Quote for 01/22/2019

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.   Philippians 2:14-16 NKJV

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No one likes a whiner. No one likes a Dr. Doom or Debbie Downer. When we go out into the world, we represent God and Jesus. What sort of billboard do you want to be for your faith?

What if our behavior is a turn-off for someone who isn’t a Christian?

Staying positive in a world going increasingly coarse isn’t easy. Paul writes in the verse above how hard he works. I’m sure a lot of that is the traveling he did and the persecutions he endured, but it was also having to maintain that light of God in his heart and letting it shine for all to see.

There’s always more than one way to look at your situation in life. There is always another angle to pursue when it comes to choosing our attitude in life. A job coach once told me that rejection is God’s protection when job hunting. I heard someone else say that failure is simply feedback. Thomas Edison famously said he never failed once in trying to invent the light bulb. He discovered over 100 ways that don’t work!

Whatever your adversity, you can always choose how to handle it. Knowing that God has conquered all, that your future isn’t just here on earth but eternity, you can, with God’s Spirit and strength, find your way through this world as a shining light of God’s!

Quote for 01/21/2019

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.    Lamentations 3:22-23

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Lamentations is a work of grief over the fall of Jerusalem after being sacked by the Babylonian army and the majority being taken captive back to Babylon.

Despite the overflow of grief – for this book is nothing but a collection of five odes to grief – we can find verses like the one above, which calls for hope in God’s mercy.  Even in the midst of His punishment, His promise to His people, Israel, stands.  He will not utterly forsake them.  God is ever faithful even when disciplining those He loves.

This is instructional for us today.  We can rest assured that through all trials God is with us.  He will always be merciful.  His punishments are for our benefit.  Remember always that scripture interprets scripture, so we can turn to Paul’s letter to the Romans: “…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

The author of Lamentations recognized this over a thousand year before Paul.  That is possible, because God is the same yesterday, today, and always.  We can know it and comforted by it today.

Daniel – The Conclusion, Part 1

agents-of-babylon-2At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time.  And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.    Daniel 12:1

Thus begins chapter 12 and the prophecy of Israel’s deliverance.  Michael, as noted previously in this series, is the angel noted for his fighting abilities.  Events culminate with Michael’s final victory over Satan as recorded in Revelation 12:7-9.

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Satan still had access to heaven and God.  We know this from Job 1:6.

god satan talk job

God & Satan Discuss Job

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.

This was the beginning of the discussion about Job.  The main point for our purposes now is that Satan had not yet been cast out of heaven.  He was still allowed in despite his treachery.  Michael is “let off the chain” to cast out Satan and his own forever.

This is the beginning of the Great Tribulation on earth as that great dragon unleashes his frustration and fury upon the world, Israel in particular.  The prophet Zechariah says,

“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your [a]spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”

Jeremiah echoes this with his own prophecy:

tribulation“For thus says the Lord: ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, Of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.’”    30:5-7

Note that both times Israel is assured of salvation.  Daniel agrees with this when he foretells that many of those buried in the earth will rise, some to eternal life and some to eternal contempt.  It will all be a matter of who they had chosen in life.

Dr. David Jeremiah writes in his Agents of Babylon, “God will use the Tribulation to sift the faithful Jews from those who are unfaithful.  Those left will be a righteous nation that will reign with Him for 1000 years in His kingdom on earth.”

Among the faithful will be “the wise.”

Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.    Daniel 12:3

Dr. Jeremiah points out that the Hebrew term in this context describes teachers and interprets it as those who rise up during the Tribulation to instruct and encourage and strengthen God’s people through that unspeakable horror.  Those who bravely do this job have their own reward from God!

As we draw closer to those end times we can be thankful that God has begun to open the minds of people to see what Daniel wrote about.  We likely know more now about what Daniel wrote than he himself!  We have factual history to draw on while Daniel could only describe an unfamiliar future involving cultures and even technologies that were beyond his ability to describe.

