Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Exercise of Foolishness - Steve Schmutzer -
A new trend among teens is snorting condoms. It's their latest "challenge."
They insert a condom up one nostril, they inhale it, and then they pull it out from the back of their throat through their mouth. It gets them attention from "friends" they don't need.
But it's dangerous to do. It has caused choking, allergic reactions, infections, appendicitis, and pneumonia. Chances are it can also kill a person by blocking their breathing - and it almost did.
"Stupid is as stupid does." I guess eating Tide Pod laundry detergent packets wasn't gratifying enough for this forward-thinking crowd. That was so 2017.
Together with the earlier "cinnamon challenge," the "bath-salt challenge" and the "douse-myself-in-rubbing-alcohol-and-set-myself-on-fire-challenge," these latest antics confirm to everyone that many of today's young people have the IQ of a fencepost.
When I was a kid, our "challenge" was to build a ramp and see who could get their banana-seat bike to jump the highest. We had watermelon seed spitting contests, and we dared each other to drink a full can of Coca-Cola without stopping. My buddy could burp the alphabet all the way to "T" when he drank one.
But times have changed, and a corrupt form of foolishness is now on full display. It has overrun our culture, it has entered our churches, it has invaded our legal system, it has hijacked our nation's universities, and it has conquered our politics. Virtue is mostly absent, and common sense isn't very common anymore.
Consider the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting travesty in Parkland, Florida as one qualified case in point. Here are the facts about what happened:
The FBI received two tips about Nickolas Cruz, with one caller specifying Cruz had a "desire to kill people" and "potential" to shoot up a school.
The Broward County sheriff's office had been called to Nickolas Cruz's home 39 times since 2010.
Administrators at the school had considered Nickolas Cruz to be a threat, and they had sent out an email warning about their concerns to other school staff.
Nickolas Cruz had menaced students, and had threatened to "....bring guns to school."
The other students at the school had talked about Nickolas Cruz's potential to attack the school. They had filed complaints against him, and Cruz had been suspended for behavioral issues.
Nickolas Cruz himself had proudly bragged, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."
Four sheriffs from Broward County stayed outside the school building while the shooting was going on inside.
I could add more facts to that list, but the picture is already clear. Nobody in a position of responsibility acted responsibly.
Law enforcers didn't enforce anything and the intelligence community flunked. Social services didn't provide the proper follow-up, and crisis experts allowed a disaster. To top it all off "Broward's cowards" didn't even try to act brave. Basically - if just one person in the whole equation had done their job well, this tragedy could have been prevented!
But the left concluded the problem was "guns." Give me a break!
Liberals serve their progressive agenda above all else. It's Rahm Emanuel's "You-never-let-a-serious-crisis-go-to-waste" routine. The left saw an opportunity in this shooting tragedy - so damn the facts!
In the weeks after the Parkland shooting, high school students across the country have staged protests in support of stricter gun laws, and college students have rioted to shut down basic free speech. Intoxicated by their "fifteen minutes of fame," our intellectually-anemic youth have become eager tools of the globalist's agenda.
These kids are publicly raising clenched fists in their aversion to constitutional liberties, common sense, and personal responsibility. In their zealous pursuit of limited rights and less freedom, they've become the perfect poster children for absurdity.
There are so many displays of ridiculous behavior and irrational thinking in our world these days. Just when I think I've seen it all, we descend a few more steps into our pit of depravity and foolishness. Rank stupidity is now mainstream.
Perhaps we don't think about it much, but it's important to understand the Biblical definition of a "fool." The Bible has a lot to say about them. We tend to think of a fool as being someone that lacks basic common sense, but God's Word declares in Psalms 14:1, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'"
That statement is less the result of foolishness and more the cause of it.
In all the various ways it's possible to say it, today's fools have already concluded, "There is no God." If they have any shred of regard for Him, they've confined Him to a box that permits them to measure Him, and to decide how and when He's of any use. Some fools of this latter sort are in our churches. A partial belief in God is no better than a wrong one as Matthew 7:21-23 makes frightfully clear.
