Sunday, December 30, 2012

Do You See What I See?

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV

Something I am often asked about, and speak regularly on, are what I call the “less obvious” signs of the end. Many believers and even some non-believers are familiar with what you could call the “major” signs that many are looking for, but if you study your Bible you will find that there are many passages which speak of the conditions that will exist on this earth immediately preceding the return of Christ which many tend to overlook.

The next few weeks I want to explore some of those passages beginning with the one above from Timothy. I'm sure it will come as no surprise that lately many of the questions I get concern what is going on around us right now in our country and the decisions that are being made by our elected officials. With that in mind, I thought I would share a commentary from a brother who is extremely well versed in prophecies of the end times, and how they might relate to the situation we find ourselves in today. His name is Ron Graham and if you would, please keep him in your prayers as he is dealing with many physical problems which I am sure affect his ability to serve.

Ultimate Monarchy
By Ron Graham

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:7-8. There’s a war brewing – it’s coming upon the last generation of mankind. Just before this mighty war there will be much fear and speculation about current and coming events. There will be signs in the heavens and signs on earth. From what we are currently witnessing around this globe there should be no doubt in the minds of the Ekklesia of Christ that this, the current generation, is the last generation prophesied to be remaining on earth at Christ’s Second Advent.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14. Because of looming global upheavals, it seems people everywhere are beginning to cry out for someone to bring peace on earth; a man with all the answers, a leader who can finally take humanity into the utopian existence so many long for. But it is not the Prince of peace, our future King, who is being sought after.

If you pay any attention at all to the global economies you know that it isn’t only America that is struggling to stay afloat. To state that the world’s economies are in turmoil would be a gross understatement. Greece is in a depression and has been for about three years now. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, among others, are in a recession and swiftly moving towards full depression. The U.S. of A. is not far behind.
Economically speaking, the unsustainable debt that the world has engrossed itself in is nothing short of a worldwide tsunami consuming everything and every nation in its path. Our current government leadership, along with our government run news agencies, is saying that everything is looking rosy and cozy, but that is a lie. This world is in dire straits and it needs fixing, and by-and-large the world intends to call on Mr. Fixit for relief.

For those who study their Bible and take it seriously there is nothing surprising about what’s going on around the world. Since we are in the last days we would expect to see the global state of affairs coming into perfect union with Biblical prophecy – one world government, one world monetary system, one world ecumenical system all aligning themselves like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. But what few people are talking about is the upheaval that must occur prior to all the puzzle pieces coming together. That’s when Mr. Fixit will jump in and avail himself as that one extraordinary world leader to bring peace and harmony to a broken world.

Right now what we see happening seems as though it’s straight out of a Hollywood created, edge of your seat thriller. The problem is most people think they can just get up and leave the theater or turn off the TV, but that’s not going to help. The same outcome facing Greece is now encroaching on America. Life is going to get ugly and it’s going to be painful. This is real life, not a movie. In today’s world we can be assured that with the implosion of the US economy, which is on the brink of collapse, the results for much of mankind will be devastating.

With no positive outlook on the horizon the world is confronted with a decision of major consequences: 1) Seek and follow a man who claims to have the answers to the ills that currently plague mankind – a Mr. fixit kind of guy,  or 2) follow the One who has never lied to us and who created us in His image. I suggest number 2, and haste would be prudent.

Our Lord Jesus is a well established player on the field of humankind, yet almost completely ignored by the majority of human kind. Even many of those on His very own team ignore Him or relegate Him to second string. Jesus is the wide open receiver ready to receive, but He’s rejected as being out of step, using outdated disciplines and procedures, no longer an asset to the rest of the team – He just isn’t the performer His team had in mind. These days, people want someone new and exciting, a man for all seasons. They want someone who will relieve the pressure on the rest of the team so no one will be at all inclined to toe the line. Even many professing Christians would rather have a mere man enter the scene in lieu of their coming King.  

The world will soon be focusing on one man (Mr. Fixit), and he will be more than willing to take the helm. He’ll be a consummate leader and he will take charge of world affairs. He’ll be that one individual who will promise mankind an unequaled pie in the sky greatness and prosperity – but his motives will be pure evil.

