Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Damascus 2.0 - By Ronda Lane -
What were you doing on Friday, April 13th, in the evening? If you had the computer on, the TV on, or your phone on during that time, it likely all of a sudden went all a flutter with messages, alerts, and posts. I know mine did. I admit, it was exciting... in fact, many of us wondered (for a few hours) if Isaiah 17 had just started and Damascus would soon be destroyed. We were on the edge of our seats, so to speak, collectively watching and waiting to see if Isaiah 17 would come to pass.
But no, Isaiah 17 had not started, as scripture is very specific that Damascus will be destroyed overnight and become an uninhabitable, ruinous heap. It was clear to see that the short-duration strike of limited scope was not at all what Isaiah 17 foretells. But we have more reason than ever to believe both Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38-39 are very near. I'll explain later, but first let's look at scripture.
"The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap" (Isaiah 17:1).
Most of us have long thought that Israel will be the one to destroy Damascus due to verse 9 of that chapter, but scripture leaves enough wiggle room that it doesn't have to be Israel alone who destroys Damascus.
"In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation."
We also have the reason why Damascus will be destroyed and the timeframe in which it happens in verse 14.
"And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us."
Yet we aren't given much more information as to whether or not Israel acts alone, or if she has help. There are more clues in Isaiah 17 about the timing; we'll get to that in a few moments. Let's first look at what actions did and did not take place with the strike conducted by the US, Britain, and France.
President Trump announced several days prior to the event that there would be action taken in response to the chemical attacks on Syrian civilians. According to 'news' segments and articles, it took several days' worth of negotiations for Britain, France, and the Pentagon to agree on what they would and would not strike, and where. However, I recall vividly how President Trump lambasted Obama for giving notice prior to striking an area, and the berating was for good reason. It gives the enemy enough time to move key personnel, equipment, weaponry, chemicals, and even evidence to other locations.
The best strike is an unannounced strike. But that's not what happened here. Of course, there could be no unannounced "sneak attack" when the US had to bring in aircraft carriers and multiple other military equipment and personnel into the area. That would have been seen by the world regardless, and reported on in an unfavorable light (as has become the custom of the treasonous, anti-American 'news' sources in America).
What did they strike? ONLY those places where there was proof that chemical weapons were either stored or were being (or had been) manufactured. In other words... very little. The strike did not include Assad's palace, nor Syrian government or Syrian military locations. Those went untouched. And the very next morning, video of Assad strutting into work was shown all over Arab 'news' in defiance of the very limited strike. Sadly, it was laughable in scope.
This strike came with much coverage of a show; but when the dust settled (very shortly after starting, to much dismay), it was apparent that it wasn't even a tiny slap on the fingers of Assad, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. If anything, as soon as the US removes our aircraft carrier and other military equipment from the region, it will serve to embolden Iran, Russia, Turkey and other factions much more.
Why? Because, during President Trump's speech he mentioned that the US wouldn't be policing the Middle East, that the area had far too many problems for the US to fix, and that ultimately it would be up to the regional nations to find a solution. In other words, he might just as well have said, "Israel, you're on your own."
What can we expect will happen after the US is out of the region?
The axis of evil in Syria (Russia, Iran, Turkey, et al) will be emboldened to act against Israel without fear of real ramifications. This puts Israel in a worse position than she was prior to this event. My heart sank when the president got done speaking and when the very short and extremely limited strike was over. This was not Isaiah 17, but it certainly has served to embolden the Ezekiel 38-39 coalition.
Russia announced they would be selling military aircraft and even anti-missile systems to Syria. A month prior, this would have caused outrage from the world. Now? No outrage. Sadly, the world sees it as 'justified' after Syria was 'attacked.' Never mind the innocent babies, children, and families who were attacked with chemicals yet again by Assad's maniacal regime. Those poor souls were hoping for help from the US. And they don't yet know that, sadly, they've gotten all the help they are going to get from us. I'm sure many of them will soon feel betrayed all over again.
