Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
God's Strong Delusion, & the Father of Lies - By Mark A. Becker - https://www.raptureready.com/2020/08/28/gods-strong-delusion-the-father-of-lies-by-mark-a-becker/
The Two Lies: God's Strong Delusion, & the Father of Lies
This is a study on the two prominent lies, God's strong delusion that he sends on the world, and the father of lies behind all deception, as revealed in Scripture pertaining to future prophecy and how it relates to us today.
What we find, when digging deeper within the texts and elaborating on them, is a clearly defined attack on the truth of God's revealed Word that has been happening since the Garden of Eden. As we will see, Satan's deceptions have never changed; they have just been modified with the times using the same basic premise and modus operandi.
The Lie of Romans Chapter 1
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things" (Romans 1:18-23).
"Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen" (Romans 1:25).
To dig deep into this lie, definitions are in order regarding four religions I'd like to focus on (derived from various sources).
Paganism - A religious, spiritual, or cultural community based on the worship of nature or the earth. A polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshiping religion.
Darwinian evolution - A theory of biological evolution developed by Charles Darwin and others, stating that all species of organisms have developed from other species, primarily through natural selection.
Hinduism - Central to the faith is a belief in reincarnation and one supreme god called Brahman who has multiple manifestations as either a god or goddess. Gods and goddesses can be spirits, trees, animals, and even planets. Views mankind as divine.
New Age - New Age thought supports the theory of organic evolution, but extends the concept to the evolution of the spirit. This is the concept of "Evolutionary Godhood," where the next step in evolution won't be physical, but spiritual.
I selected these four religions (and yes, Darwinian evolution is most definitely a religion) to help show a pattern in all religions in general. Other than the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - all religions share the same basic philosophical ideals, with varying nuances, of course, as these four.
As we can see, Paganism, Darwinian evolution, Hinduism, and New Age have one common link: the belief in and worship of nature (or the giving of creative powers to nature). They all, as Paul describes in the verse above, "worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator."
(Note: Please see my article, "Zechariah 5:5-11 - Homecoming: Babel Returns Home" here Zechariah 5:5-11 - Homecoming: Babel Returns Home :: By Mark A. Becker - Rapture Ready or https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=205436
to see how Hinduism and New Age could very well play a major role in the worship of Antichrist and acceptance of his Mark of The Beast system.)
The Fruits of this Lie in Today's World
The rise in prominence of these four religions throughout the world has played a major role in shaping our world governments today, and one can look no further than to the United Nations to see the impact they are having.
So-called "climate change" is nothing more than the result of the worship of the earth's ecosystems; and the fear generated from the delusion that this living, breathing entity we call earth is about to be destroyed because of human interaction with the environment is nothing short of staggering. This fear, along with the impact of these false nature-worshiping religions, has created in the UN an all-inclusive new, yet actually ancient, religion known as Gaia worship.
This fanaticism is the vehicle used to prime the world's citizens to clamor for the governments of the world to unite under a New World Order (NWO), that the elites have been pushing for at least a hundred years, in an attempt to thwart this "manmade genocide of planet Earth."
This unfounded fear has generated another fabled atrocity forced upon the world: that of "over-population." (Nothing like sticking one's finger in God's eye in not fulfilling His command to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28 & Genesis 9:7). What's the remedy for this delusion? Abortion on demand, of course.
The natural progression of this barbaric and inhumane murder of human life leads to the next step that is addressed by Paul as the end result of this lie's acceptance by mankind in their effort to "worship and serve the creature more than the Creator" - that of homosexuality and other deviant sexual perversions. What better way to control the population than to murder the unborn while practicing sexual promiscuity and pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality so that procreation can be halted? And so it is.
The rest of the surrounding verses to Romans 1:25 give us some very vivid and powerful statements about what this lie produces in mankind, and has, ever since the fall. Every nation in history rises and falls based upon these truths outlined for us.
The lie - after one refuses the truth of creation testifying of a Creator God and ends up "worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator" - finally results in what we have been talking about:
"Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves" (Romans 1:24).
"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet" (Romans 1:26-27).
The End Results of this Lie in Today's World
Once this is achieved by the will of man, then all is lost; and here is the end result:
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:28-32).
