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Monday, June 27, 2016

Modern Day Signs of the Times

Modern Day Signs of the Times

A review of signs unique to our day and time

by Dr. David Reagan

Whenever I present an overview of the signs of the times that point to the soon return of Jesus, I am often confronted by someone often a professing Christian - who will say, "Come on David, these signs you are talking about have always existed in one degree or another, so what else is new?" They will then proceed to point out that there have always been wars and rumors of war, there have always been natural calamities, and throughout history Christians have always been persecuted. Then comes the inevitable challenge: "Show me something really new and unique that clearly points to our day and time as the season of the Lord's return."
The challenge is understandable, but it is not entirely legitimate. That's because Jesus said the end time signs would be like "birth pangs" (Matthew 24:8). In other words, the signs would increase in frequency and intensity as the time draws near for Jesus to return. There would be more earthquakes, and more intense ones. Wars would be more frequent and more horrible in their degree of devastation. And that, of course, is exactly what has happened in this century. All the signs have been increasing exponentially in both frequency and intensity.
But still, it is legitimate to ask if there are any signs that are truly unique to our day and time - signs that have never existed before. Are there new signs that clearly point to this period of history as the time of the Lord's return? The answer is yes.

A Key Prophecy

A verse that immediately comes to mind in this regard is found in Daniel 12. Daniel was given many prophecies by the Lord. Those relating to his day and time he clearly understood. He even seemed to understand prophecies that the Lord gave him relating to distant times, such as the succession of Gentile empires that would ultimately lead to the establishment of the Roman Empire. But when it came to prophecies about the end times - the period leading up to the Lord's return as King of kings and Lord of lords - Daniel did not understand what was revealed to him.
He wrestled mightily with the prophecies and finally cried out to the Lord in despair. "I have heard," he said, "but I do not understand! What do these events mean?" (Daniel 12:8). The Lord, in effect, responded by saying, "Cool it, Daniel, because it is not for you to understand!" The Lord's actual words were: "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time" (Daniel 12:9). It was Daniel's responsibility to deliver the prophecies, not understand them.
Note that Daniel was told the prophecies would not be understood "until the end time." In fact, in the very next verse the Lord told Daniel that at the proper time "those who have insight will understand" (Daniel 12:10).
Accordingly, there are many end time prophecies that have never been understood until now, either because their understanding depended on historical events or because they were dependent upon technological developments. The fact that these prophecies have become understandable in recent years for the first time ever is proof positive that we are living in the end times. Let's look at some examples from the book of Revelation.

Revelation Examples

  1. The Tribulation Slaughter - Revelation 6 says that the Tribulation will begin with a series of judgments that will result in the death of one-fourth of Mankind. The world's population is approaching six billion. That means one and a half billion people will die in the initial judgments, reducing the world's population to 4.5 billion. The next series of judgments, recorded in Revelation 8 and 9 will kill another third of Mankind. One-third of 4.5 billion is another one and a half billion. Thus, in the first 3 years of the Tribulation, a total of 3.5 billion people will die. That's half the population of the world!

  2. Is this possible apart from the use of nuclear weapons? Only if it is a supernatural intervention of God. But God normally works through natural processes. 
    The unparalleled carnage of the Tribulation seems to me to point to nuclear weapons. Revelation 8 speaks of one-third of the earth being burned and one-third of the seas being polluted (Revelation 8:7-8). Later in the Tribulation, near the end, we are told that people will suffer from "loathsome and malignant sores" (Revelation 16:2). That sounds like one of the effects of radiation poisoning.
    The advent of nuclear weapons makes possible for the first time the overwhelming Tribulation carnage portrayed in Revelation. I think nuclear power was what Jesus referred to in His Olivet discourse when He said that the end times will be characterized by "men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:26, emphasis added).
    The prophecies concerning the Tribulation carnage have clearly depended upon a major technological breakthrough for their understanding. We are living in the time of that breakthrough.

  3. The Army of 200 Million - Chapters 9 and 16 of Revelation state that an army of 200 million soldiers will march "from the east" toward Israel. Daniel 9 indicates that this will be an army representing nations in revolt against the Antichrist.

  4. Demographers estimate that the total population of the world at the time the Apostle John wrote Revelation (95 A.D.) was only 200 million. How could an army that size march out of the east? It made no sense. In fact, it took 1,650 years for the world's population to double to 400 million! At the beginning of this century the total world population was only 1.6 billion, still too small for an army of 200 million to march from the east. 
    But this century has witnessed an exponential increase in population. The population count is now at 5.8 billion, and just one country to the east of Israel - namely, China - could field an army of 200 million.
    Here we have a clear example of a prophecy about the end times that could never be understood apart from historical developments.

  5. The Two Witnesses - Revelation 11 reveals that two great witnesses of God will preach in the city of Jerusalem during the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation. Then, in the middle of that terrible period, the Antichrist will kill them.

