Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Living Between Here and Eternity - By Alice Childs -
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee" (Titus 2:11-15 KJV).
It's really hard to live between two worlds, isn't it? For the believer in Christ, we among all men, live our earthly lives between two worlds and two destinies. On the one hand, we must live in this temporal fallen, increasingly evil world trapped in mortal, failing, sin-cursed bodies. Yet on the other hand, our spirits, having already been redeemed, long to be clothed in our promised immortal bodies so that our redeemed souls can be united forever with our as-yet-to-be redeemed bodies. We long to be made fully whole in incorruptible bodies dwelling in eternity with our Lord.
It is hard to be divided: living in this world while longing for the next.
Believers are the only people on earth who have to deal with the ugliness of this world, having our sinful flesh constantly at war with our already redeemed souls. The Apostle Paul understood this dilemma very well.
The closer we get to our deliverance from this vile place via the soon-coming rapture, the harder it becomes to stay here. Like righteous Lot living trapped in the hedonistic, homosexual abominable cesspool of Sodom, we too are trapped not just in a wicked and debauched city, but in an entire world that has sunk to the very depths of narcissism and depravity.
Lot was vexed in his righteous spirit, and so are we. There is NOWHERE in this world to escape from the evil that is entrenched to the core in this fallen, Hell-bound world. In truth, the very second one is born again in Christ, we long to be "absent from the body and present with the Lord," dwelling with Him in an eternal place where Sin, Death, and Evil can never exist. For each and every true believer, that day IS coming. But until the day of our deliverance arrives, we still have to live in THIS world - as disappointing and wearying as that fact may be.
Jesus knew exactly what we who are living in these last days would be facing. He understood completely just how evil these last days would be, and how weary, vexed, and yes, lonely we would be living on the cusp of the rapture. He knew we would be hated, marked, abused, lied about, mistreated, vilified, and in many cases tortured and killed. He knew just exactly how bad it was going to get for us, so He warned us ahead of time of exactly what life would be like here in the last minutes of the last hours of the last days.
What He has called us to do is to "occupy until He comes." This means that we are to "be instant in season and out of season." In other words, we are to remain faithful to Him and to what He has called and placed us here to do whether it is easy or hard, popular or unpopular, whether our lives are restful or nearly unendurable. Why? Because THIS world is NOT our real home.
In THIS world, we are mere pilgrims passing through - strangers in a strange land; and for as long as we are here, we are to be about the business that our Sovereign King has given us to do. We are to spread the gospel everywhere to anyone who will listen. We are to "earnestly contend for the faith" regardless of the political climate we are in, and we are to warn a dying world of coming judgment.
You see, we are ambassadors for Christ. This means that in this alien, hostile world that hates God and hates His Word, WE are His representatives to a lost and Hell-bound world that lies on the very brink of God's wrath and judgment.
We are His "watchmen on the wall" - His sentries who are called to sound the alarm of coming judgment, crying for the lost to repent-to come to salvation NOW.
This is what He means by "occupy" until He comes to rescue us. Only we have the truth of both prophecy fulfilled and prophecy yet to be fulfilled as recorded in His Word. Only we have the truth of salvation because only we believers know the true God as revealed to us in His infallible, inerrant, immutable Word. This is what Jesus has commanded us to do as we await His call for us to "come up hither" to meet Him in the air.
Yes, we are tired. We are weary to the bone. We are vexed in our spirits over the depth and breadth of the evil that grows bolder and more blatant day by day. Yes, we LONG to go Home to a place we've never been before. We long to lay the weapons of our warfare down, to find those eternal "green pastures" where we can dwell safely for all eternity, following behind our Good Shepherd as He leads us beside those "still waters."
Oh yes, our weary souls long for our eternal Sabbath Rest. Our hearts yearn for eternal peace. It is coming. Jesus is not blind to our plight, neither are His ears deaf to the cries of His suffering bride. It is only His great mercy and love that stays His return just a little while longer because He is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." But His patience has its limits, and His mercy in extending this Age of Grace will not continue forever.
