Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Rewards at the Rapture and the Great White Throne Judgement - by Pastor Mike Taylor -
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.." (1st Corinthians 3:10-15)
How is Christianity different from all other man-made religions? Being a Christian is the only hope for the believer that after we die, we gain what we can only imagine in this life. It's not like the Muslim who fears a non-existent god whose only call is for them to die a martyr for "allah". Or the Buddhist who believes in a long dead philosopher that is only good for this life and attempt to live morally. For the Christian, to die is to gain....everything.
9 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1st Corinthians 2:9)
As one who has put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, by grace through faith, I have sat and meditated on what it will be like when Jesus comes for His church and we are forever with the Lord. You know what? I can't even imagine what it will be like. I can only feel in my spirit that it will be thousands of times greater than whatever we can achieve in this life. This life is but a warm up for the next one (the one that counts).
Everyone of us want to go to heaven, as this earth is nothing but sin and misery. Oh, God gives us the things that are necessary to endure the years we have on this earth, so we can work for Him, and He knows what we need to endure this life. But we are but pilgrims in a land that is not our home. We search for a home not built with hands, but is waiting for us, as Jesus will bring us to His Father's House and where our mansions are being made right now.
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." (John 14:1-4)
But the rub of the point is we will cling to this life with both hands until the very last second, as we pray for long life even if we acknowledge the joy that we want to go home. It is bred into our DNA that is called the sympathetic nervous system, or "fight or flight" to preserve life. Even though we know the next life is by far better than the one we now live, we fight to live a long life. God gave us a commandment that our days would be long on this earth:
"Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." (Ephesians 6:2-3)
With what has been said, it appears quite contradictory. The promise is that we will live a long life upon the earth by honoring our father and mother in this life. Knowing our doctrine of to "die is gain" it would seem illogical to reward believers with a long life on this earth.
As the old saying goes, "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." Atheists are quick to point out the seeming inconsistency to that position as 'evidence' that our faith, no matter how staunchly we might defend it, is really just a sham, like whistling past the graveyard.
I have a brother in law that is a self proclaimed atheist, that believes that this life is all there is, and that the whole heaven and hell thing is nothing but a fairy tale, because as he says, "everybody dies", which Karl Marx called the "opiate of the masses" to give some type of meaning for the inevitable of a person dying. Or so my brother in law points out.
The contradiction is in my brother in laws mind, if heaven was real, wouldn't all of us be standing at the cliff waiting for our chance to jump? Of course, his argument is deliberately misleading, as the argument forgets the obvious of what we mentioned what is ingrained into our DNA...but the Christian doesn't fear death, but the getting there is what nobody wants to speak of. I have no FEAR of being dead, because I know of whom I have believed.
"I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
But being dead is far different that getting dead. The fear anyone has is getting there, than it is of BEING there.
So the promise given by God that "my days be long upon the earth" is attractive to the mortal flesh, because none of us are eager or looking forward to the jumping off point, even though we long to be clothed with immortality.
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked." ( 2nd Corinthians 5:1-3)
No one wants to die prematurely, that is before the fullness of days for one's chances to do what is right will have all been used up. Someday, I will stand before my Lord Jesus Christ and be rewarded for what I have accomplished in this life, for HIM, not for myself. None of us know how much time we have left, so we should not waste a moment, as I know within myself of what I have wasted already, so I can't afford to spare another second for anything but the glory of God.
WE ARE GIVEN TALENTS.
While a Christian in this life expects to go to heaven when they die, speaking for myself, I would hate to show up at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ alone, with no fruit to show for my existence.
Jesus spoke of this very thing of three servants to bring the point home for the disciples and those who were listening to His sermon that day.
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey." (Matthew 25:15-16)
There is an eternal truth that is often overlooked in this parable that Jesus spoke of. In the ancient times, a talent was a measure of gold. It is not in reference to "talents" like singing or playing a musical instrument, although they are worthy to be given to the Glory of God in church services, but what is the most precious item that God imparts to His children that is worth much gold in His eyes? To me, the one thing that is most precious to God our Father, is His Word. It is what God is about. His Word will not come back to Him void.
10 "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Each of us are given a portion of God's Word to share with the world. The parable of the nobleman, which is synonymous with God our Father, "gives each of us" talents of His Word that He gives us to understand, discern and expects each of us to share it with the lost of this world. Those abilities to witness, to preach, to minister, and to tend to the widow and the orphans of this world are given as God sees fit to allow service within this earth and bring us to the Kingdom of God as Kings and Priest to God. That is not only for your local pastor, but for each individual that looks to Jesus for Salvation.
"Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two." (Matthew 25:17)
Note that the servant that was given the most produced the most. But then we turn our attention to the end of the parable where the unprofitable servant hid His Master's talents in the ground.