  6. We are further told that their dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3.5 days and that all the people of the world will look upon them. How could that be? Prior to 1957 that prophecy was not understandable in natural terms. There was just no way that all the people of the world could look upon two dead bodies in the streets of Jerusalem.
    All that changed on October 4, 1957 when the Russians sent up the first Sputnik satellite. Today, 30 years later, our planet has many man-made satellites circling it, making possible all sorts of instantaneous communication. When those two prophets lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem, all someone will have to do is point a TV camera at them, send the signal up to a satellite, and all the world will be able to look upon them. Once again, modern technology has made an ancient prophecy understandable for the first time.

  7. The Nation of Israel - Revelation 12 focuses on the nation of Israel. It makes clear that in the middle of the Tribulation Satan will motivate and empower the Antichrist to annihilate the Jewish state and its people. A remnant of the Jews will flee into the "wilderness" where they will be supernaturally protected by the Lord (Revelation 12:14). 

  8. At the time the book of Revelation was written, Jerusalem had already been destroyed by the Romans and the worldwide distribution of the Jews had begun. Until this century, there was never any prospect that the nation of Israel would ever exist again. There were, of course, prophetic scholars who pointed to the many promises in Scripture that say the Jews will be regathered in the end times and the nation of Israel will be reestablished once more. But people laughed at these scholars and wrote them off as "dreamers" who were out of touch with reality.
    Then, on May 14, 1948 the "dream" came true. The independence of the nation of Israel was proclaimed, and the Jewish state came back into existence for the first time in almost 2,000 years.
    All the end time prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures make it clear that the Lord will return when the Jews are back in the land (Ezekiel 37) and back in their capital city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12). Jesus emphasized these two events in His teaching. He pointed to the reestablishment of the state in his fig tree parable (Matthew 24:32-35), and He stressed the importance of the reoccupation of Jerusalem in His Olivet discourse (Luke 21:24). He stated point blank that when Jerusalem is no longer under Gentile control, all the end time events would take place. Jerusalem ceased to be under Gentile control on June 7, 1967.
    The central piece of the end time world political puzzle is now in place for the first time.

  9. The Image of the Beast - Revelation 13 says that the Antichrist's religious leader, the False Prophet, will make an image of the Antichrist that will appear to come alive and speak. This trickery will amaze most of the world's population and will cause many of them to give their allegiance to the Antichrist.

  10. What is the explanation of this event? Many have concluded that Satan will empower the False Prophet to give the image life. But Satan does not have the power to create life. Satan is a liar and a deceiver.
    So, again, how can the False Prophet give an image life? I don't see any way for him to do it apart from modern technology. The illusion can be created through the use of modern robotics.
    Thirty years ago in 1967 I took my family to Disneyland. We went into a theatre where we saw a man who looked exactly like Abraham Lincoln get up out of his chair in stage center, walk to the edge of the stage, grab the lapels of his jacket, and proceed to quote the Gettysburg Address. When he finished, a lady behind me exclaimed, "Wasn't he a good actor!" He was not an actor. The "actor" was a robot. That was thirty years ago. Think what could be done today with the advances in computer technology.

  11. The Mark of the Beast - Another prophecy in Revelation 13 that is dependent on modern technology is the famous one that states the Antichrist will control the world's economy by requiring people to bear his mark or name on their hand or forehead in order to buy or sell anything.

  12. Again, how could this be possible before the invention of laser and computer technology?

The Uniqueness of our Age

After reviewing the prophecies listed above, I don't think we need any handwriting on the wall to indicate to us that we are living in a unique age. Historical developments and technological inventions are making it possible for us to understand many end time prophecies for the first time. 
Nor is the list above an exhaustive one. I could name many other signs unique to our day and time - such as the reunification of Europe, the exponential increase in travel and knowledge, and the preaching of the Gospel to the whole world.
Even the phenomenal success of Hal Lindsay's book,The Late Great Planet Earth, is a unique sign of the times. Keep in mind that this book was the number one best seller in the world, with the sole exception of the Bible, for ten consecutive years, from 1970 to 1980 (as authenticated by Time Magazine). What was it that the Lord told Daniel? - "Seal it up to the end of time when those who have insight will understand."
The bottom line, my friends, is that we are living on borrowed time, because Jesus is coming soon! 

Friday, June 24, 2016

The New Is Here (and other devotionals)

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

The Word teaches us very clearly that Christ has been taken right out of this old creation and set at God's right hand in the heavenlies. On the other hand, it shows us that His being there, and our being in spiritual union with Him, means that for all spiritual purposes and resources, we also are in the heavenlies in Christ.... Let us ask the Lord to give us a real, spiritual, quick, living apprehension of this great truth concerning our Lord Jesus, the great realm of the new creation into which we are brought, and let us apply it, practice it, put it into operation from day to day.
You may have to go into a place where there is not much spiritual wealth on the outside, not much upon which to feed. Remember you have Christ, the whole Land, lying before you. You may have to go into scenes where there is anything but rest, spiritual rest; where all is fret, care, drive, strain. Remember that you are in the Land; you are in Christ; you have Him as your Rest. You may have to go into the conflict, into the battle, into the tremendous activities of the enemy to overthrow you. Remember you are in Christ, Who is Victory, complete, final victory. That remains true, whatever the enemy may say about it. Christ is all that we need for a life which is glorifying to Him. It is what Christ is, what we have in the new creation.

