Intercession: Our Nation’s Security

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”     — I Timothy 2:1-2

CAPITOL REFLECTED

As a nation that operates under the banner of a democracy, its citizens have a fundamental right to discuss, and even peaceably argue, the pros and cons of how the government is being directed. There are those who support and even love the president, while others are convinced his election was a monumental mistake. Members of the legislative branch — the U.S. Congress — likewise have their cheerleaders and booing sections.

In this entire flurry of disagreement and unsettling politics, just what is the responsibility of the born again Christian? What is he to do in the midst of all the political chaos? In our text Scripture, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, answers that question with specific instructions: we are to make it a priority to Pray for our nation and all who are in authority!

But you can hear someone from the back row: “Why should I pray for this president? I didn’t vote for him; if I prayed anything, it would be to get him out, etc.” Why should we pray for our leaders? Verse two of our text answers, “So we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.”  Pretty good reason, don’t you think?

Living a quiet and peaceable life means that a nation as a whole is headed in the right direction, filled with a contented and prosperous people walking in the light and love of God. And living in that environment is a divine signal that God’s plan for the land is moving forward.

So what would that plan be? Verse four of 1 Timothy, chapter 2 says God would “have all men to be saved and come into the knowledge of the truth.” So here is the crowning reason God wants His people to pray — so the Gospel can be preached and the lost brought into the Kingdom of God.

Satan has pulled out all the stops, and as far as the United States is concerned, he has made some startling headway. I believe that the assignment has been handed to us, the Christians in the land, to determine if the enemy will continue to succeed. There is no question that if we obey the Biblical admonition to pray for our nation and those in authority, a holy standard will rise up against him.

There is a classic example in the Old Testament where God demonstrates His willingness to respond to intercessory prayer. In Genesis 18, the Lord announced that He was ready to destroy the city of Sodom because of its wickedness. Abraham had family interests there, and the Scriptures say he immediately humbled himself before the Lord and began to intercede. He could have easily “minded his own business”, but instead, he prayed and interceded — for others!

“Lord, if 50 righteous are found in the city, will you destroy them along with the wicked?” The Lord replied, “If I find 50 righteous within the city, I will spare the whole place on their account.”

“How about, Lord, if there are 45?”

“If I find 45, I will spare it.”

“Will you spare it for 40?’

“Yes I will!”

“I know I’m pressing you, Lord, but how about if there are 30 — will you spare it?”

“Yes I will,” answered the Lord. “Please don’t get angry with me, Lord, but what if there are only 20?”

“I will not destroy them if there are 20 righteous in the city.”

“One more time, Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Will you spare the city for the sake of only 10 righteous?”

“Yes”, the Lord replied, “I will spare the entire city if only 10 righteous are found.”

And here Abraham stopped — and I wish he hadn’t. I believe if Abraham had pursued the matter all the way to just one righteous, he would have heard the Lord say, “Yes, I will spare the city for just one righteous person.” But Abraham stopped at 10, and herein lies a lesson for us.

Often when interceding, we stop too quickly — never reaching that point where we know in our spirits that we have asked for God’s best, in full confidence that He will keep His promises. Think about it. He promised to change things for just 10 people; and Jesus told us that under the new covenant “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them.”  (Matthew 18:19).

The great John Wesley once wrote, “I am convinced that God does nothing in the realm of man except in answer to believing prayer!” I believe that God is looking for those who will humble themselves and seek Him with all their hearts on behalf of our nation and its leaders. Any time you feel like criticizing — Stop — and Pray instead. God will move as His people obey His admonition: “Pray … that you may lead a quiet and peacable life.”