Because fools disregard God and dismiss His divine Word, they lack a moral compass and the wisdom that results from a proper view of sin. Their senseless behaviors across a wide range of life's verticals stem from refusing God His rightful place.
This is why Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." A shortage of wisdom and good judgement are hallmarks of those who choose an improper relationship with their Creator.
One's descent into personal depravity is directly proportional to their display of public foolishness. As the first element becomes more obvious, so does the second one. As the first one gains acceptance, the second one is more welcome too. Because both emerge from spiritual darkness, they are inextricably linked.
When I read the prophetic Scriptures, I am struck by the fabric of foolish thinking and irrational behavior that clothes the final chapters of human history. We're seeing the early threads of it already - but this is only the beginning. Foolish behavior of astonishing dimension will become the "norm" in due time as mankind distances himself further and further from God.
Here's a brief outline to illustrate a little of where our foolish world is now and where it's going:
THEY MISS THE MESSAGE
Romans 1:18-32 outlines the character and choices of those who have rejected God, including the plain message about Him that is contained within His Creation. It reads like today's news.
There is sufficient testimony all around us to argue that a glorious and sovereign God exists (Psalm 19:1). That is supplemented by the instinctive knowledge of right and wrong which God designed each of us to be born with (Romans 2:15).
This situation sets up a dilemma for folks like Dr. Richard Dawkins, a devout atheist and prominent evolutionist. In his book, The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins states, "Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." Even Dawkins reluctantly admits the fingerprints of God are contained within the tiniest details of His creation.
The Scriptures make it clear that "missing" God's message is a much more active process than a passive one. This dynamic is happening now with all those who choose to oppose God and His standards. This irresponsible decision inevitably results in their foolish views and behaviors.
THEY MISS THE MOMENT
The message of the Bible is about - among other things - getting ready to face God. It's the most significant moment in anyone's life. This is the essence of the parable of ten virgins in Matt. 25:1-13.
Whether this parable is specific to Christ's return in the Rapture or His return to set up the Millennial Kingdom is another matter altogether. I'm not seeking to address that debate here. Regardless of which return it is, the basic lesson I am concerned with is relevant to both.
Five of the ten virgins are ready to meet the bridegroom, and the other five are not. It's the latter group which many Bible scholars have called "foolish," and they earn this distinction because they miss their most critical moment. They were not ready for it.
It didn't need to be this way for these five foolish virgins, but their calamity was precipitated by dismissing the issues that were most important. They were not focused on waiting and watching as they needed to be. They were absorbed in the present, and they found "....pleasure in unrighteousness," (2 Thess. 2:12).
The sad fact about these five unfortunate ladies is they had the chance to change their ways and do the right thing - much like the foolish people in our world today have the same opportunity. But, these five stayed foolish - just like many stay today. Their foolishness coddled a different agenda which made them miss their most important moment.
THEY MISS THE MARK
There are few demonstrations of foolishness more telling than missing the obvious mark and assigning the fault where it's not supposed to be. This is what liberals did with the shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Facts there conflicted with what the left wanted to blame.
It is the very same genus of foolishness that will be on display when some people refuse to enter a right relationship with God after enduring His Tribulation judgments (Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9; et al). The Bible makes it clear that unsaved humanity at this time will know the truth. The facts of the situation will be very clear.
Mankind will know who is behind these judgments and why they are taking place. They will know they should repent and get right with God (Rev. 14:6), but they will choose to serve their own agenda instead. So - damn the truth!
Their greatest desire will be to stay in their sin, so they will choose to curse God instead. They will blame Him and they won't get right with Him. They will miss the mark and find fault with God.
THEY MISS THE MEANING
The most effective way to explain an important matter is to state it plainly. The best way to assure it's remembered is to deliver it uniquely.
Both communication strategies come together in Revelation 14:9-10 where the wicked masses of the Tribulation are warned against worshipping the beast and his image, and against taking his mark. The message is important since eternal fates are at stake. There is no room for its meaning to be left unclear.
