Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown - Pete Garcia -
As we enjoy this Christmas Season, it is fitting for Christian households and churches to focus on the first coming of Jesus Christ. In times past, and perhaps not so much anymore, one could see the manger scenes in town squares and in front of churches of all denominations. Christmas cards bearing the Star or the three Wisemen are passed amongst believers during this season. Preachers preach predominantly from Matthew 1-2, churches hold cantatas and the sounds of "peace on earth, good will toward men" fill the ears of believers round the world. Bethlehem, Israel becomes the focus of world stage once again, as Christian's flock to the Church of the Nativity which is currently held hostage by the Palestinian movement.
Perhaps people like to focus on Christ as an innocent baby or focus on the role of parenthood as Mary and Joseph cared for this child who came about supernaturally. The virgin birth of Christ and the role of Mary figures largely in Catholic circles and also in liberal and secular circles where the possibility of a virgin birth is denied. Thus Christmas, as to its true meaning (unto you is born a Savior), is controversial.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
When the fullness of time had come...is a phrase so packed with meaning that it would not be possible to break it all down in the limited space (or ability) I have at my disposal. But it speaks to the eternal purpose of God's plan for the redemption of mankind, and of all created order. It speaks to the specific moments on man's timeline, when God would intervene, in a supernatural and visible way, to put feet to His plan.
Dr. Andy Wood's makes much use of this phrase in his teachings, and really brought to my mind, the preciseness and purpose for why God chose that particular time frame for Christ's first coming. Consider these points:
Since Alexander the Great, Koine Greek became the predominant common language in the Mediterranean. Koine Greek is a very precise language which is perfect for capturing the original intent and meaning of the Scriptures...no matter which language they get translated into in the future.
The Roman republic form of government ends under Julius Caesar and he creates a total dynastic dictatorship under what would become the rule of the Caesars. Christ was born and dies under the reign of a Caesar, and will return one day when another Caesar (Antichrist) who has set his empire up over the whole world.
The Roman's perfected the creation of the road networks, which spanned the boundaries of the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, Europe, and even up into Britain.
Israel remained under the subjugation of Gentile powers (as described in Daniel 2:31-45, 7, 8, & 11) which had played out from the time of their exile to Babylon (605-539BC)
So looking at it from a holistic point of view, there was a common language (Koine Greek), an advanced network for travel (all roads lead to Rome), dominant pagan world power (fertile fields no doubt), and Israel in the final years before her diaspora. Unknown exactly which year Christ was born in, or rather, is much in dispute to the exact year, we know when He was born the nation of Israel wasn't expecting it. We know from the world's perspective, the birth of the Christ in some backwater province of the Roman Empire, didn't even register a blip on their geo-geo-political radar. We know Christ lived up unto the age of 30 virtually as an unknown, before exploding onto the scene to present the world with 3 Â½ years of God in the flesh, ministry. At the end of that, He managed to make the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zealots mad enough to trump up false charges and have Him brought before the Sanhedrin to be tried as a political prisoner.
In Genesis 49, Jacob was blessing his sons, who would become the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. When Jacob came to bless Judah, he gave him an interesting prophecy;
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
Also, in Numbers 24:17, the prophet Balaam prophesied that this same scepter would be accompanied by a Star, by which the wise men (Matt. 2:2) would know where this One born King of the Jews would be.
"I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult
Modern Jewish scholars today will refute that Christ is the Messiah because their argument is that the 'scepter' departed from Judah back in 605BC when the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. Furthermore, that from then, until 1948, the Jewish nation had been under some form of Gentile domination. All that is true. But what is also true is that the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans allowed the Jews to have a semi-autonomous rule (Zerubbabel, Ezra, Maccabeus) over themselves, up until King Herod Archelaus was removed from power by Julius Caesar in 6AD (Josephus, Antiquities 17:13). That's when the Jews lost any remaining semblance of autonomy and were subject to a series of Roman procurators with Pontius Pilate being one.
