Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Through a Glass, Darkly - Jack Kinsella - www.omegaletter.com
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1st Corinthians 13:12)
There are as many interpretations of Bible prophecy out there as there are interpreters. Surely, they can't ALL be wrong, or deliberately teaching falsehood, or doing the work of Satan.
[Although I am accused of all three -- virtually every time I write a column teaching Dispensationalism or a pre-Trib Rapture.]
All of them are reading the same Scriptures, and presumably, all of them are sincere. It is incomprehensible to me that a person could trust Jesus for his salvation and then go out and deliberately teach error.
That is not to say that there aren't false teachers deliberately teaching error, but I don't believe that they are sincere Christians.
There is a lot of money to be made by telling people what they want to hear, and there are plenty of TV evangelists willing to bend the message to their advantage.
(For example, the guys who tell you if you send them $100, God will immediately send you $1000 in return.)
But, the fact remains that there ARE sincere Christians who read the same Scriptures everybody else does and come up with entirely different understandings of Bible prophecy.
To the preterist, all Bible prophecy, including that contained in the Book of Revelation, was fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jews.
(As one OL member noted recently, since Revelation was written more than a decade after the Destruction of the Temple, a preterist can't even rightly argue that the events depicted in Revelation is even prophecy.)
To a futurist, Bible prophecy has yet to completely unfold. Even among futurists, there is dispute about when certain events take place. Some believe that the Rapture takes place at the conclusion of the Tribulation. Others believe it takes place at the mid-point in the Tribulation.
Others, me included, believe the Bible teaches the Rapture of the Church takes place before the Tribulation period can begin.
But, again, we are all reading the same Scriptures. And, presumably, we are all sincere in saying we believe our understanding is the correct one. After all, things that are different are NOT the same, and the Rapture can only occur once.
Is it before, during, or after the reign of antichrist? Hal Lindsey would confidently answer, 'before' and I know the depth of his sincerity first-hand.
Marv Rosenthal teaches something called the 'Mid-Wrath" Rapture. I've met Marv, spoken with him at length, and I am as convinced as I can be of his sincerity.
I don't know any post Tribulation teachers personally, but I would like to assume at least some of them are as sincere in their beliefs as Hal or Marv are.
About the only Christian doctrine upon which there is more or less universal agreement is that we are saved by grace through faith in the shed Blood and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
BUT, that is the only doctrine, in the final analysis, which really and truly bears eternal consequences. Preterists that trust Jesus for their salvation will meet up in heaven with futurists who trusted Jesus, who will fellowship with pre-tribbers, mid-tribbers and post-tribbers, who will fellowship with Calvinists and Arminians together.
Because if you trust Jesus Christ for your salvation, then you will go to heaven. That is the central message of the Gospel. The rest is the product of our longing to know God, and know the things of God, while blinded by the limitations imposed on us by our earthly perspective.
As the Apostle Paul put it, seeing the things of God 'through a glass, darkly'. Paul says we know only 'in part' but the part that we all agree on is the only part that really counts. Salvation by faith.
In the story of the Tower of Babel, God explains how the various ethnic nations came to be.
"And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." (Genesis 11:6-7)
By scattering man 'among the nations' and removing the common bond of language and ethnicity, God ensured that no one man could ever again rule all men, as Nimrod did until the construction of the Tower of Babel.
It prevented any one culture or worldview to dominate all mankind. That diversity is what allowed Christianity to flourish at the point when it was introduced into history.
The reason is because Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ, rather than a commonly-accepted cultural duty.
God built that same diversity into the Church, which accounts for how and why sincere Christians can read the same Scriptures and come up with such widely divergent doctrines as preterist historicism and pretribulationist futurism. It prevents any one teacher from becoming the only accepted source of information of the things of God.
If everybody agreed on every point of doctrine, then the guy who articulates it the best becomes the Great Oracle of God. (And what if he was wrong?)