God uses a loud angel to get His point across. It's not every day that folks get an angel hollering at them; it's fair to think this leaves an impression! The angel is timely and straight to the point - "If you take the mark and worship the antichrist, you're automatically condemned to unending fiery torture in front of God and in front of angels just like me."
I'm paraphrasing, but I'm making a point here. Every detail of the warning ensures the meaning is clear. Nobody can claim, "Hey, I didn't understand," or, "But, I don't believe in angels." No one can ask, "What was he saying?" Excuses won't work here since every base is thoroughly covered.
But it makes little difference to a lot of people. The greater context of Revelation underscores the fact that masses of foolish humanity will still miss the meaning of the angel's warning. Fools "take no pleasure in understanding" (Prov. 18:2), and as we learned earlier, they disregard God and His divine Word.
Fools face the same problem at the end of human history as they've faced up to it. Fools don't change.
THEY MISS THE MESSIAH
As mankind comes to the end of human history, he reaches the bottom of the staircase that descends into depravity. His foolish notions reach maximum absurdity as his sinful deeds reach maximum expression.
This is the moment of the Messiah's physical return. This sets up the climactic occasion when Jesus Christ returns to earth "with power and great glory" (Matt. 24:30) to conquer the antichrist and his hordes. The King of kings and Lord of lords returns with the armies of heaven to put an end to the most traumatic and terrible time on human record (Matt. 24:21).
The good guys win! Everyone will be happy - right? Wrong.
In one of the most tragic commentaries in all of Scripture, we read instead that "....all the nations of the earth will mourn" (Matt. 24:30). The foolish people of the earth will "wail" (Rev.1:7) when they see Christ returning because he is returning in judgment and they will realize too late that they are unprepared for it. They missed receiving Him as they should have done, and now they are doomed.
They will miss the Messiah because - going all the way back, they'd missed His message. In their foolishness, they'd missed all the key moments they'd been given to repent. They'd missed the mark and blamed God when they should have assumed responsibility for their choices. The meaning of their foolish decisions had been made very clear to them, but they'd missed all of those opportunities to change their ways.
The Bible teaches that the exercise of foolishness places one's soul at risk (James 5:20). For many, it's a process that starts simply enough - but left unchecked, foolishness demands one pay the highest price.
Israel Braces for Iranian Counterstrike -
The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday revealed new information about the deployment of Iranian air defenses in Syria, further exposing Tehran's attempts to entrench itself militarily in the war-torn country.
In an apparent effort at deterrence, Israeli media was provided by the IDF with a map showing five Iranian-controlled bases in Syria, which would apparently constitute potential targets for an Israeli response should Iran carry out any kind of attack.
Tensions between Israel and Iran have been steadily escalating since an Iranian drone that breached Israeli airspace on Feb. 10 was shot down by the Israeli Air Force.
Israeli fighter jets later targeted the mobile control center of the T-4 air base from which it was piloted. Seven members of Iran's elite Quds Force were killed in the strike, including the commander of its drone unit in Syria.
The drone appeared to be a relatively new stealth model known as a Saeqeh, whose design was stolen from an American unmanned aerial vehicle that was captured by Iran in 2011, according to aviation analysts.
During the Syrian counterattack against the Israeli jets, one F-16 was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in a field in northern Israel after the pilot and navigator ejected from it.
In response to that downing of the fighter jet, Israel launched a large-scale attack on Syria's air defenses, destroying between one-third and one-half of its capabilities, according to the IDF.
IDF spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis reported that the Iranian drone operated from T-4 which had been armed, and was en route to carry out an attack on Israeli forces, and was not merely on an information-gathering mission.
One senior Israeli security official told The New York Times that attempted attack was unprecedented, and represented a shift in Iranian policy.
"This is the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel -- not by proxy," the senior Israeli security official said. "This opened a new period."
According to Tuesday's report by Channel 10, Iran's build up in Syria in preparation for a direct conflict with the Jewish state has included the deployment of advanced airborne weapons platforms - including drone aircraft - shipments of weapons disguised as humanitarian aid, and Iranian military flights conducted under the cover of civilian airline companies.
Fuming over the strike, Iran has vowed to exact vengeance on Israel.