Since Jews were either not anticipating the coming of their Messiah, or had largely ignored the literal fulfillment of the prophecies pertaining to Christ's first coming, they thought they had lost their right to wield capital punishment on Him, which is why they had to turn it over to Pilate for the official sentence. Now, that didn't stop them previously from trying to stone Him to death on a couple prior occasions when they were riled up, but He always managed to allude them. (John 8:58-59, 10:30-33) They (the Sanhedrin) didn't want to crucify Him on Passover because of the negative publicity, but again, the timing was such that God orchestrated everything to coincide with exactly the Passover Feast. (Mark 14:1-2; 1 Cor. 2:6-8)
The victory at the Cross represented something much more significant than a literal kingdom on earth (which is still yet to come), but that Christ conquered death and hell. (Rev. 1:18) Because Christ had to be a man to die for the rest of mankind as our Kinsman Redeemer, Christ willingly endured the joy set before Him, in order to pay the price for OUR salvation. (Lev. 25; Heb. 12:2; Rev. 5:6-10) It would be equivalent to God rigging a game that placed all the burden and rules against Himself so that by His losing, we win. Christ trading His own perfect holiness, for our sinful and corrupted lives, is oft referred to as the most lopsided trade in all of recorded history...yet, that is exactly what transpired. We don't think about it this way, but God the Son, traded His former estate, to take on forever, that of God in a glorified human body.
I've often heard Amillennialists and Preterists state emphatically, that Christ will not return to rule and reign on earth because they say that we are now in the Kingdom. I couldn't disagree more. The Scriptures tell us, that this world, is under the sway and control of Satan himself. (Luke 4:5-6; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 5:19; Rev. 2:13) As much as these might wish, the Cross didn't usher in some Edenic age where lambs lay down with wolves, children play with cobras, and nations beat their swords into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4, 11:2-8). Any interpretation that detracts from the actuality that God Himself will right the wrongs, and restore nature back to its original order. Anything less than that is to depart from the plain reading of the text into allegorical folly.
It was to King David that God said, "And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom." (1 Chron. 17:11) God states over and over, that the Kingdom Come is not established by man or by earthly efforts, but by God Himself (Dan. 2:44-45; Psalm 2; Rev. 19:11-16). There is the idea that the Kingdom is purely spiritual, and is argued that the Kingdom is now in play, only in the heavenly realms, this by taking several texts out of context. (Luke 17:20-22; Romans 14:17) If those who deny the literal coming Millennial Kingdom on earth had their way;
Christ would only come to earth to die, and not to reign; for Christ to be born 'King of the Jews', but to not actually become "King of the Jews"; for Him to ride a donkey, but not a white horse; for Christ to be spat on, beaten, and hang naked upon a cross of shame, but not to return in triumphal glory coming on the clouds with the armies of heaven behind Him. If Christ doesn't return, then He remains defeated on the earth that He spoke into existence, that God's word does not mean what it says, and that God can break unbreakable promises.
The reason that men and women promote these heterodox teachings, is because of man-made religion, whether it be Roman Catholic or Protestant, have become too invested in the things of this world. They want life to continue on, or maybe they just see life continuing on and on, in some endless cycle of man rising and falling (2 Peter 3). They have to depart from a plain sense reading of the text and insert their own interpretation, which supplants God's promise to return in victory and claim what is rightfully His. And not only to claim what is His, but that every knee should bow, whether it is in heaven, on earth, under the earth, throughout all of creation, and confess that Jesus Christ is King (Philippians 2:9-11). Are these folk saying that Christ is free to rule everywhere, but the earth?
The Christ-rejecting world as well as those Christians who have fallen into spiritual slumber, will be astonished in that Day, when Christ comes for His Church. Because that Day, opens the window of time, for the Tribulation to begin. It doesn't begin the Tribulation, but the Church has to be removed prior to the start of that final week of years, in which at some point afterward (days, weeks, months, years), the seven year Tribulation will begin just as it is noted in Daniel 9:27. The final seven-years will be the most horrific, violent, and devastating period of time humanity has ever seen (Matt. 24:21-22). God will accomplish two things by it; first, He disciplines Israel, and second, He destroys all the Gentile nations round about her, by bringing the whole Babylonian system crashing to the ground (Jer. 30:7-11).
