Thanksgiving is a time of the gathering together of family and friends, playing games, eating turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream, and some even boast of family football games. Though those are some things that we do on Thanksgiving, what does it really mean?
Really, it’s name says it all! It’s about THANKSGIVING. But, not just thanksgiving to just anyone…no…it’s all about Thanksgiving to God. And it’s not just about being thankful for the good in our lives either. The truth of this can not only be found in Scripture but also in the pages of American history.
To begin with, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 we read the Apostle Paul saying under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”
Now the Apostle Paul did not have a posh life, but rather was afflicted, beaten, ship wrecked, stoned unto death, was swimming in the sea for a day and a night, harassed, and went hungry and thirsty. This same Paul also said in Philippians 4:4-7,
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
And again in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 & 18 Paul states,
“Rejoice evermore…In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Thus, we learn from Paul that rejoicing is to be done always and giving thanks is to be done in all situations.
Even so, in the Old Testament we see a miraculous story of thanksgiving in 2 Chronicles 20 when the Israelites were up against 3 nations that had unjustly gathered against them. All was not good. All was not okay. And so, King Jehoshaphat called all Israelites to assemble, women and children included, and they fasted cried out to God. Then, after humbling themselves before God in repentance and desperation, God spoke to them through the prophet Jahaziel saying, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…” (vs 15). And so, early the following the morning, the Israelites arose early, and stationed the Levites in front of them who lead not just in the march but in worship and praise unto God as they marched forward to the battle. And it says in 2 Chronicles 20:22 that “when they BEGAN to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against” the multitude of their enemies, so that the enemy turned upon themselves, slaughtering themselves before the Israelites ever reached them!!!!!
It states, when they “BEGAN” to sing and to praise, that God then went to battle for them. As they gave thanks in the overwhelming situation that they had no power in themselves to overcome, God heeded their thanksgiving and overwhelmed the enemy on their behalf.
In the book, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, Corrie relates her experience in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. One such remembrance was that of her sister Betsy (who also was in the camp with her) who had Corrie look up and read I Thessalonians 5. As Corrie read from their precious hidden Bible (for Bible’s were forbidden in the concentration camp), she came came across verse 18 that says to give thanks in all things. That’s when Betsy encouraged them to begin right at that moment to give thanks to God in their situation. So, they got down on their knees and Betsy led in thanking God for His provision in the camp, their cramped quarters with too many people (for this meant more could hear the Gospel), and then Betsy dared to thank God for the fleas that infested their beds. Well, Corrie just could not repeat that nor agree at first, but with some prompting, she thanked God for the fleas. Later Corrie would come to realize that because of the fleas the Nazi soldiers stayed away from their barracks, and because of that, their Bibles were never found and confiscated (Excerpt from Hiding Place, pg 179).
And our own American story clearly communicates this type of thanksgiving as well, in spite of all odds, war, grief, death and pain.
To begin with, in 1618, a young Indian man by the name of Squanto, had finally earned enough money as a stable boy in England to sail home to his tribal people in America. He had been stolen in 1612 by a trader and was then sold into slavery in Spain. It was there that Spanish monks bought him, treated him well, educated him, and made it possible for him to go to England where he attained a job as a stable boy. Thus, in 1618, he set sail for his home. However, upon arriving, his came to the starkly painful realization that his entire tribe had been wiped out by disease. He was the ONLY one left.
Heartbroken and utterly alone, Squanto was adopted into a neighboring tribe called Wampanoag with friendly Massasoit as their chief.
Then, in 1620, the weary English Pilgrims had run out of options, and had petitioned the government of England to allow them passage to the Virginia Colony in America. Long had the Pilgrims been persecuted by English kings, including King James I, who had harassed, fined, imprisoned, and even unjustly killed many, like my anabaptist ancestor Edward Wightman (burned at the stake in 1612), just because they did not agree with the Anglican state church of England. The Pilgrims had even tried living in Holland. And though they found religious liberty in Holland, they also found a great deal of Catholic paganism there as well, and they worried for the future of their children. Because of this, the Pilgrims sought God for a miracle to their seemingly solutionless problem. And God provided the 66 day Mayflower voyage across the horrifically stormy waters of the autumn Atlantic ocean.
They aimed high for the fertile area of New York’s Hudson river, but because of the extreme storms, they found themselves in Massachusetts.
While there, many became quite ill from malnourishment, and for a while only 6 would be well enough to work at a time. Of the 102 Pilgrims only about 50 survived (30 of those were children), and only half the Mayflower crew that had accompanied them. Most of the mothers died because they gave their food (six kernels of corn a day) to their children.
With the Spring came the miracle of Squanto to help them and the hope of those who survived was renewed. Though much grief had overwhelmed both Squanto and the Pilgrims through the loss of their loved ones, God’s mercy and grace overwhelmed them still more. For indeed, the very land that Squanto’s people had cleared and tended and lived, was the very land that the Pilgrims finally settled upon. And, unbeknownst to the Pilgrims at the time, the land in New York that they had hoped to reach was inhabited by hostile Indians who would have had no trouble killing them. Not only this, but Squanto’s very life was a testimony of God’s goodness, not only for him that he might be saved spiritually by Jesus and physically from the plague that killed his people, but also was saved for the sake of God’s weary Pilgrims who would so need him in their new home. Indeed, miracle upon miracle was multiplied upon Squanto and the Pilgrims, because our sovereign God was in it! And all of them gave thanks in the Fall of 1621 for God’s bountiful blessings in spite of all the pain and death and suffering.
But the American story of Thanksgiving does not end there!
In 1777, in the middle of our overwhelming war for Independence, the Continental Congress felt it imperative that the infant nation give thanks to God and to pray for his blessing and help in the war. The odds were stacked against the Continental Army. It was David and Goliath, and the outcome appeared dire. Nevertheless, our fledgling government called all to an official day of Thanksgiving and Repentance.
Here is part of their proclamation sent to the 13 states:
“It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE…” (http://www.pilgrimhallmuseum.org/pdf/TG_First_National_Thanksgiving_Proclamation_1777.pdf)
But, America’s Thanksgiving did not stopped there.
Another war again riddled our young nation in the form of the Civil War. For two bloody years, battle after battle left the United States in jeopardy of complete separation. Frayed and near destruction at the hands of the talented Southern Confederacy, the Union hung by a thread. Then, in 1863, a miraculous Union victory at Gettysburg, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War in which approximately 51,000 men perished, arrayed the North with great hope that all was not in vain. Now, Sarah Josepha Hale (writer of Mary Had a Little Lamb) had been petitioning every U.S. president since 1827 to instate an official day of national Thanksgiving. Thus, at that point in time, President Abraham Lincoln believed it fitting to do just that. He declared an official day of Thanksgiving be celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November.
Though for years Thanksgiving had been celebrated loosely as the state’s saw fit, this for the first time in U.S. history made Thanksgiving a formal, national holiday with a set date.
In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt trying to appease businessmen, tried to change the date of Thanksgiving so as to give more Christmas shopping weeks to businesses. However, this only caused confusion, for some celebrated on the new date while others kept it on the old date. So, Congress on December 26, 1941, only a few years after the Great Depression and only a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, felt it necessary that a set date for a day of Thanksgiving unto God be made. So, they enacted a law stating that the official Thanksgiving day would remain on the last Thursday of November. And so, again, our nation in a time of war and great distress, called for a day to give thanks unto our sovereign, awesome and unchanging God.
