Prophecy Update Newsletter
March 23, 2017
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
When the Fire First Fell - By Bill Perkins - http://www.raptureready.com/2017/03/21/when-the-fire-first-fell/
Evidences of a changed earth in 33 A.D.:
Just after Jesus' death on Calvary's cross, the most spiritually impacting of all dispensational changes occurred...
God's primary focus transitioned from Israel to the Body of Christ-Christians throughout the world. Eventually this remarkable period, called the "Church Age," will end and God will again go back to making Israel as His primary focus. But currently, the Church Age, in which we live, began with quite unique and powerful characteristics.
Here are three evidences of this historical and monumental change that happened in 33
1) Gaining Direct Access to God
The 4" thick, 60' high and 30' wide curtain that ripped in the Jewish Temple from top to bottom, exposing the private Holy of Holies area, was the visual indicator that the blood of Jesus had been accepted as payment for sin. There was now no more barrier to accessing the God of the universe.
It's amazing to think that for some 4,000 years, Adam, Moses, Noah and every other believer saved by faith through the ages was barred from heaven due to the stain of sin.
Granted, where they waited, after death, was called "Paradise," but it wasn't heaven. (Paradise and Hades is explained in Luke 16:19-31 and is not a parable.)
Finally, when Jesus died, this huge group of Believers made a mass transfer from Paradise, in the center of the earth, to the real heaven above. As the multitudes broke though the earth's crust on their exciting journey, some even lingered a bit on the earth's surface, to the bewilderment of those still alive on the earth.
"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many." ( Matthew 27:50-53)
Wow! That sheds a whole new light on the saying, "dead men walking." Imagine a possible interaction that day:
Ben sees Joe, a friend who had died several years before, standing in the street and exclaims, "Good grief Joe, what are you doing here? I thought you died years ago?"
Joe responds, "I did die, but I couldn't go to heaven until my sins were paid. But now, Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, has made payment for all my sin and I'm headed for heaven now....and look at the time, gotta go, bye." (You have to love God's humor.)
So things had changed. God did not change, but He was changing the way He dealt with mortal man. Before the cross, no one could go to heaven due to their sin. Now of course, when a believer dies, their spirit goes directly to heaven...made possible because of the shed blood of Jesus.
"...we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:8)
2) The Holy Spirit Arrives
Just before Jesus departed this earth, He told the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and permanently indwell believers. 50 days after His death, on the Jewish Feast Day of Pentecost, the disciples were gathered in Jerusalem, probably near an entrance into, or possibly on, the Temple Mount.
People have often assumed the "upper room" in the Acts 1 account of choosing a new disciple to replace Judas was the same room in the Acts 2 account of the arrival of God's Holy Spirit. But a careful reading of the text makes no such definitive assertion.
Acts 2 was definitely a later time than the Acts 1 account when they were meeting in the "upper room" with the 120 people, because the Scripture says:
"When the day of Pentecost had come . .." (Acts 2:1a)
The last part of this verse continues:
"... in one place." (Acts 2:1c)
Although it is usually assumed and taught that this place is the upper room of Acts 1, the text doesn't say that. It only says "in one place." Scripture suggests a lower room on the ground floor that could be observed by people outside in the street seeing the faces of those inside well enough to identify that they were Galileans inside.
The middle part of Acts 2:1 says:
"...they were all together..." (Acts 2:1b)
Who is "all"? Referring back to the previous verse, the last verse of Acts 1, Scripture states:
"... and the lot fell to Matthias, and he was added to the eleven apostles." (Acts 1:26)
And in verse 2:14 Peter refers only to the 12 apostles who were present.
"But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven..." (Acts 2:14)
So it was in this ground floor room where the God of the universe first permanently indwelled humans... beginning with the 12 Apostles. He did not indwell hundreds of people on His initial arrival, only the twelve Apostles.
"And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance." (Acts 2:2-4)
This was a loud event...all of Jerusalem could hear the "sound" of God's Spirit's arrival. Then, those nearby the disciples' gathering place saw and heard "signs" that this was something new from the Lord.
The three recorded signs of the Spirit's coming-wind, fire, and inspired speech-are considered in Jewish tradition as a sign of God's presence. Wind (pneuma) is associated with God's Spirit (Ezek 37:9-14). Fire from heaven is always an attention grabber (Sodom and Gomorrah, Elijah calling fire down from heaven, etc.). And speech alterations once began a whole new dispensation at Babel.
So a first-century Jew knew full-well this was something very powerful from heaven above. God was making the statement that things had changed. God did not change but He was changing the way He dealt with mortal man.
"Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language." (Acts 2:5-6).
To further establish this "things have changed" moment, God had the disciples each speaking in a different language. Only the disciples were doing this, not others observing the Apostles strange behavior.
"They were amazed and astonished, saying, 'Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?'" (Acts 2:7-8)
Due to so many people in town for the Feast of Pentecost, there were visitors from all over the Mediterranean. And these visitors were dumbfounded that these men from Galilee were speaking in their native tongues. The Romans, Greeks, Arabs, etc., all heard an uneducated Galilean Apostle of Jesus speaking in their native tongue.
"Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs - we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God." (Acts 2:9-12)
The diverse and culturally mixed Jewish crowd was mesmerized by what was happening, and quite curious.
"And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" (Acts 2:12)
It meant things had changed. God had not changed but He wanted people to know He was changing the way He dealt with mortal man. And it's worth noting that all these men took this story back to their hometowns around the Mediterranean Sea. Which was as close as you could come to news going viral, today.
3) The Indwelling Spirit
The third evidence that God was changing how He dealt with humans was evidenced by visible observations. The apostles began speaking in foreign languages. Those observing first thought they were drunk. But Peter explained things more thoroughly.
"But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day." (Acts 2:14-15)
Peter corrected their assertions of drunkenness and presented them with the gospel, the good news about who Jesus was, what He did, how He was killed and that He rose from the dead. It was at this time that individuals responded to the conviction of the gospel truth and received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
"Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:37-38)
Peter shared the simple gospel message that God had sent His Messiah to redeem sinners. If you "believed," your sins would be forgiven and you would permanently receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This permanently indwelling Spirit from God, the third part of the Triune God now able to live in humans, births a new creature on arrival.
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, He illuminates scripture, heightens spiritual sensitivity and gives us access to an unequalled power source from above. Lives are changed.
"So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41)
The 3,000 people who were saved that day had responded to Peter's invitation to trust what Jesus had provided via the cross. There is no evidence that these new Believers spoke in other languages, known or unknown. Only the 12 Apostles were exhibiting signs.
"Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles." (Acts 2:43)
Therefore the Church Age Began:
With Jesus' 12 Apostles loudly receiving the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem.
The event drew a street crowd giving Peter the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus' birth, death and resurrection.
Many responded to the Good News and were saved, the same way people get saved today, by believing the gospel. God's Spirit entered each new believer, permanently, when they believed.
Hezbollah Building Up Massive Offensive Capabilities Against Israel - By Yaakov Lappin - http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=1116
If accurate, a recent report stating that Iran had constructed underground missile factories for Hezbollah in Lebanon would indicate a disturbing boost in the Shiite terror organization's ability to self-produce weapons.
The Israeli defense establishment already sees Hezbollah as a powerful and radical army, rather than a 'mere' terror organization due to its deep and sophisticated weaponry, and its hierarchical command structure.
The ability to manufacture destructive rockets and missiles would now mean that Hezbollah is no longer entirely reliant on arms trafficking from Iran and Syria in order to wage war against Israel.
The recent report, made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), was published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida.
It cites an aide to the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as its source. The IRGC's Quds Force is an elite unit that runs Iran's extensive overseas operations to arm, finance, and strengthen Iran's regional proxies.
According to the Kuwaiti report, the IRGC built the missile-making facilities more than 50 meters underground, and fortified them against air strikes before handing control over to Hezbollah three months ago.
According to Ely Karmon, a Hezbollah expert and a senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, the report is well within the realm of possibility.
He pointed to a 2015 statement made by the IRGC's Aerospace Force commander, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, boasting that Tehran has provided "Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance group with the needed know-how to produce missiles."
Assessing the latest Kuwaiti report, Karmon said that it is "possible that these Hezbollah military factories are in the Quseyr area in Syria, and not in Lebanon." Quseyr is an area of western Syria that has come under Hezbollah control in recent years, after being seized from Sunni rebel organizations.
Israel has bombed targets in the area in the past, Karmon noted, likely as part of Israel's covert program to selectively disrupt Hezbollah's force build-up.
In November, Hezbollah paraded its heavy weaponry in Quseyr -- including tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery guns and missile launchers.
The Kuwaiti report also claimed that "a special department has been established at the IRGC's Imam Hossein University [in Tehran] to train Lebanese and other experts, and hundreds of experts have already been trained."
The missile factories reportedly can produce surface-to-surface missiles with a range of more than 500 kilometers - in other words, missiles capable of hitting anywhere in Israel, as well as Israeli ships and Israel's offshore gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Hezbollah production sites can also be used to make machine guns, mortars and anti-aircraft guns.