Why? Let's look at what the Syrian war is all about (in a nutshell).
Assad is Alawite Shia, and Iran is Shia. Yet the Syrian population was over 80% Sunni Muslim prior to the Assad regime and Iran (with the help of Russia) slaughtering much of Syria's civilian population. The refugee crisis came from these events. Yet if asked, the actual Syrian people would much prefer to stay in their homelands. They want safe zones in their own country, not to be driven out of their own homes and land. (See video link at bottom of article.)
Besides Assad wanting to eradicate not just Sunni Muslims, but Christians, Kurds, and anyone who won't 'convert' to Shia Islam, there are the three main Ezekiel 38-39 players in Syria who each have their own reasons for being there. Iran and Assad have much the same ideology. But worse is the Islamic eschatology behind Iran's desires. They actually believe that their false 'Mahdi' will come when Iran has subdued Israel, and when Iran has "set the world aflame in destruction."
This is why Iran has such an ardent desire to procure nuclear weapons. There is zero doubt that, when and if Iran does obtain nuclear means, they will use them right away. Iran doesn't try to hide whom they plan to use these nuclear weapons on either; they chant "Death to America" and then "Death to Israel."
As a side note, Iranian people are not predominantly bent on this goal; instead, they want peace and they want the lifestyle they had up until the 1970's. If you look back at pictures or video of Iran in the 1970's, it looked like many modern nations in dress and amenities. However, the 1980's was the "bloody decade" for Iran, when Shia extremists rose to power and executed thousands of political prisoners in 1988. (Something similar happened last year in Turkey, but in another form of Islamic extremism.)
Most of the Iranian people are disgusted with their government for spending all its wealth on weaponry and military means, as well as for nuclear ambitions and proxy wars against Israel and Sunni Muslims. But they are now under a tyrannical government. A huge, civilian uprising began to surface recently in Iran, but they are outgunned.
On a brighter note: Many Iranian civilians are coming to Christ, after realizing how truly demonic Islam is.
But the Iranian government and military are bent on Israel's destruction, as well as destruction of the US. They will strike Israel as a proxy war against the US at the first available opportunity. Sadly, I believe the withdrawal of the US military from the region will further embolden and hasten this action.
Another key member of the Eze. 38-39 coalition is Turkey. They are trying to eradicate Kurds in northern Syria, and Turkey's true desire is to annex northern Turkey. Much like Iran (but a different brand of Islam), Turkey has their own version of eschatology. Erdogan dreams of reviving the Ottoman Empire; and he delusionally believes he will be the 'Caliph' in this new 'Caliphate,' which he insanely believes will be global in scope after (he believes) conquering the region.
Islam is an equal-opportunity, delusional tool of the devil. Would-be dictators and Islam go hand in hand.
Then there is Russia. We've all heard the claims that Russia went to Syria to "eradicate ISIS" and to "help Christians." Folks, that is pure propaganda. The reason Putin is in Syria is twofold: #1. To obtain a warm water port. #2. To secure a Middle East pipeline for Russia's natural gas.
Russia survives on selling natural gas to other nations, including Europe. Imagine how Putin was infuriated and jealous when Israel found a huge natural gas and oil reserve! Not only that, but Putin tried numerous times to make an arrangement with Israel over the natural gas. But PM Netanyahu wisely refused. Now Israel is selling natural gas to other nations, and Putin is livid over this. He thought he had the market cornered, and now Israel is taking a piece of what he thinks of as his own pie, so to speak.
This unquenchable lust to control the natural gas in the region, and Putin's desire to take a "spoil" of Israel's natural gas and oil reserves are the "hooks in the jaws" of Ezekiel 38, the prize of great monetary value that he just can't resist.
All three of the major players in Ezekiel 38-39 are entrenched in Syria for different reasons; yet each wants to bring about the demise of Israel.
