Prophecy Update Newsletter
December 21, 2016
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Remembering God's Election - By Gene Lawley - http://raptureready.com/featured/lawley/lawley135.html
In all of the excitement created by the results of the recent election and apparent change in direction of the country, let's not forget about God's election. That election turns on the pivotal statement Jesus made in Matthew 22:14, "For many are called, but few are chosen."
This statement summarizes a parable of a wedding where those who had been invited were not responding. They were thus unworthy to attend, so were rejected. It goes beyond that group, too, and rejects anyone who might try to attend without the proper attire, in this case, the robe of righteousness provided by Jesus Christ. Here is the passage in Matthew 22:1-14:
"And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, 'See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.'
But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.'"
The truth of the parable is beautifully summarized in John 1:11-13:
"He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
Of the many who are called, those who are chosen, then, are those who believe in His name and are born of God. "Born-again," as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:7, "Do not marvel that I said to you, "You must be born again."
The "calling," then, is the telling of the good news of the gospel, as in Mark 16:15, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
The "chosen" are those who respond and receive the gift of eternal life.
The challenge in understanding how this comes about has divided the Body of Christ for centuries. On the one hand are the clear biblical declarations of God's foreknowledge, His choosing, predestination, election, and on the other hand is the steady and unrelenting demand throughout the Bible, especially the New Testament, that a person must believe in Christ to be saved.
Mortal man, having inherited the fallen nature caused by Adam's disobedience and so recorded in Genesis 3, is described in Romans 3:10-18 as wanting nothing to do with God:
"There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.
"Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood;
destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes."
A little later Paul tells us that familiar inclusive truth that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (v. 23), yet adding, "...being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (v. 24).
Finding out what happens between verses 23 and 24 is what this article is about.
Recognizing, hopefully, that God does not lie about foreknowledge, predestination, chosen before the foundation of the world, and election, how is mortal man, in his total depravity, turned around and made to want to believe and become righteous before God? The unwritten story of what happened between the declarations of those two verses is the target of this article.
What a dilemma! In this scenario, probably the two most important words in the Bible are, "But God...!"
There is an old saying that fits in here very well: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. (But you san salt his oats!)."
God's secret weapon is revealed in Romans 2 where we find the answer, also, of why Jesus is the only way to God and heaven and why those who have never heard of Jesus will not go to heaven because of that reason-they must believe in Him. It is the imprint of God's moral law upon the conscience of every person who has ever lived since creation. At the disobedience of Adam and Eve that imprint has remained and we see it in our basic realization between what is right and what is wrong in moral issues. Look how it unfolds in Romans 2:12-16:
"For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel."
When James tells us in James 2:10, that "whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all," it is clear that if God's rule of justice applies to those who only have their conscience's moral imprint to guide them, then their failure to keep the law demands God's mercy just as much as those who have the written commandments to guide them.
It also makes certain the truth of Romans 3:20, "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." ("The just shall live by fait," Romans 1:17.) God tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that He "is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
There can be no repentance unless there is the knowledge and acceptance of guilt-of sinfulness-and only then can God's mercy be obtained. And with mercy comes grace and the gift of faith and forgiveness and justification. Then we can see the result that is told in Romans 3:24, as mentioned above.
The weight of the law, as much or as little as it may be, upon a person's conscience brings the sense of guilt. The stirring of response to this is where God steps into the struggle, as John 6:44 describes it in the words of Jesus: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day."
It is said that the strength of that word, "draws," in the Greek is equal to "drags." That "born again" experience, as testified in John 1:13 and John 3:3, is a "God thing," accomplished by the Holy Spirit. No two such experiences are exactly alike, for the admission of guilt before God finds resistance in the mortal man of varying degrees.
A contrast of these responses is told by Jesus in Luke 18:6-14 in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector:
"Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
"And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 'I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'"
Many years ago in England, William Carey, now called the "father of modern missions," agonized with his Christian peers about the need to go tell the gospel to the unreached multitudes and was rebuked with the retort (in essence), "If God wants those people saved, He will take care of it; you don't have to go there!" But Paul wrote in Romans 10:13-15 and 17:
"For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? ...So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Paul also had this to say about his own commitment to the mission of the gospel being preached everywhere: "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2:10). Even the elect, the chosen, must hear the Word and believe, according to God's plan, apparently.
