Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Rapture in Two-Part Harmony - Jack Kinsella -
In the days of the Apostle Paul, the city of Thessalonica was the largest city in Macedonia, boasting a population of nearly 200,000 people --a megapolis of the ancient world.
The majority of its inhabitants were Greek, although there was a mixture of ethnic groups, including Jews.
Paul's letters to the Church at Thessalonica are accepted as authentic by virtually all New Testament scholars. The book was quoted by name by early Church Fathers including Iraneus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Polycarp.
The first epistle is divided into three parts or themes. In the first part, Paul reiterates his relationship with the Thessalonians, gives thanks to God for them, and outlines the evidence that the Thessalonians were truly saved, in contrast to what the Judaizers were saying about them.
"For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
In the second part, Paul defends his credentials as an Apostle and the legitimacy of the Thessalonians's conversion and his urgent desire to see them again.
"For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention." (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
"But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us." (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18)
The third major theme of the epistle is the imminent return of the Lord for His church at the Rapture. It is a source of endless fascination to me to read the various polemics arguing against the Rapture on the grounds that it was a nineteenth-century invention of J.N. Darby or Margaret MacDonald or C.I. Schofield.
Other scholars, such as my friend Grant Jeffrey, have long since proved that the Rapture doctrine was taught by the early Church as far back as 373 AD when he discovered an ancient text authored by Ephraem the Syrian, a prominent Byzantine theologian.
In On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, Ephraem wrote:
"For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins."
The most fascinating aspect of Grant's discovery is the effort to discredit it by opponents of a pre-Trib Rapture by denying Ephraem's authenticity, called the discovery "pseudo-Ephraem."
This argument says that Ephraem didn't write it, somebody else did. Is that even a relevant argument?
I was at Grant's house visiting shortly after he made his discovery in 1995 and Grant showed me a book in his collection published in the 1600's in which Ephraem's teaching on the Rapture was quoted by a French theologian.
So denying Ephraem's authorship is meaningless to the issue at hand, (which was whether the Rapture had been taught prior to the 1800's.)
Personally, I've never understood how there could be a controversy. Whether pseudo-Ephraem or just plain Ephraem -- or Darby, Schofield, MacDonald -- they are largely irrelevant -- since the Apostle Paul taught of an imminent Rapture in his FIRST epistle to the Thessalonians.
The controversy is about whether or not some subsequent interpreter confirmed what God told Paul, and it extends until what Paul actually wrote doesn't seem to matter.
But Paul not only outlined the Rapture in detail, he fully expected to witness it himself.
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or precede) them which are asleep. 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." (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
But the verses about the Rapture don't actually complete the third theme of Paul's first epistle to Thessolonica.
Paul addresses questions concerning his credentials as an Apostle, confirms that the Thessalonians are truly saved, and reveals the details of the Rapture.
The Thessalonians, like many in the Church today, missed the point of Paul's first Epistle. The point was that the Lord's return should be a source of great comfort, not a source of contention.
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)
The message is as clear as it can possibly be. As clear as this message is, some have trouble understanding it, even today. Paul says that Lord will appear in the air, the dead in Christ will rise, those still living will rise right after, and we will then spend eternity with the Lord.
Paul says the purpose of this revelation was to comfort believers facing hard times. What completes the theme is Paul's exhortation at the end.
"Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
Paul's Second Letter to the Thessalonians had but one primary purpose, as specifically outlined in Chapter Two. It was to correct the doctrinal errors that an apparently forged letter from Paul had created about the Day of the Lord.
The Thessalonians feared that the Day of the Lord had come and gone and they had been left behind.
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
The phrase, "our gathering together" is translated from the Greek, episunagoge, which means "a complete collection; especially a Christian meeting: assembling, gathering together." It is used but one other time, in Hebrews 10:25 exhorting believers to meet for worship.
As we go on, let's ask and answer some questions from the text of Scripture.
First question: "What is Paul beseeching the Thessalonians about?" Answer: "That they not be shaken by a letter that said they had been left behind."
The primary theme of 2nd Thessalonians is therefore, the coming of our Lord and our gathering together, or collecting, unto Him. Paul begins by offering two reasons why the Thessalonians should not be afraid that they had been left behind.