It is noted in the Prophets, that THAT DAY will begin in unimaginable calamity, perhaps masking the Church's departure. The prophet Joel records..."The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord." Paul writes that "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief." 1 Thess. 5:2-4
Make no mistake that the Lord will return and will come with the clouds and in great power and glory. Christ will come and reclaim that which was lost with Adam. He has the title deed to the earth. He no longer wears the crown of thorns, but now wears 'many crowns', meaning He has ALL authority. When the holy prophet Isaiah saw the throne room, he was undone. When the holy prophet Daniel sees the throne room, he was shaken. When John sees the glorified Christ in all His splendor, he falls over as dead. How much more traumatized will an unrepentant, Christ- rejecting world be when it sees the sky splitting open and Christ returning in power and glory? The whole world will mourn (Rev. 1:7). The world at this moment doesn't care. The religionists try to minimalize or explain-away His soon coming with fanciful wordsmithing. Those actively opposed to Christ, who loathe Him and are filled with vengeance because this age is coming to an end, are ramping up evil in these final moments...
But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:11-16
Hamas Waiting for Opportunity To Turn Judea & Samaria Into Another Gaza - By Yaakov Lappin -
Hamas's latest effort to join a Palestinian unity government is little more than a facade, and the terror group's top immediate objective is to seize control of Judea and Samaria and turn it into a second Gaza, according to the assessments of defense experts.
After years of failed attempts at reconciliation, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and Hamas in October announced that they would implement a unity deal, which included the restoration of PA control in Gaza by Dec. 1.
But the so-called unification quickly ran into trouble, and was delayed to Dec. 10. Now, the reconciliation agreement is apparently collapsing, and Hamas seems to be in no rush to revive it.
"Hamas is just waiting for Abbas to die, or that he agrees to elections, to try and take over the West Bank," Dr. Ely Karmon, a senior scholar at Israel's International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), told JNS regarding the 82-year-old Palestinian leader. "And Hamas is again talking about close ties with Iran and Hezbollah."
Dr. Col. (res.) Moshe Elad, one of the founders and former heads of the security coordination between the IDF and the PA, said the PA is utterly dependent on Israel's military presence in Judea and Samaria to prevent a second Hamas-armed Islamist revolution.
Elad, who today lectures at the Western Galilee College, said IDF-PA coordination is "the insurance policy" that the PA has in Judea and Samaria for its survival, since "Hamas is very strong there."
"Hamas can't launch a revolution in Judea and Samaria...but it's a threat that exists all of the time," Elad told JNS. "It's true that on the surface, PA President Mahmoud Abbas attacks Israel, but ultimately, he wants us to be there, so that we can give him security against the possibility of a revolution by Hamas.
As absurd as it sounds, he understands that Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria, because of the settlers, holds benefits for him. This means there is a very big convergence of interests...if we leave the area, he will be in a major problem. This is exactly what happened in Gaza."
Elad was referring to the 2007 Gaza coup, which saw Hamas's gunmen seize the coastal territory by force and kill Fatah personnel, widening a massive rift between the two Palestinian camps. The latest stalled reconciliation effort was aimed at bridging this gap. But Elad believes such attempts should not be taken seriously.
According to Elad, Saleh al-Arouri--a senior Hamas operative who is part of a shadow overseas command structure for the terror group that orchestrates attacks from afar--has "sent letters to Hamas operatives in which he ordered them to prepare a similar coup in Judea and Samaria.
Abbas knows that the five to six battalions the PA has cannot keep him in power over time on their own. He needs Israel."
Elad, who has written two books on the Palestinians, said he has counted more than 25 unification attempts between Hamas and the PA since 2007.
"It never succeeds," he said. "The Egyptians, the Turks, the Qataris and Saudis--who hasn't tried to mediate? There is a deeper story here than many realize. Hamas will not give up its armed force [in Gaza] so easily."
On the streets of Palestinian cities, towns and villages in Judea and Samaria, the PA continues to repress Hamas, Elad added.
"In terms of popularity, Hamas is stronger than the PA, because the PA controls by force and authority, and not through public support," he said. "There are areas outside of the Muqata (the PA's government complex in Ramallah) where Abbas cannot visit. There are two camps here--a two-headed Palestinian system. Reunification is irrelevant."
In line with Elad's assessments, the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency and IDF ground units in Judea and Samaria continue to operate day and night to keep Hamas in check. Israeli preventative operations represent the majority of the force that is in place against Hamas, with the PA's own efforts--motivated by self-preservation--forming the minority of anti-Hamas operations.