"But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money." (Matthew 25:18)
The parable shows that two of the Lord's servants invested their Lord's money (His talent, His Word) so that when the Lord returns He receives what is His with interest. What interest? The sharing of the Word of God to bring lost souls to repentance. We may only be planting seeds, and another waters, but the Holy Spirit gives the increase. Note the first two servants are rewarded handsomely and were commended on their service:
20 "And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."( Matthew 25:21-23)
But what of the unprofitable servant? The reward is much different than for the first two servants.
24 "Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."(Matthew 25:24-30)
The Lord orders that the unprofitable servant be stripped of what what he has and give it to the servant who produced the most, and to be cast into outer darkness, " where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth".
These verses are often used to 'prove' a believer can lose his salvation, but it only works by taking the verses out of context.
In context, Jesus is teaching concerning the fate of the "nations"on the last day, not that of individual believers, as the next verses make clear.
32 "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:" (Matthew 25:32-34)
As you read further into the chapter, those things that have been done to the least of their brethren, so has it been done to Jesus Christ. This is in direct reference of those who have ministered to His people, (the Jewish brethren) during the Tribulation and have protected them in peril even for their own life. But those who treated them harshly or gave them up to the coming beast power will be sorely punished, as they have not really had the Spirit of our Lord within them, but only professed an empty religiousity of empty rituals that most likely could refer to the One World Religion and those who will be led astray by the coming False Prophet.
But, while the unprofitable servant story is ultimately referring to the separation into the 'sheep' and 'goat' nations in the last day, it also gives some insight into what the Lord expects us to do with the "talents" He gave each of us right now, in our time before the coming HARPAZO or the forceful removal of the Church, we know as the rapture.
The Bema Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ
As spoken of, we are given certain "talents" from the Lord and He expects us to give Him "His own with usary"---That is to say that our Lord expects us to show up at the judgment seat of Christ with more than just ourselves. Note this is not a judgment as the coming "White Throne Judgment" at the end of the Age of Mankind, but this is a "reward" banquet to give each of those who have accepted Jesus as Personal Savior, rewards and benefits that is given to those who have used their abilities to win souls for Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul likens a believer to a building set on the foundation of Jesus Christ and says that it is, from then on, up to us to build upon it.
10 "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1st Corinthians 3:10-11)
Each of us will be given rewards for what is built upon this foundation, which is Christ the Lord. We are free to build whatever on this foundation with building materials of our own choosing, or eternal security is based upon this foundation, not our subsequent construction efforts.
12 "Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (1st Corinthians 3:12-13)
Each work we perform that is built upon the Foundation of Jesus Christ will be tested to see what sort of work it is....those that have used silver, gold or precious stones will receive a reward, as they will last. But not those of wood, hay, or stubble as each will be tested with the Fire of God.
This is the believer's judgment and you can loose rewards for lazy service much like the unprofitable servant, but you cannot loose you salvation, or that has been guaranteed from the foundation of the world as an earnest deposit of our future glorification.
When the apostle Paul wrote this epistle, the judge of the Olympic games would sit at the finish line and his job was to determine the position of each runner when they finished the race. He would decide who was first, second, third and so on, for the purpose of rewarding medals according to placement, just as we do in our modern Olympics.
This conveys a singularly important truth. EVERYBODY that makes it past the Bema Seat FINISHED the race. The Bema Seat is where the Judge awards the medals based on performance. And as Paul told us in verse 13 above, our work will be tested by fire. But each person will be saved, "as through the fire". Because each one standing belong to Christ, their reward will be based on service to God, but even the lazy Christian with God's Holy Spirit residing, will come through the fire with salvation intact, excluding rewards.
"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is."
You can't get to the Bema Seat of Christ on intellectual "head knowledge" of Jesus, as even Satan and the demons believe and they are not saints. Believing is not enough.
19" Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:19-20)
Head knowledge must become heart knowledge, that those who by faith have repented of their sinful condition, changed their mind about God, and do a total 180 degree turn around and follow Jesus Christ in His footsteps and have accepted the Free Pardon secured for them at the Cross at Calvary.
And, as we've seen, repentance ALWAYS results in a changed life, but a changed life isn't the same thing as a life of sinless perfection.
Individuals are redeemed or condemned according to the single criteria of either accepting or rejecting Christ.
I don't know about you, but speaking for myself only, I only want to hear those words by my Lord Jesus when I stand before Him, and hear Him say, "well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of they Lord"...Anything else the Lord gives me will be icing on the cake, whether a crown of righteousness, or being a King and a Priest and ruling many cities, or being a teacher of righteousness to point others to salvation, it all comes down to doing the will of God and being praised for a "job well done". I pray that my Lord is pleased with me.
GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT
We have been speaking of a coming judgment at the Bema Judgment seat of Christ that is a reward for service for those who have followed our Lord in faith believing on Him as our Savior, and doing what each of us are able to do while in our mortal state by following His commands and doing His will.
But there is coming another judgment of those who have not accepted Jesus as Personal Savior of their lives. This will come when the element of time is abolished and the rule of mankind is over and just before eternity begins that all nations left will be gathered together to stand before the Judge of all the earth to be condemned.