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." (2Thessalonians 2:3)
So, what is the first reason why the Thessalonians should know that they had not missed the event Paul had described in his last letter? Because the day would not come until there came "a falling away first."
The translation "a falling away" should actually be rendered, "THE falling away" namely, the specific falling away of which Paul warned them of "when I was yet with you." (2 Thessalonians 2:5)
The "falling away" is the great apostasia, meaning, "a defection from the truth."
The second reason why the Thessalonians should not be afraid that they had been left behind was because the man of sin, or the son of perdition, had not yet been revealed. The man of sin is, of course, the antichrist.
The man of sin can't be revealed until after the great apostasia because it is through the apostasia that the man of sin is revealed. Without the apostasia, the antichrist couldn't get a foothold because the population would not be prepared to buy what he will be selling.
But what else does this passage teach us? The Rapture couldn't have happened because the antichrist had not been revealed. What does that mean? It HAS to mean that the Rapture comes first and then later, the antichrist is revealed.
I have heard all kinds of clever and imaginative explanations for why these verses don't mean what they say they mean, but none of them ever actually take on the verses themselves.
They just go out and find others from elsewhere that seem contradictory but I've never heard anyone adequately dispute these two simple points - which is probably the reason Paul raised them.
One can come up with verses that seemingly put the Church in the Tribulation, or verses that seemingly dispute the meaning of "the wrath of God" and verses that question who the Restrainer is, or dispute the meaning of the Day of Christ, and so on.
But Paul says that there are two things that must come after "our gathering together unto Him" - the great apostasia, and the revelation of the son of perdition. So if the Thessalonians don't perceive a great apostasy, followed by the revealing of the antichrist, then it means they didn't miss the Rapture.
Let's reverse this equation and take another look at what Paul is saying from that angle.
Paul is saying that if the Thessalonians DO perceive a great falling away and they DO recognize "the man of sin, the son of perdition," then YES, they missed the Rapture.
Turned back around, he's saying that because the man of sin hasn't been revealed, the Rapture has not happened. Why? Because the Rapture comes first. Not because Darby, MacDonald, Schofield or even Ephraem the Syrian invented the doctrine after the fact.
But because the doctrine was already well-established in the first century by the Apostle Paul!
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
The first reference to a pre-Trib Rapture comes from the Bible. It is not a cunningly devised fable, but is a doctrine made known to us by eyewitnesses of His Majesty (2 Peter 1:16).
It wasn't turned into a cunningly devised fable until after the great apostasia first kicked off at the end of the nineteenth century with the "Age of Enlightenment."
The Great Apostasia is Part One and it is pretty much fully developed. As for Part Two, the revelation of the antichrist, well, THAT looks like it's fulfillment is just around the corner. And according to the Apostle Paul, we won't be here for Part Two.
"Wherefore, comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: Israel will be more secure if Palestinians have a state - By Herb Keinon -
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called to lift closures around Gaza and for an end to 'Militantism.'
The Palestinians need to unify if they hope to achieve a state, and Israel will enjoy greater security and prosperity when that state comes into existence, UN Secretary- General Antonio Guterres said to separate audiences on Wednesday.
Guterres, on the final day of his three-day visit here - his first as the UN head - crossed over to Gaza at the Erez crossing, where his convoy was met by protesting family members of prisoners in Israeli jails.
He then went to an UNRWA school in Beit Lahiya, where he issued an appeal for Palestinian unity, saying that the division between Ramallah and Gaza "only undermines the cause of the Palestinian people."
Guterres said his dream is of a day when there would be two states - Israel and Palestine - in the Holy Land. To pursue that end, he said, he has appealed for "a credible political process, in order to address the problems that exist and to allow for the two-state solution to be implemented, removing the obstacles on the ground."
At the same time, there needs to be a program of action to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians, he said. It is important to remove the closure on the Gaza Strip, and also important "to avoid the buildup of the 'militantism' that can undermine the confidence between the two peoples."
Guterres, who said he was "deeply impressed by the suffering of the Gaza people in these tragic circumstances," announced the "immediate release of $4 million" to support UN activities inside the Strip.
