Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)

Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)
From September 26 to November 10, 2017, my husband, daughter and I will be on a ministry trip in Australia and New Zealand. The places we will be visiting are shown on the map above - along with the dates in which we'll be in these places (and what we'll be doing while there). Please keep this ministry trip and all of us in your prayers! Blogs will appear daily throughout this time, as I have written them and scheduled them in advance. I welcome your comments - and enjoy them! Just know I will not have Internet access for much of this time. So, I will look forward to reading your responses upon my return. Thank you for your understanding! And please keep reading to complete the "Reading the Bible in a Year" challenge and blessing! I am very grateful to Claire for her faithful blog comments (please everyone - join her in sharing each day as a discussion blesses everyone so much more!) And I am thankful that Claire has graciously agreed to add a bit more into her daily comments during my time of absence. Please direct special comments or questions which require immediate responses to her (on this blog). Blessings as you continue your journey through God's Word this year!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - March 31, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 24:32-51

Numbers 28-29

Song of Solomon 8:5-14

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Today I'd like to return to Song of Solomon for my point of focus. Let's look at a few of the main verses from this passage, beginning with Song of Solomon 8:5:

"Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee."  

First, remembering that the Bride in this poetic picture is God's saints in the Last Days, we see her coming up from the "wilderness". In Revelation, we are told that the Bridegroom will prepare a place of sanctuary for His Bride in the "wilderness". It is there that God's people will be sheltered from the wrath of the devil in the final time of trouble:

Revelation 12:14  "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent."

The promise is given to us that when the Trouble comes, God will sustain us. In this prophetic picture in Song of Solomon, we see the Bride coming forth from her wilderness trial, supported by her Heavenly Bridegroom. She is leaning on His everlasting Arms, like it says in the hymn. 

The next part of the verse is also very beautiful. God says to His End-time people that He "raised" us up "under the apple tree". Indeed, it was under the apple tree that we were born.

Trees, in Scripture, represent people and character qualities. Remember the story in Judges where Israel was searching for king and started with the olive tree? In the end, it was the "bramble" that became king (Judges 9:8-15). In Scripture, the apple tree represents a life filled with the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. The reference, specifically, to apples is a reference to the Word of God (Proverbs 25:11). 

In the poetic prophecy of Song of Solomon, the Bride's mother is the original church - the followers of the Way who have passed down the torch of truth to the final generation. It is because this truth is from the Word of God, which has produced much fruit, that the Bride is pictured having been born and raised under the apple tree. 

 In the next verse, we find the Bride seeking the Seal of the living God:

"Set me as a seal upon Thine Heart, as a seal upon Thine Arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."

 Aaron, the brother of Moses and high priest of ancient Israel, bore the names of the 12 tribes (God's people) upon the "breastplate of judgment upon his heart," (Exodus 28:12, 29). Christ is our Heavenly High Priest, as well as our Bridegroom. He bears our names upon His Heart as our mighty High Priest. 

The Sealing moment for which the Bride is requesting is also pictured in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 7:1-4 "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."

The Bride in Song of Solomon asks to be set as a seal upon the Bridegroom's Heart, as a call to Him to be her Sealing High Priest. But she also asks Him to set a seal upon His Arm. The Arm of the Almighty is our Salvation. This is a request for the Salvation of God to be eternally bestowed upon His Bride:

Isaiah 59:16  "And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His Arm brought Salvation unto him; and His Righteousness, it sustained him."

 Next comes another End-time reference to persecution, great trouble, and threat to the people of God. Yet, amidst it all, her love for her Heavenly Bridegroom is undimmed. Her faithfulness to Him is not shaken:

Song of Solomon 8:7 "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned."

In prophetic symbolism, waters and floods represent persecution:

Revelation 12:13-15 "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman... And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood."  

The Bride will prove her love by her loyalty to His Commandments:

Revelation 14:12  "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Yahshua)."