For, indeed, the giving of thanks is not just for the good times, but for the times when we see no way out, when we are overwhelmed by a flood of emotions, when war is raging, when death is all around us and when our circumstances make no sense. No matter what our circumstances this Thanksgiving, no matter what physical ailment, no matter what family problem, no matter what grief nor death, no matter what is happening in the world or America, no matter what our financial situation may be, let us give Thanks. Let’s remember that in EVERY situation God has called us to rejoice…not to understand…and to give thanks even for the fleas in our lives, whatever those “fleas” for us may be!
The 2016 U.S. Presidential election has come to a dramatic close. Many are calling it historic. And really, several states that have in recent years ALWAYS voted Democrat, surprised many by changing their color. The so-called favorite in the race never led the race even once as the mystery horse surged ahead early and held the lead.
Well, a winner in this race has been determined. It appears that “Bloody Mary” lost, and an “Emperor Constantine” has won. The future will determine if he is truly a Constantine or not.
I stand now on the words of Daniel 2:20-23 that say,
“Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee...”
Indeed, God is still in control. He is still sovereign over all. He still determines who wins and who loses. He still gives power and authority to whom He will for His purposes. God is still on the throne, and no one can vote Him off!!!
2 Chronicles 7:14, 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Election, A Lamp in the Dark, Blood on the Altar, Bloody Mary, Dark Ages, Doc Marquis, Emperor Constantine, Illuminati, Jesuits, Jonathan Cahn, Ninevah, Repentance, The Harbinger, Tom Horn
Today a new president will be elected to lead this nation. Though elections have never been nice nor sweet, in the history of American elections, this one by far is the worst. At one time it could have been said that the election of Abraham Lincoln had been the worst. At that time 4 candidates debated and were on the ballot. It was loud and crazy. The press was unfair, the candidates nasty to each other, and the nation was in an uproar. The hot topic was slavery. It was a miracle that Abraham Lincoln won.
This election however, is worse than that one, for neither candidate is Christian no matter what they say, and neither candidate is a person of character. One is a modern, well-polished, bombastic, big-mouthed, capitalistic businessman whose Achilles heal is an 11 year old tape and women who’ve suddenly appeared to defame him. On the other hand, we have a candidate who is at least a 4th level Illuminati witch, who is surrounded by those who practice Occultism, is an Alinsky Communist, a law-breaking, lying lawyer and politician whose Achilles heal is her sordid past and her sordid present. Many are finding it hard to vote for either one of these candidates and rightly so. Nevertheless, today, one of them will be elected to the highest office in the United States.
Truly one could become like “Bloody Mary” and the other like the “Emperor Constantine”. For on the one side you’ve got a real witch looking to overturn all that has made America good and great and godly, who hates Christianity, and who would rule all with an iron fist. Her vision is Illuminati in nature, and the Illuminati goals are what modern Communists espouse. Under her rule and authority there would no longer be “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. What there would be, however, is persecution of Christians, the enforcement of immorality, Occultism/Witchcraft openly advocated, Sharia law enacted, a one world government birthed, and more foul things than can readily be listed in a short article. Not only this, but her Vice President is Jesuit. The history of the Jesuits is bloody, militant, and unquestionably cruel. Though their overt militancy seems to have disappeared, it has not, but is alive and well in South America and Mexico even today. They are not merely militant, however, but are stealthy and sly, blending in with those around them. In the 1800s they decided what they could not take by force they would by stealth. To Protestants they would be Protestant, and they infiltrated the universities and churches. In the present, it is through Ecumenism that they are successfully gaining ground. The Jesuits also joined forces with the Illuminati in the late 1700s, forming an unseen bond for the sake of a long term goal of world domination.
On the other hand, we have a man whom some Christians are calling a modern day Cyrus the Great. However, Cyrus he is not. But, the Emperor Constantine he may be. Though history reports that the Emperor “converted,” it is also reported that he did not give up his high priesthood of his sun god religion. In truth, the trusting Christians signed their freedom away for the sake of stopping the persecution. For, he was not a true Christian, yet in bringing the horrific persecution of Christians to an end, Christians agreed to his headship of the Church. This unholy alliance at first helped to establish and solidify doctrinal purity (a good thing), however, it inevitably led to the dark ages of Church and European history, and a new type of persecution was born under the sword of the unmerciful Roman Catholic Church. What could then unfold in America under such a “Constantine” is something akin to what happened then, only this time it will be under the Ecumenical sword that persecution will arise. In other words, Christians would rise against Christians. If the next president is a Constantine, the Christians, in effect, thinking that they are safe, will let down on their praying, put their hope and trust in the president and get slow cooked like the proverbial frog. In short, what appears to be a good thing could bring about unexpected persecution.
This election is symbolic of the state of this nation. It is a picture of how far we as a nation have fallen. We are a wicked nation. We are a deplorable nation. We are no longer “good”. We are no longer great. We have been called to repentance, but have not responded. We are still being called. Even as Ninevah in the book of Jonah.
This election is not only symbolic of the state of this nation, but the state of the American Church. The American Church is spotted by sin, wrinkled by political correctness, made unclean by conforming to the world, drunk on entertainment, muddied by New Age eastern mystical philosophy, high on feel-goodism, made foul by demonic manifestations being touted as the Holy Spirit, possessed by syncretism (believing what we want from the Bible and other religions and mixing it all together into our own truth), and corrupted by ecumenism (unity with Roman Catholicism and other world religions).
But, God does not create hybrids, nor has He genetically modified His body so that it now looks like the world. He still calls us to be without spot and without wrinkle, to be holy as He is holy, to be set apart wholly unto Him, a peculiar people, ambassadors, pilgrims and strangers in this world.
No matter what the outcome of this election might be, of this I am more than certain: God is still calling America and the American Church to repentance. We are not in the clear. This issue is unresolved, for there has been no repentance yet. If a Constantine is elected, God’s call to repentance will more than likely still be overlooked and unheeded. If a Bloody Mary is elected, God’s people will have no other choice but to fall away or fall on their faces.
It is said that we only have 2 choices in this election….but we don’t. We have a third choice. The third choice is the path less traveled. The third choice is unpopular. The third choice is not found at the polls nor spoken of in the news. It is a disregarded choice, one not taken seriously.
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Let’s remember the harbingers of 9/11 and the harbingers that have since followed. Let us not proudly think that America can be great again without welcoming Jesus back into this nation. Let us heed the voice of God, lay aside our agendas, surrender our selfish wants and comforts, quit putting out hopes in a candidate and get on our faces and repent. NOW is the time. There may not be another.
References to the Illuminati come from various sources of Doc Marquis such as but not limited to:
Youtube clip: “Illuminati Cards – Bill Clinton – Hillary Clinton”
DVD “Secrets of Bohemian Grove,”
DVD “America’s Occult Holidays,”
DVD “Protocols of Zion,”
DVD “Frontmen of the Illuminati,”
DVD “Arrival of the Antichrist”
References to the Emperor Constantine come from various sources of Doc Marquis such as but not limited to:
DVD “Which Queen of Heaven?”