By T. Austin-Sparks

Sowing and Reaping

"I have made no trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead."

—1 Kings 18:18

Elijah was not a popular guy after his announcement to King Ahab. He had walked into Ahab's court and declared, "As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!" (1 Kings 17:1).

Elijah was a wanted man, dead or alive (preferably dead). But then he emerged on the scene, and he and Ahab had their confrontation. When Ahab saw Elijah, he said, "So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?" (1 Kings 18:17).

Interestingly, Ahab called Elijah a troublemaker, which could be better translated "snake in the grass," or "viper." (I don't know if I would call someone with the ability to call down fire from heaven a viper.)

But Elijah answered, "I have made no trouble for Israel. . . . You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead" (verse 18). In other words, Elijah was saying, "You brought this on yourself, King Ahab, because you turned to false gods."

It's always amazing to me how people will break God's commands over and over again, resist His loving warnings, and then blame God when hardship hits, often as a result of their own actions. Why did God let this happen to me? Why did God do this? This is not always the case when bad things happen. But sometimes there is cause and effect. Sometimes we will do horrible things and then reap the consequences. Then we'll scratch our heads and wonder why.

Like Ahab, we may even have the audacity to blame God for all of it when, in effect, we are simply reaping what we've sown.
~Greg Laurie~
Accepting Correction from the Father

Some people have a hard time even thinking of God as "Father" because of the horrible abuse they suffered from their earthly fathers' hands. But God is a Father who never abuses His children, although He does punish them. He chastens those whom He loves. It is wise for the child of God to fear the corrective wrath of the Father.
I loved my earthly father deeply. In fact, I idolized him. I was secure in his love, as he was constant in showing affection for me. I feared him in the sense that I didn't want to disappoint him or let him down. I had the "fear" of respect for him. But I also feared his wrath and discipline. Even though, in general, I didn't want to disappoint him or grieve him, nevertheless I often disobeyed him. That meant facing his discipline.
When my father disciplined me he always announced it to me by saying, "Son, we have to have a session." That meant I had to follow him into his office, close the door behind me, and sit in a chair in front of him. He wouldn't raise his voice. He would calmly tell me what I did wrong and why it was wrong. He instructed me in such a way that I was devastated. He always ended the session with a warm embrace. But talk about the conviction of sin … whew!

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

Are you able to accept correction from your heavenly Father? Do you respond to it properly? Pray about this.

For Further Study

Hebrews 12:6-7: "For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?"
Hebrews 12:10: "For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness."

~R. C. Sproul~

Sin, sin! What have you done!

(George Everard, "Dark Gethsemane")

"Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane." Matthew 26:36 

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death!" Matthew 26:38 

"And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground!" Luke 22:44 

Let me draw near--let me behold this wondrous sight. If Moses took off his shoes when the Lord came near at the burning bush, still more should I regard Gethsemane as holy ground.

I see the Redeemer of sinners prostrate on the cold earth. I hear a sorrowful groan. There is deep soul agony; there is sore dismay; there is darkness that may be felt. Dark and gloomy was the shadow cast by those olive trees in the Garden. But a deeper darkness overshadowed the spirit of the Savior. Well might He employ the language of the Psalmist: "Fearfulness and trembling have come upon Me, and a horrible dread has overwhelmed Me!"

His soul is amazed and very heavy. He prays in an agony. The conflict is great, and His sweat is as drops of blood falling to the ground.

Who can pierce the darkness?
Who can tell the secret of that hour?
Who can explain the cause of that mysterious agony?

Is it that, in some way altogether beyond our thought--sin, our sin--is piercing the Holy One? Is it the guilt of sinners oppressing our Surety--the judgment and the wrath we had merited, descending upon Him? Who shall answer? Who has known the mind of the Lord? Rather let us worship and adore.

O sinless Lamb, O Lord Jesus, I bow before You, and praise You for Your love! What marvels do I behold!
You, the source of all joy--are borne down with heavy sorrow!
You, the source of all comfort--faint for lack of it. 
You, the Fountain of Life--wrestle with death. 
You, the highest Majesty, before whom Principalities and Powers bow--bow down Yourself to the earth before Your Father. 
You, before Whom cherubim and seraphim veil their faces--lie in the dust and tread the winepress of divine wrath, for man.

Ah, I learn here the fearful reality of sin! Sin, sin! What have you done! This is your work. Never, but for sin, would we have seen the holy, spotless Savior thus enduring unspeakable sorrows. Never, but for sin, would Christ have drunk the cup of suffering, wrath, and death! Can it be a light thing which cost the Son of God such groans, such tears, such agony?

