Prophecy Update Newsletter
November 25, 2016
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
A Thief in the Night - Alf Cengia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8343
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the expression, like a thief in the night means: "secretly or unexpectedly and without being seen."
That sounds just about right to me as well.
After all, why do thieves break into houses at night? Well, they're unlikely to be spotted at that time. People are asleep or not paying close attention. You might eventually end up hearing or even seeing the thief if he makes too much noise. But the idea is that he comes unexpectedly.
The Apostle Paul used the term in context to the Day of the Lord in 1 Thess 5:2.
The thief in the night axiom is also linked to the pretribulational rapture and its imminent quality. It's the idea that Christ could come any time for His church.
One of the champions of imminence was Gerald Stanton (Kept from the Hour).
Non-pretribbers naturally disagree with Stanton's view that the rapture is imminent. They argue for "expectancy" rather than imminence. The idea of expectancy in the place of imminence has been promoted by posttribulationists such as George E. Ladd and Robert Gundry.
Doug Egsti's 36 page essay attempts responses to Stanton and other pretribulationists. He insists that some events need to occur before the rapture, although he doesn't get into the heart of the imminence verses. In one example, Egsti notes Arnold Fruchtenbaum's teaching that imminence is applicable only after 70 AD. Then he takes issue with the fact that Fruchtenbaum entertained the possibility that the seven churches of Revelation represented historical eras. How could the rapture then be imminent?
Alva McClain (who agrees with Fruchtenbaum regarding 70 AD) preempted this objection by pointing out that if these Historical Church Eras were a direct revelation, then the rapture couldn't occur at any time. But he added that there was no such revelation.
Another problem cited by Egsti is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. His colleagues often insist that the 144,000 in Revelation chapter 7 aren't evangelists. In other words the church must be still around to fulfill it. And yet Rosenthal wrote that:
"It is almost like a baton being passed between runners. The 144,000 must be sealed for protection to go through the Day of the Lord before the church can be caught up to the throne in heaven. God will not leave Himself without a people on the earth." ~ The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church page 185
In contrast, Van Kampen wrote:
"These 144,000 will become the firstfruits of unsaved Israel (Rev. 14:4), not saved until the rapture occurs - which is why they will not be raptured with the saints..." ~ The Rapture Question Answered p 155 (Emphasis mine)
That's rather convenient timing! One gets the feeling that all sorts of excuses have been formulated to keep the church on earth right up until the last moment. Interestingly, Rev 14:6has an angel preaching the Everlasting Gospel to those who dwell on the earth.
Non-pretribbers like to point out that the thief expression occurs in Matthew 24:43 and Revelation 16:15 (and elsewhere). They note that the former verse appears in the Olivet Discourse in context to Jesus' coming at the end of the tribulation. The latter verse appears during the 6th bowl judgment.
That being the case, how can anyone justify using the thief idiom for the pretrib rapture?
Robert Van Kampen (p 107) even advised his readers to find a pretribber and ask them why it is not permitted to set dates. Almost everyone quotes Matt 24:36. The pretribber is then informed that v 36 is cited in context to the Second Coming verses earlier, so it cannot refer to the rapture.
In response to all this, we can make a number of observations:
That the Lord warns of coming as a thief at Rev 16:15 is a parenthetical statement warning readers of all periods. It does not mean Christ hasn't returned by then. The verse should be compared with 1 Thess 5:2-3 where Paul says the Day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night while they are saying peace and safety. There is no peace and safety at the 6th bowl, or after the 2nd seal for that matter.
In Matthew 24 Jesus prophesied certain events and gave signs leading up to His Second Coming. Yet at v36 He tells the disciples that no one knows the hour or the day of His return. How can this be?
Non-pretribbers argue that it is the time of the events leading up to the rapture which cannot be determined; hence the timing of the Second Coming is unknown. Once the Seven-Year Covenant has been confirmed and the Abomination of Desolation enacted, we can have firm parameters - but only then. In contrast, prewrathers will switch to imminency once the Great Tribulation is under way.