Tehran is now believed to be preparing for a sustained campaign of direct confrontation with Israel, with plans to use the Iranian military's growing presence in Syria to launch attacks on targets inside the Jewish state.
For decades, the radical Islamist regime in Tehran has engaged in a de facto war with Israel via proxies - using terror groups in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon to attack Israeli civilian and military targets.
On Tuesday, however, Israeli security officials revealed that Iran is now preparing for a direct assault on Israel, using its growing military assets on Israel's northern border to strike targets inside the Jewish state.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Monday that "Israel will receive a blow for what it did at the T4 base. The days when the Zionist regime would hit and run are over. ... I suggest to the Israelis to refrain from foolish steps if they want to continue their treacherous existence," he warned.
The IDF said Tuesday that the deployment of Iranian air defenses in Syria was personally supervised by Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, one of the most powerful military figures in the Iranian regime.
Iran has access to a variety of surface-to-surface missiles, from short-range Fajr-5 rockets to medium-range Fateh 110 missiles, which have a range of approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles) to long-range Shehab ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets over 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away.
To counter those threats, Israel has a multi-tiered missile defense system consisting of the Iron Dome for short-range rockets and mortar shells, the David's Sling for medium-range missiles and the Arrow for long-range ballistic missiles.
Israel sees Iran, which has vowed to destroy the Jewish state, as its central enemy in the region. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that Israel will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, marking it as a "red line" that it will fight militarily if necessary.
Many Bible scholars believe we may be starting to see a foreshadowing of a much larger conflict described in the book of Ezekiel in which many nations (including Russia & Iran) launch an attack on Israel and are miraculously defeated by God's direct intervention.
Rise of the Drones - By Britt Gillette - http://www.raptureready.com/2018/04/17/rise-drones-britt-gillette/
If you wanted to catch a glimpse of future warfare, you would've done well to watch the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The opening ceremony featured a dazzling display of synchronized drones. They lit up the sky and arranged themselves to form various Olympic-themed images. If you missed it, go to YouTube and search for "2018 winter Olympics opening ceremony drones." Previous generations would've thought this was nothing short of magic. But our generation? For us, it went largely unnoticed.
We're used to seeing drones traverse the skies. Few people think twice when they see a single drone hovering in the air. Multiple drones moving in tandem and quickly shifting directions might catch our attention for a moment, but we don't give those much thought either. Maybe we should. In fact, as you watch video of the Olympic drones, ask yourself this question - what if those drones were armed?
The Future of Warfare
Synchronized drones let us see the future of warfare. Why do I say that? Let me ask you another question. Have you ever seen a large flock of birds flying in unison? They look like a cloud. And the whole flock can shift left, right, up, or down - all in a split second. Despite their quick shifts, these birds act as one. They aren't disorganized or disjointed. They fly in perfect harmony as if they have a single mind. We observe similar behavior in schools of fish, bees, locusts, gnats, and all sorts of animals.
Now, imagine one of these groups is coming to get you. That's right. Imagine a swarm of bees is coming after you. Would a shotgun do you much good? Not really. You can fire into a swarm of bees, and you might take out one or more. But you know what? The swarm will keep coming. This is because the power of a swarm is decentralized. A single strike won't stop it.
Sound scary? It should. Because this is the future of warfare. It's called swarm technology. As technology advances, synchronized drones will get smaller and smaller, faster and faster, and ever more powerful. In the near future, one nation will use them to attack a nation only armed with conventional weapons. What do you think will happen when combat drones traveling like a swarm of bees attack a conventional army? How effective will tank fire or heat seeking missiles be when directed at a swarm? That's right. They'll be just as effective as firing a shotgun at a swarm of bees.
Have no doubt, this is where our world is headed. Those nations who are first to develop swarm technology will rule over those nations who are slow to adapt. History has proved this lesson time and again. Think about it. Charging columns of soldiers were effective once - until machine guns arrived. Racing soldiers on horseback were once effective too - until armored tanks arrived. We can all cite countless examples of new military technologies making tried-and-true weapons and tactics obsolete. The same will prove true with swarm technology. And it will completely transform the world's current balance of power.