Look at Paul's description to Timothy of the character of men in the last days:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
This lie, in summary, is the lie of all false religion's worship and elevation of nature and man to godhood (united in ungodliness and unrighteousness), and thereby attempting to usurp God's rightful place as creator.
The Lie and God's Strong Delusion of 2 Thessalonians 2
"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
Many have erroneously believed that this "strong delusion, that they should believe a lie," will be sent by God after the rapture of the church. The rapture is not the context to when this strong delusion to believe a lie will take place. Let's investigate what the true context is and when this event will happen.
"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; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
The context is found in these verses and the when is dictated by the context. Note that the "man of sin" will "be revealed" after there comes "a falling away." I have written about the "falling away" in a previous article entitled, "An Examination of the Day of the Lord," which can be found here https://www.raptureready.com/2020/08/11/an-examination-of-the-day-of-the-lord-by-mark-a-becker/ or https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=205363 detailing how this "falling away" is actually the departure of the saints in the pre-Tribulation rapture of the church.
This is where the error of believing that the timing of "the strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" is after the rapture of the church. But in order to actually find the when, we need to consider the rest of the passage, specifically verse 4.
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
You see, it isn't the rapture that sets the stage for the strong delusion to believe a lie; it is when the Antichrist "sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God," and we know this will happen during the middle of the Tribulation (Daniel 9:27).
"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
Now, to verify what we have learned, we need to know who these are "that they all might be damned who believed not the truth." This should confirm that these people are living at the time that the Antichrist enters the temple and declares himself God, and should also tell us why God has "damned" those "who believed not the truth." That is, those whom "God shall send" a "strong delusion, that they should believe the lie," and what that lie may be.
"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name" (Revelation 14:9-11).
Here is the answer to part of our question.
After the Antichrist enters the temple and declares himself to be God (known as the Abomination of Desolation), then he will enact his Mark of The Beast worship and economic system on the entire earth, demanding absolute obedience and submission. All who don't take the mark will be hunted down and beheaded for Christ's sake and the testimony of His Word:
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4).
To answer the other part of the question as to why those who take the Mark of The Beast are eternally damned and not able to receive salvation through faith by grace, it seems we must speculate by using the history of mankind recorded in the Scriptures.
Going into the details of this is not in the scope of this article. But suffice it to say, the genome of humanity will be corrupted to the point that a human being will no longer be "made in the image of God," and will therefore be ineligible and unable to be saved by our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This has happened once before in history and will have the same outcome; that of judgment.
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown" (Genesis 6:4).
(Please see "Genesis 6:4 Commentary and Genetics" for my take on what I believe might have happened in these somewhat controversial passages of Scripture, here: https://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=204120
The past seems to point to the future.
We are already seeing the fruits of this labor in the genetic field, and its outcome will be a corruption of humanity resulting from the taking of The Mark of The Beast and/or what the Mark will represent.
God's strong delusion, that they may believe a lie, will be the lie of false promises associated with the taking of The Mark of The Beast and the worship of the Antichrist.
The Father of Lies and his Lie in the Garden
"... He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44b).
The father of lies, Satan himself, is a deluded creature. Splendid in beauty and knowledge, he became puffed-up in pride and wanted what God has.
Since his fall, he's been deceiving the nations and every human being who's ever lived.
It all started with the lie he declared to Eve in the Garden of Eden. A lie he has used successfully ever since, and mankind has taken it "hook, line, and sinker" ever since.
"'You will not certainly die,' the serpent said to the woman. 'For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil'" (Genesis 3:4).
Every lie, every deception, every false teaching, and every delusion can be traced back to this one event. Everything evil in our world is hinged upon this one action in history.
"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20b).
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:12-14).
This was Satan's downfall as his desire to rise above the throne of God and declare himself master of a universe he did not, nor could ever, create himself, began with unbridled pride and was climaxed in the crowning of himself as the father of lies. And we have seen the fruits of his lies beginning in the Garden of Eden, up until today.
As we've come full circle, we see that from Satan's own deluded deception, he passed on this evil and unattainable desire to dethrone God to the very creation that was created in God's own image: mankind. The adversary and accuser continued in his offer to mankind that they too could "know good and evil" and "be like God." Mankind did, in fact, know good and evil to their own detriment, but humans are a product of God's creative powers (as is Satan) and have no right to such Godhood.