So we have diversity of understanding, but the same Scripture. And we have diversity of teachings, but share the same salvation by grace through faith. And we are equally sincere, because we share the same awesome responsibility of accountability before the Lord.
In the end, we will be judged by how we used the doctrine God delivered to us to lead others to salvation in Christ.
The necessity of diversity of understanding in the Church Age is adequately demonstrated by a peek across the divide into the coming 'Time of Jacob's Trouble' after the Church Age is concluded.
During the Tribulation, that diversity of understanding is replaced by a universal religion imposed by the false prophet and directed toward the worship of antichrist.
Because there are no (surviving) saved Christians, indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit during the Tribulation, the efforts of the false prophet are amply rewarded with results that are unattainable in the Church Age:
"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Revelation 13:7-8)
(The 'saints' referred to in verse 7 are the 'tribulation saints'. Theologically, they are distinguished from the Church Age saints because, unlike Church Age saints, they are NOT indwelt at salvation by the Holy Spirit -- that is reserved for the 144,000 Jewish evangelists sealed in Revelation Chapter 7)
The point is, the success of the false prophet comes from the loss of that spiritual diversity that is unique to the Church.
On doctrinal issues like the Rapture, for example, no matter what view one holds as doctrine, the essential fact that they are going go to heaven is not in dispute. So, in the eternal sense, it doesn't really matter.
So why include it at all? Because we DO see through a glass darkly, because that is the way God intended things on this side of eternity.
I believe that the Bible teaches a pre-trib Rapture and I believe it because to me, it is utterly obvious from the plain reading of Scripture. But I don't believe that those who disagree with me are deliberately teaching falsehood.
When the Rapture happens, we'll all go at the same time. Whether they got the timing right or not.
So we'll continue to teach what we believe to be true and let God sort out the rest.
Washington Sources Say President Will Reject Iran Nuclear Deal Next Week - By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz -
"As for those peoples that warred against Yerushalayim, Hashem will smite them with this plague: Their flesh shall rot away while they stand on their feet; their eyes shall rot away in their sockets; and their tongues shall rot away in their mouths." Zechariah 14:12 (The Israel Bible™)
Multiple sources in Washington D.C. have reported that President Donald Trump plans on decertifying the Iran nuclear deal next week.
On Wednesday, The Washington Free Beacon and The Washington Post reported that President Trump is expected to declare Iran in breach of the deal next week. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal that was brokered by former President Barack Obama with Iran first signed in 2015, has to be recertified by the president every ninety days and the next deadline is October 15. President Trump has recertified the deal twice since entering the Oval Office. If the Iran deal is decertified by the president, the decision is then moved to Congress which will have 60 days to decide the future of the deal, which might include reinstating sanctions that were removed under the agreement.
The president is scheduled to deliver a speech on October 12, but the White House has not confirmed that the speech will take place or what its subject matter will be. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a press conference on Thursday, "The president is going to make an announcement about the decision that he's made on a comprehensive strategy that his team supports, and we'll do that in the coming days."
Opponents of the nuclear deal have claimed that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear watchdog tasked with verifying Iranian compliance, have been prevented from doing their job.
"The IAEA's admission that they are unable to verify a fundamental provision under the nuclear deal-that the Iranians are not engaging in activities or using equipment to develop a nuclear explosive device-is highly alarming. In these circumstances, issuing a compliance certification would be a serious mistake," Texas Senator Ted Cruz said to the press.
"If the Iranians are serious about a peaceful program, they need to prove it. Iran's continued refusal to allow IAEA access to military sites-a clear requirement of the terms of the deal-renders the JCPOA utterly ineffective, and, even worse, a sham that only facilitates Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons. This absence of any meaningful verification is yet another reason to vitiate this foolhardy agreement."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last month that he will not reopen the deal for negotiations.
