Coming Soon!

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.  (1 Peter 4:7)

I have been looking for the return of Christ from the time I read Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth back in 1971. Since that time, and through further studies into the “Feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23),[1] I have concluded that Jesus will probably return at the Feast of Trumpets, in early fall, around late September or early October. For the last 20 years or so, I have looked forward with anticipation to the coming of Rosh Hashanah in hopes that Jesus will appear to take us home. Obviously, I am disappointed every year, but my hope remains strong. I know Jesus will return as He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).

It surprises me (although it shouldn’t) that many, including “Christians,” do not share the same hope, or at least do not seem as enthusiastic about it as I am. Many Christians that I know, although they say they wish Jesus would return soon, conduct their lives as if that hope is just a fanciful dream that lies ahead in some nebulous future. Consequently, their conversations center around the things that currently most occupy their minds – the status of their favorite sports team, the latest movie, what goes on in government or in the news, the antics of their children, grandchildren or their dogs, etc. Rarely do I find a brother who wants to have a conversation about what is going on in the world and how that fits into End-Times prophecy. The Apostle Peter said that such times would come: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4, emphasis mine).

To be fair, my Christian brothers (those that I know) are not “scoffers,” per se. Scoffers are typically not Christians, but among the “Evangelical” ranks there is a growing number of scoffers that have stopped “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, emphasis mine).

Four times in the Apocalypses our Lord affirms, “I come quickly” (Revelation 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20). He repeats phrase three times at the closing of the prophecy with the added affirmation, “Surely” on His final reprise. Jesus is coming soon – very soon!

This year, 2017, looks like a very good candidate for this event. I realize that a variety of views exist concerning the Second Coming of Christ. I have written on this topic on numerous occasions,[2] so I will not spend time reviewing all the different views here. I will present this argument from a pre-millennial, pre-Tribulation Rapture perspective. Basically, that means that I believe in the literal reign of Christ on earth for 1000 years after His return (Revelation 20). I understand Christ’s return to be in two phases: (1) He comes for His Bride (the Church) before the beginning of the Tribulation, and (2) He returns with His Bride at the end of the 7-year Tribulation to reign on earth for 1000 years.

In discussing End-Times prophecy, the nation of Israel is the key. All end-times prophecy focuses on Israel. When the scoffers say, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:4), their assessment is valid except for the “Israel factor.” Before 1948, End-Times prophecy made no sense, because things indeed continued, “as they were from the beginning.” When one studies End-Times prophecy in the Old Testament, Israel plays a prominent role; therefore, without Israel, those prophecies cannot be fulfilled. That all changed on May 14, 1948, when Israel once again became a sovereign nation. Those of us with “eyes to see” current cosmic and world conditions observe End-Times prophecy taking place before our very eyes. Obviously, those with no “eyes to see” miss it, and they carry on “as in the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37-39).

So, what makes me think 2017 is the year? Well, this is a complicated study, but I will try to keep it simple. First, and most importantly, the Jews are back in their Promised Land, and Israel. This fulfills Ezekiel’s prophecy of the “dry bones” (Ezekiel 37).

Second, God established a system of Jubilee years where every 50 years, all property reverted to the original owner, and all debts were canceled (Leviticus 25). This law was given around 1433 B.C. and 2017 will complete the 70th Jubilee since the law was given. Seven and 70 are significant numbers in the Bible that denote completion. God completed His creation in six days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:1-3). Israel failed in keeping the Sabbath Years (allowing the land to lay fallow and rest from production) for 490 years; therefore God sent them captive to Babylon for 70 years (2 Chronicles 36:21; Jeremiah 29:10; Daniel 9:2) – one year for every Sabbath Year they failed to keep (7 x 70 = 490).