Pretribulationists note that at Matt 24:36 Jesus used the word but (peri de), which introduces a new subject or idea (Fruchtenbaum, Hart etc). While He responded to the disciples' Jewish concerns (the Temple and the end of the age etc), it was His prerogative to shift focus and add extra information.
In fact Jesus says something in vv37-38 which logically demands a different coming. How can the worst time in history (Matt 24:21-22) parallel a period of normalcy where people are eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage? He punctuates the point further by saying:
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Mat 24:44
Yet didn't Jesus just give the disciples a set of signs to look for? Go take another look at 1Thess 5:2-3!
But that's not all.
Hosea 5:15 and Matt 23:39 suggest that Christ's premillennial return is contingent to Israel's seeking Him. If the Lord's coming relies on Israel's request, then He cannot return unexpectedly. Moreover, it rules out the scenarios argued by Rosenthal and Van Kampen (as noted earlier).
Given all this and considering verses which strongly imply imminence (Matt 24:42, 44, 50, 25:13; Mark 13:34-37), I believe it takes some special pleading to simply argue for expectancy.
Perhaps Jesus just means what He says - to be ready at all times because He could return for the church at any time!
"Ah! Think how would you like to be overtaken by the coming of the Saviour. Try your daily occupations - your daily state of feeling - your daily enjoyments - try them by this test: Am I doing as I would wish to do on the day of His coming? ~ Robert Murray M'Cheyne
Are you ready?
Israel wildfires spread south - Arsonists nabbed - http://www.debka.com/article/25800/Israel-wildfires-spread-south-Arsonists-nabbed
As firefighters battled unrelenting wildfires for the fourth day - from the Galilee, through Haifa and up to the Jerusalem Hills - the first flames leapt up early Friday, Nov. 25, outside Kiryat Gath in the southern Lachish district.
In the Jerusalem Hills, the firefighting planes taking off at first light to extinguish the flames threatening Beit Meir spotted dark figures constantly rekindling fires when they were dampened. Police gave chase and captured two of the arsonists. The residents were evacuated when the fires hemming them in came under control.
Altogether 10 suspects are now in custody, three were caught on the loose in Galilee in possession of fire accelerants.
The disaster has claimed more than 100 people injured, most from smoke inhalation, but no fatalities, thanks mainly to the heroic efforts of the fully-stretched out firefighters and volunteers, many of whom have not slept for three nights.
Azerbaijan joined half a dozen countries sending planes to support Israel's fleet of aerial fighters. The giant 747 Super-tanker which can carry 94,000 liters of water arrives from Colorado, US, Friday night. Thursday night, eight fire engines with teams, volunteered by the Palestinian Authority went into action over Haifa and the Jerusalem Hills.
More than 80,000 people in Haifa and other stricken places spent another wretched night away from their blackened homes and towns. Although the government promises financial aid as needed, and offers pour in to put up the homeless in kibbutzim and the formerly missile-stricken towns in the south, the refugees don't know when they can go back or, in many cases, rebuild their homes.
They were not comforted by the reassuring statements issued Thursday by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Home Security Minister Gilead Erdan, from which they could infer that the government was taken by surprise by the arson offensive, which accounted for at least half of the outbreaks.
A controlling hand was almost certainly behind the individuals or groups who ignited and reignited hundreds of fires up and down the country. They exploited the exceptionally windy and dry weather to sow acres of charred destruction across Israel. But no warning of the impending disaster came from the Shin Bet domestic security service or Military Intelligence (AMAN).
One of the former Shin Bet heads, Israeli Hasson commented that this was the first time Palestinian extremists had used a "weapon of mass destruction."
As Israel burns, are we looking at a new form of eco-terrorism? - http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Are-we-looking-at-a-new-form-of-terrorism-473566
With wildfires currently raging across Israel for a third consecutive day, many are concerned that this may be a new form of terrorism.