World War III
For years, we've heard the next world war will be the final war on earth. Conventional wisdom says it's impossible for any nation to survive WWIII. Conventional wisdom says WWIII will annihilate all of humanity. Conventional wisdom is wrong.
Why do I say this? Because conventional wisdom is based on the idea of mutual assured destruction (MAD). MAD is the belief no one can win a war between two nuclear powers. It's the idea that fear of total destruction will restrain any nation from provoking war with a nuclear power. Conventional wisdom assumes the doctrine of MAD will rule the world forever. In the current era, that may prove true. But it won't be true forever. Because a day is soon coming when MAD will be obsolete.
We're about to enter a period of time marked by rapid technological change. If you think we've already been living in such a period, you're right. But the past hundred years of progress pales in comparison to what's around the corner.
Swarm technology is only one of many new technologies threatening to upset the balance of power and render MAD obsolete. Technologies like molecular manufacturing will allow nations to scale the size of their military forces. With molecular manufacturing, a nation could create billions of swarming drones at relatively low cost and in a short timeframe.
Technologies like artificial intelligence will give nations the ability to direct those swarms, analyze targets, and attack enemy networks. In such a world, the list of potential threats and attack scenarios will multiply, creating suspicion and distrust among the world's superpowers. A digital or high-tech Pearl Harbor will prove fatal. And that makes the world much more dangerous. Because fear of such an attack makes a pre-emptive strike much more likely.
What the Bible Says
None of this should come as a surprise. Despite the idea WWIII will never come. And despite the idea WWIII will lead to complete global destruction, the Bible says otherwise. WWIII will take place. The Bible describes the Antichrist and his war of global conquest (Revelation 6:2-4), revealing there will be "war and slaughter everywhere" (Revelation 6:4). Yet the world survives this global conquest. How can this be? Because all eras come to an end. And the era of MAD will soon be over. New technologies will disrupt the foundation of international peace.
Swarm technology, molecular manufacturing, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies will give unprecedented power to the one who wields them. Perhaps these technologies are the "great sword" described in Revelation 6 (Revelation 6:4). Perhaps not. Either way, the result will be the same. Emerging technology will put an end to MAD. The result will be a global war with death and destruction everywhere. And when the dust settles, a global empire will rule the world. The signs are everywhere. Jesus is coming!
The Bond Servant - A Bible Study by Jack Kelley - https://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/spiritual-life/bond-servant/
Paul, a bond servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, and set apart to the gospel of God (Romans 1:1).
Most translations of Romans 1:1 use either slave or servant in defining Paul's relationship with the Lord, but the phrase "bond servant" is actually the most accurate. In effect, a bond servant enters into the relationship voluntarily with the understanding that it's a lifetime commitment, with no provision for release.
This type of relationship comes from Exodus 21:1-6. According to the Law, a man who couldn't pay a debt he owed had to become the servant of his creditor in order to work off the debt, or until the next sabbath year, whichever was shorter. If, during the time of his temporary service, he concluded that his master was a good man to work for, he could voluntarily convert his term of service into a lifelong commitment. In doing so he was agreeing to permanently subordinate his own interests in favor of his master's, to do whatever the master required. This bears repeating. It was the servant's choice to enter into a bond servant relationship with his master, but once the agreement was made he could not choose to undo it later. It was a lifelong commitment.
If his master agreed, they would go before the judges to make the arrangement official, and then the master would drive an awl through his servant's earlobe and into the door post of the house. This was to signify that the servant had become permanently "attached" to the master's household. According to some traditions a golden ring was inserted through the hole in the bond servant's ear to memorialize the event.
Because of the nature and permanence of the relationship, a bond servant frequently became a trusted member of his master's household, eventually representing him in matters pertaining to his business or personal interests.
A Divine Example
David made reference to this kind of relationship, describing how the Messiah would see Himself in service to His Father.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire-but my ears you have opened-burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, "Here I am, I have come-it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:6-8).