In recent days, the Shin Bet announced that it had disrupted a Hamas cell in the village of Tel, near Nablus, which was in the planning stages of a kidnapping attack targeting a soldier or a civilian from a bus stop. Three suspects were arrested, who were allegedly in touch with Hamas's headquarters in Gaza to receive orders and funding for the attack, designed to secure the release of Palestinian security prisoners from Israeli jails.
Both the PA and Israel continue to observe and sometimes disrupt Hamas's social infrastructure, which spreads its popularity and ideology. These networks include schools, mosques and charity centers, used to keep operatives on the payroll and recruit the masses to the Hamas Islamist cause.
University campuses bristle with Hamas student groups that spread radical ideology and promote recruitment drives. Yet the organization's terrorist cells are routinely detected before they can act.
Dozens of the terror plots are orchestrated by Hamas's overseas shadow government, led by Arouri, who today is believed to reside in Lebanon--under Hezbollah protection--after leaving Turkey.
Hamas's goal of conquering Judea and Samaria provides plenty of motivation for the PA to continue its arrest raids on the terror group, prompting Hamas to threaten to end unification talks in recent weeks.
"I do not believe in a real reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah," said ICT's Karmon. "They could for a short time coordinate stances on the issue of Jerusalem, but [Hamas political chief in Gaza] Yahya Sinwar has already announced that the agreement has collapsed."
Syrian, Iran-Backed Forces Advance in Town Near Israeli Border -
Syrian army forces backed by Iranian-backed militias pushed deeper into the last rebel-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon in a new expansion of Tehran's influence in the war-torn country.
The army and the Shi'ite forces advanced east and south of the Sunni-rebel held bastion of Beit Jin backed by some of the heaviest aerial bombing and heavy artillery shelling since a major assault began over two months ago to seize the area, rebels said.
The Syrian army said it had encircled the village of Mughr al Meer at the foothills of Mount Hermon as troops moved towards Beit Jin amid fierce clashes.
The enclave is the last rebel bastion left in the south west of Damascus known as the Western Ghouta that had since last year fallen under government control after months of heavy bombing on civilian areas and years of siege tactics that forced rebels to surrender.
A western intelligence source confirmed rebel reports that Iranian-backed militias including the powerful Lebanese Hezbollah Shi'ite group were playing a major role in the ongoing battles.
"The Iranian backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border," said Suhaib al Ruhail, an official from the Liwa al Furqan rebel group that operates in the area.
Worried by Iran's expanding influence in Syria after the defeat of Islamic State, Israel has in the last few weeks stepped up its strikes against suspected Iranian targets inside Syria.
Early this month an Israeli strike on a base near Kiswah, south of Damascus was widely believed to be an Iranian military compound, according to a Western intelligence source
Israel has been lobbying both big powers to deny Iran, Lebanon's Hezbollah and other Shi'ite militias any permanent bases in Syria, and to keep them away from the Golan, as they gain ground while helping Damascus beat back Sunni-led rebels.
The southwest of Syria is part of a de-escalation zone in southern Syria agreed last July between Russia and Washington, the first such understanding between the two powers.
The area has not seen Russian bombing unlike other ceasefire areas in Syria.
Diplomatic sources say several thousand Shi'ite fighters who have been amassing from outside the Quneitra province are pitted against hundreds of Islamist and mainstream Free Syria Army (FSA) rebels closing ranks under the banner of Itihad Quwt Jabal al Sheikh "Union of fighters of Jabal al Sheikh". They are mainly drawn from local fighters from the area.
With the army and Iranian backed offensive widening, the rebels have called on youths to enlist as mosque imams in Beit Jin called on people to take up arms and fight the army.
Rebels still have a sizeable presence in central and southern Quneitra, in the Syrian Golan Heights.
Western diplomatic sources say the crushing of the Sunni rebel presence in areas they have been in since 2013 will allow Lebanon's Hezbollah to open another secure arms supply line from its border in southern Lebanon into Syria.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, Iran has had a growing presence in the country, deploying thousands of Shi'ite fighters who have fought against both mainstream Sunni rebel groups and more militant groups.