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:12. Standing against the Laws of God has caused great immorality in this world. Because of iniquity (lawlessness and wickedness) now abound. We’ve now witnessed the condoning of the murder of millions upon millions of innocent unborn babies. Pervasive God abandoned lifestyles are now deemed acceptable worldwide. There is currently a cold heartedness spreading like wildfire such as murdering school children while they sit in their classes or the indiscriminate murder of people enjoying a movie in a theater. All of these evils are orchestrated by none other than the “god of this world” (Satan).

The demonic is now coming to fruition. We are very close to the time that Satan will send in his Mr. Fixit. This ungodly creature is ready to take charge of the situation and bring about what so many are hoping for – peace on earth, unbridled wealth, untold pleasure, and the fulfillment of all dreams – utopia. The world hasn’t much longer to wait.
 “…that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The Apostle Paul refers to this “Mr. Fixit” quite differently than the world; Paul calls him the “son of perdition.” The world’s Mr. Fixit is in reality the antichrist – the fellow who will be indwelt by Satan himself. Few will realize the mistake they’ve made in seeking this particular individual, and before they know what’s happening Mr. Fixit will be transformed into evil personified. He will be established as a great leader with phenomenal capabilities. People will be enamored with his intelligence and charisma, his polished demeanor, his knowledge of world affairs, and his god-like powers. The world will hale him as their messiah.

Greed has created our current atmosphere of false prosperity and failed economics, which as lead the world into a precarious and painful position. People will turn to just about anyone who even suggests they might have a solution to the mess. If you think I’m off my rocker a simple look into the recent affairs of the US of A might change your mind. American’s have recently and overwhelmingly re-confirmed their love for a man who has systematically done everything possible to turn this nation into a totalitarian state. As we watch our rights being dismantled for all time, many of us see the satanic side of this man quite clearly.

No one with any real wisdom can miss what’s being thrown at us by our Federal Government. What is being promoted by this current administration as steps to secure the protection of every American is in all actuality moving all Americans into gross bondage while striping away all semblances of our inalienable rights.

With all of the new restrictions currently in place and with the massive amounts of restricting legislation being advanced by Congress, our rights and freedoms will soon be gone. All this so the populous can feel a sense of peace and safety. The world’s Mr. Fixit is waiting for the opportune moment to launch the enemy’s agenda of a false hope to this deceived world. Basically he’ll provide a short window of hope to the hopeless. But there will never be utopia of any kind until the Real Hope (Jesus Christ) returns and takes His rightful place on His earthly Throne.
What is currently destabilizing Greece is the fact that the Government can no longer afford to pay out all the government subsidies they’ve been providing for their citizenry, which has brought that nation to its knees. Bailout after bailout has done nothing to alleviate the problem. Now the U.S., as well as many other nations, is facing the same future. Thus, people will soon be begging for Mr. Fixit to get with the program. He will then step out and comfort them with words that will sound so delectable that people will feed on them as though they were some kind of delicious morsel. Sadly, it will all be lies. It won’t be long until people will be starving to death because they sought after the lies of Satan.

Brotherly love will be gone, happiness will disappear, and all commonsense will be abandoned. People will begin to turn on one another with derision and us brute force to kill anyone in their way. They will even snatch the smallest scrap of food from the fingers of a starving child. “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” Matthew 10:21.

Satan will revel at the total abandon which will consume every society on earth. Satan is the god of this world because he stole the deed from Adam way back in the beginning. For a while longer he’ll be allowed to play out his agenda, but then he and his agenda will come to an abrupt end. You say you don’t believe in Satan? You will.

Through all the approaching misery there is hope. We must turn to the One who has given us life, and much more abundantly than any government on earth, instead of ignoring Him. Believing Jesus Christ was simply a nice guy and nothing else, or worse yet a myth, will only result in more pain and heartache for the unbeliever. Jesus Christ is the way, He is the truth, and He is the life to everyone who believes. Governments promise what they don’t have – Jesus promises what He’s already procured and delivered for all who will believe. There is incredible evil coming. How do we avoid the circumstances of that evil? Jesus Christ is the answer – He is our blessed hope. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. The God of all creation died for His creation even though we were yet sinners. This is love. What do you call love? 

The truth of the matter is this world is in turmoil and has been for a long time, long before it slid into the current economic chaos we see today. God established His love toward us desiring that perfect love to stand forever, to be a constant proof of how He sees us (His creation). God wants to help us walk through this world without fear from the enemy. He wants to guide our steps. Our faith and trust in God’s only begotten Son makes this possible.