References to Bloody Mary, Church history and the Jesuits come from various sources of Chris Pinto such as:
DVD “A Lamp in the Dark,”
DVD “Tares Among the Wheat,”
DVD “Bridge to Babylon” (full version is not yet on youtube)
References regarding Christians persecuting Christians come from Tom Horn, Paul McGuire, Derek Gilbert, and Chris Putnam, and the other various contributors of the book:
Blood on the Altar
Jonathan Cahn’s book:
The human body is declared by the Psalmist to be “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Every day in all we do it battles off unseen viruses and bacterium. It heals cuts, mends bruises, binds surgical wounds, knits together broken bones, and rebuilds diseased organs. It takes in the food we eat and turns it into energy for our benefit. To the best of its ability and as much as we help it, it continually cleanses itself of germs, dead cells, chemicals from foods we eat and removes all waste. It is constantly building, rebuilding, energizing, cleansing, and detoxifying; there is not a day nor minute nor second that goes by that every organ is not working together for the benefit of the whole. As 1 Corinthians 12:12,14 says, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For the body is not one member, but many.” It is marvelous in its design, a masterpiece of its Creator!
The greatest adverse effects on the human body are found in two components: what we ingest and what we think. Our foods today are not as innocent as you think they may be. Not only is fast food grease detrimental to our bodies, but also our vegetables which are laden with pesticides and chemicals, this is not to mention how hybridization and the genetic modification of plants might have an impact on our bodies as well. According to researchers, 13% of sicknesses are brought about by poor eating habits and other environmental factors.
It has also been determined by researches and scientists, including Dr. Caroline Leaf (neuroscientist and author of Who Switched Off My Brain), Dr. Candace Pert (neuroscientist and pharmacologist) and others, that what we think greatly affects the body. Every thought we think causes chemicals/hormones originating in the brain to be sent out to the rest of the body, whether good or bad. A good thought sends out good chemicals. A bad thought sends out bad. 87% of all sickness is brought about by our thought life.
Therefore, if we eat junk food all the time, it is inevitable that we are going to get sick. Or if we think bad thoughts about ourselves or soak in the deconstructive words that others aim at us, then we too will get sick in our bodies. So, whether we are eating poorly or thinking poorly, it will inevitably make us sick.
Now, let us go deeper. The human body is a sort of picture of the body of Christ. So, what are we eating as the individual members of the body of Christ? Are we getting the spiritual nutrients that we need to make the whole body healthy? Indeed, if the liver is sick, the whole body will be sick. Are each of us thinking biblical thoughts? Where are we getting our information to think on? What is our mind set on? Is what we are taking in and thinking making the body of Christ making us susceptible to disease?
Everyone prays for healing from cancer and other diseases, but there is a cancer very few think about or know about. It is in the body of Christ, and is not physical but spiritual. Ezekiel saw in a powerful vision a valley filled with bones upon bones upon bones as far as his eye could see. Can you see it? It was a valley of death. And then through a series of events and of Ezekiel’s obedience to the voice of the Lord, there stood before him an army of bones clattering together, muscles being built, and skin being stretched out over them. It must have been an awesome sight to behold! But, then, Ezekiel noticed something. As awesome as that was, something was missing. “And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them” (Ez 37:8). Though this truly is a picture of Israel, it can also be applied to the body of Christ today.
As awesome as it is that the world is being reached with the Gospel and our churches are full, too many in the body sit in pews and chairs as bones with flesh and skin upon them but no Spirit. They appear to be alive, but they do not have the Spirit (Rev 3); they have a form of godliness but deny the power (2 Tim 3). But, God longs to breathe His Spirit in us once more! He longs for Christians to be a healthy, vibrant, and alive, the body of Christ, without spot and without wrinkle, holy and set apart. Jesus is returning soon and He warns us to “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35).
The Greek word for overcharged is baruno carries a meaning of “being heavy, even heavily oppressed or made dull or stupid.” That which oppresses and makes us dull, is dissipation/surfeiting, drunkenness, and the cares of this life. Surfeiting/dissipation, is the word kraipale which means “a headache”, a confusion in the head such as is caused by a hangover. Drunkenness is the Greek word methe which is stronger than merely being influenced by wine–one is overcome with it. When it talks about cares of this world, merimnes biotikes, it means that worry overwhelmingly interrupts our thinking and brings disorder to our minds and lives. The word for snare is pagis which literally means a “trap,” for even as a trap snaps down upon an unsuspecting animal, so the cares of this life “trap” believers in worry and headaches that they needlessly bear.
Therefore, let us no longer be unhealthy, making a meal of the fast food the world has to offer. Let us not think on things that have no eternal value such as watching movies that make us confused with the world’s philosophy and perspective on life and not God’s, listening to music overflowing with the lusts and hopes of the world that dulls our spirits to the Holy Spirit’s still small voice. Let us not be addicted to anything (drugs, smoking, sex, drinking, eating, to watching sports programs and even making money) that would cause us to be numb to the Word of God, dull in our spiritual senses, heavy with things violently destroying us within, rendering us inoperable while distracting our minds and spreading through the body of Christ as a deadly cancer.
Blessed Christians, remember that we are new creations in Christ; old things have passed away and all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17-18)! Thus, as new creations, we as members of the body are to think differently and live differently than the world; we are to live based on what we learn from God’s Word. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Romans 12:1-2.
The day of Jesus’ immanent return is so close, the signs all point to His soon arrival. Will you be caught off guard like an animal in a snapping trap because your minds are disoriented and dulled by the things of this world? Or will you be ready and unpolluted by this world, edifying the body by being pure and teaching others through word and deed to do the same? The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come” to our awesome King Jesus. May we not only say it, but shout it in all that we do!!
Dr Leaf’s Website:
Candice Pert’s Website:
What does it mean to love each other as Christians? Is it an action or a feeling? Is it practical or spiritual?
One Sunday morning I sat near a woman who kept putting her fingers up to her eyes while she sniffled. Several thoughts crossed my mind as I sat there. I wondered if she had been touched by the testimony of one of the speakers, by the pastor’s sermon, or something else. As I continued to listen to her sniffle as well as to my pastor’s sermon on Jesus and the woman at the well, my mind reflected on what love truly is. (I’ll get back to the woman at church in a minute!)
There are several Greek words for love. In the Bible two are used predominantly: Agape and phileo. To put it very succinctly, agape love is what we are to show to all people, starting first with fellow Christians that the world will know we are Christians (John 13:35). Phileo is what we show only to the body of Christ and is friendship love in which we have things in common.
Agape love is not based on feelings nor does it merely give to others what they want or think they need. Did God so love the world that He gave us a Superhero? No. Did God so love the world that He gave us a conquering King? No. Did He so love the world that He made us all rich and powerful and gave us all mansions on the beach? No. God so loved us that He gave us His only begotten Son who veiled His Kingly glory and majesty and came down to earth where He was a misunderstood, rejected suffering servant who died on the cross and then rose again from the grave on the third day. Was that what the world thought it needed? No. Was it what it needed whether they knew it or not? Yes.
You see, agape carries the meaning of “regarding” a person. To regard someone means to look intently at that person, to watch them closely. No, not in a spooky way or like a stalker. To agape love someone is not just to feel warm fuzzies, but to reach out in a real way to meet the real need of that person whether they know what that need is or not.