Since the end of its 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah has stockpiled an arsenal totaling 120,000 missiles -- one of the largest in the world.
The vast majority of these arms were manufactured in Iran and Syria, and smuggled into Lebanon. A growing number of these weapons are guided rockets and missiles.
And Iranian weapons transfers to Hezbollah are continuing regardless of whether Hezbollah has access to its own missile factories.
Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided details about "the ongoing Iranian attempt to transfer weapons, advanced weapons, to Hezbollah, via Syria," when he visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
According to reports, Hezbollah is also training elite terror cells to infiltrate Israel during the next war, and to temporarily 'conquer' northern Israeli communities in a bid to demoralize the Jewish state.
These preparations, it is safe to assume, are being closely monitored by Israel.
Hezbollah's wartime experience fighting for the Assad regime in Syria has also boosted its power.
The best form of training for combat is combat itself, and for the past four years, Hezbollah and its operatives have been fighting with Iranian commanders and technology on the battlefields of Syria.
Meanwhile, back in Lebanon, Hezbollah has embedded the vast majority of its bases, rocket launchers and command posts into civilian areas, including a massive maze of underground tunnels and subterranean compounds.
But all is not well for Hezbollah.
The terror group is facing a dramatic economic crisis, due to a shortage of cash flow from Iran, which is still awaiting funds from its nuclear deal with the West.
Additionally, the fact that Hezbollah has sustained more than 1,500 casualties in Syria has demoralized sections of its traditional Lebanese Shiite support base.
Nevertheless, Hezbollah is pushing to build up its massive offensive capabilities against Israel.
In addition to its efforts to obtain more rockets and missiles, Hezbollah's leader -- Hassan Nasrallah -- has repeatedly threatened to strike Israeli strategic targets, such as ships carrying industrial ammonia to the Israeli city of Haifa, and Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona.
This does not mean that Hezbollah is seeking a conflict with Israel right now. But it does mean that should a new war erupt in the future, Israel's civilian population will face unprecedented threats.
Israel's defense establishment is making its own preparations to meet these threats, and to counter Hezbollah -- which is turning into a dangerous, and even more deadly, adversary.
Is Assad shifting strategy on Israel? - Ben Caspit - http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/03/israel-syria-lebanon-idf-assad-hezbollah-strategy-missiles.html
In an unexpected incident, Israel activated its Arrow missile-defense system March 17, targeting a fragment of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile.
This incident forced Israel to publicly admit (a first such admission in a long time) that the targeted Syrian missiles were aimed at Israel Defense Forces (IDF) jets that had previously attacked strategic weapons deep in Syria, weapons that were intended for Hezbollah. Forty-eight hours later, another airstrike took place, hitting a vehicle traveling between Quneitra and Khan Arnabeh in the Syrian Golan Heights. The vehicle was destroyed and its driver, Yasser al-Sayed, was killed on the spot. Sayed was a member of a pro-regime militia and had been close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Evidently, from the Syrian Golan, he had tried to carry out Assad- and Hezbollah-inspired terror attacks against Israel. Israel, for its part, adopted a policy of ambiguity and did not address this incident. But the media are convinced this was Israel's second airstrike in Syria in two days; that someone in Jerusalem is trying to change the fragile rules of the game that reign on Israel's northern front. There are those who think that this "someone" is not even trying to avoid a flare-up; perhaps, on the contrary, he is even trying to cause one.
In the first incident, things went from bad to worse, dragging the five sides of the complex power struggle on the northern front (Israel, Syria, Russia, Hezbollah and Iran) to the very edge of their political cliffs. As mentioned, the Syrians launched anti-aircraft missiles against Israeli planes in an unusual move; Israel then brought down one of the missiles via an Arrow missile; then the Russians summoned Israel's ambassador for a reprimand.
In addition, Israel violated all precedents and bragged about its actions. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman festively stated that the next time the Syrians launch anti-aircraft missiles against Israeli air force planes, Israel will destroy the other side's air defense system. Liberman added March 19 that every time Israel discerns attempts to transfer tie-breaking weapons from Syria to Hezbollah, its military will take action to thwart this. Liberman did not address that the Russians rebuked Israel publicly and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Moscow to an urgent clarification talk the night of March 17.