Remember, God said He was going to "take out of the Gentiles a people for His name" (Acts 15:14). When He says it, He means it, and we can be sure of it.
If a person's conscience is not "seared" to deadness, and many have been, that twinge of guilt in response to a moral issue is God's nudging that person to make a positive response and recognize his sinfulness and seek forgiveness.
Again, as Romans 3:20 says, "By the law is the knowledge of sin." He, thereby, "salts our oats," in a sense, and causes us to thirst for righteousness, and you remember that Jesus said, "the truly happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filed" (Matthew 5:6).
A great Scripture that tells of that continual presence of the Lord, seeking that relationship with man is Revelation 3:20:
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
(Notice that He addresses "anyone," and He would "come in to him.")
That knocking on a life's door is the calling; when a person opens that door, and Jesus comes in, he finds out that he is among the chosen.
Contact email: email@example.com
ISIS strikes in Berlin, Jordan - and Mosul too - http://www.debka.com/article/25847/ISIS-strikes-in-Berlin-Jordan---and-Mosul-too
The city of Berlin and the Jordanian Crusader town of Karaka are 3,000km apart, but the distance did not stop Islamic State killers from taking 26 lives, inuring 18 others, some very seriously, in the two countries, and causing the Israeli Dalia Elkayam to disappear.
In Berlin, German security is out in force to hunt the terrorist who rammed a hijacked Polish truck into a throng of Christmas gift seekers. They are trying to find a needle in a haystack with no clue as whether he operated alone or was part of a gang ready to strike again, a method of operation that recalls the multiple Paris atrocity which claimed 132 lives before it was over.
In Jordan, the terrorists followed up on their first shooting attack on police and the taking of tourists hostage by three days of gun battles with security forces in the alleys of Karak. Four soldiers were killed by ISIS terrorists barricaded in a building.
These episodes are not over and done with in Germany and the war against ISIS in southern Jordan has only just begun.
In both countries, they are seriously shaking the ruling establishments, however diverse their systems and geography: Chancellor Angela Merkel is standing for a fourth term in the coming election in the face of an outcry against her open-door immigration policy, while the throne of King Abdullah II is at risk if he fails to crush the Islamists.
Merkel's policy has brought a million refugees to Germany, whereas Abdullah has given refuge to 650,000 distressed Syrians. Unlike the chancellor, the king has finally sealed his kingdom's borders to further entry, with American and Israeli military and intelligence assistance.
The European and Middle East rulers find themselves in the same boat. They are exposed to an organized Islamic terror offensive with no notion of when and how the deadly strike will come.
This is nothing but a colossal failure of the global war on ISIS.
With no bars on its momentum, the Islamic State on Tuesday, Dec. 12, the same day as its outrages in Germany and Jordan, also hit two fronts in the Mosul region of Iraq - one to punish the pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militia near Tal Afar and the other, Iraqi army forces holding some of the southern and eastern outskirts of Mosul.
The US-backed army offered little or no resistance.
Nonetheless, they Obama administration stuck to its standard refrain, refusing to credit ISIS with the attack in Berlin without corroboration, even after its claim of responsibility - meaning that US intelligence's failure to identity the perpetrators exculpates ISIS. So Washington can continue to bury its head in the sand.
In Jerusalem, too, the government ignored the fighting against rampant Islamic terrorists raging for three days in southern Jordan, just 20km away from the Israeli border - as though it happened on another planet..
Indeed, Israel suddenly finds itself with a new strategic dilemma. Threatened with ISIS and other terrorist groups from its Golan border in the north and its Sinai border in the southwest, Israel is now beset from its southeastern border in Jordan.
