|America's Disastrous Policies (Standing Watch) 13 min video|
Pray for the Peace of Israel? (First Century Christianity)
the modern nation of Israel is under constant rocket attack lately,
there are a whole lot of folks expressing themselves publicly that they
are praying for the peace of Israel. Of course, we desire peace, but I
think there might be something else we ought to be praying for.
behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a
Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the
congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the
doorway of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the
son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the
congregation and took a spear in his hand, and he went after the man of
Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel
and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel
was checked.’ Numbers 25:6-8
Doesn’t that just look brutal? Phinehas
speared his own countryman and the man’s wife. By today’s standards, and
really by most of history’s standards, that’s insane. But what happens
next is even more notable.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned
away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My
jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My
jealousy. Therefore say, Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; and it
shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a
perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made
atonement for the sons of Israel.” Numbers 25: 10-13
given the covenant of PEACE right after executing his countryman? WHAT?
Now, I am in no way, shape, or form advocating executing Old Testament
justice in our day and age, but take note that this man was blessed by
the Most High for simply doing what was supposed to be done when nobody
else would do it. We do not live in a society where justice is meted out
like it was in the days of Moses. We do, however, live in a society
that does reflect what happened in this scenario. The vast majority of
the society absolutely refuses to do what needs to be done to bring
peace, or solve any national problem at all for that matter.
to bring peace, we must first have victory. Harry Truman said, “Peace
is not the absence of war.” He was willing to do what needed to be done
to have peace. Today, I see a great many people pray for the peace of
Israel. I choose instead to pray for Israel to do what needs to be done
to achieve that peace. No country should live in constant fear of rocket
bombardment. I also pray for the United States to do what needs to be
done to solve its devastating problems. I pray for the leaders to stop
weeping in the assembly and to show some leadership in order to bring
peace through victory. In Israel’s case, Harry Truman’s quote is
incredibly appropriate. Peace is surely not the absence of war.
It Will Happen (New Horizons)
Bible believers express concerns as to how to interpret the end-time
prophecies or doctrinal issues. If they get it wrong—will that condemn
me to ‘the great tribulation’? Even, will I lose out on salvation? What
if, for example, they misplace the time of the resurrection? Will it
coincide with the Day of Trumpets? Or, will it take place on the Day of
Pentecost? Both scenarios have been proposed.
Then there’s the
important issue of the nature of the Godhead—is God, as is generally
believed within the Christian faith, a ‘trinity’, a ‘triune God’? Or
have the Unitarians got it right—one God. Or, is God a Family?
there’s the interpretation of the prophecies. Who is ‘the Beast’ or the
‘False Prophet’ or the ‘man of sin’? Is the ‘King of the South’ an
Islamic force, or a secular power? Or other? What if I’m not sure this
truly is ‘the end time’, and it turns out it is? Will I be left behind? And what about Daniel’s much-discussed prophecies?
genuine concerns! And yes—we should strive for a right understanding of
the Scriptures. Take that ‘trinity’ question. No Christian, however
they may understand ‘God’, means any disrespect. It’s how they
understand the text—or, more likely, they have never studied the issue
but have thoughtlessly accepted the word from the pulpit rather than
God’s revelation in the Scriptures. God remains, whatever we may think
or believe, exactly what He is, always was and always will be. No matter
what I might think or been taught.
And prophecy? The interpretations
are endless! Given enough time most human speculations—that’s what they
are—fall by the wayside. I don’t need to know when Jesus will return; I
must just stay in a state of preparedness. I needn’t know who might be
the ‘two witnesses’; God will manifest them for all to see in His good
time. I need not be concerned about world chaos—just be personally ready
for when the end comes.
There is, however, one clear instruction
direct from the lips of Jesus: ‘Go to the people of all nations and make
them my disciples. Baptize them ... and teach them to do everything I
have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the
world’ (Matthew 28:19-20). Those of us privileged to be part of His
divine Family are to share the good news of salvation, the Kingdom news,
personally and through support of the work of our church affiliation.
in tandem with this directive, we are each to shape our life to that of
the image of Jesus Christ, his character, as revealed through the
Scriptures and informed by God’s Spirit in us. Nothing we believe or
do will change God’s nature. We can’t change when Jesus will return. We
can’t change God’s choice of the two witnesses. We can’t change the
outcome of the prophecies. And, except in my small corner of influence
by my example, I can’t help the world’s chaos.
God is compassionate,
knows our frailties. He understands our limitations and doesn’t lay
anything on us beyond those limitations. We do our best to understand
His revelation—but failures of understanding do not affect our living
relationship with Him and with our Saviour, Jesus HIs Messiah.
