Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Elation and Empathy as the Rapture Nears - By Ronda Lane - http://www.raptureready.com/2017/11/08/elation-empathy-rapture-nears/
This is a study of the conflict between the elation of the rapture in comparison to the empathy for those who have not yet accepted Christ, knowing they will soon enter the most horrific time period ever known to mankind.
We believers are witnessing the last hours of the age of grace, and how all future end-time Bible prophecy is aligning. Current characteristics foretold of the last days are prevalent (2 Tim.3:1-5, Rom. 1:18-32, Jude 1:18, 2 Pet. 3:3-7, 2 Tim. 4:3-4, et al).
We witness these things, knowing that the rapture is imminent (no date is given, no preceding events which must occur prior to). Yet we know all that was foretold to occur AFTER the rapture, and we recognize these things are aligning in rapid fashion.
This gives most of us conflicting emotions.
First, we are thrilled and excited that we will soon meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:16-18), that we will soon receive the promised resurrected and incorruptible bodies (1 Cor. 15:49-53), and those glorified bodies will be like Jesus' very own (1 John 3:2).
God truly knows how we long for this, how "we groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23).
This longing and expectation grows stronger every day. God's word calls this an "earnest expectation" (Rom. 8:19), and says we are to wait "with patience" (Rom. 8:25).
We are told (and understand) that we are waiting for righteousness. "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Gal. 5:5, KJV).
We know that, although we are saved, as long as we are still in these fleshy bodies so does sin also dwell with us (Rom.7: 14-25). It's a constant battle to die to self and to submit to the Lord's leading.
This "hope of righteousness" is what we desire even more than the promised eternal bodies, even more than being reunited with fellow believers who have gone on before us, even more than to enjoy the promised rewards. We will never be tempted to sin; sin will no longer dwell with us (or with anyone else in heaven).
No, we can't fully comprehend what that means since, for all of our lives, we've had sin dwelling and present with us and with all those around us. We witness all the world's woes that are because of sin.
Imagine... no more sin! Only righteousness!
It's no wonder we believers are so fired up and excited about the rapture. After all, what's NOT to love about our soon catching up out of this evil, vile, sin-filled cesspool? That is what this article is about. The ONLY thing that most of us are grappling with is those who have yet to come to Christ.
We women are more emotional and/or nurturing than men. God Himself made us this way for a reason. Yet we ALL (both men and women) are admonished to be empathetic to the sufferings of others.
"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Rom. 12:15).
There is more scripture devoted to how we are to behave towards others. But even more so, we (believers) have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who also leads and guides us into all truth (John 16:13).
He brings to our hearts and minds the empathy and consideration for the suffering of others. We recognize their current and/or physical suffering that we can witness with our eyes and ears, but we also recognize what is soon to befall the unbelieving world. The suffering to come (for them) will be horrific.
How could our hearts NOT break over this, especially if we have loved ones and relatives who have not yet come to Christ for salvation?
We can share the gospel with them (if they are even willing to listen at all). We can beg and plead with them, reason with them, pray for them (as we should), and yet... it's up to each individual to make that one most important decision of all: whether to accept/believe in Jesus for salvation, or whether to reject/deny Him (John 3:18).
We can't make the decision for them. God gave us all free will for that very reason. He loved us ALL so much that He gave His only begotten Son as a propitiation for our sins. Jesus, who never sinned, is the only One acceptable payment for our sins (Rom. 3:25, 1 John 4:10, John 3:16-18, et al). There is no other way (John 14:6).
We believers recognize how wonderful a gift He has given. What an opportunity to be grafted in as mere wild olives (Romans 11) and yet to be joint heirs with Jesus Himself! (Rom. 8:17, Titus 3:7, and others).
It's so difficult for us to comprehend how anyone would NOT want to accept and believe in Christ for salvation. I admit there are times when I just want to shake some and yell "WAKE UP." We wonder how could anyone "neglect so great salvation?" (Heb. 2:3).
The most common reason for those who reject salvation is that they believe they are 'good' people. Sadly, they compare themselves to others, and that is the standard by which they measure their sins and good deeds (2 Cor.10:12), when instead, it's the righteousness of God Himself that we must hold both our sins and good deeds up to, as our very best is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:3).
They do know in their hearts that we are ALL sinners (Rom. 3:23). Yet, that's where their desire to comprehend stops. For if they were to allow themselves to truly consider that no matter how 'good' they think they are, it could never come close to the righteousness of God.