Each of these key members has their own reasons and lusts, as the devil has a tailor-made plan for every egotistical, would-be dictator. Putin, Rouhani, and Erdogan each have vastly different ideas of how to achieve their goals, and the goals themselves are different in scope; yet each of them desires the destruction of Israel. And each of them delusionally believes they will come out as 'top dog' in the region.
Even a few years ago it was unthinkable that Iran and Turkey would ever form any kind of alliance. But they are both using this temporary principle: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and is useful until the goal is met, the enemy is eradicated, and is no longer useful."
These factions are right now determining the best strategy for invading Israel on the Golan, as Ezekiel 39:2-5 describes. Isaiah 17 is the most likely catalyst or even excuse to invade Israel. Since the US gave plenty of notice and didn't touch Syrian, Iranian, Turkish, or Russian interests or military bases in the region, they are now more sure than ever to act on their plan to invade Israel as soon as US forces leave the region.
Sadly, our president made it clear that he doesn't want to get the US entrenched in ANY of the Middle East's 'problems.' And now we can clearly see why Israel will be on her own in the Ezekiel 38-39 war, exactly as foretold she would be... that no nation would come to her aid during that war, but that God Himself will!
Let's go back to Isaiah 17:14 and revisit the part of the verse that speaks of those who desire to "rob" and "spoil" Israel. Then flip forward three books from Isaiah into Ezekiel, in chapters 38-39. We see the same theme there. The nations that come against Israel want to rob and take "spoil" from Israel as well (Ez. 38:12-13). Is it mere coincidence that the wording is similar?
Let's also compare Isaiah 17:12-13 with Ezekiel 38:9.
"Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind" (Isaiah 17:12-13).
"Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee" (Ez. 38:9).
There are many similarities with the descriptions in both Isaiah and Ezekiel - not just about the "spoil" being the desire of the coalition, but of the "rush of nations" - the "cloud to cover the land." There are also similarities in the locale of the foretold invasion into Israel. Isaiah 17:13 proclaims they will "be chased as the chaff of the mountains," and Ezekiel 39:2-5 foretells how the coalition will attempt to invade on the northern mountains (the Golan) and fall on the mountains and open field.
Some may count one or even two of these things as mere 'coincidence,' but there is far more here than coincidence.
Now let's look at the demise of the Ez. 38-39 coalition: Ez. 38:22 and Ez. 39:2-16.
"And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone" (Ez. 38:22).
Between Eze. 39:2-16 we find further information about how those who attempt to invade Israel will be destroyed by God (Eze. 39:2-5) they are destroyed so utterly that God only leaves a sixth part of them (KJV-specific wording). They will be confused and even fight each other. They will fall upon the mountains and open fields of the northern part of Israel (the Golan-Ez. 39:6). God will attack Russia itself by sending "fire" upon them. (Eze. 39:11). Even the Russian leader will have his grave in Israel.
It will take 7 months for those who dwell in Israel to bury the bodies of those who came against them, and seven years to destroy the weaponry left behind from the Eze. 38-39 war.
Israel has the promise that God will indeed intervene in the Eze. 38-39 war. But what of the US?
We do not have such scriptural promises for the nation. I don't think it can be understated how horrific this is for the US. This nation is already committing the atrocity of abortion on a mass scale, as well as gay 'marriage' (a direct contradiction to Biblical marriage as detailed in scripture: between a man and woman, a male and a female).
The LGBT-ABCD-XYZ (whatever they are calling themselves this week) agenda; the delusional misrepresentation of genders (now they claim over 50+ alleged genders, defying even the science they claim to love, only when it suits their agenda, of course); the anti-God anti-Christ movement in public schools; and even in public forums are at a fever pitch.
Does anyone truly believe God is going to bless this mess? And now that we are basically turning our backs on Israel.... all I can say is that judgment is due the US. No, it's not a popular thing to say; I won't get any accolades for saying so. But bringing up the truth is more important than pleasing the ear of mankind (Gal. 1:10).
