Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Fall Feasts Of Israel - A Bible Study by Jack Kelley -
The fall is arguably the most important time of the year in Judaism. Three of Israel's holiest days are celebrated then, and all in the space of 3 weeks. They are Yom Teruah, also called the Feast of Trumpets, followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and 5 days after that by Sukkot, the week-long Feast of Tabernacles. They all have both historical and prophetic fulfillment and, following the pattern of the spring feasts, the prophetic fulfillment will occur during the time of each feast. Therefore, Christians study them for glimpses into the future as well as to gain a better understanding of Jewish history and culture. In 2018 they occur on September 10-11 (Feast of Trumpets), September 19 (Yom Kippur) and September 24-30 (Feast of Tabernacles).
Happy New Year
Gentiles are sometimes confused in their studies of these holy days by the fact that the Lord changed the Hebrew calendar at the time of the first Passover (Exodus 12:2). What had been the 7th month was thereafter to be the first, moving the beginning of the year to the spring, 14 days before Passover.
But the people have always retained their original calendar as well, observing a religious year which begins in the spring, and a civil year beginning in the fall. This is why the Feast of Trumpets is also known as Rosh Hashanah (which means "head of the year") sometimes called the Jewish New Year. This year Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the year 5779.
The Feast of Trumpets is a time of new beginnings. According to some Jewish traditions, the creation was completed on that day, and therefore Adam was born then as well. Also, based on the view that John the Baptist was born in the spring, around Passover, and his birth preceded the birth of Jesus by 6 months (Luke 1:36), it's possible to place the birth of the Messiah on the Feast of Trumpets. These events combine to give the day its historical fulfillment.
Unlike other Jewish feasts, the Feast of Trumpets takes place on a New Moon, when just a sliver of the Moon appears in the night sky. Since this has to be confirmed by eyewitness sightings, the weather has to be very clear to observe the rising of the New Moon, and it's not always that way. For this reason, the Feast of Trumpets has come to be known as the feast where no one knows the day or the hour.
According to Matt. 24:29, the Sun, Moon, and stars will all go dark at the end of the Great Tribulation to signify that the most terrifying judgments ever to be visited on Planet Earth have ended. Some time afterward the Lord will return on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. Four times within the span of 28 verses the Lord said the people on Earth at the time will not know the exact time of His return in advance, using a form of the phrase "you will not know the day or the hour" (Matt. 24:46, Matt. 24:42-44, Matt. 24:50, Matt. 25:13). This leads some scholars to speculate His return will coincide with the Feast of Trumpets. If so the 2nd Coming will be the prophetic fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.
Of the Lord's coming with power and great Glory, Zechariah 9:14 tells us,
Then the LORD will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the LORD Almighty will shield them.
And Matt. 24:30-31 adds,
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."
Others think that the Rapture of the Church will happen on the Feast of Trumpets, but I'm convinced that the rapture is a number specific event rather than a date specific one, meaning the Church will be raptured when "the full number of Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25). If so, the rapture of the Church could happen on any given day, although Acts 15:13-18 makes it clear that the rapture will have to precede the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week.
Religious Jews believe that in Heaven, books recording the deeds of mankind are opened on the Feast of Trumpets for an annual review of man's behavior. At that time, God writes down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life in the coming year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but certain actions can alter His decree.
The actions that change the decree are repentance, prayer, and good deeds (usually, charity) and must be completed in the ten days before Yom Kippur. For that reason, these ten days are called the Days of Awe where each man's destiny hangs in the balance as he goes about repenting and asking forgiveness from friends and neighbors for the sins he's committed in the year just past, and performing acts of charity. A common greeting among Jews during the 10 Days of Awe is, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."
On the first afternoon of the Feast of Trumpets (it's a two-day celebration) Orthodox Jews go to a running brook or stream where fish swim and throw pebbles or crumbs they've gathered into the water, symbolizing God's casting away of their sins. While doing so, they recite Micah 7:18-20.
"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago."
This is one of the most eloquent descriptions of God's grace to be found anywhere in Scripture. It reminds God of His promise to be merciful to them in the coming judgment of Yom Kippur.
The fish's dependence on water symbolizes their dependence on God. The fact that fish can't close their eyes reminds them to be thorough because God sees everything. This ceremony is called Tashlich, Hebrew for "You will cast," a reference to hurling their iniquities into the sea in Micah 7:19.
Ten days later, on Yom Kippur, judgment is rendered, the books are closed, and everyone's fate is sealed for another year.