But God! In His mercy and love, He came in the form of a son of man, lived a sinless life, and willingly offered Himself to the Father as a lamb without spot for the redemption of mankind (John 1:29 & Hebrews 9:14).
Those of us who have believed "on Him who the Father has sent" (John 6:28-29) are accepted as sons and daughters of God, and the first lie in this article will have no power over us as we allow the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us in this life.
The second lie, and God's strong delusion he will send on the earth to believe this lie, won't even be a part of the bride of Christ's experience, as, before then, Jesus will have come back in the clouds to meet us in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18), taking us back to the Father's house to be with our Lord and Savior forever (John 14:1-3)!
Comfort one another with these words, children of God, and Maranatha!
Uncertain Times? Not At All! - By Jan Markell -
So many write me expressing shock, and even horror, at the tide of our times here in 2020. They see America crumbling under the weight of sin, debt, violence, immorality, and strong delusion. Right is wrong, black is white, evil is good, and good is evil.
We Are In the Center of the Storm
People of faith are in the bulls-eye so to speak!
Churches are inconvenient. The remnant of true believers is growing smaller while the Laodicea churches are mushrooming! Many churches have not even re-opened yet, and some are saying they won't until 2021!
Many don't even know how to think about the future much less plan for it. People write about "uncertainty". Will things get worse? Probably. How can we plan ahead if the turmoil is going to continue?
A Word Fitly Spoken
Then a pastor sent me this e-mail:
"We don't live in uncertain times. Not at all! These times are as certain as any time in all of human history, and the God of the universe laid out this time in great detail, point by point, and in fact, with all the detail needed by His people, to live in times of absolute certainty! So no, there's nothing uncertain about the times we live in to the believer who is seeking to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
It's All Aligning
He is right! The Bible outlined all the "things to come" in great detail and they are shaping up:
Are the Pulpits Still Silent?
I have referenced an April LifeWay poll before but it takes on even more meaning now. It revealed that a "vast majority of pastors see end times in our current events." Are they talking about this from their pulpits and re-assuring their people? I do not think so.
Are they sharing about our glorious future, giving assurance to people? How about talking about the "blessed hope" now that hope in the world is fading?
I am not optimistic that they are! Rather, are they telling people that they can have their best life now? Hasn't that all been proven to be a lie? Are they giving some end-time warnings?
A whopping 97% of those polled by LifeWay Research believe Jesus Christ will literally and personally return to earth again and 55% expect Jesus to return in their lifetime. This makes for tremendous sermon material! It also calms the mind and soul in troubled times.
Pastors, please don't be silent! Some people are losing things precious to them: businesses, jobs, even lives or the lives of loved ones. Depression and suicides are at all-time highs.
The Most Certain Times in All of Human History!
Are they, then, re-assuring their people as my pastor friend did? Let me quote him again. He said, "We don't live in uncertain times. Not at all! These times are as certain as any time in all of human history, and the God of the universe has laid out this time in great detail, point by point, and in fact, with all the detail needed by His people to live in times of absolute certainty. . . ."
A secular talk show host said that "A blanket of darkness has been thrown over us." But the believer cannot and must not think that way! An opportunity has been handed to us! Desperate people are more inclined to listen.
Things really aren't falling apart. In fact, they are orchestrated. To suggest something is falling apart is to say they are out of God's control. Nothing could be further from the truth as it concerns the last days. It's just that your average Christian does not know the road map through the final days even though the Bible spends almost one-third of its pages talking about them!
In fact, everything is falling into place. Stay cool. Look up. The King is coming. It may be today! And you can't throw a blanket of darkness over anyone with an eternal perspective.
Awaiting His return,
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Peopling Eternity - By Hal Lindsey -
In a troubled time, it's easy to focus on worries rather than on God. And yet we find the solutions to our worries in God. We worry about elections and about violence in the streets. We worry about the world economy and the terrible plague. Those issues are important, but our focus needs to be on God and the things of God. Every minute of life here needs to be lived in the awareness of a future that spans eternity.
People are dying and we need to work with urgency to spread the message of Jesus. The signs of His return are all around us, and I believe we have a short time before the Lord snatches away His people. But no matter when the rapture takes places, people will keep dying between now and then. For planet earth, time is short. But for many individuals, time is even shorter. We must evangelize with urgency.