I want to say at this time that Dr. Jeremiah has given us his interpretation of the Book of Daniel and more.  Some might disagree with his writings, but I find his message to ring true.  He makes solid connections with ancient history and other Biblical writings, allowing scripture to interpret scripture, which is the gold standard.

NEXT – Daniel’s final discussion with Angels

Quote for 01/20/2019

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.    1 John 4:20-21 NKJV

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This is a hard teaching.  It also makes perfect sense.  God would have us be as He is, and God is unconditional love if nothing else.

Still, I find this hard to write about, because I must admit I have not learned that perfect love.  How can we love God who we have not seen, if we can’t love our brother whom we have seen?  I’m tempted to point out that having seen some of my brothers makes it harder to love them!  How do you love pedophiles, murderers, and rapists and a host of other types?

“There but for the grace of God go I.”

What I had had their background?  What if this sinful race with so many genetic defects had given me the genes to want to do those horrid things?  Do I say they are not to blame?  By no means!  I’m thankful I don’t have their temptations.

Perhaps that is the beginning of the path to unconditional love.  We do not excuse them, but we pity them as Christ pitied His executioners.

“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

He might as well have been referring to us, for our sins helped hoist Him upon that tree and drive those nails into His perfect flesh.  I am unlovable, for I have done things that others deplore.  Yet I stand in judgment over those who have done worse.  I can’t help thinking of one of my own adages: everyone is someone’s jerk.  Including me.

God loves me despite my sins.  My sins don’t include things I find absolutely repulsive in others, but love should give pity and a desire to help those who need it.

Easier written than done, but I must try.  As must we all.

Daniel and His Last Vision

agents-of-babylon-2Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand…Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”    Daniel 10:12, 14

This final vision adds to Daniel’s previous vision of the Colossus.  To quote from Agents of Babylon by Dr. David Jeremiah, it…

…deals with the rise and fall of empires, with alliances and intrigues, with the marching of armies, with imperial ambitions and palace plots.

Let’s take a look at the kings who so precisely fit the prophecy Daniel received.

cyrus-the-greatAHASUERUS – Also known to us as Xerxes, the king who warred with Sparta and the stand of 300 Spartans at the Hot Gates.  Daniel 11:2 predicted “Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.”

He was the king at the time of Esther.  That biblical book tells us that he reigned over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia.

alexander_statue1ALEXANDER – Introduced as the goat which would defeat the ram in an earlier prophecy.  Daniel 11:3 foretells “A mighty king shall arise, who will rule with great dominion and do according to his will.”  He eventually would control the entire known world from Europe to India.  Accomplished all of it by age 32; certainly a man of great dominion who did whatever he willed.

History records that he wept in his tent when he had accomplished all, because there were “no more worlds to conquer.”  He became a drunk and carouser.  His death at such a young age is a mystery, although theories include dying of acute alcoholism.

Daniel 11:4 predicts that his kingdom would be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, “but not among his posterity.”  Indeed, there were only two blood relatives who could have inherited his empire; a retarded brother and an illegitimate son.  Both were murdered within months of Alexander’s death.  His kingdom was split between his four generals.

Only Egypt and Syria rose to prominence, with Syria north of Israel and Egypt to the south.

antiochus iiiANTIOCHUS THE GREAT/THE THIRD – He gave his daughter, Cleopatra, aged 11 to Ptolemy’s son Ptolemy IV in a gambit to have her as his inside agent and help him defeat Egypt.  That didn’t work out when Cleopatra sided with her husband against her father.

Antiochus tried to attack Egypt, but was turned back by the Roman army.  When he returned home he tried to steal the treasures of his own temple to Jupiter, sufficiently enraging his own people against him that they murdered him.  His body was never found.  Consider how well this fulfills the prophecy in Daniel 11:18-19:

After this he shall turn his face to the coastlands, and shall take many. But a ruler shall bring the reproach against them to an end; and with the reproach removed, he shall turn back on him. 19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fortress of his own land; but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.

