Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Everafter - Pete Garcia -
I know I know...I'm supposed to write a Christmas article because it's the Monday before Christmas and that's what's on everyone's mind. And I will...I promise, but in more of a roundabout way. As ironic as it seems, in the season when everyone focuses on the birth that changed history forever, I find myself thinking about death.
According to the Bible, human beings can only exist in two states of being, either life or death (2 Cor. 5:6-8). But as Christians, we understand that death for the believer is not the end, but more like a stepping-off point where we enter into the real and infinitely more permanent state of existence. It is moving from one realm of existence into another without any hesitation or delay. In other words, death is not the termination of consciousness, but rather, an immediate transition from one reality to another separated only by a heartbeat.
For those of us who have lost someone close, understand, that their existence now is more real than ours is presently. They are in a greater state of being and consciousness than even the smartest person(s) who have ever lived in this life. They understand everything.
The world we live in was designed to accommodate our temporary existence. This means that the current world is also temporary and fading away (1 John 2:17). The world we enter into at death is permanent and eternal (2 Cor. 4:16-18). So in one sense, our current world is very much like the Matrix, in that it is merely a copy or a façade of the corresponding spiritual reality. Our world and the next is not separated by distance, but by dimensionality. During certain periods of time, the veil between our world and the spiritual realm was either very thin or non-existent (ex. before Adam and Eve's fall). During other periods, the veil was impermeable and marked by its opaqueness. The Apostle Paul notes...
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Cor. 13:12
When someone passes away, the common and socially respectful thing to say in acknowledgment to that, is either "they're in a better place now" or "rest in peace." Truth be told, we don't know if either is true unless we knew whether that person was a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. We say what we say because it would be considered rude and inconsiderate to do otherwise.
It has become vogue in the military to respond with "till Valhalla" as a means to acknowledge a fellow soldiers' passing. They say that since Valhalla was the place (according to Nordic mythology) where warriors supposedly went to after they died. The trip to Valhalla required the winged-escort by the famed Valkyries (women warriors) to the great hall. The great hall was where the immortals joined the eternal party marked with copious amounts of drinking, fighting, revelry, and more drinking for all eternity.
From a purely fleshly standpoint, that sounds like a lot of fun.
But then I got to thinking...at what point, in that particular version of eternity, does Valhalla go from being fun to not being fun.
I mean, if you did the same thing over and over and over for all eternity....at what point does that become hell in and of itself? I mean, after a thousand years of fighting, drinking, and revelry, you've only just begun. Now repeat that same scenario times infinity, and I can't see how that remains interesting or entertaining unless you existed in some type of perpetual time-loop like the Groundhog Day movie.
The same could be said for Islam's version of the afterlife. On the surface, a paradise world with 70 virgins sounds fantastic? Especially if you grew up in the Middle East where all you knew was hot dusty deserts, fighting and violence, poverty, and brutality. But let's say for the sake of argument, even if their version of the afterlife were true, and each virgin was absolutely stunning, the food was the best eternity could offer, and the atmosphere was completely serene...at what point does even that Islamic paradise quit being fun? At what point does their version of paradise become hell?
Let's be honest, as sentient beings, we can't do the same thing over and over and over without repetition killing our enthusiasm.
Buddhism and Hinduism vary slightly as compared to the above scenarios because of their views on reincarnation, but the premise remains the same. If you keep having to come back to this reality to "get it right," at what point does that repetition turn into a living hell? Even if one made it into Nirvana and had complete enlightenment, and 'oneness' with the universe, at what point does even that become old, and eventually, torturous? After a million years? A hundred million years?
And yet, eternity drones on.
Likewise, Mormonism teaches a form of this for those who have dutifully followed the Mormon faith. Those who have, are promised to enter into the highest form of existence (celestial) where they are promised to be creators (and gods in their own right) with their own worlds. Now add infinity on to this. This creates a huge dilemma for the Mormons, as they now have the conundrum of eternal-progression, but I digress.
The reason I mention all of the above examples is that eternity is forever. I might have just sounded like Captain Obvious here, but we mortals have no real way of dealing with the topic of eternality since we can't fathom something existing without an end-point. We can't wrap our finite minds around the subject because it exceeds any known, tangible example we could render as comparable. Even to the most hardened atheist, the universe and all its mysteries had a beginning (i.e...the Big Bang) and will likewise have an end at some unknown future point.