The writer of Hebrews put these words in the Lord's mouth in explaining His once for all sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:5-7). The phrase "my ears you have opened" is also translated "my ears you have pierced", recalling how the master pierced the ear of the bond servant.
This is why Jesus said He could do nothing on his own but only what He saw his father doing (John 5:19) and that he did not speak on His own accord, but the Father commanded him what to say and how to say it (John 12:49). A bond servant subordinates his will to the will of his master.
In a similar description, Paul said that Jesus, who being God in His very nature, didn't try to make Himself equal to God, but made Himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (Phil 2:6-7). The Greek word for servant in this passage is "doulos". It means "bond servant" and is the same word Paul used of Himself in Romans 1:1. These references stressed the voluntary nature of the Lord's mission to die for the sins of the people.
What About Us?
So, a bond servant chose to enter into a life of service to his master, subordinating his will to his master's, and knowing that he couldn't change his mind and undo the arrangement later on. He was in for life.
The Greek word "doulos" appears in 112 verses of the New Testament, mostly in reference to our relationship with the Lord. It is usually translated "servant" but as we saw it literally means "bond servant." I believe it can serve as a model for us to consider for ourselves.
We also had a debt we couldn't pay and chose to enter into a life long relationship with the Lord in exchange for having the debt forgiven. It was our choice to do so but once we made the choice, we gave up the right to undo the arrangement later on. In effect, we put aside our own interests and agreed to dedicate our life to the pursuit of His interests.
This is what Jesus meant when He said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt. 16:24). This verse has been widely misinterpreted as calling the believer to a life of deprivation and suffering. But in fact it is describing the bond servant relationship. As followers of Jesus we are to put our own hopes and dreams to death in favor of the Lord's plans for us, making our interests subordinate to His.
Paul emphasized this same idea in Romans 12:1-2 telling us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is our true and proper worship (literally, our reasonable service). He said we should no longer conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Then we will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
As believers, we are called to abandon the typical dreams for the future that society encourages and instead search for God's will for our life.
When we became believers, God anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our heart as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor. 1:21-22). That means we belong to Him now. We are no longer our own, but have been bought at a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and that price is the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19).
With it He wiped away all our debt, and in view of His mercy we are urged to offer our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
Those who say that since we chose to become saved we can choose to walk away. They are applying human thinking to the equation, thinking it makes sense that it should work that way. But there is no Biblical support for that opinion. In fact, as we've seen, it's not the case at all. As bond servants of the Lord we gave up our right to self-determination when we surrendered our life to Him. This is what Paul meant by saying, "You are not your own, you were bought at a price." When God set His mark of ownership on you He was claiming you as His property, the way a rancher would place his brand on the cattle he owned. Like the bond servant of Old Testament times, we belong to our Master and are not free to walk away.
Contained In The Old, Explained In The New
All Old Testament models are necessarily incomplete. After all, they were just shadows of the things that were to come (Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 10:1). In the bond servant model the arrangement was between two men; the master and the servant. What earthly master would agree to support a servant for life without requiring a comparable amount of service in return? This was a two-sided arrangement with clear responsibilities for each party. In return for being supported all his life, the servant agreed to do whatever the master desired.
But when God agreed to pardon you for the enormous debt of sin you owed and claimed you a member of His household, He placed only one condition upon you in return. He said you must believe that when Jesus died on that cross, He died for your sins. That's all He requires of you (John 6:28-29).
Our arrangement with God is not one that requires a prior commitment to certain levels of performance. We are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephes. 2:8-9). While the New Testament contains numerous admonitions to live our lives in a manner that's pleasing to God, none of them have been imposed upon us as our part of the bargain. They are presented as things we can do to express our gratitude for what the Lord has unconditionally done for us. Our willingness to do these things is what Paul called "living up to what we have already attained" (Phil. 3:16). In other words, we don't do them in the hope of qualifying for eternal life, but as our way of saying thanks because we already have it.
Certainly, Paul and other New Testament writers put these admonitions in strong terms. They knew better than most what an incredible gift we've been given and what an enormous price God paid to give it to us. But they never said our salvation depends on us obeying their instructions, or that our failure to perform would result in our arrangement with the Lord being canceled.