The only way to deal with sin is to have it removed, washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 1:5, 1 John 1:7-9, 1 Cor. 6:11).
"And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil. 3:9).
And this is where the biggest struggle comes in. The one thing that stands in the way of the sinner and salvation is PRIDE. No wonder! Pride was the downfall of the devil (Isaiah 13:12-15, Ezek. 28:11-17, et al). Sadly, he had been given beauty, brightness, every precious stone as a covering, and an anointed place; and yet he chose willfully to sin. So as pride was his downfall, so too it's what he uses to lure mankind in.
Many may go so far as to admit being a sinner (if they even get that far), but to admit that they cannot, themselves, meet the righteous requirements of the One Holy God? That is the very thing they refuse to acknowledge.
Why? To admit this is to admit that they are enjoying the sins they wallow in, and they have a deep fear of being convicted of the sins, preferring to continue in those sins rather than deal with them in the only one way possible-through Christ alone.
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John 3:19-20).
A very dear relative came to visit me a few months ago. And he kept saying, "It's so quiet here! There's no TV, no radio... how can you stand it?" It was an eye-opening event for me. Why? Because I realized at that moment (as if a light bulb had been turned on) that MOST people spend every waking moment with NOISE and distractions... and not by chance, but on purpose.
Even most children and young adults no longer have creative, imaginative playtime, or quiet time to read or study, but expect to be entertained instead.
The modern person thinks they MUST have continuous entertainment to drown out... what? To drown out their conscience. To drown out the Holy Spirit who is trying to convict them of sin. To overtake any thoughts they may have of eternity. They refuse to even speak of "what happens when we die," or any such topic that may make them uncomfortable.
The devil has a tailor-made distraction (or multiple distractions) for each individual. Even believers can be derailed by distractions. It's vital that a person spend some 'quiet time' to reflect, and especially (for the believer) to study God's word. And yet we see that most professing believers don't even bother to study scripture nowadays, but instead prefer to listen to videos, audio podcasts, etc.
Sadly, many professing Christians live exactly as the unsaved world: TV, movies, music, hobbies, sports, entertainment of all kinds... and yet they claim to have "no time to study" God's word.
In fact, there is a large segment of our population who want to make it illegal to even mention scripture. While technology can be a blessing in the medical field, and to keep loved ones 'connected,' it can also be a terrible distraction from what we should be doing.
If Christians have fallen prey to 24/7 entertainment, is it any wonder that the unsaved are also using this very thing as an excuse to reject Christ? After all, if they allow themselves no quiet time to think, no solitary time, no distraction-free moments, how can they ever recognize their need for a Savior?
If we were to take an honest look at how the population lived even 100 years ago, we'd soon recognize why the world has changed so much. Back then (and for centuries prior) it was backbreaking work just to survive. We get an idea when we look at the Amish today who cut/season/stack and use wood to cook and heat with, who grow all their food themselves (both plants and animals), who can their own food, make dishes from scratch, wash clothing by hand with a scrub-board and use a clothes line to dry them. Some don't have running water and must still carry water in buckets for bathing, cleaning, drinking, etc.
When we think of modern conveniences, it seems to be a true blessing to not have to live with such toil to survive from day to day. But is it really a blessing when technology has taken over, not just the help with chores, but also the excess time that this frees up for entertainment? And yet people STILL claim they don't 'have time' to study scripture? Yet, when we use the Amish as an example, we see that even though the majority of their day is filled with hard work and wearisome tasks, they still make time to study and fellowship.
I'm not suggesting that we live like the Amish. I'm also not suggesting that we give up modern appliances and indoor plumbing, which truly are blessings. But I do suggest we make time to study God's word daily like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11), and study like workmen (2 Tim. 2:15) so that we are not ashamed when the Lord soon appears to catch us up.
Spend QUIET time alone with the Lord in prayer as well.
I don't know how we believers can 'fight' society's desire for 24/7 entertainment. I know what we (ourselves, as believers) can do about that. We can spend more time in God's word and in fellowship with believers. But I don't know how we can reason with the unsaved who won't allow themselves five minutes of time to think, much less consider God's word and their own eternal destination. It really is up to each individual.
Sadly, it's part of the devil's end-time tactics to distract society to the point where they refuse to even spend a few moments alone in silence, lest the light of the gospel should shine in their hearts; lest they should even give themselves mere minutes to contemplate where they will spend eternity, and how truly sinful each individual is. They don't want to allow themselves even a moment to think about that.