 

~~~

Wait Three Days …

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”     (Psalm 27:14)

FLOWERS UNDER UMBRELLAAs Ben left his office in lower Manhattan, he followed the usual pattern for Friday and stopped by the little flower stand on the corner to pick up a bouquet for his wife. The stand was unpretentious, and the lady who operated it a study in contrasts of human nature. Elderly, frail looking, shabbily dressed, and yet, a pleasant personality with a perennial smile.

Although Ben had stopped by the stand of the “flower lady” every Friday for months, he had never taken the time to talk to her beyond making his selection. But this time was different; something prompted him to comment.

“Every time I come by here you seem to be happy.”

“Sure, why not? Everything is good,” she replied.

“Well, you mean you don’t have any troubles?”

“Oh yes, just like that man walking over there, and you, and everybody, I have troubles. But when trouble comes, I just think about Jesus and Good Friday.”

“What do you mean?” Ben asked, somewhat puzzled.

“Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, the worst day in the world. But after three days came the greatest day in the world … Resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead and everything was OK. So, when I have trouble I tell Jesus about it, wait three days, and everything always turns out OK for me too.”

Interesting philosophy … “Tell Jesus then wait three days.”

But there is a dilemma here; we are part of a “want-it-now” society that will not wait any length of time for anything. Even the most elementary student of the Word cannot help but notice that our God is just the opposite. He is organized, deliberate, extremely patient, on time, and always successful. Have you ever wondered about the death and resurrection of Jesus, and why the climax of that earthshaking event had to wait until the third day? He died on Good Friday; why didn’t God the Father bring Him out of the tomb the next morning … or even late Friday night?

We must remember that when Jesus died on the cross, only His physical body experienced the phenomena of death. His Spirit lived on and continued to function in the Father’s business. His Father had much for Him to do during the period described as “three days and three nights.”

He told the repentant thief, “Today, you shall be with me in Paradise.” Here is solid indication that upon His Spirit’s separation from His body, at the instant of death – on that day (today), He traveled to Abraham’s Bosom … Paradise, where all the faithful saints of old were peacefully awaiting that moment of fulfillment. They had believed the prophets and anxiously anticipated the coming of the Anointed One, but fell asleep in death before the appointed time. Can you imagine the excitement among those joyful souls, as they saw with their own eyes the vindication of their faithfulness? Then, the Risen One completely emptied Paradise and escorted all of the jubilant saints to heaven. Just think, they will be seated with us at the great wedding feast.

Now, on to the next job.

In 1 Peter 3:18, we are told that His body (flesh) was put to death, but He was alive in the Spirit and (in the Spirit) went to proclaim His victory to the spirits kept in prison. Those who rejected the message of God’s spokesmen, and (v.20) who thumbed their noses at Noah, as the Creator waited patiently for them to repent. All of the deceased unbelievers, now in Hades – the place of torment — saw the Messiah as He presented Himself as a proclamation of His eternal victory and proof that God’s Word was and is true!

And now, one final detail before Sunday morning. Our Lord faced Satan, himself, toe to toe. Undoubtedly the devil thought he had Him, and probably summoned every demon he had to join him in trying to keep the King of Kings in hell. Now, Satan is not stupid, but he does stupid things, and this act ranks as his dumbest move since his rebellion.

In a flash of divine power, Jesus stripped the evil one of every vestige of authority, and as an act of totally disarming him and his hordes forever, snatched the keys of death and the grave from his grip. Satan and his cast fell back in cringing fear, and could not stop the Messiah as he blasted out of the confines of hell and in a flash, returned to His body in the tomb.

And not a moment too soon, for dawn was about to streak across the Jerusalem sky. The Resurrection power of the Holy Spirit was dispatched by God the Father, and Christ the Anointed One, came forth out of the tomb in His glorified body … the First Fruit of many to follow!

It was the third day!

Hallelujah!

Wait three days …

There is a message here that has eluded us far too long: “Wait three days” or “wait until the third day” are simply metaphors for “waiting upon the Lord.” If Almighty God, Creator of all, had reason to wait three days before He brought His Son forth from the tomb, why can’t we trust Him to answer our prayers regardless of the time span? His Word assures us that He is faithful — that our prayers in faith that line up with His will (His Word) are heard and will be answered.

Sometimes the answer comes immediately. At other times, for reasons only He may know, the answer does not manifest until “the third day.”

Listen to the “flower lady.” In faith, tell Jesus about your situation; then wait three days! He has promised everything will be OK!

 

~~~

Be Not Afraid!

“For God has not given us the spirit of  fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”                                                                                                      2 Tim. 1:7.

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Perhaps you have heard the humorous description of the lady who could never come to grips with her fears. She confessed that she always felt her worst at the times she felt best, because she knew and dreaded how awful she was going to feel when she felt bad again. Have you ever known that kind of person?

I had a friend many years ago who could never enjoy a beautiful spring day because of the stormy weather he “knew” was just around the corner and would surely strike any day. To the greeting, “Isn’t this a beautiful day, Chuck?” He would invariably respond, “Yeah, but when we get it we’re really going to get it.” Wherever this dear soul was, the aspirin bottle was always within reach, and I don’t recall that he ever had a truly happy day. And he was a professing Christian. Unusual? Not at all. Many Christians today are dominated or noticeably influenced by fears.