Sick, insane, and oftentimes disheartening things happen all around us, but God is always with us. Satan is a liar and through his “man of perdition” will make many wonderful claims, which he won’t deliver on because he is a liar not a deliverer. The word of God gives us incredible insight into the realm of the supernatural. There is a raging battle being fought on the behalf of all humanity. Good against evil. Evil will be dealt a death blow but not before it consumes the lives of much of earth’s population (Christ rejecters).

Jesus came from a place that is perfect; He being perfect was the only one who could accomplish the Father’s will. He alone was able to reverse the curse that entered this universe when Satan convinced Eve to partake of the fruit of that forbidden tree. Jesus Christ is our Creator and only He could die for His creation. For those who believe, He promises eternal life. For those who believe not, He makes it plain, eternal damnation is your lot.

Jesus will clean up the mess we humans have made of this earth. He’s coming back – soon. His Raptured saints will return with Him at the second coming when Jesus will defeat the enemy and his horde. Then He will set up His Monarchy. The mess will be gone and we will have peace under the perfect rule of the King of kings. To be a part of that awesome promise all that is required of you is “…that ye believe on him (Jesus Christ) whom he (God) hath sent” John 6:29. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. We, the followers of Jesus Christ, should all be looking forward to this earth’s Ultimate Monarchy and our King who is as loving as He is perfect.

God bless you all,
 Ron Graham

All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed

Please continue your prayers for my health. The diabetes has taken a detrimental effect on my eyesight, the Myasthenia is still affecting my strength and between the MG and the diabetes my fatigued is being exasperated. The prostate cancer for now seems to be in remission. But God is good, and hears the prayers of His faithful children. I’m convinced that my faithfulness to my God and your prayers are the binding tie that keeps these health problems from overwhelming me.

I’m very grateful to those of you who have been led by God to send gifts of support. God is the giver of all good gifts. I’ve placed this little acknowledgement here at the bottom of my commentary because some of you ask if you can send a gift. My response as always is; If God is leading you to send a gift of support then yes. Please send your gift to Ron Graham – 96 County Road 5480, Salem, MO, 65560. For those of you who have suggested it, I have set up a PayPal account using my email address as my account access number. Thank you my brethren, God bless you all.

If you would like to be on my email list to receive the commentaries just drop me a line and let me know. I never add anyone to my email list without their requesting I do so.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why Shepherds?

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "And this [will be] the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen [Him], they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard [it] marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered [them] in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. 
Luke 2:8-20 NKJV

To many, these words from Luke are very familiar, yet I never tire from hearing or reading them. Of course, this story like the rest of the Bible, has much to say if we but look a little deeper. Today I want to share just a few thoughts on shepherds, and a possible reason that God made the decision to announce the coming of His Son to them rather than kings or rulers.

In that part of the world, in that culture, shepherds were considered to be the lowest of the low. It took no special talent nor education to be a shepherd, and their responsibilities were extremely simple ones. According to the Bible, a shepherd was expected to feed and protect the flock, (Ezekiel 34:2,12), and rescue them from any danger, (Amos 3:12). In ancient Egypt, shepherds were also considered to be unclean, and thus not allowed to live close by but rather made to dwell away from others.

"So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, 'What is your occupation?' "that you shall say, 'Your servants' occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we [and] also our fathers,' that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd [is] an abomination to the Egyptians."
Genesis 46:33-34 NKJV

Do you find it interesting as I do then, that some famous people in the Bible were shepherds? People like Joseph, Moses, and David? Of course, we can never forget that Jesus is referred to as a shepherd throughout the New Testament as well. However, even with all this to consider, I still often wondered why God chose to send the angels to announce the birth of His Son to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem?

As I studied this question I discovered something I didn't know before that might explain God's reasoning, and give us an answer. You recall that shepherds and their sheep were, as a general rule, made to dwell away from the general population. If you wanted to find them, they were out in the country someplace. Yet these particular shepherds were in the fields outside of Bethlehem, which is only a few miles from Jerusalem. Why so close? It is believed that these particular shepherds were tending to the flocks of sheep that were used for the temple sacrifices in Jerusalem. If that was the case, consider how John the Baptist refers to Jesus when he first sees Him.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29 NKJV

I can't help but wonder if God wanted to tell the shepherds who were protecting the sacrificial sheep that the “Lamb of God” had been born and was in a manger just a couple of miles away? I couldn't help but notice too, that there was no hesitation on the part of the shepherds to leave their flock and run to Bethlehem to see what the Lord had made known to them.  Now that could certainly be a result of seeing and hearing angels, yet I can't help but wonder if their responsibilities towards a lamb that had wandered away from the flock had anything to do with their quick response.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, I hope we remember that He was born to die, so that we can live. It was His ultimate sacrifice which allows us to make the choice to accept Him as our Savior, and become one of His sheep which He will soon take home to spend eternity with Him.