Here's another reason to evangelize with urgency. The number of places on this planet where the Gospel can be openly proclaimed shrinks by the day. There are more communications pipelines than ever before. Because of that, we can still reach many who are locked behind various walls. But more and more of the overseers of such communications pipelines are finding ways to filter out the message of Jesus. We must use the technology while it remains available to us!
You may have heard the story of Jim Elliot. In 1956, at age 28, he and four other missionaries were killed trying to spread the Gospel to an Ecuadorian tribe known then as the Aucas. They're now known as the Waodani. Elliot's wife, Elisabeth, along with Rachel Saint whose brother had died with Jim Elliot, continued to work with and successfully evangelize the Aucas.
Eight years before his death, Jim wrote in his journal, "I seek not a long life, but a fun one, like You, Lord Jesus." Two years later, he wrote: "I must not think it strange if God takes in youth those whom I would have kept on earth till they were older. God is peopling Eternity, and I must not restrict Him to old men and women."
Jim Elliot used the phrase "peopling eternity" in reference to people dying at any age. He trusted God's management His kingdom as to when He kept someone on earth and when He took them into eternity. Jim would be one of those taken young. But the phrase "peopling eternity" also applies to Jim in another way. He spent his years on earth spreading the Good News of eternal life in Jesus Christ, "peopling eternity" with those who would spend that eternity with God.
In 1956, God allowed these five young men to lose their earthly lives in a cause most saw as futile. They laid down their lives in order to people eternity with the Aucas. Five men living shorter than usual lives on earth cannot compare with even one person spending their eternity in the glorious presence of God.
We are in a time of difficulty, but it will not last. One way or another, we will soon stand before the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Whether in distress or comfort, I pray we will keep the focus of our days here, on peopling the Kingdom there.
What's Wrong with Laodicea? - Nathele Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Book of Revelation is a fascinating study. John saw Jesus who gave him an amazing picture of things to come. As part of the prophecy, Jesus dictated seven letters to seven congregations of believers. "Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and undo Laodicea." Revelation 1:11. These letters are recorded in Revelation chapters 2-3, and each letter addresses good things and bad things that were happening in those congregations. Although each letter was written to a specific congregation, each letter was to be read by all, which indicates that each letter was relevant to all seven. Those letters also show that there's a little bit of each of those ancient congregations existing today. When read in order, and looking back through history, we can see that each congregation is representative of the various ages of Christ's ekklesia...His church.
Many centuries before, Daniel had been given the prophecy of 70 weeks. In that prophecy there is a gap between when the Messiah was "cut off" at the end of the 69th week, and the beginning of the 70th week, which is the final page of history. The 69 weeks and the 70th week all focus on Israel, but the gap between those weeks has been filled by the Christian ekklesia. The letters Jesus dictated were sent to seven real congregations, but they also describe the various ages in Christian history. The first letter was to Ephesus and describes the first Christians. They were the first to hear the Gospel and respond. In this letter, Jesus congratulated them on the things they had done, their patience, and the fact that they stood firmly on God's truth. He also pointed out what they were doing wrong. "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love." Revelation 2:4. What was that love? Their service to Jesus. Religion had entered their life, and instead of doing good in order to serve Jesus, good works had become just that...works. This "era" lasted until about 170 A.D., but there's a bit of their good and bad among Christians today. Good works are done because that's what's expected rather than being done to glorify Christ. The next letter was sent to Smyrna. This letter talks of persecution they faced. Jesus said "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Revelation 2:10. Persecution comes from Satan. This letter encouraged them in their time of testing and told of a crown life that they will receive. The historic era this letter covered lasted until around 312 A.D. We see persecution today and, though it grieves us, we admire the brave souls who face martyrdom rather than denying Christ. Then came the letter to Pergamos, which held to two standards. They were strong in their faith but also very worldly. Instead of standing firm on God's truth, they allowed pagan rites to enter their congregation. This era lasted until about 606 A.D. We see many of their errors in congregations today, such as claiming to follow Christ but embracing yoga, allowing homosexuals to be leaders of congregations, and New Age ideas are embraced. Instead of standing firm upon the ways of God, the ways of the world rule. "Repent, or else I will come to thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth" Revelation 2:16. We need to heed to Jesus' words.