A senior Israeli security source told Al-Monitor that this did not constitute a true crisis between the two countries. Instead, it was a Russian attempt to mollify Russian President Vladimir Putin's strategic partners: the Syrian regime, Hezbollah and Iran. These partners view the Israeli actions as flagrant violations of the balance of power in the area and an ongoing attempt to harm Syrian sovereignty. "I wouldn't tell anyone to belittle the Russian reprimand," said the source, talking on condition of anonymity, "but I also don't think there's need for panic. Russia is facing a lot of criticism for continuing to allow Israel to operate in the depths of Syria. They tried to convey an impression by which they are unhappy with Israel."
The educated guess is that Israeli air force F-16 jets struck a convoy of Scud missiles that are capable of reaching a range of 750 kilometers (466 miles) - and can each carry a warhead weighing half a ton. This kind of weaponry is, evidently, included on the Israeli "blacklist" of arms that it does not allow to be transferred to Hezbollah: long-range surface-to-surface missiles with greater accuracy (such as Scud-D missiles); surface-to-sea missiles, such as the infamous Yakhont supersonic missiles (which endanger the Israeli navy and Israeli gas rigs); modernized anti-aircraft missiles; and chemical weapons.
Allegedly, every time Israeli intelligence gets wind of an attempt to transfer this kind of weaponry from Syria to Lebanon, the air force is activated. However, this time, an unexpected mishap took place. Contrary to habit, the Syrians launched several S-200 missiles at the Israeli air force planes. The missiles themselves did not endanger the planes. However, one of the missiles evidently rose up very high. When it began to skydive, the Arrow's radar system took it for a ballistic missile coming from afar. Its system went into action and launched an Arrow rocket that hit a fragment of the Syrian missile and intercepted it at a great height.
This was, on the one hand, a showcase for a uniquely successful operational activation of the Israeli Arrow missile. On the other hand, the incident exposed the Israeli strike and prevented Israel from maintaining its usual tight-lipped policy of ambiguity. It also forced the Russians to take action and summon the Israeli ambassador. But in general, what the incident laid bare is the extent to which the northern front can still be explosive. One isolated incident can instigate a chain reaction of responses and activities that create a domino effect, causing a regional flare-up.
"Assad's self-confidence is on the rise," an Israeli military source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. "He is no longer fighting for his life, his regime is more stable. Now it's clear that he's here to stay. Under this state of affairs, he wants to change the rules of the game, rules created in recent years. Assad wants to close the window, which, in his view, allows Israel to continue to strike Syrian territory. That is evidently the reason for his launching of the anti-aircraft missiles." It is important to note that this is not the first time the Syrians have launched anti-aircraft missiles against the IDF. What sets aside this incident from previous ones is that the Russians also intervened.
To complicate things even further, the second abovementioned incident took place March 19: A vehicle in the Syrian Golan was attacked, and a militia member closely associated with Assad was killed. This was not a strategic killing. The assessment is that although the militant was suspected of carrying out terror attacks against Israel on the Golan front, he was not viewed as someone trying to create strategic threats against Israel in the style of Hezbollah militants Jihad Mughniyeh or Samir Kuntar, both of whom were target-killed in the Golan in 2015.
The juxtaposition of this killing with the aerial strike in the depths of Syria might be a sign that Israel has become less careful and cautious than usual. Perhaps Israel is now taking more risks in its dangerous dance with the other parties involved in Lebanon. Israel took no responsibility for Sayed's elimination. However, on that same day, a change of authority took place in Israel's Northern Command, and some of the top brass who attended referred to the incident obliquely. Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and outgoing Deputy Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi both said that Israel would continue to thwart terror cells and prevent the transfer of strategic weapons to Hezbollah.
The real question is: What causes Israel to act so freely, and what encouraged its leaders to brag in public following the March 17 incident? One possible answer may be the coalition crisis that is threatening to dismantle the Benjamin Netanyahu government. Another factor may be the ongoing investigations against the prime minister. A flare-up in the north could serve to overshadow these events and put them in the correct perspective. Liberman, who loves his job as defense minister and thus wants to lengthen the current government's life expectancy, is playing a dangerous game here. The nerves of all the players in the complex tug of war on the northern border are already frayed. Any escalation could get out of control very quickly and lead to a true inferno.
Perhaps that is why Eizenkot announced March 19 that "in a future war, there will be a clear address: the state of Lebanon." Such an announcement completely dovetails with my last article in Al-Monitor, and constitutes a clear warning: Hezbollah and Lebanon are no longer two separate entities. From now on, they are one and the same.