Yom Kippur was the only day of the year when it was permissible to speak the Name of God. Yes God does have a name, but it's not Jehovah or Yahweh. These names were created out of the four letters that Hebrew scribes used to represent God's name in the Old Testament. Wherever the word LORD appears all in caps, you'll find the Hebrew letters JHVH, (or YHWH) in the Hebrew text. Theologians call these four letters the Tetragrammaton, which is Greek for "four letters." So, in effect these four letters are God's initials, standing for His real name.
Early English language translators added an E, an O, and an A, (vowels they took from Elohim, a form of the Hebrew word meaning God and Adonai, Hebrew for Lord) to JHVH and created the name Jehovah. We used to think that was God's name, but it's really a man-made construction. And in Hebrew, the four letters are pronounced yod, hay, wah, hay, which probably gave rise to the "Yahweh" we use today. It's not His real name either.
It was forbidden for Jews to speak God's actual name except for once a year on Yom Kippur when it was spoken ten times. After the Temple was destroyed, the Yom Kippur ceremony changed, and the name of God ceased to be used and was eventually lost. No one alive today knows God's real name, and it probably hasn't been spoken on Earth for about 1700 years. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Philippians 2:9-11 says that Jesus, or if you prefer the Hebrew, Yeshua, is now the name above all names.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Back to Yom Kippur. During a great and awe-inspiring ceremony at the Temple, two goats were brought before the High Priest. One was a goat "for the Lord" to be presented as a sin offering as commanded in Lev. 16:7-10. The other was called "the scapegoat" because all the sins of the nation were symbolically placed upon its head, and then it was led outside the city. The goats had done nothing to deserve this but were chosen to demonstrate the fact that only the shedding of innocent blood could atone for the sins of the people. This symbolically set aside the sins of the nation, made their sin offering acceptable, and gave them peace with their Creator. The people spoke the Name of God in heartfelt thanks.
Here are a couple of interesting tidbits from Jewish tradition. When the goats were brought before the High Priest, their respective roles in the ceremony were determined by lot. Two golden lots were placed in a golden bowl, and as he placed his hand upon the head of each goat, the High Priest reached into the bowl and pulled out one of the lots. Before the cross, the goat that was to be presented to the Lord as a sin offering always turned out to be on the right hand of the High Priest. After the cross it never was.
While the scapegoat was symbolically receiving the sins of the people upon its head, a scarlet ribbon was tied from one of its horns to the door of the temple. When the time came for the goat to be taken into the wilderness, the ribbon was cut, leaving some on its horn and some on the door. At a predetermined location outside the city, the goat was pushed off a cliff and fell to its death. Before the cross, at the moment of the scapegoat's death, the remnant of ribbon on the temple door turned from red to white symbolizing the passage from Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." After the cross this never happened again. The One Who now sits at the right hand of the Father and Who had fulfilled the dual role that the two goats only symbolized had come and forever taken away the sins of all who would choose to accept Him. (Source: The Fall Feasts Of Israel. Authors Mitch and Zhava Glaser, Publisher Moody Press.)
The Law Is Only A Shadow ...
In Christendom a view holds that the Lord Jesus began His ministry on Yom Kippur, announcing in effect that the judgment that was due mankind would be borne by Him (Luke 4:16-21) and that man no longer need live in fear of judgment nor have to endure the 10 Days of Awe every year.
It's easy to see the Lord in the role of our sin offering, His shed blood having purchased our pardon forever (Hebrews 10:11-14), but He was also our peace offering. "He is our peace, Who has broken down every wall." (Ephe 2:14) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)
In the prophetic sense, Tribulation survivors from the nations will receive their fulfillment of the Yom Kippur judgment in the days immediately following the Lord's return. This is described to us in the Sheep and Goat judgment (Matt 25:31-46) where Gentiles who've cast their sins at the foot of the cross during the Great Tribulation will be granted life in the Kingdom and those who haven't will be sent away for death. The willingness of those described as sheep to risk their lives by ministering to believing Jews during the Great Tribulation will be evidence of their faith. (Old Testament mention of this event can be found in Joel 3:1-3.) In Matt. 19:28 the Lord told His disciples that the judgment of Jews who survive the Great Tribulation will take place then, too.