Since we can't conceptualize eternity into anything tangible, we use analogies that help to understand the gravitas of the subject. Jack Kinsella once put it this way when speaking about the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Suppose a seagull were to take a grain of sand from the East Coast and drop it off on the West Coast. Every ten thousand years, our seagull would transport another grain of sand from the East Coast to the West Coast. When every grain of sand on every beach on the entire East Coast has been transferred to the West Coast (one grain at a time, every ten thousand years), Osama's eternity will be just getting started. From Here to Eternity
The Bible describes only two potential realities for those who enter into eternity. We either go to be with our Creator God, or we are separated from Him forever. Those who die without placing their faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ's atoning work on the Cross will forever be separated from God (John 3:36, Hebrews 9:26-28). That might sound overly exclusive, but Jesus Himself said this of salvation, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6
Truth be told, even if hell was not the biblical definition of a place where final judgment consisted of: Eternal separation from God, darkness, pain, fire, brimstone, lake of fire, etc., doing the same thing over and over for all eternity (no matter what it was) would inevitably become a living and torturous hell. This is why every religion and belief system apart from biblical Christianity, are equal in their inability to deal with the concept of eternity and the afterlife.
But as it is written:
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor. 2:9
As one who personally saw it with his own eyes (2 Cor. 12:1-5), Paul had no way to put what he saw into words. This should validate and distinguish Christianity from any other, since only Christianity truly deals with man's inadequacy for dealing with something far outside his scope of comprehension. Furthermore, what Paul quotes here (Isaiah 64) still can only describe God's attributes in how it interacts with our physical world. In other words, as indescribable is God's Being is as a Being (He is the Becoming One), so too is the realm in which He physically dwells.
A popular misconception people have about heaven is that it will be one, long, extended church service. If that were true, even that would become hellish if we were allowed to retain who we are as sentient beings. Simply put, we weren't wired to do the same thing over and over forever. Will we worship in heaven? Absolutely. I'm sure even the most spirit-filled and inspiring worship we have here, will absolutely pale in comparison to the ones there. But I do not believe that is all there is to heaven.
We finite beings cannot comprehend the things which God has in store for our eternity-future, thus we default to compare it to what we think Christianity consists of today, which primarily centers on the church. Since the Bible acknowledges that we cannot comprehend heaven in any meaningful sense, it is of comfort to me since anything we try and contribute to it simply cannot do it justice.
Another popular misconception is to view all eternity in light of what the Bible says about the Kingdom Age (Isaiah 2, 11, 66, Rev. 20, etc.). The truth is, the Bible only hints at what is beyond the millennial (1,000 years) reign of Christ on the earth. Only Revelation chapters 21-22 mentions what comes AFTER the Kingdom (or Millennial) Age.
But if God was able to speak our universe into existence in a matter of days, how much more could He do in two-thousand years? Some will argue that to God, a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years, a day (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8), and thus it's only been two-thousand years (or two days) since Christ ascended. But Moses tells us in Exodus 24:11 that God created our existence in six literal 24-hour days. If God used our measurement of time to show us how He did it, how much more could He do in two-thousand years (John 14:1-3)? After all, Our God is a Creator by His very nature. But not only is He a Creator, but also a Sustainer. Jesus is the Word of God and through Him, every molecule in the universe is held together by Him (Col. 1:27).
A Bit of Speculation
I think the problem we have with thinking that God can't create any new beings in eternity future, is since Christ has come once to pay for sins (Hebrews 9:26-28), any new sentient creations would be outside the realm of redemption. However, if Satan and his influencers were no longer a factor in corrupting said future-race, they may not need it. Free will (or what was allowed to us) may also not be available as it was for us in the future eternity. Those beings (if there are new beings) will have their own operating system they fall under, perhaps some perpetual state of innocence whereby we (the redeemed from our ages), were finally deemed worthy to co-rule with Christ in their future history.
Lastly, if we can fall so easily in love (or at least fascination) with the things of this life, how much more will we be when given glorified bodies that are the perfect, incorruptible, versions of ourselves that will never age, sicken, or die, all the while presiding with our God and Creator for all of eternity? This is the same God who left the glory of heaven and all of its indescribable attributes and wonders, to be born in a lowly manger, to an unknown family, with only the angels and a few shepherds as fanfare. He did all of that, so He could redeem us from being eternally separated from Himself. God is good.