Sanhedrin Calls on Israel's Greatest Enemy to Follow Tradition and Build Third Temple - By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz - https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/85484/sanhedrin-invites-iranian-minister-follow-ways-persian-kings-build-temple/#XFr3ThXqdYMwLEof.99
"Thus saith Koresh king of Paras: All the kingdoms of the earth hath Hashem, the God of heaven, given me; and He hath charged me to build Him a house in Yerushalayim, which is in Yehuda." Ezra 1:2 (The Israel Bible™)
The nascent Sanhedrin has turned a dispute between the Israeli Prime Minister and the Iranian Foreign Minister into an opportunity to invite Israel's greatest enemy to help build the Third Temple. This offer is not nearly as preposterous as some may think, and has an undeniable precedent the Iranian Minister is quite proud to admit.
The international spat began on Purim, two weeks ago, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther) at a synagogue near his home in Caesarea. While discussing the Biblical story with children in attendance, he assured them, "Today, too, they're trying [to kill us] in Persia, and today they're also not going to succeed!"
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif heard of Netanyahu's comments and took umbrage at his country being portrayed as the villain. Zarif responded to the Israeli PM via Twitter, accusing him of "fake history and falsifying the Torah".
The Iranian minister then went on to claim that his country had saved the Jews three times throughout history. Zarif gave a distorted version of the Book of Esther, claiming that the hero was the Persian King Ahashverosh, and not the Jews, Esther and Mordechai. Zarif also reminded Netanyahu that it was Cyrus, a Persian king, who had facilitated the Jews' building of the Second Temple.
The nascent Sanhedrin choose to see this exchange as an opening and an affirmation of Iranian national pride in helping the Jews build the Temple. The rabbinical court sent a letter to Zarif inviting him to manifest this historic Persian mission.
"We were overjoyed to hear of your reference to the wonderful and unique chapter in our nation's history, in which the Cyrus, as king of the Persian Empire, gave his permission for the building of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem," the letter read.
"It is also recognized that he aided the project by returning the holy vessels that were taken from Solomon's Temple by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.
"It is to be understood from your statements that you support the actions of King Cyrus and that your country supports the establishment of a Temple on Mount Moriah even today. We invite you to opening a dialog regarding this. We will be happy to hear your response to this invitation."
Rabbi Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the Sanhedrin, said they were optimistic that relations between Israel and Iran could change drastically for the better.
"We respect the foreign minister and his sincere intentions he expressed in regards to the Temple," Rabbi Weiss told Breaking Israel News. "The dialogue here should be one based on religion and mutual respect, and not exclusively based on political interest. As he said, we have historically cooperated in this endeavor and if it is indeed as important to the Iranians as it was to their predecessors, there is no reason why we can't cooperate in building the Third Temple."
Despite the Sanhedrin's sincere goodwill, it is unlikely that Iran will accept Israeli overtures. For either side to do so would be a reversal of two decades of hostility. Though ancient Persia was friendly towards its sizable Jewish population, modern Iran can hardly be seen as a friend to Israel.
In the early days of the new Jewish State, Iran was the second Muslim-majority country to recognize its sovereignty, but relations turned bitter after the Iranian revolution in 1979, when Iran severed all diplomatic ties with Israel. This process has culminated in open hostility, typified by the words "Israel must be wiped off the Earth" printed on an Iranian missile used in a test in March 2016.
If the Sanhedrin's offer of friendship bears fruit, it would truly be the type of miracle expected to usher in the Third Temple.
Are You Not Entertained? - By Grant Phillips - http://www.raptureready.com/2017/03/18/are-you-not-entertained/
Russell Crowe, as General Maximus Decimus Meridius, in the 2000 movie, "Gladiator," said those words while in the arena fighting as a gladiator. The Roman citizens loved to be entertained. The Greeks were heavy into entertainment. Most civilizations are, but could any previous generation top ours of today? I wonder.
It is only my opinion, but even though our entertainment may not be as gory, in the 'public' arena, I doubt that any previous generation could out-do us in the entertainment field. Music, art, sports, movies, television episodes, etc. are all about entertainment. Perhaps I should say that entertainment is all about keeping the masses entertained via music, art, sports, movies, television episodes, etc.
Even the darker side of the human soul is thrilled by events such as illegal dog fights, cock fights, and other activities I haven't the stomach to even mention.
If you'll think about it, most entertainment, if not all, actually has no intrinsic value for the welfare of our souls. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with entertainment per se, but shouldn't we ask, "How is it affecting my soul toward God?"
Some Christians may argue that Christian music blesses their soul. That's wonderful. David used it to calm the deviant soul of Saul with music on the harp (1 Samuel 16:23), but it was never permanent. Maybe we need to look for what is permanent; that thing that will carry us through the thick and thin of life.