Israel Should Do Everything in Its Power to Stop Hezbollah - by Ehud Eilam - https://www.algemeiner.com/2016/12/20/israel-should-do-everything-in-its-power-to-stop-hezbollah/
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah fired 160 rockets every day at Israel. Today, Hezbollah has an estimated arsenal of 150,000 rockets, which it plans to use against Israel as soon as the moment is right.
Hezbollah might focus on strategic targets, like industry or airfields. Or it might focus on civilians, and inflict more damage to an Israeli city than any other Arab military has done since 1948.
During the 2006 war, 200,000 Israelis had to flee from northern Israel due to the rocket attacks. But in the next war with Hezbollah, all of Israel will be in range of the group's rockets - as Hezbollah now has several thousand 220 millimeter and 302 millimeter rockets, with a range of up to 150 kilometers. It also has the M-600, which can hit targets up to 300 kilometers away.
As far as we know, Hezbollah has not obtained chemical weapons from Bashar al-Assad. But Hezbollah could launch its conventional rockets at the chemical industry in Haifa, which would bring a huge disaster to one of the most populated cities in Israel.
In spite of its strength, Hezbollah has been worn down due to its involvement in the Syrian civil war. Israel should exploit this vulnerability, and launch a pre-emptive attack to get rid of the rockets in Lebanon before they are fired at Israel. This action might be difficult to explain not only to the international community, but to the Israeli public as well. Considering the possible high price of such a war for Israel, it is essential for the government to convince the population that its actions were unavoidable.
The fragile status quo between Israel and Hezbollah might theoretically continue, since both sides say they don't seek war. Yet a war might happen anyway as a result of one severe incident on the border or the mutual suspicion and miscalculations by one or both sides.
The IDF should continue to prepare to launch a massive land, air and sea offensive in Lebanon. We must do whatever possible to stop Hezbollah.
Putin's Oil and Gas Deals Magnify Military Power in Middle East - http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/putins-oil-and-gas-deals-magnify-military-power-in-middle-east/
After reinventing itself as a major power in the Middle East by force in Syria, Russia is now using its other strong suit, energy, to expand its influence across the region.
A series of agreements is allowing Russia and the Gulf states to cooperate in areas where their interests meet, looking beyond Syria where they have backed opposing sides in a brutal proxy war. Over the past month alone, Russia brokered the first deal between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC nations in 15 years to cut oil production, secured a $5 billion investment by Qatar in oil giant Rosneft PJSC, and then saw Rosneft agree to pay as much as $2.8 billion for a stake in an Egyptian gas field.
"Russia is really keen to increase leverage in the Middle East by every means," said Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of Russia's Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.
It's a reflection of how events in the region are combining in favor of Russian President Vladimir Putin as rarely before. A cooling of U.S. alliances in the Gulf in recent years, the havoc cheaper oil has wreaked in energy-dependent economies and a recognition that Russia can no longer be ignored on regional security issues mean Putin is pushing at an increasingly open door.
Russian companies and diplomats are making most inroads in the Soviet-era markets of North Africa and Iran, as they revive political, arms trading and energy relationships that withered following the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia has also rebuilt a strong relationship with Egypt through President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Ambitions in the Gulf remain limited because U.S. security and economic ties are so deeply entrenched, Lukyanov said. And while geopolitics played a significant role, the primary Russian motivations for cutting deals to stabilize the oil price and secure investment in Rosneft were financial, he said.
Diplomats involved in the agreement between Russia and OPEC saw the extensive oil diplomacy as an area of non-confrontation that both sides used to open up channels at the highest levels to secure a common goal, namely to bolster oil prices. The deal involved direct talks between Putin and his Saudi and Iranian counterparts, while the breakthrough came from a late night phone call between the Russian and Saudi oil ministers.
Similarly, when Qatar bought a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft in a 10.2 billion-euro ($10.6 billion) deal that also involved Glencore Plc this month, one attraction for the tiny gas-rich emirate was geopolitical, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Qatar saw the investment as a path to potential business and political links, said the person, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
"What is occurring now is about the bigger picture," said Theodore Karasik, senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics. He sat on Dubai's Russian Business Council until this year. "It's not just about Syria, but all of the Levant and, because of Egypt and Libya, North Africa too."