We (ourselves) cannot wake them up from the technological entertainment 'bunker' they've willfully entrapped themselves in.
They've wrapped themselves up in this disease-filled blanket of distraction and entertainment so that they won't have time to THINK and consider their eternal plight. To them, it offers distraction, and they've mistaken it for comfort. Much like the cloth blankets that were used to comfort those during the plague, those same blankets meant to comfort one victim carried the micro-organisms of death within their fibers to the next victim... Such is the death trap of non-stop noise, entertainment, and the preoccupation with worldly and meaningless things meant to distract enough to never allow a moment to think earnestly.
What is our duty? It is to continue to share the gospel with the lost even if it seems not to penetrate the bunker of distractions the world has built around them; even if it seems as though no one is listening; even if we are treated with hostility, mocked, ridiculed, cussed out, spit on, or threatened. We were foretold of many of those things.
We know full well that to boldly stand for Christ will bring us much persecution, and not just from mankind, but also from spiritual attack (Eph. 6:12). Yet we willingly serve the Lord rather than mankind or our own fleshy desires (Gal. 1:10, Rom. 6:19, Rom. 8:1-14, 2 Cor.7:1 and so many others).
"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:14).
Our job is NOT to make the decision for the unsaved. We can't. And though it's easy to become discouraged when so few are coming to Christ now, we must always remember it is their own decision to make.
Sadly, many are willingly ignorant (2 Pet. 3:5). They just don't want to acknowledge or give even a moment of time to consider. They are wrapped up in the blanket of worldliness which brings false comfort.
God's word says they are "without excuse" (Rom. 1:18-32). They actually DO recognize that God created all things and that they are accountable for their actions and thoughts... they just don't want to admit it because they love sin too much.
Scripture also foretold the perilous last-day characteristics (2 Tim.3:1-7, 13). We see these characteristics as prevalent today in society.
And finally, after we've attempted to share the gospel with the unsaved, what is the best we can do for those who are blanketed in worldly deception? PRAY for them. God's word will not return void.
And for us? We find comfort in God's word.
We can also take time to study scripture daily rather than be "plugged in" to society 24/7, rather than spend countless hours entertaining ourselves with distractions. Anything that takes precedence OVER time in God's word and prayer is an idol.
We are given the example of Moses, who chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Heb. 11:25).
In summary: It breaks our heart to see the unsaved world reject salvation in Christ. Some are our friends, relatives, parents, or adult children. That truly is a hard thing because we know the horrors to come in the tribulation, and we don't wish it on anyone, especially not loved ones. We also know how precarious life is... we never know how long a person will live. Many die young; not all live to be aged on earth.
Don't give up sharing the gospel, even if it seems they aren't listening. And don't despair when they refuse to listen. I know it's easier said than done. But we are to take EVERY care and concern to the Lord (Phil. 4:6-7, 1 Pet. 5:7, et al).
And for us? We (believers) should continue giving the gospel to the unsaved world. We should remain vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8), waiting with patience for the Lord (1 Thess.1:10; Rom.8:19, 23, 25; 1 Cor. 1:7-8; Gal. 5:5; 2 Thess. 3:5, et al).
We should study His word (2 Tim. 2:15, Acts 17:10-11).
We should comfort fellow believers (1 Thess. 4:16-18, Rom. 1:12, 2 Cor. 1:3-4, 1 Thess. 5:11, and others).
Pray (much scripture devoted to that), and also put on (and keep on) the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18).
That is plenty enough to keep us occupied with the Lord, as we eagerly await the rapture, rather than 24/7 entertainment of the worldly.
Hoping For the Best, Preparing for the Worst: IDF Faces Prospect of War in the North - By Orly Gibson -
"You have girded me with strength for battle, brought my adversaries low before me." Psalms 18:40 (The Israel Bible™)
Israel's goal of peaceful co-existence with its surrounding neighbors has not prevented the IDF from taking the necessary steps to prepare for a potential war.
Tensions have been rising on Israel's northern borders with Syria and Lebanon over the past few weeks. On February 10, the IDF shot down an Iranian drone, which had entered Israeli airspace in a clear violation of Israel's sovereignty.
In response to this escalated act of aggression by Iran, the IDF launched several attacks against targets in Iran and Syria.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently visited the northern border, along with top security officials.