11 "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." (Revelation 20:11-13)
The books that will be opened are, I believe, the books of your Bible, that saves or condemns each man or woman. Each of these are given immortal bodies, just as the Church was given to receive a glorious future of immortality and live eternally in God's presence. But those who stand before God, Jesus Christ our Lord, who has been given the right to judge the nations by God our Father, will examine each person and run His finger down the ledger of the Book of Life to look for YOUR name. There is only one way that your NAME will be found and that is sometime in the past you were offered the the grace and mercy of God through the finished work of Christ dying on the Cross at Calvary and shed His blood for all mankind.
Every person ever born that has rejected the Free Gift of eternal life through accepting Jesus as Lord of their life, now stands before the Supreme Judge of all mankind to have the formality of being found still in their sins and not forgiven in the life they lived while on earth. Their own righteousness was not enough. Their own good deeds and doing their own will is not good enough, because in the final analysis, our righteousness are worthless before God.
5" Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities." (Isaiah 64:5-7)
Those that God saved were clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but here those that stand here are clothed in their own righteousness, as the interpretation of ours being as filthy rags, is equated to a woman's used menstrual cloth (a very unclean thing because of unforgiven sin).
God will not allow sin to be in His presence and the only way to stand before God Almighty is through the sacrifice of His Son. No one standing here will be able to make an excuse, given a second chance, or be allowed into Heaven's glory, but will receive the ultimate punishment for their rejection of the only payment for their sins, Jesus Christ, Him crucified and resurrected who is now YOUR Judge.
13 "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:13-15)
WHERE ARE YOU IN THIS LIFE?
The aforementioned long life, is for the Christian a chance to do more for God and bear fruit worthy of repentance. Every morning is a second chance to do the right thing in the eyes of God and to invest the "talents" we have been given so that we may return to God what is His plus interest, or lost souls reached for God.
One day, you and I will stand before the Judge of all the earth. Some will stand before the Bema Judgment Seat to receive rewards for service of a well lived life found in Jesus Christ that bore fruit for our King Jesus. Others will stand before the Great White Throne where they will be judged according to their own works done in their own behalf and to receive the "ultimate reward" or penalty for their own self righteousness.
Where one stands in those days of judgment depends on a simple act of repentance receiving the grace and mercy through God our Father, based on the sacrifice of His only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ. Will you use your talents that God has given you for your own selfish interest, or will you use the talents that God gives you to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God? Will you humble yourself and cry out to God for mercy and to ask Him to save you?
16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)
Then because of God's grace and love reach out to others and witness to them of the love you have found in God building rewards that will be given to those who bring the love of God to others. The Bema Judgment Seat will be coming for those who have found the truth of the above verses and proclaim that Truth to all who enter your life.
8 "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:8-13)
The alternative is beyond anyone's comprehension of what will come to those who reject God's Love and are not found with their name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. No one would want to endure what those who are thrown away from God's presence in outer darkness where the fire is not quenched, the worm dieth not, and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Choose you this day where your eternal destiny lies. A hope of life of glory, or a life in eternity filled with torment and suffering.
21 "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." (Jude 1:21-25)
This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying for your salvation and being standing there with me there at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ and avoiding the Great White Throne condemnation. I pray for my brother in law. If you need prayer, counseling, or just a listening ear, email me email@example.com, . God bless you all,
TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEE
Iran's Next Move: Arms Transfers to South America?
- by Joseph M. Humire - https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/16643/iran-weapons-south-america
By the end of October, the security landscape in South America could change, with the Islamic Republic of Iran setting up arms sales in South America, from Venezuela to Bolivia. But first, any of these three things must happen:
1. The United Nations would have to ignore its security council resolutions and effectively let the decades-old Iran arms embargo expire on October 18.
2. Evo Morales' political party Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) in Bolivia would have to win the presidential elections, set for the same date (October 18).
3. Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro regime would need to initiate a potential weapons transfer from Tehran, as reported in late August by Colombian President Ivan Duque.
In August, President Duque, speaking at a virtual event, claimed that the Maduro regime in Venezuela was looking to acquire medium-to-long-range missiles from Iran. President Maduro initially responded by denying these claims, then said, "It's not a bad idea" and ordered his defense minister to look into the deal.
More than fuel shipments
To understand the context of this claim by Colombia, it is important to understand the recent developments between Venezuela and Iran. Starting in late May, Iran, in what appears to be a gold-for-gas scheme, repeatedly sent gasoline shipments to the fuel-starved Maduro regime in Venezuela. Last week, the second round of tankers from Iran, carrying an estimated 820,000 barrels of gasoline, arrived in Venezuela.
Despite having the world's largest reserves of petroleum, Venezuela's state-owned oil enterprise, PDVSA, cannot refine its heavy crude due to years of bad investments and a lack of maintenance that ended up plundering the country's refining capabilities. One year ago, for instance, PDVSA's state-owned refining network produced 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of fuel for domestic consumption. This past March, PDVSA barely produced more than 7,000 bpd of gasoline, causing long lines of vehicles at Venezuelan gas stations and basically bringing commerce to a halt.