As I have already noted, there are many forms of entertainment, and music, for example, is just one of them. I enjoy music as much as anyone else. I have been intimately acquainted with music from my earliest memories. I allow my emotions to enjoy the right kind of music, but I do not allow the music to control my emotions, if that makes sense.
Music is a powerful drug to the soul. It can elicit strong emotions; emotions such as peace, happiness, heartache, and even rage, which can produce calm, smiles, tears, and even murder.
We also entertain ourselves with puzzles, crosswords, and electronic games (the rage of today's youth especially). Yes, entertainment comes in all forms, and human beings love to be entertained.
This year's Super Bowl game is now behind us and all the talk is about the come-back of one team over the other to seal the win. The stands were full and the television sets throughout our land were tuned in to another spectacular show of entertainment. Some watch this event for the game itself, others for the commercials, and still others for the half-time show. (By the way, we didn't watch it, so I'm using second-hand information.) It is now three days from that "glorious" event, and my question is, "Does the emotional high from this event still exist?" (By the way, again, the half-time shows have gotten too filthy too watch.)
Before I'm attacked for "hating sports," I'll inform you that I too watch sports, but sports aren't the most important thing in my life, and neither is music. My wife and I enjoy good movies, but we can work the "off" button just as easily as the "on" button.
Have you ever considered that so much of our lives are involved with being entertained? Again, that isn't necessarily wrong. Who could not enjoy watching small children in a play or listening to them sing or play an instrument. What joy we have in watching children in their sports' activities.
What about television? We have to look much harder than we did fifty years ago, but eventually you can find something worthwhile on the living room god (and every other room in the house now days). One question; can you turn it off? I've been in homes where every television set in the house played constantly, only to be turned off at bedtime.
Reading a good book is another entertainment that I haven't even mentioned. Notice, I said "good" book. Reading is not as widely practiced today since we can have our thrill pill electronically administered, but it is something that is relaxing. There are so many experiences one can enjoy by reading a good book. Unfortunately, there is plenty of trash on the shelves also, and far too many gravitate in that direction.
Are we not entertained? Oh yes, we most certainly are. Many of our citizenry crave the emotional high so much; they wander off into dangerous territories to entertain their mind with illicit drugs. This form of entertainment is destroying lives, and not just the lives of those who are under its spell, but also the lives of their families.
Whatever it is in your life you enjoy as entertainment, enjoy it, but don't allow it to overcome you. Rule of thumb: if you can enjoy the entertainment with Jesus standing beside you, then do so, because He is, if you are a Christian. Set your mind upon Christ.
"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." (Colossians 3:2)
Good, clean entertainment will not harm us and can even brighten our day, but it is not something that lasts. It is not something that will carry us through life. If we depend on entertainment for happiness, we will never find it. We will always be reaching for one more "pill" to bring us the emotional high we crave. Bad entertainment will quickly destroy our soul and pull us further and further away from true happiness.
Earthly entertainment is like sugar; first a quick burst and then a quick let-down. Where can true happiness be found? What can really satisfy my soul and not fade away? Read Matthew 5:3-12 and replace the word "blessed" with the word "happy." The Greek word "makarios" means, "blessed" or "happy." In these few verses are words of lasting value that bring true happiness that lasts forever.
My Review of "Rapture Ready...Or Not?"
Over the last 35 years, I have literally read hundreds of books on Bible Prophecy and End Time signs. I especially enjoy books on the Rapture, and I have read almost every Rapture-related book published. In all those years, devouring thousands of pages, and millions of words, I have not read a better book on the Rapture than, Rapture Ready...Or Not?