An Eye for an Eye: Iran Promises to Partition Saudi Arabia If Iraq Is Partitioned - By Prof. Hillel Frisch -
Iran is now openly threatening to dismember Saudi Arabia for its support for Kurdish independence and secession from Iraq. This ratcheting up of tensions has implications not only for those two countries but for the region and the world at large. Israel would do well to remember that the Middle East is growing ever more volatile, and the US should sharpen its resolve to contain Iran.
The Iranian-Saudi struggle over primacy in the Middle East is hardly new. As early as the 1980s, in Tripoli, Lebanon, the Saudis supported Sunni militia forces in their struggle with the Alawites for control of Lebanon's most important city in the north. Even then, the newly created Hezbollah, Iran's first and most important proxy militia in the Arab-speaking world, sent fighters to the city to support the minority Alawites together with agents of the Assad regime in Syria that by then had allied itself with Iran. This was to become the longest, most durable, and most resilient strategic relationship between any two states in the Middle East.
From that time on, the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia has expanded, sometimes in fits and starts, at other times in an almost linear fashion, as new battlefields between the proxies of both states have emerged. By far the most important were the battlefields of Syria and Yemen, the indirect consequences of the so-called Arab Spring. Instead of yielding democracy, the uprisings descended into deadly civil war in which the proxies of both states battled it out.
Iran, which over the past year has had the upper hand in the struggle with the Saudis in Syria (thanks to Russian air power and hopeless division among the Sunni proxies of the Saudi state), is now threatening to dismember the Saudi state itself. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, speaking on behalf of his Iranian patron at his annual address on the anniversary of the Ashoura Massacre (at which Ali, revered by the Shiites, lost to the Sunni Caliph as a result of perceived Sunni treachery), warned Saudi Arabia that if it continues to support the beleaguered Iraqi Kurds after their pronouncement of independence, it will act to dismantle the Saudi state.
Hardly anyone in the Middle East needed Nasrallah to spell out the exact nature of this threat. Shiites populated the Hasa region in Saudi Arabia long before the region became the center of Saudi oil discoveries and production. The more oil was discovered and produced in the region, the more intense became the marginalization of the Shiite minority in Sunni Saudi Arabia. This dynamic preceded the Iranian Revolution but intensified as Iran, under the ayatollahs, embarked on a revolutionary and imperialist foreign policy to weaken the Arab states. Its principal targets were Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest Arab state; and Egypt, the most populous and presumably the most powerful.
Nor is it surprising that Nasrallah chose the Ashoura "festivities" (one is speaking of parades of self-flagellating Shiites denoting the oppression visited upon them by the Sunni world) to deliver this threat to Saudi Arabia. No event on the Shiite calendar better evokes the enmity between the two religious strains. Over the past fourteen years, the commemoration of Ashoura has been marred by massive suicide attacks launched by Sunni extremist groups in Iraq's holy Shiite cities. Iran, the Iraqi government, and many Shiites are convinced that Saudi financial support was crucial in launching these attacks and subsequent massacres as individuals in the crowds crushed each other as they attempted to flee the scene.
Iran is declaring a quid pro quo: if Saudi Arabia participates in the partitioning of Shiite-dominated Iraq by supporting the Kurds, Iran will partition Saudi Arabia. This threat seems to show that Iran has the upper hand in its struggle with the kingdom. It will strike out at Saudi Arabia to defend its proxy, Iraq, not only to defend itself.
This perception is not altogether accurate. No doubt, Iran under the ayatollahs is a formidable regime despite regular pronouncements by experts of its impending demise. Yet as strong as the regime may be, the Persian ethnic and linguistic element that is at the core of the regime accounts for only half the population of Iran. Throughout its periphery live linguistic and ethnic minorities, including a Kurdish minority in the northwest of the country, which have shown in the past an inclination for autonomy if not a clear desire for independence.
