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Hope in Trials (Standing Watch) 13 min video

Farm Faith (article by Lacee Hilgen, a volunteer teacher at the Legacy Foundation Leadership Training Project in Chiang Mai, Thailand.)

Cure for the ‘isms’ (Sabbath Meditations)
I love my teenage son. He's a joy to have around and I couldn't be a prouder father. But like most teenage sons, from time to time he is afflicted with that dreaded malady, teenage know-it-all-ism. Thankfully, I've found a wonderful defense in the battle against this dreaded disease: Google©.
My last opportunity to deploy this powerful weapon came when I found my son standing before the open door of our kitchen refrigerator, hacking and coughing, broadcasting germs like an oscillating lawn sprinkler.
Dad: “What do you think you are doing? You're going to get us all sick! Get out of the kitchen!”
Jordan (sounding authoritative and professorial):  "Dad....(sniffle, cough)...don't you know that once symptoms of a cold start displaying themselves you are no longer contagious. Coughing and sneezing are simply the body's way of clearing out the effects of a cold that have already run their course. You can't get sick from it...(wheeze...splutter).”
Dad (beginning to feel a little unsure of himself, starting his retreat): “Well...hmm...that can't be right can it? But it kind of makes sense...I guess...”
Jordan (continuing his rummaging through the fridge): “So, dad....(cough, splutter)....there's nothing to...(hack)...worry about.”
Dad (feeling suddenly empowered): “Wait a minute!  C'mon, that can't be true. Let me check this out. I'm googling this one.”
“Hmm... Jordan, it says here on WebMd that a cold is contagious from three days before the onset of symptoms and up to five to seven days after the onset of symptoms. What do you say to them beans!”
Jordan (slinking out of the kitchen, acknowledging defeat): "Uhh...oh...hmm...I guess I was wrong.”
Slowly, cooly, like a gunslinger re-holstering his smoking colt 45, I close the lid to my laptop. I could almost hear the background music to one of those old Clint Eastwood flicks. You know, the one we all try to whistle but can never get quite right. Google© saved the west again. Or, at least my kitchen.
I can't be too hard on my son though. Even as adults, we struggle with, not only know-it-all-ism, but all kind of other ‘isms’ from time to time. Our human nature is often prone to believing it has all the answers, that it knows what is best. Thankfully, we have a loving Father who has provided an even more powerful weapon than Google©.
In Hebrews 4:12-13 we read, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
The cure for know-it-all-ism and all of the other ‘isms’ of our human nature against which we battle? God's Word. Immersing ourselves in it daily allows it to work in our hearts in concert with His Spirit that is in us, convicting us of what is true, and laying bare those areas of our lives that are diseased and in need of healing.
Proverbs 3:5-8 tells us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
It's up in the air whether my son will grow to be a better man because his dad was adept at using a search engine. I have to admit I sure enjoy bursting his bubble from time to time though.
There is no doubt, however, that submitting ourselves fearfully before the One who does indeed know it all, looking to Him, following His ways rather than our own, will bring us healing from all the ‘isms’ to which our human natures are prone.

The Last Trumpet (Children of God)

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1Corinthians 15:52)
The Day of Trumpets pictures war – world war. We are living in a fool’s paradise if we believe that awesome, terrifying war is not on the horizon. Humanity at Jesus’s second coming will be almost totally destroyed. Jesus Christ said that it will be such an overwhelming war and cause such distress that there would be no survivors – “no flesh saved alive” – unless He personally intervened to cut short the hostilities. (Matthew 24:21-22)
Why is God’s wrath coming against the entire world? Trumpets will be the time of God's wrath against rebellious mankind (Revelation 6:17). The purpose of the Trumpet plagues is for all sinful men to repent. Armies now possess nuclear devices capable of setting the world ablaze. What events and circumstances would bring about their use – resulting in such a terrible conflagration? What has the entire population of the earth done to provoke such a great rage from God? Jesus said that it is the time of “Jacob’s trouble” – a time like nothing else the world has ever seen.
“The Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of triumph, or shouting for joy, with trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:23-25, KJV) Jewish tradition states that silver trumpets and a ram’s horn or shofar were blown on the first day of the seventh month.
The Last Trumpet is the time when man’s rule on the earth will give way to the rule of Jesus Christ over the Kingdom of God.
Years ago in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve decided they did not need God’s guidance and protection. They decided that they could ‘go it alone’ without God’s help. The ultimate result of that erroneous decision will become apparent to the whole world during the Day of the Lord. Unless we understand the significance of the Day of Trumpets – and are keeping it as a sign of our obedience – we will have no protection from the horrible destruction just ahead!
We live in a world that is anti-God. This world hates everything about God’s way, truth, law, peace, and happiness – in short, this world hates God. The Day of Trumpets pictures Christ’s conquest over this world – and over all evil and lawless men. It pictures the terrible time of total world war just ahead, and the intervention of Christ to save the living from total annihilation. Who will be counted worthy to escape the coming total devastation?  (Luke 21:36)
How will the last war begin? It can be one incident, or a series of incidents that can plunge nations into all out hostilities. Does God expect the world to receive an advance warning of the coming Kingdom of God? “This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14) God's true ministers are sounding a warning – reminding people that, before the coming of God's Kingdom, there must come wars and rumors of wars, ending in the most horrifying world war this world has ever experienced (Mark 13:7).
We are so privileged to be able to see how God is going to work it all out. This world – that seems to be on top of everything – is going to be brought down to nothing by Jesus Christ.
The world cannot see what we in God's Church see, because they do not believe God and they will not observe His Holy Days – which would open up the meaning of the plan of God to them, if only they were willing to observe them. But now, they are blind to the tremendous plan of God – it is hidden to them.