Perhaps as you are tempted to fear as you read of the coming persecution, which the Bride will faithfully endure as a demonstration of her great love for God. Even this is addressed in this eighth chapter of Song of Solomon. In chapter 8 verse 8 the Bride is described as an immature, little sister. We know she is immature, because she does not yet have breasts, in the poetic analogy.  

When we are spiritually immature, the idea of enduring tribulation is almost too much for us. But, God doesn't leave her there. In fact, through her time in the wilderness, in which she leans upon Him, He strengthens and grows her. She is matured. She is ready to be His Bride, in part, by the things she has faithfully endured. 

In His strength, she stands firm, like a stone wall, as it says in Song of Solomon 8:10. She is no longer depicted as immature, but is a full-figured woman, who has found favor in her King's Eyes.

Thinking of the Bride being compared to a stone wall, reminds me of a story from the Civil War. It is the story of how Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson got his nickname.

Jackson earned his nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run (also known as Manassas) in July, 1861. There was a gap, a point of vulnerability in the line standing against a determined Union attack. Seeing the breach, Jackson bravely rushed his troops forward to close the gap in the line. 

Upon observing Jackson standing there and stopping the onslaught, one of his fellow generals reportedly said, “Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall!” Jackson would not be moved, nor matter what assailed him.

In a spiritual sense, this is to be the testimony of each of us as Christ's mature Bride:

Jesus is my Savior, I shall not be moved;
In His love and favor, I shall not be moved,
Just like a tree that's planted by the waters,
Lord, I shall not be moved.

In my Christ abiding, I shall not be moved;
In His love I'm hiding, I shall not be moved,
Just like a tree that's planted by the waters,
Lord, I shall not be moved.

If I trust Him ever, I shall not be moved;
He will fail me never, I shall not be moved,
Just like a tree that's planted by the waters,
Lord, I shall not be moved. 

On His word I'm feeding, I shall not be moved;
He's the One that's leading, I shall not be moved,
Just like a tree that's planted by the waters,
Lord, I shall not be moved. 

 

Chorus

I shall not be, I shall not be moved;

I shall not be, I shall not be moved;

Just like a tree that's planted by the waters,

Lord, I shall not be moved


 

 

  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - March 30, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 24:1-31

Numbers 25-27

Song of Solomon 6:4-8:4

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

In Matthew 24, one of the most important warnings Messiah gives His people is the admonishing to watch out for the Abomination of Desolation, which is to be set up in the Last Days. But how can we "watch" for something if we don't know what we're looking for? What is the Abomination of Desolation anyway? Is it an idea? A doctrine? A physical thing?

http://www.lightedway.org/html/Newsletters/16%20Newsletters/April-June2016NewsletterMagazine.pdfTo answer this, the following is quoted from the feature article of our April-June 2016 News Magazine, titled: Jerusalem's Ultimate Temple Deception

The final Abomination of Desolation is the Soon-Coming 3rd Temple in Jerusalem: which will be the Seat of the Beast

The most dangerous deception in the Last Days will be the 3rd Temple and the false Christ who reigns there. It will be so overwhelming and so “righteous” in appearance, that “if it were possible, even the very elect will be deceived.” Are you ready to withstand the ultimate Temple Deception?

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that Day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the son of perdition;  who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God,”  2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

Daniel 11:15-16 & 45 “So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities...  And none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain, yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.”

According to The Temple Institute in Jerusalem, “Tisha b’Av: The Third Holy Temple Plans Have Begun”. A Youtube video is available to watch online showing a complete virtual walk-through of this Temple, soon-to-be-built in Jerusalem (https://youtu.be/A2IkxmwkayM). As The Temple Institute video advertisement explains:

This (video) is a walk-through the main sanctuary of the Holy Temple, showcasing decades of research and tons of innovative Halachic solutions to various perplexing issues that were resolved to create fully functional, ready-to-use plans.