The Lord Jesus hears the cries of His bride; and the very minute that the full number of Gentiles has "come in," then His bride will be complete. When that last Gentile comes into the fold, then the Lord, King Jesus will rise from His seat at the right hand of the Father. He will leave the great throne room of Heaven and step out into the atmosphere above the earth.
There, standing in the midst of the celestial heavens, wreathed in clouds of glory, and with the sound of the mighty trumpet blast of the archangel, and a tremendous shout that will reverberate in the halls of Glory, the Lord will cry with a thunderous shout that will be heard by both the living and the dead who are "in Christ." He will call for us, His bride, to "COME UP HITHER!" He will call us Home - finally and forever HOME!
Oh, let's don't grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we will reap the rewards that we will have won. On that day, we will hear the most blessed words ever uttered in human speech. We will hear our risen Lord say to us, "Well done, My good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joys of Heaven."
Oh, my fellow believers, even though it is so hard to live between here and eternity, let us not falter this close to the finish line. Let us keep on keeping on; for one day very soon, when we least expect it, our Deliverer will come for us, and we will be set free - forever.
Experiencing Prophecy Burn-Out - Alf Cengia -
Are you experiencing prophecy burn-out?
I expect many of us usually can't get enough of prophecy updates and daily Middle East news. Many also thrive on the latest potential prophetic theory of Christ's return to rapture us out of here, based on some new Blood Moon or other discovery.
I've watched my share of prophecy updates and regularly pass the links around to like-minded folk. Likewise I keep a close look at what's happening in the Middle East because Israel is God's timepiece for the Second-Advent. Yet to be honest, I find myself suffering the occasional burn-out trying to keep track of things.
Jan Markell posted an interesting article called End-Time Weariness: Haven't We Waited Long Enough? She was largely focusing on scoffers when she wrote:
The malady goes by many names: End-time weariness; Rapture fatigue; Israel burn-out. The results are the same: The scoffers and skeptics are gaining too much territory and too many followers...The fact that the King is coming is boring and just old news.
There was the almost inevitable response from a non-pretrib blogger. He identified end-time weariness as a result of looking at the wrong signs, and false prognostications. According to him, the biblically right sign to watch for is the Abomination of Desolation. He added: 'Interestingly, Jesus also didn't mention a Mid-East Peace Covenant. This is also a "not sign."'
Apparently it's mainly the pretribber's fault that there are so many skeptics and mockers. In fact non-premillennial skeptics will scoff regardless of your rapture position. John Calvin and Luther vehemently opposed premillennialism, all for the wrong reasons.
This fiction [premillennialism] is too puerile to need or to deserve refutation. Nor do they receive any countenance from the Apocalypse, from which it is known that they extracted a gloss for their error, (Rev 20:4) since the thousand years there mentioned refer not to the eternal blessedness of the Church, but only to the various troubles which await the Church militant in this world. ~ John Calvin
This was well before Hal Lindsey. So don't go blaming the faithful Old Warhorse. I wouldn't be surprised if many of his detractors end up calling him "Sir" in the Kingdom. You know - the same people who've suggested he should be stoned for being a "false pretrib prophet."
It's quite common for non-pretribulationalists to downplay the beginning of "the covenant" which the Antichrist eventually breaks. This dismissal likely relates to assumptions non-pretribbers bring regarding when the Man of Lawlessness is revealed. That's another story.
Ironically, prophecy-loving non-pretribbers also look to the same pre Abomination-of-Desolation signs for Christ's return. The only difference is that they believe Antichrist's Great Tribulation precedes the rapture.
Over a decade ago a popular prewrath Prophecy Watcher campaigned on the basis that he discovered who the future Antichrist was; and when the 70th week was supposed to be inaugurated. He even asked Jack Kinsella and Hal Lindsey to put their names on the book he'd written. Burn-out was the eventual aftermath of that prognostic failure.