On the contrary, doing these things will result in the accrual of additional blessings, in this life and the next one, above and beyond the pardon for our sins and the gift of eternal life that we've already received. So the base line of our relationship with the Lord, below which we cannot go, is forgiveness for our sins and eternal life with Him. Anything we do out of gratitude for that brings extra blessings.
How much more then should we be willing to put our self-centered hopes for our life aside in favor of discovering God's will for us? Knowing He came so we could have an abundant life (John 10:10), that He is not going to impose a heavy work load on us (Matt. 11:30), and that He will always be with us to direct and empower us in bearing much fruit (John 15:5), how can we lose?
"Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).
Daily Jot: End time prophecy-man made or God? - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
There is some debate among Bible scholars and prophecy students about the end of days and how they will take place. We know, for example, that there is an antichrist-led battle against Israel that results in the mountains being leveled, a great earthquake, the sky rolling back like a scroll, hailstones, fire and brimstone, darkness, and flesh, eyes and tongues rotting while people are standing. These all appear like descriptions of a nuclear holocaust. We also know Isaiah 55:8 that God said "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways." Certainly, there will be battles raging here on earth in the day of the Lord, but according to scripture, these times are God's times, not man's.
Chapter 8 of Revelation opens, "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour, and I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets." The ensuing chapters describe the judgment on earth at the hands of these angels. These judgments correspond with accounts found in Ezekiel, Isaiah, Zechariah, Joel and other prophets speaking of the end of days. These are not manmade devastations. They are done by the hand of God. So while there will be wars and rumors of wars leading into and occurring during the seven years of Jacob's Troubles (the tribulation), and there may be nuclear conflict, the end is at God's hands.
This is why I do not agree that Ezekiel 39 or Isaiah 17 or other such accounts on the nations under judgment are describing nuclear war or nuclear-induced devastation. Isaiah 17:1, for example, is often cited by scholars as a nuclear attack that levels Damascus, "Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." Verse 7, says, "At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel." Another example: Ezekiel 38 describes what will happen to Gog "in that day (verse 14)." It sounds like a nuclear event. But God says in verse 16, "I will bring you against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in you, O Gog, before their eyes."
The Lord then speaks of pestilence with blood, raining upon the people with great hailstones, fire and brimstone and in verse 23 says, "Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations and they shall know that I am the Lord." This is the theme in that day when the nations are judged-earthly battles, but supernatural destruction. The Lord will leave no doubt in that day that He is Lord. If this were manmade destruction, doubters could use that to discredit God. Just as it is known without a doubt that God led his people out of Egypt, His word is consistent in end of days prophecies that people will know, even the enemies of Israel, that God is God and there is no other.
Daily Devotion: God Values "Ordinary" People - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
So, Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help. -Judges 6:6
John Wesley said, "Give me a hundred men who love God with all their hearts and fear nothing but sin, and I will move the world."
God effectively changed a culture through one man named Gideon who was willing to stand in the gap and make a difference. Gideon wasn't perfect, but God saw potential in him. He made it into the exclusive list of courageous men and women in Hebrews 11 who put their faith into action.
What I find interesting about Hebrews 11, the Heroes' Hall of Faith, is that God never mentions their sins. He tells us about their accomplishments through faith, but He never mentions their flaws or their shortcomings (although other verses do).
Gideon's world was messed up. It had been two hundred years since Israel had seen the walls of Jericho fall by the power of God. Things had changed because they didn't finish the job. God told Israel to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan, and Israel obeyed partially. As a result, the Canaanites had come back and grown stronger. Ultimately they were ruling over them.
The Israelites were devastated. They were hungry, hurting, and humiliated, and they started calling on God. He sent His answer in the form of Gideon. God goes out of His way to find ordinary people so that He gets the glory.
When we look at someone like Gideon, it gives hope to those of us who are on the ordinary side. God often will use the unqualified to do the unexpected. The Lord can change the world with an ordinary person who will say, "Lord, I am willing to be that person." Will you step forward? God can do a lot with a little. God can do a lot with you.
FROM THE HEART
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