The changes are likely to accelerate with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's more transactional approach to foreign policy, he said.
The deal with the Qatar Investment Authority is also notable because Russia and Qatar have had a particularly difficult relationship. Moscow sees the emirate as a sponsor of Islamist terrorist groups in Chechnya during the Russian republic's long separatist war, and again now in Syria. Russian agents assassinated the Chechen rebel leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in Doha, the Qatari capital, in 2004.
That made it all the more striking last week, when Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani called Putin to talk business, even as Russian aircraft were bombing Qatar-backed rebels into submission in Aleppo. According to a Kremlin statement, the two leaders discussed the Rosneft deal and how to "further promote political, trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation."
There was no mention in the statement of Aleppo or Syria, where Putin has been supporting President Bashar al-Assad. Russia's ambassador was shot dead in the Turkish capital on Monday in an assassination apparently linked to the civil war.
Rosneft and rival state energy giant Gazprom PJSC are both keen to expand their liquefied natural gas businesses in the Middle East, said Valentina Kretzschmar, principal corporate analyst at the natural resource consultants Wood MacKenzie. Qatar is the world's biggest LNG exporter.
Russia has a long history in the Middle East, having fought numerous wars with Persia and the Ottoman Empire over centuries. It entered the Arab world during the Cold War, backing Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser and post-colonial Algeria, as well as Syria, Iraq, Libya and what was then South Yemen. The U.S. secured Israel and the Arab monarchies. The Soviet hold in the region was always unsteady and largely collapsed with the end of communism.
While Russia's entry to the LNG industry is relatively new, the arms trade, is providing inroads for Russia to pick up where the Soviets left off. Between 2006 and 2015, Russia sold $12.7 billion worth of arms to the Middle East and North Africa, compared with $6 billion in the previous decade, according to figures from SIPRI, the arms trade watchdog.
Russia has benefited from an effective, if gruesome advertisement for its weaponry in Syria, as well as U.S. disengagement from the region, said Nikolay Kozhanov, a Russia-based academy associate of Chatham House. The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council "is very tough and competitive market for Russia, but they are slowly getting in," he said, citing a 2014 purchase of Russian anti-tank weapons by Bahrain.
For now, sales have picked up more strongly outside the GCC. Egypt signed a multi-billion dollar agreement to buy Russian aircraft and other weapons in 2014, while sales to Iraq are growing and post-sanctions negotiations underway with Iran promise a potentially large weapons market for the Kremlin. Algeria remains a huge consumer of Russian arms.
It's Libya, though, that may prove to be Putin's next big bet in the Middle East, after Syria, according to Kozhanov.
Putin has been forging ties with Libyan military leader General Khalifa Haftar, who visited Moscow twice in the past six months to request armed support. Haftar, already backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, has been gaining ground against rivals supported variously by Qatar, Turkey and the West. If he wins, the reward for Russia could be significant.
Russia's defense sales company, Rosoboronexport, lost at least $4 billion of contracts, and Gazprom lost several billion more in energy exploration and extraction deals signed with General Muammar Qaddafi before his 2011 overthrow. The Kremlin is looking for a way back.
Nearing Midnight: Saving the World - Terry James - http://raptureready.com/rap16.html
My practice each week before beginning to think seriously on the next week's commentary for this column is to pray for guidance from on high. This week's essay, I sensed, would require especially intensive beseeching in order to receive direction toward the commentary leading up to Christmas Day. Just the opposite turned out to be the case.
An idea of what the topic should be came almost instantly upon my beginning to think on the matter. Next, within less than an hour into the process, came a message through email that validated beyond any doubt that the topic was chosen from above.
The email was from a regular family member of our website, raptureready.com. Her words were verification that the thought for the Christmas message to be delivered wasn't mine, but from the One who sent that first Christmas message two millennia ago. I quickly dashed off an email-note thanking her.
I again thank her here and will include some of her words from her most timely cyber message to me.