Third, in 1917, the Belfour Declaration (the 68th Jubilee) returned the Promised Land to the Jews. On May 14, 1948, the United States and the United Nations recognized Israel as a sovereign nation. Not long after that, Israel ceded control of Jerusalem and the West Bank to Jordan “for peace.”  Then in 1967 (the 69th Jubilee – 1917+50 = 1967), the Arab nations (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq) surrounded and attacked Israel. In what can only be called “Divine intervention,” Israel repelled all her enemies, conquered the Sinai Peninsula, and regained Jerusalem and the West Bank. They gave back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt “for peace.” Even though Israel regained control of Jerusalem (their “eternal” capital), they gave control of the Temple Mount to the Palestinians “for peace.” (Lesson: Land for peace is a failed policy.) Considering God’s faithfulness, it is possible that this year, 2017 (the 70th Jubilee), control of the Temple Mount could return to Israel where they will rebuild their Temple. The plans are in the works. The Temple implements and furnishings are ready. The priests have been identified and the high priest has been selected. They have the right kind of sheep for the sacrifices, and they even have red heifers for the Temple dedication. Rumor has it that President Donald Trump has someone in mind to negotiate “permanent peace” with Israel and her Arab neighbors. Could this be the peace that will allow Israel to build her Temple? Could this peacemaker be the “prince” (aka, the Antichrist) spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Daniel 9:26-27)?  The year 2017 is prime for such an event.

Fourth, Revelation 12:1-6 speaks of a “sign” – “a great wonder” – in heaven. Genesis 1:14 says that God created the “lights in the firmament” to “be for signs, and for seasons.” The Hebrew word translated as “signs” is ‘ôth, and it means “a signal, flag, beacon, or omen.” In the “Unveiling,” John describes “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (v. 1). The woman is pregnant and gives birth to “a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (v. 5). When the child is born, he is “caught up” to heaven to save him from the “dragon” that is waiting to “devour” him (v. 4).

In the past, scholars understood this passage as either the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus or Jesus coming forth from Israel. The latter makes more sense from an End-Times prophecy perspective, and I have always understood it this way. However, recently some amateur astronomers made an amazing discovery in the heavens. On September 23/24, 2017, the constellation Virgo will appear[3] “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” The constellation Leo, which precedes Virgo in the Zodiac, will be at Virgo’s head with a conjunction of three planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars) next to it. Leo has nine stars in its constellation and the three planets will make a crown of “twelve stars.” According to these astronomers, this unique phenomenon, which can only be observed from the area around Israel, only occurs once in 7000 years.[4] Furthermore (again this is as viewed from Israel), Jupiter, the King Planet, entered the Virgo’s “womb” around mid-December 2016 and has remained there in retrograde motion all this time. It will exit from between Virgo’s feet (as in childbirth) on September 23, 2017, 40 weeks after it entered, the normal time for human gestation. Some suggest that the “birth” of the King planet represents the Rapture of the Church, not the birth of Christ. Since the Church is the “body” (and Bride) of Christ, and since the male child is “caught up” (v. 5) to heaven (Greek: harpazō, i.e. “raptured”), they conclude that the Rapture of the Church is represented here. Prophecy often carries more than one application; therefore, this idea has merit.  I find that fascinating!

Let me respond to the obvious objections. First of all, God forbids the practice of astrology – the practice of foretelling the future and guiding our lives by the Zodiac. Furthermore, the ancients worshiped the stars; they saw their gods in the stars, i.e., in the Zodiac. However, God placing an alert sign in the heaven is consistent with what God has done in the past. Remember, God placed a special star in the heavens that alerted the Magi to the birth of the Savior (Matthew 2:1-2). Some have studied the Zodiac and determined that God placed the entire Gospel message in the stars.[5], [6] This is not such a farfetched idea when we consider that everything God does, Satan attempts to pervert. With that in mind, it is certainly plausible that God arranged this “Revelation 12 Sign” to mark the time for the beginning of the Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ.

Another objection comes from Jesus’ own words.  “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). However, what many do not know is that the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah, is the feast that “no man knows the day or the hour.”  Two days are reserved for Rosh Hashanah because the sighting of the New Moon marks the beginning of the feast. They know “about” when the New Moon will appear, but they do not know the exact day or hour. When the New Moon is sighted and verified, the feast can begin. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42).  Without being dogmatic or setting a date, September 23, 2017, seems like a good candidate for the Rapture event. If it does not take place, I will be disappointed, but not disheartened.