For those of all ages who reject the Lord's vicarious atonement, the prophetic fulfillment of Yom Kippur will come at the end of the Millennium in the so-called Great White Throne judgment. For the last time, the books will be opened, and the unsaved dead will stand before God to be judged according to their works. Everyone whose name is not written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, begins five days after Yom Kippur. It's a harvest celebration that was the inspiration for the American Thanksgiving Day. It began as a seven-day feast (later expanded to eight) when all the tithes the Israelites had set aside during the year were brought to Jerusalem for a joyous time of national celebration and thanksgiving for the Lord's bountiful provision. The aroma of delicious foods cooking over open fires permeated the whole city. For seven days wherever you went, there was an air of joy and festivity as the people remembered their Provider and gave thanks. (Deut. 14:22-26).
Historically the Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the time of God's dwelling with the Israelites in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. Its prophetic fulfillment comes in the Millennium when the Lord will once again dwell among His people; with the Church in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21) and with Israel in the Promised Land (Ezekiel 43:7). From that time forward the Holy City on Earth will be called Jehovah Shammah, which means "The Lord Is There" (Isaiah 62:2 & Ezekiel 48:35).
Somewhere along the way, a water libation ceremony was added to the Feast of Tabernacles. Each morning a procession of priests would descend the steps from the Temple to the Pool of Siloam and dip a silver pitcher into the water. Carrying the water back to the altar, they would pour it into the ground that had been exposed by the removal of a paving block near the altar, while offering prayers for rain. The purpose of this daily ceremony was to remind God to bring the fall rains needed to prepare the ground for planting. In Israel, it doesn't rain during the summer, and the ground gets very hard. Gentle rains are needed to soften the ground so it can be prepared for the fall planting.
On the last day of the feast the High Priest himself would officiate, and on this day instead of a silver pitcher, one of pure gold would be used. The High Priest would be dressed in all his finest and attended by a huge contingent of similarly attired priests, blowing trumpets, singing psalms, and waving palm branches. When it was first described to me, I was struck by its beauty and pageantry. I've since read that extra balconies were set up around the Court of the Priests so more people could observe it.
One year just as the High Priest was about to pour the water into the ground, a loud voice interrupted the ceremony shouting, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him" (John 7:37-38). It was our Lord Jesus, and He was referring to the Holy Spirit, who believers would soon receive. This caused many to believe that He was indeed Israel's Messiah. (We're not told what the High Priest's reaction was, but it couldn't have been pleasant.)
Let's Get Spiritual
Following the thought that events that were external and physical in the Old Testament are often internal and spiritual in the New, there is a sense in which these holy days also reflect the life of every believer.
As Jesus came to live in the world at His birth (Feast of Trumpets), so He comes to live in our hearts at our new birth. As He required the shedding of innocent blood to reconcile Himself with Israel (Yom Kippur) so He shed His own Blood to reconcile Himself with us. As He dwelt with the Israelites in the wilderness of Midian (Tabernacles), so He dwells with us in the wilderness of Earth. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age," He promised. (Matt 28:20) Even so, Come Lord Jesus. (Rev. 22:20) You can almost hear the Footsteps of the Messiah.
UN's Recognition of Yom Kippur Has 'Political, Prophetic' Significance, European Christians Say - Julie Stahl - http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/israel/2018/september/uns-recognition-of-yom-kippur-has-political-prophetic-significance-european-christians-say
The United Nations is often known for singling out Israel for condemnation. But oddly enough in recent years, it's adopted some Jewish practices.
On Wednesday, the UN will observe Yom Kippur as an official holiday for the third time. For them that means at least not holding any high-level meetings on that day.
After extensive diplomatic efforts by the Israeli Mission to the United Nations (with help from the European Coalition for Israel - a pro-Israel Christian group) the UN finally recognized Yom Kippur in December 2015.
Prior to 2015, there were 10 official holidays at the United Nations, including Christmas, Good Friday and two Muslim holidays. There were other recognized days, called "World Days," which included Buddhist holidays and the Persian New Year, but no Jewish holidays were recognized.
European Coalition for Israel (ECI) Founding Director Tomas Sandell told CBN News he believes the move on the part of the UN to recognize Yom Kippur has both political and spiritual significance.
"Politically as this is a first step in giving Jewish people the same respect as Christians and Muslims for their holidays. But it is only a first step," Sandell said in a written response.
"Spiritually, I believe it is prophetically significant that the nations are gradually adapting to His [God's biblical] calendar - His appointed times," he added.
In an earlier interview, Sandell said that Yom Kippur "has a message which goes beyond Judaism."