I used to work for a ministry where people would call in for prayer. Many times people thought they knew exactly what they needed and stated it clearly. However, as my spirit listened to the Holy Spirit while the people listed their petitions, I often heard something quite different from the Spirit of God and thus, would pray accordingly. On one such occasion, a woman was praying for her and her husband’s finances, that they would be secure and have enough, even more than enough. In her mind, her greatest need was more money which meant more security, but to God her greatest need was to quit serving money. She was very shaken at the end of the prayer, for the Spirit’s direction concerning this was more than accurate. She had been serving money in fear, instead of serving God in faith. Indeed, the piercing gaze of agape sees beyond and beneath the hidden layers of wants and distractions (“I need money,” “I need a husband,” “I need a job,” or “I need a car”) to the root issues of the heart.
While serving on a short term teen performing arts mission’s trip with Youth with a Mission in the U.S., I and my group performed to music at a mall in Salt Lake City, Utah. While there, everyone also enjoyed eating and talking and goofing off. As we shopped around, I felt drawn to a young lady who worked in one of the stores. Now, I was an extremely shy kid who was severely homesick the first full week I was away from home with YWAM. But, as the Spirit drew me into the store, I felt compelled to speak with her. As I did so, I found out she had been raised Mormon but wanted nothing to do with them and had left her family. It was then that I opened up to her about the real Jesus compared to the Mormon Jesus, information that she had never heard before that day. I then asked if I could pray with her. She said no, and I could tell she was embarrassed because customers were in the store. I’ve always felt sad that she refused prayer. But really, what she needed she had received from a quiet kid who barely could put a sentence together. She heard about the true Jesus, the Son of the living God who was not the Mormon brother of Lucifer. Though she may not have even been thinking about it, she needed the truth that day, and the Holy Spirit knew that!
Agape love is not only for deep heart issues though, but is for all issues at all times. The woman putting her hand up to her eyes during the church service wherein I was reflecting on God’s great love, did not need me to pray for her nor did she need the gospel preached to her or for me to give her money. What she needed was more simple than that. She needed a kleenex! First John 3:17-19 explains this love in part as providing for the practical need of believers. “Whoever has this world’s goods and see his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” Truly the perceptive eyes of agape love see even the simplicity of a need at hand and not just the complexity. However, it still takes the searching eyes of love to see the need of another no matter how complex or how simple, and then a willing heart to put the answer to that need to action.
Next time you’re in church or attending your small group or talking with someone in a store or are at home or work, remember to love by hearing beyond what is said and look beneath what is done and allow the Holy Spirit to lovingly meet the deepest needs through your obedient agape love.
**Used and Edited with permission of Ameristella.wordpress.com
1517, 500 years of Reformation, Catholics and Protestants find common ground, Christian persecution, Division of Catholics and Lutherans, Dr Jack Arnold, Jerome Savonarola, John Huss, Lady Jane Grey, Martin Luther, Martyrdom, October 31st, Reformation Day, The Reformation, William Hunter
While the world and most of the Church celebrate the ancient holiday of Halloween, a Satanic and high holy day of Samhain (lord of death), by dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, going to harvest festivals, or are participating in dark, demonic practices, a true, holy holiday of remembrance remains mostly forgotten.
Nearly 500 years ago on October 31st of 1517, in the midst of colorful leaves and the fragrances of autumn, 34 year old Martin Luther placed his 95 Theses onto the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in Germany. Indeed, it was the nail and hammer not only heard round the world but that shook the powers of darkness and all of their Halloween evil.
For hundreds of years (approximately 500-1600 A.D.) through the Roman Catholic Church, Satan had had a strangle hold on the people. Little groups here and individuals there had sought the truth of Scripture, but were persecuted and martyred by those who wanted to keep them in tangible darkness. People like John Hus, John Wycliffe and Jerome Savonarola spoke out against the immorality and unbiblical practices of the Roman Catholic church, and because of this many like them (thousands and thousands) were pressured unsuccessfully to recant and then without trial mercilessly killed.
Let us remember some of those specifically now.
Jerome Savonarola (1452-1498)
(46 years old)
Savonarola was part of Dominican monastery. At the age of 38 he went to the city of Florence. He began to preach and lecture and drew large crowds.
He attacked the evil lives and immoral behaviour of many of the people at that time. In particular he exposed the corruption within the clergy and the laity. But he preached a message of repentance from sin and Florence became a centre of a great revival.
He tried to make the city a model of a Christian community. The Pope at that time was Alexander Borgia and was one of the most wicked men who ever occupied the papacy. He tried to ‘buy’ Savonarola by offering to make him a cardinal.
Savonarola refused this and the Pope used other tactics. He got the monks to speak out against Savonarola and then excommunicated him and arrested him. He was tortured and put to death by burning. Savonarola refused to renounce his beliefs unto death.
Martin Luther regarded Savonarola as a pioneer of the Reformation because of his work to reform public morals.
(From: “Protestant Reformers, Martyrs and Heroes”, http://www.ministers-best-friend.com/Protestant-Reformer-Heroes.html)
John Huss (1369-1414)
(45 years old)
Huss was the most important of the forerunners of the Reformation within Europe. He was born of peasant stock but he was a gifted scholar and received a good education and became the Rector of Prague University when he was 34 years old.
But Huss was stirred by his knowledge of the Bible. He read the works of John Wycliffe and he started preaching in a chapel in Prague. This chapel was established to allow people to hear the Bible in their own tongue (very few people, even within the clergy, knew Latin which was the only language that the Roman church allowed the Word of God to be heard in).”*
The preaching and reading of God’s Word in the language of the common people was unprecedented!!!
Furthermore, in both writing and by word of mouth he defended the doctrine of the Trinity, and boldly exposed the sinfulness and immorality of the pope, cardinals and clergy.
In November of 1414, John Hus was summoned to appear before a Council where he was accused and called on to recant, was arrested, and imprisoned for months. Instead of a hearing, Huss was eventually hauled before authorities in chains and asked merely to recant his views.*
“Accordingly, the bishops appointed by the Council stripped him of his priestly garments, degraded him, put a paper miter on his head, on which was painted devils, with this inscription, “A ringleader of heretics.” Which when he saw, he said: “My Lord Jesus Christ, for my sake, did wear a crown of thorns; why should not I then, for His sake, again wear this light crown, be it ever so ignominious? Truly I will do it, and that willingly.” When it was set upon his head, the bishop said: “Now we commit thy soul to the devil.” “But I,” said John Huss, lifting his eyes up towards heaven, “do commend into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus Christ! my spirit which Though hast redeemed.”
“When a chain was put about him at the stake, he with a smiling countenance, “My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake, and why then should I be ashamed of this rusty one?”
“When the fagots were piled up to his very neck, the duke of Bavaria was so officious as to desire him to abjure [recant]. “No, (said Huss;) I never preached any doctrine of an evil tendency; and what I taught with my lips I now seal with my blood.” He then said to the executioner, “You are now going to burn a goose, (Huss signifying goose in the Bohemian language:) but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast or boil.” If he were prophetic [and it sounds like he was] he must have meant Martin Luther, who shone about a hundred years after, and who had a swan for his [coat of] arms.