One thing's sure, pretrib detractors never seem to suffer prophecy burn-out. Attacking pretribulationism appears to be the stimulant keeping them firing on all cylinders. They say they're saving you from deception. I think they're virtue-signaling.
But enough of tangential ax grinding. I've been thinking for a long time that sometimes we become so absorbed in End Times Watching that we allow it to throw us out of balance in our spiritual lives. We (me!) can suffer burn-out from compulsively spending time watching and speculating on breaking news.
Pastor Alistair Begg once observed that we should spend far more time reading God's Word and praying than we do following news on Social Media. I don't do that - do you? Does tracking events possibly related to prophecy dominate our lives?
Earlier on I mentioned passing prophecy links along to interested people. One of these is J. D. Farag's weekly updates. In his August 5-2018 video-update Farag began by stating that: "the purpose of Bible Prophecy is to point us to the person of Jesus Christ."
He went on to say that it was too easy to get so caught up with what's happening around the world that we can lose sight of the Lord. In my opinion, it was one of his best presentations.
Paul's tumultuous life gave him every reason for burn-out. Here's what strengthened him:
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phil 4:12-13
As a premillennialist, I believe most of the Puritans had their eschatology wrong. The Reformation didn't fix the error regarding the Church-Israel relationship, or the rejection of premillennialism.
However, they got a lot of other things right. Because of their strong focus on Christ's gospel and heaven, they were able to endure the kinds of hardships most of us in the West aren't currently experiencing. We need to be more like them.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Col 3:1-2
Yes, we ought to be watching for the Lord's coming as we see certain events surrounding Israel appear to line up. But it's all a matter of finding the right focus and balance.
China's Dangerous Ambitions In The Middle East - By Joel Sonkin - http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=2465
The Trump administration's National Security Strategy, released in December 2017, identified China and Russia as America's greatest global competitors. The document asserted that it is these two "revisionist powers" who seek to "challenge American power" and "shape a world antithetical to US values."
In its discussion of China, the strategy document zeroed in on Beijing's ultimate goal of displacing the United States in the Indo-Pacific region and declaring East Asia its own sphere of influence. The key flashpoint for this competition has been the South China Sea, where Beijing has taken what were once small "maritime features" known as the Spratly Islands and created over 2,000 acres of land -- or artificial islands -- just off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam.
With an estimated one-third of global shipping passing through these waters, control of the South China Sea is a determining factor in who controls world trade. For the past 70 years, it has been the US Navy that ensured the free flow of commerce throughout the Indo-Pacific.
After making dubious claims on the disputed islands -- to the chagrin of almost every one of its neighbors -- China used its muscle to assert control over the area and gradually militarize the islands by building barracks, bunkers, hangars, underground fuel and water storage facilities, and an airstrip long enough to support most military aircraft.
The militarization of these islands reached a tipping point last May, when China was reported to have installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems capable of hitting US naval forces that frequently conduct freedom-of-navigation operations in these waters.
Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed alarm over the deployment of the advanced missile systems by claiming that "the placement of these systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion." The US Pacific Command chief, Admiral Philip Davidson, echoed this sentiment by asserting that "China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States."
Although China was able to build up the islands quite quickly in 2014-2015, the United States did have options available to halt Beijing's advance in the South China Sea. Today, however, the US has little choice but to accept the threat as it is and try to contain it, because rolling back China's militarization of the islands without the use of force is, at this point, not feasible.
For the United States, this will mean modernizing its air forces and missile defenses, and replenishing US Navy resources in East Asia, thus bringing more US forces into closer proximity with their Chinese counterparts. While the chances of conflict remain low, the potential for a confrontation is certainly higher than it was just five years ago.
The South China Sea and the broader Indo-Pacific, however, are only the beginning of China's global ambitions. Indeed, Beijing has been busy actively pursuing its much-discussed "Belt and Road" initiative to invest infrastructure linking China by both land and sea to markets in Asia and Europe.