He declared that what he saw in Gaza was "one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises that I have seen in many years working as a humanitarian in the United Nations."
Before going into the Gaza Strip, Guterres - who received a helicopter tour and security briefing of the border area - met residents in a bomb shelter in nearby Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
Oshrit Sabag told Guterres that "we see a huge amount of money that is used in order to build terrorist tunnels and rockets instead of reconstructing the Gaza Strip." She added, "We think that the people on the other side of the border suffer from Hamas terrorism just as we do."
And Tammy Halevy, a resident of the kibbutz since 1960, said that "over the years, we had a great relationship with the people of Gaza, but today every time a rocket falls in Israel, it is hurting both Israelis and the people of Gaza. So we ask you to help us bring peace."
Later in the day, Jason Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations, also visited Nahal Oz, as part of a tour of the South he took with the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai.
Mordechai stressed that it costs an estimated $200,000 to build 1 kilometer of an attack tunnel, money that could go instead to building hospitals and improving the living conditions in the Gaza Strip. "But Hamas's priorities are first the military branches' interests and terrorism, and only then, as a low priority, supporting the civil population," he said.
Greenblatt said, "I again call upon Hamas to return the IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul, who were taken by Hamas, and I call on Hamas to release the Israeli civilians they are holding - Avera Mangistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Jumaa Abu Ghanima."
Guterres went from the South to Beit Hatfutsot - The Museum of the Jewish People in north Tel Aviv, where he said Israel would enjoy greater security and prosperity when Palestinians are living as citizens in their own state.
"These lands are the ancestral homelands of two peoples who both have an undeniable historical and religious bond to it," he said. "Both have a right to live on it as independent, free people as masters of their own fate."
Anyone visiting Israel, he continued, will have no doubt that it has fulfilled the rights and national aspirations of the Jews. "It is now overdue that the Palestinians also fulfill their legitimate rights and national aspirations."
The UN secretary-general said that he remains firm in his belief that a two-state solution is the "only way forward," and that he has and will continue to express disagreement in the face of "unilateral measures and facts on the ground that have or could undermine that solution, including settlement activities, but also continued violence, terrorism and incitement."
Guterres said he was impressed by the families he met in Nahal Oz who expressed a desire for "peace and reconciliation" instead of a "natural feeling of anger." This, he said, was a "fantastic example of solidarity, humanity and tolerance."
Guterres began his speech by condemning antisemitism and the fact that "so many communities where Jews once lived and survived for so many centuries no longer exist, because of countless waves of persecution and genocide."
He said he was ashamed that his own country, Portugal, "is marred by this history."
Guterres called the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal in the 16th century a "hideous crime that caused tremendous suffering." In addition, he added, "it was also a colossally stupid act that deprived Portugal of much of the country's dynamism, and led to long periods of cultural and economic stagnation."
He noted that when he was Portugal's prime minister in the 1990s, parliament revoked the expulsion edict of 1496. "This was an admittedly symbolic act, but the spirit of repentance was genuine," he said.
Guterres said that many of the Jews driven from Portugal moved to the Netherlands and helped build that country into a 17th-century power, until that community - as well - was devastated by the Holocaust.
"As we see again and again, antisemitism tends to come back," and today it remains "disturbingly widespread," the UN chief said. He mentioned the chants in Charlottesville early this month of "The Jews will not replace us" as an example.
And, he added, when he talks about antisemitism he is including "calls for the destruction of Israel."
Israel, he said, is a "member state of the United Nations and bears all the responsibilities and enjoys all the rights of all member states, and therefore must be treated as such."
Russia warns Israel not to attack Iran in Syria - by Joel Gehrke -
Russia warned Israel on Wednesday not to authorize an attack on Iranian military positions in Syria after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to prevent a buildup on his borders.
"If anyone in the Middle East or [an]other part of the world plans to violate international law by undermining any other country's sovereignty or territorial integrity, including any country in the Middle East or North Africa, this would be condemned," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters.
Netanyahu has warned that Iran is building military facilities in Syria. U.S. and Israeli officials have worried for years that Russia and Iran, by partnering to protect Syrian President Bashar Assad, would emerge from the conflict with long-term strategic advantages, and Lavrov's comment suggests Russia's support for Iran's consolidation of those gains.