I pray the rapture occurs prior to God's judgment on this nation. We grace/church-age believers can take comfort in the fact that Jesus has promised to deliver us from the wrath to come, and that we are not appointed to God's wrath (1 Thes. 1:10, Rom. 5:9, 1 Thes. 5:9). His word even tells us how we will be delivered (1 Cor. 15:49-53, 1 Thes. 4:13-18)-the rapture!
After that, God's wrath is coming soon upon this God-hating and Christ-rejecting world. There's no doubt that God will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7). There's also no doubt that the nations that do not bless Israel will incur curses rather than blessings.
Woe to the world, soon to be left behind.
Are YOU sure you know YOUR eternal destination? If not, now is the time to settle this. Those who profess to have made no decision have actually decided NOT to believe (see John 3:18).
There are only two choices: Believe on Christ alone for salvation; that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 10:9-10; Eph. 2:8-9; John 3:15-18; Rom. 6:23; et al) - OR - reject so great a salvation.
We are all given free will to make that choice on our own. No one can do it for you. A church membership can't save you, a water baptism can't save you, your own good works can't save you either. The only One who can save you is Christ Jesus.
You were not born into salvation at your physical birth; your parents can't make the decision for you. No other human can. A person either believes and accepts Jesus' free gift of eternal salvation or they do not. No middle ground.
Choose wisely... your eternal destination depends on it.
Video link: One year ago, CNN got schooled on where Syrians really want to live (in their own land, not in the US or western nations). The impassioned Syrian refugee calls out Obama for doing nothing, and pleads for President Trump to help the Syrian citizens who are under attack from a tyrannical government. He (the Syrian refugee) wants the Assad government held accountable.
Russia And Israel, Seven Decades On - By Ben Cohen -
Amid all the diplomatic maneuverings in the months that led up to the creation of the State of Israel 70 years ago, none are more curious than those undertaken by the Soviet Union.
It's fair to say that Soviet support was a necessary condition for the emergence of an independent Jewish state in what was then British Mandate Palestine. The Zionist leadership certainly understood this, with both Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion courting Soviet foreign ministry officials as World War II came to an end.
But until the middle of 1947, the Soviets remained firm opponents of partitioning the country into Jewish and Arab states.
The about-turn in favor of partition was announced by Andrei Gromyko, the Soviet Ambassador to the United Nations, in May 1947, in a remarkable speech that upended decades of Communist doctrine by speaking of "the Jewish people" and decrying the sight of "hundreds of thousands of Jews wandering about in various countries of Europe in search of means of existence and in search of shelter."
So began a period of two or three years when the idea of a Soviet-Israeli alliance was discussed as a serious prospect. Indeed, Gromyko turned out to be one of the most aggressive advocates of the Zionist cause at the United Nations, impatiently reminding the American delegation in March 1948 that "the only way to reduce bloodshed is to prompt and effective creation of two states in Palestine."
"If the United States and some other states block the implementation of the partition and regard Palestine as an element in their economic and military-strategic considerations," said Gromyko, expressing the sort of indignance that might come from an American delegate today, "then any decision on the future of Palestine . . . will mean the transformation of Palestine into a field of strife and dissension between the Arabs and the Jews and will only increase the number of victims."
The principal reason behind this brief flash of Soviet support for Israel was geopolitical. The USSR had come to the end of the war without a coherent policy towards the Arab world, but with a basic distrust of the pan-Arab pretensions of the newly-formed Arab League.
Moscow was also keen to hasten the decline of the British Empire in the Middle East and saw the State of Israel as a potential ally in its emerging contest with America. So for once during that terrible decade, the diplomatic stars had aligned in favor of the Jewish people, and the votes in favor of partition cast by both the United States and the USSR was one of the last examples of international consensus as the Cold War took hold.
The story ended, as we all know, with Israel firmly in the camp of the United States and the Soviet Union as the principle backer of Arab rejectionism. The Gromkyo who admitted at the United Nations in 1947 that it was "difficult to express in dry statistics" the "sorrow and suffering of the Jewish victims of the fascist aggressors" was the same Gromyko who served as Soviet foreign minister when that same world body passed a resolution in 1975 equating Zionism with racism.