Nevertheless, Iran is in the stronger position because with regard to the Kurdish issue at least, it has a powerful Sunni ally in Turkey. For the Saudis, playing the Kurdish card comes at the great cost of dividing the Sunni camp. The Turks are livid over the Kurdish move. The Egyptian elite, who champion territorial sovereignty because of Egypt's domestic Coptic problem (which has drawn international meddling), is cool if not hostile to Kurdish independence. This leaves Saudi Arabia in a solitary standoff against Iran. The kingdom might have money, but so does Iran - and Iran has many more guns and men to shoot them. In the Middle East, it is usually the guns that count.
The new higher stakes in the Saudi-Iranian conflict have wide implications. For the US, this should mean greater resolve to contain if not punish Iran. For Israeli policy makers, it should bring home that the Middle East is becoming more volatile, dangerous, and unpredictable. Caution is called for, which should include treading very carefully on the Palestinian issue.
Column one: Trump and Obama's third term - By Caroline B. Glick - http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/COLUMN-ONE-Trump-and-Obamas-third-term-506779
The problem is that substantively, there is no real difference between Obama and Trump, not in the Middle East and not anywhere.
In an interview with Walla news site Tuesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that "the more active the US is [in the Middle East], the better it will be for Israel."
On paper, Liberman's sentiments seem reasonable enough. President Donald Trump is far friendlier than his predecessor Barack Obama was. The tone of US-Israel relations has vastly improved since Trump took office.
The problem is that substantively, there is no real difference between the two administrations - not in the Middle East and not anywhere.
Take Iran's nuclear program for example.
In accordance with the US Nuclear Agreement Review Act (2015), on October 15, Trump is obligated to make his quarterly report to Congress certifying or decertifying Iranian compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal it concluded with Obama two years ago.
The issue of whether or not to certify Iranian compliance has been the beginning, middle and end of all US policy discussions on Iran's nuclear program since Trump entered office.
Despite Trump's stated opposition to the deal, his top advisers Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have pressured him into twice certifying Iranian compliance.
On the face of it, the debate about Iranian compliance ought to be about competing interpretations of Iran's behavior. In practice, though, facts play little role in the discourse.
The Iranians announced as soon as the deal was concluded that they would not permit UN inspectors to enter any nuclear site they define as a "military installation."
This hollowed out the entire inspections regime.
After all, if Iran can bar inspectors from its nuclear installations, there is no way for inspectors to know if Iran's nuclear operations accord with or breach of the restrictions it agreed to in the agreement.
In other words, neither Obama nor Trump has had any way to credibly certify Iranian compliance, because the US has no idea what Iran is doing.
And everyone knows this.
Since everyone knows this, the debate about presidential certification of Iranian compliance clearly is not about Iranian compliance.
Instead, the debate has been about one thing only: reality.
Specifically, does reality have a place in US policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran? Because if reality does have a role to play, obviously, Trump cannot certify Iranian compliance.
To date, proponents of barring reality have won the debate. In testimony Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis said that in his opinion, maintaining the nuclear deal is the US interest. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen.
Joseph Dunford told lawmakers that "Iran is not in material breach" of the accord.
According to an AP report Tuesday, national security officials involved in the recertification process now aim to change the Nuclear Agreement Review Act in a manner that would deny Trump the power to determine whether or not Iran is complying with the deal.
According to AP, the issue is being framed as a way to free Trump from the embarrassment of having to certify the deal every three months.
The worst thing about the entire debate about certifying Iranian compliance is not that it is delusional.
It is that it is irrelevant.
Obama's nuclear pact is yesterday's news.
Obama's nuclear deal with Iran gave the Iranians all the benefits up front. In exchange for a handshake, Iran received a $100 billion in cold hard cash and foreign direct investment. The international arms markets opened to them. The international financial markets opened to them.
Non-certification won't bring back the money.
More important than the financial advantages Iran has already won, and will not lose if the US decertifies, is the fact that due to the deal, Iran has had two years to freely advance its nuclear program without meaningful inspections and without sanctions.