So in that light, Merry Christmas and Maranatha!
A Palestinian State? What Could Possibly Go Wrong? - By Martin Sherman - http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=1868
Any prospective Palestinian state is almost certainly likely to embody the very antithesis of the values invoked for its inception by the liberal-Left Establishment.
There is little reason to believe that any such state would be anything other than a Muslim majority tyranny and a bastion for Islamist terror groups -- whose hallmarks would be gender discrimination against woman/girls; persecution of homosexuals, prosecution of political dissidents, and suppression of non-Muslim faiths.
Indeed, its liberal-Left devotees have certainly never provided any remotely compelling argument why it would not be. Neither has the empirical precedent set since the ill-considered 1993 Oslo Accords began the ill-fated process of prodding the unprepared Palestinian-Arabs towards self-government.
After all, since Yasser Arafat's triumphant return to Gaza in July 1994, despite massive financial aid, almost unanimous international endorsement, and a series of Israeli governments, whose pliant leniency towards repeated Palestinian malfeasance exceeded the bounds of reason and common sense, the Palestinian-Arabs have failed to create anything remotely resembling a sustainable, productive society.
Indeed, all they have managed to produce is a corrupt kleptocracy under Fatah and a tyrannical theocracy under Hamas.
Thus, after a quarter-century, notwithstanding the huge advantages it enjoyed -- that, arguably far outstrip those that any other national liberation movement has had at its disposal -- the Palestinian-Arab leadership has little to show for its efforts.
All it has brought its people is an untenable and divided entity, with a dysfunctional polity, barely capable of holding even municipal elections; and an emaciated economy, crippled by corruption and cronyism, with a minuscule private sector and bloated public one, patently unsustainable without the largesse of its alleged "oppressor," Israel.
Gaza: The gravest indictment of two-statism
Gaza, where the misguided experiment in two-statsim was first initiated back in 1994, sparking a surge of deluded optimism, has now become its gravest indictment -- for both Jews and Arab alike.
For Arabs in Gaza, the specter of "humanitarian disaster" hovers over the general population, awash in untreated sewage flows, with well over 90% of the water supply unfit for drinking, electrical power available for only a few hours a day, and unemployment rates soaring to anything between 40-60%.
Accordingly, there should be no surprise that a recent Palestinian poll found that only 6% of Gazans had a positive perception of prevailing conditions in the enclave, while almost 80% considered them bad or very bad.
For Jews in Israel, ever since governance of Gaza has been transferred to the Palestinian-Arabs, it has been a hotbed of terror from which numerous deadly attacks have emanated.
Israel's unilateral 2005 evacuation of the entire area, with the demolition of over a score of thriving Jewish settlements and the erasure of every vestige of prior Jewish existence -- including the exhuming of graves and the removal of graveyards for fear of desecration by Palestinian-Arab hordes -- did little to temper the Judeophobic fervor of the Gazans.
Significantly, the only remnant of Jewish presence left by Israel were two dozen synagogues, which were all immediately razed to the ground by frenzied Arab mobs.
Huge enhancement of terrorist capabilities
Moreover, if there were any hopes that Israel's departure from Gaza would spur the Palestinian-Arab leadership to divert the focus of its efforts from terror-related activity to constructive nation-building, they were soon to be dispelled.
Indeed, quite the opposite occurred. Exploiting the absence of the IDF, the Palestinian-Arab terror groups in Gaza embarked on a feverish drive to enhance their capabilities to inflict harm on Israel and Israelis. To illustrate the point, when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the rockets which the Palestinian terror groups had at their disposal, had a range of barely five kilometers and a carried an explosive charge of around five kilograms.
Today, they have missiles with ranges over 100 kilometers and warheads of 100 kilograms -- i.e. they have enhanced these capabilities by a factor of 10.
Moreover, they have developed additional abilities that were barely conceivable back in 2005 -- such as a naval strike force to attack Israel from the sea. But arguably the most menacing development is the excavation of an extensive array of tunnels underneath much of Gaza -- including attack tunnels reaching into Israel to facilitate raids to murder or abduct Israeli citizens and soldiers.
