Prophecy Update Newsletter
May 15, 2017
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
An Hour You Think Not - Pete Garcia -
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Matthew 24:1-3
One of the most common rebukes used to discourage people from studying prophecy or the Rapture of the Church is a passage taken from Jesus in the Olivet Discourse. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus states but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. On the surface, it appears that Jesus was trying to dissuade His disciples from trying figure out when exactly all these fantastical things He had just shared with them would occur. Yet, if Jesus was really trying to dissuade them from knowing, why explain in such great detail all the things He does concerning the original three questions they asked?
At the time of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus had not been arrested, tried, crucified, or resurrected so even the events surrounding even that very week was not fully clear to the disciples. At His arrest, the disciples scattered, Peter would go on to deny Christ three times, and they would watch in agony as their Messiah gets publicly and humiliatingly nailed to a cross. Even after His resurrection and subsequent forty days amongst them, the disciples were still in confusion as to what was to happen next.
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:6-8
We have the luxury today of reading all these events in our neatly chaptered and versed Bibles with a great deal of theological, historical, and archeological hindsight. We often read into the text this idea that the disciples should have known what was is clearly plain to us. They did not have a New Testament explaining all this to them. It would not be for some time after Christ ascended in which these future things would be revealed to them.
After Pentecost, the Apostles were now being shown by God the Holy Spirit all the things which would take place for them then and in the days to come. This knowledge was not all given to Peter or James, but to each according to their ministry and to what God wanted them to know at the appropriate time. It was to the Apostle Paul that Christ revealed the mystery of this new creation known as the Church. Pulling from an ever growing Gentile audience and consisting of both Jew and Gentile converts, the Church would become in Christ neither Jew nor Gentile. The Church would become a hybrid and unique entity conceived at Pentecost by the giving of the Holy Spirit and would continue to grow until some future point when the fullness of the Gentiles is complete.
God's mechanism for transferring His attention and purposes from the Church back to Israel, is known as the Rapture of the Church. This event accomplishes several things, the first of which is fulfilling a promise Christ made to them (and us) in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14:1-3). That if He went away (He did), that He would return and take us to be where He is (He will). Then God would return His focus solely back upon the nation of Israel to finish that final week of Daniel's Seventy Weeks of which He determined (chathak) to them that He would complete the six items listed below.
"Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
(1) To finish the transgression,
(2) To make an end of sins,
(3) To make reconciliation for iniquity,
(4) To bring in everlasting righteousness,
(5) To seal up vision and prophecy,
(6) And to anoint the Most Holy. Dan. 9:24 (emphasis mine)
These things HAVE to happen. As mentioned in my article last week, God does not shrink away from revealing specific things to us and for us. On one hand, we have God revealing via the Angel Gabriel to Daniel the exact timing of Christ's First Advent to the earth as the God-Man. This ended exactly at the 69th week with the Messiah being cut off. On the other, what is not revealed to Daniel (or later to the disciples), is that there would be a 2,000-year gap in time we now refer to as the Church Age or the Age of Grace. This is a unique time for a body of believers from every tribe, tongue, and nation who are brought into the singularly-corporate body of Christ. This global drawing is what Paul referred to as the fullness of the Gentiles in Romans 11:25. It is a summation of what Jesus stated in two passages within Matthew's gospel.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Matt. 28:17-19
Having now two thousand years of church history behind us, we can see with crystal-clear clarity that the Gospel has indeed gone out into all the nations. This is not to say that the Gospel has been embraced by every nation and taken root, but you can bet there are believers in every nation on earth and believers of every major tribe and tongue. Satan has worked very diligently to blanket the earth with antichristian governments and religions (e.g....Communism, Islam, atheism, etc.). So this brings me back to the original issue regarding Matthew 24:36; can we know when Christ will return at His Second Advent?
Both the Church and subsequently the Church Age were a mystery both to Daniel and the other Old Testament Prophets as well as to the disciples. The disciples, as mentioned previously, asked Christ when He would restore the Kingdom to Israel. They were still thinking in terms of the Old Testament prophecies and promises which had been made to Israel. It would not be until the Apostle Paul later reveals that the Church has a different timeline and destiny than that of national Israel. Speaking to the believers at the church at Ephesus Paul writes...