And again, while the Iranians have advanced, the US has debated the two-year old deal over and over again as if it matters. This instead of constructing a strategy to block Iran's entrance into the nuclear club.
This brings us to Iran's ally North Korea, which thanks to feckless US policy-makers of previous administrations, is already a member of the nuclear club.
During Mattis's testimony Tuesday he said that despite the fact that he and Trump are threatening to annihilate North Korea and Tillerson is trying to appease North Korea, there is no contradiction in the administration's policy.
Substantively he is right. Since both of the policies being discussed are imaginary, whether the administration talks about military action or diplomacy, its statements are meaningless.
The fact is that unless the US is willing to see tens of thousands of South Koreans vaporized in a North Korean artillery assault on Seoul in response to a US military strike on Pyongyang, the US has no viable military option for dealing with North Korea. Since the Trump administration has given no indication that it is willing to see that sort of destruction in South Korea to achieve the goal of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, its threats to annihilate North Korea are not credible.
As for Tillerson's search for a diplomatic solution, this too is futile. For 24 years, three US administrations reached "historic deal" after "historic deal" with Pyongyang, and Pyongyang breached all of them as it raced to the finishing line of its nuclear weapons program.
Now, with Kim Jung Un testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs and threatening to nuke Guam, there is no chance that US diplomacy will fare any better than it did in the past.
And so the US is back where it has always been. It has one card to play with North Korea: China.
China is the only actor that can end North Korea's nuclear brinkmanship without war. But to compel China to act the US requires far more leverage over the Chinese than it has presently mustered or brought to bear.
So the only way for the US to avert war with North Korea is to escalate its competition with China on America's terms.
Unfortunately, once Trump's senior strategist Stephen Bannon left the White House in August, no senior administration official has been working on building leverage over China.
Back to Iran. As bad as North Korea is, at least it's a Chinese client state. If Trump can make China an offer it can't refuse, he can achieve the US's strategic goals without a devastating war.
Iran on the other hand is no one's client. Iran has its own client states.
And just as the Trump administration is unable to extricate itself from Obama's legacy of delusion and failure with respect to Iran's nuclear weapons program and North Korea, so it cannot - or will not - shift away from Obama's delusional policies toward Iran's client states.
In Syria the Trump administration has maintained Obama's policy of pretending that the most dangerous actor and gravest threat to the US and its interests in Syria is Islamic State.
Although under pressure by Israel, the administration has begun to talk about the threat of Iranian expansionism in Syria, it has no policy for blocking Iran's empowerment. The same is the case with relation to Russia's rise as a regional power broker - at the US's expense - through its deployment in Syria.
As bad as the US's Syria policy is, its Lebanon policy is even worse.
In Syria the US is simply pretending its enemies do not exist, or if they exist, that they do not threaten the US.
In Lebanon, the US is collaborating with its enemies.
In June Liberman told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "Today the Lebanese army is a subsidiary unit of Hezbollah and [Lebanese President] Michel Aoun is another [Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah operative."
Liberman's assertions were not a theory. They were grounded in statements made by Aoun himself and by Lebanese military commanders.
But the Americans will not listen to what the Lebanese say or see what they are doing.
Instead, they remain devoted to their fantasy that the Lebanese government is independent and the Lebanese Armed Forces is not a subsidiary of Hezbollah. In support of this lie, this year the US pledged and delivered the bulk of $100 million worth of sophisticated weapons to the Hezbollah- controlled LAF.
In August, the US delivered eight M1-A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. According to US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard, they were the first of 32 set for delivery by the end of the year. The US had also delivered M-4 assault rifles, howitzers, grenade launchers, machine guns, mortars, hellfire missiles, night vision devices and thermal sight technology to Hezbollah's proxy force.
As Middle East analyst Tony Badran noted, the weapons the US supplied to the LAF "have been on Hezbollah's shopping list consistently for almost a decade."