The flames were now applied to the fagots, when our martyr sung a hymn with so loud a cheerful a voice that he was heard through all the cracklings and combustibles, and the noise of the multitude. At length his voice was interrupted by the severity of the flames, which soon closed his existence.”**
*(From: “Protestant Reformers, Martyrs and Heroes”, http://www.ministers-best-friend.com/Protestant-Reformer-Heroes.html)
**(From Fox’s Book of Martyrs, page 143)
And these are just two such martyrs to be remembered, but the list could go on indefinitely concerning those who spilled their blood for the sake of Christ, the denouncing of sin and the Word of God in their own language.
Then, on October 31, 1517, David (Martin Luther) met Goliath (the Roman Catholic) on the great battlefield already covered with the blood of martyrs who had come before. But, this bloody battle of Martin Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, and Calvin did not end with their struggle, but continued on into the Netherlands wherein a protestants in great number including one named Wendelinuta were cruelly killed, in Ireland where thousands were killed en masse, and in England wherein Thomas Cranmer, Lady Jane Grey, William Hunter and a multitude of others, including one of my own ancestors (Edward Wightman) died by the sword and flame and being buried alive simply because they did not want to partake of Mass or simply because they owned a Bible in their own language.
“The light of the Gospel having successfully spread over the Netherlands, the pope instigated the emperor to commence a persecution against the Protestants; when many thousand fell martyrs to superstitious malice and barbarous bigotry, among whom the most remarkable were the following:
Wendelinuta, a pious Protestant widow, was apprehended on account of her religion, when several monks, unsuccessfully, endeavored to persuade her to recant. As they could not prevail, a Roman Catholic lady of her acquaintance, desired to be admitted to the dungeon in which she was confined, and promised to exert herself strenuously towards inducing the prisoner to abjure [recant] the reformed religion. When she was admitted to the dungeon, she did utmost to perform the task she had undertaken; but finding her endeavors ineffectual, she said, “Dear Wendelinuta, if you will not embrace our faith, at least keep the things which you profess secret within your own bosom, and strive to prolong your life.” To which the widow replied, “Madam, you know not what you say; for with the heart we believe to righteousness, but with the tongue confession is made unto salvation.” As she positively refused to recant, her goods were confiscated, and she was condemned to be burnt. At the place of execution a monk held a cross to her, and bade her kiss and worship God. To which she answered, “I worship no wooden god, but the eternal God who is in heaven.” She was then executed, but through the before-mentioned Roman Catholic lady, the favor was granted that she should be strangled before the fire was put to the fagots.”**
**(From Fox’s Book of Martyrs, page 172-173)
The persecution spread even to England as perceived most sadly in the stories of two youths. One 19, and the other merely 16. Though so very young, these two teenagers put modern Christianity to shame! For they knew God’s Word and loved it even unto death. How many Christian teens know God’s word today? How many would die for it? Here are the stories of those two godly, English young people: Lady Jane Grey and William Hunter.
Lady Jane Grey
(16 years old)
When King Edward VI, son of King Henry VIII, died at the young age of 16, he named Lady Jane Grey to the throne of England. “Lady Jane Grey (July 1536 – February 12, 1554), a granddaughter of Henry VII and a grandniece of Henry VIII of England, reigned as uncrowned Queen Regnant of the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Ireland for nine days in July 1553, and for that reason is called “The Nine Days Queen”.”*** Though Mary was by law the rightful successor to the throne, King Henry VIII had declared her to be illegitimate and so forfeited her right, and because of King Edward VI’s wishes to keep England under Protestant leadership, Lady Jane in July of 1553 ascended to the throne.
“Lady Jane had a reputation as one of the most learned women of her day. She was also renowned for her beauty…[and] at 15, she had little choice but to comply with the wishes of those who advised her. Her execution attracted considerable sympathy, especially among Protestants. She has the distinction of being the first regnant Queen of England, despite the brevity of her reign (the shortest in English history).”**** She was a godly young Protestant woman who would not cave to the persuasions of Roman Catholics.
According to Fox’s Book of Martyrs, page 207, “The next victim was the amiable Lady Jane Gray, who, by her acceptance of the crown at the earnest solicitations of her friends, incurred the implacable resentment of the bloody Mary. When she first mounted the scaffold, she spoke to the spectators in this manner: “Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact against the queen’s highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but, touching the procurement and desire thereof by me, or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocency before God, and the face of you, good Christian people this day:” and therewith she wrong her hands, wherein she had a book. Then said she, “I pray you all, good Christian people, to bear me witness, that I die a good Christian woman, and that I do look to be saved by no other mean, but only by the mercy of God in the blood of His only Son Jesus Christ: and I confess that when I did know the Word of God, I neglected the same, loved myself and the world, and therefore this plague and punishment is happily and worthily happened unto me for my sins; and yet I thank God, that oof His goodness He hath thus given me a time and a respite to repent. And now, good people, while I am alive, I pray you assist me with your prayers.”” **
Then after she quoted the Psalm Miserere mei Deus and after the executioner asked her forgiveness and she gave it, she was blindfolded and guided to the chopping block where she knelt, “laid her head upon the block, and then stretched forth her body, and said, “Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit;” and so finished her life, in the year of our Lord 1554, the twelfth day of February, about the seventeenth year of her age. Thus died Lady Jane…” **
***(“Lady Jane Grey” http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Lady_Jane_Grey#cite_note-royweb-0 [this site also referenced the Official Website of British Monarchy, Lady Jane Grey (r. 10-19 July 1553). Retrieved May 17, 2008.)
****(“Lady Jane Grey”, The New World Encyclopedia, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Lady_Jane_Grey#cite_note-royweb-0)
** (Fox’s Book of Martyrs, page 207-208)
William Hunter (1535-1555)
(19 years old)
“William was an apprentice silk weaver in London and he was a Protestant when Mary Tudor took the English throne. England had broken away from the Catholic Church under King Henry VIII. Edward VI had then become king but he died at a young age allowing his Catholic half-sister Mary to become queen. She was determined to return England to the Catholic Church and a period of persecution of the Protestant believers began.
William was singled out by the authorities because he refused to attend mass despite an order having been made that everyone in the City of London had to attend the Catholic mass. By refusing to obey, William lost his job and he returned to Brentwood.
It wasn’t long before William was found reading the Bible for himself. The local priest became involved and soon established that William had a basic protestant belief which totally contradicted the Catholic doctrine. William was soon arrested and sent to be interrogated by the Bishop of London.”*
He was put into stocks for two days, and refused to eat. Still refusing to recant after two days, the bishop had him thrown into prison where he was laid up in as many irons as he could bear, and continued in prison for 9 months.
Again William refused to deny his faith in Jesus. By his actions he was denying the validity of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Because he had refused to partake of mass and because of reading the Word of God in his own language, young William was condemned to die.