Sitting as a Queen and not a Widow (First Century Christianity)

“To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.’ “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.‘” Revelation 18:7-10
The ‘all capitals’ in the verses above is not my doing. The translation I use makes note of when the New Testament cites the Old Testament by putting the words in all capitals. In this instance, John is referencing Isaiah 47. In fact, a whole lot of the book of Revelation references the Old Testament.
I am bringing this up because I want to ask the reader a question: from where does a queen derive her power? This is a much harder question to answer for those of us in the Americas than for those on the European continent, because we largely lack monarchies on this side of the world. A queen derives her power from a king. In order for a woman to ascend to the throne of a country, her husband must have died or her father died without having male children.
In a recent sermon, I spoke about identifying Babylon and how to come out of her. The congregation of true believers is analogized as a pure bride by the Apostle Paul and others, but even in the book of Revelation itself we can see that the congregation of those who remain true are referred to as a chaste bride clothed in white:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:7,8.
The contrast we have here is a congregation of faithful and obedient believers being identified as a chaste bride clothed in white and the congregation of syncretic and disobedient believers being analogized as a harlot clothed in scarlet. This is a pretty easy distinction to figure out.
However, the identifier of the Babylon of the end times being a queen and not a widow gives us a little more insight. That means this Babylon character is a power that believes it derives its power from itself without the need of the husband that is Yahweh. There are a couple groups that fit this category, but which country or culture do we see today that has been historically faithful, blessed beyond comprehension, and yet has decided to push any reference to the Almighty from the public square? Western culture as a whole has been pursuing secular agenda for quite a while, but the United States today is remarkably pushing God out of the public square. We have had the world’s most powerful military and economy for quite a while and have lived in almost universal peace and safety for over fifty years. This degree of security and prosperity for such a length of time makes us start to believe that we will never see mourning, especially nothing like the hard times our forefathers endured to build that peace.
There are a whole lot of things lining up recently that look end-time-ish lately. Is this the end, birth pangs for the end, or just another cyclical change in the power structure on planet earth? Only Yahweh knows for sure. But it is intriguing to explore the parallels between the USA and the Babylonian end-time power. While this nation has sinned a lot historically and has never kept the 4th commandment, it was founded by those seeking to have the religious freedom to worship the God of the Bible as they saw fit. As our country has prospered immensely in the last 50 or 60 years, our culture has turned more into a more secular humanist society. This means we, as a nation, have decided to lean on our own works and reject the Almighty. Our culture has also very rapidly been promoting the mixing of belief systems under the guise of ‘tolerance’. These things add up to fitting the idea that America is starting to believe that she is a Queen who needs no husband and that is a dangerous place to be.