And the US is not only arming Hezbollah through its surrogate. It is also fighting alongside Hezbollah through its surrogate.
In August, US special forces fought alongside LAF forces to wrest control of the Lebanese border with Syria from Islamic State-associated Sunni militia.
The battle was a joint LAF-Hezbollah operation - commanded by Hezbollah.
Quoting a source "close to Hezbollah and the LAF," Al-Monitor's Nour Samaha wrote, "US Central Command called the Lebanese army chief and asked him to deny any cooperation [with Hezbollah], telling him that while they are aware of cooperation, it has to be denied publicly."
In other words, it isn't that the Pentagon isn't aware it is empowering Hezbollah. It knows what it is doing. It just doesn't want the American public to know what it is doing.
This brings us finally to the Palestinians. On Tuesday Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin was the first senior minister to publicly criticize the Trump administration's policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.
Elkin told Yediot Aharonot that despite the friendly tone of administration officials and the fruitful cooperation Israel enjoys with the administration on a host of other issues, on the issue of Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria, "they are walking on the same path as the Obama administration."
The same of course can be said of the Trump administration's policy toward Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. No matter how open PA President Mahmoud Abbas is about his cooperation with Hamas and no matter how many hundreds of millions of dollars he transfers to the bank accounts of terrorists, the Trump administration continues to treat Abbas and the PA as moderates and peace partners. Even worse, the administration is coercing Israel to do the same.
No matter where you look around the globe, in the Middle East, in Asia, in South America and in Europe, you see the same thing. The Trump administration has changed America's tone in foreign affairs.
But substantively, there has been little change.
Trump may be the anti-Obama. But his policies indicate that all the same, he is the second Obama.
9 Fulfillment's Of Paul Harvey's 'If I Were The Devil: How To Destroy America" - By Lt. Col. James Zumwalt -
The late Paul Harvey was a conservative talk-radio pioneer. He intrigued listeners by beginning a story, stopping to take a commercial break and returning with his trademark line, now for "the rest of the story." Usually, the rest of that story held a surprise ending. His niche was not necessarily to preach as much as it was to educate through storytelling, often sharing the "mysteries of history" to make a point.
When Harvey did don his commentary hat, it usually was to voice concerns about America's deterioration. One of his best-known broadcasts was a 1964 soliloquy on the decline of American moralism aptly titled "If I Were the Devil: How to Destroy America."
WATCH - LISTEN - If I were the devil ~ Paul Harvey: https://youtu.be/4rysHrMClDE
In it, Harvey said, as the devil, he would seek to manipulate those institutions that had made America great - the churches, the schools, the media, etc. He would prey upon the minds of the young, steering them away from faith and discipline and toward a "do as you please" mindset - nurtured by alcohol and drugs and fanned by a "mesmerizing" media interested only in higher ratings.
The ultimate goal of Harvey's devil was to divide Americans, causing them to turn upon themselves. How goes America would then go the rest of the world - for its collapse would be the linchpin in the devil's pursuit of global conquest.
Ten years before his 2009 death, Harvey - even more worried than in 1964 - published his soliloquy as a written commentary with only a few changes. Despite Americans' euphoria over having won the Cold War, the intervening three and a half decades that had passed since his broadcast had only further convinced Harvey America's moral compass was badly broken.
What Harvey first grasped more than a half century earlier, most Americans, like the lobster placed in cool water before being heated up so as to not realize what lay ahead, had not. Now, eight years after Harvey's death, the devil's work in destroying America is more apparent than ever.
Let us briefly examine the relevancy today of some of Harvey's concerns.
In 2017, church membership in America remains in a steady decline as the church lingers in a state of cultural irrelevancy. Estimates are that half of all Americans have no church affiliation. Statistics show for every 1,000 churches opening their doors, 4,000 are closing theirs. America now ranks third among those countries with the largest number of Christians not affiliated with a church.