Other recent “signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars” (Luke 21:25) include the Tetrad of Blood Moons that fell on feast days in the spring and fall of 2015 and 2016. Those have been seen as ominous harbingers of things to come. Additionally, the United States will experience the first total solar eclipse in 26 years on August 21, 2017. While lunar eclipses are harbingers for Israel, solar eclipses are considered harbingers for the Gentile nations. That this eclipse transits the continental United States from coast to coast (along with other factors) has many seeing dark days ahead for America.

Finally, the world is in a mess. The tinderbox of the Middle East could erupt at any moment, and the enemies that surround Israel are poised for any excuse to wipe her off the map. The nations of the world clamor for a one-world order. Even in the United States, many would willingly relinquish our sovereignty to the UN. Economies worldwide are failing. Some prophets of doom predict that the US economy will collapse this summer. If that happens, the effect will impact the entire world. Violence in Europe, the Middle East, Venezuela, and our own nation continues to escalate. For those who place their hope in the things of this world, the prospect is terrifying, but for me and others who place their hope in Christ, the future could not look any brighter.

Reader, if you fear the future, I invite you to turn to Jesus and place your trust and hope in Him. He is coming soon!

For more information on End-Times Prophecy, here are a few sites that I recommend:

Olive Tree Ministries: http://www.olivetreeviews.org/

Discovery Missions: https://garyfrazier.com/

Prophecy Watchers: https://prophecywatchers.com/

Terry James Prophecy Line: https://terryjamesprophecyline.com/

Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/

Prophecy in the News: https://prophecyinthenews.com/

Notes:


[1]  I discuss the seven Feasts of the Lord in my article “Rosh HaShanah” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[2]  My writings on the Second Coming: https://erniecarrasco.com/category/second-coming-of-christ/

[3]  “Appear” is a relative term because this particular conjunction of stars and planets will be obscured because Virgo will be “clothed” with the sun.

[4]  For a young-earth/universe creationist and biblical dispensationalist, this means that this event has never happened before making its appearance so much more significant.

[5]  “Is There a Gospel in the Stars?” http://www.setterfield.org/stargospel.html

[6]  Joseph A. Seiss, The Gospel in the Stars, available at most book outlets.

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Liberty

And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. (Leviticus 25:10)

Liberty. Dictionary.com defines “liberty” as freedom from arbitrary or despotic government control, external or foreign rule, or from control, interference, obligation, restriction or hampering conditions. It is the power of right doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

The Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Online Edition – published nearer the time of our nation’s founding – defines it more precisely, and its definition includes our leading verse. The 1828 Webster’s says that “liberty” is freedom from restraint and applicable to the body, or to the will, or mind. It is the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It goes on to say that this liberty is abridged by the establishment of government. This governmental abridgment is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. However, a restraint of natural liberty not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression. “Civil liberty” is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty. The liberty of one depends not so much on the removal of all restraint from him, as on the due restraint upon the liberty of others. “Religious liberty” is the free right of adopting and enjoying opinions on religious subjects, and of worshiping the Supreme Being according to the dictates of conscience, without external control. More follows, but for now this will suffice.

It is worth noting that the modern definition makes no mention of “natural law” or the “laws of nature.” Nor does it mention the “Supreme Being” and the “free right” to religious liberty. It is easy to see why using the modern definition to interpret our founding documents dampens the meaning to words like freedom, liberty and the laws of nature and nature’s God.

In the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the Founders appealed to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” They affirmed that “these truths” are “self-evident that all Men are created equal … they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

From where did such a notion arise? Arguably, such ideas were adopted from enlightened philosophers of the time, who borrowed from the ancient Greek philosophers. However, it goes beyond that. These laws ultimately come from “Nature’s God.” The “Creator” created “all men” equal, and He “endowed” them with inherent rights that cannot be taken away – they are “unalienable.”[1]

God does as He pleases. “For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 12:25, emphasis mine). God is Creator. “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18, emphasis mine). God created man in His image (Genesis 1:27). God first gave man the “breath of life (Genesis 2:7), and “endowed” him with the attribute of autonomy that He Himself possesses. Hence, “liberty,” i.e., “freedom,” is a God-like attribute inherent to man that cannot be taken away. Therefore, those who would deprive another of “Life” (even unborn life) violate the “Law of Nature” and are called murderers, and likewise, those that would deprive another of “Liberty” (autonomy) violate the “Law of Nature’s God,” and are called tyrants.