As the visual tour sweeps through the sanctuary, one can see the menorah, incense altar and showbread table, all of which have already been prepared by the Institute, among 70 other sacred vessels. The presentation was specially released to coincide with the Ninth of Av, the Jewish national day of mourning which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples...
In summary, this is a highly-detailed building plan... The video comes one year after the Temple Institute appealed to its supporters to take part in a funding campaign that raised over $100,000 for the architectural plans.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of The Temple Institute noted: “One third of all Torah commandments pertain to the building of and service in the Holy Temple. Today, we not only mourn the destruction of the two Holy Temples, but also our inability to fulfill one third of the Torah. Over the last three decades, the Temple Institute has done everything in our power to research and prepare for the Third Temple. As world Jewry sits on the ground mourning the first two Temples, we have taken a huge leap towards the rebuilding, by releasing a 3D architectural rendition of the Third Temple.

The Third Temple in Jerusalem is intended to be built on the Temple Mount... On the Temple Institute website (http://www.templeinstitute.org), Rabbi Chaim Richman and his Temple team invite: “ALL WHO PRAY FOR THE FULFILLMENT OF THE BIBLICAL PROPHECIES that promise the reestablishment of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem are invited and welcome to become part of the Temple Institute’s vision, and share in these efforts.”
 

Bible Prophecy DOES foretell a third temple in Jerusalem.  But it won’t be Holy! It will be the dark Seat of the Beast...

The Temple Institute is the center of research and preparation for the Holy Temple. (And has) also recreated the Temple Furnishings and over 70 sacred vessels for use in the Third Holy Temple, which can be seen at their Visitors Center in the Old City of Jerusalem...
Think of it for just a moment! There will soon be a beautiful temple, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, built after the same pattern seen in Solomon’s Temple, or such as was foretold in the Ezekiel Temple prophecy. It will contain the same furniture as was found in the sacred Temple of Yahweh in the past. And the priests who serve in it will lead the people in keeping the Feasts of Yahweh, apparently keeping the Torah, in every detail. What could be more righteous or blessed than such a place as this? 

Already 70+ temple vessels, described in Torah for use in Yahweh’s holy Temple, have been painstakingly recreated to be used in this coming temple. There will even be some original Temple artifacts in this amazing third temple. These original Temple artifacts will include the very Menorah which was used in the Second Temple, the Silver Trumpets, and many other items, which were taken by Rome when Herod’s Temple was sacked. The record of these artifacts falling into the hands of Rome, is found in the relief carvings on Titus’ famous  Arch. Today, these artifacts and many original Temple furnishings are kept in the Vatican vault, awaiting the day when they are planned to be set in place, in the 3rd Temple of Jerusalem.
 
Items of original Temple furniture were taken by Rome - as is recorded on the Roman Arch of Titus (c. 82AD)
And if that wasn’t enough to convince that this will indeed be God’s holy Temple, 3rd temple proponents can even point to the prophecies of Ezekiel to support the establishment of this future temple. Even the suggestion that such a temple could be “unholy” seems impossible! It even seems abominable! 

But that’s just how it appears on the surface. When we dig a little deeper into Bible prophecy, what we uncover about this soon-coming temple in Jerusalem reveals that it will not be Yahweh’s holy Temple; rather it will be the most unholy place on planet earth (Daniel 11:31) ! Let’s see what Scripture has to say.

Bible prophecy plainly warns that the final Beast will reign from a temple, which is proclaimed to be Yahweh’s holy Temple. Of course since the final Antichrist will be enthroned within its “Most Holy Place”, in reality it will be the most unholy place of all!

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that Day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the son of perdition;  who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God,”  2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

“So the king of the north shall come...  And none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the Glorious Land, which by his hand shall be consumed. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain...” Daniel 11:15-16 & 45

Thankfully, we read the latter part of Daniel 11:45, where we find the Promise that this final Anti-christ will come to his end, after consuming the former holy Land, and placing his unholy tabernacle in what once was the glorious holy Mountain.

In fact, in physical manifestation, the erection of this false temple of the Beast is the final Abomination of Desolation!

“...And they shall pollute the Sanctuary of strength... And they shall place the Abomination that maketh Desolate.” Daniel 11:31

It is vitally important that Yahweh’s people not only avoid falling for this temple deception, but also we need to recognize it for what it really is - prophetically speaking. This temple is the Abomination of Desolation. Thus, when it is placed, it will be the  sign for God’s true followers to flee to the mountains.