...having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him. Eph.1:9-10
Paul had shared with the church in Rome...
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25
We cannot know the day or hour of the Rapture simply because the Church as an extension of Christ Himself (we are His body), adopted heirs, and an object of His affection will continue to grow and mature until this fullness of the Gentiles comes to a culmination point. Will that culmination point be in 2017? It might be...but I do not know for certain. However, I do believe 2017 will be significant to Israel if the historical pattern holds true (1897, 1917, 1947, 1967, 1977, 1987-see previous article).
This fullness of the Gentiles serves as a bookend of sorts, capping the age of the church from Pentecost until Rapture. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to earth in spectacular fashion (Acts. 2:1-4). At the Rapture, those Spirit-sealed believers are also removed from the earth in spectacular fashion (Ephesians 1:11-14; 1 Cor. 15:51-55).
The Church is the singular, corporate, multi-membered body of Christ. I am not saying that no other person (Jew or Gentile) will be saved after the Rapture. We know that they do according to Rev. 6:9-11 amongst other Revelation passages. In truth, the Gospel will continue on into the Tribulation by the 144,000 Jewish male virgins and with the angelic proclamations in the Heavens (Rev. 14:6-7), but those who come to faith after the Rapture are not Church-Age saints.
Some might argue this point, but considering all the variations we plainly see within humanity, within the angelic ranks, and within creation itself, speaks volumes to the idea that within the redeemed, there is also variation and distinctions. The Church-Age saints are as distinct from the Old Testament saints (or pre-Christ saints), as they will be from the post-Rapture saints. The main distinction itself coming from the knowledge of Christ. The OT Saints knew a Messiah would come, but they didn't know exactly who, when, or how. They had faith that One would come and this time of waiting was completed with John the Baptist.
You yourselves bear me witness that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:28-30
The Church had knowledge of Christ and His coming but were not eyewitnesses (except for those in Jerusalem/Judea in Christ's day). We had to take things by faith and by God's word.
Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29
Those who come to faith after the Rapture will be plunged into the darkest period of human history replete with supernatural signs, wonders, and judgments, as well as having witnessed the Rapture event itself. This fullness of the Gentiles is not to be confused with the times of the Gentiles which does not find its completion until the end of the seven-year Tribulation (Luke 21:24).
Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near-at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. Matt. 24:32-36 (emphasis mine)
We often get hung up with the identity of the fig tree. But whether we attribute it to the nation of Israel (Judges 9:10-11; Jeremiah 24:1-10; Hosea 9:10; Mark 11:12-14; etc.), or not, we understand the intent of the parable. Christ said when its branch has become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. He didn't say you may know, or you might know, but He said, you know.
Christ spent His precious time and energy conveying to His disciples (and to us) these signs of the times so that we will know that the season is near, even at the doors! If 2017 holds true to historical patterns, then something significant should happen as it regards to Israel (i.e...the fig tree). That means God is getting ready to conclude this current Church Age, and return His focus back to the nation of Israel. He did not bring her back out of national extinction and diaspora, to continue on indefinitely with her and the Church Age overlapping. That overlap will come to an end just as it did before and He will finish what He started with her regarding Daniel's 70 Weeks.
Like a countdown, we have seen 120, 100, 70, 50, 40, and 30 year-markers as well as three Jubilee cycles (two of which overlap) happening in the same period of time. Perhaps 2017 does come and go without a peep and we are still here. At this point, then I would really be looking up. Either 2017 comes and goes, or we do, but therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matt. 24:44).
Trump Must Pray on Temple Mount for God's Help in Bringing Messiah: Sanhedrin - By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz -
"Pray for the peace of Yerushalayim; may they prosper that love thee." Psalms 122:6 (The Israel Bible™)
The nascent Sanhedrin sent a letter on Monday to US President Donald Trump, calling on him to ascend to the Temple Mount and pray for world peace when he arrives in Jerusalem next week for his first state visit.
If Trump chooses to answer the call, he will not only be making a powerful political statement but enacting precisely what King Solomon described when he first dedicated the Temple 3,000 years ago.
Rabbi Hillel Weiss, spokesman of the Sanhedrin, emphasized the timeliness of this call to prayer at this specific point in history.