As part of these efforts, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a visit in July to the United Arab Emirates to sign a host of financial and trade agreements. With the UAE being both a major energy exporter and a hub for international trade, the Arab Gulf state is the gateway for about 60% of China's exports to the Middle East. The region is a key factor in China's efforts to revive the ancient overland Silk Road trade route and create a new sea equivalent. The UAE sits close to both routes.
Just across the Arabian Peninsula, in what would be a key component of China's sea route, Beijing established in 2017 its first overseas military base in Djibouti. This small African country sits at one of the most important maritime locations in the world: the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, the key chokepoint connecting Asia and Europe. Ships bound for Europe pass through the narrow waterway between Djibouti and the southern tip of Yemen into the Red Sea and continue through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean.
In short, Djibouti is poised to serve as a launch pad for China to project its power between Europe and Asia, i.e. the Middle East and North Africa. As a side note, it is not a coincidence that the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait has been a focal point for the war in Yemen between the Houthi rebels and a Saudi-backed coalition.
Finally, in what would be perhaps Beijing's most audacious move yet, it was reported this past week that the Chinese ambassador to Syria offered his country's assistance to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The ambassador said that China is willing to participate "in some way alongside the Syrian army," as it looks to finish off the Sunni opposition.
To be sure, the seven-year conflict in Syria has presented plenty of problems -- at both the strategic and humanitarian levels -- for the US and its allies. The situation was made drastically more difficult when the US allowed one of its fiercest competitors, Russia, to intervene on behalf of the Assad regime. But the potential entrance of America's other ostensible global competitor into the Syrian arena is hard to fathom.
While the Russian intervention did deal a devastating blow to American interests in the region, it's hardly the first time that Moscow and the West have squared off in great power competition in the Middle East. A Chinese presence in the region, on the other hand, is largely unprecedented, and would bring the US and its Mideast allies into uncharted waters.
With the evident consequences of American complacency in the South China Sea quickly unfolding, it is not too soon for the Trump administration to vigorously pursue a policy of preventing China from gaining a foothold in the Middle East.
The Spirit and the Bride Still Say, "Come!" - By Sally Law -
A day approaches, and sometimes it feels so very close and real to me, but farther than my ability to reach out and touch it; for I am still in mortal flesh, and this day will require that I be transformed into an immortal being.
I have longed for this day for some time, written many articles in regards to it, and spoke about it openly among family and friends. A few agree with me-and some do not. If you were to put me on the witness stand today and pepper me with questions, the verdict rendered would be-"guilty as charged"-in my beliefs about the Rapture.
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
The Rapture is the first of the end-time events; and once it happens, it will change everything forever. I believe it to be a true doctrine of the early church, one that was upheld and verified in scripture that was written down long ago. All scripture is God-breathed, and just as true today as it was when it was first delivered to the believers in the first-century church.
I hold a pretribulational view of the Rapture, meaning I believe it precedes the seven-year tribulation.
Christians, through the saving blood of Christ, are raptured from this earth just prior to the seven-year tribulation, which is a time of God's judgment. Also during this time, the earth will grow very dark spiritually under the worldwide rule of a man called the Antichrist. (This time of tribulation is detailed specifically, and prophesied in the books of Daniel and Revelation.)
I had someone say to me that if I believed in the Rapture then I believed a lie, because it infers that Jesus comes again-twice. I do not believe a lie, as the Rapture is a separate and distinct event which prepares the way for two things:
-God's judgment of the unbelieving world, giving both Jew and Gentile unbelievers one last time to repent and receive Jesus Christ as the sacrificial gift for their sins.
-Second, Christians are removed and caught up into His presence in the air before this time, spared from God's indignation and judgment.
Strong biblical artillery below supports this belief-
"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" (Rom. 5:9).
And, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9).
Sometimes, people, even Christians, are generally confused about the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ, thinking they are one and the same. They are not. Here are the characteristics and differences I see in the scriptures that may give some clarity.
-Jesus is in the air for this one event, and we are "caught up" or raptured to meet him there. He does not come to earth for the Rapture.
-The Rapture happens at the end of the church age. Once we're gone, it naturally brings an end to the church age.