"[R]egarding whatever area of cooperation between Iran and Syria, my position is that if their cooperation in whichever field does not violate the basic provisions of international law, it should not be cause for question," Lavrov said.
Netanyahu argued that Iran wants a "noose to tighten around Israel" through a military buildup on its borders.
"Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as war fronts [in] its declared goal to eradicate Israel," Netanyahu said Monday during a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. "It is also building sites to produce precision-guided missiles toward that end in both Syria and in Lebanon. This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the U.N. should not accept."
Democratic and Republican lawmakers agree that Iran has shipped tens of thousands of rockets to Hezbollah, a terrorist group in Lebanon, including technology that could give them the precision-guided capability to hit major sites in Israel. "If they succeed in this, they can pick the tallest buildings in Tel Aviv, the main landmarks in Jerusalem, the airport, the ships in the harbor," House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in February.
Iran, with the help of Shia militias operating in Iraq and Syria, is poised to have effective control over a "land bridge" connecting the Persian Gulf power to their terrorist proxies in Lebanon on the Mediterranean Sea. With a direct land connection, the Iranians may be able to threaten Israel even more directly.
"It definitely can lead to an immediate - probably in the near-term future conflict between Hezbollah and Israel," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told the Washington Examiner in June. "We know that Hezbollah has a number of arms and rockets basically ready to launch against Israel and Israel's in a position now that they may have to act."
Russian-Syrian airborne radar covers all of Israel -
The Russian air force has recently deployed to Syria four of its most highly advanced early warning and control aircraft, the Beriev A-50 SRDLO ("Mainstay"), which is rated the most sophisticated AWACS in operation. Several A-50s were spotted flying over Syria in recent months, but they all turned around and headed back to Russia. Four are now installed in the hangars of the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Syria's Latakia province.
The plane's Shmei-M radar is capable of pinpointing targets across a distance of 600km. While in flight, it covers all parts of Israel and can detect every aerial and military movement.
Moscow has deployed the A-50 in support of the unification of Russian and Syria air defense systems going forward in recent weeks. Henceforth, both their air defense systems will be controlled from a single command center at the Khmeimim air base, with the B-50 living up to its name as operational mainstay.
The Russian and Syrian air defenses will no longer need to swap information in the event of a US or Israeli air or missile attack over Syria before coordinating their operations. All incoming information will be channeled to the Russian joint command, which will determine how to respond and manage any combat which may result.
This development limits the freedom enjoyed hitherto by the US and Israeli air and naval forces over Syria and in the eastern Mediterranean and makes their operations far more hazardous.
The Russian air defense commander in Syria now has at his fingertips a wide range of tools for several synchronized maneuvers. He can, for instance, issue a direct order to simultaneously launch three sophisticated weapons systems with deadly effect, such as the Pantsir-S1 tactical, mobile surface-to-air missiles posted outside Damascus, also called the SA-22 Greyhound; the S-400s, installed on the Dhahaer ram Ahmed hilltop northwest of Latakia; and the anti-ship P-800 Oniks-Yakhont cruise missiles which guard Syria's coast.
These days, America would find it hard to repeat the Tomahawk cruise missile attack President Donald Trump ordered on April 4 in reprisal for the Syrian army's used of poison chemicals against civilians. That massive assault knocked out Syria's Sharyat air base and a large part of its air force.
Israel will likewise not have an easy ride for another air strike like the one conducted on May 17 against an Iranian arms shipment for Hezbollah near Damascus. Then, Syria tried for the first time to down the Israeli bomber-fighters with anti-air fire. It failed, but only because Israel was forced to send an Arrow missile into its first operation to prevent Syrian missiles from hitting the returning warplanes over Israeli territory. In future, Israel will have to adjust its tactics to the powerfully enhanced Russian-Syrian defenses.
The newly arrived A-50 also enables the Russian command in Syria to keep a controlling eye on the de-escalations zones gong up in Syria, including the one taking shape on Syria's southwestern border opposite the Israeli Golan.
Where Does Judgment Begin? - Nathele Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator." 1 Peter 4:17-19.