Could 2018 Be the Year? - By Daymond Duck - http://www.raptureready.com/2017/12/24/could-2018-be-the-year-daymond-duck/
On May 14, 2018, Israel will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish nation. 70 is clearly one of several numbers that have special significance in the Bible (Jacob took 70 people to Egypt; Israel spent 70 years in Babylon; There are 70 weeks of Daniel; 70 members of the Sanhedrin, etc.).
It seems logical that 2018 could be a significant year in the history of Israel. I cannot predict the future, but two startling events are shaping up.
First, Pres. Trump clearly intends to release a peace proposal in 2018; and one startling fact about this is the likelihood that Israel, most of the Arabs, and the PA will come to some kind of agreement.
The peace proposal that Pres. Trump's advisors are working on is much more than a U.S. creation. It is the product of several weeks of behind the scenes discussions with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and others. It is being hailed as a Trump proposal, but it is actually the creation of many entities.
Peace negotiations have taken place and failed for almost 70 years. Those that are working on this proposal appear to have reached the conclusion that 70 years of negotiations are enough. The time to solve the issue has come.
There are reports that the old plans are dead and the U.S., Israel and several Arab nations are working on a new proposal that will be pre-approved (accepted before it is made public).
Mahmoud Abbas and the PA are expected to object to the proposal, so the Saudis have already ordered Mr. Abbas to get on board or resign. The Saudis pay his salary and that of his staff, so it will be hard for him to refuse to comply.
Egypt and Jordan have objected to past plans, but they have been involved in the discussions this time, and they are cooperating with Saudi Arabia.
Egypt and Jordan are expected to voice some minor objections, but it is a foregone conclusion that they will eventually accept the pre-approved proposal. Egypt is even offering the PA land in the Sinai that can be annexed to Gaza.
Very significant is the fact that Saudi Arabia and most of the 21 Arab nations said very little when Pres. Trump issued his Dec. 6, 2017 Proclamation that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel.
Very significant also is the fact that they said very little when the White House said they can't envision the Western Wall (on the Temple Mount) not being part of Israel.
Very significant again is the fact that two Arab nations (Turkey and Jordan) tried to get Saudi Arabia and the other Arabs to attend an emergency meeting of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to denounce Pres. Trump's Proclamation, but the Saudis and others refused to attend.
Feeding into this is the fact that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are unhappy with the fact that Mahmoud Abbas has been unnecessarily friendly with the Iranian-backed terrorists in Gaza. Saudi Arabia and Egypt want something done about Iran, and Mr. Abbas is leaning toward the wrong side. He has offended his Saudi and Egyptian allies.
The Saudis and Egypt are obviously interested in a coalition with the U.S. and Israel.
Egypt helped the PA draft a resolution to set aside Pres. Trump's Proclamation on moving the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but Egypt knew that the U.S. could kill it with a veto.
On Dec. 19, 2017, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was still fighting the Trump Administration's efforts to draft a peace proposal, and the Saudis called him in and warned him to get on board a second time.
Second, it looks like 2018 could also produce an Arab war with Iran (ethnos against ethnos), or it could be the year that Iran and others attack Israel (Gog and Magog). Something must be done soon about Iran's progress in the development of nuclear weapons or it will be too late to stop her.
In 2015, over the objections of Saudi Arabia, Israel and others; the U.S., UK, China, Russia, France and Germany signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran that would supposedly (but disputedly) stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, limit Iran's missile development and restrict Iran's sale of certain weapons to other nations.
There is much more to it, but on Oct. 13, 2017, Pres. Trump refused to certify that Iran is keeping the JCPOA. He made a case for attacking Iran and gave Congress 60 days to act before he did anything. The 60 days are up and Congress hasn't acted.
The next move is now up to Pres. Trump, and some think he will withdraw the U.S. from the JCPOA in January 2018. Withdrawing the U.S. from its treaty with Iran would be a big deal.
Iran has shipped weapons (including missiles to Yemen) and built weapons facilities in Lebanon and Syria (possibly in violation of JCPOA). Iran has urged jihadists to fire rockets into Israel, refused to pull her troops out of Syria, threatened to send 80,000 Shiite fighters into the Middle East, and Yemen has fired an Iranian missile at Saudi Arabia's public airport.