Antiochus-EpiphaniesANTIOCHIS EPIPHANUS – We learned of him earlier.  It was he who set up the original abomination of desolation, which is the pattern after which the Antichrist will act.  Daniel 11:21 predicts him thusly:

And in his place (Antiochus III) shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honor of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.

Antiochus Epiphanes did indeed finagle his way into power with bribes.  He then stirred up war with the kingdom to the south, Egypt.  When he lost that conflict, he took out his rage on Israel, raping and murdering woman and slaughtering their children on sight.  He then erected a statue of Zeus on their temple and defiled it with a pig sacrifice, throwing its blood all over the inside of the temple…the original abomination of desolation.

THE ANTICHRIST – The four kings above have come and gone.  The last is yet to come.  Earlier prophecy in Daniel describes who is.  This last prophecy tells us what he does;

  • He does whatever he wants
  • He elevates himself as a god above all other gods.
  • He will deliberately and pointedly blaspheme the one, true God.
  • He will disregard all religion.
  • He will be focused on his own military.
  • He will attack other countries.
  • He will repulse attacks against him and defeat his enemies early on.
  • He will accumulate much wealth.
  • He will eventually be defeated, not by men, and no one will help him.

There will be a great world war, which God will end before all humanity is destroyed.  Then will begin Jesus’ 1000 year reign.

I am amazed how well these historical figures fulfilled Daniel’s vision!  I also find this so comforting!  I’ve lived most of my life believing that there’s just no way to tell when Jesus will come again.  Indeed, no one knows the day or hour, but Daniel gives us the signs to discern the “season” of world events.  We have a map to tell us where we’re going.

It’s called The Book of Daniel.

Quote for 01/19/2018

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.    James 1:5

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God is wise, so He will say no to requests that will ultimately hurt us.

There are, however, two things God always says yes to, and does so limitlessly: love and wisdom!

Just as His love for us prompted Him to sacrifice His only begotten Son, Jesus, so His love causes Him to give wisdom to those who ask for it.

I would venture that wisdom is a gift that He gives with great joy. While the gift of Jesus holy blood in atonement for our sins was done in limitless love, at also entailed limitless pain. But wisdom? It is pure. There is no cost to God to give us that which He authors.

As a father, I was delighted when my daughters asked me about my job, when they wanted to really understand what I do. So it must be with God when we earnestly ask Him about the wisdom He has. I would imagine it must be His greatest joy when we want to be included in His thoughts.

Just as my daughters had to work at understanding what I taught them, so we must read the Bible, asking God for the wisdom to understand what has been written there. Just like love, wisdom is active. Explore God’s word. Explore God’s world in light of His wisdom!

Quote for 01/18/2018

but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”    1 Peter 1:15-16 NKJV

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Holy.  It has several shadings of meaning, but they all have to do with being separate and dedicated.  God is holy, because is His perfect goodness brooks no sin, no evil.  He is set apart that way.

We cannot be holy the way God by virtue of perfection, but we can be holy by being separated from the holy.  We can be holy by being dedicated to God and His ways.  Most of all, we are holy and made sinless through the blood of Jesus.

We need to act like it here on earth for two reasons.  First is because God wants us to live His way, not Satan’s and the world’s.  He does not want us to profane Jesus’ sacrifice by wantonly continuing in sinful ways.

Secondly, God wants the world to see His way through us, through our behavior.  It is a vital part of our witness to Him and the mercy He wants to show everyone.  Claiming Christianity but acting worldly would make Christianity seem like a lie.  Our action and words would combine to have us lie about God!

These two reasons reflect the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  Love our neighbor as yourself.  Live holy for God.  Live holy for your neighbor

Quote for 01/17/2019

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.   Mathew 5:6

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This isn’t just a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is not a prophecy that can be fulfilled by anyone other than God. Righteousness is not part of the human make up. The Bible also tells us that no one is righteous; no, not one.