Fires from an estimated 220 points of origin have broken out throughout central and northern Israel since Wednesday and assessments by police have strengthened suspicions that many were deliberately set and were nationalistically motivated.
Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter- Terrorism, told The Jerusalem Post that, "even if a portion are intentional, it is not organized.
It's not that you have a terrorist organization giving orders to their members to carry out fire attacks, though maybe in a few hours you can have groups like Hamas claiming the fires."
But "one thing is clear," Ganor said. "It is not a new form of terrorism. Arson attacks and setting fires in populated areas or forests are a well known modus operandi of terrorist groups, and not only in Israel.
In the ninth issue of the English-language Inspire magazine, released by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012, a significant portion was dedicated to attacking the United States by starting wildfires. The magazine listed instructions on how to ignite forest fires and the materials required, and instructs readers to look for two factors needed for a successful wildfire: dry conditions and high winds.
"When we define this phenomenon as 'fire intifada' - words used by the media, politicians and laypeople - we are overestimating the phenomenon," Ganor told the Post. Nevertheless, Ganor explained that the pictures on social media networks of flames in the center of Haifa and surrounding Jerusalem are "heaven for those who may want to join the so-called 'fire intifada,' especially if you add the false reasoning of revenge for banning the call to prayer."
Yoram Schweitzer, head of the program on terrorism and low-intensity conflict at the Institute for National Security Studies, told the Post that the term "fire intifada" should not be used, stressing that before accusing anyone there should be a full investigation into the fires.
The wildfires have been cheered by many on social media using the hashtag #IsraelBurns. Many postings saying that this is divine retribution for the pending controversial law to ban mosque loudspeakers for the Muslim call to prayer.
Last week Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said that, "What the Israeli occupation state is doing at al-Aksa Mosque, as well as preventing the call to prayer in Jerusalem, is playing with fire. This created a fierce reaction in the Palestinian community and the whole of the Islamic nation."
Ganor says "we should not exaggerate the terrorist motivation behind the wildfires," stressing that "the conditions right now are perfect for fires, with an extended period of dry weather and strong winds."
Michael Horowitz, director of intelligence at Prime Source, a Middle East-based geopolitical consultancy firm, agreed. "It is too early to conclude that this is a "new form of terrorism," but it definitely can turn into that because of the virality of the trend," he told the Post, adding that "it's been praised by Hamas, and the hashtag "Israel is burning" is trending in Arabic. The mere perception of success can be enough to encourage copycat attacks."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday visited the Fire and Rescue Service's coastal district forward command center, where was briefed on the efforts to put out the fires, many of which he said are "deliberate acts of arson."
In Haifa, senior firefighter Shimon Ben Ner, told Army Radio that "I know for a fact that they tried to set fire to the department's station in Haifa deliberately, to cause the Haifa fire department to be paralyzed."
In 2010, 44 people were killed in Israel's worst forest fire. The three-day Mount Carmel forest fire destroyed thousands of hectares of land and forced some 17,000 people to be evacuated from their homes, as well as various prisons, hospitals and military jails.
Two residents of the Druse town of Daliat al-Carmel were arrested for allegedly attempting to start a fire in the Mount Carmel area. While police officials later said no wrongdoing had been established with certainty, many believe that arson was behind the Carmel forest blaze.
First Thanksgiving Feast Set Stage for Ezekiel Prophecy - By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz - http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/79086/first-thanksgiving-feast-set-stage-ezekiel-prophecy/#4D08FwHVh6krPwzC.97
"A Psalm of thanksgiving. Shout unto Hashem, all the earth." Psalms 100:1 (The Israel Bible™)
Thanksgiving as a secular holiday is an opportunity for families to gather, but the original feast celebrated by the Puritans could very well have been a conscious move towards the coming together of Judah and Israel, foretold in the Book of Ezekiel. This is not the only scriptural connection; the original Thanksgiving was almost certainly more Biblically-inspired than it is today.