As many who read these commentaries will know, my articles of late have involved the lead-up to and reporting of presidential election 2016. I view that election, I think I made clear, as being intervention by the Lord--and this for several reasons. His intervention was to, I believe, answer the prayers of His people who are called by His name, in accordance with 2 Chronicles 7: 14. His response was to begin to turn around the quick slide into the abyss of total moral decay. His action was to stop this nation's almost certain march to globalism, which, I'm convinced, the losing candidate would have put on an even faster track than America was on, should she have been elected president.
I likened the intervention in the matter of globalism to God's erecting a wall even more profound than the wall the president-elect has promised to put along America's southern border. For now, at least, America, apparently, will have a wall of sorts--a return to the constitutional concept of sovereignty and nationhood intended by the founding fathers.
That constitutional concept was formed by Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and all the rest, based upon their strong belief in adherence to Judeo-Christian principles found in the Bible. This, the new world order architects cannot abide. Religion, they rant, is the bane of progressive thought and action. These most often champion the Utopian dream fostered by Karl Marx, who wrote: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
The globalists elite who hate religion and despise Christianity in particular see Communism as the route to Utopia. If only they could have their blueprint for their version of socialism put fully into production, they would create heaven on earth. These have come to embrace fanatically their own version of religion. It is called "environmentalism."
They were, until recently, calling it global warming. The scientific sophistry behind their claim came to light through exposure to the facts, so they changed the core of their religion to "climate change."
These are of the save-the-earth cult which holds that man is destroying Mother Earth. Therefore, the globalists elite--the high priests of their religion--must see to it that all nations, all peoples, must be brought under their regulation--else we will all drown beneath the overflowing oceans because of icecap melting, etc. Greenhouse gases and carbon emissions and all of that are produced by evil Western mankind in particular and must be governed. They--the global elitists--of course, are the only ones who can thus save the world.
Pope Francis and some within the Catholic Church have wholeheartedly joined this save-the-earth cult to add their version of religious input. The following excerpted article explains:
Catholic Online reports that new priests will be expected to be familiar with and promote efforts to reduce carbon emissions...
The Church has a responsibility to care for people, and the environment. And care for one is also care for the other...
The new guidelines suggest that in the future, priests will also have a good grasp of the global climate change problem and will share this with their congregation... It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an 'ecological conversion', whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evidence in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God's handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. Therefore it will be necessary for future priests to be highly sensitive to this theme and, through the requisite Magisterial and theological guidance, helped to "acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.
There has been little reaching out by this pope since he replaced Pope Benedict to proclaim that conversion must be made to belief in Jesus Christ in order to save the souls of people of earth. But the cry at present goes out in every direction that conversion to the dogma of ecological sophistry must be instituted and enforced to save all people everywhere.
With regard to the luciferian religion called climate change, the words of my emailer say it plainly.
"No matter how much humans try to 'improve' on God's plans, He has the last say. He allows us to experiment but then, rightly shows us that His way is the best way. No matter how much humans try to wreck Planet Earth, God always has the upper (and healing) hand.
The world belongs to God. His Creation. Wonderfully and perfectly made. There is no way He is going to allow some spiritually backward, egocentric lunatic, [to] ruin what He set up. For the RC [Roman Catholic] church to actually believe that they will influence or make a difference to what is happening to planet earth is spiritual ignorance of the highest order. They are implying that action from man can fix stuff. That they (the RC church) are running things. Astonishing!"
Let me be clear in saying that I'm fully aware and agree that we are expected, as Christians, to be good stewards of he earth. However, we are not to worship the earth and make that worship the means of our salvation.
It is the reverse of the true Christmas story that we are witnessing as Christmas approaches. Globalism preaches that it is up to man to save himself by saving the planet.
Like Lucifer told Eve, we are destined to become our own gods. We are to save the world, totally apart from any deity, except, of course, for the gods--he elite--of the globalist agenda.
But the truth of the Christmas story simply, powerfully and wonderfully tells all who will listen--and believe.
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17).
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
How DID ''Christ'' Get Into ''Christmas'' Anyway? - Jack Kinsella - www.omegaletter.com
Every year at this time, the war on Christmas heats up with one side freaking out about Santa Claus violating the alleged 'separation clause' and the other side bearing signs saying, "Remember to keep the "Christ" in Christmas."