To some degree, every person reading these words has been to that barren wasteland called “fear.” And that is exactly what it is: a wasteland. Fear never builds, it never enhances, and it never blooms into anything beautiful. And when fear makes an appearance, it goes about systematically turning everything good into a wasteland. All over the land, day and night, we are fed a super dose of things to be fearful about: fear for our country, fear for our schools, fear for our children, fear of disease, fear of losing a job, fear of not getting a job — fear everywhere and about everything imaginable.

But for the Christian, there is an answer for fear in every phase of our lives. The Bible tells us explicitly that fear does not come from God. The Word calls fear a spirit, and considering its destructive force, it is easy to recognize it as an evil spirit. And since Jesus passed on his authority over evil spirits to the disciples and the believers after them (that’s us!), that translates into our ability to cast fear out and keep it out by exercising that authority. The text Scripture supports this truth by telling us we have been given the spirit of power and love and a mind that is anything but shy. And all of these attributes are part of Jesus! Hallelujah!

One night in the midst of a vicious storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples were on the edge of death and screamed out in terror. At His altar of prayer on the mountain, Jesus saw their plight through the all Seeing Eye of God and came to the rescue. God had already made provision for the safety of the disciples, just as He has, through Jesus, made provision for our total salvation; which includes healing, deliverance, provision, and safety. We must set our minds on Him as our total source. We must believe and act on His words that tell us, “Speak to this mountain (of fear) … and as you believe, you will receive.”

Go to work on the fears you are carrying with you. Hear those same words Jesus spoke on the sea as they ring from His throne of intercession, “Be of good cheer. It is I … be not afraid!”

And may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. In the Name of Jesus our Messiah, Amen!

Plumbing the Depths of Christmas

Exif JPEGDo we really know the depth of the meaning of Christmas? For many, it’s the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, but that birth was just the beginning of a massive plan prepared by God the Father before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1;19-20). Yes, God had a plan from the beginning to deliver man from sin and all of sin’s cousins. Then down through the centuries, from the day of Adam and Eve, God continually spoke to His prophets, telling them that a Messiah was coming, and to advise all of God’s people to look for Him.

And, finally, Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” So Christmas is really just the beginning of the culmination of the master plan of God begun before He even created us.

Actually, 337 times in the Old Testament, He foretold of the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, and here is just a short sample of what He told His covenant people to look for:

1 – He who is to come will be a prophet like Moses. Deuteronomy 18: 15,18

2 – He will be the Son of God. Psalm 2:7

3 – He will be of the tribe of Judah (A Jew) Genesis 49:10

4 – He will be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14

5 – He will be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2

6 – He will be rejected, despised and forsaken. Isaiah 53:3

7 – He would be silent. Isaiah 53:7

8 – He would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9

9 – He would be tried and condemned. Isaiah 53:8

10 – He would be crucified with his hands and feet pierced. Psalm 22:16,18

11 – He will be our sacrifice. Isaiah 53:5-6

12 – He will be raised from the dead. Psalm 16:10

Why did He speak all of these words and over two hundred more to His people? Because He cared for them. He did not create man to be lost and separated from Him. Here is a glaring example of the goodness and love of God.

He wanted to redeem fallen man. And for Jesus to be the Word made flesh, that Word had to be spoken by the prophets into this world. As God spoke through these prophets, He was giving people hope so that they would have something wonderful to look forward to. What was to come was no more animal sacrifices, no more living in doubt and fear.

The Messiah Jesus would be the once and for all sacrifice for the whole world.

Christmas is more important than all of the outside glimmer we are used to. Christmas is the culmination of all that God said about the Savior to come. We celebrate with glimmer and lights – nothing wrong with that. But we also celebrate Christmas because we recognize that Jesus actually “came down” for us.

He “came down” so that one day we might “go up”.

He “came down” to a lowly stable so we can one day have a mansion.

Simple shepherds welcomed Him to earth, so that one day angels will welcome us into His presence.

He “came down” to put the devil completely out of business.

God has not changed. He wants us to reap and enjoy the benefit of Christmas, and to rejoice in our Savior who came to deliver us from sin, sickness, and everything the devil tries to throw at us.

Because of Christmas, we are overcomers.  KAVOD! GLORY!