"When the Puritans invited the Native Americans to their Thanksgiving feast, it clearly had undertones of the reunion foretold in Ezekiel," opined Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel several years ago but continues observing this uniquely North American tradition.
Rabbi Weisz, publisher of Breaking Israel News, believes the holiday contains a geula (redemption) element that makes it relevant to the unfolding process he is witnessing in Israel.
"The Puritans were actually foreshadowing the future prophesied reunion of Judah and the Lost Tribes," he suggested, referring to the long-sought reconciliation between Judah - the Jewish people - and the lost Northern Kingdom of Israel.
And thou son of man take thee one stick and write upon it: For Yehudah and for the children of Yisrael his companions; then take another stick and write upon it: For Yosef the stick of Ephraim and of all the house of Yisrael his companions. Ezekiel 37:16
Rabbi Weisz noted that the Puritans considered their journey to America to be a reenactment of the Biblical Exodus. Indeed, historical documents show that the Puritans compared England, which oppressed them, to Egypt, and referred to the British King James I as 'Pharaoh'. Their voyage across the Atlantic was compared to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, after which they arrived at the Promised Land. This theory is supported by historians.
"No Christian community in history identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed their own lives to be a literal reenactment of the biblical drama of the Hebrew nation," wrote noted scholar and chairman of the Jewish Bible Association Gabriel Sivan in his book "The Bible and Civilization."
The Puritans even speculated that the Native Americans they encountered in the New World might be from the Ten Lost Tribes, a belief that later became common in colonial America.
Though Thanksgiving is a non-religious holiday today, it is doubtful the Puritans celebrated it as such. They were scrupulous about living a Biblically-mandated life and were notoriously anti-Christmas, since it was not mentioned in the Bible. This belief remained prevalent in New England until the mid 1800's.
Some scholars actually believe the Puritan Thanksgiving feast was modelled after the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, as suggested in a treatise by Dr. Paul Jehle, Executive Director of the Plymouth Rock Foundation.
"The origin of the harvest festival in England by the time the Pilgrims decided to leave was rooted in the Biblical practice of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)," Dr. Jehle wrote. "Note that we do not know the original date of this event, though most suppose it to be in late October, which would correspond to the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
"Note also that this day celebrated a harvest, giving thanks to God . . . Also, they feasted and celebrated for three days, thanking God for the provisions God gave them, enjoying it with the Native people."
The Puritans may have picked up their geula aspirations from their experience with Jews. Initially, they had no exposure to Jews and Judaism. Their native England expelled the Jews in 1290, only permitting them to return in 1657, after the pilgrims had left for the New World. When the pilgrims fled religious oppression in England, they arrived in Holland, where they encountered Jews for the first time.
This contact undoubtedly made a deep impression. The Puritans held their prayer services in an Amsterdam synagogue before establishing their own church in Leyden. They stayed in Holland for ten years and one of their ministers, Henry Ainsworth, studied Jewish Biblical interpretation with the leading Dutch rabbis.
Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman, director of Ohr Chadash, a Jewish outreach institute, believes that the Thanksgiving holiday is firmly rooted in Judaism. He explained to Breaking Israel News that "the act of thanksgiving expresses a major tenet of Jewish belief and practice."
"The root of the word for Jew, 'Yehudi', derived from Judah's name, is 'to give thanks'," said Rabbi Trugman, referring to the Biblical source.
And she conceived again, and bore a son; and she said: 'This time will I praise Hashem.' Therefore she called his name Yehudah... Genesis 29:35
"Giving thanks is a major part of a Jew's daily life," said Rabbi Trugman, "But it isn't a once a year thing. Modeh Ani (I thank you) is the first thing a Jew says when he wakes up, and the final section of our thrice-daily silent prayer entails giving thanks and praise. We also say one hundred blessings a day, and therefore express our thanks and praise literally all day long."