Terry James might be physically blind, but he is spiritually sharp and well discerning beyond most authors. In "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" Terry has nailed the pre-trib Rapture, and removed any doubt what so ever about the Church going through the Tribulation. With great insight and Godly discernment, Terry explains with simple, yet profound words, why and how that he has come to believe the ways he does about the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the End Times scenario. I think after reading "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" you too will believe as Terry does, and be Ready for the Rapture like never before! - Randy Thomas - Publisher / Editor - Prophecy Update
For more information and or to get your copy of "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" use this link: http://www.raptureready.com/terry/book35.html
Salvation Comes by Faith - Nathele Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
Salvation isn't complicated, but there is a process. The process has nothing to do with religion, works, or tradition. A very good example of just how simple it is to come to a saving faith in Jesus is illustrated by an account recorded in the Book of Acts. An angel of the Lord sent Philip to an Ethiopian eunuch who was trying to understand a passage of Scripture found in the book of Isaiah. This man was trying to understand about the Messiah, but was having difficulty because he didn't know Christ and therefore he didn't have the Holy Spirit as a guide. Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading "And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him." Acts 8:31. The Gospel needs to be explained before a person can understand and Philip was eager to teach him. The man was reading Scriptures (Isaiah chapter 53) about the coming Messiah and the fact that He would be led as a sheep to slaughter, but would go silently. To Philip this passage was very clear, but unless the eunuch heard an explanation he could not comprehend the meaning. It still works that way today. The lost souls of this world need to hear about Jesus and have the Gospel explained in order that they will believe. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17. If someone you know hasn't accepted Christ as their Saviour, you need to tell them the Good News. Explain why He entered His creation to die on a cross. Everyone sins and that sin separates us from God. Everyone needs to hear that only the blood of Jesus will take sin away. They have to hear the truth in order to accept His grace.
Once they've heard the Good News of salvation, they need to believe. A person may have head knowledge of Jesus, but they need to believe the truth of it. We need to believe in our heart by faith. Jesus said that we need to believe in Him...believe that He is God and the only way of salvation. "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." John 8:24. It does matter that you understand that Jesus was and is God. If He was just a man his shed blood would mean nothing. His death on the cross would have just been another crucifixion. He was buried and His tomb was sealed in order that nobody could have stolen His body and faked the resurrection. Roman guards were posted there to guard against anyone who would take Christ's body from the grave. In spite of all the precautions that were taken, three days later the tomb was empty. "O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:55-57. Jesus conquered death. He arose victorious from the grave. Only God could accomplish what Jesus accomplished. Saving faith in Jesus means you believe that He is God and that salvation is only through Him.
Hearing the Good News and believing it are the first steps, then you recognize that you're a sinner and you need Jesus to forgive you. When we understand that without Jesus we're eternally lost the first sin we repent of is rejecting Christ. Jesus said "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:3. As you study God's word you'll become aware of the sin in your life and repent of it. Repentance means changing your mind. The word repent is translated from the Greek word metanoeo, which literally means "to perceive afterwards". Once you've heard the Gospel and believe Jesus is God and the only way of salvation you need to learn what constitutes sin and turn away from it. As we study His word we become aware of the depth of our sin and we want to get it out of our life.. This is an ongoing process that draws us closer to our Lord. There are sins that we're aware of when we first come to Jesus, for instance we most likely understand that murder is a sin. As we study God's word we soon find out that thoughts of hatred or anger are as bad as murder. That's when we change our minds about being angry with people (repent) and replace the hatred with love towards others. It's a day by day process that continues throughout life. The conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, Bible study, and a love for Jesus. If you're too proud to repent, then maybe you need to step back and hear the Gospel message again and believe it. This is an eternal choice and if you won't serve Him in this life, will you be happy to serve Him for eternity?
It's important to say out loud that you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Tell your family and friends about the Truth that you've found and don't be ashamed of Him. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Romans 10:9-10. It isn't always easy to continue in the path of righteousness, but if you've told fellow Christians that Jesus is Lord of your life, they will help you. Old friends who don't understand that you no longer desire to join them in the sinful life you once enjoyed may try to get you to fall back into old ways. Stand firm and confess to them that you live for Jesus. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is heaven." Matthew 10:32. Don't be ashamed of your decision to follow Christ and confess Him to everyone. Don't allow anyone to come between you and Jesus.
A very misunderstood part of salvation is baptism. Let me be clear when I say that baptism is very important, but it does not save you. It's an act of obedience and an outward sign of faith, but only faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ will bring salvation. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4. Baptism symbolizes our new birth in Jesus...our old sinful nature is put to death and buried and as Christ was resurrected so are we to a new life in Him; our sins are forgiven. Don't minimize the importance of baptism. As Philip explained the Gospel the Ethiopian eunuch believed it. Then he knew he needed to be baptized. "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." Acts 8:36-38. There was no hesitation by the Ethiopian but first he had to hear, believe, and confess Jesus. Then Philip immediately baptized him. He didn't have to learn the rules and regulations of a certain denomination, all he had to do is believe in Jesus Christ. If you haven't truly accepted Christ in faith, baptism means nothing. An infant cannot make a choice to accept Christ as their Saviour, so infant baptism means nothing.