Incessant terror attacks from Gaza forced Israel into three large-scale military operations (in 2008, 2012 and 2014) to restore some semblance of calm on its southern border -- and a fourth round seems increasingly unavoidable as rockets continue to be fired at Israeli civilian centers.
Costly campaigns; considerable casualties
These campaigns inflicted considerable Israeli casualties -- almost a hundred fatalities and well over a thousand wounded. The Palestinians suffered far higher losses -- among other things, because of the tactics employed by Hamas of using civilians to shield their armed combatants.
Moreover, these campaigns cost the Israeli economy many billions of dollars -- in direct military and civilian outlays, as well as lost production -- as millions of Israelis remained huddled in shelters for weeks, with the country's cities, towns and villages under repeated bombardment -- see here, here and here."
To this must be added the massive expense of protecting the civilian population from continual interbellum terror attacks -- such as the need to build numerous fortified structures in homes, public buildings, educational centers and kindergartens.
Israel has, of course, also been forced to invest huge sums in a quest to find an effective response to the overhead threat of rockets/missiles and the underground menace of tunnels.
The former has resulted in the largely effective "Iron Dome" which has generally kept the Israeli civilian population safe from overhead attack -- by intercepting generally very cheap, primitive projectiles with very expensive and sophisticated ones.
The underground tunnels have proved a more challenging problem, and Israel has diverted enormous resources in search of a solution to the threat they pose. Recent successes in discovering and destroying some of such tunnels suggest that good progress has been made in regard.
In addition to these technological efforts, Israel has undertaken the construction of a physical anti-tunnel barrier along the entire fifty-plus km border with Gaza, dubbed by the IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, "the largest project" ever carried out in Israel's military history.
Reportedly planned to extend into the sea, this giant barrier will comprise a six meter wall above ground and an underground concrete barrier, replete with advanced sensors, reportedly reaching depths of 40 meters.
Now imagine a giant Gaza overlooking Tel Aviv
Accordingly given the resounding failure of the endeavor to confer self-determination on the Palestinian-Arabs -- and the enormous cost incurred in contending with that failure -- it seems utterly incomprehensible that not only do demands to persist with it continue -- but also to greatly expand it.
For despite the Palestinian-Arabs proven inability to successfully meet the challenges of self-determination -- even on a minuscule scale in Gaza -- pressures still endure, in defiance of common sense and intellectual integrity, to extend the experiment to the territory of Judea-Samaria.
The scale of this predestined folly is perhaps best illustrated by the size, cost and complexity of the previously mentioned anti-tunnel barrier under construction.
After all, if the IDF were to evacuate Judea-Samaria, there is little reason to believe that it would not follow the same path as Gaza and descend into tyrannical Islamist theocracy. Indeed, the proponents of such evacuation have not -- and cannot -- provide any persuasive assurance that it will not.
Certainly, such an outcome cannot be discounted as totally implausible -- and hence must be factored into Israel's strategic planning as a possibility, with which it may well have to contend.
Accordingly, if Israel's evacuation of Gaza gave rise to the need to build a multi-billion shekel barrier to protect the sparsely populated, largely rural south, surely the evacuation of Judea-Samaria is likely to give rise to a need to construct a similar barrier to protect the heavily populated, largely urban areas, which would border the evacuated territories.
There would, however, be several significant differences.
For, unlike Gaza, which has a 50-kilometer border with Israel, any prospective Palestinian-Arab entity in Judea-Samaria would have a frontier of anything up to 500 km (and possibly more, depending on the exact parameters of the evacuated areas).
Moreover, unlike Gaza, which has no topographical superiority over its surrounding environs, the limestone hills of Judea-Samaria dominate virtually all of Israel's major airfields (civilian and military); main seaports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations (power generation and transmission, water, communications and transportation systems); centers of civilian government and military command; and 80 percent of the civilian population and commercial activity.
Under these conditions, demilitarization is virtually irrelevant -- as illustrated by the allegedly "demilitarized" Gaza. For even in the absence of a conventional air-force, navy, and armor, lightly armed renegades with improvised weapons could totally disrupt the socioeconomic routine of the nation at will, with or without the complicity of the incumbent regime, which given its despotic nature, would have little commitment to the welfare of the average citizen.