"Trump is standing at a historic cusp, when the world can fall into an abyss of conflict," Rabbi Weiss told Breaking Israel News. "Whether it begins in North Korea or Syria or Europe, the seeds of war are already sown."
The prospect of war is truly chilling, but the rabbi explained that the possibility for great global good is equally as strong.
"Alternatively, President Trump can choose to be a part of a process to bring the Messiah and unprecedented blessing to the world, in the same manner that King Cyrus played his part in building the Second Temple."
Rabbi Dov Stein, the Secretary General of the Sanhedrin, explained that praying at the holy site is essential for President Trump to achieve his lofty goals.
"President Trump says that he wants to do good in the world, and if this is indeed the case, then God will surely help him in this endeavor," Rabbi Stein told Breaking Israel News. "In order for any endeavor to succeed, you must ask for God's help. The proper place for a leader to pray is on the Temple Mount. If President Trump does so, he will receive this blessing, enabling him to achieve great success."
The rabbi explained that the precedent is described explicitly in the Bible. "When King Solomon completed the Temple some 3,000 years ago, he dedicated the building by calling on foreign kings to come and prayer," Rabbi Stein said, citing the First Book of Kings.
Moreover concerning the stranger that is not of Thy people Yisrael, when he shall come out of a far country for Thy name's sake...when he shall come and pray toward this house; hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling-place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to Thee for; that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, to fear Thee, as doth Thy people Yisrael, and that they may know that Thy name is called upon this house which I have built. I Kings 8:41-43
"We also feel that if he sees the place for himself, he will better understand the reality of the situation," Rabbi Stein added. "This will give him insight that previous presidents lacked and will help him find a proper solution, something no other leader has been able to bring about."
The Sanhedrin's letter to the US President:
"We, the judges of the Sanhedrin, the high court according to the Torah of Israel, are pleased that you are visiting Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Nation of Israel in which the creator of the world chose as the site of the Holy Temple.
We hope that you will decide to go up to the Temple Mount, Mount Moriah, to the proper areas, and by doing so, you will merit the blessings of King Solomon, who founded the Temple with the intention that foreign leaders will come from afar to bring peace to their lands.
If that is indeed your intention, there is but one way to do this: to declare the raising up of the Temple as a universal human goal within the sanctified Biblically defined boundaries.
The attempts to find a common language with the enemy pertaining the dividing of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel are futile and will not bring any blessing."
The Sanhedrin recently ruled on the precise boundaries of Jerusalem for the purposes of reinstating the Temple service. This ruling involved mapping specific Biblical references as they apply today. These maps were included in the letter sent to President Trump.
President Trump garnered support from Evangelical Christians and Jews during his campaign by promising to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His visit Israel next week coincides with the 50th celebration of the unification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.
Netanyahu to Tillerson: Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Will 'Shatter Palestinian Fantasy' - by Deborah Danan - http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2017/05/15/netanyahu-to-tillerson-moving-embassy-will-shatter-palestinian-fantasy/
Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem would help peace efforts by "shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Sunday.
His remarks followed those made earlier in the day by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in which he said the White House was reviewing whether relocating the embassy to Jerusalem would help or harm the peace process.
"Israel's position has been stated many times to the U.S. government and to the world," Netanyahu said. "Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem will not only not harm the peace process, it will advance it by correcting a historical wrong and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel."
On Thursday, Netanyahu reiterated his belief that all foreign embassies should relocate to Jerusalem, the "eternal capital of the Jewish people."
Earlier on Sunday, Tillerson said it was not clear whether an embassy move would help or harm prospects for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
"The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact the peace process," Tillerson said in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. He added that Trump would base his decision on the interests of all sides, but would also consider "whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction."
However, last week the White House denied rumors that Trump had shelved plans for the embassy move. Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the "president has not made a decision yet and is still reviewing that."
Sanders was questioned about a report on the Hebrew-language news site NRG that said Netanyahu had received notice that Trump would renege on his campaign promise and sign a waiver on the congressional mandate to move the embassy on June 1. That waiver has been signed every six months by U.S. presidents since 1995.
The Prime Minister's Office denied receiving any such information.