As to education, Harvey foresaw where it was heading. "If I were the devil," he said, "I would encourage schools to refine young intellect but neglect to discipline emotions. I'd tell teachers to let those students run wild. And before you knew it, you'd have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door."
Harvey was right. However, one observation he would fail to make was the moral morass into which many of those responsible for educating our children - their teachers - also would fall.
It is unconscionable some teachers, professors and school administrators have endeavored to impose their own political extremist and negative ideas upon malleable young minds endeavoring to grasp the values that once made this country great. Some of the mental giants to whom our young students have been entrusted include:
The bottom line of these various factors has been the divisiveness Paul Harvey feared. It happens, in part, because the values that once made America great have been lost in the fog of debates often defying logic and the boundaries of mutual respect. Instead, debates are fueled by the undisciplined emotion Harvey foresaw decades ago that would descend upon us.
Unfortunately, we have met the devil and he is us.
Hope for when we fall -- and fall big - Greg Laurie -
Pastor Greg Laurie notes, 'God cannot forgive the sin that you will not confess'
King David had been ruling Israel for 20 years when the downward spiral began. He had gone from victory to victory. He had distinguished himself in many ways: man of God, skilled musician, gifted poet, wise and compassionate ruler and a man of great courage. He was on a roll. And that's when temptation hit.
When David was facing Goliath, he was trusting in the Lord. When David was running from Saul, he was calling out to God. When he was anointed as Israel's king and ascended the throne, he prayed for God's help. But 20 years had gone by, and David was kicking back, taking a spiritual vacation. His heart was slowly but surely turning away from God.
God had warned Israel that their kings were never to take concubines (see Deuteronomy 17:16-17). Why? Because their hearts would turn away. That is what was happening to David. He was being consumed by lust. The problems is that you don't feed lust; you starve it. David had been feeding his lust with concubines, and one thing was leading to another.
One warm spring night when the soldiers went to war, David went to bed. He was in bed when he should've been in battle. He was staying up late, sleeping in and being physically and spiritually lazy. And then he saw the beautiful Bathsheba, who was bathing herself on a rooftop, and he immediately wanted to know who she was.
Someone told him, "She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite" (2 Samuel 11:3 NLT). In other words, "She's married and you're married, so forget about it." Sometimes other people have a better sense of what we're doing than we have. The messenger knew David was a womanizer. And he knew what David saw. God was putting up a roadblock in David's life to keep him from sinning.
In the same way, God puts up roadblocks in our lives. When we try to do something wrong, God doesn't make it easy for us; he makes it difficult. That's why I think it's so ridiculous when someone claims they just fell into adultery, kind of like tripping over a rug. They didn't fall into anything; they planned it, plotted it, and executed it. They had to jump through a lot of hoops to end up in that situation.
That's what David did. He went for it. Then Bathsheba sent word that she was pregnant. He was in a mess of a situation. But David wasn't coming clean. Instead, he had an idea. He thought, "I'll bring back Uriah from the battle to go spend the night with his wife. He'll think it's his child, not mine." So he gave the order, and Uriah was brought back from the battlefield and sent to his home.
Uriah, however, couldn't bear the thought of being with his wife while his fellow soldiers were still on the front lines. So he slept outside his house the first night. The next night, David got him drunk and then sent him home. Still, Uriah would not sleep with his wife.
Yet David wouldn't give up. He ordered his general to send a charge against the enemy and then have everyone fall back, leaving Uriah on his own. As a result, Uriah was killed in battle, and word came back that Uriah was dead.
Then we read, "The Lord was displeased with what David had done" (2 Samuel 11:27 NLT). David married Bathsheba and thought no one would ever know. Despite this, he was miserable. Someone who is really a man or woman of God will live in guilt when they're sinning. They eventually will get right with God. And that is what David did. He was still the man after God's own heart.