On Dec. 18, 2017, Pres. Trump released a document that lays out his national security doctrine. It says the Middle East crisis is caused by Iran and radical Islamic terrorists, not Israel.
The war drums are beating in the White House, Israel, Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations. It looks like a coalition is forming to settle their differences, sign a peace treaty and reshape the Middle East.
This brings up many questions that can't be sorted out right now (Psa. 83, destruction of Damascus, Gog and Magog, destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, etc.), but it is enough to ask could 2018 be the year that these startling events take place?
If it is, the world will be very different 12 months from now.
Prophecy Plus Ministries, Inc.
Daymond & Rachel Duck
Daily Jot: One Christmas - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
There are a lot of terrible things going on right now in the world. But we are at the time of the year when we as Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We can choose to be impacted by the world around us in its dimly lit arena, or we can choose to let our light so shine. I choose the latter. I want to tell you a little about the Christmas' that I had growing up on our family farm in Ohio. I was blessed to be born into a horse and cattle farm that has been in our family for some 200 years. And Christmas, especially Christmas Eve, was a wonderful time for our family. December 24 was my Dad's birthday. And my Dad was well loved by his neighbors and friends, so we had a lot going on Christmas Eve.
I remember one special Christmas Eve. I must have been about four years old. The night was falling and the wind and snow were whipping across the barnyard, as we often were victims of the "lake effect" from Lake Erie in the southern most tip of the snow belt. The barn was cold when we turned on the lights and started climbing into the loft and throwing bales of hay down, putting the hay in the mangers, grain in the feed boxes and water in the buckets. Then the horses and cows were gathered in the barnyard, one by one we let them through the door and they automatically went to their stalls or stanchions. The barn warmed up and the animals contently eating was a comforting sound.
We had dinner and went to church. I remember my brother Chuck carried me out of church that night. He was 14 years older than me and we were so very close. He was asking me whether I thought Santa had made it to the farm yet. And I was worried that it was so early on Christmas Eve that he had not--for we celebrated our family Christmas on Christmas Eve with my Dad's birthday. Then he looked up at the moon and said, "See there...its Santa's sleigh and his reindeer. Don't you see them?" He was so convincing that I looked and looked, but couldn't find them. But Chuck insisted that he had seen Santa Clause. We got home and sure enough there were wonderful presents under the tree.
We had a great family time that year, opening presents and enjoying one another. And afterwards, neighbors and friends started dropping by to wish my Dad happy birthday. Their kids and me were playing with my new farm set, and there was a lot of laughter and fun. Chuck was killed by a drunk driver a few years later. Dad passed in 1989. But the spirit of those two wonderful men lives on here and especially in heaven, and I am reminded of them every Christmas Eve--in the best of times or worst of times, they were the best of men. We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who is with us in all times. And no matter the condition of the world, we can draw comfort in His promise in Matthew 28:20, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." God Bless you and yours during this season.
Daily Devotion: Death Is Not the End - By Greg Laurie -
And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. -1 John 2:17
Commentator E. M. Bounds wrote, "Heaven ought to so fill our hearts and hands, our manner and conversation, our character and our features, that all would see that we are foreigners. . . . Heaven is our native land and home to us, and death to us is not the dying hour, but the birth hour."
Life is passing by quickly, and we know that we will see our loved ones in the Lord again. The absence away from our loved ones is a comma, not a period. Earth is a temporary place where we decide our eternal destiny. One day Jesus Christ will call all believers to Heaven, either through the Rapture or through death.
Heaven is our real home, and we should be motivated by the hope that we will be in Heaven. As Warren Wiersbe said, "For the Christian, heaven isn't simply a destination; it's a motivation."
The Bible gives us this reminder in 1 John 2: "Do not love this world. . . . For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever" (verses 15-17).
But what about people who, through no fault of their own, were not able to do all they had hoped to do because they were hampered by a disability or illness? Or what about those whose lives were shorter than what they had hoped? God will not waste or squander any life or gifts.
Death, for the believer, is not the end of life but the continuation of it in another place.
FROM THE HEART
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"Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!" - Hal Lindsey
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Our Prayer for You- "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else." 2 Corinthians 9:10-13
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P.O. Box 40516
Bakersfield, CA 93384-0516