And the Gospel Will Be Preached... - By Britt Gillette - http://raptureready.com/featured/gillette/bg77.html
A little less than 2,000 years ago, a Galilean man in the small province of Judea made one of the most bold and astounding prophecies in all of human history. He claimed His personal message of hope and redemption would be preached to the ends of the earth. When He made this claim, He was a Jewish carpenter on the outskirts of the ancient Roman Empire.
Even in nearby Jerusalem, only a small number of people had heard His message. His followers were ordinary - a handful of fishermen and tax collectors. He didn't hold high office. He wasn't a member of high society. He wasn't a celebrated military conqueror, and he didn't live in a palace. In fact, at first glance, there was little about Him to indicate such a thing was possible.
Nevertheless, Jesus of Nazareth didn't back away from His claim. Responding to questions about the end of the age, Jesus told His followers to look for a specific sign. He said His message, known as the Gospel or "Good News" would be preached throughout the entire world. Not just the surrounding towns or the nearby nations. The whole world. Jesus said His message would be preached far and wide so that every nation would hear it. And then? And then the end would come (Matthew 24:14).
Think about that. What a bold statement. A man of seemingly limited means proclaims His message will reach the ends of the earth. This is before the telegraph. Before radio. Before television and the Internet. This is long before any form of mass communication. In those days, messages spread mostly by word-of-mouth, and written communication traveled at the speed of sailboats and horses. Yet Jesus was clear. His message would spread to the four corners of the earth.
I wonder what His followers thought when He said this? The idea must have been daunting. The Roman Empire, which was their known world at the time, included 60 million people spread over 1.3 million square miles. The idea of reaching all those people must have seemed impossible. And keep in mind, their idea of the world was limited. To them, the world consisted almost entirely of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. That's the only world they knew. The first followers of Jesus knew nothing of North America, South America, Australia, Japan, and large parts of Asia and the pacific.
Think about that. The almighty Roman Empire had yet to reach the ends of the earth. But a Jewish carpenter would? What do you think the people of His day thought? What kind of odds would they have placed on such a man spreading His message to the whole world? I think most of them would have bet against it. After all, the odds were against it. In fact, outside of Jesus and a handful of His followers, I doubt anyone believed it.
Yet one man outside of Jesus and His inner circle did consider the possibility. And in doing so, he showed the world exactly who Jesus is.
Not long after the resurrection of Jesus, the Jewish high priest and his officials arrested Peter and the apostles. When they refused to stop preaching in the name of Jesus, the high council decided to kill them. But one man among them objected. His name was Gamaliel, a Pharisee and expert in religious law. We later find out he was a mentor to Paul (Acts 22:3). This is what he said:
"Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee.
He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered. So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!" (Acts 5:34-39)
In his wisdom, Gamaliel knew if the message of Jesus came from God, then any forces aligned against it would fail. In other words, if Jesus was who He said He was, His message would spread to the ends of the earth.
The Power of the Gospel
The message Peter and the apostles preached was this: "Jesus is the Messiah" (Acts 5:42). Gamaliel was right to say if this message is from God, then those opposed to it would fail to stop it. History shows they failed. Why?
Because Jesus is the Messiah. That's the very reason the Gospel spread so quickly in the early church.
The people of that time knew for a fact Jesus arrived at the precise time in history when the Messiah was supposed to come (Daniel 9:25). They knew Jesus opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf (Isaiah 35:5). They knew He suffered on the cross for their sins (Isaiah 53). They knew His Roman executioners gambled for His clothes (Psalm 22:18).
They knew Judas betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12), and they knew He was buried in a rich man's tomb (Isaiah 53:9). How did they know all of this? Because they were witnesses! Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecy after messianic prophecy. He was and is the Messiah, and as Gamaliel noted, no power on earth could possibly stop the spread of that message.
Today, those first century witnesses are gone, yet the Gospel continues to spread. Why? Because Jesus transforms lives. He redeems sinners and tax collectors. He reforms prostitutes, drug addicts, and alcoholics. He humbles the proud and strengthens the weak. He gives hope in a hopeless world.