"Our face is turned toward peace, we are ready for any eventuality, and I don't suggest anyone test us," Netanyahu said following the visit.
Numerous IDF officials have been vocal about the high likelihood of an outbreak of war on Israel's northern border, even within the year. This conflict will likely involve a number of neighboring rogue states, including Lebanon, Syria and Iran.
"The year 2018 has the potential for escalation, not necessarily because either side wants to initiate it, but because of a gradual deterioration," Maj. Gen.Major General Nitzan Alon, head of IDF Operations, told Army Radio. "This has led us to raise the level of preparedness."
Any conflict in the north of Israel between the IDF and Iran, Syria, and Lebanon will likely result in battles being fought on multiple fronts. Alon warned that if Israel engages with the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah terrorist organization in the north, "Iran won't hold itself back in Gaza. It wants to pay for its interests on the northern border in Palestinian blood."
This multi-front war situation will be felt across every branch of the military and every citizen of Israel, according to IDF officials. With this foresight, the citizens of Israel, and the IDF are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
"The officers and commanders of the IDF are responsible for providing its soldiers with military tactics and training while LIBI USA is responsible for providing the soldiers with welfare support, as well as social and financial assistance," Dr. John A.I Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA, told Breaking Israel News.
The month of February was spent by many IDF divisions and brigades participating in large-scale military exercises in northern Israel. The Galilee Division of the IDF underwent extensive training in preparation for a possible conflict with Hezbollah on the Lebanese border.
It is believed that the terrorist group Hezbollah possesses an arsenal of over 100,000 rockets, which have been financed and supplied by Iran.
"Conscripted soldiers, along with reservists, took part in the exercise. They practiced a rapid call up for reservists, as well as operation capabilities and readiness to fight in Lebanese terrain," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
"We will continue to train and prepare to ensure the security of the residents in this region," Col. Manny Liberty, Commander of the 769th Brigade, told Times of Israel.
Preparation for a war in 2018 dates back to September 2017, when tens of thousands of IDF troops participated in a 10-day mock-war against Hezbollah. This exercise called "the Light of the Grain" was the largest military exercise carried out in Israel in the last 20 years.
"Tens of thousands of IDF troops are gearing up for a war in the coming year. We are available to provide the soldiers with any support they may require while undergoing this trying training," said Grossman. "We would like to minimize the stresses and concerns in their lives so that they can be fully focused on their military training."
Added Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, commander of the Aerial Defense Array:
"In the coming weeks, we will train together to face complex and challenging scenarios, which are relevant to the dynamic range of threats that we must be prepares to face."
The Incredible Prophetic Significance of Prince William Visiting Israel This Year - Charles Gardner -
No British royal has ever yet made an official visit to Israel. But now that "exile" is about to end, appropriately enough, after 70 years-the period spent in Babylon by the Jews of old.
Prince William, the queen's grandson and second in line to the throne, will arrive in the country shortly after the celebrations of the Jewish state's 70th anniversary, which is expected to coincide with the controversial U.S. Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The historic visit will also take in Jordan and the Palestinian territories.
The long exile from the modern Jewish state by British royalty is perhaps complex, but seems to reflect foreign office policy, which generally amounts to appeasement of the surrounding Arab nations.
Last year, a rumored visit by Prince Charles, heir to the throne, was reportedly cancelled by the Royal Visits Committee on the grounds that it would "upset Arab nations in the region who regularly host U.K. royals".
The royal family has historically always rejected Israeli invitations for official state visits, although individual members have visited the country in a personal capacity.
Although the queen has traveled the world more than most, she has never set foot in Israel, the land which gave birth to the Christian faith she so devoutly follows.
Prince Philip's only trip was in 1994 to attend a ceremony commemorating his mother, Princess Alice, who is buried on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives.
Prince Charles has visited twice to pay respects at state funerals as well as fulfilling a longstanding wish to visit his grandmother's grave, but these were not considered official tours.
It will be the most high-profile and politically sensitive trip yet for the 35-year-old Duke of Cambridge, and I suspect he too will want to visit the grave of his great-grandmother, recognized by Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum as "righteous among the nations" for saving a Jewish family during the war.
As princess of Greece, she hid Jewish widow Rachel Cohen and two of her five children in her home. Rachel's husband had in 1913 helped King George I of Greece, in return for which the king offered him any service he could perform, should he ever need it.
When the Nazi threat emerged, his son recalled this promise and appealed to the princess, who duly honored her father's pledge.