The Book of Leviticus says of Yom Kippur, "You shall afflict your souls ... and you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement to make atonement for you before the Lord your God...." (Leviticus 23:26-32)
Yom Kippur is only one Jewish holiday/custom to which the United Nations is paying attention.
Last week just before Rosh Hashanah, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and dozens of ambassadors from around the world symbolically threw their sins into the East River in New York in a Jewish tradition known as "Tashlich."
Traditionally, "Tashlich," - casting away of one's sins, symbolized by bread, in a body of running water - is carried out for the traditional Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah.
And although the idea of throwing one's own sins into the water for redemption isn't biblical, it's based on a passage in Micah 7:18-20, which says God "will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea."
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and the European Coalition for Israel organized the event.
"As the Jewish New Year begins, the UN is also beginning a new year. We hope the UN will participate in Cheshbon Hanefesh, an accounting of its actions of the previous year," Danon said at the opening of the event.
According to a press release from the Israel's Mission to the UN, the ambassadors "symbolically cast their sins into the river and blessed the State of Israel for the New Hebrew year."
Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, "I would like to take this opportunity to offer my blessings to the Jewish people."
"Without the Jewish inspiration and contributions to the creation of the UN there would probably be no UN today," said Sandell and ECI Director for UN Affairs Gregory Lafitte. "Tashlich is a good time to reevaluate, to see where we have missed our mark."
Nearing Midnight: Dissecting Christ's Declaration on Noah's Day - Terry James -
No matter how intensively I try to look in other directions these days for issues and events of possible prophetic portent, inner prompting brings me back to Matthew 24: 32-42.
Jesus' words resound more powerfully in spiritually attuned ears than any other to be found in God's Holy Scripture. Thus, things to be considered in the Lord's Olivet declaration must have more relevance for these days in which we live than many seminaries will acknowledge.
Most of these bastions of higher learning put forth that the prophecies in Matthew 24 were given almost exclusively for the Jews of Christ's physical time on earth. I completely dismiss that notion. I believe issues and events that unfold minute by minute around this generation continue to bring to light stage-setting for fulfillment given by the Lord in this profoundly important section of His prophetic teaching.
In my estimation-as those who read these commentaries know-we have come to the specific point on God's prophetic timeline that Jesus foretold. We are, I believe, in the time He described: "As it was in the days of Noah...and of Lot."
My own contemplation of things going on today and prophetic Scripture likely relevant to the very end of the Church Age (Age of Grace) has me carefully reconsidering Jesus words in that Olivet Discourse prophecy-His words about the "days of Noah" in particular. Let us look at them together yet again. We will look at the entire prophecy as Jesus gave it to us, recorded in Matthew 24:
24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Seminary thinking on this, for the most part, has it that Jesus was speaking exclusively of the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in referring to "this generation." They dismiss that He was prophesying about the generation of people of the earth in general. The seminaries have it that the Lord was saying the Jewish race would not pass away. "Israel will not be eliminated by any foe" is one of the most common seminary takes on this prophecy.
I believe Jesus was prophesying that when Israel begins to become a nation that observably affects the rest of the world at the end of the age, the consummation of human history will be profoundly underway. The Tribulation, Armageddon, and His Second Advent (Revelation 19:11) would then rapidly be fulfilled.
The Lord then stamped His omnipotent signature on the guarantee of its coming to pass:
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
What follows these words by the Lord of all creation sends chill bumps-I should say "thrill bumps"-through yours truly.
Jesus next gives us a precise look at what precedes this total consummation of human history that includes Antichrist, the worst time in history (the Tribulation), His Second Advent at Armageddon, and the entire Millennial era! He next says the following:
24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
The Lord is, I believe, here referring back to His Words: 24:33 "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."
He then goes in-depth in explaining what is meant by His Words "it is near, even at the doors. 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Jesus is talking about His coming back to planet earth. He has already said it will be at a time that only the Father knows. This precludes His Second Advent, which will be a time that can be precisely calculated, according to Scripture.
Again, Jesus indicated that no one can know the precise time of His coming. But He then tells us exactly what the time of this arrival will look like from a cultural/societal and particularly an economic standpoint-this right up until judgment falls:
24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
To look more deeply into the circumstances prevalent at this prophesied time, we go to the Words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Luke:
17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
Next we go back again to Jesus' words recorded in Matthew chapter 24 to see exactly what will happen when He again "reveals" Himself in a catastrophic manner:
24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 24:41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
And we look again at the Gospel of Luke to get further enlightenment from the Lord:
17:34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 17:35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 17:36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Those who dispute that this is referring to the Rapture say that those taken here are taken for judgment and wrath, not to a place of safety. But Greek words here indicate the opposite. Those taken are taken to safety and those left behind are left for judgment. I haven't the space here to do a Greek word study to prove my contention. I will simply give the word used here by Jesus in defining the matter of those taken.