If you are reading this today and have never made the decision to allow Jesus Christ to come into your heart, and accept the free gift of eternal life He has offered you, I urge you to do so right now. You can do that by simply praying this prayer and accepting the gift of eternal life God has offered you by the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life to you. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen.

Keep watching.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Has Your Faith Been Shaken?

And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift [you] as wheat. "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to [Me], strengthen your brethren."
Luke 22:31-32 NKJV

“How could a loving God allow such a tragedy as this”? Have you heard that question this past week as I have in one form or another? It seems to be a pretty common question to ask at times like this, yet whenever I hear it my immediate thought is why is the question focused on God rather than the author of the evil, Satan?

If you have followed my thoughts on this site for any length of time I'm sure you have by now come to realize that I believe one of our most important responsibilities to our Father is to heed His command to “watch”.

"Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is."[It is] like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch."Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning--"And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"
Mark 13:33-37 NKJV

Whenever I teach on this subject I inevitably get questions relating to what should we be watching for and what exactly will we see? My answers to those questions reveals my belief about the origin of many of the events we will observe, and that is that they come from Satan himself. All too often I think as believers, we tend to focus on God's plan without appreciating the fact that Satan has a plan as well. The more we are familiar with Satan and what he intends for the world, the better prepared we will be to deal with the events that will most certainly occur.

You see, nobody knows scripture better than Satan. After all, who has been around to study it as long as he has? He quoted it when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, and he most assuredly uses it against us. So do you think with what he knows about the end of the age, he wouldn't have a clue as to when God was preparing to take us home? You see, Satan knows what God has in store for him, and when he believes the end times are approaching it would make sense that he would do anything in his power to release all the evil on this earth at his control in order to take as many down with him as he could?

I believe much of what we will see happen before the rapture is a direct result in Satan increasing his efforts as he sees the day approaching. I truly believe this is exactly what we can see right now in the world around us. So many events are occurring on a daily basis that it simply seems unbelievable that we could not be close to the time Jesus commanded us to watch for. Yet as we watch for the signs of Christ's return, do we not also see an increase in the evil that surrounds us? I believe that as the time grows shorter to the rapture of the Church, we will see even more of these unspeakable tragedies as Satan prepares to unleash as much of his power as he can.

What does this mean to us as believers? Most certainly, I believe as these questions are asked about God and what is called His “permissable will”, or what He chooses to allow to happen, many will begin to question their faith. In the passage from Luke we see that Jesus tells Peter that his faith is about to be tested to the limit by Satan. The Greek word for sift is siniaz┼Ź:1) to sift, shake in a sieve, 2) fig. by inward agitation to try one's faith to the verge of overthrow. Did you get that last part? “To the verge”? When you consider the idea of testing to the limit you would probably think back to Job as well. However the common denominator is that Satan must ask permission of God to test in this way.

I think we would all agree that one of Satan's primary goals is to get people to reject the whole idea of the existence of a loving God. Failing that, I'm equally sure he wants to make those who do believe to begin to question their faith. Remember his introduction in the book of Genesis? There we find him making Eve question what God had clearly said. It has been his plan from the beginning of time to make those who believe question their faith, and he will do everything he can to shake us.

As believers we need to know and understand what Satan is up to if we expect to have victory over him.

lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].
Ephesians 6:11-12 NKJV

Make no mistake about what Satan is trying to accomplish. He knows what his end is, and his plan is to take as many people down with him as he can. His desire is to destroy God's creation and everyone in it, and he will do anything he can to achieve that end. As his plan unfolds and evil increases, his desire is for those who believe to question their faith. If we are not aware of his plans, and ignorant of his devices, our faith will be shaken.

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
"And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:1, 7-8 NKJV

It is difficult at times to watch evil manifest itself in ways like it did this past week. Yet we know, just like Satan knows, the outcome is-God wins. God will avenge, evil will be destroyed, and Satan condemned to eternity in Hell. When Jesus returns will He find faith on the earth? Our faith may be shaken, but it is for the purpose of purification, a refining where all that is left is the kernel of true faith which God will use for His purposes on this earth. Jesus prayed for Peter's faith not to fail, and He is praying for ours as well.