“But when ye shall see the Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains,” Mark 13:14

When the Abomination of Desolation was erected the first time, only those who rightly identified it fled - and were saved. Many failed to heed the sign and were needlessly slaughtered as a result.

But what about the Temple of Ezekiel? If the soon-coming third temple will be the Seat of the Beast power, erected for his dark purposes and for his cause; what happened to the Ezekiel Temple prophecy? (Daniel 11:45, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Just a few years after the First Temple (Solomon’s) was destroyed and before the Second Temple (Herod’s) was built, the prophet Ezekiel was shown a vision of another holy Temple. This Temple, by its physical description and dimensions, was never built. Never has there been such a Temple as this one, on earth.

Ezekiel’s Temple Complex was 500x500 cubits, which is 750 feet square. This means that it would have been much larger than Solomon’s Temple, Herod’s  Temple and the Wilderness Tabernacle - all combined. In fact, all these other prior Temples could fit within the foretold Ezekiel Temple Complex and still have room to rattle around!

Additionally, the Ezekiel Temple would have been unique in that it did not have a laver. Instead of a laver, there was to be a stream of living water, which would flow out from the Messiah’s Throne in the Most Holy Place. In other words, the Ezekiel Temple - not Herod’s Temple - should have been the Temple which Yahshua came to when He was here among us (Ez. 43:7). But it was not to be...

Now, there is a problem with the Ezekiel Temple prophecy, making it clear that this Temple can never be built, by the Cause of Yahweh. We can know this because, Ezekiel Chapter 40 details animal sacrifices, which were to have been performed within this Temple. But now that our Saviour has died (once for all), Yahweh has commanded that the sacrificing of animals forever cease, for they all pointed to the death of Yahshua and were fulfilled by Him on Calvary.

“...Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings... for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein... He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second.  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the Body of Yahshua Christ once for all,” Hebrews 10:8-10

Animal sacrifices were never the end in themselves. The blood of animals could not take away our sins. These animal sacrifices were merely the “shadow” of Calvary. Yahshua was called the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world, because it was only His Blood, which can wash away our sin.

“For the Law having a shadow of good things to come... can never with those sacrifices which... they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”  Hebrews 10:1-4

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off... And He shall confirm the Covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease...”  Daniel 9:26-27

Since animal sacrifices ceased with the Death of Yahshua, the prophecies of the Ezekiel Temple, with their numerous animal sacrifices, cannot be fulfilled in the future. But what do we do about this prophecy? Surely, since we can be certain this was a Yahweh-given prophecy, it has to come to pass! Doesn’t it? Actually, it is this belief that will make the third temple deception especially convincing to most Christians. When the third temple is erected, it will be built to Ezekiel’s specifications, in apparent fulfillment of his God-given prophecy. It appears to be a “slam-dunk” in terms of evidence supporting the “holiness” of the third temple cause. But in actuality, true prophecies can fail, if the conditions of the prophecy aren’t met (1 Corinthians 13:8 and Jonah 3).

One Bible prophecy which failed is the prophecy of Ninevah’s destruction. Yahweh did indeed tell the prophet Jonah to prophesy against the wicked city of Ninevah.

“And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.  So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”  Jonah 3:4-5 

But even though Jonah was giving the true prophesy of Yahweh against Ninevah, the city was not destroyed in 40 days. The prophesy failed because the people REPENTED for their wickedness and turned to Yahweh.

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented (took pity) of the evil (calamity), that He had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not. Jonah 3:10

Just as prophecy can fail if the people REPENT, so prophecy can fail if the people REBEL.

“...Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail...” 1 Corinthians 13:8

In the case of Jonah, who prophesied the Word of Yahweh to the people of Ninevah, the prophecy failed because the people repented. Clearly then, a prophecy from Yahweh can fail. However, the opposite was true regarding the Temple of Ezekiel. Because of Israel’s rebellion, it was too late for the Ezekiel Temple to be built by the Kingdom of Yahweh. 