Who can utter all that sin has done? 
The whole creation groans beneath the burden. 
Countries are filled with cruelty and oppression. 
Homes are made wretched by its power. 
Ten thousand times ten thousand hearts, it has crushed and broken.
On account of it, myriads of death-beds have been without one ray of hope---and unnumbered souls have perished eternally.

O that I may abhor the faintest shadow of evil! 

O that I may shrink from the least taint of this deadly thing!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Respect His Name (and other devotionals)

Respect His Name

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain."

—Exodus 20:7

Do you care about your name? Do you like it when people slander you or say things that aren't true about you? Have you ever had that happen? I have. No one enjoys that. We want to protect our name. The Bible says that "a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold" (Proverbs 22:1).

God cares about His name, too. And He tells us, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7). The words in vain literally could be translated "in an empty, idle, insincere, frivolous way."

So how do people take the Lord's name in vain? One obvious way is profanity. Isn't it interesting how people use the name of Jesus Christ so often? Even nonbelievers, in their spiritually deadened state, know there is something different about the name of Jesus. We don't hear people exclaiming, "Buddha!" or "Hare Krishna!" In a backhanded way, nonbelievers acknowledge the power of Jesus even when they're misusing His name.

Another way people take His name in vain is by saying "I swear to God." Jesus said, "But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one" (Matthew 5:37). Your word should be enough.

Let me add another way that people take God's name in vain that's important for us to be aware of: Saying "Oh my God" a lot. That seems to be a popular phrase now. But it's taking God's name in vain. The same goes for texting OMG. Don't do that. Don't use God's name in an empty way.

God cares about His name, and so should we.
~Greg Laurie~

Today's ReadingGenesis 1Matthew 1

Today's Thoughts: Back to the Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-4

Sometimes I need to go back to the beginning of the Bible to get a new perspective on things. The book of Genesis is a wonderful book filled with all kinds of new beginnings. From the creation of the universe to the beginnings of civilization, I am always blessed when I start reading Genesis. Let's look at the first four verses to see how they can give us a fresh and new perspective for today.
I love the first four words: "In the beginning God…." That says it all. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that God has always existed. It is hard to comprehend the concept that before "the beginning," there was God, but it is a truth that we can embrace with love and respect. He is God and there is none other. "God," as used in this passage, is the Hebrew word "Elohim," which is plural (meaning more than one). Elohim refers to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existing since the beginning of creation. It brings great comfort in being reminded that God is all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-present, from beginning to end (Alpha and Omega), while taking care of us in the middle too.
The next amazing part of these verses describes how God separated the light from the darkness. The earth was dark and had no form or substance. But God is light and in Him, there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). God saw the darkness and knew that the whole earth needed His light. Thus, God brought forth His light for us. When we feel as though darkness surrounds us, we look upon Jesus and He is still bringing forth His light for us today. These verses remind us that God understands darkness and never intended for us to live in it. He created the light, separated the light from darkness, and said, "it was good."
When man sinned, darkness entered into our hearts and the light of God went out. God sent His Son, Jesus, to bring light into the world so that all who believe in Him might be saved from the eternal darkness. For those of us today who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are filled with His eternal presence through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Everywhere we go, we shine His light. Isn't it great to go back to the beginning?

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

The lever which has turned the world upside down!

(J.C. Ryle)

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:14 

The cross of Christ is the strength of the minister--it is the heart of the gospel.

I would not preach a sermon without preaching Christ Crucified. I would feel . . .
  like a soldier without a weapon,
  like an artist without a brush,
  like a ship without a rudder,
  like a laborer without tools.

Let others, if they will, preach law and morality; let others drench their congregations with baptisms and church laws--but give me the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ!

This is the lever which has turned the world upside down!

This is the only gospel that will cause men to repent and forsake their sins.

This is the only message which can give peace to a troubled soul.

And if the cross of Christ will not do it, nothing will.

A man may begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; but he will do his hearers no good unless he experimentally knows Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

A missionary may go forth with compassion for the poor, tenderness for the sick, and pity for the enslaved; but he will never relieve poverty of spirit, sickness of soul, nor bondage of will--unless he takes them the gospel of Christ Crucified.

This is the preaching the Holy Spirit will bless. He honors those who honor Christ Crucified!