Peter was a man who understood what it meant to go through trials. During his years with Jesus he was brash and outspoken. In his finer moments he would proclaim "...Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:16b but other times he tried to stop Jesus, whom he proclaimed as the Christ, from going to Jerusalem to fulfill His mission on earth. When Judas led the men to arrest Jesus, it was Peter who drew a sword to defend Him, but it was also Peter who later that night denied knowing Jesus and hid during the crucifixion. Through it all Jesus forgave Peter. After the Resurrection Jesus told His disciples to wait for Him in Galilee and it was there that a humble Peter was restored as a disciple and urged to "feed My sheep". Peter was changed. He was no longer ashamed to preach the Gospel and he boldly spoke with the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of his boldness many people came to salvation through his witness. Peter faced his trials head on and he ultimately faced his own execution. If anyone understood fiery trials it was Peter and he learned to rejoice because they helped him to draw closer to Jesus. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." 1 Peter 4:12-13. The persecution of Christians was beginning and Peter wanted his fellow Christians to be strong. Today it's important for us to take Peter's words to heart because we still face persecution and testing of our faith.
When we accept Christ as our Saviour we also need to accept Him as Lord. As Saviour He forgives our sin, but as Lord He rules our life so we make godly choices. This may cause us to face fiery trials and persecution. Many Christians today face imprisonment and torture because they won't deny Christ, but the everyday trials we face can wear us down if we aren't diligent in our walk with Christ. When Jesus is Lord of our life, we make decisions based on His example. The Bible is the guide for our attitudes, speech, and choice of lifestyle. Through his own mistakes Peter had learned valuable lessons and could speak with authority about the changes one should make. In this first letter he spoke of suffering persecution for being faithful to Jesus, but he also addressed what we shouldn't suffer for. "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters." 1 Peter 4:15. Are these characteristics we think of in a Christian? There are consequences to sin and if you plan to murder someone or steal property you pay by going to jail. A Christian should never do these things and therefore shouldn't suffer for doing them. Evildoers and busybodies aren't usually sent to jail but Peter includes these things in the same group as murder and theft. Those who do wrong to other people and gossip do suffer, but it comes from having a guilt over treating others wrong and not being likable. If you claim to be a Christian and these things are a part of your life, you need to take an honest look at yourself and repent from these sins and have allow Christ to change you. A Christian should never bring shame to the name of Jesus. On the other hand, if you suffer persecution and ridicule from the people around you because you choose to follow Christ then you have nothing to be ashamed of. Judgment begins at the house of the Lord and Christians who think they have a license to sin all they want will have a rude awakening.
Peter knew what Jesus had suffered to purchase our salvation and encourages us to have the same mind as Christ. "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." 1 Peter 4:1-2. Jesus had no sin but He faced temptations like we do. Satan tried to tempt Him to fail but Jesus answered every temptation with Scripture. We need to arm ourselves with the word of God so that when temptation comes our way we can recall Scripture to strengthen our resistance. Before we came to Christ we lived by the rules of the world, but for a Christian that should no longer be true. "For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead." 1 Peter 4:3-5. Before becoming a Christian many people lived it up with no rules of right and wrong. Now that you've become a Christian you are to turn away from drunkenness, sexual encounters outside of a one man/one woman marriage, and any activity that doesn't honor God. Will your old friends congratulate you for making a wise choice in choosing not to sin? No. They'll ridicule you for being a "goody two-shoes" or "holier than thou". "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Matthew 5:11-12. You are a sinner saved by grace, but your old friends are sinners who need to meet Jesus. If you don't stand firm for Christ they will influence you to return to worldly ways. Your mission is to influence them by not compromising your faith.
Peter wasn't the only one who wrote about being persecuted because of faith in Jesus. Paul also wrote about this in his second letter to Timothy. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." 2 Timothy 3:12-13. Paul's life had been filled with persecution because of his faith in Jesus and Timothy was well aware of what Paul had suffered. This persecution by "evil men and seducers" is still around today and getting worse. The worldly people around us are still doing what they can to cause Christians to fail through persecution and it's easy to allow ourselves to be influenced by Satan's minions through movies, music, television, and the internet. As we draw nearer to the end of time this will get much worse. Christians must separate from the things in this world that promote sin...we are called upon to be in the world but not to be a part of the world. Choose entertainment using godly judgment and Christian parents need to homeschool their children. This is a spiritual battle we're in and Christians need to stand against the enemy.