Paralambanó, if I have spelled it correctly, is the same word Jesus uses in John 14:2-3-"I will come and receive you."
"Receive" and "taken" use the same word-paralambanó: "I will receive you unto myself, for where I am, there ye may be also."
This is the Rapture!
We are in a "think-not" time, that is for certain. The Body of Christ-the Church-for the most part, has its collective attention turned away from God' will. Worldly pursuits are the order of the day, both within the church edifices and within the lives of too many believers. All other issues and events scream through our hourly news feeds that stage setting for fulfillment of Bible prophecy is in every direction one looks.
Israel is front and center-the fig tree that has been putting forth it leaves since May 14, 1948.
Financial experts say, and the facts show, that America is entering a time of economic boom, not bust. (Even though the fiscal laws of gravity are being defied by all rational ways of analyzing the matters involved.) The world follows the almighty dollar, so, many believe, a world economic boom may soon follow. Jesus predicted just such a time in His "days of Noah and of Lot" prophecy.
The Lord made the analogy of His next intervention into man's history as being like the break-in of a thief in the night. He wrapped up this account of this first phase of His Second Coming with this sobering exhortation for Christians who will be living when the Rapture occurs:
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 24:43 But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 24:44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Giving Glory to God - Steve Schmutzer - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8717
Sometimes my focus just gets away from me.
I prepared scrambled eggs for my family early this morning. I cracked the egg against the counter and carefully dropped the yolk and white into the trash can while I tossed the empty shells into the bowl to whisk. I stared at it for a moment or two thinking, "Something's not quite right here."
Most days this week I've thought it was a day it wasn't. I showed up at the school one afternoon to pick up my son. "Where is he?" It took me 15 minutes to recall it was a day our neighbor routinely picks him up. Yesterday, I had it in my head it was Thursday. It wasn't. Traveling on all the red-eye flights for business lately doesn't help either. My schedule's been a blur of little sleep and a lot of commitments.
I'm not complaining here, but the frantic pace and myriad duties of my life have made it challenging to keep up the basics. I'm tired, and I'm probably more stressed right now than I realize. I'm thankful this is just a phase.
But it's even harder for me to preserve the most important routines. For the past several years, I've tried to commit myself to thoughtful prayer before I get out of bed each day. I try to do the same thing each night once I am in bed and before I fall asleep. Putting those bookends around each day is a discipline that helps me keep my heart in the right place.
In the spirit of fuller confession here, I've been listening to a sermon series by Dr. Erwin Lutzer of Chicago's Moody Church and it's ripping me apart. The series, "Nothing Else Matters," is about giving the full glory to God in every facet of one's life. Here's the kicker: Lutzer lays out the compelling argument that I should pray at the start of each day, "Lord, glorify Yourself today at my expense!"
"At my expense?!? What does that mean? What else do I need to give up and let go of? Things are hard enough as is! Should I just cower right here right now and expect the divine axe to fall?" I'm only being honest when I tell you that it was tempting for me to feel this way at first. In my sin, I want what I want when and how I want it.
The truth is, it's nothing like that. The best way for me to simplify my life - to unclutter it from all its distractions, and to give it clarity instead of clouds - is to place one unifying, one all-important purpose and passion in the center of my life. And that is the full glory of God. We exist for His purposes and not our own (1 Cor. 10:31; Matt. 5:16). When we actually live like we believe that, we are never happier.
If everything I do and say each day comes from a heart that diligently seeks and genuinely desires the total glory of God, then that smoothes out a lot of the bumps in the road. It keeps my eyes and my dreams on eternal objectives, it sobers my inclinations to willfully sin, and it welcomes the opportunities to lift God up when I feel overwhelmed or squashed by life.
John the Baptist said in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." This was his focus. I think he understood the fundamental concept of glorifying God at his own personal expense. Then there is the familiar story of Jesus who allowed his good friend Lazarus to die before raising him from the dead. The challenging message for everyone directly involved in that event is the same: "....it happened for the glory of God!" (John 11:4).
