clear about what is good and what is evil, so the best way to learn to discern between the two is to study God's word. Satan is the god of this world and would have us believe that there is no such thing as right and wrong. He convinces people that sin is acceptable and if someone loves you enough to bring your sin into question, well they're just intolerant. Satan is a liar. The Apostle Peter says that through His power, God has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness. "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 2 Peter 1:2-4. If we have knowledge of God we shouldn't lust after evil. The Bible presents us with lists of evil behavior and one is found in Galatians. We shouldn't overlook these sins when we study because it's important to learn what we need to change in our way of life. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21. Stop and check the choices you make against this list. When you make the choice to eschew evil, these things will disappear from your lifestyle.
Many times we act out of habit. If we make it a habit to choose to do good things then we will be very aware of when we slip and do something that comes from evil. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." Luke 6:45. The words we speak are a good indication of our moral character. A person who continually slanders others, uses foul language, and spews anger speaks what is in their heart. What comes out is ugliness and the treasure of their heart is corrupt and evil. On the other hand, a person who has encouraging words for others and speaks with love to all people shows a kindhearted person who probably has made choices based on Biblical truth. It's easy to slip into sin if we keep company with those who embrace wickedness. A goodhearted person can be easily influenced to embrace evil if friendships are forged with wicked people. "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." 1 Corinthians 15:33. The word "communications" means the companions we choose. So, when you make a choice of friends be sure that they don't mock God and turn your heart to evil. Make sure you are firmly grounded in God's truth and be the type of friend who encourages others to eschew evil. Lead by example.
The entertainment we look at and listen to is also a choice. The vast majority of television shows, movies, and music promote evil and make it look good. "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" Isaiah 5:20. Woe to the people who produce such evil entertainment and woe to those who take pleasure in it. Companies pay a lot of money to advertise their products on television because they know that advertising influences those who watch or listen. It's more than just the commercials that influence our ways. If you watching soap operas, MTV, or some other depraved programming, you are being influenced by the god of this world...Satan. All things that are evil, the entertainment industry would have us think are good; they put darkness for light. Rather than waste your time participating in satanic "entertainment", read your Bible or go out and do some good deeds in the name of Jesus. Turn from the evil that you are inviting into your life. "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God." 3 John 1:11. We all have choices as to what we allow into our hearts and minds. Evil can look appealing, but only following God is good.
There has never been anyone as good as Jesus. He is our example for living a good life. One day a young man ran up to Him and asked how to inherit eternal life. "And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God." Mark 10:17-18. Jesus' question to him was interesting. Jesus was God incarnate, so He was either trying to make the young man think about what he said and not just throw words around idly, or He was making a point to everyone within earshot. We all need to think about our words. We can say that we believe in Jesus, but do we live our life to reflect Him or do we embrace the wickedness around us? Truly there is no one good except for God. We might be good by human standards, but when it comes to being good by God's standards we fail. Jesus shed His blood at Calvary in order to make available to us the only way for anyone to be good enough to enter Heaven. We cannot stand before our perfect God by the standards of good based on human thinking. It's only Christ's righteousness that makes us able to enter Heaven upon death. He shed His blood for everyone, but that gift of salvation has to be accepted in order for His righteousness to be imparted. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10. Accept His free gift now and begin walking in His ways. Do good works in His name so the wicked world around you can see His light shining through you.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whtsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8. Do good and eschew evil.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham's previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is "theopneustos" God breathed.
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My Review of "Rapture Ready...Or Not?"
Over the last 35 years, I have literally read hundreds of books on Bible Prophecy and End Time signs. I especially enjoy books on the Rapture, and I have read almost every Rapture-related book published. In all those years, devouring thousands of pages, and millions of words, I have not read a better book on the Rapture than, Rapture Ready...Or Not?
Terry James might be physically blind, but he is spiritually sharp and well discerning beyond most authors. In "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" Terry has nailed the pre-trib Rapture, and removed any doubt what so ever about the Church going through the Tribulation. With great insight and Godly discernment, Terry explains with simple, yet profound words, why and how that he has come to believe the ways he does about the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the End Times scenario. I think after reading "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" you too will believe as Terry does, and be Ready for the Rapture like never before! - Randy Thomas - Publisher / Editor - Prophecy Update
For more information and or to get your copy of "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" use this link: http://www.raptureready.com/terry/book35.html
The 1st Christmas verse is in Genesis - Greg Laurie -
Pastor Greg Laurie notes God the Son 'became one of us without ceasing to be himself'
I love the Christmas story. I don't mean the one about Santa and the reindeer or the Grinch or Frosty the snowman. The Christmas story I'm referring to is the simple but powerful story of the Nativity.
For me, it never gets old. I never get tired of reading it. I never get tired of hearing it. And I never get tired of telling it. In fact, it is so beautiful and poetic that in some ways, it can almost come across as a fairy tale. But it's no fairy tale. And I think this story is powerful and relevant for our culture today.
The real Christmas story goes way back, before Mary and Joseph, before Bethlehem, before the shepherds, before the wise men, before Caesar Augustus, and before the innkeeper. In fact, the first mention of Christmas was before Christ, because we have to go back to the very beginning.
This story of redemption starts in a garden and begins with a tree. It isn't one of those trees you buy at a lot, nor is it an artificial tree. The tree I'm talking about was in the Garden of Eden: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Here were Adam and Eve in paradise, literally surrounded by radiant beauty at every turn. And best of all, there was no sin or the guilt and shame that follows it.