All of this brings us back to judgment. Judgment will come to everyone. Christians have been forgiven, but our works will be judged. Rewards will be given for things done for Christ, but things done for the lust of the flesh will be burned. Sin never glorifies Jesus. If you claim to be a Christian but are practicing sin repent and begin living for Christ. The Book of Revelation is prophecy which will soon be fulfilled. Jesus dictated letters to John which were addressed to seven congregations. These letters outline a history of the "church age". From the letter to the congregation in Ephesus right through the final letter written to the Laodiceans we're given a summary of history in advance (from John's perspective). Most scholars agree that the "age" we are in today is described in the letter to the Laodiceans. They are apostate and lukewarm in their faith. Jesus will spew them from His mouth and this lukewarm group will be judged. "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." Revelation 3:17-18. In other words, turn away from the world and turn to Jesus for that which only He can provide: salvation. New Age, purpose driven, emergent church, contemplative prayer, and more false doctrines are permeating congregations today. Get back to the basics...study God's word and apply it to your life.
Jesus gave His life so nobody will have to spend eternity in the lake of fire. Do you claim to be a Christian but still live a lifestyle of sin, lust, and worldly pleasures? "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:19-22. Many congregations today leave Jesus outside but look for the latest gimmick to pacify the congregation. Sinful lifestyles are common in many congregations and Jesus isn't welcome inside but is knocking in order for someone to hear and invite Him in. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian has truly accepted Christ. If you have then a change should be evident. Accepting Christ means you recognize that you are a sinner and need Jesus Christ for salvation. The temptation to fall back into sin will always be there, but if you allow Jesus to be Lord of your life you will turn from sin. Don't just give lip service to Him but give your life to Him. It isn't too late for you to call on Jesus today, but tomorrow may be too late.
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God..." 1 Peter 4:17a. It must begin at the house of God because who else has been entrusted with His word? Who else should understand how to represent Him? Start living your life for Him today.
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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Out of Sight, Out of Mind - By Grant Phillips - http://www.raptureready.com/2017/08/29/out-of-sight-out-of-mind/
Most of us are familiar with the Scripture account of Moses going up on Mount Sinai as God commanded him. During this time, the Law was given by God to Moses for the Israeli nation. In chapter 32 of Exodus we see that since Moses' return was delayed, the people decided to "act up." The last part of verse six says, "and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." And "play" they did. By the time they were finished, they were worshipping a golden calf. God says in verse seven they, "have corrupted themselves."
I am retired now, but as I recall the many years I spent working in an office atmosphere, I am reminded of those who certainly would take advantage of the opportunity to "play" when the boss is away. Now they didn't "play" in the same fashion the Israelites did, but they were certainly not working as they should have been. Most of those years, I was the boss and I could most always tell when the "loafers" were playing and not working.
Jesus left the earth and went back to Heaven nearly 2,000 years ago, so He certainly has "delayed to come down out of," not Mount Sinai, but Heaven. The real Boss is out of the office, and the mice are scurrying about having a blast when they should be working.
I am reminded of, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:44)
Most Christians in this country are asleep on the job. They are not doing as instructed, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth," and "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2)
Even many pastors (as Aaron) have thrown Jesus under the bus along with His holy word, the Bible, and God has something to say about that.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." (Hosea 5:6)
As we draw closer to our Lord's return, the world will become even more and more wicked. Many of those who are professing to be Christians have never met Jesus Christ and certainly have no thought of His sudden return, but one day, Jesus will step down from Heaven to earth and the party will be over. Remember? The Israelites "rose up to play." That's basically what's transpiring across the globe at present.
Keep in mind I am not saying that all Christians are at "play," but in my opinion, most certainly are. I know many Christians who take serving Christ very seriously, and many more who have spent their lives in neutral, coasting up to Heaven's gate.