After reading the 51st Psalm, he handed his Psalter to his brother who encouraged thus, “William, think on the holy passion of Christ, and be not afraid of death!” To which William answered his brother, “Behold, I am not afraid!” Then, “he lifted up his hands to heaven, and siad, “Lord, Lord, Lord, receive my spirit:” and casting down his head again into the smothering smoke, he yielded up his life for the truth, sealing it with his blood to the praise of God.”**
William was burnt at the stake because of his beliefs and because he refused to deny his beliefs. It would also seem that the authorities were incensed by the spiritual maturity of someone so young. There is a monument to William Hunter in Brentwood with the following inscription:-
WILLIAM HUNTER. MARTYR. Committed to the Flames March 26th MDLV.*
* (“Protestant Reformers, Martyrs and Heroes” from the website http://www.ministers-best-friend.com/Protestant-Reformer-Heroes.html)
** Fox’s Book of Martyrs, page 219-220.
In spite of the fact that after 500 years the Lutheran Church has recently found common ground with the Roman Catholic church and believe in the words of Tony Palmer that “the protest is over” the echoing of the hammer and nail of Martin Luther resounds still today. Though more and more Protestant church leadership is being mesmerized by the siren call of the Roman Catholic church, as one by one Protestants and Catholics seek ecumenical unity, the truth for which Luther stood and for which so many mercilessly were tortured and died, still stands, and those who believe it still stand for it.
Let us not not forget what the protest was about and is still about:
Purgatory, Papal Infallibility, salvation by works, prayers to and worship of dead saints and angels, the sale of indulgences, the grave and disgusting immorality of the church leadership, and the veneration of relics to name a few things being protested then and still ought to be protested now with addition of the elevation of Mary to that of equality with and even superiority to Jesus.
Let us not forget that following Luther’s 95 Theses the militant Jesuit order was established by Roman Catholic Igntius Loyola, and with the blessing of the Pope, tormented, tortured, bribed, and murdered countless Protestants and Catholics who dared to questioned Catholic doctrine. But, the tactics of the Roman church did not stop with violence against human life, but turned to violence against the Word of God itself which is felt more deeply today than most know. For, most translations of the Bible come from a polluted Greek text written in 1881 by Westcott and Hort, and seminaries are full of Jesuit professors who teach students to question Scriptural authority. And now the modern ecumenical movement focused on the unity of Protestants and Rome is relentlessly striving to peacefully tear down all that Luther and the Reformers fought and died for.
But the hammer and nail still is pounding in the hearts of those who believe in sola scriptura (Scripture alone) and sola fide (faith alone).
As we REMEMBER the Reformation on Reformation Day, October 31st, let us also recommit to stand for the truth of the Reformation such as Scripture being our only source of authority, and faith in Jesus as the ONLY way to heaven. And may we say with Martin Luther,
“as to the article of faith, if I gave way in the least, I should be denying Jesus Christ. On this head, therefore, I will not and cannot yield; by the grace of God, I never will”
“I am not frightened at any of their threats. I am not to be led away by their promises.”
“My resolution is taken. I despise Rome’s fury, and I despise her favour. No more reconciliation, no more communication with her forever! Let her condemn and burn my writings. I, in my turn, will condemn and publicly burn the Pontifical Law, that nest of all heresies. The moderation I have shown, to this hour, has been useless; I renounce it!”
In these words and in the hearts of true believers the Protestant Reformation lives on, the hammer of Luther still resounds, and God’s Word will never fail! Indeed, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but the Word of God will never pass away!”
Other Sources Not Yet Documented:
The New Common Ground of Protestants and Catholics:
Protestants Leaders Answering the Siren Call of Catholicism:
The Pursuit of Ecumenical Unity:
A Lamp in the Dark, DVD documentary by Christian Pinto and Adullam Films, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndb0z0jGQk0
Tares Among the Wheat, DVD documentary by Christian Pinto and Adullam Films, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aiHcghIdjM
The Christmas of 2014, I attended a children’s Christmas production at a local church. It was a story of all the superheros of the world gathering at the manger. Ultimately the message was that Jesus was the biggest and best superhero in the world.
Not long before that children’s Christmas play there was a Superman movie that came out, and Christians applauded it, saying that Superman was like Jesus. Articles such as one entitled, “’Man of Steel’ filled with Jesus, Christianity references” in a June 2013 article http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/06/14/man-steel-filled-with-jesus-christianity-references.html#, exemplify this belief. The movie was even incorporated into sermons around the country, as pastors preached that the story of Jesus is like the story of superman http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/14/superman-coming-to-a-church-near-you/, http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/sermons-about-man-of-steel.asp. According to the Daily Mail, “Marketers for the newest Hollywood Superman movie, ‘Man of Steel,’ are heavily targeting Christians by offering church leaders free screenings of the film as well as sermon notes emphasizing its religious themes. The notes, titled ‘Jesus: The Original Superhero,’ run nine pages long and suggest that pastors show the ‘Man of Steel’ trailer during their Sunday morning sermon, CNN reported Friday,” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2343165/Man-Steel-marketers-target-Christians-sending-pastors-prepared-sermons-compare-Superman-Jesus-Christ.html.
Now, yet another superman movie entered the theaters in 2016, and again people try to parallel Jesus with Superman, called Batman vs Superman, http://www1.cbn.com/movies/superman-and-jesus-supermans-origin-and-parallels-jesus.
But, is Jesus really like Superman?
It seems that everyone wants a superhero or to be a superhero these days. Everyone hates it when Ironman cannot get his fancy iron suit on in order to save Pepper. Everyone hates it when Superman is rendered powerless by kryptonite. Everyone cheers when all the superheros work together to save the earth, like in the 2012 Avengers movie, and everyone loves it when Neo in the Matrix gets up and overcomes Agent Smith, stopping the bullets in midair.
The concept of superheros is not new, however. In the time of Jesus, the Jews were awaiting their messiah. They longed for him to come in power and might, establish his kingdom on earth, overthrow their Roman persecutors, reestablished the glory of Jerusalem, and rule the world in justice and righteousness. They longed for a physical deliverer. They desired a king, a leader, another man-of-war like David who would defeat their enemies once and for all! They were looking for this messiah – a type of superhero – and no other.
So….when Jesus came as a suffering servant, a bloody lamb of Passover, a spiritual Savior with hope of eternal salvation, and cloaking His true identity and glory from them, they rejected Him as abhorrent and unacceptable. This was not the messiah for which they had been waiting and desperately felt they needed.
Throughout the 2,000 plus years that followed Jesus’ crucifixion, Christians have been persecuted and mercilessly martyred. Indeed, Jesus stated that all who follow Him will be persecuted and killed even as He was. HE GUARANTEED IT!
Now, what kind of a superhero is that?
Jesus is our soon coming King. But, for now He is our Passover Lamb. Yes, He will return someday and wipe out the enemy with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 1:16; 19:15), and His clothing will be drenched with the blood of all who oppose Him (Revelation 19:13). But, for now He calls us to endure persecution. Yes, He will one day rule the world with a rod of iron and believers will rule and reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 19:15). But, for now we are called to be servants, the least of these, even like the prophets and those who hid in caves of which this world was not and is not worthy (Hebrews 11). He is first the Lamb, and then the Lion.
This truly was “foolishness” to the Jews who looked intensely for a political and physical savior. And it is still “foolishness” to Jews and to American superhero Christians. For, however attractive the concept of superheros in this day and age may be, and however nice it may be to think that Jesus is like Superman, is far from accurate. Really, to say that Jesus is like Superman is extremely misleading, for He does not always swoop down and save us from our pain, our persecution, our troubles, our problems, nor death. As much as we want Him to be our physical deliverer, more often than not we have to endure the hardship and suffering even as He did. As much as we strongly desire Jesus to be our superman, our ironman, our hero, He plain and simply is not.