He also told Peter to strengthen his brothers, and that too, applies to us. If we see a brother or sister being shaken by the evil events which are occurring all around us, share with them the encouragement that we have the knowledge of victory in Jesus, no matter what evil may happen on this earth.

Keep watching.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Light of the World

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
John 8:12 NKJV

Most of you probably know that today is the first day of Hanukkah, a holiday for the Jewish people in which they celebrate the overthrow of their enemies in the second century B.C. and the rededication of the Temple which followed. It is also known as the Feast of Dedication and although it is not one of the seven feasts God ordained back during the Exodus, it has become a very important celebration for the nation of Israel in the years following the Maccabean revolt.

During the occupation of Israel by the Syrian/Greek forces, the Selucid King of Syria, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, not only commanded the people to worship the Greek gods, he set up a statue of Zeus in the temple and sacrificed pigs on the altar. A revolt began and the end result was that in 165BC the king was overthrown and the Jews were able to resume worship in their temple. The trouble was, they discovered that when they went to relight the Menorah, or lampstand in the temple, there was only enough oil to burn for one day. Since this oil was specially consecrated by the priests for use, it would take days to prepare more. However, a miracle occurred in that the one day supply of oil burned for eight days allowing time for the priests to complete the process of acquiring more.

During Hanukkah, the people celebrate by lighting one light each night for eight nights using what is known as a Hanukkah Menorah with eight branches on a single main stem as opposed to the Menorah used in the Temple which has six branches off of the main stem. It is the daily lighting of the Menorah that also gives Hanukkah the name Festival of Lights. Yet there is something else I feel is even more important to us as believers about this special day in Israel.

What many people miss about this holiday is the fact that Jesus chose this very day to announce to the world that He was indeed, the Son of God.

Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given [them] to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch [them] out of My Father's hand. "I and [My] Father are one."
John 10:22-30 NKJV

Was there a reason in Jesus' mind that it was important to do this on this particular day? I believe there was simply because of what this celebration was about, and the events it would recall to every Jew. Remember that the revolt occurred because Antiochus Epiphanes not only set up a statue of Zeus in the temple, but also commanded people to worship it as a god. Every Jew would know this, and I am sure that the religious leaders of the day were making sure that everyone remembered what this celebration was all about.

So is it a coincidence that those leaders chose this very day to ask Jesus if He was declaring Himself to be God? I think not, simply because if they wanted an excuse to kill Jesus and be rid of Him, this would be a perfect time to attempt that since everyone would immediately remember their history, and the events surrounding this day. However, I think it not a coincidence that Jesus chose this very day to not only be at the temple so this question could be asked, but answered it plainly for all to hear. Don't you think the word would get around rather fast that someone else proclaimed themselves to be God in flesh on the temple mount on the day that they were celebrating their overthrow of someone else who did the very same thing?

"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
John 9:5 NKJV

Jesus said these words just before the events we read about in the passage above. I don't think it is another coincidence that on the “Festival of Lights” Jesus also said that He was the “light of the world”. Jesus seemed to be using this festival as a way to show the people who He was in such a way that they would remember Him every time they celebrated it.

However not only did Jesus use this festival for His purpose to reveal Himself as the Son of God, God Himself says that at some point in the future, this day will play a very important part in Israel's history once again.

'Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the LORD's temple was laid--consider it: 'Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded [fruit]. [But] from this day I will bless [you].' " And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, "Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: 'I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots And those who ride in them; The horses and their riders shall come down, Every one by the sword of his brother. 'In that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,' says the LORD, 'and will make you like a signet [ring]; for I have chosen you,' says the LORD of hosts."
Haggai 2:18-23 NKJV

The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month referred to here is Hanukkah. The late Grant Jeffery, as well as many other respected Bible scholars believe that this passage is a prophecy telling us that on this day , some time in the future, God will again reveal Himself to the world by directly involving Himself in the affairs of nations by destroying their strength by divine intervention. If current events are any indication, we may see this passage fulfilled right before our very eyes.

During this week of celebration may we as believers remember that Jesus is indeed the “light of the world”. It is through His sacrifice that we can be saved and spend eternity with Him as He has promised us. Have you made the choice to accept Him as your Savior and Lord? If not, I hope you will consider doing it today. You can do this by simply praying a prayer like this one:

Jesus I know I am a sinner and have broken your commandments and sinned against you. I believe you died and rose again for me as a sacrifice for my sins. I ask you to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart so that I can begin to live for you. Amen.