Forsake All That You Have (Children of God)
we disciples of Jesus Christ? We are told that we are to come out of
the world and be separate. One of the behavioral traits that has become
pervasive in modern society is that of self indulgence. We hear people
say, “You only go around once – so get all you can get.” Are we in it
for the short-term, or are we in it for the duration? Jesus tells us
that the Kingdom of God cannot be acquired by seeking power and wealth,
or control and politics, or luxury and extravagance—but by laying those
“Seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink,
neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of
the world seek after: and your Father knows that ye have need of these
things. But rather seek ye [first] the Kingdom of God; and all these
things shall be added unto you.” (Luke 12:29-31, Matthew 6:33)
Christians, we realize that our temporary lives are not our own—we have
been purchased by Christ. Jesus goes on to explain that those people who
are His will make a conscious decision to make God’s way of life their
“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)
requires our full and complete loyalty and commitment. From God’s
perspective – why would God the Father and Jesus Christ want us to be
around in their Kingdom? Without us they were perfect and complete. Why
did they come up with a plan to bring us into their God family? What do
they see in us that we cannot even imagine of ourselves? God is a
creator and a producer – not a user and a taker. Jesus was a
carpenter—but He did not build a wooden church building. He is building
His Church—an eternal spiritual entity. If we have the eyes to see,
there is a picture there of our future.
Mankind has tremendous
creative ability—just look at the scientific inventions and building
accomplishments that have been achieved when men have set their minds to
it. God tells us that our ability is only limited by our imagination.
Man can achieve anything that he is able to conceive of in his mind. God
said of man:
“Nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Genesis 11:6)
that is in the flesh! God’s promise to us goes well beyond this
temporal life. His plan is that we attain to eternal spiritual life as
children of God. Notice how our capability and potential will increase
as spirit beings:
“As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear
heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God
hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
now imagine what will be within our grasp as creative spirit-born
members of the God family with an eternity of time and the vast
limitless universe at our disposal. But to be a part of what God has in
store for us we must now become like God is. We must love His law and
His people as He does—without competition or strife. Do we really want
God’s way of life with every fiber of our being, or do we resent having
to do things the ‘hard way?’
We are warned in the Scriptures that it
is possible to fall away from the truth of God and His good graces, and
lose out on salvation. That thought is horrifying to consider.
Extremely trying days lie just ahead for those of us in the Church of
God. Everything that we hold sacred will soon be overthrown –
everything, that is, except our faith, which must continue until the
Over and over in the Bible the brethren are admonished to
live lives of overcoming, and remain faithful to the end. We are to live
exemplary lives as witnesses to those in the world. But, is there a
possibility that we could fall away?
“It is impossible for those who
were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were
made partakers of the Holy Spirit, And have tasted the good word of God,
and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew
them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of
God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)
in spite of what some believe, is no bed of roses. There is no way that
a novice in the Faith can reasonably envision all the trials and
tribulations he will experience during his course of conversion. We do
not know everything that the future holds – only God knows. What is
clear is that Jesus warned that the last Church era before His return
would let down and be in severe need of repentance.
Can we skip to the part where I care? (Sabbath Meditations)
few days ago, I passed a guy wearing a t-shirt with the message, ‘Can
we skip to the part where I care?’ My first reaction was to snicker,
just a little. My second reaction was to think, “What a selfish jerk!”
However, my third reaction was, “Hey, he's kind of got a point.” Let me
This past Sunday, I returned from a full and rewarding
weekend in Big Sandy, Texas. I visited with church brethren, was treated
to some amazing southern hospitality, and took in the very hot but
beautiful East Texas countryside. Consequently, that Monday when I
returned to work, I was excited to share my adventure. So, I did the one
thing we humans do when we want attention - feign momentary interest in
someone else and then quickly switch the spotlight to myself. I asked a
colleague, “How was your weekend?” Of course, I was hoping for a brief,
“ahhh, it was good, how about yours?” Unfortunately, my plan backfired.
He launched into a minute by minute recounting of everything he, his
wife, children and the family dog had experienced that weekend.
Apparently, I had made the mistake of picking someone who had a life.
wasn't about to give up though. Seeing my opening somewhere after his
third paragraph, I dove in with, “Well, at least you stayed cool. You
wouldn't believe the weather in Texas...whew was it...” “Yeah, it wasn't
too bad here,” he butted in, “but you should have seen the...” and off
he went again.
I listened politely for a few agonizing minutes until,
catching a lucky break, his phone rang and he was forced to break off
the conversation. Off I went, searching for someone else with whom I
might share my experience. Ideally, someone who hopefully wouldn't have
their own story to tell.
Okay, I realize I’m exposing a bit of
personal carnality here. But, c’mon, you've all been there, right? Each
of us, at times, gets so focused on our little corner of existence that
we forget there are other people out there. People who have lives and
experiences they care about just as much as we care about ours.
Sometimes we forget that the earth doesn’t stop spinning for other
people when we leave the room. It’s those times that being confronted by
a message on a t-shirt that plainly, albeit rudely, tells it like it is
from the perspective of those having to put up with our self-centered
attitude, might actually do us a service.
Paul, writing to the
Philippians tells them, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or
conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than
himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but
also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
It’s a great
idea in theory. Most of us can manage to look out for other people’s
interests at least some of the time. But seriously, “esteem others
better than myself?!” That's a pretty tall order, isn’t it? That would
require not only showing interest in the lives of others, but actually
caring more about their lives than mine. How many of us really do that?