Importing fuel is not that easy for Venezuela: PDVSA is under US sanctions; some of its main trading partners -- Spain, Italy, and Russia -- do not want to risk doing business with it and getting sanctioned themselves. Earlier this year, Russia actually withdrew Rosneft from Venezuela after the U.S. sanctioned some of its sub-units.
This is where Iran enters the picture.
Starting on April 21, 2020, a series of 17 flights flown by Mahan Air, the preferred airline of Iran's dominant militia, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), touched down at Punto Fijo, near the Amuay Refining Complex on the Paraguana Peninsula. China provided the parts, Iran the technicians, and Venezuela's newly minted oil minister, Tareck El Aissami, dispatched one of his top lieutenants to Iran -- a Lebanese-Colombian businessman, Alex Saab -- to work out Iran's reported gold-for-gas scheme. Saab is now being detained in Cape Verde pending possible extradition to the U.S. on eight counts of money laundering.
Months later, the refineries on the Paraguana Peninsula still are not operating, and Venezuela is facing fuel shortages yet again. According to Bloomberg, Iran nevertheless received almost half a billion dollars' worth of gold bullion as payment. While gasoline is needed in Venezuela, the fuel shipments from Iran are likely an excuse to operationalize its once latent IRGC network in the country.
In July, a civil forfeiture complaint by the US Department of Justice claimed that the IRGC controlled the fuel shipments to Venezuela through an Iranian businessman with ties to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Aside from the five Iranian-flagged tankers that arrived in Venezuela in the summer, another four Liberian-flagged tankers from Iran en route to Venezuela were detained off the coast of West Africa. The US Department of Justice seized a reported 1.1 million barrels of gasoline on the tankers, as well as websites of the Iranian front companies used in the fuel shipment. The interception was labeled the "largest U.S. seizure of Iranian fuel" to date.
The dual-use nature of Iran's "commercial" entities involved in this alleged gold-for-gas scheme -- namely the NIOC, Mahan Air, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), as well as others -- are all sanctioned by the US for helping Iran's strategic weapons programs. Accordingly, the US Treasury's 2017 sanctions on Maduro were updated in September 2020 to include his cooperation with Iran.
Covert military cooperation
For the last 14 years, Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) has worked with Venezuela's Company of Military Industries (CAVIM) to set up the IRGC's footprint in the country. On the surface, this cooperation included designing Venezuelan unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), constructing ammunition-manufacturing plants, refurbishing jet engines, and trading parts for fighter jets and helicopters. Yet, most of these joint military projects had irregularities, such as being overvalued, under-delivered, and experiencing unusual delays, suggesting that they might have a purpose beyond the overt defense cooperation between the two countries.
Beneath the surface, it appears that Iran used these joint military projects with Venezuela to erect a covert procurement and acquisition network in Latin America. The network was seemingly aimed at amassing prohibited parts, minerals, metals, and technology for Iran's strategic weapons programs. These procurements included sensitive items banned by the UN arms embargo -- for instance missile parts and strategic minerals -- while using cutouts and front companies in Latin America.
According to the #FinCENFiles, a massive leak of documents from the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a Chinese businessman, Cheng Mingfu, between 2010-2015, was allegedly helping finance a secret missile program in Iran from his home base in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. Mingfu was sanctioned in 2016 by Treasury's OFAC for his business with Navid Composite Material Company, an Iranian company that, since 2013, has been sanctioned for its involvement in Iran's covert procurement of weapons components. Navid Composite is part of Iran's defense logistics agency, the MODAFL, which oversees Iran's missile production.
From 2006-2013, the MODAFL's main acquisition arm for Iranian rocket fuel, the Defense Industries Organization (DIO), had a subsidiary in Venezuela, Parchin Chemical Industries (PCI), which was ostensibly helping CAVIM produce ball powder for its growing supply of small arms from Russia. Located along the northern Caribbean coast of Venezuela, in a small town called Morón, Iranian petrochemical engineers routinely arrived to work with the Venezuelan petrochemical company Pequiven, a subsidiary of Venezuela's oil conglomerate, PDVSA.
At the time, PCI was sanctioned by the US, Germany, the UK, Japan, and was listed in the annex to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747, as one of the "entities involved in [Iran's] nuclear and ballistic missile activities."
The covert objective of PCI in Venezuela is not clear; however, the fact that a MODAFL front company involved in Iran's missile programs was operating for several years in a remote town off the Caribbean coast of Venezuela, should be cause for concern.
A Venezuelan general, Aref Richany Jimenez, was in charge of this project while also he served in a unique dual billet at the helm of Venezuela's military industry and as the director of external relations for PDVSA. This dual billet, between CAVIM and PDVSA, blended Iran's and Venezuela's energy and military cooperation while shielding financial transactions through China. That arrangement led to US sanctions on both PDVSA in 2011 and CAVIM in 2013, but, more importantly, served as a precursor for the Iranian fuel shipments now being sent to Venezuela. While these fuel shipments appear to have a humanitarian or commercial intent they seem to have militaristic future.
