IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Living in the Last Days: A Practical Guide – Pete Garcia - https://www.rev310.net/post/living-in-the-last-days-a-practical-guide
The Bible clearly teaches that the blood-bought, born-again church will not be here to endure even one second of the seven-year Tribulation, which is properly known as the 70th Week of Daniel. While all of it is bad, the second half (or 1,260 days) of this seven-year period is even worse and is specifically designated as the time of Jacob’s Trouble, which God will use to both discipline the nation of Israel, and destroy all the nations of the world (Jer. 30:7-11).
Now while the church will not be here to endure any portion of the Tribulation, there are mixed opinions on how bad things will get prior to that time. Granted, things have been tough for Christians around the world for the last two-thousand years, so in these regards, we are speaking specifically to Western Civilization.
None of us would have thought we would have to endure a global lockdown last year, but then it happened. None of us would have thought we would be prohibited from attending church, school, work, or face mandatory government-enforced vaccinations of experimental mRNA drugs to keep our livelihoods or freedoms. Adding to that, we have an increasing and intensifying assortment of threats from both the natural world (hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, locusts, etc.) and the man-caused world (i.e., financial collapses, terrorist attacks, school shootings, looting, and rioting, etc.). Although we have come to accept these things as normal life on a fallen planet, the intensity and increase has even non-Christians asking, are we in the last days?
The Bible says we have been in the last days since Christ walked the earth (Hebrews 1:1), so it should be expected that we see the intensification of birth pangs given our proximity to the end. How much time will we (the Church) spend in the shadow of the Tribulation, is really, anyone’s guess? However, I think as a matter of practical citizenry, a modest level of preparation goes a long way. Personal preparedness is not a luxury, but a necessity these days. Nevertheless, personal preparedness should never be mistaken for the fear-based, survivalist-mentality that is recklessly promoted by the folks in the Pre-Wrath and Post-Trib camps.
As a matter of fact, we don’t know how bad life will get this side of the Rapture. Neither do we know what life is going to throw at us on a daily basis. Although I don’t personally subscribe to the belief that things will go Mad-Max before the day of Christ, it does not hurt to apply some practical things to our lives that you could do if you’re not already doing them. You might look at this as a form of comfort, good stewardship, or usefulness should circumstances require it.
Recently, someone close to me suggested I give some practical advice on surviving in these turbulent days, especially since our government is bent on nosediving our economy. She asked can you do some more practical stuff for how to survive UNTIL the Rapture happens? Although we prepare as a family for emergencies, I tend to be the anti-prepper, just because I know how quickly that survivalist mindset can spiral downwards.
However, for her sake and for many of you who might be having the same questions as the United States is taking a turn for the worse, here are my common-sense thoughts on surviving in these last days. Also know that this is not an exhaustive list, as some of you may have extenuating circumstances that exceed the scope of this brief. I would encourage anyone with further ideas to leave them in the comments below, so we can add to the common knowledge of the group.
1. First and foremost, pray up, read your Bibles faithfully, and trust that God has your best interest at heart. (Gen. 50:20, Isaiah 46:9-10, Matt. 10:28-31, Rom. 8:28)
a. Trust God. God knows the end from the beginning, so NOTHING that happens is a surprise to Him. While things can and often do spiral out of control in our lives (for whatever reasons), never forget to trust that God has seen your life play out, and He will never leave you nor forsake you
b. Study your bible, and embrace discernment. The more you know how this all ends, the less frightening it will become. In fact, as Jan Markell is fond of saying, things are not falling apart, they are falling into place. When we know our bibles, and we see the headlines, we should be excited that our Lord’s coming is sooner than when we first believed.
c. Share the Gospel- the highest form of investment we can make (James 5:20)
2. Be Wise as Serpents, harmless as doves. (Matt. 10:16-17, Luke 22:35-38, Rev. 2:10)
a. Arm yourself. A nation in freefall is a dangerous place to live. While we are not to become vigilantes out seeking violence and retribution, the principles of self-defense for both ourselves and our family, are biblical and practical. IOW, the intent here is strength through deterrence. We do not seek out violence, but we also do not make ourselves easy targets. Remember, even Jesus sent out His disciples out with two swords
b. Arm your mind and prepare your heart. Know that the battle over this world is not just in the physical realm, but in the spiritual. Your physical adversary is often times, being controlled by a malevolent spirit (i.e., demon) who is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. We must be armed with prayer and the full armor of God to avoid the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11)
c. Protect those who cannot protect themselves. If you can do the first two things, then help safeguard the vulnerable in our communities
3. Die with dignity. Christian martyrdom is common across the world, especially in places like Pakistan, India, Africa, and the Middle East. If the time does come to the West, and martyrdom arrives for you and me, it will be in a situation well beyond our control, but not beyond God’s. IF that is the case, then we are to die with dignity, knowing our last act of dying well, will be a last testimony to all who witness it. We know where we are going when we die, and we are not to fear death. Remember, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8)
4. Keep your personal and professional affairs in order.
Heaven forbid you are to pass on before the Rapture, or some unforeseen event sidelines your life, we are to ensure that our deaths or incapacitations are not the cause of increased familial and/or professional maelstroms to those we leave behind (Isaiah 38:1, Proverbs 24:27, Titus 1:5)
a. Have a clear and unambiguous Last Will and Testament. Make sure your spouse (and if applicable, business partners) knows where this is and has access to it
b. Make sure your spouse has access to your accounts (banks, bills, medical, taxes, etc.)
c. Ensure you have “life after” plans for your children, young or grown. Who they will live with, custody rights, inheritances, etc.