Faced with this grim prospect, any Israeli government would either have to resign itself to recurring paralysis of the economy, mounting civilian casualties and the disruption of life in the country, or respond repeatedly with massive retaliation, with the attendant collateral damage among the non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab population and international condemnation of its use of allegedly "disproportionate force."
What could possible go wrong?
But it is not only demilitarization that is largely irrelevant. So too is the alleged sincerity of any prospective Palestinian "peace partner." For whatever the deal struck, its durability cannot be assured.
Even in the unlikely event of some Palestinian, with the requisite authority and sincerity to conclude a binding deal with Israel, did emerge, he clearly could be removed from power -- by ballot or bullet -- as the Gaza precedent clearly demonstrates.
All the perilous concessions made to him, on the assumption of his sincerity, would then accrue to a far more inimical successor, whose political credo is likely to be based on reneging on commitments made to the "heinous Zionist entity."
Accordingly, based on both past precedent and sober political analysis, there is every reason to believe -- and precious little not to -- that any Palestinian state established in any area evacuated by Israel would swiftly degenerate into a mega-Gaza, overlooking greater Tel Aviv -- with all the attendant perils such an outcome would entail.
So, in response to the question "What could possibly go wrong?," the answer must be, "Pretty much everything."
Close - By Daymond Duck -
I have often said (and heard people say), "I think the Rapture is close," "We are SOOO close," "I don't see how the Rapture could not be close," and more.
No one knows the day or the hour of the Rapture, so it is important to understand some of the reasons why people think this way.
First, many students of Bible prophecy know that the Tribulation Period will begin when the Antichrist confirms a covenant (peace agreement) with many for one week of years (7 years; Dan. 9:27).
There are differences of opinion, but some of these people believe in the pre-Trib Rapture (the idea that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation Period begins (Zeph. 1:15; I Thess. 1:10, 5:9, etc.).
They know that Pres. Trump has promised to release his peace proposal in the next few weeks. A peace proposal is different from a peace treaty, and it is different from the Antichrist confirming a treaty; but a breakthrough could turn Pres. Trump's peace proposal into a peace treaty in need of confirmation.
History is littered with failed Middle East peace proposals, but reports that Saudi Arabia has ordered PA Pres. Mahmoud Abbas to accept Pres. Trump's proposal or resign means that things could be very different this time.
One of the big obstacles has been Arab refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish nation. It now appears that some of the Arabs have changed their position.
If a peace treaty is on the horizon, the Rapture is close.
Second, in that day (at the end of the age), war will break out between Israel and Syria (Isa. 17:1-14).
In late Nov. 2017, at Israel's request, Russia delivered a warning from Israel to Syria: If you let Iran set up bases in Syria, we will attack them.
In early Dec. 2017, Israel attacked bases in Syria on at least two different occasions; and on Dec. 4, 2017, Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. said war on Israel's border could be just weeks (not months or years) away.
If war between Israel and Syria is just weeks away, the end of the age is close.
Third, on Dec. 6, 2017, Pres. Trump signed a Proclamation to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Although it will probably take a while to settle the issues surrounding the borders of Jerusalem and the controversy over the Temple Mount, many influential Jewish groups believe Pres. Trump's Proclamation was a major step toward rebuilding the Temple.
But rebuilding the Temple is something that many evangelical Christians think will happen after the Rapture and very early in the Tribulation Period. They believe the Jews will accept the Antichrist as their Messiah, and the covenant he confirms will give them permission to rebuild the Temple (Jn. 5:43).
Anyway, if Pres. Trump's Proclamation is a major step toward rebuilding the Temple, it is a major step toward the Rapture, because that will take place first.
Fourth, Mark Zell, head of the Republican Party in Israel, said Pres. Trump's Proclamation "is part of a larger plan to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
In the latter years and latter days (Ezek. 38:16), a war called the Battle of Gog and Magog will break out between Israel and Iran (Ezek. 38-39). Troops from Iran and her allies (Russia, Turkey and others) will die on the mountains of Israel.
As noted above, Iran has recently established bases in Syria, and Israel has attacked them. Iran is also striving to build nuclear weapons, and Pres. Trump's Proclamation appears to be part of a plan to stop that.
When this war breaks out, the latter years and latter days have arrived, and the Rapture is close.