In the aftermath he wrote, "Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!" (Psalm 32:1 NLT)
For 12 months David had fought the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He wasn't experiencing God's presence as he had before. Was he still in a relationship with God? Yes. Was he in fellowship with God? No.
When your children disobey you and disappoint you, are they still your children? Yes they are. Are they in a good relationship with you at the moment? Probably not. That is where David was. But he repented.
God forgave David, but David still faced repercussions for his sins. He saw it played out in the lives of his children. His sons and daughters behaved badly. They rebelled against him, and they did some of the very things he himself did. He lost a lot of moral authority. Yet he was forgiven by God and made his way into the Messianic line.
David's genealogy is the most exclusive in human history. And who else made it into that genealogy? Bathsheba. That's called the grace of God. God gives second chances. Yes, David fell, and he fell big. But he came back strong.
We have ups and downs in our lives, but the Christian life should not be up and down. Rather, the Christian life should be in and out: in for worship and out for service. Jesus said, "I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures" (John 10:9 NLT). We come in and find pasture. We get refueled. We get perspective. Then we go out into the world to be world changers.
However, the only way you're going to be a world changer is if your world is changed first. God cannot forgive the sin that you will not confess. David could have lived in sin. David could have ended in sin. But he came back to the Lord.
The Bible says, "If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:9 NLT). Jesus died for me, and he died for you. He rose from the dead three days later and is ready to come into your life, if you would like him to. You can be forgiven of your sin.
Daily Jot: Soft tyranny and today's society - Bill Wilson -
In today's society, do you ever feel that you should not speak your mind because you will be labeled something you are not? Do you ever feel like you have an opinion and yet uneasy about expressing it? Do you think that as a Christian, it is better to not express your views on morality in public forums? Have you felt any kind of reservation about what you do and say could be listened to by the government, so you watch your words? Are there just certain issues that you don't talk about much anymore because the response is so visceral and examples have been made of those who say something? Do you feel your free speech is OK so long as you keep it to yourself? It's selective free speech. It's soft tyranny.
Alexis de Tocqueville defines soft tyranny in his book Democracy in America, Volume II (1840): "It [the government] covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence: it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd."
If you are afraid to speak your mind because of the consequences of perhaps losing your job, your livelihood, or that it may invite some government investigation or ruination, you are experiencing soft tyranny. Galatians 5:1 says, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." A free people can only exist by adhering to the precepts of God. Bondage is bondage, whether it is sin or tyranny. We live in a society where a very vocal minority is bullying your Constitutional rights. Moreover, eternally these people face great peril. Isaiah 5:20 says, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness..."
We must speak boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel. Even though many respond with hatred and accuse you based on the very intents of their own hearts, they will not know the truth unless someone tells them. We would not know sin had we not known the laws of God. Don't be a victim of soft tyranny. Right is greater than might. As Ephesians 6:12-13 says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Soft tyranny is evil. Stand against it.
Daily Devotion: Pray and Let God Worry - By Greg Laurie -
"Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" -Matthew 6:27
We have a little bird feeder in our backyard. I keep it filled with birdseed, and the birds know breakfast will be there. They cruise in and eat the seed, or they get the seeds off the ground or the vegetation.
Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount in the region of Galilee, where all around Him were birds chirping away and beautiful wildflowers growing. He drew on that backdrop to make a point: "Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" (Matthew 6:26-27).
In other words, look at what is before your eyes. Have you ever seen a stressed-out bird? Birds wake up every morning and sing away. They're simply happy. No bird has ever been promised eternal life. No bird has ever been given the hope of Heaven. Yet they sing away, every day. Jesus wasn't saying that birds sit by idly and wait for the food to come to them. They take action.
I like what Martin Luther said: "Pray and let God worry." That is really the secret. Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
The next time you are gripped by fear and worry, the next time you start thinking, "What if this happens? What if that happens?" turn it into a prayer. Look to the Lord and let Him give you His peace.
FROM THE HEART
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