The Ezekiel Temple was intended, by Yahweh, to be the Temple to which Messiah would have come.

“And He said unto me, Son of man, the place of My Throne, and the Place of the Soles of My Feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of  Israel  for ever, and My holy Name, shall the house of  Israel  no more defile...” Ezekiel 43:7

But, the rebellious heart-condition of the nation of Israel caused this amazing Temple prophecy to fail, in the time of Yahshua. Now, when a temple is built in Jerusalem with the dimensions and characteristics which Ezekiel foretold, it will not be built by the Cause of Yahweh. It will be the Seat of the Beast, with its counterfeit identity deceptively obscured by the unfulfilled prophecy of Ezekiel (Daniel 11:15-16 & 45, 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3).

Thankfully, there is good news. The prophecy that Yahweh would come to dwell with His people, enthroned in a holy Temple upon this earth, is not lost. In fact, for the forgiven faithful, an even better Temple is yet to come!

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4  
  

But we must pay special attention the the context of the future Promise regarding Yahweh’s holy Temple. The context is that after the earth has been destroyed and made new, Yahweh will bring down the holy City of New Jerusalem from Heaven. Then, and only then, will the Temple upon the earth be Yahweh's holy Temple. Current Jerusalem, with its soon-to-be-built false Temple (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3 & Daniel 11:45) will be burned up, upon the true Messiah’s Return (2 Peter 3:10-12). 

Regarding Jerusalem’s role as the Holy City - a title which it received because it held the holy Temple of God - Yahshua gave a powerful warning. This prophecy is one of the most ignored Bible prophecies of all. Yet it was never more vitally important than it is now. Yahshua Himself said that Jerusalem’s “House” was left unto it “desolate” .  

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem... how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens ...and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,” Matthew 23:37-38

What is the “house” to which Yahshua was referring in this prophecy? The word “HOUSE”, in this passage,  is translated from the Greek word οἶκος (Strong’s # 3624).  It means: “a dwelling (…literally or figuratively), home, house (-hold), temple.” According to the Lexical Aids, this word can apply both to a literal Temple and to a figurative one (we are the Temple of the Living God) “…to dwell, as God in the temple at Jerusalem (Matt.23:21); to dwell, as Christ (Eph. 3:17) and the Holy Ghost (James 4:5) in the faithful…”

Messiah plainly stated that the “house” which was left “desolate” was Jerusalem, in Matthew 23:38. This meant that the Presence of Yahweh was no longer in its temple. And if Yahweh’s Presence isn’t indwelling (in a temple or a person, for example) that place or person cannot be called “holy”.  

Yet, today Christians, Jews, and even Torah-keeping Messianics have forgotten that Yahshua proclaimed Jerusalem’s “house” to be desolate. Having forgotten this vital prophecy, Jerusalem is still regarded as Yahweh’s Holy City. This belief is the root-system of many resulting doctrines. For example, if one believes that Jerusalem is still the Holy City, one will also believe that the biblical calendar should be determined by Jerusalem (ie: Jerusalem’s barley determines the first month of the year).

Yet disregarding the prophecies of Daniel (Daniel 11:45), Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3), and Yahshua Himself (Matthew 23:38) is deadly. It prepares us to worship the Beast and fall a prey to the ultimate Abomination of Desolation. For, if we forget or ignore Yahshua’s Jerusalem prophecy in Matthew 23, we will miss the full meaning of His warning in Matthew 24.

The same word, translated as “desolate” (ἔρημος) in Matthew 23:38 also appears in Matthew 24:23-26, referring to the final Abomination of Desolation. The word translated as “desert”, in Matthew 24:23-26, is translated as “desolate” in Matthew 23:38. Plainly, Yahshua warned that the final Anti-christ would be in Jerusalem - the “desolate” place. 