Keep Looking Up!
George Everard

A sailor lad was climbing the mast for the first time. After a while he began to grow dizzy, and feared lest he might fall. "What shall I do?" he anxiously cried out to the captain, who was watching him from below. "Keep looking up, my boy!" was the answer he received. He obeyed, and soon lost his fear, so that he was able steadily to move along the rigging.
In another and a more important sense, this direction is applicable to every Christian. Whatever your position is, whatever are your fears or dangers — keep looking up! Think of God, of your soul and its salvation, of Christ, and of forgiveness through Him. Lift up your eyes to Him who dwells in the heavens. Expect help from above. Your Father is ever ready to support you. Your Almighty Savior is ever pleading your cause. Therefore you can never be disappointed. The look of faith will ever have a response from the heart and hand of God.
Keep looking up! This is what David did. He was surrounded by foes and dangers. He was hated by Saul, who sought him every day to kill him. He was often in the greatest peril, but his spiritual sight was ever heavenward. "I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, who has made Heaven and earth." "My eyes are ever toward the Lord; for He shall pluck my feet out of the net." Nor did he look in vain. The Lord delivered him from all his enemies, and set him upon the throne of the kingdom. He was ever with him, and prospered him on every side.
Keep looking up! This is what Jehoshaphat did. He was compassed about by a great host of adversaries. Various powers united together for the destruction of Jerusalem; but Jehoshaphat set himself to seek the Lord. He gathered the people for prayer and supplication; and he kept looking up for help. He said: "O our God, will You not exercise judgment upon them? For we have no might to stand against this great company that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You!" 2 Chronicles 20:12. And God regarded him, and sent him deliverance — before a blow was struck, the confederacy was broken up and the army scattered. The people had but to rejoice and praise the Lord.
Keep looking up! Be sure that the Lord cannot disregard the upward glance of the weakest of His children as they turn to Him.

Imagine a little child in fear and trembling. Perhaps the peril is great, and he cannot speak, but he turns a wistful look for help to his father or mother who is near. Would any parent disregard such a look? Would not the father or mother run to support the child who thus appealed to their love? And shall it not be so with our Father in Heaven? Has He not far more than any parent's love? Will He refuse to help and comfort the one who thus relies upon Him?
Keep looking up! Here is a message for the anxious, seeking soul. You desire salvation. You know something of your sin and misery. You feel that you are lost and wretched and undone. But all seems dark and hopeless. But look up.
Look straight up to Jesus! Not to your faith, not to your repentance, not to anything in yourself or anything you can do; looking downwards to these will make you wretched — therefore look up to Jesus only. He died for your sins, and now pleads your cause. He saves to the uttermost, the greatest sinners, and rejects none who trust in Him.
"There is life for a look at the Crucified One,
 There is life at this moment for you!"
Keep looking up! Here is a message for a believer who would hold fast and make progress in grace and holiness. From first to last, the strength is in Jesus, and not in yourself. You have no power to stand for a moment, or to advance one step along the narrow way. But keep looking up, and all will be well.
You will be kept from falling. While Peter looked to Jesus, he was able to walk in safety over the rough and boisterous waves; but when he looked off from Him he began to sink. So fix your eye constantly on the Savior.
He can bring you through a thousand temptations;
He can hold you up and keep you safe;
\He can strengthen you with might by His Spirit in the inner man;
He can endue you with wisdom and power for every call of duty;
He can make you, day by day, more holy and more like Himself in all things.
As you keep looking to Him, He will transform you into His lovely image by the renewing of your mind. "We, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Keep looking up! Here is a message for the pilgrim who is cast down and sorely tried by the difficulties and sorrows of the way. You are passing through much tribulation. You have to endure days and nights of suffering, or perhaps it may be you have to witness the failing health of one dear to you. Or perhaps your means are very insufficient, and you look in vain for friends to assist you.
But whatever is the trial — look above it. Don't fix your eye on that bitter trial, on that dark providence — but on Him who sits above the water-floods. When you can't see His hand — trust His heart! Be sure that there is a silver lining in the dark cloud, and that redeeming love has appointed all your sorrow. Christ Himself is ever near you. He is by your side, close by you in tender pity and compassion. He will never fail you, nor ever forsake you. He will make all things work together for your good. He will bring you through all your wilderness journeys, to His bright House of Glory. Therefore keep looking up.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Worthy Sayings of Great Christians

God never forces a person's will into surrender, and He never begs. He patiently waits until that person willingly yields to Him. True surrender is a matter of being united together with Jesus in the likeness of His death (Romans 6:5) until nothing even appeals to us that did not appeal to Him. And after we surrender - then what? Our entire life should be characterized by an eagerness to maintain unbroken fellowship and oneness with God.
~Oswald Chambers~

The Holy Spirit leads you, but He never drives you.
~Adrian Rogers~

Among the plastic saints of our time, Jesus has to do all the dying and all we want is to... hear another sermon about His dying. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.
~A. W. Tozer~

Sometimes God doesn't change your situation because He's trying to change your heart.

God's Words are not for me to edit and tinker with, but to believe and obey.
~A. W. Tozer~

The Christian's faith is ultimately not only a matter of doctrine or understanding or of intellect, it is a condition of the heart.
~Martyn Lloyd Jones~

Once a man was asked, "What did you gain by regularly praying to God?" The man replied, "nothing... but let me tell you what I lost: anger, ego, greed, depression, insecurity, and fear of death." Sometimes, the answer to our prayers is not gaining but losing; which ultimately is the gain.