An Overlooked Sign
Two thousand years later, the Gospel is preached in every nation, the Bible is translated in hundreds of languages, and the message of Jesus is delivered by thousands of ministries through radio, cable TV, satellite, and the Internet. Every day, missionaries carry the Gospel to people who have never heard it before.
But as amazing as this is, many people take it for granted. They don't see the worldwide spread of Christianity as a big deal. But it is. For the first 1,500 years after Jesus, you could only find a few Christians outside of Europe, western Asia, and the Mediterranean. The Gospel wasn't preached in China. It didn't make it to Japan. You couldn't hear it in North America, South America, or Australia. It simply wasn't heard worldwide.
Even after 1,900 years of Christianity, many regional world populations had yet to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But today? Today, only a tiny minority of the world's seven billion people haven't heard the Gospel. Nearly 2,000 years ago, a Jewish carpenter said His message would be preached to the entire earth. That's bold. Our generation is about to see His bold claim become reality. The words of Jesus are coming true right before our eyes. And this time, we are the witnesses.
Now, think about this. Do you remember the second part of Jesus's prophecy? That's right. This was a two-part prophecy by Jesus. He said when the whole world hears His message, He'll return. He said when we see what we're seeing right now, He's coming back:
"And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14).
You can count on Jesus. When Jesus makes a promise, you can be sure His Word will become reality. We can see the first part of His prophecy coming true. We are eyewitnesses. The message of Jesus is reaching the whole world. And when it does, He promises to return. Because you can count on Jesus's Word, you can on this - He's coming. And Jesus is coming soon!
Britt Gillette is author of the free ebook Coming to Jesus: One Man's Search for Truth and Life Purpose as well as Signs of the Second Coming: 11 Reasons Jesus Will Return in Our Lifetime. Sign up for his monthly newsletter, and get his ebook 7 Signs of the End Times for free.
My Review of "Rapture Ready...Or Not?"
Over the last 35 years, I have literally read hundreds of books on Bible Prophecy and End Time signs. I especially enjoy books on the Rapture, and I have read almost every Rapture-related book published. In all those years, devouring thousands of pages, and millions of words, I have not read a better book on the Rapture than, Rapture Ready...Or Not?
Terry James might be physically blind, but he is spiritually sharp and well discerning beyond most authors. In "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" Terry has nailed the pre-trib Rapture, and removed any doubt what so ever about the Church going through the Tribulation. With great insight and Godly discernment, Terry explains with simple, yet profound words, why and how that he has come to believe the ways he does about the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the End Times scenario. I think after reading "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" you too will believe as Terry does, and be Ready for the Rapture like never before! - Randy Thomas - Publisher / Editor - Prophecy Update
For more information and or to get your copy of "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" use this link: http://www.raptureready.com/terry/book35.html
Thank You God For Everything - Nathele Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
"To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever." Psalm 30:12.
When we think of giving thanks to the Lord, it's hard not to think of the Psalms. The men who wrote those psalms loved God and were very thankful and their joy in the Lord spilled out into songs of praise. Reading them makes my heart swell with gratitude to the Lord. "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever...O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 136:1-3. This psalm lists many reasons that the psalmist was thankful and he gave thanks to God for all His mercy and all He has provided. It's important for everyone to stop and think about what God provides, then thank Him. Make your own list of the blessings that you receive from God each day and you'll be amazed at how much He deserves thanks. When children first learn to talk, a good parent will teach them to say please and thank you, but are they taught to thank God for His provisions? As adults we often take God's blessings for granted and we neglect to thank Him. Gratitude and praise should always be in our heart and on our lips. "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Recognize His gifts and rejoice.