d. Have a plan for your pets, livestock, and other non-human living things that were dependent upon you for survival (good stewardship)
5. Keep 120 hours’ worth of essential items
This is sort of a no-brainer, but you never know when the stores are going to run out of things these days. From toilet paper to medicines, make sure you stock up to last at least a week should things take a turn for the worse such as a hurricane, winter storm, or economic collapse
6. Diversify your income streams and “nest eggs”
First of all, do not put all of your faith and trust in material wealth (Christians are not to do this anyway). However, if you have wealth, please ensure that it’s not all tied up into “one thing”
a. Diversifying wealth may not be feasible for everyone, as some of you are on fixed incomes. However, if possible, make sure all of your money does not come from the same source
b. If you have put all of your investment eggs in a stock portfolio, just remember that the economy tanks or a civil war erupts and martial law is implemented, you may not have access to your funds. What is that old saying, possession is 9/10ths of the law. This does not mean socking away your money or gold into your mattress, but if you can, keep it someplace that is secure, and that you have access to it whenever you need it
7. Invest in things that are tradeable, mobile, and invaluable
Clearly, the highest form of investment is by sharing the Gospel. That has the highest and longest-lasting yield we could ever possibly hope in. Always look for opportunities to create wealth by investing in your community. Volunteering at your church, local food bank, retirement homes, and helping out your neighbors will pay off when the time comes
a. Why gold might be a great investment, can you really go buy gas or groceries with it? Probably not. However, if the dollar collapses, or is intentionally buckled, those holding gold and silver will be able to buy back into whatever new system comes out of it. That is what makes these two (gold and silver) practical investments. Even junk silver (pre-1965 US coinage) and other older coinage would be worth trading at a low level, so keep those old coin collections
b. Assuming a total economic collapse occurs, the traditional fallback for any society is the barter system. Have something worth bartering, whether that something is tangible good (ex. eggs, milk, vegetables, etc.) or a skill (barber, cooking, wood or metal work, or repairman)
d. Consider “non-traditional” barter items. A very devout Christian friend of mine stocked up on whiskey, which I thought was odd given the fact he doesn’t drink. I asked him about the cases of whiskey and wine he had in storage, and he made a good point; whiskey will always keep its value, and it doesn’t spoil. Granted, it doesn't have to be "whiskey," just take that as an example of an unconventional form of a long term investment
Practical Emergency Ideas
8. Buy a generator and keep extra fuel on hand
9. Stock up on canned goods (manual openers), non-perishable dry goods, and vitamins
10. Make arrangements with neighbors ahead of time to barter for goods and services
11. Stock up on drinking water and firewood
a. Extra drinkable water sources include:
Hot water tank
Toilet tanks (not the bowl) have drinkable water.
Rainwater collection tanks
b. Chances are, if you don’t have water, you may not have electricity. So if you don’t have access to natural gas (propane), and you want to boil your water, you need fire
Buy a fire pit if you don’t have a large fireplace
Stock up on firewood, keep it stacked off the ground to prevent termites and ground moisture from ruining it
Do not burn treated (or painted) wood if at all possible
12. MUST HAVE ITEMS (for homes emergencies)
a. Extra shoes and boots (often overlooked)
b. Duct tape (multiple uses)
c. 550 Cord (can use for clotheslines, tie-downs, tents, shoelaces, etc.)
d. Extra flashlights and batteries
e. Aluminum foil (multiple uses)
f. Buckets (rain and water collection)
g. Emergency Radio
h. Fire and kindling:
i. Emergency kits:
Antiseptic sprays and liquids (ex. rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide)
Superglue sutures, tampons, band-aids, gauze, etc.
Pain relief (Motrin, aspirin, etc.)
Allergy and other specific medicines (depending on your situation and needs)
Insect Repellant and treatment (toothpaste also works for insect bites)
In closing, I hope these serve to spur to action some mental and spiritual preparation for those of you who are concerned about the days ahead. Being prepared is not just good practical advice for living in the last days, but for any day, and whatever life throws your way.
For those of you (pre-wrathers and post-toasties) who think you can hide out in your bunkers for seven years surviving on canned beans and recycled water, think again. The cost of following Christ within those seven years is guaranteed martyrdom (Rev. 6:9-11, 7:9-15, 13:7-8). It will not be like the movies. You cannot prepare for hell on earth, because there will be nowhere to hide, nowhere to run and no one to run to. The whole world will be against you, and with the technology already available to the coming Beast Kingdom, there is no chance of surviving. The only ones who are guaranteed protection, are the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev. 7:1-8) and the 1/3 of the Jews who eventually flee to Petra (Zech. 13:8). Other than that, the only hope you have now is to go up in the Rapture before the Tribulation begins, or die a martyr's death after it.
It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:7-8 (Emphasis mine)
As far as the church having to endure some extended preview of this dystopian existence before the Rapture, I am not convinced of that either. There are two reasons why I believe that there will remain a sense of normalcy here in the West until the Lord’s return. The first is found in Luke 17:25-36 (i.e., the days of Noah and Lot), which can only be speaking of the time immediately before the Tribulation occurs; not during, nor after.
And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until theday that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so, will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. Luke 17:25-36
My second reason is based on the chronological stages of the Church (as found in Revelation 2-3). The condition of the last church, the Laodicean church (as it turns out, the “western” church), is that it is in a final state of being lukewarm. I would argue that it is impossible (or highly unlikely) to be lukewarm when suffering under the banner of persecution or hardship. Normalcy almost always results in complacency and complacency promotes the sense that things will continue on as they always have. And for the past two hundred years, things have continued on somewhat normally here in the west.