Worry is pulling tomorrows clouds over today's sunshine.
~A. W. Tozer~

You can't argue a person into heaven. You can't friend them into heaven either. You can only share the truth in love. God has to change their heart.

We must allow the Word of God to correct us the same way we allow it to encourage us.
~A. W. Tozer~

Death is just a change of address, but what you believe will determine what neighbor you end up with.
~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, June 18, 2016

America the Beautiful?

America the Beautiful?
The United States in Bible Prophecy
by Dr. David R. Reagan

Where is the United States in Bible prophecy? It is a ques­tion I am asked wherever I go. It is only natural that we should wonder. Since the United States is not mentioned specifically by name in Bible prophecy, people have resort­ed to their ima­ginations to find our nation in the Scriptures.

A “tall and smooth people”?

Some have pointed to Isaiah 18 which speaks of a peo­ple “tall and smooth” who are “feared far and wide.” The passage further states that this is a “powerful nation whose land the rivers divide.” The chapter ends by stating that the people of this nation will bring “a gift of homage” to the Lord when He returns to reign from Mt. Zion.
Because these verses speak of a powerful nation whose land is divided by a great river, some have jumped to the conclusion that the nation is the United States since it is divided by the Mississippi River.
But the open­ing verses of this chapter indicate it is speak­ing of “Cush,” the ancient name of Ethiopia. At the time Isaiah wrote this passage, Ethiopia was a part of the Egyp­tian empire and the river referred to is undoubtedly the Nile.

A “village” of Tarshish?

Probably one of the most popular passages where peo­ple claim to have found the U.S. is in Ezekiel 38 where the pro­phet describes an invasion of Israel that will be launched in the end times by a nation “from the remote parts of the north.” The descriptive verses about the northern power make it clear that this nation is Russia. What is not so clear is where the U.S. fits into this invasion.
Those who find us in the passage point to Ezekiel 38:13 which says that “the merchants of Tarshish and all its villag­es” (or “young lions” depending on translation) will speak out against the invasion. The argument is that Tarshish is Britain and the “villages” or “young lions” are the English speaking nations like the U.S. and Australia that were foun­ded by British immigrants.
To say the least, this is a highly imaginative interpreta­tion. Its validity is seriously questioned by the fact that no one knows for certain the true identity of “Tarshish.” Fur­ther­more, recent archaeological develop­ments indicate that Tarshish was most likely Spain, not Brit­ain.

A “great eagle”?

Another favorite passage for applied imagination is Rev­ela­tion 12:13-17. These verses state that in the middle of the Tribulation God will provide a means of escape for the Jew­ish remnant in Israel. They will be carried into the wil­der­ness to a hiding place on the “wings of a great eagle.”

Some people have seized on this imagery to teach that the U.S., whose national symbol is the eagle, will supply the end time air lift that will save the Jewish remnant.
But the Bible is its own best interpreter. And when you look up the phrase, “wings of an eagle,” you will find that it is the same one that God used in Exodus 19:4 to describe how He brought the Israelites out of Egypt. God is the ea­gle, not the United States (see Deuteronomy 32:11).

“Babylon the great?”

This brings us to the final and most widely used pas­sage for identifying the U.S. in Bible prophecy. It is Revela­tion 18 where the destruction of “Babylon the great” is de­scribed.
There is no doubt that the United States shares many simi­larities with the corrupt commercial empire described in this chapter. But the U.S. is not a fulfillment of Revelation 18. That chapter is describing the last Gentile world empire that will dominate the earth at the time of the Lord’s Sec­ond Coming. It is the empire of the Antichrist.

A Conclusion

So, where is the United States in Bible prophecy? The an­swer is that we are not mentioned directly and specifical­ly. We are cov­ered by general prophecies that relate to all nations, but beyond that, our end time destiny must be a matter of spec­ulation.
General prophecies that apply to the U.S. include those that say all nations will be judged (Isaiah 34:2-3) and all na­tions will cease to exist except the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 30:11 and 46:28).

A Speculation

I personally believe that the reason the U.S. is not men­tioned in end time prophecy is because we will suddenly cease to be a world power and will therefore play no signifi­cant role in end time events.
The destruction of American power is most likely to occur in two stages. The first could be an economic catastrophe that will result from our out of control debt situation. Our god is the dollar, and the Lord is going to destroy that god when the weight of our debt collapses our economy.
The second stage could occur when Russia launches its invasion of Israel (pro­phesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39). I believe it is very likely that they will launch a preemptive nuclear at­tack against our nation, since we are the only country in the world that might possi­bly come to Israel’s defense. This attack may be hinted at in Ezekiel 39:6 where it says that fire will fall on “those who inhabit the coastlands in safety.”
The Russian attack will prob­ably come from sub­marines deployed off our East and West coasts. Each Rus­sian sub carries more fire pow­er than all the bombs dropped in World War II. Such an attack would give us only seven minutes warn­ing, not even enou­gh time to launch a counter attack.