-The Rapture is a big surprise to everyone. One second we are here, and the next moment-vanished. To the unbelievers, it will be cataclysmic; it is going to completely rock the planet. To the Christian, it should be a pleasant surprise, expected and anticipated with joy.
-The Holy Spirit is moved from his restraining position at this time, as He is referred to as "the restrainer." This unique quality of the Spirit is taken out of the way so that the "lawless man" may be revealed.
"Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way" (2 Thessalonians 2:5-7).
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ:
In the scriptures, it states the setting and timeframe of His return to the earth for the first time since His ascension into heaven. It will be after the seven-year tribulation, when Jesus touches down at the Battle of Armageddon in the valley of Jezreel near Megiddo in Israel. We have both the timeframe and location in the end-times events when Jesus Christ will come in glorious splendor.
Two different events, but both are central to Jesus Christ and the end-times.
If I have just a few moments to speak with someone about the Rapture and I have to cut to the chase, this is what I say: "May I share up and down with you?"
Up - The Rapture: Christians go up and meet the Lord in the air.
Tribulation - for seven years, and it starts after the Rapture.
Down - The Second Coming of Christ: Jesus Christ comes down to earth. He descends from heaven first, at the battle of Armageddon flanked with His bride, the church of raptured believers, and the angels in heaven. See Revelation 19:11-21.
Most people see the difference of the two events when I share this; sometimes, I can see the light bulb turn on.
Rapture deniers are still around, and there are quite a few lined up here. Oh dear, some even believe the Rapture already happened in 70 A.D. This is a very weak belief with no historical evidence. Historian Flavius Josephus (a writer of that time) would have authenticated or even mentioned the marvelous event of the Rapture taking place in A.D. 70. His historical details of that time are meticulously recorded and actually available on Rapture Ready for further study, if you are interested. There is no mention of anything resembling the Rapture in his writings. It would have disrupted life and society, and would not have gone unnoticed. Someone somewhere would have documented it.
Also, just one more historical fact is that the book of Revelation was written around A.D. 96 by John the Apostle, exiled and imprisoned on the island of Patmos. Obviously, this fact was overlooked by this group. I seriously doubt John and those he was writing this down for, namely believers, were left behind at the Rapture had it occurred in 70 A.D. Look here:
From Christian Courier: "The external evidence for the late dating of Revelation is of the highest quality.
Irenaeus (A.D. 180), a student of Polycarp (who was a disciple of the apostle John), wrote that the apocalyptic vision "was seen not very long ago, almost in our own generation, at the close of the reign of Domitian." The testimony of Irenaeus, not far removed from the apostolic age, is first rate. He places the book near the end of Domitian's reign, and that ruler died in A.D. 96. Irenaeus seems to be unaware of any other view for the date of the book of Revelation."
Source: Jackson, Wayne. "When Was the Book of Revelation Written?" Retrieved from christiancourier.com on July 27, 2018.
I am putting all my belief 100 percent in the fact that it did not take place in 70 A.D., and we are pressing up to the Rapture right now-at the door.
Distractions of this world can keep us from the anticipated joy of the Rapture. It's good to remind ourselves that this earth is not our eternal home-heaven is. Let's not allow the things of this world and Rapture deniers to draw our attention away from His coming glory. It is so not worth it!
And with that, I still say, come Jesus, come-the Spirit and the Bride say come!
"And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17).
I remain encouraged, and I am Rapture Ready. I hope you are, too!
The Sower And The Seed - A Bible Study by Jack Kelley -
Every time I post a study on the completed work of the Lord who took away all the sins of the world, and how all that's left for us to do is believe, I get a number of questions from people. These questions are always about others who don't seem to have been changed at all by their salvation experience. The writers ask me, "Where's the evidence of a changed life?" or, "What about sacrifice, and repentance, and death to sin?" or "Are you saying that just because a person went forward and mouthed some prayer, and then never did anything else, that means they're saved?"