Keep watching.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Is Your Heart Clean?

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:1-2 NKJV

Did you take a bath or shower today? Now I agree that might sound like a rather personal question to many, but we live in a society where personal hygiene plays an important part of an individuals social acceptance, not to mention the fact of potential health problems stemming from a reluctance to keep oneself clean. Consider the following statement from Dr. Jennifer Shu on CNN

Infrequent bathing can be socially, although not legally, unacceptable in our society, and poor hygiene has been associated with skin and soft tissue infections. Bathing is important for removing germs from one's skin as well as washing away odors from sweat and dirt.

Personal hygiene will affect our personal relationships with those around us, be it a spouse, friend, or coworker. A lack of cleanliness is simply something most people find offensive, and choose not to tolerate in others. So why am I discussing this subject? This week I was reading through the Psalms when I came across this chapter that David wrote after his sin with Bathsheba, and I was struck by his thoughts and words concerning his relationship with God, and the obvious references to cleanliness.

If the first thing that David asks of God is to make him clean, it seems to me that David is acknowledging that his sin has affected his relationship with God. When we encounter someone who suffers from an obvious lack of cleanliness, our first reaction is to step away and avoid them. Is David saying that God has stepped away from him because of his sin? Is it really possible that God would take a step back from us because of our sin? It certainly appears that David thought so.

Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalm 51:11 NKJV

Most of us spend time every day looking at ourselves in the mirror because we understand the importance of how we appear to those around us, yet I wonder if our time would be better spent examining our spiritual appearance to make sure we are not offending God in some way? The Bible is the believers “spiritual mirror” and it is in God's Word that we need to spend time in order to see if we are reflecting the image God desires of His children. I think something we may all suffer from is the idea that as we mature as believers, we somehow rise above our sin nature and the need for self examination lessens. Again, from Dr. Shu.

Older people with decreased senses of smell or vision may not notice odors or dirt as much as before and may not feel the need to bathe more regularly. Also, if they are not very physically active or don't go outdoors much, they may not want to bathe for several days until they feel very sweaty or dirty.

The sad fact is that our bodies do not change. We still shed skin, produce odors, and attract dirt and smells from our environment which need to be washed off. Spiritually we never grow to the point where we can assume our sin nature has gone away or works less to the degree that we don't need to worry so much about asking God to forgive us. David acknowledged to God that he was born with a sin nature that would never go away.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:5 NKJV

So how did David deal with the problem of his uncleanliness? First of all he took the step of owning up to God the fact that he had sinned, and that it was coming between them.

For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin [is] always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done [this] evil in Your sight--That You may be found just when You speak, [And] blameless when You judge.
Psalm 51:3-4 NKJV

Not a day goes by where we do not in some way or another offend God. We all posses a sinful nature and by thought or deed it will manifest itself on a daily basis. Our sin may be accidental, doing something that offends God without the thought of offending Him, or it might be deliberate, doing something you know God says you should not do but doing it anyway. Either way, not only will it come between you and God, it opens the door for God to judge you. David's confession was a result of God's conviction and judgement pronounced by Nathan the prophet, but the truth is that David already knew what he had done was wrong. His mistake was thinking he could get away with it.

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden [part] You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, [That] the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
Psalm 51:6-9 NKJV

The second thing David did was to ask God for forgiveness. It was only after he was willing to confess his sin that David able to ask God to restore the relationship to what it was before he sinned. David knew that only God could “clean” his heart and make him pure again. How often do we feel our relationship with God is not as it once was and try to restore it by getting busy doing everything we think might please God without acknowledging that we might have sin in our lives and need to ask for forgiveness? We must continually acknowledge our sinful nature and ask for forgiveness in order to enjoy the “joy” of our salvation.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me [by Your] generous Spirit. [Then] I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
Psalm 51:10-13 NKJV

Have you taken a “spiritual shower” lately? Have you been honest with God about your need for forgiveness? Have you confessed your sin to Him in order to enjoy the “joy” of a relationship with our Father? All of us to be honest with God just as David was, and allow God to reflect our lives through the mirror of His Word to see where we need cleaning. It is only then that we can be truly clean, and enjoy the relationship with God that He intends for those who truly love Him.

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