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Advent Attitudes

ADVENT WREATH - SHARON BAPTIST“For the coming of the Son of man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark. And they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away. So shall the coming of the Son of man be. Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:37-42

The four week period before Christmas in the Christian church calendar is known as Advent. The purpose is to underscore and celebrate the Advent-or soon arrival- of the Christ child at Bethlehem. Denominational churches throughout the world, particularly liturgical churches, will recognize this season with special services and programs.

This is certainly a fitting recognition of a great historical event. But our purpose here is to center your attention upon an Advent period not restricted to four specific weeks out of the year, but unrestricted and constant in these last days. It is the Advent of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to claim His Bride; and then, after a short season, the return to earth with that Bride to establish His great Millennial Kingdom.

What a day that will be! This time He will not arrive as a baby; He will not be despised, accused, beaten, spit upon and finally brutally murdered. He will be in full regalia as a conqueror, His royal insignia shouting, “Behold, the King of kings and Lord of Lords –before whom every knee will bow!” We are now in the Advent season of His soon return. Do you believe that? If we accept the reality of that statement, it is incumbent upon us to develop and maintain a spiritual attitude that points in that direction. Remember, the scriptures tell us that He is coming for those who are expecting Him. That translates to believing that He is coming, and will appear at any moment!

To help us develop that high level of expectancy and preparation, we are listing thirteen “Advent Attitudes” with applicable scripture references. Read them, study them, absorb them, until they become an integral part of your walk of faith.

1 – Believe His coming: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 This is not a fad or a theory, but a reality and vital part of our faith. This is not a simple statement, it is a promise. All of the promises of God are yes and Amen in Christ Jesus!

2 – Pray for His coming: Matthew 6:10, Revelation 22:20 Intercession for His coming motivates us to a deeper commitment to holiness and service.

3 – Love His coming: 2Timothy 4:8 “…to all those who have loved and longed for His coming.” Are you caught up in the madness of this world, or does the Advent of His coming cause you to fall deeper in love with Him?

4 – Preach His coming: 2 Timothy 4:2,1 The soon return of our Lord for His Bride is a vital part of the message we must declare.

5 – Watch for His coming: 1Thessalonians 5:6 Part of our faith walk includes being awake, sober and full of expectancy.

6- Expect His coming: Romans 6:19,23 Here the Apostle Paul urges us to eagerly anticipate His soon coming, and to welcome the first indication of it.

7-: Mark 13:35; Titus 2:13 The word “looking” as used in this text carries the double meaning of separation and expectation. Re: Hebrews 12:2

8- Wait for His coming: 1Thessalonians 3:5 The margin here reads “…the patience of Christ.” Patiently our Lord awaits the Father’s signal to come after His Bride. We are to manifest that same patience here on earth.

9 – Do not despise His coming: 2Peter 3:3,4 This may sound like a strange statement, but scoffers abound today. Many who professed belief in His coming are cynically asking, “Where is He?” Some do not believe in the Rapture and reject any approach to prophecy. That is “despising” His coming.

10 – Hasten His coming: 2Peter 3:12 Literally translated this reads “expecting and hastening”.

11 – Live in the power of His coming: 2Peter 1:16 The confidence in the soon return of our Lord is not just a spiritual luxury, but a source of real power for daily living and life.

12 – Live His coming: Philippians 3:20 It is not sufficient for us to grasp this truth – it must grasp us!

13 – Be unashamed at His coming: 1John 2:28 We saints must never be ashamed of this truth, or be a shame to it. On that day, many Christians will meet Christ with a saved soul, but so ashamed of their non-works of “wood, hay, and stubble” that they will feel like shrinking away in shame.  We would rather hear, “WELL DONE, MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT. ENTER IN TO YOUR REWARD!”

Happy Advent!
A Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Happy Resurrection Day!!!

Sandra Pavloff Conner

TERRY'S BLUE TREES WITH SUNRISE & BURST

We don’t have to do anything to earn acceptance and love from the Creator of the universe.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemned the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on Him is not condemned.”  (John 3:16-18).

“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.  … God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.  … For He has made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us … that we might be made the righteousness of…

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Who Owns the Land of Israel?

star-of-david-gold-fog-for-background-only1.jpg*** God’s Word, His oath, and His everlasting covenant are guarantees …. Nobody is authorized or permitted to sell, barter, give away, or negotiate any part of the land for any reason! ***

And I give to you (Abraham)and to your descendants after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

— Genesis 17:8

To study the nation and land of Israel is to pursue what is, without question, an additional proof of the existence of God. No other people or ethnic group even comes close to the endurance record of the Jews. And no other tract of land on earth has ever attracted so much daily attention. All of it is related to claims for territory by both Jews and Arabs.