“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not… If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert (ἔρημος - desolate place, Matt 23:38); go not forth...” Matthew 24:23-26 

Ignoring these Temple prophecies is causing many, even among Torah-keepers, to unknowingly prepare to worship the Beast. It is he who will reign in the 3rd temple. It is he who will disrespect Yahshua’s Death reinstating animal sacrifices in it. It will be the biggest deception ever to hit this planet - the final Abomination of Desolation. If it were possible, even the very elect will be deceived by it. So what about you? Are you ready to withstand the ultimate temple deception? 

(For more information on Jerusalem and it’s temple, ask for our DVD’s: “Abraham, Jerusalem & the Biblical Calendar” and “How the Messianic Movement is Unknowingly Preparing to Worship the Beast”.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - March 29, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 23:13-39

Numbers 23:27-24:25

Song of Solomon 5:2-6:3

Listen to the Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

There is a powerful statement at the beginning of our reading from Matthew 23. Remarkably, the Scribes and Pharisees, who were the church leaders of Christ's day, were unconverted! What a concept! It is possible to be in the right place and go through the right motions without having a heart change or a real experience with Christ. What a sobering thought!

Lest any should be similarly self-deceived, I would like to look a bit more deeply into this passage and its implications:

Matthew  23:13-15   "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."   

"And this is the record, that God hath given to us Eternal Life, and this Life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath Life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not Life." I John 5:11-12 

Are You a Real Christian?

(quoted from Empowered Living Ministries' December 2015 Newsletter)

Why of course I am! Why do you ask such a thing? The question even irritates me! Don't you know I go to church, pay my tithes and offerings, believe in Christ, believe in the tenets of the church, live a clean lifestyle, and basically try to be a good person? I even do some witnessing and hand out some literature. Besides I belong to the right church. Certainly I'm a Christian! You are not going to make me question my Christianity are you?

If you had been a member of the Jewish church in Christ's day you would probably have believed that because you were a Jew you were thereby in good standing with God. You were a member of the right church, God's church, paid a faithful tithe and offering, went to the temple on Sabbath, refrained from unclean meats, followed the ordinances of the church and looked for the coming of the Messiah. Thus you would have felt quite confident of your standing with God.

But when the Messiah came friends, only a handful recognized Him, only a handful followed Him, only a handful found their salvation "in Him." The vast majority of Jews were not real Jews. In fact scripture validates this. "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly." (Romans 2:28,29) It is apparent not only from scripture but history as well that most of the Jews were Jews only outwardly. In other words they followed a form, a routine, a ritual, they went to the right church and believed in the Bible.

These "professed" Jews were the very ones who crucified Christ Himself! They rejected Him and hung Him on the cross. It wasn't just the church leadership but also most of its members that in the end were only Jews outwardly. Romans 9:6 puts it this way, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." In other words they are not all Jews (Christians) who professed to be Jews (Christians).

Are you going to be a Christian outwardly or inwardly? Don't rely on your church membership because it won't save you. Don't rely on your mental assent to certain truths, for that won't save you. Don't rely on your lifestyle changes nor your donations, for they won't save you either! Salvation is found "in Christ" only!

In the day of final reckoning there is going to be a lot of "weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Luke 13:28) For millions of "Christians" have been led to trust in their church, in their creeds, in their leaders, in their lifestyle--but have not been led "into Christ."

Only those found "in Christ" will in the end be saved and found to be true Christians versus professed Christians. Let's validate this first with Scripture then define what it means to be in Christ.
Let's start with I John 5:11,12. "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." Could it be any plainer, any clearer? Even I can understand and see it. Eternal life is "in His Son." Not in the church, in a doctrine or in a lifestyle but "in His Son." Verse 12 now expounds upon it, "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
We must have Jesus, we must be "in Christ" for in Him only is eternal life. But what does it mean to be in Christ?

Well it is the opposite of "out". When Lucifer stepped "out" of Christ, he decided his way was better than God's way. He lost eternal life because he chose to disconnect himself from the Source of life. He chose to follow his will and way instead of God's will and way. Whose will and way are you choosing--your's or Christ's?