If we look carefully we'll find that the Lord anticipated questions like these, and answered them in advance. In this case the answer can be found in Matt. 13, so that's where we'll look.
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear." (Matt. 13:3-9)
As He explained later in the chapter, the farmer represents the Lord, the seed is His word, the soil is the world, and the birds represent the evil one. While the parables He gave us in Matt. 13 are often called the Kingdom Parables, it's important to understand that this first one describes the whole world, not just His kingdom. In the world His word is met with four kinds of responses.
The first kind is called the seed that falls on the path. It represents people who hear the word but fail to comprehend it. In Matt. 13:19 He said this is due to the fact that the evil one comes and snatches it away. Paul put it this way.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor 4:3-4)
Because of their lifestyle choices some people have developed a heart so hard that the Gospel cannot penetrate its shell. The words lie there on the surface for the enemy to sweep away lest any should slip into a crack and take root. When you try to share the gospel with these people, they look at you like you've come from another planet. It's foolishness to them, as Paul said it would be. (1 Cor. 2:14)
The Lord called the second response the seed that falls on the rocky places. This refers to people who hear the Gospel message and in the passion of the moment run forward for the altar call, but never really let the Lord into their hearts, so there's no conversion. It all sounded so good at that crusade or revival meeting and they got all caught up in the excitement of the event. But they didn't really open their hearts to the Lord so the first time someone laughs at or ridicules them for their beliefs they deny the Gospel and act like the altar call never happened.
Sadly this describes an overwhelming majority of those who come forward at public events. They don't ever wander into a church afterward, or even crack open their Bible, so they were never really saved at all. Had they sincerely asked the Lord to forgive them, they could have been part of the small minority who really does get saved this way, but they didn't give it a thought. They just jumped up and ran down front because it felt good at the time. Paul warned us against letting this happen to us.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col 2:6-7)
The seed among the thorns describes believers who are saved but are so distracted by the things of the world that they bear no fruit. Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) He wasn't talking about our salvation there because salvation is not a fruit bearing event. Fruit has an effect on others where salvation is purely personal. In other words, fruit is not something that happens to the branch, it's something that happens through the branch. And the branch does not make fruit grow by its own effort. It's the vine that does the work.
Why are there so many believers who don't bear fruit? It's because of the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. According to Matt. 13:22 they choke the Word and make it unfruitful. Preoccupation with the things of this world makes it impossible to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This is probably the biggest group in all of Christianity, saved but not fruitful. This is the group some other believers look at and wonder, "Are those people really saved"? Odds are the answer is yes, but you'd never know by looking at them.
But before we go on, there's something we should remember. Living a "sacrificial life" is not the same as being fruitful. To sacrifice is to give up something for nothing, like the lambs did on the altar. They received no benefit from it. The notion that Christians have to live sacrificial lives is man's idea, not God's. Jesus said that He came so that we could have an abundant life, not a sacrificial one. (John 10:10)
Christians aren't asked to give up something for nothing. No one who is truly walking with the Lord thinks of it as a sacrifice, he thinks of it as a greater blessing than anything he could have otherwise received. People who take pride in living a sacrificial life are missing the point, and by denying themselves the things they secretly still want (it wouldn't be a sacrifice if they didn't), they not only aren't producing any fruit, they may just be performing works of the flesh. You can tell because the result is not joy, it's jealousy, envy or resentment toward others. These are not the fruit of the Spirit.
The seed that lands in fertile ground produces a crop many times its size. This is the group that Paul wrote about in Galatians 5:22-26, where he also described the fruit we produce.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
This fruit grows when the gospel finds fertile soil. It impacts others, and draws them to the Lord. The peace and contentment we feel, and the love and kindness we express, causes others to want what we have. When they get it, they in turn draw still others, and without trying or even knowing, we'll have produced a crop that will multiply us over and over.
So we take pity on those for whom there is no comprehension and pray that the Lord will soften their hearts. And likewise for those for whom there was no conversion. The Gospel was just a passing fancy for them, a rush of emotion that never became a commitment. Let them hear it again, Lord, and this time may they choose to invite you in. And especially for those who though saved, are so caught up in the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth, that they're totally unfruitful. Help them gain the eternal perspective.