In this connection all eyes are on politics and political maneuvering; but the issue goes far deeper. Almighty God is getting ready to prove something – that His Word is accurate and invincible.

So the question is who owns the land? In Leviticus 26:40-44 God gives a prophetic warning to the people through Moses. They had turned their backs on Him, yet He promised He would still remember them, and also “The Land!”

What is it about this remote piece of real estate, no larger than the state of New Jersey — a virtual dot on the world map – that would cause God to be so interested in it and make such a firm commitment to it? Joel 3:1-2 clears up the mystery. This passage concerns the end times when He will bring judgment and justice. Here He clearly identifies Himself with Israel, as “My people” and “My inheritance.” Then He levels a final indictment against the unbelieving nations. Why? “Because they have divided my land.” Many years after promising the land to Abraham and his descendants, He still calls it “My land”.

Now, to whom was the land given and entrusted? Scriptures answering this question in detail are abundant. To conserve space, we will not attempt to quote them verbatim, but the reader should search out and read them. Here is a sample: Genesis 12:1-7 (the original land grant), Genesis 15: 18, and Genesis 26:4, plus others to follow. God’s Word, His oath, and His everlasting covenant are guarantees that what God Himself entrusted to Israel in terms of territory is unquestionable and everlasting! God Almighty, who owns the land, entrusted it to a particular people whom He commanded to possess and dwell in it. They were to conduct their lives in accordance with His statutes and commandments. The land belongs to God, and nobody – not the United Nations, Washington, European Union, or the Peace Table – nobody is authorized or permitted to sell, barter, give away or negotiate any part of it for any reason! What we have here, then, is God’s divine plan clashing head-on with human politics.

Scriptures tell us that Israel violated God’s conditions, and actually rebelled, resulting in disqualifying themselves from tending God’s land. As a result, both people and land entered into a time of shame and desolation. Jerusalem became a half-ruined, flea-infested village. The blessing had been withdrawn; rainfall diminished and almost everything became desert. And yet these same Scriptures also spoke of hope that this calamity would not go on forever; that there would be a restoration, a healing and a fruitfulness. (Please refer to Ezekiel 36: 5,6,8). Here is a prophetic vision thousands of years ahead when the Jews would be gathered and returned to their homeland. Verses 15 and 24-27 of the same chapter speak of the Lord’s continuing passion for the land. The promise here for spiritual restoration will take place but it will not and cannot happen until the Jews are returned to the land.

Over 1900 years have passed and most of them have been years of desolation and despair for both people and land. But the season of restoration has begun. Isaiah 66:7-9 speaks prophetically of a nation being born in one day. This prophecy was fulfilled in amazing detail on May 15, 1948. Within 24 hours of its introduction, the UN passed a resolution declaring Israel to be a sovereign nation. It was then promptly announced by the new Prime Minister, “This nation shall be called Israel!” She then fought three wars perpetrated by the Arab nations with the sole intent to drive her into the sea, but with God’s help and many real miracles, she prevailed.

In spite of the truth of Scripture and factual history the cry for “Palestinian Autonomy” to replace the nation of Israel continues to come forth with a surprising number of supporters outside the Arab world. So who are the “Palestinians”? Where did the name “Palestine” originate? Here are the answers:

There never was a “Palestine” state. There never was a “Palestine” entity. There never was a “Palestine” culture. There never was a “Palestine” language. There never was a “Palestine” government. They, who claim to be “Palestinians” are simply Arabs. And the Arabs own and control 99.9% of the Middle East, compared to Israel’s 1/10th of 1%. In the year 70 AD, when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, the Emperor named the region “Ceasarea Palestinia” a derivative from the ancient Jewish enemy, “Philistines”. This was a deliberate slap at the Jews by the Roman Emperor.

The Jewish-Israel connection to that land goes back 5,000 years, and the Jew’s right to the land is God ordained. He said He would bring them back, never again to be pushed out. Hear the words of Jeremiah, chapter 33, verse 24: “Have you heard what people are saying? They are sneering and saying that Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation, but this is the Lord’s reply – I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws of night and day, of earth and sky. I will never abandon the Jews ….” (TLB).

Now Ezekiel 11:17, “Therefore say, thus saith the Lord God; I shall gather you [Israel] from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give YOU the land of Israel.”

Case closed!

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!