But even here in the west these last forty years, the moral and societal conditions have deteriorated to the point that we are now entering a time where things are becoming uncomfortable for the true followers of Christ. The ratcheting up of tensions between the world and true followers has resulted not in the Great Reset, but the Great Fence-Shaking, where the wheat and chaff are being separated; one for deliverance, the other for destruction.
Perhaps this is a poor analogy, but we are like those frogs in the proverbial pot of water that is being brought to boil. For the world, the water being heated is life and comfort. But the true believers know what the water and the pot represent; it represents the boil and death.
The fact that the water is heating up to the point of being noticeable is making many true Christians increasingly uncomfortable with this prospect. I guess you could say we are more sensitive to it because of our knowledge of it (i.e., Bible prophecy). Nevertheless, we know where things are headed, and this knowledge is escalating the anxiety inside of some. However, Scripture tells us to be anxious for nothing, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make our requests known to God (Phil. 4:6).
So friends, be anxious for nothing. We will be delivered before the boil. This is why it's called the "blessed hope." God is neither double-mind nor sadistic in regards to our deliverance as some would have you believe. We are His bride, and we were purchased with the precious blood of His Son. We need no further refinement, nor judgment in order to be made worthy. We are made worthy by His Son's shed blood on Calvary.
We cannot be promised to be taken where He is, before the wrath, only to have to endure any part of it. Noah didn't have to swim his way to the ark and then climb aboard as some forgotten castaway. Lot wasn't running and ducking fiery projectiles as he scrambled out of Sodom. No, they were both delivered before those judgments began. Likewise, we will be delivered before the hour of testing (God's wrath) comes upon the whole world (1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9, Rev. 3:10). Therefore, the most important bit of preparation we can do in this life is to turn our cares and fears over to God and rest in His peace.
Again, nothing wrong with making some practical preparations for living life on a fallen planet; but we are not to obsess over it. We are to watch and pray that we are worthy to escape all these things (Luke 21:36). Glory be to God our worthiness is not in our own strength but in Christ's. Thus, the Creator of the universe says this regarding our fate-
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” John 10:28-30
What Russia Wants in Ukraine – Soren Kern - https://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=5106
A massive build-up of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border is fueling speculation of an imminent invasion. Western leaders have warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against military action, but, especially after the catastrophic American withdrawal from Afghanistan, they appear divided and weak and may be unable to stop him.
A Russian invasion of Ukraine, if successful, would expand Moscow's sphere of influence along its western border and pave the way for Eastern Europe and the Baltics to come under Russian domination once again.
On December 3, the Washington Post reported that it had obtained an American intelligence document which assessed that Russia is planning a multi-front offensive involving nearly 200,000 troops within the next few months. The unclassified document, which includes satellite photos, shows Russian forces massing in four locations near Ukraine.
The document states that Russia already has roughly half the units -- 50 battlefield strike groups consisting of a total of 70,000 troops -- it needs for an invasion deployed near the border. Most of those units have arrived since September. A Biden administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said:
"The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia's snap exercise near Ukraine's borders. The plans involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armor, artillery and equipment."
The American intelligence assessment -- leaked on the same day that Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that Russia has amassed nearly 100,000 troops near the border and will be ready to invade in late January 2022 -- comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the Ukraine situation with his European counterparts. On December 1, after a NATO summit in Latvia, Blinken said:
"We don't know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide. We must prepare for all contingencies.
"We've made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high impact economic measures that we've refrained from using in the past."
On December 2, Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Stockholm. Blinken demanded that Russia withdraw troops from the Ukrainian border. Lavrov deflected by warning that his country regarded the eastward expansion of the NATO military alliance as a "fundamental" security threat.
"No one should strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others," Lavrov said. "NATO's further eastward expansion will obviously affect our fundamental security interests."
Putin, speaking at an investment forum in Moscow, warned that Russia would act if its "red lines" on Ukraine were crossed by NATO.
NATO has not agreed to grant Ukraine membership, nor has the alliance deployed troops or weapons to Ukraine. NATO views Ukraine as a "partner" and has provided training and other forms of military support.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg indicated that the alliance would not defend Ukraine if it was attacked by Russia:
"It is important to distinguish between NATO allies and partner Ukraine. NATO allies, there we provide [Article 5] guarantees, collective defense guarantees, and we will defend and protect all allies.
"Ukraine is a partner, a highly-valued partner. There's a difference between a partner Ukraine and an ally like, for instance, Latvia. We need to understand the difference between a NATO ally, Latvia, other Baltic countries, Poland, Romania, and a close and highly valued partner, Ukraine. We provide support for Ukraine ... for the NATO allies we have the security guarantees, Article 5."
NATO did not defend Ukraine after Russia's first invasion in 2014, when Moscow occupied and then annexed the Crimean Peninsula, nor did it defend Georgia, another NATO "partner," after Russia's invasion in 2008.
Stoltenberg hinted that the Western response to any Russian invasion would be limited to economic sanctions:
"There will be a high price to pay for Russia if they once again use force against the independent, sovereign nation Ukraine. We have demonstrated our ability to impose costs, economic, political actions."
Stoltenberg also said that Russia has no right to extend its "sphere of influence" over Ukraine:
"It is only Ukraine and 30 NATO allies that decide when Ukraine is ready to join NATO. Russia has no veto. Russia has no say. And Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence, trying to control their neighbors....