Jesus told us to ask, and we will receive just as He tells us in Mathew 5:6 that if we long for His righteousness, we will get it.

He promised more than once and in more than one way. You can count on it!

Daniel and the Archangel

Please accept my apologies for not posting any articles over this past weekend.  I had whatever nasty bug has been going around and was in no shape to write!  I might have just given you several paragraphs of typos!

Thank you for your patience and staying with me!

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agents-of-babylon-2“Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”    Daniel 10:12-14

Daniel had seen a vision which he did not understand other than the news was very bad!  He prayed for understanding and suffered under the weight of the horror he had witnessed.  The archangel finally appeared with the words above.

Princes are what angels are usually called in the Bible, whether fallen and demonic or still faithful to the great, true God.  The (demonic) prince of Persia tangled him up for three weeks – the same amount of time Daniel had suffered, waiting for a reply from God.

Enoch-Sakach-Ph-D-9780934917056First, this passage indicates that the world is divided geographically amongst the fallen princes.  The Book of Enoch agrees with this reading.  It describes the “Fallen Watchers” who look over the earth. Watchers are a class of angel created to, well, watch.  They were to keep tabs on earth and report to God, managing their territory.  The fallen Watchers maintain their territories, only now they work for Satan and do their best to feed us to that “roaring lion” who seeks to devour us.

Briefly, the Book of Enoch is not scriptural.  It is viewed by some as being historical.  I’ve read it several times and haven’t seen anything that seems to disagree with Scripture.  One big reason I’m willing to consider its content is that it is one of the documents found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  If you want to read my short series on the Book of Enoch, start here.

This episode also teaches us that there are different classes of angels.  The angel that visited Daniel, while not named in this chapter, gives every indication of being Gabriel, who first came in an earlier chapter.  Even his greeting to Daniel is the same.  He’s an archangel and the only one in scripture so called.  The title means the one who is first and foremost.

michael fighting lucifer bronzeI’ll call Michael a “warrior” angel.  His Biblical appearances usually involve fighting and protecting.  Daniel 10 names him both as “one of the chief princes” and “your (Daniel’s) prince.”  The latter indicates that Michael is dedicated to Daniel and his people, the Israelites.  Again, we see a separation of responsibilities and roles.  Some are divided by job type, some by geography, and some by who they look after.

This makes sense when we consider God gives a role to every one of His creatures.  Men and women have their respective roles.  Each animal plays a part in the web of life on earth.

Another thing to take away from this is that God does indeed answers our prayers!  We just don’t always see the answers as soon as we like.  Perhaps God decides to make us wait.  Perhaps He sends an angel to our side to do what needs done, but that angel can be delayed as was Gabriel.

Which brings us to the very real point that there is a spiritual war going on all around us all of the time!  I’ve mentioned this before, and it certainly bears repeating.  Christianity is not all sunshine and fields of flowers.  Sometimes hard work needs to be done.  Jesus did more than anyone.  Michael had to come to Gabriel’s aid to release him to Daniel.  Even then, Michael had his hands full and needed Gabriel’s quick return to help him!

We’re in a war, my friends.  We need to be well-read in the battle plan otherwise known as the Bible!  Otherwise we simply make ourselves helpless before Satan’s demons.  We God’s angels at a disadvantage we aren’t tuned in well enough to at least practice a little self-defense.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [c]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12

NEXT TIME – Gabriel explains the vision.

Quote for 01/16/2019

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.    Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV

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We imitate God as Jesus did, with selfless love for everyone else.  That is a sacrifice pleasing to God.

Elsewhere the Bible tells us that “…to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  Mark 12:33

God spoke through Hosea: “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

God would rather have us know Him than to make sacrifice.  He would rather have us love than put checks of any size in the offering plate.

To God those are a sweet-smelling aroma.