In reflecting on this, it's been reinforced to me that our cluttered and chaotic lives are inclined against a deep and meaningful relationship with God. I see this dynamic in my own life, and my opening paragraphs here are a partial indicator of that.
All the good things we do can easily become the enemy of the best thing we have. It's claimed that Socrates said, "Beware the barrenness of a busy life," and while I doubt he had the issue of giving glory to God in view, he's correct in a basic principle. A so-called successful and busy existence on earth means absolutely nothing in terms of the issues that really count - both in this life and the one to come.
In closing, the Bible lauds a specific group of believers that got it right. They figured out what it really means to glorify God at their own expense. This group is defined as one that will suffer and die "....for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 1:9; 6:9; 12:17, et al).
This group will miss the Rapture but they will find Jesus all the same, even though it will cost them a great deal. On earth they will speak the truth and they will live it too. In death, they will remain committed to a proper eternal perspective. In all aspects, God will be glorified at their expense.
My new prayer for myself is that God will glorify Himself at my expense. I pray for His mercy and grace to be upon my life as I do, but I am convinced it's the only way to find real purpose, real centeredness, and real joy.
Daily Jot: Of Hate and Violence - Bill Wilson -
Leftist resistance leader Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) was honored Friday night by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) with their National Leadership Award. The platform gave Waters yet another opportunity to call for violence against President Donald Trump. She said in accepting the award, "There are those who say, 'What if we get rid of him? Then we've got that Vice President and he'll be worse.' I say knock off the first one and then go after the second one.'" The leftists are those who are constantly before the media expressing their fears that Trump supporters, which they generally believe to be Nazis, will commit violence against them for their beliefs. Yet the opposite is true.
Waters and others have consistently used their speech to incite violence against supporters of the President. Waters has called for the harassment of Trump supporters and Administration officials at gas stations, restaurants and even at their homes. This type of rhetoric has been a hallmark of the so-called "resistance movement" since before Trump took office. Antifa and other leftist radical groups have committed violence against Trump supporters. Celebrities have called for the assassination of Trump. Trump supporters have been labeled racists, bigots, homophobes, Islamophobes, misogynists, xenophobes and just about every other hateful descriptor.
Democratic Presidential hopeful, and former Vice President, Joe Biden told the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a radical gay rights organization, that Trump supporters were "virulent people, some of them the dregs of society." Remember in September 2016, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said, "You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic - you name it....Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America." These types of remarks are doing exactly what they are designed to do-cause violence, by the followers of those who are raising the fear of violence against themselves.
Breitbart News' John Nolte has documented 567 acts of violence and threats of violence against perceived Trump supporters since September 2015. Many of them called for the assassination of Trump and/or his supporters, others included vandalized property, physical assaults, bomb threats, pepper spray, handgun assaults, threats of mass shootings and more. Yet these are the people expressing fear that Trump supporters are violent, dregs of society. If there were acts like these against liberals, believe me, you would hear about it repeatedly. Like in so many cases, the narrative is untrue. As Peter warned in 1 Peter 5:8, "Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour." Let us stand and speak boldly the truth against this vitriol. Your adversary, the devil is behind it.
Daily Devotion: When We Need Revival - By Greg Laurie -
"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love." -Revelation 2:4
If you want to experience revival in your life, then hang out with a brand-new believer. It is the best thing you can do for your own spiritual health. A brand-new believer is fired up and has questions that will have you digging back into the Scriptures again. You stabilize that new Christian, and he or she re-energizes you. Everyone benefits.
On the other hand, if you hang around with jaded Christians, with those who have even become cynical, then you need some new friends. Sometimes people worry about new believers not changing quickly enough, but I am more concerned with older believers who have stopped changing altogether. They are settled in their ways. Maybe they have traded in old vices like immorality, drinking, drugs, or profanity and replaced them with new ones like pride, backbiting, gossip, or bitterness.
I find it interesting that 80 to 90 percent of the Christians who personally share their faith have been believers for two years or less. In other words, most people who come to Christ through personal evangelism have done so because someone young in the faith shared the gospel with them.
I think this is because new believers are still discovering what God has done for them. They are still excited about it. As we get older in the faith and have walked with the Lord for a time, we start taking these things for granted sometimes. That means we need revival. We need to be brought back to that place where we once were, where we realize how important it is to share with others what Jesus has done for us.
If we have no desire to share our faith, then we need personal revival. Revived people are evangelistic people because their evangelism is a result of a Christ-filled life.
FROM THE HEART
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"Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!" - Hal Lindsey
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