When Adam chose to step "out" of the will of Christ, he became fallen and selfish. He died spiritually right then, and would have died physically as well without Jesus giving Himself as Savior for him, and for the entire fallen human race. He too wanted it his way instead of God's way. Which way is it with you? God's way or your own?

So understanding what it means to be "in Christ" is crucial for us. In fact it is the apostle Paul's favorite expression occurring in his epistles more than 70 times. Six of his epistles are addressed to the saints and faithful who are "in Christ."

Are you "in Christ?" Or are you merely in the church, in the truth, into reforms, into outreach, into end time events? Without living "in Christ" these activities can be a curse. Why? Because they become a substitute, a counterfeit, a cover up for the real, the genuine experience. They have a subtle way of convincing us that we are the "enlightened ones," when in essence we may be the "foolish ones." Are you a wise or a foolish virgin? The only difference between them was that the wise virgins possessed the oil, which represents the Holy Spirit. The wise virgins lived under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Day by day, hour-by-hour, moment-by-moment they surrendered to do the will of God. They were "in Christ" by faith. They had a faith that worked and cooperated with God in all things.

No one is safe unless they are "in Christ," in the present, in the now, experientially. Theoretically we are to assent to what is true, but experientially we are to be doers not hearers only. All of humanity was embraced in Christ on the cross, all of humanity was in Him. What He did, He did for all of us. But that's only half of the "in Christ" equation. Christ also invites us, by His empowering grace, to surrender ourselves; mind, body, soul and will to His Lordship over our lives in the present. Because what He has done for us and what He is doing in us are to be inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. Christ cannot be divided, you are complete in Him not apart from Him. If you accept His substitutionary death for your sins you must also accept His role as Lord of your life.
It was the choice that Lucifer and Adam made in not allowing God to be their Lord that got us all into this mess of sin today. Adam repented and allowed Christ to regain His position of Lordship over him. Lucifer rebelled against surrendering to Christ's control and is now Satan, the cruel enemy of God and all humanity. Who are you following--Adam or Lucifer?

Millions of Christians have accepted Christ's substitutionary death for them, but are resisting in allowing Him to be Lord of their entire life, right now. Until they do, they are not "in Christ." You see "in" denotes that you are presently in, right now, you are cooperating with Him in the present, in all your known choices. No resistance, no rebellion, just a conscious, "Yes, Lord."

For example, it may be -40 F below zero outside. You may know that in Christ's house it is a pleasant 80 degrees F. But if you're out in the cold, you receive no real benefit because you're still outside. Knowing about the 80 degrees in Christ's house does not warm you. Talking about it does you no saving good. Telling others about it does you little practical good. The fact that Christ's house is paid for and you have a title to it in your safe deposit box, still brings you no present benefit unless you choose to come into Christ. As long as you remain "in Christ" you receive all the benefits of His protection, warmth and security. They are yours, they are free, but you have to choose to enter in and remain in. You can at any time step outside, but if you do, you lose all the benefits of its warmth, security and protection.

That's what Paul meant when he said in Colossians 2:10, "Ye are complete in Him." Not in a knowledge or profession of Him, but abiding "in Him." In an article in Signs of the Times July 4, 1892 a well-known author put it this way, "We are complete in Him, accepted in the Beloved only as we abide in Him by faith." Also we find in the book of Acts 17:28 informs us, "For in Him, we live and move, and have our being."

Isaiah also understood when he declared, "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength." and "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified." (Isaiah 45:24,25) May I also quote just a couple more passages so as to remove all lingering doubt? "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." (2 Corinthians 5:17) It doesn't say if you are in the church or in the truth, or into the doctrine of salvation, or into a good lifestyle, it says we must be "in Christ," not just legally but experientially. It is a here and now experience of letting Christ have all of me, that I may have all of Him.

Hopefully one more text will help cement in our hearts and minds what constitutes salvation and consequently a true living Christian. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:1) Who are them? Can "them" be an Adventist? Yes! Can "them" be a Baptist? Yes! Can "them" be a Catholic? Yes! You mean to say there are going to be Catholics, and Baptists as well as Adventists in heaven? Yes, if they meet the condition, which is not walking in the flesh but in the Spirit by a living faith experience in Christ Jesus.