When things are going smoothly and we have no problems in our life it's easy to be grateful. Those are the times we smile and are filled with peace and joy. Then when things aren't so smooth we either blame God or get so wrapped up in our problems that we ignore Him. God's blessings are still there, but our troubles often blind us to those blessings. Daniel was a man who never forgot to thank God. As a young man he had been taken captive to Babylon where pagan practices were all around. Daniel never faltered in his faith and always put God first. People around him were often offended by his faith and did what they could to stop him. In one well known incident a group of men petitioned King Darius to "...make a firm decree that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions." Daniel 6:7b. Daniel wasn't ashamed of God and continued in his regular habit of openly praying. He would rather face the lions than compromise his faith. "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Daniel 6:10. Evil men had talked the king into signing the decree specifically to come against Daniel, but he honored God, not men. Daniel did end up in the lion's den, but God protected him. When the den was opened Daniel still didn't change his habit of prayer and he took that opportunity to give glory to God. "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt." Daniel 6:22. Daniel's life was a strong witness for God Almighty. Because his testimony and faithfulness King Darius wrote another decree in which he declared that everyone within his kingdom tremble and fear the God of Daniel "...for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end." Daniel 6:26b. Faith cannot be legislated, but anyone and everyone who knows the Lord can be a witness like Daniel. Stand firm upon God's word, pray openly, and give thanks to God. We all have much to be thankful for, so don't be ashamed to openly praise God for all He gives.
Christians should be the most thankful people in the world. We are saved from our sins through our faith in Jesus Christ, but how often do we really stop and think about what He accomplished on the cross? No matter what challenges we face in this life, God's gift of salvation is a blessing beyond words. Spend some time thanking Him for His sacrifice. In the Gospels many examples are given of the miracles by which Jesus demonstrated His love and compassion. It's surprising how people reacted to those miracles. One day as Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem He passed through a village where ten men who were lepers saw Him. They knew who He was and that He was able to heal them. They stood far away but called out to Him and asked for His mercy. Jesus healed them and they hurried to the priests to be examined. What joy they must have felt, but did they thank the Healer? "And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan." Luke 17:15-16. Leprosy was a terrible disease that robbed people of their life and separated them from loved ones. It's used symbolically in the Bible as sin, which also robs us of a full life and separates us from loved ones. Sin also separates us from God. Ten men were healed of leprosy, but only one said "Thank You". Are you grateful for the healing from sin that you received through Jesus? Have you fallen down before Him giving Him thanks? Jesus does notice. "And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger." Luke 17:17-18. What's stopping you today from praising God for your salvation? A day is coming when we will be gathered around the throne of God and we will praise Him for His holiness. Don't wait until then; thank Him now. "Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness." Psalm 30:4. It's His righteousness that will allow you to stand before the throne of God not your own. Give thanks to Him now.
Most of us don't thank God enough for all He has done. In fact, many Christians mock Him by not recognizing that He is the Creator of all that exists. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made." John 1:1 & 3. Jesus is the Word. The smallest molecule and the entire universe were created by Him and we need to be thankful. Science would have us believe that everything came from nothing billions upon billions of years ago. Somehow they would have us believe nothing exploded and from that imagined explosion life evolved. God takes His creation seriously and holds us responsible to recognize Him as the Creator. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says that there is no excuse for not recognizing God because the invisible things of the creation are evidence of Him. "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Romans 1:21-22. If there is no God, then there are no rules. If there are no rules then sin abounds. As more people buy into the lie of evolution, there is less feeling of accountability to God. We see that sin is growing by leaps and bounds. Christians should be leaders in standing firm on God's truth and thank Him for creating life in all of its complexity, and providing the way for life to be sustained with food, water, and air. Don't neglect to thank Him for creating you and providing for your needs. He loves you.
There is humility involved in being thankful and God wants us to be humble. Most people find it hard to humble themselves before God and say thank You. Children look to their elders as examples of how to behave, so if a parent shows thankfulness for all that God provides, it's easier for children to also be thankful. "So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations." Psalm 79:13. If we, as Christians, don't show our gratitude to our Redeemer, who will? He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep. Without Him we would be forever condemned by our sin, but through His shed blood we are forgiven. Your list of things that you're thankful for should be very long, and salvation through Him should top the list. It's a free gift but is a treasure that never should be taken for granted. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Colossians 3:15. Be thankful for all that He provides. If you can only afford to eat peanut butter and jelly rather than lobster tail or if your clothes come from a discount store rather than having name brand labels on them, be thankful that your needs are met. We can show our gratitude by sharing with others. If you happen to be able to afford that lobster tail, you might want to consider sharing God's blessings by donating to a soup kitchen in the name of Jesus. "O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people." Psalm 105:1. When we lift Him up by sharing His blessings we show our thanks for what He provides and give testimony of our salvation. He is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise.