No doubt, it was effectively out of her hands for the queen to visit the Jewish state, but she has done even better than that by remaining a loyal, consistent and outstanding ambassador for the Jewish Messiah, whom she worships with undying devotion.
That said, now that the exile of official British royal visits to the Holy Land is finally over, I pray that our political, diplomatic and spiritual relationship with Israel will reach new heights of understanding and support, and thus bring blessing back on our own beleaguered land, plagued with infighting over Brexit along with threats to our freedom from the hard left and extreme right.
We have betrayed Israel in her hour of need for long enough. A hundred years ago, we were granted the great privilege of restoring Jews to their ancient land through an international treaty (at San Remo in 1920) that recognized their right to such territory.
But in the face of Arab opposition, boosted by riots and massacres, we backed down and thus failed to fully carry out our noble calling. To this day we have kept appeasing those who made the most noise and threats, so that we have even allowed ourselves to be taken in by United Nations-backed Palestinian propaganda downplaying Jewish links to Jerusalem, and the Promised Land as a whole.
So, shamefully, we refused to follow President Trump's lead in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital-it's been part of Jewish history for 3,500 years while the Palestinians were not even recognized as a people until recent decades.
In fact, there was a time not long ago when Arabs refused to be known as Palestinians. When 30,000 Jews, along with a few hundred Arabs, volunteered to serve with the British forces during World War II, they were permitted to wear a "Palestine" shoulder patch. But the Arabs wouldn't wear it: "We are not Palestinians; we are Arabs," they responded.
The celebrations marking 70 years since Israel's re-birth on May 14, 1948, are particularly significant, as 70 is a number holding great importance in the Bible, of which the exile in Babylon was just one example.
On the other hand, it also has some experts worried as, despite its long history in the land, Israel has only been a united fully sovereign state (not occupied by foreign armies, for example) on three occasions, lasting an average of 70 years so far!
But the fact that the big birthday will coincide with the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, followed by an official visit from British royalty, is both intriguing and encouraging.
I realize that we now live in a secular-humanist environment, but politicians and diplomats would do well to consider the Bible's recording of God's Word to Abraham: "I will bless them who bless you and curse him who curses you ..." (Gen.12.3s, Num. 24.9).
Even more alarming is the stern warning from Isaiah: "For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly destroyed" (Isa. 60:12).
The responsibility for Britain's fortune or failure will inevitably have much to do with how we treat Israel.
We stand at the crossroads with a great opportunity to bless the Jews-to work with them toward a peaceful future in the Middle East or to work against them in appeasement of their enemies as we have done for much of the last century.
Which road will we take? Will we step out in faith-honoring the God of Israel-or succumb to fear of the repercussions?
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant - Jack Kelley - https://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/parables/the-parable-of-the-unmerciful-servant/
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times.
"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matt. 18:21-35)
Most people have read the first part of Matthew 18. It outlines a procedure for taking to task a believer who has sinned against you. Many an aggressive stance has been justified with this passage. But in my time as a pastor and counselor, I was surprised at how few of those applying the procedure had read the rest of the chapter. While chapter breaks are not inspired, and Peter's question to the Lord about forgiveness (vs. 21) could have been asked at another time, it does appear next in sequence to the procedure for righting a wrong.
How many petty disputes could be dropped if put into the context of this parable? How would they rate in a comparison to what the Lord has forgiven in us? Do we, having been forgiven so much, refuse to forgive our brothers and sisters even a little? And if so, what are the real consequences?
The Rest Of The Story
We've often discussed the nature of parables; how they're heavenly stories put into an earthly context and how the major characters always symbolize others. In the case of this parable the King is the Lord, you and I are His servants, the debts we owe represent our sins, and the jailer is Satan.
As to the debts owed, two denominations of money are mentioned, the 10,000 talents the servant owed the king and the 100 denarii the servant was owed by a fellow servant. Let's take the easy one first. Almost everyone agrees that a denarius was equivalent to one day's wages. If 100 days equaled about 1/3 of a working year then repaying that size debt would require about 4 months of an average person's income.
Since a talent was both a measure of weight (about 85 lbs. or 34 kg.) and of money, its value is much more difficult to define, but the most frequent description I found in my research is that it would have approximated 15 times an average person's annual income. If so, then a debt of 10,000 talents would require 150,000 years of an average person's income to re-pay.