Fifth, when asked about the signs of His coming and the end of the age (Matt. 24:3), Jesus responded, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree (Israel); When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves (starting to grow), ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors" (Matt. 24:32-33).
100 years ago, there was no Fig Tree nation of Israel. However, on Nov. 2, 1917, England's Balfour Declaration called for the creation of a homeland for the Jews.
70 years ago, on Nov. 29, 1947, the UN Partition Plan called for the creation of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The Fig Tree nation of Israel came into being on May 14, 1948.
50 years ago, on June 5-10, 1967, the Six-Day War took place, and the Fig Tree nation of Israel grew by capturing East Jerusalem and the West Bank; but the UN refused to recognize that these areas were part of Israel.
On Dec. 6, 2017, Pres. Trump recognized that East Jerusalem belongs to Israel.
In 100 years (1917-2017), the Fig Tree nation of Israel has grown from a barren wasteland to a thriving nation of more than 7 million people that is the envy of the world.
This truth alone (the official expansion of Israel's borders and development of the nation) causes many students of Bible prophecy to know that it is near (close), even at the doors.
Prophecy Plus Ministries, Inc.
Daymond & Rachel Duck
Good news in a bad world - Greg Laurie -
Greg Laurie notes, 'He saves us from our past, our present and our future'
Like a lot of other elements of the Christmas story, I think we have glamorized the shepherds. We dress up as shepherds for our Christmas plays, and figurines of shepherds are part of our Nativity scenes, but I don't think we understand who and what they were in the culture of their day.
Shepherds were at the very bottom of the social ladder. The testimony of shepherds wasn't even allowed in a court of law because it was assumed they would not tell the truth. They were despised by many people. One reason was they could not observe the ceremonial hand washings that were required to approach God in the temple. These guys were what we might call salt-of-the-earth kind of people. They had dirt under their fingernails. They went out there and got the job done.
These are the people God handpicked to receive the angelic announcement of the Savior's birth. God was saying, in effect, "I'm going to tell the outcasts, the people on the bottom of the social ladder, that unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
This is typical of the way God often works. After all, whom did he choose to be the mother of the Messiah? He chose a peasant girl named Mary, who was living in Nazareth, a town in the middle of nowhere. Throughout his ministry, Jesus always had time for the nobodies, the outcasts. He had time for unloved people like the despised tax collector Zacchaeus, the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, and the immoral woman at the well.
Jesus also had time for hurting people. Whenever there was a hurting person and Jesus was nearby, it was only a matter of time until the two would connect. There was the day he was on his way to see the daughter of Jairus, a very influential, powerful man. Meanwhile, there was a woman who had a medical condition she couldn't get resolved. She had spent all of her money on doctors. She determined that if she could touch the hem of Jesus' garment, she would be healed.
As Jesus weaved his way through the crowd that was almost crushing him, this woman reached through and touched the very edge of his robe. Suddenly Jesus stopped and said, "Who touched me?" In the disciples' minds, it was more a question of who didn't touch him. But when the crowd parted, there stood the woman. Jesus could have said, "I don't have time for you. I'm going to the house of Jairus. His daughter is very ill." But he didn't do that. Instead, Jesus commended her for her faith. He always had time for people like her.
Jesus also had time for little children. On one occasion when mothers were bringing their children to Jesus, the disciples tried to shoo them away. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14 NKJV).
Jesus always had time for the down and outers, for the outcast, for the unloved and for the unknown - people like the shepherds. We know from Luke that the shepherds were living outside, with really no homes to speak of: "There were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8 NKJV). They didn't get out much - didn't see a lot of things. And suddenly they were watching a heavenly light show:
An angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. ... And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (verses 9, 13-14 NKJV)
It's as though God took the veil separating Earth from Heaven, pulled it back, and said, "Check it out, boys!" They were watching angels of the Lord worshiping God. No wonder they were afraid.
But the angel told them, "Don't be afraid! ... I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger" (verses 10-11 NLT).
That's a good thing to think about as we're about to enter a new year. We don't have to be afraid. Why? Because this is good news. The term used here for good news originates from a verb that we translate into the word evangelism. In other words, "Tell the people the good news that Christ the Savior is born!"