The air bridge
In April 2019, when Mahan Air flew for the first time from Iran to Venezuela, some analysts dubbed the flight the return of "Aeroterror," a reference to a shared flight from years past between Venezuela's state-owned airline, Conviasa, and Iran Air, the national airline of the Islamic Republic. From 2007-2010, the infamous route between Caracas-Damascus-Tehran reportedly shuttled illicit products and people between Venezuela and the Middle East through a bi-weekly flight. Without much commercial value, the flight lost more than $30 million in its first three years of operation. It was, however, subsidized by Venezuela's Mining Ministry -- a hint at the strategic purpose of the flight.
All the same, the 27-year-old, long-range, wide-body commercial aircraft used by Conviasa for "Aeroterror" became well-known in regional counterterrorism circles, who were meticulously tracking tail number YV1004. In February 2020, Conviasa YV1004 showed up in Uruguay, Panama, and Nicaragua, before returning to Venezuela, then back to Iran. According to the manifest, the Airbus 340 that was used to jet across Latin America in February was flown by former Iranian air force pilots belonging to Mahan Air.
The journey means that Iranian pilots were already on the move in Latin America, through state-owned Venezuelan planes, months before Mahan Air began its official flights to Caracas and Punto Fijo in April 2020. While most attention earlier this year was on Mahan Air flights from Iran to Venezuela, the Conviasa flights have been moving regularly between Iran, Syria, Europe, and Central and South America.
In February 2020, the US Treasury Department's OFAC sanctioned the airplane YV1004 along with the entire fleet of Conviasa aircraft. OFAC reported that "the Maduro regime has commandeered Conviasa's aircraft to promote its own political agenda, including shuttling regime officials to countries such as North Korea, Cuba, and Iran." Nonetheless, "Aeroterror" continues to take to the skies. In March 2020, Conviasa YV1004 restarted direct flights to Syria priced at $1,700, well above what most Venezuelans could afford. The plane also flew humanitarian flights from Mexico, and this year began flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina, although these have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bolivia, between Iran and Venezuela
One of Maduro's closest allies in South America, Evo Morales, the former president of Bolivia who resigned last November, is also a close ally of Iran. The Iran-Bolivia nexus is a lesser-known, but equally important aspect of Iran's outreach to Latin America. Throughout Morales' 14-year tenure as president of Bolivia, Iran made strong overtures to court the Andean country into its geopolitical orbit.
Beginning in 2007 with a strategic framework agreement, Iran and Bolivia quickly established formal ties. In five years, the two countries signed several joint natural resource and mineral extraction projects, engaged in technical and diplomatic exchanges, started anti-narcotics cooperation, and constructed embassies in their capitals, Tehran and La Paz. The Spanish daily El País reported in 2012 that Bolivia had at least 145 registered Iranian diplomats in the country.
Like Venezuela, Iran's formal cooperation with Bolivia has a dual-use component that raises suspicion for potential covert activity.
In July 2019, Morales hosted his final formal delegation from Iran. The group included no less a figure then Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif. Among the notable agreements signed, was the transfer to Bolivia of Iranian nanotechnology. Iranian engineers have been working for more than a decade, with help from China, to boost Iran's nanotechnology sector, which supposedly exports to 45 countries. It is a business that has raised alarms for some technical experts, worried about nanotechnology's military applications.
Iran's Defense Minister, General Amir Hatami, stated last year that nanotechnology has helped to boost his country's military power: "Nanotechnology has a major impact on the further development of defense systems."
That development causes one to question if Iran were using its commercial and technology cooperation with Bolivia to set up future arms transfers, as it is doing in Venezuela. If so, the resignation last year of its preferred partner in Bolivia, Evo Morales, surely stalled this effort. With the Bolivian election less than a week away, however, and on the same date as the expiration of the UN arms embargo -- October 18 -- there is a chance that Iran could restart its strategic cooperation with Bolivia if Morales' political party, the MAS, returns to power.
A new security challenge for the Americas
The dual-use nature of Iran's cooperation with the Maduro regime in Venezuela, coupled with the possible proliferation from Mexico to Bolivia and beyond, presents a unique set of problems for regional security officials in Latin America.
For casual observers, the ramped-up presence in Venezuela this year will seem as if Iran's recent activities are a product of America's "maximum pressure" campaign against both countries. To informed analysts, however, it is clear that Iran has gradually built up the IRGC's presence and capabilities in the region for almost 20 years -- while using commercial and energy contracts, military-industrial cooperation, high-technology transfers, and other Iranian niche industries to cover its tracks.