In any case, Israel's leaders understood pretty clearly by the early 1950s that the Soviet embrace could easily turn into a noose. In his monumental history of the State of Israel, the late Martin Gilbert writes of an October 1955 conversation between Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, and U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, in which the former complained that Israel had "lost everything" with regard to its relations with Soviets "without gaining a thing" from the Americans.
At the same time, Sharett was under no illusions about Soviet totalitarianism, telling Dulles that Israel only maintained an embassy in Moscow "in order to encourage the Jews of Russia to hold out--so that they can see before them a mark and token that the day will come when their link with Israel and the Jewish people will be renewed."
By the time that day actually came, Israel's embassy in Moscow had been shuttered for more than 20 years. Still, Sharett's broader hope was fulfilled as nearly 1 million Jews from the former Soviet Union emigrated to Israel in the decade following its collapse in 1990, bringing to a democratic resolution the so-called "Jewish Question" confronted by Tsarists and revolutionaries alike for over a century.
Even without the issues of anti-Semitic persecution and bans on Jewish emigration to deal with, Israel's present-day relations with Russia are complicated by many of the same issues that prevailed during the Cold War--foremost, its continued investment in Syria's Assad dynasty.
Some might argue that's a good thing, in that Vladimir Putin will act as a restraining influence on Assad and on the Damascus regime's allies in Iran. But it also demonstrates that the historically fraught relationship between Jews and Russians continues in the sphere of international politics.
Seventy years after Israel's creation, Russia remains the world power that is closest to the Jewish state's most implacable enemies, providing them with diplomatic and military sustenance--and keeping those old memories alive.
Focus on Israel - Jack Kinsella - www.omegaletter.com
Sometimes, it must appear as if the Omega Letter is really the Israeli Letter, given our focus on the Middle East, in particular, Israel.
Such is not our intent. But Israel is the linchpin in studying Bible prophecy. Jesus' description of the signs of His Return [Matt 24:3] are given from the perspective of someone standing on the Mount of Olives.
Without Israel, Bible prophecy doesn't make sense.
That is one reason that Christians who believe Israel was replaced by the Church have no use for prophecy. See "What is Preterism"?
Center of Global Attention
In addition, Israel is at the top of the world's agenda, and the mission of the Omega Letter Digest is to document the world's slide toward the Tribulation using secular resources to demonstrate the accuracy of Bible prophecy.
Since Bible prophecy for the last days and through the Tribulation is centered around Israel [see Daniel's 70th Week]. Israel serves as a mile marker. The closer it appears to come to extinction, the closer the Return of Christ, Who, according to Scripture, prevents that from happening.
The Eternal Generation
In a very real sense, what we are witnessing is not the actual fulfillment of prophecy for the last days. The next prophetic event to be fulfilled in the Church Age is the Rapture. Then the events of the Tribulation follow. Both remain future -- near future, we would argue.
So instead, we are eyewitnesses to the staging process. The Bible says that there are a number of seemingly unrelated events that take place all in a single generation, somewhere in time.
Bible Prophecy Demands A Jewish State
Bible prophecy makes numerous references to the existence of a Jewish state called Israel in the last days [Ezekiel 37]. It also demands that Israel be in disputed possession of the city of Jerusalem [Zechariah 12].
It demands a conflict between Israel and her neighbors [Daniel 9]. The conflict is so intractable it will require supernatural intervention to resolve it [Dan 9:27, Zech 12:2-3].
Israel's rebirth even took the Jews by surprise. Abba Eban, one of Israel's Founding Fathers, wrote in his book, Personal Witness, that on the day David Ben Gurion composed the telegram asking Harry Truman to recognize the Jewish state, it was still unnamed.
The name 'Israel' wasn't selected until the following day.
"Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." (Isaiah 66:8).
Bible Prophecy Demands A Global Government
Throughout history, men have sought to rule the world. And throughout history, other men have resisted the attempt. In the last two global wars, the effort began with the conquest of Europe.