"Israel's position is that all embassies, particularly the U.S. embassy, should be in Israel's capital - Jerusalem," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
Speculation is rife that Trump will announce an embassy transfer while on a visit to Israel next week. Trump's two-day visit will coincide with Jerusalem Day, marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 defensive war.
Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) also said earlier this month that Trump would use his visit to announce the embassy relocation.
"What better time could there be to announce the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem than when you are over here celebrating with our Israeli friends this very important 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem?" he said.
When asked whether Arab threats were influencing Trump, Deputy Press Secretary Sanders declined to answer.
"I'm not going to get into the decision-making process," she said. "All I can tell you is that he's still reviewing it and as soon as we have a decision, I know we'll be happy to report back to you guys."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in January that if Trump moves the embassy it will "destroy the peace process."
His senior aide and the PA's supreme Sharia judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash said an embassy transfer would be a "declaration of war."
Last week, Turkish President Recep Erdogan said it would be "extremely ill-advised" for Trump to relocate the U.S. mission to Jerusalem.
Also on Sunday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett echoed Netanyahu's sentiment, saying the embassy move would help peace by affirming the unity of the city under Israeli control, whereas "any agreement based on dividing Jerusalem is doomed to fail."
US, UK, Jordanian forces enter Southern Syria -
US special forces, together with British and Jordanian elite troops, moved into southern Syria late Sunday, May 14. They were acting to counter the Syrian-Iranian scheme to nullify the American plan for posting Jordanian forces in southeastern Syria, which timed for the days before US President Donald Trump's trip to the Middle East.
The US-led armored force with British and Jordanian units crossed from northern Jordan through the Tanf Border-Crossing between the Hashemite Kingdom, Iraq and Syria, and took up positions capable of consolidating their control of the main road between Palmyra and Baghdad. Some of their moves were coordinated with Israel.
This push aimed at countering the drive in the last few days by hundreds of Syrian troops, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Hezbollah's Radwan special forces, with tanks and heavy equipment, to take over the town of Sabaa Biyar. Located in sparsely desert territory, this town lies 110km west of the Syrian-Iraqi border, 95km north of the Syrian-Jordanian border and 128km east of Damascus.
Its high strategic importance for Tehran, Damascus and Hezbollah lies in its command of the border between Syria, Iraq and Jordan and of Highway No. 1 which links the Jordanian capital of Amman with Baghdad.
debkafile's military sources explain that Damascus and Tehran acted to pre-empt the US-Jordanian-Israeli military operations along the Israeli and Jordanian borders with Syria, lest they lead to the carving out of US-controlled security zones in southern Syria.
Our military sources add that Moscow too eyes the new US-led military movements with mistrust, in view of its potential impact on the Russian plan for four ceasefire zones in Syria, in cooperation with Iranian and Turkish forces. The Russians are accordingly feeding Tehran and Damascus intelligence on the US-led movements.
On Sunday, too, the Israeli Defense Forces launched a large-scale military exercise in the Galilee and Golan regions close to its borders with Syria and Lebanon. The war game may well run over its final date in order to keep a substantial military force poised on along Israel's northern borders, in case of attempts to disrupt the Trump visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel from May 22 to May 24.
Other military movements in the region this week were taken by the Iraqi army and Iraqi Shiite militias under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers. Iran continued to pour additional troops into Damascus through the Baghdad-Damascus highway, on the one hand, while, on the other, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi offered Washington two of his army's divisions, which would be sent into Syria to support US military operations in the southeast.
For the time being, the Trump administration's plans for an offensive against the Islamic State appear to have been put on a back burner.
Words That Are Getting My Attention - By Daymond Duck -
My mind is often preoccupied and I sometimes struggle to focus on what people are saying. But there are four words that people can say that are guaranteed to grab my attention: Israel, many, peace and safety.
"Israel" is the key to understanding Bible prophecy so I am always eager to hear anything that someone has to say about Israel (Matt. 24:32).
"Many" is a qualifying word that refers to an unspecified large number. For example, the angel Gabriel told Daniel, "he (the Antichrist) shall confirm the covenant (peace treaty) with many (an unspecified large number of signers; Dan. 9:27) for one week (a week of years which means seven years).