Well, much as I hate being a bubble buster, let us dispose of the main issues first.
"Santa Claus" is not a religious figure. Neither is he necessarily a Christian. Indeed, Christians are more likely to use the nickname "Satan Claws" to refer to the jolly old elf than they are to mistake him for a religious icon.
America's Santa Claus is really a Dutchman. New York City was originally settled by the Dutch, who named it "New Amsterdam". It was originally founded as a Dutch fur trading settlement in what is now Manhattan.
In 1664, the English conquered the area and renamed it "New York" after the Duke of York and Albany. The Dutch briefly regained it in 1673, renaming the city "New Orange", before permanently ceding the colony of New Netherland to the English for what is now Suriname in November 1674.
Some area names are still reminiscent of the Dutch period, most notably Flushing (Dutch town of Vlissingen), Harlem (Dutch town of Haarlem) and Brooklyn (Dutch town of Breukelen). The Dutch also brought Sinterklass, a mythical figure modeled after the Dutch patron saint of Amsterdam, St. Nicholas.
Before moving forward, let's set the WayBack Machine to the 4th century Roman Empire, led by the Emperor Constantine, to provide some historical context and background.
Legend says that Constantine saw a vision of a cross in the sky on the eve of battle, together with the words, "in this sign conquer".
Constantine ordered his soldiers to paint crosses on their shields, and when the battle was over, Constantine's forces held the field. Constantine then converted to Christianity, and in 313 he issued the Edict of Milan, declaring Christianity the state religion of Rome.
The problem facing Constantine was that the Romans already had a pantheon of gods, with temples in every city in the Empire. Constantine could not afford to put down a religious rebellion, so instead he worked out a religious compromise.
Roman coins minted for almost a decade after the Battle of Milvian Bridge still bore the images of Roman gods and goddesses. Then Constantine began to incorporate the pagan temples and symbols and trappings into the Roman state version of Christianity.
Gradually, these gods and goddesses were incorporated into Constantine's new religion, reinvented as Christian 'patron saints'.
The statues of Babylonian gods Nimrod, Semiramus and Tammuz became statues of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus. Statues of Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love, became statues of Mary, Queen of Heaven.
The Mesopotamians, who believed in many gods, held a festival in support of their chief god, Marduk, because they believed that he battled the monsters of chaos at the beginning of each winter.
The Babylonians celebrated each new year with a 12-day festival, called Zagmuth. It is from this festival that the 12 days of Christmas is believed to have originated.
The date of December 25th comes from Rome and was a celebration of the god, Saturn, and the rebirth of the sun god.
The feast of Saturnalia was cause for much wild excitement and celebration. Gift giving and merriment filled the temples of ancient Rome, as sacred priests of Saturn, called dendrophori, carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession.
In pre-Christian Germany, the evergreen tree was used in worship and celebration of the yule god, also in observance of the resurrected sun god.
The evergreen tree was a symbol of the essence of life and was regarded as a phallic symbol in fertility worship. During the winter in ancient Scandinavia there would be a certain amount of days where the sun would not shine.
Upon the return of the first sunlight, the Scandinavians would hold a festival called the Yuletide.
A Yule log would be burned in a special fire, and everyone would gather around the fire and hold a great feast. To remind themselves that the spring and summer would surely return again, people in some areas of Scandinavia would tie apples to tree branches.
Both holly and mistletoe were hung in doorways of temples and homes to invoke powers of fertility in those who stood beneath and kissed, causing the spirits of the god and goddess to enter them. The holly wood was used by witches to make wands.
The legend of St Nicholas, or Sinterklass, parallels the pre-Christian worship of the Germanic god, Odin. Odin and Sinterklass shared a number of attributes, such as traveling through the air astride a mythical horse, together with a staff of mischievous elves that help Sinterklass in his annual visits.
During the Reformation, Protestants renamed the bringer of gifts from Sinterklass to the Christ Child, or Christkindl -- which was corrupted into the English, "Kris Kringle".