Given that October 18, 2020, has been on the calendar since the Iranian nuclear deal was signed in 2015, Iran knew it had five years to strengthen its asymmetric capabilities in Latin America before the arms embargo expired. That way, it could legitimize its military presence while maintaining its covert activity in Latin America. Come October 18, the Iran-Latin America problem could become more complex if any of three situations -- lifting the UN arms embargo, a Morales-MAS electoral victory in Bolivia, or a missile transfer to Maduro in Venezuela -- comes to pass.
Are the big social media companies literally trying to determine who wins the presidential election? - by Michael Snyder - http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/are-the-big-social-media-companies-literally-trying-to-determine-who-wins-the-presidential-election
In 2016, the big social media companies were criticized for allowing others to influence the outcome of the election, but in 2020 the big social media companies are directly interfering in the election more than anyone else is by a very wide margin. They insist that they have a duty to prevent the flow of "harmful information", but whenever they act it always seems to help Democrats and hurt Republicans. It has become obvious that Facebook, Twitter and other large social media companies are trying to help Democrats win, and that is especially true when it comes to the presidential election. No matter what you think of Joe Biden and no matter what you think of Donald Trump, all Americans should want the election to be fair. Unfortunately, the big social media companies have discovered that they have the ability to sway public opinion on a massive scale, and this is the first election in which they are really flexing those muscles. But if we allow those that control the levers of power on the Internet to determine the outcomes of our elections from now on, our system is doomed and the American experiment will be over.
On Thursday, the New York Post published a bombshell article about Hunter Biden that included some really shocking new revelations. As soon as I read the article I recognized that it was very newsworthy and I immediately linked to it on The Most Important News, and other conservative websites did the same thing.
Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter were working aggressively to limit the spread of the article...
Facebook and Twitter took steps on Wednesday to limit the spread of a controversial New York Post article critical of Joe Biden, sparking outrage among conservatives and stoking debate over how social media platforms should tackle misinformation ahead of the US election.
In an unprecedented step against a major news publication, Twitter blocked users from posting links to the Post story or photos from the unconfirmed report. Users attempting to share the story were shown a notice saying: "We can't complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful."
If Facebook and Twitter had taken similar steps when stuff was leaked about Trump over the years, we could forgive them for this sort of censorship.
But no matter where the leaks come from, and no matter how sketchy the sources are, the big social media companies always allow questionable stories about Trump to spread like wildfire.
They only step in when a story is going to be "harmful" to Biden, and that is fundamentally unfair.
In addition to preventing the spread of the story, Twitter actually decided to lock the New York Post out of their entire account.
When White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted about this story, they locked her account too.
20 years ago, it would have been unthinkable for someone to try to censor White House officials, but now it is happening on a regular basis.
Prominent conservatives like James Woods and Jack Posobiec were also locked out of their accounts by Twitter, and if you try to tweet any of the primary material mentioned in the New York Post story you might get locked out of your account too.
But anything goes when it comes to Trump. You can say anything you like and spread any sort of wild rumors that you wish, and they will never do anything to you.
Republicans in the Senate such as Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz were absolutely furious when they realized what Facebook and Twitter were doing, and they demanded answers.
Unfortunately, Facebook and Twitter are not backing down.
And why should they? They have been getting away with censoring political speech for years.
Earlier this month, conservative host Mark Levin was absolutely outraged when Facebook decided to shadowban his account in the middle of election season...
Facebook has just sent us this message. It's a clear effort at censorship. Every link I post is from a legitimate source. But because so many people are seeing what I'm posting and we're within weeks of the election it's clear that Facebook is trying to influence the election's outcome. It's also clear Facebook is pushing a leftwing agenda.
Why don't we ever hear about liberal voices getting censored like this?
Even more alarming is the fact that some Republican candidates for Congress are not being allowed to buy ads for their campaigns at all. Aja Smith is an African-American conservative running in California's 41st Congressional District, and Facebook has completely banned her from running political advertisements...
Just tried to run a FB ad to promote my FB page and it told me I cannot run political ads or promote my page! I am shadow-banned on Twitter now FB is giving me a hard time.
And other Republican candidates in California also report that they have been shadowbanned by the big social media companies...
Buzz Patterson, candidate for California's 7th Congressional District told the Globe he and his campaign have been censored and noticed shadow banning. Patterson has 114,100 Twitter followers, but few retweeted posts.
Eric Early, candidate for California's 28th Congressional District says it appears Facebook has limited his followers at 23,000. On Twitter, Early has 84,800 followers, but his Tweets don't get retweeted as much as they should.
If we allow Facebook and Twitter to keep doing this, it will just get worse with each passing election.
But so far nobody has found a way to stop them.
And once Democrats are in control in Washington, there will be very little that will be able to be done.
If Democrats are able to take the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives in November, the big social media companies will deserve a ton of the credit.
They may think that they are "saving America", but the truth is that they are actually killing it.
In our entire history, political speech has never been stifled the way that it is being stifled today. Our Constitution may still say that we are entitled to free speech, but those that control our most important online gathering places have a much different agenda.
The Prodigals' Father - Nathele Graham -
The parable of the prodigal son holds many lessons. One is a lesson in choices. "And he said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living." Luke 15:11-12. The younger son thought he had life pretty rough. He lived in his father's house and under his father's rules. Most of us don't like rules. They restrict us and don't allow us the freedom to be all our fallen human nature wants to be, which usually involves a prodigal lifestyle. A "prodigal" is someone who lives in a reckless and extravagant way. The young son decided he wanted a taste of the prodigal life, so he told his father he wanted his inheritance right then. Now, the father had a choice. A hard choice. The rules were there to protect the ones he loved, just as God's rules are there to protect us from the wages of living a sinful life. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23. Much heartache comes from going against God's rules, and if you die without Christ then death is eternal. Shattered lives result from rebelling against God's rules. Separation from loved ones, wallowing in the pig pen of life, and unhappiness all come from going against God. That lifestyle might be disguised by a mansion and jet set living, but without God it's still a pig pen. The prodigal's father could have forced his beloved son to stay home, but his love for his son allowed the father to give his son freedom to choose whether to honor his father or rebel. The son made his choice and had to be responsible for the results. God could have forced humans to follow His rules, but that isn't love. So, God allows us to make the choice whether to follow Him or disobey His rules. His love is perfect love, and our obedience to Him is evidence of our love for Him.
The father in the parable deeply loved this rebellious son, and his love showed in allowing that prodigal son to find out for himself just how tough the world can be. His beloved son would live or die by his own choice. In his father's house he knew true love and he didn't worry about food or clothing because his father provided for him. In the world it was a different way of life. He spent his inheritance on "...riotous living." Luke 15:13b. He sewed his wild oats, but when the money was gone, so were the "friends". Whatever pleasure his money bought disappeared and he found out he had no real friends and no more protection. "The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:10. Notice, it isn't money that's evil, but the love of it. The young man not only had spent his money and had no friends, but a famine hit. He had to find a job (there was no welfare back then and people were expected to work). Jobs weren't easy to come by, but he did find one. "And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine." Luke 15:15. This was about as low as a Jewish man could sink. It's easy to criticize that young man, but when we point an accusing finger at someone, we have 3 fingers pointing back at us. Are you living by God's rules, or are you rebelliously living by your own rules and falling into your own pigpen? No good can come from turning away from God.
The prodigal's father knew the dangers and never stopped loving his son. It must have broken his heart knowing his son had made such a bad choice, but this wise father knew that the son had to learn from his mistakes. If the father had forced the prodigal son to return home where it was safe, would the son have learned anything? Would he still be rebellious and looking for greener pastures? The son had to make the choice, not his father. I do wonder if the father had made bad choices in his own youth that taught him lessons. Was that how he understood that his son had to learn from experience? Eventually, that rebellious young man came to his senses. "And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants." Luke 15:17-19. Among other lessons he had learned the tough lesson of humility. We all need to learn that lesson. The prodigal also knew his father was a man who used his money wisely and unselfishly. He treated his servants kindly and took care of their needs.
The prodigal son, now a humble son, had no idea what kind of a reception awaited him, but he knew that a servant in his father's house was better off than he was. The father's reaction always brings a tear to my eye. "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Luke 15:20. What joy his father felt! He was watching and when he saw his son coming home his reaction is a lesson for us all. Human nature could have caused him to say "I told you so" or "I hope you learned your lesson". Instead, the father ran to his son and his joy overflowed. He didn't ask for explanations or make the son to beg for forgiveness, but kissed him and welcomed him home. Do you have a prodigal son or daughter in your life? How will you react when they come to their senses and return to you? You need to forgive, forget, and welcome them home with joy.
Another question is, are you a prodigal son or daughter? Maybe it's time for you to return Home to the Father who loves you. We all have choices and all have been in the shoes of that prodigal son to one extent or another. We think the grass is greener elsewhere, but that's not reality. God offers us pure love and protection, but most of us choose to rebel against His rules. Whatever your sin, God your Father is watching and waiting for you to come to your senses. Think about this, the prodigal son was a part of his father's family, even in his rebellion, just as Christians are a part of God's family. When we accept Christ for salvation, then rebelliously turn against Him, we have lost many rewards and protection, but we are still God's child. When we humble ourselves and return to Him, He will forgive us. "Likewise, I say unto, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." Luke 15:10. God loved us enough to step into this fallen world to bring us the only way of salvation. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3: 16-17. Whether you have never come to Christ for salvation or if you have rebelled and walked away, there's still forgiveness waiting. God's rules have never changed, but after living in the pigpen of the world ruled by Satan, God's rules aren't so bad. They protect us from the satanic evil that rules the world. You need to realize your sin and ask forgiveness.
The prodigal son came home and found his father watching for him, but he also found resentment from his brother. "And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou has killed for him the fatted calf." Luke 15:29-30. Are you a Christian who lives a perfect life and serves Jesus without any failures? That's a trick question because we all fail. Do you resent the forgiveness the Father has for prodigals who return to Him? The worst of sinners will find forgiveness through Jesus, including every Christian who stumbles. The Father welcomes all sinners home and forgets the sin. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9. You need to repent...truly repent. That means you change your mind about living in rebellion to God. If your repentance is sincere then, through the blood of Jesus Christ you are forgiven. Temptation to sin will continue to tug at your mind, but you need to resist the temptation. Just because God is willing to forgive doesn't mean you can keep on sinning. Jesus told the prostitute who found forgiveness "...neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." John 8:11b. We need to choose to take up our cross, crucify the sin in our life to that cross, and follow Jesus.
Are you a prodigal? Were you raised in the love and safety of a Christian home, but thought the world offered more fun and excitement? Your father and mother are waiting for you to return home, but there's a greater Father waiting for you. Take a look at your life and see how sin has bankrupted you. Repent and return to your Heavenly Father now. "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." James 4:10. James understood humbling himself before the Lord. Many Bible scholars agree that he was the half-brother of Jesus (Mary was his mother but Joseph was his father). Scripture discloses that he, along with the other brothers, didn't believe Jesus was the Messiah and mocked Him. Once James realized that Jesus was truly the Messiah, he humbled himself and gave his life to the Lord's service. He called himself a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God is waiting and watching for your return. Humble yourself before Him now in repentance and give yourself to Him. Make your choice now because tomorrow may be too late. Prodigal living is deadly.
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: Where is law and justice? - Bill Wilson -
Given the long list of documented facts about the scurrilous and possibly illegal actions of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and now the immediate past-president, there are no grand juries, no indictments and no criminal proceedings in the foreseeable future. The law apparently only applies to non-Democratic Party, non-Deep State actors who get in the crossfire of the political machinations of the global socialist agenda. Think about what has taken place over the past 12 years within the highest levels of the US government. To us non-privileged citizens, who face the concern of heavy handed government every day, it looks like there are two sets of laws-one for the elite, and another for the rest of us.
The same legal issues, dastardly dealings, self-enrichment schemes apply to current Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden as they did to former Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Let us remember that Biden was part of the same administration, doing the same things for the entire time of that administration. Hillary Clinton's pay to play scheme that had foreign governments paying money to the Clinton Foundation for access to the State Department is similar to Biden's influence peddling with Ukraine, Russia and China that enriched his son, Hunter. The media won't even cover this Biden abuse of power scandal. No coverage. No law. No problem. Nothing to see here.
Benghazi. Hillary Clinton told conflicting stories to different foreign leaders about the Benghazi attack - including an admission that it was a terrorist attack. Then the State Department attempted to cover-up the smoking-gun documents implicating Clinton. Let us remember that Clinton and the White House had stated that an anti-Islam film had caused a spontaneous attack on the compound. A blatant lie. Let us also not forget that Biden was on the same team with Clinton when Benghazi went down. Also in Libya, Biden and Clinton supported al-Qada terrorists that fought against American troops in Iraq as part of the Muslim Brotherhood Arab Spring revolts that overthrew Libya's government and assassinated Moammar Qadafi.
There are commercials on the air with Biden claiming he led an economic recovery when he was Vice President. Let us remember that under his "leadership" there were over 300,000 jobs lost from sending them overseas costing over $30 billion in wages in just 2015 alone. Biden's "leadership" put record numbers of people on welfare (which also cost taxpayers billions), and contributed to over 14.2 million Americans dropping out the workforce during the time Biden was in office. We The People have grown accustomed to politicians lying, cheating, stealing, enriching themselves. It is so commonplace that most just expect it. But these are egregious. If you or I did stuff like this, we'd be in jail. Proverbs 28:5 says, "Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the LORD understand all." And herein is the division of our nation.
Daily Devotion: How We Lose Eternal Perspective - by Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away! -Luke 15:7
https://harvest.org/resources/devotion/how-we-lose-eternal-perspective/ - Listen
Have you ever felt as though God has let you down? You had certain dreams, certain aspirations, and certain hopes. But those things didn't turn out as you planned.
Jonah felt like God had let him down. He was angry that God didn't judge the people of Nineveh, and he was actually falling into sin.
There are a lot of ways to fall into sin. Sin makes us stupid, so we don't think clearly.
That's what happened to Jonah. He was in a state of spiritual failure. The Bible tells us, "Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah's head, shading him from the sun" (Jonah 4:5-6 NLT).
Jonah pulled up a ringside seat, hoping to be entertained. But things didn't go as planned, because the next verse says, "God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away" (verse 7 NLT).
God had spared thousands of lives, yet Jonah was upset that he lost his temporary comfort. God told him, "You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. . . . But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn't I feel sorry for such a great city?" (verse 10-11 NLT).
Jonah lost his eternal perspective, and we can do the same thing. Sometimes we think too much about ourselves and don't think about people who don't know the Lord. God cares about lost people-and so should we.
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