And that's the first point. The King had forgiven a debt the servant couldn't have repaid in a thousand lifetimes, and did so simply because he was asked to. The servant on the other hand demanded full and immediate payment from a friend for a much, much smaller sum. Now 4 months wages is a debt worth collecting, and forgiving an amount that size would be a major sacrifice for most people. But the issue is not the legitimacy or even the size of the debt, it's the comparative value. Shouldn't being released from the burden of a debt so large he could never repay it have made the servant even a little more forgiving toward his brother?
The servant's demand for payment demonstrated his lack of gratitude for what the King had done for him, and that's what aroused the King's anger. Summoning the Jailer, the King ordered his servant punished until he repaid all he owed.
If The Shoe Fits ...
Our debt of sin against the Lord is similarly impossible to repay, but in the Lord's case He can't simply overlook it. His requirement for justice demands the debt be paid in full. Knowing we could never pay it, He sent His Son to pay it for us. This freed Him to completely and unconditionally forgive us just because we ask Him to. Don't forget, from the Lord's point of view we were all murderers, adulterers, blasphemers and thieves when He forgave us (Ephe 2:1-5). These are all crimes punishable by death. We've been forgiven so much, isn't even a significant sacrifice justifiable under the circumstances? What offense would be too large to forgive in others when compared with what the Lord has forgiven in us?
Our unwillingness to forgive legitimate sins others commit against us demonstrates our ingratitude for what the Lord has done for us. It's the result of the typical human double standard wherein we demand justice from others while expecting mercy for ourselves. This ingratitude is itself a sin and like all unconfessed sin can cause us to miss out on blessings we might have otherwise received. It also leaves us open to attack by our enemy which may even subject us to torment. That's why, in the parable, the jailer represents Satan.
Union And Fellowship
Like the servant and the King our relationship with the Lord consists of 2 components, union and fellowship. Union comes with salvation and is unconditional and eternal. The servant didn't stop being a servant to the King because of his behavior, and neither do we ever stop being the children of our Lord because of ours. When He went to the cross, Jesus took all our sins with Him and because of His death we have been forgiven for every one of them (Colossians 2:13-14).
But fellowship is conditional and temporal. It concerns the relationship we cultivate with the Lord in the here and now. Because of his behavior the servant had caused a rift in his relationship with the King. He could only restore himself to the King's good graces and repair the rift by repaying the debt. Our refusal to forgive others can like wise cause a rift in our relationship with the Lord. We can only restore ourselves to the Lord's good graces and repair the rift by forgiving those who have sinned against us (Matt. 6:14-15).
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Please note that John was writing to forgiven sinners, members of the church, advising us to confess and be forgiven even after we've been saved. We sin every day and His mercies are new every morning. God forgives us whenever we ask, every time we ask. Asking is how we stay in fellowship with Him.
You Always Get What You Ask For
In summary, God's Nature demands justice and fair play. Refusing to forgive others when we've been forgiven is a sin that causes a rift in our relationship with Him that only we can mend. Forgiving the one who sinned against us restores us to fellowship with the Lord and allows Him to forget there ever was a problem.
New Jerusalem: Amethyst Level - Joseph Chambers -
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Only the Lord Jesus Himself will give every believer their earned reward. In my study of Revelation it is clear that New Jerusalem is the ultimate reward for His Bride. This four square city is so majestic that value is not even possible in human language. The city may well be filled with mansions of difference values as expression of rewards. There certainly will not be any cheap ones. Just like there were beautiful animals and birds in the Garden of Eden, the city of New Jerusalem will be like a zoo and the Garden of Splendor.
Thinking of 1,500 square miles on twelve levels is too massive to comprehend. That's 2,250,000 square miles times twelve levels. Every street is paved with gold and every wall is jasper stone. The twelfth level is decorated with amethyst stones carved in magnificent artistry. Playful lions and tigers will make sadness impossible. Beautiful birds and other living creatures will no longer be rare or relegated to zones hidden in rare forest.
Happiness will be beyond description. Our world cannot even imagine what is awaiting the saints of God who belong to Jesus. We must renew ourselves to preach Jesus Christ as the single door into this world of righteousness. I claim His message again today and I write these words to encourage you.