One of the major problems in our day is the lives of weak Christians blurring real, true Christianity. Weak Christians and those who just profess to be Christians are so much alike there is little, if anything, to tell them apart. No wonder the lost world thinks lip service apart from faith is enough, and those who actually are trying to follow Christ are too conservative, mean-spirited, judgmental, etc.
I repeat once again that those of us who are saved by the blood of Jesus are simply sinners saved by His grace and have nothing to brag about concerning our own merit. We have no virtue of our own apart from Jesus Christ. We have no merit apart from Him. Without Him we are nothing, but because of Him and through Him we are servants of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
I have worked with many people who were very good, hard-working employees, and others who were lazy, ego-centered narcissists. We have all (true Christians) been assigned a responsibility by God and the Lord expects us to be busy about His work.
"We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work." (John 9:4)
Maybe we need to ask ourselves, "Am I like the Israelites when Moses went up on Mount Sinai," or "Am I like the employee who goofs off while the boss is away?"
Jesus could be coming at any time. Those who are working will not be ashamed.
Jesus may be out of sight (physically), but He should always be on our minds as we live our lives in this world.
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html
Daily Jot: Your taxes increased 41% since 2013 - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
Ever wonder why you have less money to spend? That it seems like every time you go to the grocery store, you get a whole lot less for a whole lot more? Part of the reason is inflation. The way the government accounts for inflation these days kind of fudges the numbers-food and gasoline don't count in the same figures anymore. Convenient right? But on the other side of the equation, it may seem like you're paying more for essentials because you don't have as much available cash to spend. According to this week's report by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, you are paying more in taxes than you are for food. In fact, since 2013, you have seen an average increase of 41.13% in taxes.
The report talks about spending in terms of "consumer units," which means families. The average American family's food expenditures increased by $601 from $6,602 in 2013 to $7,203 in 2016. Food expenditures were about 14% of the average American's income. The BLS's Average Annual Expenditures for American Consumer Units report indicates that the average American family paid $7,432 in taxes in 2013 compared with taxes of $10,489 in 2016, an increase of $3,057 or 41.13%. It is no wonder why most of us are feeling "pinched" because we are actually in a tax vice that is squeezing tighter each year. The government has become a leviathan that wields tremendous and absolute power over the people.
In March 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a tax to be levied on documents from legal papers to newspapers to playing cards, ranging from a penny to about a dollar depending on the number of pages. By November 1, 1765, the day the Stamp Act was to officially go into effect, PBS says: "there was not a single stamp commissioner left in the colonies to collect the tax." They were tarred and feathered and ran out of town. This unfair taxation of a penny-a penny--gave impetus to the American Revolution. The Founders believed that the government was not to intrude into people's lives beyond providing safety and security--the true meaning of providing for the general welfare--for the people.
There are certain Biblical principles being violated by such taxation. First and foremost, Exodus 20:3 says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Government is not God. In America, we have a choice in how we are governed. We can vote. Government should never be allowed to stand with the life or death power of a god-either over our ability to have food or in our health care decisions. Exodus 20:17 says, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's." As well, Exodus 20:15 says, "Thou shalt not steal." A 41% increase in taxes over four years seems a lot like coveting and stealing to me.
Daily Devotion: In the Midnight Hour - By Greg Laurie -
"But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life." -Psalm 42:8
Archeologists believe they've discovered the dungeon in Philippi where Paul and Silas were imprisoned. If so, we would know that it was basically a small, windowless room so there could be no escape. Needless to say, there were no sanitation facilities.
What would you do if you ended up in a place like that? What did Paul and Silas do? We read that "at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16:25).
This was a sacrifice of praise. There was nothing circumstantially to rejoice about. How easily we could have read that Paul and Silas groaned at midnight. We would understand that. Or we could have read that they cursed the men who beat them, or they cursed the jailer. But instead we read that they sang praises to God.
When you are in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time for a worship service. But the Bible promises that God can give songs in the night. We are told in Psalm 42:8, "But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life."
There is something about nighttime that can amplify our problems. When you're getting ready to go to sleep, your problems can suddenly crowd in on you and seem worse than they really are. It's a great burden to carry. We should pray and commit these things to the Lord. The Bible tells us, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7).
We need to realize that God is in control in the day and in the night. And we need to offer our thanksgiving to Him.
FROM THE HEART
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