In 1821, the book "A New-year's present, to the little ones from five to twelve" was published in New York. It contained Old Santeclaus, an anonymous poem describing an old man on a reindeer sleigh, bringing presents to children.
It was followed up by the 1823 poem, "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore. An 1863 Harper's Weekly reprint featured a drawing of a fat man with a long white beard by cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Clement Clarke Moore invented the eight tiny reindeer and named them in his poem. The ninth, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer was invented in a 1939 booklet written by Robert May and published by Montgomery Ward.
The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, L.P. and, despite its popularity, it is not in the public domain, but is under license owned by the company. The song was written by May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, and became a hit for cowboy singer Gene Autry in 1949.
Department store Santas were invented in Massachusetts in the 1890's.
In the 1930's, the Coca Cola company adopted "Santa Claus" as its trademark, creating the image of the modern American Santa Claus that morons like the ACLU now claim is a "religious" figure.
In the Left's knee-jerk, blind hatred of all things Christian, it now insists on banning Santa Claus as a religious figure in most schools.
Not because Santa Claus is a fraud, but because in their confusion, they think that he is a Christian icon.
Before you get all angry at Santa Claus and start tearing down your tree, tinsel and decorations in order to return to the true meaning of Christmas, there IS no true meaning of Christmas.
As noted, Christmas has nothing to do with Christ's birth -- Jesus was most probably born in the spring or fall, based on the Bible's identification of the shepherds tending their sheep atop a hilltop, rather than down in a valley where they would normally be during the winter.
The Bible mentions the birth of Christ because the babe in the manger would grow up to become the Savior of the world. But it wasn't His birth that saves us. He was born a helpless baby, like the rest of us.
At His birth, He had not made a Name for Himself. He had done no mighty works. What the Bible celebrates at His birth is what He would accomplish with His death.
"A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth." (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
If there is a true meaning of Christmas, it is that it began the process that would culminate thirty-three years later with His death and Resurrection.
In the most literal sense, the true meaning of Christmas is that it is the beginning of Easter.
Historically speaking, Jesus wasn't the reason for the season. The reason for the season was Roman politics. So, what do we do about Christmas?
Should Christians celebrate it? I can find no reason why they shouldn't.
Even though Christmas is a Roman invention and Santa is a Dutchman reinvented as a pitchman for Coke, the world sees them both as representatives of Christianity.
They aren't representative of Christianity at all, but the enemy (and his idiot minions) think that they are. And anything that bothers the enemy is ok by me.
In recent years, there has erupted a war on Christmas. Why it that? Because while Jesus was never the reason for the season historically, for Christians, He is the reason for the season now.
So at Christmas, everybody hears about Jesus in some form or another, thanks to the war on Christmas, and Satan hates that.
His invention of Santa Claus backfired -- Santa was supposed to become the reason for the season, crowding Jesus out of the picture, but instead, even his own minions equate Santa Claus with Jesus Christ.
Instead of kids forgetting all about Jesus and focusing on Santa and Rudolf and presents Christmas trees and all the trappings, every year at about this time, a war erupts over Christmas and Santa Claus and Rudolf.
Once again, Satan's reach has exceeded his grasp. Instead of it being exclusively dedicated to greed and selfishness and capitalism, every year a battle erupts over the "reason for the season" -- which always takes the focus off of Satan Claws and his minions and puts it back on Jesus.
The harder Satan tries to remove Jesus from the picture, the more central He becomes, which is not only as it should be, but also very instructive. Satan made the same mistake two thousand years ago.
"Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Corinthians 2:8)
So in essence, the war on Christmas is a war between Satan and his minions, not a war between the forces of secularism and the forces of Christ.
So should Christians celebrate Christmas? What does the Bible say?
"He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks." (Romans 14:6)
The war on Christmas is intended to side-track Christians but instead, it just keeps rolling back over on the secularists. The more that the ACLU tries to turn Santa Claus into a religious icon, the more ridiculous and desperate the enemy appears to be.