The pursuit of happiness is a gift that comes from God. “For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psalm 128:2, emphasis mine). From the beginning, work has been both a curse and a blessing. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19, emphasis mine). The Preacher says, “I know that there is no good in [the sons of men], but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, emphasis mine). Because man bears the image of the Creator, he too creates, from his mind through his hands, that which brings him joy and happiness. “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17, emphasis mine). Indeed, God views in dishonor those who will not work; the Bible calls such “sluggards.” “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat” (Proverbs 13:4, emphasis mine). “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4, emphasis mine). Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10, emphasis mine).

Work is the means by which we “pursue happiness,” and by which we obtain private property. It is a gift of God. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, are the Laws of Nature that are derived from Nature’s God. They belong to all men[2] equally. The fact that ancient and modern philosophers tout these “laws” (as if conceived by their own intellect), is that they, whether they give assent to God or not, carry within themselves the image of God. We can thank God that these noble and lofty ideals found sanctuary in the founding documents of our nation. Liberty comes from God alone. “… happy is that people, whose God is the LORD (Psalm 144:15), and “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Notes:


[1]  This is why the Muslim religion that adheres to Sharia Law is incompatible with American Law, i.e., the Constitution of the United States of America.

[2]  By “men,” I mean mankind or humankind, male and female. I reject the political correctness that has invaded the English language whereby we must overly complicate the language by such as, he/she, his/hers, men/women, etc.

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MIND GAMES – By Camilla Smith « Terry James Prophecy Line

Source: MIND GAMES – By Camilla Smith « Terry James Prophecy Line

“How much time are you spending watching videos about giants, fallen angels and CERN?   How many hours are you worrying about politics and making America great again? Reality shows?   Celebrity stories?   Video games?   How’s that working for you?   How does it make you feel?   Sad?  Depressed?   A little nervous and anxious?   Can you still function? … Disconnect from the world and tune in to your Master.   It’s time to walk and talk with Him and pray us Home.”

This article offers great insight for our times … https://terryjamesprophecyline.com/2017/06/29/mind-games-by-camilla-smith/

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Father

Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? (Deuteronomy 32:6)

On Father’s Day, we set aside a special time to honor the one who gave us life. For better or worse, without our fathers, we could not celebrate anything, especially our birthdays. Mothers get all the glory because they carried us in their bodies for nine months, but it did not stop there. Our arrival and entry into the world caused Mama unspeakable anguish and pain. After that came all the late night feedings, nursing us through illness, and nurturing us through all the bumps and bruises of life. Of course, Dad got in on some of that, but not like Mama, but let’s face it, without Dad, Mama would have missed out on all those cherished experiences.

The verse above reminds us not to minimize the importance of a father. It is obvious that the verse is speaking about the LORD as Father, but the connection is clear that God identifies Himself with human fathers. The verb “requite” is not heard in normal, everyday speech today, but it means to make a “repayment.” The Hebrew word translated “requite” is gâmal, and it means “to treat a person (well or ill).” So, the question can be stated: “Is this how you treat or repay the LORD?” In context, God gave life to the nation of Israel. Remember? He called Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans and promised him the land of Canaan. God gave life to Isaac, and He chose Jacob (Israel). God brought the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and established them in the land. Likewise, our earthly fathers gave us the spark of life and brought us into this world. Even if they were not the fathers that stayed around and provided for us in our childhood, they gave us the life we now enjoy. We should “requite” them with our honor and respect.

God is the model Father from which we can all learn. Granted, in our fallen condition, we cannot meet His standard, but we have a pattern to follow. We can thank our earthly fathers for “the seed” from which we sprang, but ultimately, God is Father to us all. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10, emphasis mine) “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8, emphasis mine).

King David expressed his wonder for the Father this way: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:14-16, emphasis mine). Our Father concerns Himself with every detail of our being. Jesus said, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30, emphasis mine). Hairs! Someone “follically challenged” like myself might see this as insignificant, but in truth, God even counts those hairs I have lost. As earthly fathers, we may not know the hair count on our children’s heads, but we should be encouraged to pay close attention to every detail of their lives.

Knowing every detail of our children’s lives makes us aware of their needs. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:13). The Hebrew verb translated “pity” here is râcham, and it means “to love” or “have compassion on.” Jesus said, “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8, emphasis mine). Further on He says, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32).  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17, emphasis mine). Fathers provide for the needs of their children.

The Father disciplines His children. “Discipline” in essence means “to teach.” “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  Sometimes, this might include corporal punishment. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [in good time]” (Proverbs 13:24). “Beatings” are never appropriate, but the “board of education” properly and lovingly applied with wisdom to the “seat of understanding” is sometimes necessary. God the Father and God the Son provided the example. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel” (John 5:19-20, emphasis mine).

Jesus, the Son, was subjected to and endured capital punishment for our sins. “For he [the Father] hath made him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). At first sight, it seems abhorrent for a father to put his own son to death for the offenses of another, but this is a unique case. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, emphasis mine).  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3, emphasis mine). The Father, punished His own Flesh, i.e. Jesus, for His children’s sins. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1).

Even so, we do not escape the Father’s discipline when we need it. “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction” (Proverbs 3:11). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6-7, emphasis mine) “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). Our Father’s discipline serves to sanctify us, that is, to make us holy, i.e., set us apart from the world. If we live in sin like the world, and God does not punish us for it, that only means that we do not belong to Him, because “whom the Lord loves, He chastens.”

The Father gives good gifts to His children. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11). Fathers want to leave an inheritance for their children. Some leave great wealth; others can only leave a good name. However, the Lord gives His children the ultimate inheritance. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7, emphasis mine). “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17).

Reader, if you are a child of God, regardless of your earthly father, whether good or bad, your heavenly Father cares for you and deserves your gratitude, devotion and obedience. If you are not a child of God, put yourself up for adoption; the Father will not turn you away. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). If you are a father, let God the Father be your example.

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As You Go

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Our pastor had us read The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (pseudonym) as a church, and this Sunday (the day of this posting), we will come together as a church and view the movie by the same title.

In the book, Nik Ripken tells of how he and his family served as missionaries in war-torn Somalia during the time of that country’s civil war from which it has yet to recover. Nik and his wife spent about twenty years serving in that place, and due to the oppressive Muslim influence, and the death of their 16-year-old son, they returned to the United States defeated with nothing to show for the effort they poured into that place. Sharing Christ openly invited the death penalty, and the Muslims would immediately kill anyone who converted to Christianity. The small minority of Christians that managed to survive fled the country because remaining there meant sure death.

One wonders why anyone would risk his life and the wellbeing of his family to serve in a God-forsaken place like Somalia. In that place, those that assume power are unconcerned about the welfare of their own people. They have no regard for the sanctity of life. They have no compassion for their own people. When help comes from outside their borders, they view the relief workers with suspicion, often taking the help meant for suffering people for themselves. Why would anyone put himself or herself in that position knowing that they cannot share their faith with the people and knowing that the “help” they provide might only extend someone’s life for maybe just another week or so? It seems a hopeless and pointless enterprise.

Nik took Matthew 28:19 as a personal calling from God to “Go!” “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19, emphasis mine). This verse known as the “Great Commission,” was given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples—not just the twelve apostles, but to ALL of His disciples. It applies equally to every individual that names the Name of Christ. Albert Barns in his commentary on this verse says:

“Because” all power is mine [referring to v. 18], go! I [Jesus] can defend you. The world is placed under my control. It is redeemed. It is given me in promise by my Father, as the purchase of my death. Though you are weak, yet I am strong! Though you will encounter many troubles and dangers, yet I can defend you! Though you die, yet I live, and the work shall be accomplished!”