"They try to re-establish some kind of acceptance that Russia has the right to control what neighbors do, or not do....
"I, myself, I'm coming from a small country bordering Russia. And I'm very glad that our NATO allies have never respected that Russia has the kind of right to establish a sphere of influence in the North, trying to decide what Norway, as a small, independent country can do or not do.
"And that's exactly the same for Ukraine. Ukraine is an independent, sovereign nation with internationally recognized borders, guaranteed by Russia and all the other powers. And those borders, those internationally recognized borders should be respected. And that includes, of course, Crimea as part of Ukraine, and Donbas as part of Ukraine. So, this idea that NATO's support to a sovereign nation is the provocation, is just wrong. It's to respect the sovereignty of, the will of, the Ukrainian people.
"So I think that tells more about Russia than about NATO."
On December 3, U.S. President Joe Biden said that his administration was "putting together...the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he's going to do."
A spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council said that Washington was "deeply concerned by evidence that Russia is stepping up its planning for significant military action against Ukraine." He concluded:
"The Biden administration has been consistent in our message to Russia: the United States does not seek conflict, and the best way to avert a crisis and a negative spiral in the broader relationship is through diplomacy and de-escalation."
The London-based Financial Times reported that some European officials were "surprised" about the strength of the U.S. intelligence assessment and that authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have spent weeks comparing and contrasting their evaluations.
The newspaper added that the Biden administration is seeking to announce the consequences to Russia of a Ukraine invasion as part of a diplomatic push to deter Putin from deciding to act.
An American defense official told the Financial Times that the Biden administration was considering providing weaponry to Ukraine, but that inter-agency discussions were continuing and no decisions had yet been made.
On December 3, a Biden administration official said:
"Since the beginning of this administration we have demonstrated that the United States and our allies are willing to use a number of tools to address harmful Russian actions, and we will not hesitate from making use of those and other tools in the future."
On December 6, in an interview with the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, Reznikov, the Ukrainian defense minister, urged military support from Britain, Canada and the United States, even if it is outside NATO. He said that the "Anglo-Saxon allies" were more likely to challenge Putin's aggressive behavior than countries like France and Germany, which are more concerned about maintaining their economic relationships with Russia.
What Does Russia Want?
Analysts are divided on what is motivating Putin. Some believe that he is using the Ukraine issue to deflect from runaway inflation and a divisive push for Covid vaccine passports. Others say that Putin is fixated on restoring Russian control over Ukraine and other former members of the former Soviet Union.
Max Seddon, Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times, wrote:
"Analysts say Putin's desire to rid Ukraine of western influence is underpinned by a conviction that it is an inalienable part of the 'Russian world,' a Moscow-centric sphere of influence rooted in the Soviet Union and the Tsarist empire.
"Putin has described the collapse of the USSR, which separated millions of intermarried families on either side of the Ukrainian border, as 'the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century' and has questioned the grounds on which Ukraine broke off from Russia.
"Following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin likened the Ukrainian peninsula, where Vladimir the Great -- the first Christian ruler of Rus, a medieval state ruled from Kyiv -- was baptized in 988AD, as 'Russia's Temple Mount' -- a notion that has no theological basis but cast Putin as the protector of Russians everywhere."
In July, Putin published a 5,000-word article -- "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians" -- in which he wrote that he was convinced that the "true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia." He vowed Moscow would never allow the country to become "anti-Russia."
Putin was apparently referring to laws introduced by the Ukrainian government in July 2019 that aim to promote the primacy of the Ukrainian language. Those laws limit the use of the Russian language in public settings and exclude Russians from a list of Ukraine's "indigenous peoples."
In an interview with the Financial Times, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya said:
"In Putin's understanding, the people of Ukraine are basically one with Russians, so they should support integration with Russia. But since the country is under the thumb of the West the people are being tricked -- they're hostage to geopolitical games. If the Americans left, it'd be a unified state and everything would be great. Or so Putin thinks."
Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine's former foreign minister, added:
"Putin has a sense of mission on reinstalling a new kind of empire. It's sitting very deep in his mind. Not just Ukraine's success, but also any separate path of Ukraine would be highly damaging to the Russian mythology.
"The narrative in Russia is that there is no Ukrainian identity as such, including history, language, mentality and statehood. Putin's stance on Ukraine is highly irrational. Ukrainians and Russians have two different sets of values."
Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko said:
"Putin's article claims to be about history, but in reality it is about the future and not the past. Ukraine holds the key to Putin's dreams of restoring Russia's great power status. He is painfully aware that without Ukraine, this will be impossible.
"Putin's essay does not actually contain anything new. Indeed, we have already heard these same arguments many times before. However, his article does help clarify that the current conflict is not about control over Crimea or eastern Ukraine's Donbas region; it is a war for the whole of Ukraine. Putin makes it perfectly clear that his goal is to keep Ukraine firmly within the Russian sphere of influence and to prevent Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration."
Swedish scholar Anders Åslund warned:
"Make no mistake: by denying Ukraine's right to independence, Putin is setting the stage for war. The West must quickly decide what it is willing to do to prevent it."
Western Weakness, Energy Dependence
Putin appears to have become emboldened by perceptions that the West will most likely make public protests but do nothing to stop him.
In Europe, policies promoted for decades by Germany have allowed the European Union to become overly dependent on Russia for its energy supplies. If, in retaliation for a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU or the United States were to impose economic sanctions that threatened the survival of the Putin regime, Moscow could stop deliveries of oil and natural gas. Such a move would quickly bring the European Union to its knees and force the bloc to lift its sanctions.
Putin also appears to view the Biden administration as feeble and feckless. In July, for instance, the White House abruptly reversed long-standing bi-partisan policy consensus and reached an agreement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that allows for the completion of a controversial natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
The deal to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would double shipments of Russian natural gas to Germany by transporting the gas under the Baltic Sea, angered the leaders of many countries in Eastern and Western Europe; they argued that it will effectively give Moscow a stranglehold over European gas supplies and open the continent to Russian blackmail.
Both the Obama and Trump administrations opposed the pipeline on the grounds that, once completed, it would strengthen Putin's energy stranglehold over Europe.
The Trump administration was especially critical of the pipeline because it will funnel billions of dollars to Russia at a time when Germany is free-riding on the U.S. defense umbrella that protects Germany from that same Russia.
Just one day before the Biden-Merkel deal was announced, State Department Spokesman Ned Price criticized the pipeline as a "Kremlin geopolitical project that is intended to expand Russia's influence over Europe's energy resources and to circumvent Ukraine." White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had also previously asserted that the Biden administration "continues to believe that Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal for Europe."
The Biden administration has not explained why or how completion of the pipeline would promote American or European strategic interests. The White House reportedly urged Ukraine to withhold public criticism of the deal with Germany and also asked Ukrainian officials not to discuss the agreement with members of the U.S. Congress. The Biden administration warned Ukraine that going public with opposition to Nord Stream 2 could "damage the Washington-Kyiv bilateral relationship."
In November 2021, a classified German government document leaked to Axios, an American news website, showed that Germany urged the U.S. Congress not to impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The document stated that opposition to the pipeline would "weaken the credibility of the U.S. government" and "seriously weaken transatlantic unity on Russia." It also claimed that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses "no threat" to Ukraine.
Geopolitical analysts on both sides of the Atlantic say that the pipeline deal will: 1) weaken American and strengthen Russian influence in Europe; 2) heighten divisions between the Eastern and Western European members of the European Union; 3) push some of the EU's eastern periphery closer to China; 4) deprive Ukraine of the transit fees it now collects on gas pumped through an existing pipeline and thereby undermine Kiev's struggle against Russian aggression; and 5) allow Putin to strong-arm Germany and the European Union by turning off deliveries of natural gas whenever he wants.
Failed Peace Talks
Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in an armed conflict since February 2014, when Russia occupied and annexed the Crimean Peninsula. Russia subsequently occupied much of the industrial Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Russia is accused of arming and financing a separatist uprising in Ukraine. The conflict has cost over 14,000 lives and left millions displaced.
In September 2014, Russia and Ukraine signed a peace plan -- the Minsk Protocol -- for eastern Ukraine. The Minsk-1 agreement was drafted by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, which consisted of representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the OSCE. It failed to stop fighting in Donbas. The Minsk-2 agreement, signed in February 2015, was mediated by the leaders of France and Germany in the so-called Normandy Format. The new agreement contained 13 provisions, hardly any of which have been implemented. Russia and Ukraine have each accused each other of failing to honor the agreement.
In 2021, Russia built-up troops on Ukraine's borders on two separate occasions. In May, Moscow deployed around 100,000 troops near the border and in Crimea. In September, Russia deployed nearly 200,000 troops to Belarus, which shares a long border with Ukraine. Some military analysts described the deployments as rehearsals for a full-scale Russian offensive.
On December 2, during their meeting in Stockholm, Blinken, sitting alongside Lavrov, called for Russia to resume negotiations with Ukraine over the Minsk-2 agreement within the "Normandy Format," sponsored by France and Germany. Lavrov demanded that the United States create an alternate channel of dialogue directly with the Kremlin.
Some analysts believe the latest Russian troop build-up on the border is designed, at least in part, to force direct negotiations between Moscow and Washington, according to David Herszenhorn, chief Brussels correspondent for Politico. A separate channel of dialogue could undermine the Normandy Format and further divide the West by prying apart Europe and the United States.
In a recent column, David Ignatius, foreign affairs commentator for the Washington Post, revealed that such a separate channel may already be in operation. The Biden administration, he wrote, "had signaled support for an eventual diplomatic deal on Ukraine that would give Putin much of what he wanted."
In an essay published by the Center for European Policy Analysis, analysts Edward Lucas, Ben Hodges and Carsten Schmiedl wrote:
"The Russian regime's foremost interest is its own hold on power. All policy, internal and external, stems from this overriding goal. The Kremlin sees the West, the European Union (EU), and NATO as threats to this stability, and as potential instigators of 'color revolutions' that will exploit Russia's ethnic, religious, political, and other fissures.
"The long-term goal is, therefore, a polycentric or multipolar world in which multilateral, rules-based organizations are unable to dictate terms to Russia. Instead, the Kremlin aims to be the dominant power in Eurasia, using Russia's size to exert strong influence over its neighbors and over small countries, and to bargain with big countries on an equal basis....
"The ongoing war in Ukraine gives Russia a semi-permanent seat in European security discussions, and exploits underlying differences between France and Germany on one side, and the United States and other European countries on the other."
Writing for the Poland-based Center for Eastern Studies, Russia expert Marek Menkiszak noted:
"Recent weeks have brought further displays of Russia's escalating aggressive rhetoric and actions towards Ukraine, including troop movements near its border, as well as use of energy as leverage. This raises questions about Moscow's intentions. Both the statements of Russian leaders and the policy of the Russian Federation in recent years indicate that it has not abandoned attempts to achieve one of its main policy objectives: restoring control over Ukraine.
This is despite the fact that its actions to date -- both limited military aggression and political, economic, and propaganda pressure -- have only moved it further away from this goal. In the current conditions, with the stalemate in the Donbas conflict continuing, the Russian Federation is faced with a choice of its future strategy towards Ukraine. It has two main options: to escalate the armed conflict in the Donbas in order to achieve a rapid breakthrough, or to intensify long-term pressure, i.e. to play for Kyiv's gradual exhaustion. The choice of strategy depends on the Russian perception of the situation, the attitude of Ukraine itself, and the behavior of key Western actors....
"There are several arguments in favor of the escalation scenario. Firstly, Moscow is apparently impatient with the lack of results from its previous policy of pressure on Kyiv. Secondly, the longer Ukraine remains outside Moscow's strategic control, the further it distances itself from Moscow in all respects, and the stronger its independent existence becomes. Third, the Kremlin may see the current international situation as conducive to the implementation of such a plan.
"The first important factor here is Moscow's likely perception of the relative weakness of the US -- a key actor that could prevent it from pursuing aggressive action against Ukraine. The Kremlin's initial fear of 'retribution' from the new Joe Biden administration for its interference in the 2016 presidential election seems to have given way to the belief that Washington is focused on domestic problems and the challenge from China, so it is seeking to improve relations with the Russian Federation. This may be evidenced by, among other things, decisions to drop further restrictions targeting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a rather mild response to dangerous Russian cyberattacks on the United States (including on elements of its critical infrastructure), and an intensification of political and security (including arms control) dialogue with Moscow."
In an essay published by the US-based Jamestown Foundation, Ukrainian diplomat Olexander Scherba wrote:
"It is now November 2021, and Ukraine's warnings about Nord Stream Two were not heard. The pipeline, whose main purpose is to make Europe more dependent on Russia, was built -- on Europe's dime but under Russian Gazprom's ownership and control. Nord Stream Two has yet to be certified, but it is already causing substantial problems.
"Because of the pipeline, the European Union is divided and Russia is all the more convinced that the EU is weak and corruptible. Moscow lobbyists around the world pontificate that, with energy demand as well as prices soaring, the West's 'green delusion' is finally over, and the world is back to an era of rule by nations that have what really counts: oil, gas and coal.
"For quite a while, Moscow has pursued a three-fold strategy: fool Europe, corrupt Europe, seduce Europe. The Nord Stream Two saga included all three elements. It fooled Europe by promising an unnecessary pipeline that was rooted in geopolitical expediency. It corrupted Europe, by hiring its former leaders to lucrative advisory contracts and allowing Europe to finance what it promised would eventually be a cash cow. With the pipeline certification under consideration, Russia is now in the seduction phase, promising that once Nord Stream Two is certified, gas supply problems, will go away. Of course, that is like saying that one more bottle of vodka will make alcoholism go away....
"Do not make the mistake of handing an essential part of Europe's future to a country that is demonstratively not the EU's friend. Time will not be kind to such decision or to those who made it."
In an essay published by the European Council on Foreign Relations, analyst Gustav Gressel concluded:
"Russia has a clear aim: to weaken Ukraine so much that it will be relatively easy to control the country's politics. Moscow can achieve this by forcing Kyiv to implement the Minsk agreement on its terms -- which would establish a de facto Russian veto on Ukrainian domestic affairs -- and by starting and exploiting anti-government revolts.
Alternatively, Moscow could pressure Washington to 'deliver' Ukraine by signing security guarantees that favored Russia. These guarantees would prohibit Ukraine from not only joining NATO but also engaging in any form of cooperation with the West that would strengthen its resilience. This would eventually force Ukraine back into Moscow's sphere of influence.
"Given these considerations, Kyiv may believe that it can either fight for independence now or be forced to do so later -- probably in more challenging circumstances. Therefore, Kyiv may believe that it is worth standing up against a militarily superior enemy....
"If Russia's coercive strategy works well, there is no guarantee that it will stop with Ukraine. Russia's current alteration of the force structure in its Western Military District is partly directed against NATO. With Chinese-Russian military cooperation increasing, today's imponderables may become tomorrow's possibilities. American generals have long warned Europeans that, in the coming decades, the US may not be in a position to simultaneously protect its Asian and European allies against the threat of both China and Russia....
"Many European leaders do not seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation. One can see this in the defense of Nord Stream 2 in recently leaked German cables to members of the US Congress: Ukraine has a gun to its head, but the German government only seems worried about the survival of its pipeline. Berlin and Paris are resistant to a stronger NATO reaction -- citing fears that Russia may feel threatened by a military capable Ukrainian state that has the support of the alliance. This is just the kind of poor judgement that enables Russian military aggression.
"For now, many eastern and central European nations may feel secure in the assumption that Washington will protect them by placing Moscow under diplomatic and military pressure. But they should not be complacent: while certain groups of think-tankers have been arguing for concessions to Russia since 2014, their ideas have gained a new resonance this time. A Washington preoccupied with countering Beijing may soon be willing to turn these arguments into policy -- not for their brilliance, but for their convenience."
The UN Just Put Up A Giant Statue In New York That Resembles A “Beast” Described In The Book Of Revelation - by Michael Snyder - http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/the-un-just-put-up-a-giant-statue-in-new-york-that-closely-resembles-a-beast-described-in-the-book-of-revelation/
One of the strangest statues that I have ever seen in my entire life has just been set up right outside UN Headquarters in New York City. When I first heard about this, I could hardly believe that the global elite would be so brazen, and so I checked into this very carefully. Unfortunately, this is not just a bad rumor. This absolutely gigantic statue is called “The Guardian of International Peace and Security”, and it looks like something out of a science fiction movie. It does not resemble any known creature on this planet. Instead, it appears to very closely resemble a “beast” that is described in the Book of Revelation. If you have not seen it yet, you can see video footage of this “beast” right here. Did they really think that they could put this up without anyone noticing?
If you do a search on Google News for this statue, you won’t find a single story from the mainstream media.
Hopefully that will change soon, because people need to know about this.
Before I go any further, let me share with you what the United Nations is saying about this new statue…
A guardian for international peace and security sits on the Visitor’s Plaza outside #UN Headquarters. The guardian is a fusion of jaguar and eagle and donated by the Government of Oaxaca, Mexico @MexOnu. It is created by artists Jacobo and Maria Angeles.
So it is supposed to be a “fusion” of a jaguar and an eagle.
And just by coincidence, it has been painted in LGBT colors.
Of course when Christians see this monstrosity, they are immediately going to think of the “beast” that is described in Revelation chapter 13…
2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Jaguars and leopards have builds that are at least somewhat similar, and so I guess one could make an argument that the body of the statue resembles either one.
As for the feet, they do seem to resemble those of a bear, and it is noteworthy that the feet are a totally different color from the rest of the body.
When it comes to the mouth, to me it looks more like the mouth of a lion rather than the mouth of a jaguar.
As for the wings, I suppose that it could be argued that they were modeled after the wings of eagles.
But in ancient lore dragons were also reported to have wings, and it is interesting to note that a “dragon” is specifically mentioned in Revelation chapter 13.
Tomorrow morning, Revelation 13 is scheduled to be part of my regular Bible reading.
Just another “coincidence” I suppose.
Later on in Revelation chapter 13, we learn that this “beast” that the Apostle John was shown represents the Antichrist which will rule the entire world during the days of the Great Tribulation…
4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
If this statue was actually purposely modeled after the “beast” of Revelation 13, could it be possible that the United Nations has just put out a huge “welcome mat” for the Antichrist?
For much more on the future reign of the Antichrist, please see my new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse”.
The statue that has just been erected outside UN headquarters in New York is also reminding many of a passage in Daniel chapter 7…
2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
These prophetic passages in the Bible are very well known, and officials at the UN must have realized that the statue would be linked to such passages by millions upon millions of people all over the globe.
But they put it up anyway.
With each passing day, things just keep getting weirder, and we continue to get more signs that we are in the end times. I think that Bible prophecy expert Ricky Scaparo summed things up very well when he made this statement…
I believe the Lord is revealing these things to those who are spiritually discerning and awake in this hour to assure us that the time of the end is drawing closer and that we need to be watchful and remain in prayer as the “Day of the Lord” is at hand.
Needless to say, a giant statue of Jesus would never be allowed right outside of UN headquarters in New York.
But even if they publicly admitted that this statue represents the Antichrist, only a very small fraction of the population would insist that it should be taken down.
We truly are living in very troubled times, and the stage is definitely being set for the cataclysmic events described in the Book of Revelation.
Prince of Peace - Nathele Graham - email@example.com
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6.
Are you tired of the turmoil in this life? There’s so much violence and hatred, wars and rumors of war. I’m tired of it all. Unfortunately, things aren’t going to get better for a while. How do I know? Jesus said so. We like to think that once we become a Christian life is a bed of roses. Well, that would be nice. The truth is, that’s when conflict really begins. Why is that? A spiritual war has raged since the beginning of time. God is love, but Satan is hate. God loves His creation, but Satan only seeks to cause turmoil and destroy. When you give your life to Christ, you become an enemy of Satan, and he will do all he can to make your life miserable. It’s up to us to keep our minds and hearts on Jesus. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9. It isn’t easy to avoid a roaring lion that’s out to get you, but his power fades at the name of Jesus. James gives us good advice as to how to avoid that evil, roaring lion. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. Submit. Humble yourself. Bow your heart to Jesus.
When we come to Jesus for salvation, we make a choice. If everyone you know rejects Christ, stand firm on Jesus and you may be the one to lead friends and relatives to salvation through Jesus. Unfortunately, there may be much conflict and turmoil involved. Jesus said, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”. Luke 12:51-53. This doesn’t condone dysfunctional families. This means that if you choose to follow Jesus, you risk making family angry with you. In many cultures, accepting Christ means you will be shunned and rejected by your parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters. In some cases, you run the risk of being killed because of your choice. Since God is love, and wrote the command “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12. We know that God cannot contradict Himself, so can Jesus really mean to draw battle lines in your family? You can honor and serve Jesus without dishonoring your parents. Just keep Christ first, and your family may see the joy and peace within you, and want the same peace you have.
One day, there will be peace on this earth. When? That will only happen when Jesus reigns. There will be peace on earth, but that time is still in the future. Until then there will continue to be war and conflict. The Prince of Peace said so. In speaking of the end times, Jesus said “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:6-8. People will continue to live in opposition to God, which will continue to bring conflict. We see this conflict all around us. The news is filled with stories of wickedness and hate. If things are getting worse, when will they get better? That time is coming. For Christians, the perfect peace of God will come when God takes us Home in the Rapture. Revelation chapter 4 describes the glories we will see when we are all taken to Heaven. The Apostle John was given a preview of what we will see there. The description is mind-boggling. John had to use human words to describe what he saw, but I’m sure that he was trying to describe the indescribable. He saw a throne, and the One who sat on the throne gave the impression of precious stones (jasper and sardine stones), and there was an emerald rainbow around the throne. I try to visualize this, and my mind just cannot grasp the wonders. Not only were the sights amazing to behold, but the sounds were also amazing. “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Revelation 4:5. John must have been overwhelmed by all he saw and heard.
In front of the throne was a sea of glass, and around the throne were four very strange looking beasts. These beasts were full of eyes and had six wings, and they continually said “…Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8b. I read these words and get chills thinking about the beautiful worship in Heaven, and knowing I will see and hear it one day soon. What a marvel that will be. Then I think that Jesus chose to leave this glory, to enter His creation, in order to bring the only way of salvation for this fallen world. He left the worship of Heaven knowing full well that He would be mocked, beaten, and crucified. It was His love for you and me that prompted Him to come to earth. He was born in a manger, and the angels told of His birth to shepherds. Those shepherds left their flocks in order to find their Messiah. The human child born in a manger in Bethlehem, was the Son God gave to redeem the world from sin and death. Praise Him now.
As you rush around spending too much money on gifts, and encouraging your children to believe in Santa Clause, take time to remember the Prince of Peace, who left His home in glory, to be born in a manger. His birth brought hope into the world, and His death brought salvation for everyyone who believes in Him. Jesus is the Prince of Peace...Lord of lords and King of kings. Worship Him today and always.
God bless you all,
Recommended prophecy sites:
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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Daily Jot: COVID deaths under Biden surpass those under Trump - Bill Wilson – www.dailyjot.com
A milestone of the Biden presidency has been established, and it’s not a good one. COVID related deaths under the Biden Administration’s first 10 months have surpassed those of former President Trump’s last 12 months when inoculations against the contagion were unavailable. According to statistics kept by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, some 396,529 people in the US have died from COVID under Joe Biden, before he has even reached his 11th month in office, eclipsing the entire US COVID death toll of 396,442 recorded in one year under Trump. Biden campaigned against Trump saying that anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain President.
Armed with a “vaccine,” CDC- and MSC- mandated treatment protocols, FDA backing, unconstitutional mandates, and the bully pulpit hand-feeding a biased news media bent on censoring and demonizing dissent as “misinformation,” the Biden Administration has failed to defeat or even curb this contagion. What is it they say about the definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results? That’s what is happening right now. Instead of ridiculing effective treatments and blaming the unvaccinated for not going along with unconstitutional government mandates, the Biden Administration should be marshalling the strength of all medical modalities to develop a safe and effective cure for COVID.
The CARES Act of March 2020 incentivized hospitals to vaccinate, test, diagnose, admit, use add-on treatments such as remdesivir and ventilators, and report COVID 19-related deaths. Total payments are estimated between $80,000 to $100,000 per patient. By law, these “incentives” must be paid back if not “earned” by making the COVID-19 diagnosis and following the COVID-19 protocol. Additionally, the use of remdesivir was discontinued in the 2018 Ebola crisis because the mortality rate exceeded 50%. A National Library of Medicine January 2021 report of 69 studies involving over 57,000 patients concluded that fatality rates were 45% among COVID 19 patients receiving ventilator treatment. The fatality rate increased to 84% in older patients. Then came the ever-changing “vaccine” narrative.
First, the vaccine would prevent COVID and all things would return to normal. Then the narrative was that the vaccine is effective against severity of symptoms and death. A few weeks later, the vaccinated were protected against severe symptoms and death, but could still contract the disease. Then the vaccinated could actually transmit the disease. Then people needed a booster after 4-6 months because efficacy waned. Now another booster is needed for the new Omicron variant. Obviously, this serum has not performed as anticipated, but that doesn’t deter the government, big medicine, big pharma, or big media. Now the FDA wants 75 years protection on releasing Pfiizer vaccine data. Ephesians 5:6 says, “Let no man deceive you with vain words.” Deaths indicate that the Biden plan isn’t working. But you better comply and think it is.
Johns Hopkins data: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/11/06/2020-24332/additional-policy-and-regulatory-revisions-in-response-to-the-covid-19-public-health-emergency
CARES Act: https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ136/PLAW-116publ136.pdf
New England Journal of Medicine: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1910993
National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33119402/
Daily Devotion: The Right Way to Find Happiness - by Greg Laurie – www.harvest.org
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. —Mark 8:35
https://harvest.org/resources/devotion/the-right-way-to-find-happiness/ - Listen
In our selfie culture of today, people have literally died trying to get the ultimate photos of themselves by doing something dangerous. We want to look good and give the appearance that we have it all together. Basically, we’re obsessed with ourselves.
The Bible even says that one of the signs of the last days would be that people will love only themselves: “In the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God” (2 Timothy 3:1–2 NLT).
Is that not an accurate statement of today? In contrast to our narcissistic culture, Jesus said, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it” (Mark 8:35 NLT).
Jesus was effectively saying, “If you get your priorities in order, if you deny yourself and take up the cross, you will find fulfillment in life.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be happy. But it won’t come from chasing happiness.
Here’s what you need to know: Selfish people are unhappy people. Studies have confirmed this. You can get a momentary burst of what we might call temporary happiness by doing something selfish. But as one expert pointed out, selfish happiness fades quickly and then drives you to more selfish behavior.
On the other hand, acts of selflessness bring happiness. Many of us know this from experience. When we’ve done something for someone else, putting the needs of another person before our own, we’ve experienced happiness.
That’s really what Jesus was saying. You won’t find happiness by pursuing it. You’ll find it by putting God first in your life and following Him.
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