Following the last attempt, the Benelux Treaty brought together the first six European states, forming the nucleus of the modern European Union. Wars couldn't unite them. Peace did [Daniel 8:25].
The same global war was responsible for the creation of the United Nations. The UN created the template for a global government. But the UN is an organism with 191 heads and no brain. It doesn't take a political scientist to see it is a failed experiment.
How Europe will eventually replace the UN is unclear, but it is the most likely candidate -- the world would never accept the US or Russia. Europe would be far more acceptable. The Bible says it will happen [Daniel 9, Rev 13].
Bible Prophecy Demands a Global Economy
The global economy is a reality. The prophecy of the Mark of the Beast [Rev 13:17] demands a system whereby the buying and selling of individuals will be tracked and monitored. Those outside the economic system of antichrist will be 'unable to buy or sell'.
Entry into the system requires some kind of mark of allegiance to the antichrist. Tracking sales is a reality. Nobody can function in today's economy unless they are in the 'system'. If you doubt it, get a bank account without a Social Security number or try and buy a new car using cash.
Bible Prophecy Demands a Global Religion
The Mark of the Beast is an economic system, but also a system of worship. The false prophet [Rev 13:11] has two horns like a lamb [symbolic of Christianity - the Lamb of God] but speaks as a dragon [Satan]. A counterfeit Christianity preaching another Jesus and a different gospel [2 Cor 11:4]. That is already well entrenched in mainstream Christian denominations that teach salvation by works, church membership or ritual.
The war on terror has also created a global suspicion of fundamental anything.
What is a Fundamentalist?
To a Christian, a fundamentalist is one who practices the fundamentals of Christian faith, eschewing traditions of men and preferring the Word of God.
The world has a different perspective.
Fundamentalists, Jewish, Christian, Muslim -- they're all bombers. Christian fundamentalists blow up abortion clinics, Jewish fundamentalists blow up Arabs and Muslim fundamentalists blow up anybody. That is the prevailing propaganda, is it not?
It isn't a stretch to expect that the sudden legitimization of 'faith' [whether in Jehovah, Jesus or Allah] will eventually blend together into a kind of global ecumenical belief in one 'god' for all. Those who hold to the 'old ways' would be, well, fundamentalists.
We get lots of email asking where we are in Bible prophecy right now. Israel was reborn in 1948. The Benelux Treaty was signed in 1948. The World Council of Churches was created in Amsterdam in 1948. The transistor -- the invention credited as giving birth to the Computer Age [making possible a global economy] was invented in 1948.
The General Agreement on Tarrifs and Trades [forerunner to the World Trade Organization] was signed in 1948. Where are we in Bible prophecy right now? Jesus said 'when these things begin to come to pass, look up' [Luke 21:28] because 'this generation shall not pass, til all be fulfilled' [Matthew 24:34].
Although no man knows the day or hour, [Matt 24:33] 'when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors' [Mark 13:29].
Where are we in Bible prophecy right now?
Near. Even at the doors.
Crown of Righteousness - Nathele Graham -
Have you ever had a strong desire for something? Maybe you're a young man who is in love with a young woman. She fills your thoughts and you yearn for the time you can spend with her. When you're together you try to please her and are thrilled just to be with her. That's how we should feel about Jesus. We're never separated from Him but we should always think about pleasing Him and we need to introduce Him to family and friends. Not only should we desire to please Him now but we should desire for Him to appear and take us Home. The Apostle Paul had dedicated his life to missionary work in the purest sense of the word: he spread the Gospel without. Because of his persistence in talking about Jesus he had been arrested and sent to Rome where he would be executed because of his faith. He was torn between his desire to continue spreading the Gospel and his desire to be with the Lord, but he knew that he could be content either way. Paul could look back on his life and know that he had done everything he could for Jesus, and he also yearned for the time that he would see Him. "Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8. Do you love the thought of His appearing? Various Bible translations say "look eagerly forward to his appearing" and "set their affection on his appearing". No matter how it's phrased, the meaning is the same. Like the Apostle Paul, we should yearn for His appearing. Paul says there's a crown of righteousness waiting for you if you do. Not only is there a crown waiting, but the Lord Himself will give it to you.