You say, "I hear you Jim, but will you spell out practically not theologically, how I am to be found in Christ daily, hourly? I'm glad you asked, because conversion and righteousness are not received or retained apart from being "in Christ" and continuing to abide in Christ. For no man is in a saving relationship any longer than he abides in Christ and exercises a living faith in Him.

Being a Christian is not a one time choice but rather a moment by moment, continuous choice to let God have all of me. Day in and day out I am to live for Jesus. My focus is to be in His will, His way. Many attempt to accomplish this through their own humanity. They set out with their strong will power and their teeth gritted in determination to live the Christian life. It always ends in defeat.
How then is it possible to live everyday, every hour, every moment to the glory of God? It's very simple. We are to live as Jesus did. 
Every morning Jesus took time with God His Father. We too, must take time to give ourselves to God every morning, to surrender at the beginning of every day. It can't be rushed, but has to allow time for us to commune with God and really listen to what He's saying to us individually. God speaks to us through the Bible, nature, providence and His impressions in our mind. Then after communing with our Father, and making sure there is nothing to prevent us from hearing His voice, we can rest assured that He will guide us.

When we leave our place of quiet devotion, it is essential to continue walking with God in order to commune with Him throughout the day. We need to learn to ask, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" Acts 9:6 God wants us to know we are not in this alone. We need help from a source outside of ourselves at the beginning of the day and then all through the day. As we learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's prompting upon our hearts and submit our wills to always do His will, then it is that, "Christ liveth in me." Galatians 2:20.

But then temptation comes, perhaps the same temptation where we have often failed before. In the past we have gritted our teeth and tried to resist the temptation until, we either failed or forced ourselves to obey. There is no peace or joy in such an experience. Friends, the true conflict of temptation occurs in the heart. I first must decide if I want to remain surrendered to God. When surrender is my choice, then self dies and the victory is won and then God supplies all the power to meet the temptation. This experience is hard because self, my way and will must die; but it is the only path to peace and joy as a Christian! I must choose to remain in Christ, daily, hourly.
Now choice doesn't merit me anything with God. I am not saved by my choices. The very desire to make the choice of submission to God is a gift from His grace. Salvation is fully the gift of God, yet it is my choice to submit which allows God the freedom to transform my life through the ministry of His grace upon my heart.

It is vitally important to see this, for most who have taken the name of Christ live in a strange amalgamation of Christ and self-contending for the management of their life. This type of Christian life is like a yo-yo, continuously up and down. Being born of the Spirit is going from this experience to allowing Christ to be sole Ruler of the life. When this amalgamation of self versus Christ ends, there is rest for the soul. Then we learn the true science of salvation and the language of heaven, which is simply how to allow Christ full access to all my decisions and then by His grace, through a living faith, to say "yes" to God and "no" to self.

It all has to do with faith, a living faith, a faith that works by love and purifies the soul; where we are enabled to live above the pull of the flesh in the present. Faith is not only a belief in what Christ has done for me but also a surrender of all my known choices to Him, where all my thoughts, feelings and actions are in obedience to His known will, where I choose by His empowering grace to depend only on Him. This is a faith that works!

Are all your known choices surrendered to Him? Do you trust only in His merits for your standing before God? Do you depend on His power to choose right over wrong? If you do then you are a Christian. If this is a continuous choice, a continuous acceptance, a continuous dependence, then you are continuing to be a Christian. Welcome to the body of Christ!

Just a final note. Someone might think that I am anti-church or anti-doctrine or anti-lifestyle because I de-emphasize these things. This is not so! I believe in the church but not as the solution only as a tool. I love the truth but only as a means - not an end. My lifestyle changes have given me better health and a greater awareness of His presence but I'm not made righteous by carrots and bananas. All these are good only as they direct us to Christ. They are the dock that leads us onto the ship; which is Christ. Let's not just be excited about being on the dock, lets get aboard the Ship which is Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour!