Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Does God Let You Down? - Steve Schmutzer -
Does God ever let you down?
Wait. Before you answer, I'm not interested in cliché replies. You know, "In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him," or, "God's plans are to give me a hope and a future." I don't want to hear that old standby, "He knows what's best for me."
Those responses are Biblically-based, and so they're true when they're properly applied with the right heart to the right situation. But in my experience, too many Christians say this kind of stuff when their faith has reached its limits. They are barely able to endure their pain, describe their confusion, or contain their rage.
Just because we can force certain words out of our mouth does not mean we are saying what we are truly feeling. Just because we can't admit what's really going on does not mean it isn't.
Let's be totally honest here - have you ever been mad at God? Did you ever bargain with Him in your heart and now you're upset He didn't keep up His end of the arrangement? Are you still "fighting the good fight," but you're exhausted and despaired? Did you take the high road - but you got the raw end of the deal?
Now - let's get down to the brass tacks:
Did you pour yourself into the task of raising your children the right way only to have them disappoint you with their choices?
Are you laboring long and quietly in a ministry while others with less gifting, less commitment, and less maturity are getting the reward and recognition?
Have you prayed and tried for years for a baby and one still hasn't come? Meantime, irresponsible parents are popping out feral kids like rabbits?
Did you carefully plan for a simple and responsible retirement - only to see it all evaporate in the wake of unexpected health problems and medical bills?
Have you lost your job and now you are struggling to find work that pays the bills?
Did you find the man or woman of your dreams, but things have changed and now you wish you hadn't?
So let me ask the question one more time: does God ever let you down?
If you are feeling that way, or are tempted to - you are not alone. Even people that knew Jesus personally might have felt that way....or at least they may have felt they had reason to.
You see, we can talk all day long about our "relationship with God," but three Biblical characters come to my mind that actually knew Him personally. I mean, they interacted with Jesus, they watched Him, listened to Him, and learned from Him. They knew who Jesus really was!
Their lives are recorded in the New Testament as being part of His life, so the personal connection went both ways. Despite that, I think it could be argued that all three of these people might have felt some disappointment with Jesus. Put another way, they might have admitted they felt let down by God.
But all three characters faced their natural reactions and chose to respond to Jesus in different ways. I think we can learn something from their examples because these are ways we still respond to Jesus Christ today.
The first of these three characters is John the Baptist. He had a key role before Jesus' ministry. Since he and Jesus were cousins, he probably knew Jesus as they were growing up together. Maybe they even played together as children - this is not an unreasonable assumption.
John the Baptist turned out to be a rough and rugged character - unconventional, certainly. He was a strong man with equally strong convictions. He didn't think twice about confronting the hypocritical religious leaders and calling them a "brood of vipers" (Matt. 3:7). His straight talk and no-nonsense approach attracted truth-seekers, and he had many followers and disciples.
A time came however when John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus' ministry as a "voice in the wilderness" (John 1:23). He did this because he had a right view of Jesus. John said of Him, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), so John the Baptist grasped the proper priorities and how things needed to be.
None of this was an act. John the Baptist was a man of God who had a passion for proclaiming the truth and for living it out. His extraordinary ministry and exemplary character were affirmed when Jesus said of him that there was "....none greater" (Luke 7:28). To be sure, John the Baptist was the real deal.
It is difficult to know how much time John the Baptist actually had with Jesus Christ There was that special occasion where John had baptized Jesus (Matt. 3:13-17), and John had felt that Jesus should have baptized him instead.
But in their adult years, it seems they had little face-to-face contact. We know John the Baptist publicly confronted Herod Antipas for the king's sins (Matt. 14:1-13), and this had resulted in John's arrest and imprisonment - and ultimately his beheading. This happened early in the ministry of Jesus Christ, so there was no opportunity for further contact between the two cousins after that point.
It is after John's arrest that we learn of his doubts about Jesus Christ. In a desperate situation with his life on the line, John the Baptist faced gnawing questions. Reports of Jesus had found their way into John's cell, and news of Jesus' ministry had worked its way into the fabric of John's deepest frustrations.
Time had passed since that glorious baptism, and Jesus' ministry was now flourishing while John's had abated. John's disciples fed him bits and pieces of information as they were able to, and it's fair to say these reports reinforced the misgivings John had of Jesus.
You see, the ministries and activities of Jesus and John were very different, and it's not beyond reason to suggest these differences raised John's concerns. John's choices had set him apart from the crowd while Jesus' choices had blended in. John the Baptist and his disciples fasted often, but Jesus and his disciples ate and drank with sinners (Matt. 11:18-19). John performed no signs in his earthly ministry (John 10:41), but Jesus - and his disciples - performed miracles of every kind (Matt. 9:35, 10:1). John lived reclusively, but Jesus was a very public person who was often surrounded by enormous crowds of people.
Now John was sitting in prison, captive most of all to his own disappointments. It's not hard to imagine the questions that may have gone through John's mind. "If Jesus was really the Messiah as he himself - John - had announced, then why wasn't Jesus doing more?" "Why was Jesus not getting down to the business of establishing His kingdom and burning up the wicked with unquenchable fire?"(Matt. 3:12). "Was he here in prison because Jesus was, in fact, powerless to do anything about the situation?"
When John the Baptist could resist his own insecurities no longer, he sent some of his disciples to confront Jesus and to ask Him directly, "Are you really the promised Messiah or should we be looking for someone else?" (Matt. 11:2-3).
The question is a revealing one because it shows John had expectations of Jesus that were unfulfilled. It also shows that John the Baptist was unsure, doubtful, and delicate - the same way you and I have felt from time to time.
John wanted to know if he'd been misled. Was Jesus their only hope or was somebody else going to come along that was a better fit for the job? Was Jesus Christ really the Messiah, or not?
Jesus sent John's disciples back to John with an answer, but it was hardly the one John the Baptist was seeking. Jesus challenged John to consider the evidence of His miracles, and he added, "....blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
In other words, Jesus exhorted John to cling to the truth of Scripture. He did not give John a simple "yes" or "no" answer, but he left him hanging a bit. Jesus responded to John's heart instead of his mind because John's heart was the seat of his faith.
We can say John the Baptist was wrong for the ideas he had about how Jesus needed to operate, but - honestly - we're not much different. We expect God to work in certain ways too, and if God does not fulfill our expectations, we also get disappointed. We may not like to admit it, but it's easy for us to think that if our God is really the God He says He is, then we have a right to expect something different from Him.
I feel it's likely that John died with some of his questions unanswered. That doesn't mean his faith wasn't real. It means he was human, and because he was human, his reactions to Jesus Christ were imperfect - the same way yours and mine can be too.
A second character that probably felt let down by Jesus Christ was Judas Iscariot. What do we know of him?
As one of the original 12 disciples, Judas Iscariot basically lived with Jesus for three years. He was given assignments and divine powers by Jesus (Matt. 10:1-4), and he was the official treasurer for the group (John 12:6) - albeit a deceptive and self-serving one.
The bottom line is, Judas saw Jesus perform many miracles and he heard Jesus teach many times. He learned directly from the King of kings and Lord of lords, and he had the opportunity to grow as few others did. He saw the mistakes and the actions of the other disciples, and he learned from all of this. In other words, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, Judas Iscariot had the optimal schooling in the Gospel of the kingdom.
But it's likely that Judas Iscariot was also a Jewish zealot. Many scholars believe his surname, "Iscariot" was a form of the title sicarii, meaning "dagger-men." This was a group of zealots who despised the Roman oppression. They were known to carry a knife with them so they were prepared to assassinate traitors and capitulators.
The Jewish zealots were principally motivated by socio-economic and political considerations. They believed that if they turned their nation back to God and incited a war against the Romans, the Messiah would rise to lead them and establish His Kingdom.
It's easy to see how all this may have played out in Judas' mind. Jesus was a righteous Jew and a descendant of King David. He spoke of establishing His kingdom, and he cast out demons, produced abundant food, and controlled the weather. Surely Jesus could lead the Jews to victory over the Romans and usher in God's Kingdom! In Judas' activist mind, his own ideas made perfect sense.
But somewhere along the line the situation changed. Judas became disappointed as Jesus let him down. Jesus began to talk about dying, and His descriptions of His coming Kingdom didn't fit with Judas' ideals. Judas began to doubt Jesus, and he began to openly chide Jesus for His choices and priorities (John 12:3-6).
We know how this turned out. Judas chose to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Luke 22:3-6; Matt. 27:3-5). Perhaps Judas had come to a point where he felt Jesus was a false Messiah, someone who was not fulfilling the expectations Judas had of a ruler that would lead Israel into her kingdom. We don't know for sure - but it all seems to fit the larger story.
The bigger issue is the questions that are raised by how things ultimately transpired: "How could Judas live, eat, walk, and talk with Jesus Christ day in and day out for three years and still turn out as he did?" "How could Judas miss the Messiah when he knew him so well?" "How could Judas hear the Gospel so clearly and miss having the right relationship with Jesus Christ?"
We are left with some element of speculation, but it's reasonable to assume that Judas resented Jesus and felt justified in his own views (Mark 14:6-16). Ultimately, that triggered his decision to turn Jesus over to the authorities. The greater account of Judas Iscariot suggests he had some underlying anger issues with the whole situation - which may explain why "Satan entered him" (John 13:27). The Bible teaches that our anger always gives Satan an opportunity (Eph. 4:27).
In the end, Judas' response to Jesus Christ was likely dominated by a selfish desire for political change. Jesus didn't overthrow the Romans as Judas wanted Him to, and so Judas' selfish intentions led to profound personal compromise. It fostered resentment, clouded better judgement, and it ultimately destroyed him.
Judas Iscariot wanted things to work out his way - not Jesus' way. When Jesus didn't do what Judas most wanted Him to do, Judas was through with Him.
Today, Judas Iscariot's name is synonymous with betrayal, treachery, and disloyalty. He's one of the most hated figures in Scripture - so it's not without some hesitation that I suggest his patterns are often our own. To lessen the blow, I'll speak for myself.
It is easy for me to get focused on one or two goals in my life to the exclusion of all else God is trying to do. In this situation, I can end up ignoring the things God is doing in my life, the lessons He is teaching me, or the way He is working in the life of my church, my friends, my family, and even my country.
Because it's natural for me to become selfish in my expectations of God, it's not hard to start compromising here and there and doing things I never once thought I would.
I believe there is a huge principle at stake here. You see, we can be surrounded by believers and ministry and still fall. We can hear the regular teaching of God's Word and still fail. We can witness God at work and still miss the most important need to be in a right relationship with God.
If we persist in thinking about ourselves first - what we can get out of the situation, what we think the outcomes should be, or how we feel "who" should be doing "what," then we completely miss what God most needs to accomplish in our own lives the very same way Judas missed it. At that point, resentments creep in and we say and do things we ought not to.
And here's the third and final character: the thief on the cross. By this, I mean the "good" thief (Luke 23:39-43). We don't even know his name. There were two thieves who died with Jesus, and while both received the penalty for their crimes, the "good" thief gave Jesus the proper respect.
I feel that - for various reasons - the "good" thief is the most remarkable man of the three individuals we have assessed. What do we know of him? Not much, I'm afraid.
We do know that when Jesus was crucified, there was a cross on either side of Him. On His left and right were two criminals. In the Greek language, they are called "kakourgos" which has the straightforward meaning of "criminal," "evil-doer," or "one who commits serious crimes." The "good" thief was a bad man.
Other gospels call him a "robber." He could have been a bandit - someone that ambushed others, took advantage of them, and left them for dead. It's very likely that this "good" thief had been the sort of person that Jesus had in mind when He told His parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). This "good" thief had been a burden, a blight on society - and so he was sentenced to death for his crimes.
But despite his faulty resume, this "good" thief had a right view of God! He asked the other bellicose thief, "Don't you fear God?" He put the "bad" thief in his place by correcting the latter's improper assumptions of Jesus Christ.
To put this remarkable situation another way, the "good" thief's mouth revealed the condition of his heart (Luke 6:45). The Bible teaches that you are what you say, and the "good" thief said to Jesus Christ, "....remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Whoa! By ANY measure, this is an astounding statement! Consider that by this point, all of Jesus' disciples had fled the scene, and only John is recorded as being at the cross (John 19:26). These disciples were the men Jesus had personally trained. These were the guys who had seen supernatural evidence of Jesus' power and authority. These were the guys who had learned from the Messiah Himself - and they were nowhere to be found!
The "good" thief, on the other hand, had had none of that training and experience. He had not spent the same time with Jesus Christ and he had not seen all the miracles Jesus had done. He knew far less about Jesus than others did. By conventional standards, the "good" thief had missed the boat.
On top of all that, Jesus Christ was now dying. Beaten and bloodied so badly, He was now unrecognizable (Isaiah 52:14). Jesus was breathing His last right there beside the "good" thief, and by all measures of the term, Jesus Christ appeared mortal. Few people at that crucifixion scene were confident in Jesus Christ's future kingdom.
But faith sees through the way things seem to the way they really are (Heb. 11:1), and so here the "good" thief showed more faith than many upright personalities in the Scriptures. The "good" thief saw Jesus Christ correctly.
He didn't see a dying man - he saw a living King of kings. He didn't see someone who had failed and was unable to deliver - he saw someone who was assured of having the final victory. He didn't see someone who was abused and humiliated by others - he saw someone who had infinite power.
In short, the "good" thief saw the Messiah! He knew Jesus was not an imposter or someone who couldn't deliver on His promises. The "good" thief looked beyond the limitations of that horrible situation, beyond the natural questions that saturated that awful scene, and he fully understood that Jesus Christ would still receive and set up His everlasting kingdom.
The "good" thief faced personal adversities that exceeded those challenges John the Baptist and Judas Iscariot had faced, and yet - against all human understanding! - the "good" thief still believed that Jesus was exactly who He said He was. For his astounding demonstration of genuine faith, the "good" thief received way more benefit than he had bargained for.
It's a weighty question, but I have to ask it. Which one of these three men are you most like right now?
Are you like John the Baptist: insecure, unsure, disappointed, and needing reassurance that God is still able to be the God you most need? Are you asking God to reaffirm Himself to you so that you can be convinced of His promises and plans?
Perhaps you are like Judas Iscariot: angry, resentful, focused on what you most want and what you feel you deserve. Are you taking in the regular teaching of God's Word and participating in a ministry - but it's having little effect on changing who you are and how you are seeing things?
Or, are you like the "good" thief? You are in a situation where the odds are stacked against you - and by all standard assessments there is no clear evidence that God is demonstrating Himself to you the way your desperate situation most needs Him to.
Do you find yourself in a tenuous spot where you cannot see the power of God in the circumstances you are facing - - - and yet your heart is still bursting with faith?
I cannot answer the tough questions of these last few paragraphs for anyone but myself. However, my prayer for all of us is that our faith rises up and shows itself in the tough and uncertain times just as the faith of the "good" thief did.
The "good" thief didn't see Jesus Christ as someone who had let him down - he saw the only one who gave him hope.
Palestinian Leadership To US - We Despise You, Now Give Us Our Money - By Bassam Tawil -
The question of Palestinian responsiveness is once again on display as Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah step up their verbal attacks on the US administration after its decision to cut $200 million in American financial aid to the Palestinians.
Abbas and the PA leadership are again behaving like spoiled, angry children whose candy has been taken away from them, hurling abuse at the Trump administration. Recall that earlier this year, Abbas called US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a "son of a dog."
For the past 9 months, the Palestinian leaders have been waging a massive and unprecedented campaign of incitement and abuse against Trump and his administration. This campaign began immediately after Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017, and the campaign is continuing to this day as a reply to the US decision to slash $200 million from the American financial aid to the Palestinians.
Significantly, the PA and its leaders were the ones who initiated the crisis with the US administration. Their dissatisfaction with Trump's announcement on Jerusalem may be understandable, but they chose to take their protest to an extreme by boycotting the US administration and waging a smear campaign against Trump and his "Jewish advisors and envoys."
It is clear that the Palestinian boycott of the US administration did not include receiving funds from the Americans. One the one hand, the Palestinians have been boycotting and badmouthing US administration officials. On the other hand, Abbas and his representatives are now crying that the US administration is slashing $200 million of its financial aid to the Palestinians. If this isn't cheek in its finest form, what is?
The Arabic word for cheek, by the way, is wakaha. Were Abbas to behave in the same manner towards an Arab country for cutting financial aid to the Palestinians, he would have been accused by his Arab brothers of displaying wakaha at its best. Abbas, however, would think ten times before he uttered a bad word against any Arab country.
The Palestinians are basically telling the Americans: We have the right to condemn you every day, to burn your flags and photos of your president, to incite against you, to launch weekly protests against you, to accuse you of being under the "influence of the Jewish and Zionist lobby" and, at the same time, we have the right to continue receiving US taxpayer money.
Judging from their actions and assertions in the past few months, the Palestinians have turned the US into an enemy. They consider the US to be in "collusion" with the Israeli government and a "full partner in Israeli crimes against the Palestinians." They say they no longer trust the US to play any role in a peace process with Israel because of the Trump administration's "blind bias" in favor of Israel and its "hostile" policies towards the Palestinians.
The Palestinians, of course, are entitled to voice their anger at the US. However, if they are so fed up with the US that they are even boycotting US administration officials, why are they demanding that the Americans continue to supply them with hundreds of millions of dollars each year? Where's the vaunted Arab dignity, which requires an Arab not to humiliate himself in return for money, especially if it comes from someone you consider an enemy?
The answer to this question can be found in a statement issued on August 25 by PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat in response to the US decision to cut the $200 million in aid to the Palestinians. "The international community is not doing the Palestinians a favor by providing them with financial aid," Erekat argued. "This is a due duty of the international community, which bears responsibility for the continued Israeli occupation."
Erekat's statement reflects a long-standing Palestinian position according to which the US and the rest of the international community owe the Palestinians money for supporting Israel's existence. The Palestinian position stems from a belief that the international community, specifically the Americans and Europeans, were responsible for the establishment of Israel in 1948 at the cost of the Palestinians. This position was best echoed by Abbas himself, who has said that Israel is a "colonial project" imposed on the Palestinians by Western powers.
This attitude means that the Palestinians have never seen the massive financial aid they have received from the West as a gift but rather as something that the world owes them for imposing a "colonial project" on them. The billions of dollars the Palestinians have received in the past few decades have evidently left no positive impression on the Palestinians, who feel that the funds are something they are fully entitled to because of the world's support for the existence of Israel.
The Palestinians, in other words, apparently do not feel they have to be grateful to those who have been funding them for decades. If the Europeans were to take a similar decision today and cut funding to the Palestinians, they too would be condemned by Abbas and his officials for being "hostile" towards the Palestinians and "biased" in favor of Israel.
The ongoing Palestinian rhetorical attacks on the US administration are dangerous because they further radicalize the Palestinian public and turn the Americans into an enemy in the eyes of many Palestinians. In recent months, we have seen increased hostility towards American officials and citizens visiting the West Bank as a direct result of this incitement.
Last July, the US Consul-General in Jerusalem was forced to cancel a visit to the Palestinian city of Nablus after Palestinians threatened to stage protests against him and his entourage.
A month earlier, Palestinian protesters expelled a US consular delegation from the city of Bethlehem and threw tomatoes at their vehicles. No one was hurt, but the incident, which was documented on camera, was impolite and degrading for the Americans.
The Palestinians are now accusing the US of attempting to "blackmail" them by cutting the funds. According to the Palestinians, the US administration wants to force them to accept Trump's yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.
It is worth noting, however, that the US administration has not yet presented its purported plan to the Palestinians or to any other party. So how can the US administration be trying to pressure or "blackmail" the Palestinians when no peace plan has ever been made public? Can the Palestinians point to one US administration official who asked them to accept the unseen plan or support Trump's policies? Of course not.
There is indeed blackmail going on -- but in precisely the opposite direction. The Palestinians are trying to blackmail the US by claiming, absurdly, that the recent US decisions jeopardize the two-state solution and prospects for peace in the Middle East.
These are the very Palestinians, however, who have refused to resume peace talks with Israel for the past four years, since long before Trump was elected as president.
Common sense would have it that the US has a right to demand something from any party it helps to support -- including the Palestinians. But the Palestinians see things differently. In their view, billions of dollars are owed to them as some sort of divine right. And if their behavior calls into question whether they deserve that money -- well, those asking questions can just go back where they came from.
Nearing Midnight: We Are Headed Towards the Ultimate Arrogance - Todd Strandberg - https://www.raptureready.com/category/nearing-midnight/
There is no doubt in my mind that this current generation is the most arrogant in the history of our nation. It has become a virtue for people to openly express love for themselves. Thanks to tools like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, many individuals have made vanity a full-time occupation.
Arrogance is the reason why the liberal media has become so continuously focused on Trump. Every reporter thinks they can singlehandedly destroy the President of the United States with the power of their own words. It doesn't matter that they are on a cable channel which only reaches 75,000 individuals. They believe they are so gifted in their verbal attacks on Trump, they assume the other 330 million citizens will soon see things their way.
Arrogance is why reporters are willing to share their spotlight with any oddball who has something negative to say about Trump. A favorite guest of CNN is porn star Stormy Daniels and her slimy lawyer Michael Avenatti. They have been on CNN nearly 80 times.
It would quickly become boring to have her come each time and say she had sex with the president, so they have to endlessly add to her résumé. Stormy Daniels went from one of the "president's chief adversaries" to a "feminist icon," and will now grace the pages of the fashion magazine bible - Vogue.
Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti is so full of himself; he said, "I will get to the truth and bring Trump to justice." What truth is he talking about? He represents a client who likely got paid to have sex with some John, blackmailed him for money, and after getting paid to keep her mouth shut, she violated the legal agreement. Avenatti thinks this whole embarrassing matter should qualify him to run for president in 2020.
The people in the media don't realize how stupid and gross it is to promote the Stormy Daniels matter because they are so blinded by arrogance. She is a porn star, which is degrading by itself. Daniels goes a level lower by starring in videos where she was degraded further by bondage sex scenes. Today, the press acts like she is Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
It would be hugely dishonest of me if I didn't include Trump in these examples of pride. We already know that he likes sleeping with porn stars and paying them off. Some kind of humble, honest attitude about this moral failing would be a great help, but Trump is incapable of showing humility. When Trump was asked last week to rate his presidency, he gave himself an A+. Trump views himself as a legal expert, so it's not hard to understand why he never had a lawyer that he hasn't fired at some point. He also said he shouldn't be impeached because the market would crash.
On that last point, Robert Mueller would probably act to bring down Trump even if he knew it would trigger a financial meltdown. He wants to be the great special prosecutor who took down the great Donald J. Trump. If Mueller gets his way, it should be a given that the Democrats would dynamite the Lincoln Memorial and erect one in his honor.
The arrogance of the left has become so profound, the liberty of people on the right is at great risk. Liberals think their view of the world is the only one that should be allowed. Since they have a monopoly on truth, they see the promotion of political diversity as the sanctioned evil.
Brian Amerige, a senior Facebook engineer, wrote in an internal memo post about this general view. He said, "We are a political monoculture that's intolerant of different views ... we claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack - often in mobs - anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology." I'm guessing Brian Amerige's days at Facebook are limited.
In Hollywood, you can lose your job if you praise anyone who is on the right. Ben Shapiro frequently talks about what happens to celebrities who make the mistake of agreeing with his views. One producer made the mistake of praising Shapiro in a tweet, and the next day he was forced to apologize for the error.
The left is becoming so radical, we are not that far from the ultimate expression of arrogance - the point where people think their ideology is so superior to yours that you don't deserve to live. This form of egotism can easily translate all over the world; explaining the massive purge of tribulation believers.
"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me" (Matthew 24:9).
The Miracle of All Miracles - Lee Strobel - www.biblegateway.com
Candy heiress Helen Vorhees Brach flew into O'Hare International Airport on a crisp autumn afternoon, stepped into a crowd, and promptly disappeared without a trace. For more than twenty years the mystery of what happened to this red-haired, animal-loving philanthropist has baffled police and journalists alike.
While investigators are convinced she was murdered, they haven't been able to determine the specific circumstances, largely because they've never found her body. Police have floated some speculation, leaked tantalizing possibilities to the press, and even got a judge to declare that a con man was responsible for her disappearance. But absent a corpse, her murder officially remains unsolved. Nobody has ever been charged with her slaying.
The Brach case is one of those frustrating enigmas that keep me awake from time to time as I mentally sift through the sparse evidence and try to piece together what happened. Ultimately it's an unsatisfying exercise; I want to know what happened, and there just aren't enough facts to chase away the conjecture.