NEW JERUSALEM IS A CITY OF MAGNIFICENT SPLENDOR. Abraham was looking for this city with foundations four thousand years ago and John saw it two thousand years later. It had to be the same city because Apostle Paul said that Abraham, "Looked for a city which hath 'foundations,' whose builder and maker is God." (Hebrews 11:10) What perfect inspiration this reveals. One cannot read the great saints throughout Holy Scripture without seeing this longing for God's final home for His "BRIDE". This massive paradise is more than just a city, it is a Temple, it is the Courts of the Lord, and it is the Holy of Holies. It's all things Holy merged together to be the light of a New Heaven and a New Earth.
The Psalmist David lived in elegance but panted for this place he called the "Courts of the Lord." His cry was, "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the Courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." (Psalms 84:1-2)David spoke of this eternal home as a city in the mountains of His Holiness."Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." (Psalms 48:1-2) In another of Davids inspirations he declared, "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad." (Psalms 45:8)
How fitting are the Revelations of Christ to John concerning this rapturous city. When the Lord would show him this vision He took John to these very mountains and opened a great drama before him. The Lord said to him, "Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal." (Revelation 21:9b-11) It is not an empty city but filled with the saints that earned the highest reward. The city and the Bride of Christ were prepared for each other.
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
It is indeed a city of twelve foundations. Being 1500 miles high there is 125 miles between each foundation with great jasper walls, clear as crystal. The walls are translucent so the beauty within the city is not hid from the beauty without. These twelve foundations are dedicated and named for the twelve Apostles of the Lord during His earthly sojourn. As John viewed the city he may have wondered which foundation would bear his name. The massive twelve gates, each carved from a single pearl will bear the name of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. The great number of the confused declaring that God has divorced the Jews or even obliterated them must wonder at the prominence they reflect in this city.
The twelve foundations create a breathtaking grandeur. While jasper walls are the predominate structure of this city, each foundation is enhanced with jewels of the rarest worth. John's description is beautiful. "And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst." (Revelation 21:18-20) Let me try to explain each of these rare jewels which makes this city so magnificent.
The first foundation is garnished with jasper upon jasper. We can certainly expect that the garnishing jasper will be of a different shade from the jasper wall, which composes the wall's structure. There are different colors of jasper depending on the location where it is mined. The second level will be garnished with sapphire stones. A pure sapphire is sky blue and using it to garnish the jasper will be extraordinary. The third level will be chalcedony, which can be any color of the rainbow from pale blue to yellow, brown, or gray. The beauty simply explodes as we progress. The fourth level will be garnished with emeralds. The finest emeralds are more valuable than diamonds; they are magnificent gems of the most beautiful green color.
The jewel used to garnish the fifth foundation is sardonyx or onyx. This stone varies in color; it may be translucent or opaque and is often striped. The sixth stone used for garnishment is sardius, possibly the red variety that is highly polishable and extremely beautiful. The seventh level is garnished with chrysolite, which is a form of topaz of Tarshish. The garnishment of the eighth level is beryl, which is actually colorless; but reflects a great variety of colors depending on foreign substances which it contains. It is indeed a precious stone. The ninth garnishing stone on the ninth level of this city is topaz, which is called by some, the "gem of the setting sun." It is said to be the color of gold or peach. The tenth level is chrysoprasus, which is called the apple and is a light green variety of agate, a very rare stone.
9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
The eleventh foundation of this magnificent city is jacinth. The jacinth is a red variety of zircon, which is found in square prisms of different shades. The last of the twelve levels is garnished with amethyst. This is a royal purple and a fitting crown for the city. Imagine the crown of this city of transparent purple quartz that is decorating the jasper translucent walls with the gold within reflecting throughout the foursquare city!
The spiritual character of Jerusalem will not be anything less than an everlasting Shekinah. This glory will never abate but fill every moment and every space. Then John said, "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." (Revelation 21:22-23)
New Jerusalem will be the center of our New Heaven and New Earth. This city will be filled with music, worship, joy, and celebration. The fellowship of God's greatest saints will make every moment unspeakable. The music will be perfect, so perfect that its harmony will make the deepest emotion of every soul nothing less than ecstasy. There will be no sin and there can be no sorrow. I believe the landscape of the New Earth will be rolling hills and lush valleys all filled with the greatest possible beauty.