It was good news in a bad world. And they were living in a bad world. They were living with uncertainty. They wondered if Rome would ever leave and stop occupying of the homeland of the Jewish people. They wondered if wicked Herod would ever be out of power. They wondered if the Messiah would come. Well, the Messiah had come.
We, too, live in an uncertain world. We hear news of all the threats against our nation, threats from people who wish us ill, from people who want to harm us. It's a scary world we're living in. But God is saying, "Don't be afraid. Instead rejoice, because there is a great event that has happened." We have a Savior: The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! He saves us from our past, our present and our future. He forgives us all the wrongs and the sins we've committed. This is the great hope that we have at Christmas. We have a Savior.
Daily Jot: Turkey's Erdogan claims Jerusalem as Palestinian capital - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
Turkey's "president" Tayyip Erdogan called for an Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in the wake of President Donald Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his intentions to move the US Embassy to the holy city. After the summit held last Wednesday some 50 Arab nations issued a declaration that Washington was withdrawing from its role "as sponsor of peace" in the Middle East. On Sunday, Erdogan announced that he intended to move Turkey's Embassy to East Jerusalem and recognize the city the capital of Palestine. He said, "Allah willing, the day is close when officially, with Allah's permission, we will open our embassy there."
Jerusalem was designated by Mohammad as Islam's third holiest site behind Mecca and Medina. Jerusalem, however, had ben the spiritual center of God's people thousands of years before Mohammad. Jewish tradition recalls that the dust of Moriah (the mountain range on which Jerusalem sits) was used to create Adam; it was on Mt Moriah that Adam is said to have first offered sacrifice to God. After the flood, Jewish tradition also tells us that Noah's son Shem established a school to study Torah, calling it Shelem. Later, in Genesis 22:14a, "Abraham called the name of that place Yehovah Yireh." This was the mountain Zion, referred to in Genesis 22:14b as "the mount of the Lord." The two names were combined to form Jerusalem. This is also the site of the future Jewish temple and the city of the crucifixion of Christ.
Just as Islam usurps the story of Isaac by replacing him with Ishmael, Islam is usurping Jerusalem from the Jewish people. In fact, nearly every Jewish and Christian holy site in Israel is contested by Islam. In most instances, there is an attempt by Islam to erase any trace of Jewish or Christian history and replace it with some sort of Islamic tale of possession. Islam's goal is one state, one religion, one law-Islam and Sharia Law. That is the only peace of Islam. Psalm 122:6 says, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love you." The peace of Jerusalem is a decidedly different peace than the peace of Islam.
Erdogan's interest in Jerusalem and the "Palestinian cause" are linked to prophecy. Noah's grandsons from Japheth-Gomer, Magog, Meshech, Tubal are specifically mentioned in the end time prophecy of Ezekiel 38 as part of a coalition led by Gog of Magog against Israel. All these nations are located in what is now modern Turkey. As the path to the Ezekiel 38 prophecy unfolds, Turkey will become a leader of Arab nations, even so much that Iran will submit and join up to come against Israel in the end of days. It appears that President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has been a catalyst to the movement of prophecy. Erdogan is playing his part as well.
Daily Devotion: Joseph, the Unsung Hero - By Greg Laurie -
"Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly." -Matthew 1:19
Joseph is the unsung hero of the Christmas story. For the most part, there are no Christmas songs about Joseph. Yet he really is a hero. The Bible tells us that Joseph was a "good man" (Matthew 1:19). Deeply in love with Mary, he was no doubt jolted by the news that she was pregnant.
Joseph and Mary were engaged, which, in their culture, was like being married. Once a couple entered into this engagement, or espousal, period, it was like being married, although they lived in separate houses. It was during this time that Mary became pregnant.
Yet Joseph loved Mary, and the Bible tells us that he "did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly" (Matthew 1:19). In other words, Joseph was thinking, I'm going to say that I can't marry her now, but I'm certainly not going to publicly shame Mary, either.
While he was pondering this, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him, "Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (verses 20-21).
That was all Joseph needed to hear. He could have walked away, even after he knew the truth. But he stood by Mary. And just as surely as God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, he chose Joseph to be a father figure on earth for Jesus.
When God uses a person, there is a sacrifice to make. It won't be an easy path, but it will be a fruitful one-and you will look back later in life and be glad that you took it.
FROM THE HEART
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