The best witness we can offer to the world lies not in doing what we think the Lord wants us to do, but in being what He wants us to be. So while we're at it let's pray that since we live by the Spirit, He'll keep us in step with the Spirit, so we won't become conceited, and begin provoking and envying each other. Amen.
Daily Jot: Free speech vs hate speech - Bill Wilson -
In the early days of the commercialization of the internet, those of us working in the space were committed to freedom of speech and building on a platform where ideas could flow unimpeded at the speed of the wire. It was a time when invention was flourishing. Free speech was unlimited in this wild west of technology. It was an open network that revolutionized how people communicated, conducted commerce, and expressed their beliefs. There was good and bad, but the information superhighway brought people closer together, afforded opportunity to evangelize the Word of God, and increased opportunity for those who would take advantage of it. Today, however, that freedom is dwindling fast.
Technology companies like Apple, Yahoo, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, and others pledged to be open to all forms of expression and ideas in the beginning. These companies lured people into their platforms using as bait a sense of freedom and security. They built empires based on masses of people using their free and open services. Then came along their politics-an extreme leftist nature where their strength in numbers allows them to dictate political thought. They sold out to the leftists in government who used these open platforms to spy on Americans, and now many of them are making up their own definitions of hate speech and shutting down people who disagree with them.
Not surprising those who disagree with them and are most vulnerable to Silicon Valley's political intolerance and ideological bigotry are conservative thought leaders. Make no mistake that Christians who openly share the Lord, and also voice opposition to abortion and sexual deviation are in the cross-hairs. A New York Times editorial by University of Richmond Professor Erik Nielson is questioning the use of hate speech to shut down conservatives the left considers extreme "because "hate" is a dangerously elastic label, one that has long been used in America to demonize unpopular expression. If we become overzealous in our efforts to limit so-called hate speech, we run the risk of setting a trap for the very people we are trying to defend."
Nielson then lists those who could fall into that trap if it were applied according to "hate speech" criteria: Black Lives Matter, Black Nationalists groups like the Nation of Islam, the Women's March (because it was organized by questionable groups), the Palestinian-led Boycott, and Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel. Nielson's fear is that if the hate speech argument is prosecuted equally, the extreme leftist resistance would be shut down-those, he says, are the people "we can least afford to lose." It's an admission that "hate speech" restrictions are designed to protect the haters and quell their opposition. Ultimately, the opposition is God and the target is religious free speech. May we always, as Ephesians 6:19 exhorts, "open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel" in following God, not man.
Daily Devotion: The Amazing Privilege of Prayer - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. -Psalm 46:1
A while back I asked my granddaughters if they knew the difference between a wish and a prayer. Lucy said, "Well, Papa, a wish we just make to ourselves, but a prayer we make to God." That's right. There's a big difference between the two.
Everyone, in some way, shape, or form, does seem to pray. Historically, even the most remote tribes were found to have presented offerings and prayed to their gods.
According to a recent Gallup poll, more Americans will pray this week than exercise, drive a car, or go to work. Nine out of ten of us pray regularly. Three out of four of us pray every day. But here is the question: Are those prayers being heard?
Our prayers can be answered. There is no question that prayer is an amazing privilege that God has given to each of us. If you've ever been in what seems to be an impossible situation with no way out, then you've probably discovered that God can intervene and change things through prayer. Prayer can change situations. It can change people. Prayer can even change the course of nature. It has been said that if you've been swept off your feet, it's time to get on your knees.
God will allow hardship, challenge, need, and sometimes even tragedy so He can reveal himself, so He can put His power and glory on display for those who are watching.
That's why it seems so crazy to me when I hear of people who are facing hardship and choose to withdraw from and even get mad at God. That is silliness. The Bible says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1 NKJV). We need to turn to God-not away from Him-in times of crisis.
FROM THE HEART
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