A friend once told me that God doesn't even know you exist until you're baptized. He was wrong. There is no record of Abraham being baptized or King David, yet God spoke knew them. The prophet Jeremiah reveals that God knows us before we are born, and even prior to conception. "Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Jeremiah 1:4-5. In the account of the Ethiopian eunuch we also understand that God sent an angel to tell Philip to go share the Gospel with an unsaved man who was searching for answers. "And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert." Acts 8:26. God knew the eunuch and he knew exactly where Philip would find him. Another error people make regarding baptism is between the denominations. If a person is baptized by a Methodist pastor then decides to join a Baptist denomination, most likely the Baptists won't accept the Methodist baptism. This really mocks God. You aren't, or shouldn't be, baptized into any denomination. If you've accepted Christ you are a Christian, not a Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc. The exception to this is if you have been baptized into a non-Christian cult such as the Mormons. In order to be baptized into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ you need to know who He really is.
Once you've believed it's time to grow. You do that by studying God's word and applying it to your life. Recognize that you continue to sin and confess your sin to Jesus. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9. God has given us the Holy Bible as a guide so we are without excuse if we continue to commit the same sins over and over. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you away from sin. You may need to form new friendships and let go of old ones. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14. If your friends embrace abhorrent lifestyles, party continually, or generally don't honor God, then you need new friends. Jesus died a horrendous death in order to purchase your salvation. You owe Him everything.
Salvation is only complicated if we listen to man's doctrines. God's word makes it easy to understand and follow. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:16-17. Amen.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham's previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is "theopneustos" God breathed.
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Daily Jot: Gorsuch - Abortion, same sex marriage "settled law," sort of - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was pretty coy during confirmation hearings when asked about same sex marriage and abortion. Senator Charles Grassely, (R-IA) asked if Roe was decided correctly? Gorsuch responded, "It is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It was reaffirmed in Casey in 1992, and in several other cases. So a good judge will consider it as precedent of the United States Supreme Court, worthy as treatment of precedent like any other." He gave a similar response when Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) asked about same sex marriage, "Senator, the Supreme Court of the United States has held that single-sex marriage is protected by the Constitution." What does this tell us?
Gorsuch responded by stating a fact. Both these issues are settled law of the Supreme Court. But he didn't say if given the chance, he would vote to overturn them and send them back to the states. You see, neither of these issues is enumerated specifically by the US Constitution. The Tenth Amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Many states, even California, overwhelmingly rejected legalizing homosexual marriage in referendums. The Supreme Court, led by leftist justices, overruled the states, even though there is nothing about marriage in the Constitution.
Many could correctly argue that the very keystone of our nation's formation protects the unborn. The Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." This is the social contract with all Americans. The Supreme Court in 1973 used the right to privacy to legalize killing babies in the womb. Again, another liberal court twisted the meaning of words and context away from their original intent to establish new law.
President Donald Trump said he would appoint Supreme Court Justices who were pro-life and, if possible, they would cause the court to reconsider Roe and allow the states to decide. He made similar comments about same-sex marriage. By limiting his answers to facts, Gorsuch signaled that he may be open to this possibility. As Christians, we do not have to participate in abortion or same-sex marriage even though it is the law. Likewise, we should not be forced to support it through our tax money. The Lord says in Deuteronomy 30:19, "...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live." And he says in Leviticus 18:22, "You shall not lie with a man, as with a woman: it is abomination." Gorsuch's answers left room for hope of a return to God's settled law.
Daily Devotion: Because He Loves Us - Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. -John 11:6
Lazarus was sick. But instead of going to see him in Bethany, Jesus intentionally waited two more days. Then He arrived in Bethany a full four days after Lazarus had died.
Sometimes it might seem as though Jesus is completely indifferent to our troubles. He might not do what we're expecting Him to do.
As Martha and Mary were waiting for Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus, maybe they thought, "He's going to let us down. Maybe prayer doesn't work."
But John 11:5 tells us, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." Jesus delayed His arrival, yet we read that He loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.
In the original language, the word for loved is the Greek word agape. It speaks of a sacrificial, agonizing love that loves a person in spite of his or her lovability.
It's the same word used in John 3:16, which says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus died for every person. God loves us in spite of ourselves, in spite of our lovability.
Interestingly, when Martha and Mary sent word that Lazarus was sick, they said, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick" (John 11:3). The word they used for love is the Greek word phileo, from which we get our English word Philadelphia. It speaks of "brotherly love," the love that a friend has for a friend.
Martha and Mary were thinking only of friendship, but Jesus was thinking of sacrificial love. They were thinking only of their temporal comfort, but Jesus was thinking of their eternal benefit. They wanted a healing; He wanted a resurrection. He wanted to do above and beyond that which they could ask or think.
FROM THE HEART
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