"Many" signing a seven-year peace treaty grabs my attention because I believe the Rapture will have taken place and the Church will be in heaven when the Antichrist puts his worthless signature on that satanic document that many others will have already signed.
"Peace" draws me in because if someone says something about peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), I am anxious to know what they are saying.
"Safety" engages my attention because Paul said, "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them (those that are left behind after the Rapture), as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape (1 Thess. 5:3).
So when people use the words Israel, many, peace and safety-they automatically have my undivided attention.
Having said this, these attention-getting words have recently been in the news several times.
For example, on May 2, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence was talking about an agreement to resolve the conflict between Israel and the PA when he said, "The new administration has found a way to pursue peace whilst simultaneously devoting itself to securing (making safe) the Jewish state."
He added, "We're making valuable progress toward the noble goal of peace."
For whatever it is worth, I believe Israel is already safe under the protection of God and there will be wars and rumors of wars before there is true peace.
Then, on May 3, 2017, at a meeting in the White House, President Trump told PA President Mahmoud Abbas "We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We will get it done. We will be working so hard to get it done. It's been a long time, but we will be working diligently - and I think there's a very, very good chance. And I think you feel the same way."
After the meeting, the two leaders held a press briefing. President Trump said, "You signed your name to the first Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. You remember that well, right? And I want to support you in being the Palestinian leader who signs his name to the final and most important peace agreement that brings safety, stability, and prosperity to both peoples and to the region."
It is beginning to sound like a final and very important peace agreement that brings safety to Israel, the PA and the region (a covenant with many).
But there is more. President Trump announced plans to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Vatican. He said, "Our task is not to dictate to others how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the war-ravaged Middle East. Tolerance is the cornerstone of peace."
He didn't say it the way the Holy Spirit inspired it in 1 Thess. 5:3, but he was talking about Israel, peace, safety and the Middle East (many).
We don't know the day and the hour, but the words that some leaders are using are getting my attention.
Prophecy Plus Ministries, Inc.
Daymond & Rachel Duck
Why People Attend Church - By Warren Cole Smith -
It's a pretty straightforward question. But even among Christians--especially Christian leaders, writers, and pundits who make a living commenting on such things--the answers are many and varied.
People attend church because of culture and tradition, because of the music, because of a sense of community, because it's the right thing to do, because of the children's program, because of the hospitality and feeling of warmth and well-being.
The Gallup Organization decided to ask people who actually attend church why they attended, and the answers they got are helpful . . . sort of.
Gallup asked people if various aspects of worship were a "major factor," a "minor factor," or "not a factor" in their church attendance.
About 76 percent of respondents said "sermons or talks that teach you more about scripture" was a major factor. If that's all you knew about the survey, you might say that Bible-based expository preaching was the way to fill pews.
Such a finding warms the hearts of the theologically conservative. And they would not be wrong. Lots of the largest churches in the country follow that strategy.
But, as they say in infomercials: "Wait, there's more!"
Almost as many people--75 percent--said "sermons or talks that help you connect religion to your own life" were a major factor.
What does this mean? Are we talking about topical Bible studies? "How to have a better marriage" ? "What the Bible says about money" ? Or could we be straying even further away from expository preaching into Joel Osteen territory, into what Christian Smith has called "therapeutic moralistic deism"?
To complicate matters even further, children's and teens' programs were a major factor for 64 percent of respondents, and "community outreach and volunteer activities" mattered to 54 percent.
Indeed, given the size of these numbers, it is likely that a significant number of people checked every box. All of these things were major factors.
So what is a pastor or other church leader to make of these numbers? First, repeat after me: "It's not about the music." Evangelicals have been engaged in "worship wars" for 40 years.
The "traditional vs. contemporary" divide has consumed a lot of energy, but this survey suggests that it's mostly an "inside baseball" squabble.
I'm not saying it's not important. It's really important. Music is didactic. That's a fancy way of saying it teaches. Damon of Athens wrote more than 2000 years ago, "Give me the songs of a people, and I care not who writes its laws." I would modify Damon: "Give me the songs of a church, and I care not who writes its doctrinal statement."
So I'm not saying music is not important. I'm just saying the music is not generally a reason people come or do not come to your church. Use music that is biblical and authentic to your tradition of worship. Don't worry about whether it will "attract a crowd" or not.