No. Jesus is not a superhero. He is more than a superhero. For he was not merely part human. He was fully human. He was not only part divine. He was fully divine. His birth did not come about through the sexual union of a spirit father and spirit mother nor via an alien father and mother from another planet (unlike the Superman story, and Mormon story for that matter). Rather, His birth was completely supernatural. He was born of a virgin’s seed, but not sexually; rather, it was supernatural via the Holy Spirit coming upon her and the overshadowing of the Highest (Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:18). He laid down His life (John 10:15) and took it back up again, resurrecting Himself (John 2:19-22—verified in Matthew 26:61, Mark:14:58), defeating death, hell and the grave (Revelation 1:18), and has thus made us more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
Incredibly, Jesus is God Almighty Himself, existing from eternity (Hebrews 13:8, John 8:58, Revelation 1:8, Colossians 1:17). Jesus is the great “I Am” (John 8:58, John 18:6). He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 1:8). Jesus is Creator God, and God Incarnate (Come in the Flesh—1 John 4:2, Philippians 2:5-8) in whom the fullness of the Deity dwelt bodily (Colossians 2:9), the one and only begotten by God the Father (Psalm 2:7, John 1:14; 3:16, 1 John 4:9; 5:1) and upon whom the Spirit of God descended (Matthew 3:16, Luke 3:22, John 1:32). And He has a greater plan than Hollywood and superhero comic strips could ever envision, and cannot be accurately compared to any version of a past or present superhero. His ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), for His ways are “foolishness” to the world and its system of superheros (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 3:18-20). His death is a stench to all who do not believe, and the smell of His death on Christians is foul in their nostrils (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). Jesus’ suffering is repulsive to them then and now, and His call to Christians to die to self and desire (Matthew 10:39, Luke 17:33, John 12:25), to pick up our cross and follow Him in spite of the shame (Matthew 10:38, Luke 14:27), to suffer with Him through pain and injustice (Philippians 3:10, Hebrews 2:10, 1 Peter 4:13), to be persecuted for morality (James 1:12, 1 Peter 3:13-22), to endure hardship for His name’s sake (Matthew 5:10-12, Romans 8:36, 1 Peter 4:14) is disgusting to the superhero philosophy of this world. But, this is the real Jesus Christ.
It is a weighty thing to be a Christian. Most Christians throughout the world are being persecuted on some level, but American Christians cannot fathom this concept. We have grown accustomed to a sugar-coated Gospel and an ecumenical, superhero god who wants everyone to be happy, dismisses sin, could not possibly send a non-Christian “good” person to hell, wants everyone to be rich, and who most definitely will rescue us from all our problems. But, that is not the God of the Bible. That is not what Jesus taught. His teaching of sacrifice, self-denial, pain, persecution, suffering and carrying a shameful cross are offensive to the sensibilities of American/Western Christians who just want to embrace life.
I want to embrace life too. I don’t like the concept of suffering, and most of all, I don’t like the bitter truth of persecution that is dawning in the United States of America. It is beyond hard to swallow. I’ve been a Christian my whole life, following Jesus before I could even write His name. I have studied other religions, have written research papers, speeches, learned Biblical languages, and taught classes at churches and in homes. I have gone through stark wildernesses of intense waiting, painful deserted deserts of despair, and depressing valleys. Yet, in all of it, the Word of God rooted itself more deeply in my heart.
But, in all these years the enormity of this concept of “sharing in Christ’s sufferings” did not really phase me….until now. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and made me wonder if the God of Elijah still exists. Yet, I have come to a simple conclusion that both Peter and Joshua came to so many years ago. Their words of timeless truth still resound, resonating past barriers of history and space. In John 6:68-69 we read, “From that time many of his [Jesus’] disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” And then there are the famous words of Joshua the son of Nun in Joshua 24:14-15, “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
And so it is now. Christian Americans have a choice that is looming in front of them. Will they choose to serve the feel good Gospel of comfort and plenty, the superhero gods who spare them all pain and persecution or will they choose the Lord?
Jesus is not like Superman, nor are we superheros. We are spiritually more than conquerors, and the gates of hell will not prevail against us, but we are guaranteed suffering and persecution in this world. For, this world is not our home. We are pilgrims and strangers here looking for a city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10, 13). Therefore, I encourage every Christian in the words of Hebrews 12:1-2, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This temporal heaven and earth will soon pass away (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33) and all of its pleasure and pursuits, all of its fun and comforts, and all will burn with a great consuming fire (Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17). But there is an eternity beyond this life, an eternity that we cannot begin to fathom nor comprehend, an eternity that will be embraced only by those who are true followers of the real, non-superhero Jesus Christ. Knowing this and more, I have counted the cost and have decided that serving the Lord is the ONLY choice, for Jesus is the ONLY ONE with the words of eternal life!!!
Now, choose this day whom you will serve!
Great evil is descending upon America, from economic collapse, attacks and shootings in malls, earthquakes, floods, and plagues to that of unadulterated persecution being unleashed upon those who stand for Biblical principles. Great deception of lying signs and wonders, foul ecumenism, and demonic new age philosophy is strangling the America Church that was one a light upon a hill, the salt of the earth, one that sent missionaries throughout the world. There is an impending political election of great significance. Darkness has descended upon this nation that was once the home of the free and the brave. Either political choice will lead to a great shaking in America. For, there is evil in this nation and in the Church, and sin riddles them like cancer riddles a 4th stage cancer patient. One way or the other, the shaking of God will bring about a time of true repentance and a seeking of His face. No politician will save this nation. No popular church leader will bring about our desperate salvation. No next president of the U.S. will rescue us. No world leader will make us great again.
But….the inspired, unchanging Word of God states that there is a God who still rides the whirlwind, who prepares hail for the day of battle, who still commands the wind and the waves, who sends the rain and snow, and who sits enthroned in unshakable majesty and power. In the midst of all that is coming, our Lord Jesus has not changed. He is still the same yesterday, today and forever! And He is still coming soon!
Indeed, one day, Jesus will descend with a shout and His bride will be caught up in the clouds to meet Him in the air. Following a time of the most horrendous tribulation that this world shall ever know, also called Jacob’s Trouble, Jesus will set His feet down on the Mount of Olives and after slaughtering the enemy that has gathered to prevent His arrival, He will set up His Kingdom that will have no end. He will be here. God with us, abiding with us, tabernacling among us…finally…at long last!
There is so much to say about the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), which begins tomorrow evening, October 17th. This feast is so exciting that everything said about it is important and joyful. This I must say is my favorite of all God’s appointed times, for it is all about Jesus coming to live with us and set up His Kingdom here on earth!!!
The Feast of Tabernacles is an 8 day feast that is all about lights, water, wind, great joy and God coming to dwell among us. It is all about light for it was at that time when the Jews would celebrate it from Jerusalem (even in Jesus’ day) and the lights of Jerusalem would be seen 20-40 miles in all directions. Those north in Galilee and west out onto the Mediterranean Sea would see the lights. Indeed, Jerusalem at that time of the year was referred to as “the light of the world”. In the temple court there were four tall candlesticks rising 7.5 stories into the sky. Each would be filled with gallons and gallons of oil continually so that all night the people could continue celebrating. It was at this time that Jesus stood up and declared in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.”
Part of the ceremonies performed was that of the water libation wherein 8 priests, with singing and music and many following, would descend from Jerusalem to the Pool of Siloam to draw water with a golden pitcher. Then they would all march uphill back to the Temple with the water as well as a silver pitcher of wine. Once they reached the Temple they would pour the water into a cup on the brazen altar and the wine into another cup on the altar. While they poured out the water and the wine they would be singing Isaiah 12:3 which speaks of drawing water out of the wells of salvation. Furthermore, when the priests were pouring out the water and praying for rain in order to have good crops the following year, Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believeth on me as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” John 7:37-38. And interestingly enough, the name of Jesus–Yeshua–means salvation.
While 8 priests were drawing the water from the wells of salvation, 8 other priests went out and cut down long (even up to 30 feet) branches of willow trees. Then, they along with a crowd, would travel back to Jerusalem waving the branches causing a great sound of a wind to blow. Not only this, but everyone else also held onto such branches and waved them about during the celebration. The Holy Spirit is depicted in the great feast through the wind caused by the willow branches being waved. The word for Spirit in Hebrew quite literally means, “wind, breath.” Thus, the wind being caused is symbolic of the blowing of the Spirit. Indeed, later on in Acts 2, the Spirit would come upon those in the upper room who were waiting for the promise of the Father like the blowing of a violent wind.
The 8th day of the feast was called Simchat Torah, which means, “rejoice in the teaching” or Word of God. For even as the people needed rain for their crops and were praying to God for that rain, the people also needed the Word of God to fall like rain and for the knowledge of the Lord to cover the earth as the water covers the sea (Isaiah 11:9). The Word of God (Torah) is compared to water and rain. Their songs were taken from the Psalms and Isaiah, and their joy was in God their savior. And their rejoicing was not simply in good food, hanging out with friends, singing their favorite songs or in the hopes for the rains to come, but rather, their rejoicing was in the knowledge of God one day raining down upon all.
This is a feast of great celebration and meaning. When the people actually celebrated it as they should, over 2 million people would be in attendance. Men would be dancing and juggling lit torches, while the sounds of singing filled the air and music wafted on the breeze. All week long people participated in God-ordained rituals, sacrifices, camping out under the stars, prayer, feasting, dancing, singing, music and then did it all over again into the night and into the next day and the day after that. If anyone thinks that God is a stick in the mud and doesn’t know how to have fun, then they have not celebrated this feast! However, unlike all other parties, at this great party God was the focus for it was about God coming down as the blessing of rain to dwell among humanity.
The Feast of Tabernacles was one of 3 feasts that the men were commanded to attend in Jerusalem. The women and children were very much invited, but all the men 20 and over were commanded to come (Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 16:16). It was in Jerusalem that everyone was to build temporary dwelling places called “tabernacles, booths, huts” that were 3 sided and made so that one could see the stars through the roof. The Jews specifically were and are to dwell in booths like this (Leviticus 23:41-43) to commemorate how they lived when God brought them out of Egypt.
But, as depicted in Isaiah 2:1-5, Micah 4:1,2 and specifically in Zechariah 14 this is also a feast for the nations, for one day all nations during the Millennial reign of Yeshua ha Meshiach (Jesus the Messiah) will come up to Jerusalem to keep this feast. It is then that “He shall come down like rain on the mowed grass, like showers that water the earth. In His days the righteous shall flourish; and abundance of peace, until the moon is not. He shall also have the rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth,” Psalm 72:6-8. And “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea,” Habakkuk 2:14.
This appointed time is about one day soon and very soon that Jesus will come and dwell among us as King of kings and Lord of lords. May it be sooner than soon! The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Yes, come quickly LORD Jesus!!!!
** Article used and edited with permission of Ameristella.wordpress.com
** Source material from Mark Biltz (“The Feasts of the Lord”, DVD series) and other Hebraic websites regarding the Feast of Tabernacles.
Bill of Rights, Cascade Mall Shooting, Christmas, Coach Kennedy, Crossroads Mall Stabbing, DeQuincy Fire Department, Elane Photography, Houston Pastors, Jack Phillips, Louisianna Firefighter, MayFlower Compact, Pledge of Allegiance, Ronnie Edwards
Americans are living in treacherous times. Economic collapse is just around the corner, a huge presidential election is looming, and terrorism has begun to invade our society (Orlando, Florida https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/jun/12/florida-nightclub-shooting-terrorism-suspect-updates) and malls (Crossroads Mall of St. Cloud, Minnesota http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/18/us/minnesota-mall-stabbing/index.html and the Cascade Mall of Burlington, Washington http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/09/25/islamic-terror-homeland-security-chair-good-chance-mall-shooting/).
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Just like the iceberg that sunk the “unsinkable” Titanic, an iceberg of enormous proportions spreads out beneath the United States of America, piercing this nation with unprecedented destruction.
Those who came to these shores in 1620 state in the Mayflower Compact that they came here for “the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith” (http://www.ushistory.org/documents/mayflower.htm). Later the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution carefully states, in Amendment 1, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” For 200 years this nation has stood for “liberty and justice for all” (Pledge of Allegiance).
It was for freedom of Christianity that most came to these shores; it was for freedom of religion that this nation was founded.
Nevertheless and in spite of the Bill of Rights, the freedom to be Christian in this nation is being destroyed,
**from the attempt to intimidate preachers behind the pulpit (http://time.com/3514166/houston-pastors-sermons-subpoenaed),
**to prohibiting Christmas greetings, displays and carols (http://www.wnd.com/2013/11/now-school-bans-christmas-carol-melodies/, http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/11/20/obamas-va-facility-bans-merry-christmas/),
**to fining Christian bakers and photographers for not catering to what their conscience deems ungodly (http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2013/12/12/christian-baker-willing-to-go-to-jail-for-declining-gay-wedding-cake, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/07/03/christian-bakers-fined-135000-for-refusing-to-make-wedding-cake-for-lesbians.html, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865557098/New-Mexico-photographer-loses-third-round-of-gay-discrimination-case-but-attorneys-vow-fight-isnt.html?pg=all, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/07/supreme-court-gay-marriage-new-mexico-photographer),
**to the silencing and even arrest of those who simply pray at football games (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/coach-joe-kennedy-satan_us_56316e81e4b00aa54a4cb520), and **or praying during fires (http://truthuncensored.net/fireman-suspended-jailed-by-atheist-mayor-for-praying-at-scene-of-fire/),
**to the discrimination against educators who believe in creationism rather than evolution (http://creation.com/discrimination-against-creation-scientists),
**to U.S. tax dollars paying for Planned Parenthood (http://aclj.org/pro-life/how-500-million-tax-dollars-helped-planned-parenthood).
**Not only this, but our U.S. tax dollars are going overseas to pay nations that are anti-Israel and anti-Christian such as Iran (http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/17/politics/us-pays-iran-1-7-billion/index.html), **and to the U.N. who “marginalizes Christians and others targeted by ISIS” (“The U.S. and U.N. Have Abandoned Christian Refugees” (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-u-s-and-u-n-have-abandoned-christian-refugees-1475795956).
What has led to this? How did we get from the “greatest generation” of the 1940s, the celebration of respect and goodness of “Leave It To Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” of the 1950s to our present day persecution of all that is modest, good, and moral? The answer is deeper and fouler than you might think….