Too often Christians get caught up in the pressures of life. Paying bills, being with family and friends, hobbies, etc. can easily come between us and Jesus. It doesn't have to be an "either/or" situation, but when the bills pile up or friends pressure us to compromise our beliefs, it's not the secular pursuits that take a back seat. We hold jobs in order to pay bills, but when the desires of our flesh become more important than the desire to serve Jesus, out come the credit cards and the bills pile up. New cars and designer jeans are expensive and cause the monthly bills to run high. This can move our focus from yearning for Jesus to yearning to get out of debt. The dissatisfaction of too many bills can cause us to buy more things in an attempt to ease that bad feeling inside. The cycle keeps turning. We buy more things in an attempt to "feel better" but secular "things" can never spiritually satisfy. Only Jesus can fill our lives with peace and contentment, but we need to seek Him above all the riches and comforts of this temporary world. Jesus talked about putting our needs in the proper order. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. What things will be added to us when we seek after the kingdom of God rather than greedily seek worldly possessions? The previous verses tell us that God knows our needs, such as food and clothing. Seek God, yearn for the appearing of Jesus Christ, and your needs will be met. If you're unemployed God will lead you to a job so you can buy necessities or He will guide you to plant a garden to provide food. First and foremost, seek after the things of God and yearn for His appearing. Recently I've been inundated by medical bills. I can honestly say that I worry about paying them and that worry can interfere with my concentration on writing these commentaries. That's when I pray and ask for God's peace and assurance. He always provides, and I know He always will. He has provided food, shelter, and clothing and I'm very thankful. Above all, I do yearn for His appearing.
When we yearn for the appearing of Jesus we will see Him everywhere. When we meet someone in need, instead of seeing a person who has made bad choices and "deserves what they get", we will see a human being who has been placed in our path so we can help. If that person doesn't know Jesus, share the Gospel. If you're led to help that person with food or whatever the need is, be sure that they know it isn't you helping them but that Jesus saw their need and is using you to fill it. Jesus never failed to help those in need. He healed lepers, cast out demons, and fed thousands of people. His message was the Good News that the Messiah had appeared and walked among them. Missionary work is to spread the Gospel, and your neighborhood is the mission field. Do others see His appearance in your life? "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20. Jesus gave His life for you, for me, and for the sin of the whole world. If we yearn for His appearing then we need to share His Gospel with those who have never met Him.
Surprisingly there are some Christians who don't yearn for His appearing. They cling to this world as if it can satisfy their needs. There are some nice things in this life, but they are just a shadow of what lies ahead for Christians. A hot fudge sundae might be tasty and give temporary satisfaction to our sweet tooth, but it will pale and be forgotten when we behold the Bread from Heaven, the manna, which is Jesus. "This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." John 6:58. Eternal life can only be found through faith in the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made, and only He can satisfy every yearning. The temporary things found in this life can bring no eternal reward or pleasure. Everything that you yearn for in this life is temporary. Fame and fortune will serve no purpose when you die. Yes, one day you will die, unless He appears to call us Home in the Rapture first. Either way the things that got in the way of your love for our Lord won't matter at all. "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:20-21. When you yearn for and seek after a treasure, be sure it's of eternal value. Yearn for Jesus Christ.