"For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." (Romas 14:20)
There is no sin in celebrating Christmas as the Lord's birthday. If one is regarding it to the Lord, then one is honoring the Lord and there is no sin in that.
Christians celebrating Christmas makes the enemy very angry, or he would not be fighting against it so hard. So this year, I'm going to celebrate it as hard as I can.
Thank You, Jesus, for stepping out of eternity and into space and time to take on the form of a mortal man. This Christmas, I will reflect on the kind of love that took, knowing that He knew what awaited Him at the end, before it ever began.
And, knowing how mad it makes the enemy, I'm going to enjoy it even more than usual.
Don't let the enemy steal the liberty procured for you at the Cross. Be happy before God this Christmas, knowing that He wants you to be.
"Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. "(Romans 14:22)
And may God bless us, every one!
Daily Jot: In appreciation - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
Since the election, The Daily Jot has received hundreds of emails and letters. Some speak of accountability, others about wisdom. Still others about providing information that is relevant and accurate. It would be difficult to go into all of them and truly express the inspiration and encouragement that I personally receive when reading them. There are others who condemn, discourage, and viciously argue with the points of view presented in the Jot. In their strange way, they too, are encouraging because there is always room for improvement and so long as someone is reading these Jots, they may get something that changes their lives. I appreciate you and thank you for reading the Jot and taking action from it.
As the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come." Just because we prevailed in stopping the Islamic Marxist revolution designed to overthrow our Republic, it doesn't mean that residue of it is gone. We are going to have to be vigilant to hold accountability-both to the new Administration and ourselves to God. I truly believe that the Lord has heard our prayers and saw how many of us repented for our nation and stood in the gap to make up the hedge. We have been spared further destruction by a corrupt and evil force that could have remained in the key leadership position over our people. Notwithstanding, these are perilous times and so are the times ahead.
As you see with how the losers responded to the election, their temper tantrums, accusations, pronouncements of racism, xenophobia, bigotry and so on, there is a mission field before us. My thought is that there is a greater mission field here in America than in many places in the world where we send missionaries. Our children and their children are part of a dark system that has for too long had its way. We, as Christians, must focus our missionary efforts right here in our homes and our communities, while still not abandoning our outreach in other countries. This generation before us is misguided and they believe strongly in their misguided ways. In speaking against hate, they themselves hate. Evil is good. Good is evil.
Pray for the strength and courage to be that good citizen of the Kingdom of God. Pray that you show by example why someone would want to have the peace and freedom you have through Christ. We have stood against the principalities in this country and have won a reprieve, but with that comes responsibility. Powered by the Lord, our actions accomplished something no one thought possible. Now for the larger and more difficult assignment: Turning Americans toward Christ a heart at a time. As Christ said in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." With Christ as our example, we can overcome the darkness within our nation. You are greatly appreciated. Thank you for all you do and for what you will do.
Daily Devotion: Christ the Lord - Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." -Luke 2:10-11
The angel began that wonderful announcement to the shepherds with, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. . . ." Maybe you are suffering today. You might find yourself wondering, Where is the joy? But what is the joy about? Is it about an opportunity to go shopping? Is the message of Christmas "Let it snow"? No, it is, "Let us worship."
The angels' visit to the shepherds became the first Christmas celebration. It's as though heaven and earth were celebrating it together, as though a portal to glory had been opened up. These shepherds saw the supernatural world, the heavenly world. On that first Christmas, there was a big celebration in heaven and on earth over the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have a Savior: "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). That is the most important thing. We have a Savior who came to save us from the power and penalty of sin. Whatever you are going through in life, remember this: you have a Savior. He has put your sins as far away from you as the east is from the west.
Christ means "anointed one." Another word for that is Messiah. Jesus was the fulfillment of God's promise to send His Son as the Messiah. This is a simple reminder that God keeps His promises. God said that He would send a Messiah, and the Messiah came.
Lord means that we have a sovereign God who is in control of our lives.
So set aside the things you have become preoccupied with and remember that you have a Savior. You have a Lord. You have a Christ. And you have His promises.
FROM THE HEART
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