World in Transition (New Horizons)

It feels like we are on the brink of a new age—but an age of chaos, of barbarism, of hate. The brave new world supposed to follow the end of the war in 1918 has melted in the spilled blood of millions since.
Endless international conferences, focus groups, public institutions, meetings of Heads of State—even a so-called ‘united nations’ organization—have failed to deliver. And our leaders flounder without answers. As wrote the Hebrew prophet: ‘For the wisdom of their wise ones shall perish, and the understanding of their intelligent ones shall be hidden’ (Isaiah 29:14).
‘Wise’ might have been written tongue-in-cheek—for our politicians, our business leaders and even the religious leaders betray an abysmal ignorance of the true source of wisdom. For when it comes to solving social, economic, family, religious challenges the prophet speaks again ‘...Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’ (ch 5:20).
Wise heads are few, but increasingly nations are ruled by how the prophet sees them: ‘He will let children and babies become your rulers’ (Isaiah 3:4).

Certainly, as the apostle Paul writes, ‘the love of money is a root of every evil’ (I Timothy 6:10).
And we see that clearly portrayed by avaricious bankers, business tycoons, Parliamentarians, corrupt despots - and also mankind in general. Our national and personal indebtedness reflects a disregard for a guiding principle for a stable economy: ‘...You shall not covet’.
Money, however, is but one root. Throughout history religion has spawned countless deaths, untold misery. It began with the murder of Abel and concerned the rejection of the true faith by his brother—and ever since!
More recently the Inquisition, the ‘Thirty Years War’ in the early 17th century, the IRA in Ireland, the current Islamic Sunni and Shi’ite struggles. Mixed with politics and the struggle for power and supremacy, religion is a potent force for evil.
In sum, human greed, humanly devised religions, technology, power-hungry politics have, for six thousand years, failed our world. Human solutions have crumbled in a surging tide of fallen human nature.
But we are in transition. For the one and only God sees our desperate plight—and has a plan. There is hope!
Thousands of Christians worldwide are now preparing for the Day of Trumpets. It is a day that highlights the self-destruction of mankind and the return of the Messiah, Jesus, to take over the reins of world government. A surviving remnant of mankind—of all nations, all races—will be repentant and be reconciled to God, at one with Him through Christ and his sacrifice. The universal malign influence of the ‘god of this world’ will be removed.
Jesus picks up the reins of government over all of mankind—portrayed within the imagery of the seven day Festival of Tabernacles. All human government will be subject to His benign rule for a thousand years as He implements His divine laws (Isaiah 2), administered by the risen saints:
He shall not judge according to the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears, But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and shall decide with uprightness for the meek of the earth. And He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His heart. Also the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.' Isaiah 11:3-9
The prophet Zechariah tells us that Tabernacles will be observed annually by all mankind (ch.14:16) - persuaded, if necessary, by the One who controls the weather (v.17-19)! No more false religion. No more corrupt self-serving government. Just what man desires—universal peace and prosperity. What better way to understand this plan than to live it by participating in God’s festivals!

We Shall Judge Angels (Morning Companion)

The Corinthian church was a piece of work. This cosmopolitan city bred a talented crew, but they were also a cantankerous bunch. Church member sued church member in courts of law, and naturally, Paul felt the need to admonish them. “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” (I Cor. 6:1)
After that he says something very intriguing, almost as if we should already understand it. “Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (verse 3)
What did he mean by this?
A judge sits in a court of law, judges the innocence or guilt of a party based on the evidence and the law, and then pronounces a sentence on a guilty party. Did Paul really mean that we are to judge angels?
This begins to make sense if we realize that some angels do need judging. The world beyond the physical has some strange goings on, a good deal of which is on the Dark Side. Scripture and tradition from many religions, not just the Judeo-Christian ones, speak of these forces, and some even openly worship them. Much of the evil in the world can be traced at its root to the influences of the gods of this world. They need judging.
Which brings us to the question that some amateur and not-so-amateur theologians have bandied about: what will be the fate of such demons? We know that at the return of Christ these spiritual entities will be dealt with (Luke 7:31, Revelation 20:1-10). But people disagree on what that fate might be.
Some, quoting Ezekiel 28, claim that Satan will be destroyed.  “I threw you to the earth. I made you a spectacle before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching”. (Ezekiel 28: 17-18)
Others, looking to Jude, say they will be banished to the outer reaches of the universe, in exile forever. “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day … They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars for whom blackest darkness is reserved forever.” (Jude 6,8)
Some would consider this to be an even more excruciating punishment than annihilation.
This brings us back to Paul’s enigmatic statement to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that we will judge angels?”
So let me put a third theory on the table. Maybe the final fate of these angels – these fallen angels – will be annihilation, or maybe it will be banishment forever. Or maybe, just maybe, the final decision is yet to be made, because it is we who will judge these angels. Maybe their fate will be in our hands. Maybe we will get to decide.