With the U.S. immobilized, the Russians will then attack Israel and, according to Ezekiel, their army will be wiped out su­pernaturally by God on the hills of Israel (Ezekiel 39:1­4). The greatest power vacuum in the history of mankind will be created almost overnight. The world will be gripped by panic.
Into that vacuum will step a dynamic, charismatic Euro­pean political personality who will be energized by Satan. He will begin to rally the world to his support through his brilliant proposals for world peace. The world will be mes­merized by him (Revelation 13:8).

An Objection

Some argue that since the collapse of the Soviet gov­ernment, Russia is now too weak to launch any attack against Israel or the Untied States. It is true that the econo­my of Russia is in shambles, but the military power is intact, including thousands of nuclear warheads!
In fact, Russia is far more dangerous to the world today than before the Soviet collapse. The increased danger is rooted in the instability of the government.
There is no hope for de­mocracy in Russia because the societal values that are es­sential for the working of a demo­cratic system do not exist. Nor is there any histori­cal expe­rience with democracy. Be­fore the Commissars were the Czars.
The current experiment with democracy will not last long. It will be overthrown, most likely by a coup that will produce a military dictatorship. That new tyranny will then most likely resort to one of the oldest techniques of govern­ment — namely, stirring up trouble abroad to divert people’s attention away from their domestic problems. That foreign trouble will be the invasion of Israel.

The Parallel of Habakkuk

I admit that I do not like this speculative scenario. But it seems the most likely chain of events to me. When it first occurred to me, I was particularly repelled by the idea of God using Russia to judge our nation. I asked, “How can a holy God punish those who are evil with those who are more evil?”
My quest for an answer to that ques­tion led me to the book of Habakkuk. I discovered that Habakkuk asked God the same question when God re­vealed to him that Judah would be judged by an invasion of the Chalde­ans.
God never answered Habakkuk’s question. He just called on Habakkuk to proceed in faith, believing that God knew best (Habakkuk 2:4). After a difficult spiritual struggle, Ha­bak­kuk stepped out in faith and said, “Lord, even if the Chaldeans complete­ly destroy us, I will continue to exalt Your name” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
The Chaldeans came. They destroyed the nation of Judah and the Temple of God. But where are the Chalde­ans to­day? In the dust bin of history. Where are the Jews? Re­gathered to their land.

The point is that God has the wis­dom and power to or­chestrate the evil of Man to the tri­umph of His holy will in history. It is not for us to question His ways. Rather, it is for us to trust Him.

A Sobering Conclusion

But there is another point to consider. Are we really more righteous than the Russians? I think not.
In fact, I be­lieve we are far more dangerous to the world spiritually than the Russians have ever been, for we are the world’s moral polluter through the export of our sleazy television pro­grams, our filthy mov­ies, our satanic music, and our de­grading pornog­raphy.
We are a people who have turned our back on God. The day of judgment for us will be far more severe than for the Russians, for “to those to whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48).

Another Possibility

There is another possible fate for the United States. If the Rapture were to occur today, we would be devastated because our nation contains more born again Christians than any other nation in the world — more than all of Western Europe combined. Further, we have many born again Christians in high positions of commerce and government. The Rapture would reduce our nation to chaos, removing us from the international scene as the world’s dominant power.
We can hope and pray that this will be the destiny of our nation, because if it is not, we are headed toward outright destruction due to our rebellion against a gracious God who has blessed us more than any other nation that has ever existed.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Cross Is Not Made of Soft Feathers! (and other devotionals)

The cross is not made of soft feathers!
(Charles Spurgeon)"Take up the cross--and follow Me." Mark 10:21
You have not the liberty of making of your own cross; although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making. Neither are you permitted to choose your own cross; although self-will would gladly be lord and master. Your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love--and you are cheerfully to accept it. You are to take up the cross as your chosen portion, and not to stand caviling at it. Jesus bids you to submit your shoulder to His easy yoke. Do not . . .
at it in petulance, or 
on it in vain-glory, or
  fall under it in despair, or 
  run away 
from it in fear.
Take it up like a true follower of Jesus.
Jesus was a cross-bearer; He leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if He carried a cross--what nobler burden would you desire?
The Way of the Cross is the way of safety--do not fear to tread its thorny paths.
Beloved, the cross is not made of soft feathers, or lined with velvet--it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders! But it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colors! It is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows carried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit--you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt!
Remember that the cross will soon be followed by the crown. The thought of the coming weight of glory--will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. May the Lord help you to bow your heart in submission to His divine will--that you may go forth to this day's cross with the holy and submissive spirit which befits a follower of the Crucified One.

Spoiled children!(J.C. Ryle, "The Duties of Parents")

Train your children to a habit of obedience. No habit, I suspect, has such an influence over our lives as this. Parents, determine to make your children obey you--though it may cost you much trouble--and cost them many tears! Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and disputing, and delaying, and answering back. When you give them a command, let them see plainly that you will have it done.