Well, come to think of it, there is one person who did.
Of all men
who have lived, I’m sure we'd all agree that Jesus had the most amazing
story to tell. Trip to Texas? Huh? Try a first class seat at the helm of
the universe! Yet, with so much that He had to share with others,
that’s not what He led with. He came first and foremost ministering to
the needs of others. He sacrificed His own needs, His own comfort, and
ultimately His own life so that others could find meaning and purpose in
theirs. It's an attitude I wish I displayed more often than I do.
Wait a minute. I can.
continues in Philippians 2:5-7, “Let this mind be in you which was also
in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it
robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking
the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men.”
mind, that heart towards the needs of others can and should be in me.
His mind in me should cause me to care about the things that He cared
about. His primary care was directed, not inward toward the self, but
outward toward others.
Our Lord's example is pointing us to a life lived outside the self, isn’t it?
live that life in a million little ways; sacrificing something we want,
so that we can contribute to someone who needs it more; directing our
energy, skills, and our precious time to further other people’s goals
rather than our own.
Paul also tells us here that caring for the
needs of others above our own needs is not something we can force.
Forcing ourselves to love and care for others, when our heart isn’t
really invested, is an exercise in futility and a recipe for resentment.
As Paul says here, we have to “let this mind be in (us)...” It’s not
something we force, it’s something we allow. We have to allow His Spirit
to work in us, filling us with His love so that we can share it freely
Just imagine the day when His love will fill this earth
and the hearts and minds all who inhabit it. There will certainly be
much less taking and a lot more giving. Folks will be less focused on
serving the self and more focused on serving others. And I’m not sure -
it’s just a hunch - but I’m guessing we won’t see too many of those
t-shirts around either.
Blood Moons (Morning Companion)
Blood Moon Prophecies have become somewhat of a topic in many prophetic
circles. The main biblical text used to explain this astronomical
phenomenon can be found in Joel 2:30-31:
“And I will show wonders
in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fires and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before
the coming of the great and awesome Day of the Lord.”
read this and conclude, not without reason, that this passage refers to
solar and lunar eclipses. They then refer to astronomical charts and
look for unusual alignments of solar and lunar eclipses while lining up
those arrangements to significant events in the history of Israel. They
then postulate, based on the wording in Joel, that one such future
alignment of eclipses will presage the return of Christ.
born the discussion around what is known as ‘the tetrad’. A tetrad is a
series of four consecutive lunar eclipses, each with six full moons in
between. The tetrad which occurs in 2014-2015 is unusual because all
four of those lunar eclipses occur on annual High Days (first days of
Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles) and the period also coincides with
solar eclipses (“the sun turned to darkness”).
To those interested in
prophecy, the coinciding of eclipses with Holy Days suggests a portent
of some kind of divine intervention, and they note that the founding of
the State of Israel and the Spanish Inquisition seem to coincide with
similar line-ups of the sun, moon, and Earth.
But as some researchers
have pointed out, many of the purported events prefigured by High Day
blood moons actually occurred before the sighting of the blood moons.
Are we to conclude that the events were precursors of the blood moons
instead of the other way around? And should we not ask whether the
biblical phrases “sun turned to darkness“ and moon into blood” are in
fact the same things as eclipses of the sun and moon?
Let’s take a
look at a specific event in the New Testament where the Scripture
mentions a unique astronomical event that was associated with a turning
point in history. It’s in Luke 23:44-45, and it refers to the moment of
“Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was
darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was
darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.”
hour” refers to the sixth hour of daylight (noon), and the “ninth hour”
refers to three in the afternoon. Question: Was this three hour period
the time of a solar eclipse?
We can be 100% confident that it was
not. Remember that Jesus’s death occurred just before the onset of a
High Day, specifically the first Day of Unleavened Bread, which always
occurred on the 15th day of the first month, the time of month of the
full moon. The only eclipse that could possibly happen at a full moon is
a lunar eclipse. There can never be a solar eclipse at that time of the
What, then, can we make of an apparent solar eclipse at the
time Jesus died? The easiest explanation would be to conclude that this
was not a solar eclipse but some other phenomenon, and if that’s true,
then there is reason to question whether the darkening of the sun and
blood moons really refer to eclipses at all.
The astronomical signs
we read about in scripture have more to them than simple, predictable
revolutions of heavenly bodies. Here is how Revelation 16:12-13
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal,
and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as
sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven
fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when
she is shaken of a mighty wind.”
Jesus describes it this way (Matthew 24:29):
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be
darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall
fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.”
Finally, in the context of the passage in Joel (Joel 2:10):
“The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness.”
stars growing dark and even falling from heaven, all apparently at the
same time: more than phenomena caused by predictable conjunctions of
heavenly bodies. I don’t know exactly how all this will unfold, but the
lesson to take from this is one that so many need to learn over and over
again. Prophetic interpretations are many. Don’t order your life around
the latest New York Times bestseller.