Secondly, faith without works is dead. Have you heard that before? Good. It's biblical. But it is also what this survey is saying. People want sound preaching and opportunities for service. It's not an "either/or." It's "both/and."
This is not a bad thing; it is a very good thing. Great churches provide opportunities for both growth and service, knowing that one feeds the other.
Finally, and like unto the second: It's not one thing, it's everything. In my private life, I don't get to say, "I'm an unfaithful husband, but that's okay because I'm a good provider for my family."
No, being a responsible husband, or wife, or parent, means mastering a number of skills, not all of them a natural part of one's gifting.
So it is with church leaders, and churches. This reality can be overwhelming for pastors, but that's because they try to do it all themselves rather than rely on another reality of the church: It is one body, but many members.
So this Gallup survey, while more suggestive than definitive, has much to teach us. Perhaps the most important lesson is this: There are no formulas. Some water. Some sow. But God brings the increase.
Daily Jot: Be Encouraged - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
First and foremost, don't allow yourself to be discouraged. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 and 14, "You are the salt of the earth...you are the light of the world." You are so very talented in the gifts the Lord has given you. You are a breath of fresh air to those around you and an inspiration to folks you don't even know. The events of the world can be overwhelming if you focus on them instead of the Lord. You are a fellow change agent in the culture we are trying to change. As Winston Churchill said, "Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
The issues we are facing as a nation, and perhaps personally, are tough to deal with, but if we can control what we can control and remain focused, we can make an impact. We can be the very best that we can be, which will challenge others to raise their own standards to keep up. Stay encouraged. Turn discouragement into determination, and determination into domination. That's how we have to roll. We're not going to let anybody get the best of us. We are stronger together and when we stand in solidarity together, we win together. Let's not allow distractions to hinder the purpose and focus of our mission. We don't need to allow ourselves to become angry or offended, but use these affronts to educate on our position.
We have a great future in Christ Jesus, and we can play a significant role in making life better for all. Don't allow yourself to walk away or to be discouraged or be influenced by someone else's envy. You are a child of the living God, full of life and energy-he has provided all the skill sets you need to be successful in this environment. As Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." When we look around at the condition of the world, the nature of people who live with hate in their hearts, but recognize righteousness as hate, we must understand that we don't have to fear because we have the answer to their hurts.
Believe me, I understand what you are enduring. We talk about it a lot here in our house. The darkness of the unrighteous, the insanity of those who have no historic perspective or common sense, seem to be encroaching on everything that is good. They truly are saying that good is evil and evil is good. But we have the promises of God's word upon which we can stand. And having done all, we shall stand. Proverbs 28:18 says, "Whoso walks in integrity shall be saved: but he that is crooked in his ways shall fall at once." As a man of faith, I know that people generally reap what they sow. Keep sowing that good seed. Do not be deterred by the noise of the unrighteous. Be emboldened by the light of Christ that shines within you.
Daily Devotion: The Secret to Spiritual Growth - Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." -John 15:5
A Sunday school teacher wanted her first grade class to know about the different types of sin that could be committed, so she asked her students, "Does anyone know what the sins of commission are?"
A little girl said, "That is when you do something your mom tells you not to do."
"Very good. That's exactly right. Does anyone know what the sins of omission are?"
A little boy frantically waved his hand. He said, "Those are the sins you are supposed to commit but you haven't gotten around to them yet."
That is how a lot of Christians act today. They think it is only a matter of time until they commit certain sins or fall prey to certain sins. But according to the Bible, sin can and should be resisted. We don't have to be victims to it. We cannot only resist sin as a Christian, but we can grow stronger spiritually every day. However, we can't do it in our own strength.
Jesus said the secret to spiritual growth is in abiding: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). He said, "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit" (verse 5).
Jesus was talking about a vine that would produce grapes. We need to sink our roots deep into a relationship with Christ. Abiding speaks of a continuing commitment. It's producing fruit. It's walking with God on an ongoing basis. Abiding takes time . . . and lots of it.
If you want to grow spiritually, if you want to be able to resist temptation, if you want to live a life that is pleasing to God, then you must abide in Christ.
FROM THE HEART
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"Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!" - Hal Lindsey
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