It ought to be the mark of well-trained children, that they 
cheerfully do whatever their parents command them. Where, indeed, is the honor which the fifth commandment enjoins, if fathers and mothers are not obeyed cheerfullywillingly, and immediately?

Parents, do you wish to see your children happy? Take care, then, that you train them to obey when they are spoken to--to do as they are told.

To my eyes, a parent always yielding--and a child always having its own way--are a most painful sight!Painful, because I feel sure the consequence to that child's character in the end will be self-will, pride, and self-conceit!

Parents, if you love your children, let obedience be a motto and a watchword continually before their eyes!

Learn to say "No" to your children. Show them that you are able to refuse whatever you think is not fit for them. Show them that you are ready to punish disobedience, and that when you speak of punishment, you are not only ready to threaten, but also to perform. Do not merely threaten.Threatened folks, and threatened faults, live long. Punish seldom, but really and earnestly. Frequent and slight punishment is a wretched system indeed.

Beware of letting small faults pass unnoticed under the idea, "it is a little one." There are no little things in training children--all are important. Little weeds need plucking up as much as any. Leave them alone, and they will soon become giants!

Parents, if there is any point which deserves your attention, believe me, it is this one. It is one that will give you trouble, I know. But if you do not take trouble with your children when they are young--they will give you trouble when they are old! Choose which you prefer!

Do not be afraid, above all, that such a plan of training will make your child unhappy. I warn you against this delusion. Depend on it, there is no surer road to unhappiness than always having our own way! To be indulged perpetually is the way to be made selfish--and selfish people and spoiled children, believe me, are seldom happy!

Beneath the cross of Jesus!

(George Everard, "Beneath the Cross" 1877)

Beneath the cross of Jesus
, I shall best learn to know my sin aright. For in the presence of Him who was crucified for me, I learn how fearful is the character of sin. Sin is . . .
  the knife that slew my best friend;
  the nail that pierced His hand;
  the spear that wounded His side;
  the scourge that bruised Him;
  the thorn that marked His brow.

With this sight before me . . .
  let me hate my sin with deadly hatred;
  let me never cloak or excuse sin, though in the most subtle form;
  let me abhor the very shadow, the very approach of evil;
  let me keep at the utmost distance from that which crucified my Lord.

The more I keep beneath the cross of Jesus, the more shall I grieve over the evil I have done, and grow in humility before God.

Beneath the cross of Jesus, I also see the completeness and the all-sufficiency of my sin's remedy!However great the evil I discover--help and salvation is close at hand. I can never despair, while I gaze on Him who was wounded for my transgressions and who bore my sins in His own body on the tree!

Mary's portion!

(George Everard, "The Home of Bethany" 1873)

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42

"Only one thing is needed." Not many things, but one. Not the provision for the table, the food that perishes--but the Bread of Life; for "man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

Dear reader, one thing is needful for you . . .
  the wedding garment to cover you, 
  the pearl of great price to enrich you,
  the water of life to refresh you, 
  the balm of Gilead to heal you, 
  the Rock of Ages to shelter you, 
  the Everlasting arms to uphold you, 
  the wing of your Redeemer to cover you.

Yes, "one thing is needed;" in a word, Christ! His love, His presence, His grace, His image, His glory! With this, you are rich and happy through eternal ages!

And this was Mary's portion. This was her rich inheritance. This was the good part which she had chosen, and which would never be taken from her. Her choice was without wavering or hesitation. She could say in truth, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed. I have one desire, one aim, one deep longing--to know You, to love You, to cleave to You more and more."

Leave It To God
"Roll on Jehovah thy way" (Ps. 37:6).
Whatever it is that presses thee, go tell the Father; put the whole matter over into His hand, and so shalt thou be freed from that dividing, perplexing care that the world is full of. When thou art either to do or suffer anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it, and acquaint Him with it; yes, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet, diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters. Roll thy cares, and thyself with them, as one burden, all on thy God. --R. Leighton
Build a little fence of trust
Around today;
Fill the space with loving work
And therein stay.
Look not through the sheltering bars
Upon tomorrow;
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow. --Mary Butts

We shall find it impossible to commit our way unto the Lord, unless it be a way that He approves. It is only by faith that a man can commit his way unto the Lord; if there be the slightest doubt in the heart that "our way" is not a good one, faith will refuse to have anything to do with it. This committing of our way must be a continuous, not a single act. However extraordinary and unexpected may seem to be His guidance, however near the precipice He may take you, you are not to snatch the guiding reins out of His hands. Are we willing to have all our ways submitted to God, for Him to pronounce judgment on them? There is nothing a Christian needs to be more scrutinizing about than about his confirmed habits and views. He is too apt to take for granted the Divine approbation of them. Why are some Christians so anxious, so fearful? Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord. They took it to Him, but brought it away with them again. 

~L. B. Cowman~