The created sun, moon, and stars are no longer of service to God's great universe. They have served their purpose. Now, the light of God is no longer shielded or manifested as a shadow. We have seen our Father and the Lord "through a glass darkly," but now the darkness is gone, and His light breaks forth in its splendor. A world where the "glory of God did lighten it" seems like a dream. It is soon to be a reality. He says, "The Lamb is the light thereof." Calling Christ a Lamb at this time in our prophetic future is a reminder of Calvary's great accomplishment. There is no future without the cross. The very title, Lamb, is our reminder that there is no path to eternal bliss except passing by the bloodstained hill outside and near Jerusalem's earthly walls.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
We must understand that this city is the eternal reward of the Bride. But there is a world outside this city where the saved who did not receive the reward of Brideship will live. The Apostle Paul tried to excite us to so follow Christ that we would inherit the highest honors. He stated, "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Philippians 3:9-11)
This city of such wealth and splendor will become the delight of those that dwell on the earth. They will find joy in the light and reflection from this city, and they will walk in that light with unspoiled happiness. The great cities of the earth live and prosper with the view of bringing all their glory into this capital of the universe. Those living in the Bride's splendor will delight to welcome the saved to visit in their mansions. This will become a joy to their past acquaintances who come to share their honor of being a resident in this golden city. Part of the Bride of Christs' honor will be to welcome and share this city with the earth's inhabitants. The gates of the city never close and there is no night. It will be one eternal day.
Daily Jot: Israel and the US - Bill Wilson -
There are a lot of end time scenarios floating around Christianity. Some are extra-biblical. Many are Bible verses daisy chained together to support an individual theory. As we read the prophets, we see that nations that are used by God to discipline Israel, and do it harsher than necessary, and nations who are traditional enemies of Israel are judged by God for their treatment of Israel and its people. Jesus talks of how the nations will be divided like a shepherd separates sheep from goats in Matthew 25. In Isaiah 34, the Lord judges the nations in the end of days. It is very important how the nations treat Israel and God's people. Christians did not replace God's chosen, but were grafted in as is written in Romans 11.
For over a decade, America's leadership had moved increasingly against Israel. Under the immediate past "president," the US shifted its policy to support the traditional enemies of Israel. The current White House has reversed that policy. First, it signaled that it was exploring non-traditional peace solutions between Israel and the "Palestinians." Then by announcing the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Administration even moved to defund some of the Palestinian Authority aid because the Palestinians were blocking peace and denouncing America. Now the White House is addressing the United Nations issues with Israel.
At the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference Monday, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said, "In the real world, Israel is a strong country with a vibrant economy and a first-class military. On the battlefield, Israel does not get bullied. The Iranians and Syrians can vouch for that. But the UN is a different story. At the UN and throughout the UN agencies, Israel does get bullied. It gets bullied because the countries that don't like Israel are used to being able to get away with it...I can't say that we've solved the problem, but I can say that several other countries have followed our lead. What used to be a monthly Israel-bashing session, now at least has more balance, but we're never going to put up with bullying."
Haley also told the conference, "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, that's a fact, and President Trump had the courage to recognize that fact when others would not. Sometime in the future, the day will come when the whole world recognizes that fact." Indeed, there will be a day, in the Day of the Lord, that these words will come true. The Lord said in Zechariah 12:3, "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." America is not mentioned in the Bible as the nations mentioned are those in the Table of Nations in Genesis 10. But it would go well for America to be on God's side in that day.
Daily Devotion: The Power of Integrity - By Greg Laurie -
That you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. -Philippians 1:10-11
In ancient Rome, fine pottery was relatively thin and fragile and often would develop cracks after firing. Rather than remake the piece, unscrupulous shops would fill the cracks with hard, dark wax and then sell it as new.
So you would take your purchase home and put it outside, and in the blazing Mediterranean sun, parts of it would start to melt. Then you would take that pottery back to the shopkeeper and say, "What have you done? This isn't right. I want one without wax."
That is what Paul meant when he prayed that the believers in Philippi would be "sincere and without offense." Sincere is sometimes translated "without wax." So Paul was essentially saying, "Move forward in your life without moral failure." He wrote in 1 Corinthians 10, "Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved (verses 32-33). Another way to translate that is, "Don't give an unbeliever a reason to not believe."
Jesus saved his most scathing words not for struggling sinners but for hypocritical believers, those who appeared to be one thing but really were another.
So let's make sure we are not people who bring reproach to the name of Jesus Christ. Each of us has a sphere of influence. Each of us has a group of people who are watching us carefully. They are scrutinizing every word and hoping we will mess up. When you walk with God, live a godly life, and do what He wants you to do, it drives some of them crazy. And so it should. It is the power of a good testimony.
FROM THE HEART
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"Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!" - Hal Lindsey
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