One day very soon a trumpet will sound and in the twinkling of an eye Christians will be changed from this life to life eternal with Jesus. If that doesn't give you goose bumps of anticipation then I don't know what will. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. When the Lord descends with a shout, if you're still alive you'll be caught up (harpazō/Rapture). Any Christian who has already died will rise first. Do you take comfort in that truth? I do. Every worldly desire that you have today won't matter one iota on that day unless you yearn for the appearing of our Lord, Jesus the Christ. At that time your works will be judged and the selfish things you've done in this life will have no value and be burned. Only the things you've done for Jesus will stand the test of that fire. Then you'll be given rewards for the works you've done in Jesus name. "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8. You may not think the rewards in Heaven will be any big deal, but you're wrong. They'll be very important to you when you're standing before Jesus and have full understanding of the price He paid for your salvation. Only through His righteousness are you standing there. You will want a crown...not for your own self, but you'll want to cast that crown before Him in gratitude and love. Oh, my Lord, I want a crown. I want to lay it at Your feet.
Salvation is through faith alone, but it isn't too late to earn that crown of righteousness, or any of the other crowns that your works can earn. Get busy.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele 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: Socialism looms as ungodly as it is - Bill Wilson -
The New York Times (NYT) is reporting that there are an increasing number of candidates running for various offices as socialists. Of course, they are running under the Democratic Party ticket, and there have been many of them over the years. It's just that nowadays they are admitting that they are socialists. That they would be so bold as to not hide their true affiliation is a testimony to the condition of our nation. Millennials, the NYT says, are far more receptive of socialism because of issues like pay equality, high student debt, an uncertain job market, and high rent. Interesting how this generation blames capitalism for what socialism actually created, but the trend toward socialism is here.
The NYT reports that the election of Donald Trump convinced tens of thousands that both parties were broken and that the country was in need of a radical fix. Young people, NYT says, are turning to socialism. A 2016 survey of 18-29 year olds by Harvard's Institute of Politics "found that 16 percent identified as socialists, while 33 percent supported socialism." Some 51% said they did not support capitalism. These young people do not understand that Socialism takes away freedom, especially economic freedom. It was the Marxist ideals of the former "president" who inflated student loans by government taking them over. Healthcare costs skyrocketed under socialist healthcare while services declined. We all could retire millionaires if the money we contributed to Social Security was properly invested, not pillaged by the government.
William Bradford described the Pilgrim's failed socialist experiment of The Virginia Company Charter in "Of Plymouth Plantation": "The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing, as if they were wiser than God." Bradford was familiar with Plato's "Republic" espousing a utopian society under socialism. In ending this experiment that nearly cost the colony their lives, Bradford wrote: "...God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them." This was the first capitalist system and the Plymouth colony then prospered.
Even many Christians believe in socialism, citing Acts 2:44, "And all that believed were together and had (shared) all things in common." There is a tremendous difference between voluntarily sharing and being forced to share the fruits of your labor by the government. Socialism has its roots in communism. The Communist Manifesto requires that all religion and morals be abolished; that government replaces God. All wealth is redistributed so that everyone has the same-everyone would be forced to pay for the student loans, healthcare, rent and wages of others. This is a far cry from the blessing of voluntarily sharing with others. The first commandment, Exodus 20:1 says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." That includes government. Moreover, Bradford is still right. Man is not wiser than God. Young people would be wise to heed his advice.
Daily Devotion: The Choice Before Us - By Greg Laurie -
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:2
I don't always finish what I begin. A while ago I started cleaning my office at home, but I didn't quite finish it. It was absolutely transformed, but a few little piles remained. It wasn't long before I noticed those little piles were starting to grow again. I had cleaned my office the wrong way. I needed to completely clean it. I didn't finish what I began.
The apostle Paul, describing what conversion looks like, said that we turn "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God" (Acts 26:18 NKJV). Yet some people go part of the way, sort of like how I cleaned my office. They say, "I'll follow Jesus, but there are a few little piles I'm keeping to myself." Those little piles turn into big piles, and soon they discover they haven't changed as much as they should have.
What God said to the Israelites is in principle true for us as well: "Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before" (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 NLT).
We have that choice before us every day. We can choose the blessing by choosing to follow God, or we can choose the curse by not following Him.
Maybe you're at a point in your life where things aren't making sense. There seem to be a lot of loose ends, a lot of unanswered questions. God always has a plan. He has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And He always finishes what He begins.
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