There is no better way to thank God than putting selfish pride away and living for Him. That way others will see Him shining through your life and want the joy you have. David praised Him in song and lived openly to please Him. Daniel never allowed anyone to govern his faith. He prayed openly and gave thanks. Brothers and Sisters, be unashamed to thank our Creator for all He has provided. Be sure to thank Him for His sacrifice on the cross that purchased salvation for everyone who accepts His gift. He notices those who are grateful.
Thank You, God, for everything.
God bless you all,
Ron 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: Black Friday and the original Thanksgiving - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
Before solemn holidays were turned into commercial opportunities, there was true meaning behind them. There were lives involved and courageous men and women who paved the way for us. They may have sat out in the cold near a fire before daybreak because they had to, not because they were waiting for the store to open so they could buy the latest game platform. The things we take for granted in this country are those that the original pioneers didn't have. But one thing they did have was a sense of purpose in their lives, a rugged individualism, and faith that surpassed all understanding. Here's a true account taken from "Of Plymouth Plantation" written by William Bradford, co-writer of the Mayflower Compact.
In the days leading up to the first "Thanksgiving" of the Pilgrims, they had dispatched a group of ten men to "explore the bay and trade with the natives." They were guided by the English speaking Squanto, who also served as an interpreter. When the men returned, they were very impressed with the land around the bay and wished they could have settled there instead of Cape Cod. William Bradford, wrote however, "But it seems that the Lord, Who assigns to all men the bounds of their habitations, had appointed it for another use. And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity."
This "Thanksgiving" to the Lord offered by Bradford in his history "Of Plymouth Plantation" indicates that Jesus was at the center of his thoughts about all things--even the land they were allocated by God to begin their colony. It also forebears testimony to the very positive Christian witness and relations the Pilgrims maintained with the Indians. This comment was followed immediately by Bradford's account of the harvest in October 1621. Bradford writes," Each person had about a peck of meal a week, or now since harvest, Indian corn in that proportion; and afterwards many wrote at length about their plenty to their friends in England--not feigned but true reports."
One of those true reports is found in "Mourt's Relation" by Pilgrim Edward Winslow--the only account of the first "Thanksgiving." Winslow writes: "our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors...at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others."
Winslow concluded, "And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty." Thanks to the godly men and women who came before us, even in our decline we remain blessed more than any other nation on earth. Jeremiah 4:2 says that if God's people return to Him, "And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him shall they glory." This is a promise to the nations. So today, as should be our practice each day, may you have a Psalm 103:2 day, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
Daily Devotion: A Prerequisite for Giving Thanks - Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! -2 Corinthians 4:17
To give thanks, we must realize as Christians that God is in control of all circumstances that surround our lives, both good and bad.
In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 we are told, "For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
The apostle Paul also wrote, "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love" (Romans 8:38). God loves you, and He is always looking for your eternal benefit. God is wiser than we are. And if He tells us to not do something, He does so for good reason.
Now, the Devil doesn't want you to believe that. He would whisper in your ear, "God hates you. God wants to ruin your life. All those rules in the Bible are just there to make life miserable. You Christians serve an oppressive God who doesn't want you to have any fun."
What a bunch of nonsense. I've lived apart from Christ. I've had the so-called fun this world has to offer, and it wasn't fun at all. I've also found that a life with Christ is a life of fulfillment and purpose.
We must realize that God loves us and is always looking out for our eternal benefit, even if what we are presently going through is difficult.
FROM THE HEART
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