There was only one restriction in this garden: It was forbidden to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve could eat anything they wanted - except the fruit from this tree.
Yet there is something about human beings that is drawn to the forbidden. We are attracted to the thing we are not supposed to look at. We'll say, "I'll just take a look. I'll never engage. I would never participate." Famous last words.
The next thing you know, Adam and Eve were eating the forbidden fruit, and sin entered the world. Their eyes were closed to heaven and opened to earth. And suddenly they were out of fellowship with God.
That brings us to the first Christmas verse, the first mention of Christ in the Bible: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15 NIV). God was saying to the devil, "Someone is coming who will crush your head."
That is what Christmas is all about. That is why Jesus came to this earth.
The Bible says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1 NIV). In the original language, there isn't a definite article before the word beginning, which means we cannot pinpoint the moment in time where there was a beginning. John was going back to eternity past. He was going further back than our minds could imagine.
Jesus is not a man who became God. That is impossible. He is God who became a man. Before there was a world, before there were planets, before there was light and darkness, before there was matter, before anything else, there was the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are coequal, co-eternal and coexistent together.
But Jesus did not stay in the safety of heaven. He entered our world. He breathed our air. He shared our pain. He walked in our shoes. He lived our life. And he died our death. Jesus did not become identical to us, but he did become identified with us. In fact, he could not have identified with us more closely than he did. He became one of us without ceasing to be himself. He became human without ceasing to be God. He was the creator in human form. And he came to join us in this human mess that we call Earth. He walked among us.
Yet Christmas wasn't only an arrival; it also was a departure. Isaiah 9:6 sums it up perfectly: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (NIV). From the earthly perspective, a child was born. But from the heavenly perspective, a son was given.
We are also told in Matthew's gospel, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us')" (1:23 NIV).
This is the central message of Christmas: We are not alone in this world. God came near. God came to this earth as a child, who became a man, who died and rose again. Jesus has always been there, and he says, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).
As we see things going on in our world that make us afraid, we need to remember that God is in control. He will not abandon us. Even when we forget about him, he never forgets about us. That is the real message of this season. It is not about presents that we find under a tree. It is about his presence in our lives.
Immanuel. God is with us.
Daily Jot: Draining the swamp - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
As news of President-Elect Donald Trump's cabinet picks come in, draining the swamp of politicos in Washington, DC would appear harder than expected. There are a lot of his picks that look like previous Republican administrations. This is an indicator of how one has to deal with getting things done in the nation's capital. You pick a senator's wife, a Goldman Sachs exec, former opponents, and some supporters for your cabinet posts. You mix it in with the reformers that can make their points and hopefully you have a winning team that can get things done. As Trump's picks roll out, it is clear that the swamp is not draining as fast as some of us had hoped, but these are qualified people that deserve a chance.
Already the markets are responding positively to the Trump presidency and he hasn't even taken office. Record gains on Wall Street speak volumes for job growth. His cabinet choice for Education, Betsy DeVos, favors charter schools and school vouchers. This is a good thing because we need to break the grip of government schools on the brainwashing of our children--a step in the right direction. Treasury nominee Steven Mnuchin is eyeing a tax cut for the middle class and more of direct talks and incentives with businesses to keep them here in the US, such as recent examples Ford and Carrier. Commerce nominee Wilbur Ross is saying he will move away from trade agreements that do not benefit the US.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General is a most excellent choice. Sessions is a strong Christian. He is one of the few voices on Capital Hill who has stood consistently for secure borders and enforcing the laws on the books. In meetings with him and his staff, he is open to learn more about the issues surrounding Islamic migration as it is linked to terrorism and he would be a fierce protector of the Constitution. Under him, organized crime won't have free reign (translated: Clintons), He will also be the most controversial pick because the Democrats hate his common sense pro-American positions. Sessions is a game changer for reform from what we have had over the past decade.
On the surface, Trump's picks may look like the more things change, the more they stay the same. But with what these folks say they stand for, and what their body of work has been over the years, maybe, just maybe, this new Trump Administration will get America back on the right path. There are many detractors by those who are impatient or hate the overall agenda. At the same time, we should be vigilant in holding accountability, but we already are seeing positive things. It takes a long time to drain the swamp. And even still, the smell of it remains even longer. But it has to start somewhere. Proverbs 20:26 says, "A wise king winnows the wicked, and drives the wheel over them." Let's pray for wisdom among our leaders as there is a lot of wicked to winnow and a deep and wide swamp to drain.
Daily Devotion: "According to Your Word" - Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Then Mary said, 'Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her. -Luke 1:38
Many times, we wonder what the will of God is for our lives. Let me suggest that you simply say, "Lord, I am willing to obey, even though I don't completely understand what it is that You're asking me to do." That is what Mary did. She didn't fully understand what the angel Gabriel was telling her, but she obeyed just the same. She took a leap of faith. This is the attitude God looks for in His servants: childlike faith and obedience.
The Bible gives us great direction for knowing God's will:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).
Notice this passage begins with presenting ourselves to God. It doesn't say, "Find out first what God's will is, and then determine if you want to obey it." Rather, we are to commit ourselves to God. As the J. B. Phillips New Testament puts it, "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good."
First, commit yourself to Him. Then you will know the will of God. We should never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God. The condition of an enlightened mind is a surrendered heart.
Maybe the reason we don't know God's will is because we haven't said, "I accept it, and I will obey it." Have you said that to God?
FROM THE HEART
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