Nik and his wife took this commission to heart, and gave up all their worldly goods to go minister to people who showed little appreciation for their sacrifice and would just as soon kill them except for the fact that they were meeting real needs. I deeply admire their courage and their willingness to obey what I believe, at least for them, was a real call of God. However, in reading their story, one might mistakenly conclude that Jesus’ Great Commission means that we are all to pull up stakes and “go” to all nations. In other words, we are all obligated to be foreign missionaries. That is not at all what Jesus said.

The imperative in Jesus’ command is to “make disciples” not to “go.” Poreuthétes (go) is an aorist, passive, participle, masculine, plural, nominative verb. (I apologize for the Greek parsing, but this is important.) The fact that it is an aorist verb is not too special; it only means that it is a definite action. However, the fact that the verb is in the passive voice indicates that it is a consequence of something else. That it is participle indicates a continuing action (“going”). The verb is a plural nominative meaning that Jesus addressed all disciples, not just certain individuals. If Jesus spoke Texan, He might have said, “all y’all.” Therefore, the intended meaning here is, “As you (plural) are going, make disciples…” The command, i.e. the imperative, is to “make disciples,” and it applies to all followers of Jesus, not just missionaries.

The Ripkens felt God’s call to “go” to Somalia based on this verse, but the verse is not a call to all Christians to “go” somewhere to make disciples. All Christians are called to make disciples “as you are going”—at school, at work, at the supermarket, in your neighborhood. In your everyday walk of life, you are to “make disciples.”

If you claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have no choice in the matter, unless you choose to rebel against Christ. Before He ascending unto heaven, Jesus said, “…ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8, emphasis mine). That is a declarative statement; it is not a matter of choice. If we say we are followers of Jesus, we are witnesses, for better or worse. Our lives testify to Christ. Do our actions match our words? Perhaps we withhold our words because we know our actions betray them.

No doubt, one of the tactics Satan uses to silence us is to make us feel unworthy. Let’s face it, no one of us has lived or lives a perfectly sinless life, although, that is certainly a worthy goal for which to strive (and it can be achieved by relying daily on the Holy Spirit). The point is that we are witnesses for Christ. Satan is a conquered adversary, and besides, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4, emphasis mine). Satan has no power over us, unless we let him.

In the last half of The Insanity of God, Nik Ripken interviews hundreds of persecuted Christians in Russia, Ukraine, China and the Middle East. These Christians suffer horrific persecution—beatings, imprisonment, economic deprivation, etc. Through it all, they only ask of us that we pray for them, not that they should be kept from persecution, but that they remain faithful witnesses in persecution. What persecution do we, here in America, suffer because of our faith? Is being laughed at too horrible? Would losing a relationship be too much to take? What about being fired for sharing your faith with a coworker? Is that too great a risk? Nik noted that perhaps the reason we do not see persecution here in America is that Satan does not need to silence us. We do a good job of that on our own.

“As you are going, make disciples.” We are witnesses for Christ. We are either good witnesses, or we are poor witnesses; but we are witnesses nonetheless. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15, emphasis mine).

 

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The Eternality of God

Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen. (Psalm 41:13)

I received an email just this week from a man trying to understand how God stepped out of eternity in order to create the universe. He said in part:

What research do you recommend, which helps one understand how God came out of eternity and made Genesis 1:1 come to pass? In other words, how does an endless succession arrive in the present? I understand that God is timeless and that He came out of eternity to create the universe about 10,000 years ago. But what was the Trinity doing prior to 10,000 years ago?

Reader, if you have struggled with this question, you are not alone in your bewilderment in understanding eternality of God. All of us “finite” human beings have a hard time wrapping our minds around eternity. It is less difficult for us to understand time having a beginning and going on infinitely, but eternity past is something difficult for us to grasp. God declares Himself to “Be”—He just “Is”—He “Exists.” When Moses asked God to identify Himself so he could report back to the people, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14). By the way, Jesus made the same claim: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). The Pharisees that heard Jesus’ proclamation clearly understood what Jesus was saying. “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59, emphasis mine), because to them, His words were blasphemy.

Well, that does not really answer the question, but it does confirm that God has always existed, even before time. Perhaps what we need to understand is that God created time. Time is part of the created universe. Without time, there is no universe. We understand the universe to be triune in nature composed of time, space and matter/energy. The first verse of the Bible establishes this: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis mine). God made time (beginning), space (heaven), and the earth (matter/energy). Since He is the Creator, He has access to time at any point in time, and since He is eternal, He is also present in all points in time. He is present in the past, present, and future. God is “omnipresent.”  God says, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10, emphasis mine), The psalmist declares, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalms 139:7). There is no escaping God, although many attempt to deny His existence. God calls such people “fools” (Psalm 14:1).

No research can demonstrate how God accomplishes this. There are some things we simply cannot know. There are some things that God intended for us not to know; our brains just cannot handle them. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, emphasis mine).

“Those things which are revealed” are written down in God’s Word, the Bible. Reader, if you do not know God, you can know Him—He can be known. Knowing Him is as easy as ABC. Borrowing from Pastor J.D, Farag of Calvary Chapel, Kaneohe, Hawaii:

Here is an article from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) that talks a little more about the eternality of God: http://www.icr.org/article/time-eternity/.

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Thank You, Lord Jesus!

Thank You, Lord Jesus!

You have preserved my life for 67 years and You have blessed me with a good, strong body and excellent health. And even though I have not escaped “the curse,” I still do pretty well, for an “old man.”

A couple of months ago I thought I was fit enough to run, and, while You kept whispering to me not to do it, I thought I could, and did. The next day, my right knee loudly complained that I should have listened to You.

Thank You for a good physical trainer that understands the anatomy that You designed and assembled enough to take it easy on my whining knee, and who encouraged me to have a doctor take a closer look. This time I listened, and I went to see my familiar orthopedist, Dr. Medlock. Thank You for the knowledge You have revealed to men and women in the medical field. Thank You for the desire You have instilled in them to devote their lives to the care of others.

Dr. Medlock started with conservative means – a cortisone shot to the knee. That did not help, so he ordered an MRI. Thank You for such wonderful technology You have allowed humans to develop that see inside the human body to help doctors pinpoint physical injuries. Dr. Medlock saw that I had, for the second time in one year, torn the medial meniscus in my right knee, and it would require surgery to repair.

Last Friday, May 26, 2017, I went to the Ambulatory Surgery Center at Medical City, Dallas to get the work done. Thank You, Jesus that You have allowed me to live in the United States of America where we have an abundance of good public and private hospitals staffed with talented and well-trained medical personnel that are efficiently run without oppressive government meddling. Dr. Medlock is an excellent doctor.  With the use of an arthroscope (again, thank You for technology) and the skill of an excellent surgeon (thank You for Dr. Medlock), I was out of the operating room in less than an hour.

Thank You for my wonderful wife, June, who drove me home in the car You gave us. Thank You for an abundance of food at every corner. June bought me a double-double Whataburger for my first meal with money You have provided through the ability You have given us and by the good employment You have provided. You have even provided the insurance to cover most of the medical expenses through the employment You have provided.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for a church family, and a choir and Sunday school family and all the many Christian brothers and sisters You have blessed us with that care for us, and pray for us, and encourage us as we go through the down parts of life. You have not left us alone!

Today, I am four days out of surgery. So far, You have given me the strength to walk eight blocks around the neighborhood, and I plan to walk at least four more before the day is done. Tomorrow, I will drive the pickup You gave me to the place of service You have provided for me.

Thank You, my Lord Jesus, most of all because I am Yours.

Lord, I feel sorry for all those who are so richly blessed by You, and they do not even realize from Whom their blessings flow. Open their eyes, Lord. All things come from Your hand, dear Lord Jesus. Thank You.

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Filed under Random Musings, Thanksgiving, Worship