The next letter is to Thyatira. They did many things right, but they allowed sin into their congregation and deviated from Scriptural truth. The era described in this letter lasted until circa 1520 A.D., but the errors in that church are strongly evident today, especially in the Roman Catholic Church. Then came the letter to Sardis, which hints at the Protestant reformation and a return to God's truth. The Protestant revolution re-established truths that had been forgotten, but there were still problems. "And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God." Revelation 3:1-2. Sardis couldn't point fingers of accusations at anybody. They seemed spiritually sound on the outside, but were dead on the inside. To the outside world they looked like Christians, but inside they were lacking. Jesus told them to repent. We all need to examine our ways and see if we are just putting on a good front before other people instead of having a heart for God. Jesus knows the difference. This era lasted until around 1750 A.D. The sixth letter went to Philadelphia. That name means "brotherly love" and Jesus commended them for their love. "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." Revelation 3:8. History shows there was a Great Awakening as evangelicals brought fire back into Christianity and missionaries went to remote areas of the world to spread the Gospel. There was also a return to a more literal interpretation of Scripture. No wonder so much good was written about Philadelphia. This zeal for God's truth lasted until around 1900 A.D. There's still a bit of that era left today, but it's hard to find.
That brings us to the final letter, which was written to the congregation at Laodicea. This letter describes most congregations today, and isn't anything to be proud of. The address here is different than the other letters. Each one was written "to the angel of the church" in each city, but Laodicea isn't addressed that way. "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot." Revelation 3:14-15. The name Laodicea means "justice of the people" and the letter is addressed to "the angel of the church of the Laodiceans". It was the people's church not God's. The people made the rules instead of Scripture being the guide. The people in this congregation were lukewarm in their faith and Jesus will spew them from His mouth. There's always been lukewarm followers of Christ who look like they're following Jesus but are far from belonging to Him. Judas was one of those people. He hung out with Jesus, followed Him, and seemed to be one of the disciples. Was he? He may have looked like a follower, but it was Judas who betrayed Christ. How many "Christians" today like to go to youth groups or Sunday services, but betray Christ on Monday morning? They are not true Christians and Jesus will spew them out.
The people in Laodicea thought they had everything they needed in life. "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:" Revelation 3:17. Laodicea was a very wealthy place where people were comfortable. There was no real persecution or suffering. Because they were comfortable, they relied on themselves rather than Christ. There's no doubt at all that Jesus knows what's truly in the heart of a person. Sitting in a pew and following rituals doesn't make a person a Christian. If the coziness of our worship services is taken away, how many people will risk worshipping Christ? Will Christ be rejected when your faith is tested? "I counsel thee to buy of the 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 to not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." Revelation 3:18. Faith that hasn't been tested can never trusted. How many Christians profess faith in Christ when life is good, but deny Him when sickness strikes, or the death of a loved one? What happens when you have a nice job that earns enough money to pay bills, but that job is suddenly taken from you? We see this happening today as quarantines and isolation put many people out of work. The riots that are happening in many cities today destroy businesses and take jobs away causing financial difficulties. Do you turn against God, or do you draw nearer to Him? It's easy to profess faith when there's no trouble in your life. Today's congregations are full of unbiblical practices and sin is accepted because it shows us to be non-judgmental. These sinful ways are wrong and God is ready to show us what judgment is really like. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." Revelation 3:19. Repent means to change your mind. God will rebuke those who live in a way that's not Scriptural. If a congregation is happy with homosexual members, fornicators, liars, thieves, and such, God will rebuke them. Sinners must be witnessed to and encouraged to repent, but their sin cannot be accepted. This last letter describes what's happening in congregations today.
Does this mean that there's no hope? Jesus hasn't given up on us. He's still there calling to people to come to Him. "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. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Revelation 3:20-21. While you have breath it's not too late to come to the saving grace of Jesus. He's knocking but won't force His way into your heart. Don't wait for your pastor to wake up and lead the congregation back to the path of righteousness, but you answer the knock on the door yourself. Do it today because tomorrow may be too late.