Occasionally bodies turn up missing in pulp fiction and real life, but rarely do you encounter an empty tomb. Unlike the case of Helen Brach, the issue with Jesus isn't that he was nowhere to be seen. It's that he was seen, alive; he was seen, dead; and he was seen, alive once more. If we believe the gospel accounts, this isn't a matter of a missing body. No, it's a matter of Jesus still being alive, even to this day, even after publicly succumbing to the horrors of crucifixion.
The empty tomb, as an enduring symbol of the resurrection, is the ultimate representation of Jesus' claim to being God. The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17 that the resurrection is at the very core of the Christian faith: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
Theologian Gerald O'Collins put it this way: "In a profound sense, Christianity without the resurrection is not simply Christianity without its final chapter. It is not Christianity at all."
The resurrection is the supreme vindication of Jesus' divine identity and his inspired teaching. It's the proof of his triumph over sin and death. It's the foreshadowing of the resurrection of his followers. It's the basis of Christian hope. It's the miracle of all miracles.
Daily Jot: Your prophetic plan amidst these times - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
There are many events taking place around us that would be frightening in of themselves-devastating storms and earthquakes; the threat of terrorism; political disruption; the ongoing and increasing civil unrest-just to name a few. Some of this uncertainty has prompted many to ask the age old question, "Does God have a plan for my life?" The answer is yes, yes He does. You should be encouraged because you are born a unique individual who is loved by the Creator of the universe, and He wants to see you experience joy, happiness, love and success. But often the toils of this world cause us concern and get in the way.
For example, throughout my life, I have had ups and downs that caused me to question God's plan for my life. But it was really me that was the question. God knows how you were made as confirmed by Psalm 139:14, "I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knows right well." Jesus said in Matthew 10:30, "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." And God knows what is best for you and He has in mind the very best for you. Through the Apostle Paul, God tells us in Romans 12:2, "be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
See, even when we allow our own selves to get in the way of God's plan, it is still there for us. And we can fall into the deepest valley, the darkest time of our life, and God will be there for us. He said in Isaiah 46:4, "And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you; I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry and deliver you." So no matter how low you are or how much the world is closing in on you, the Lord God, your Salvation, is with you. And His plan for you is perfect. So you do have a destiny. You were created to glorify God. That is your purpose. How you accomplish that is your calling.
I knew that God had called me to evangelize when I was 16. I refused the calling and pursued my own earthly goals. And the Lord brought me to a point, after much life experience, that I could no longer ignore His calling. But then I heard nothing from Him. I had to seek Him, pour out my heart to Him in fasting and prayer. And even that did not work until after 54 days when I finally had my answer to discern the times and events and call people to the Lord. My point is that we often do wonder what God has in mind for us, but in order to find out, we must seek God with all our heart, mind and soul, even sometimes to the point of travail, so He knows we are serious. So don't give up, press in. Press in hard. For your destiny is at hand.
Daily Devotion: Revive Us Again! - By Greg Laurie -
Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? -Psalm 85:6
In the Bible's prophetic scenario, one nation we find absent from end-times events is the current reigning superpower, the United States of America. We can find Israel, Iran, and possibly even Russia and China in biblical prophecy. But one nation that we cannot find is the United States.
I have a thought as to why that might be. It may be that the United States is not mentioned in the Bible's end-times scenario because a massive spiritual awakening, a fifth Great Awakening (or maybe a sixth or a seventh) will take place and change the course of our nation.
If millions of Americans were caught up to Heaven, we wouldn't be the superpower we are today. I don't know how many Americans are Christians today. When polls are taken, typically half of all Americans say they are born-again followers of Jesus Christ. I don't believe those numbers, however.
There are currently more than three hundred million Americans. If we were to be very conservative and say that one-third of Americans really were Christians, then imagine if one hundred million people were caught up to meet the Lord in the air-if they just disappeared. Don't you think that would affect our nation? Of course it would. Imagine the effect on our country if one hundred million people-people in industry, government, the military, business, agriculture, education, and medicine-were to suddenly disappear from the face of the earth. It would certainly have a crippling effect on our entire nation and on our infrastructure.
This much we know. All nations, as we know them, one day will change, expand, or shift to some degree or another as the entire global situation rearranges for the events of the end times. Let's pray for another spiritual awakening in the United States.
FROM THE HEART
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