These letters describe Christianity which has filled the "gap" between Daniel's 69th and 70th weeks. Revelation chapter 4 describes the Rapture. "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold a throne was set in heaven, and one say on the throne." Revelation 4:1-2. It's a wise person who accepts Christ and lives for Him now. One day soon we will hear that voice calling Christians Home. Are you lukewarm and putting off surrendering your life to Him? If you reject Jesus now, you'll find it nearly impossible to accept Him at a time when faith in Him will cost you your head. Answer His knock today.
What's wrong with Laodicea? Everything. Jesus is not inside, but on the outside knocking to be invited in. They don't see a need for Jesus, they are lukewarm in their faith, they accept sin as normal because they want to please the world, and their faith has never been tested because they've never done anything for Christ to cause persecution. A question we might ask is what's wrong with the church of San Francisco, or the church of Seattle, or the church of London? "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Revelation 3:22. These words were written to you.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham's previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is "theopneustos" God breathed.
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Daily Jot: The Farm Chronicles: Closer than a brother - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
In a small farming community neighbors help neighbors. In fact, most everybody knows everybody. That's the way it was when I was growing up. We were not divided by politics, nor by race or religion. The weather was no respecter of persons, as the Lord reminds us in Matthew 5:45, "He [God} makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." If there was a drought in the area, we all experienced it. If there was a flood, we experienced that, too. If there was a death in the community, we all mourned and we all pitched in. Irrespective of race, religion, or political persuasion, we were bound together. That's not to say we didn't have our differences, but we were civil and caring.
At the center of this farming community was the Wayland Community Church. It was a small church with a big heart. Most of us who attended were related in some way or another. People were treated well throughout the community by the congregants irrespective of whether they attended church there. That church, which still operates today, had its roots as far back as 1835 when Welsh settlers-many of them my relatives-set out from the nearby Palmyra to start another church about five miles away. The early services were actually conducted in Welsh. I have a Welsh to English bible that has been passed down in my family, likely used during that time.
Over the years, the church tried different denominations. It was first a Congregationalist church. Then it was integrated with Baptists. Then it was Methodist. When the Methodists became the United Methodists and started collecting money from these farmers for what they considered nonessential to the community, the church leaders decided to break away and return to its Community Church roots, where everyone was welcome and they could spend the tithes and offerings from the community to meet the needs of the community. They were fiercely independent farmers and not given to a bunch of nonsense. They wanted short sermons, long relationships and the church to be about the business of the Lord.
What brings this all to mind today is that I am visiting my lifelong friend Sonny in Arkansas. He is in hospice care for cancer. We have spent hours going through old pictures and reminiscing about our lives together and apart as we grew older and had our families and careers. Our relationship has stood the test of time. Even when we were apart, we were together. He is a part of my soul and vice versa. That relationship began in the basement of Wayland Community Church in Sunday School, probably paired up for doing some sort of craft. We were about four years old. Relationships are important. Don't take them for granted. Don't let the noise get in the way. Cherish them each day. Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Closer than a brother.
Daily Devotion: Surrendering Our Claim - by Greg Laurie -
So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
https://harvest.org/resources/devotion/surrendering-our-claim-2/ - Listen
My granddaughter Allie loves to collect stuffed animals. Whenever I'm going on a trip, she'll say, "Papa, bring me back a stuffed animal." Awhile back I was on a trip and made a video of some stuffed animals for Allie. Then I called to ask her which one she liked.
"Papa, I'm not obsessed with stuffed animals anymore," she said.
"I'm just obsessed with talking with you."
That warmed my heart. I think we all should say to God, "Lord, I'm obsessed with talking with You, walking with You, hearing from You, and knowing You."
Disciples of Jesus must turn the title deed of their lives over to Christ. Jesus said, "You cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own" (Luke 14:33 nlt). The New King James Version says, "Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." It's a reminder that we are actually not owners, we are stewards. Everything we have will be passed on to someone else one day.
Does that mean it's a sin to have a car, or a house, or clothes, or some money in the bank? Of course not. This verse could be translated, "If you want to be My disciple, surrender your claim to everything in life." It's a recognition that God is the owner. God is in control of it. We recognize that we are just stewards over it for a period of time.
It is not wrong to have a career, but it is wrong if your career has you. It is not wrong to have possessions, but it can be wrong if your possessions have you. Your only real passion and obsession in life should be Christ. All these other things have their place-but not the most important place.
FROM THE HEART
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