#WhatsTheMessage EP 043: The Season Finale

On November 19, 2019 we embarked on the journey of starting the What’s the Message podcast. Today, we’ve streamed and uploaded 43 episodes featuring such guests as Shaun King, Rev. Jim Wallis, Rev. William H. Lamar IV, Rev. Dr. Gayle Fisher Stewart, Rev. Reginald Sharpe Jr., Eric Adams, John & April Nixon, Pastor John T. Boston, and even my own mom, Dr. Karen Allen.

For today’s season finale episode we take a trip down memory lane. Check out this episode of some of our favorite clips from Season 1 of What’s the Message.




The New Bloody Reality

As of September 1st, there have been more mass shootings than days this year. The worst part of this is that it appears that these types of violent outbursts began to spike around 2012, during the second term of Barack Obama. Nevertheless, some entities reported a rise in hate crimes as early as November of 2008. The rise of this phenomenon is actually not mysterious or inexplicable at all. Social scientists have long argued that this spike in hate is the result of shifting power dynamics in the country.

Vera Bergengruen and W.J. Hennigan wrote in the August 19, 2019 issue of Time magazine, “Law enforcement officials say the cancer of white nationalism has metastasized across social media and the dark corners of the internet, creating a copycat effect in which inspiring killers draw inspiration and seek to outdo one another.” This is the “45 Effect” – It is an emboldened mass of those who are determined to revert back to former times by any means necessary.

It appears that a large portion of the dominant group is unwilling to live in a country where equality reigns. They prefer to perpetuate systems of disproportionate power, dehumanization, victimization and oppression. In order for them to feel that all is right in the world they must maintain a position of power, authority and control.

This Has Always Been, America

Furthermore, on top of all of his fear-mongering, hate-stoking, and violent rhetoric, 45 has appeared to plunge into yet a deeper and deeper chasm of depravity and failed diplomacy. Yet, his followers are undeterred. They are convinced that the #MAGAtrain will surge ahead until 2025. Interestingly, the 2020 election has inspired hope in some on the other side of the aisle. Many democratic candidates and voters believe 45 will be defeated and that we will achieve, in our lifetime, the beloved community.

In my estimation, we would do well to remember that while the Pledge of Allegiance proclaims this to be the “land of the free,” the reality is that your station and status was settled by your skin tone. The violent terrorism that held those systems in check then have morphed a bit, but they are still very vibrant. And a changing of the guard in 2021 will not change this entrenched social system.

This is America. Or at least, this is the enduring legacy of America. This is the land that many have long said, “looks like a lamb and speaks like a dragon.” This is the same America that defrauded the indigenous peoples out of their land, and ravaged their tribes. This is the same America that has separated children from their parents at our southern border. There is no justice for minorities in America. And just in case you forget it, the dominant group has quite a few fringe members who will quickly grab an AR-15, run to a public place and remind us all that this is their country; and they will do with fear and force whatever is necessary to keep it that way.

Mourners gathered on Monday outside the Walmart in El Paso where at least 22 people were killed. Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The Pain in Prophecy

Here’s the sad news, and a bit of a bold prediction. This pattern of violent terror is not going to relent. As a matter of fact, this is (in part) predicted in scripture. Jeremiah says:

From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 6:13-15 (NIV)

Now, while that text may not apply directly to white-nationalists, just think, if the very priests that were set aside to care for God’s people had become unscrupulous because of greed and deception, what do you think we can expect from people who are bent on hate? The text, in essence, points to a time when people will lose their sense of compassion and decency. That time is now.

Our New Reality

This is the new reality. The battle lines have been so indelibly drawn and entrenched that it is highly likely that we have passed the point of no return. And remember, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV). These are not simply natural expressions of bigotry and hate. These instances are being fueled by the very essence of the one who is the archenemy of our souls.

Now, this is not a message of gloom and doom. Jesus has promised that he would always be with us, and that he would never leave us nor forsake us. In another place, he reassures us saying, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

With this is mind, there are some things that we should do in light of this new reality:

  1. Strengthen relational networks and systems that serve as safe places for underserved communities. Whether that takes the form of an active shooter training at your church, a mentoring program, or simply a more consistent time for family meals, we need to preserve the spaces where we belong authentically and fully.
  2. Develop systems for civic and economic engagement that consistently empowers those on the margins. Children at the border who have been separated from their parents need advocates who will continue to speak up for them. Small minority businesses find it even more difficult to develop in this reality. We need creative ways to provide support, build advocacy and create lasting value.
  3. Finally, pursue more dynamic and empowering opportunities for faith development. This may take the form of a Bible study, prayer group, or a church plant, or maybe even more consistent and committed service initiatives and the like. There is a definite need to grab hold of those themes of hope, faith and trust that will help to sustain us.

Protestors take part in a rally of Moms against gun violence. Photo by Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

These are very difficult times. With each mass shooting we are reminded of our vulnerability and the ever-encroaching scourge of bigotry and hate. When I was a kid riding in the front seat of my mom’s car, she had a tendency to stretch her arm out across my chest while she drove whenever she felt there was danger approaching. Her outstretched arm was in an effort to help shield and brace my body from potential impact. Today we need the arms of the community members to reach out, create safer communities, and shield our people with hope that Jesus will come just in time to save us from the impending collision.




Carrying Someone Else’s Curse?

Exploring the Hebrew Israelite Interpretation of Deuteronomy 28

If you live in a major city such as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, then you’ve likely brushed shoulders with a member of any number of Hebrew Israelite groups. In recent years, this religious group has demonstrated tremendous and rapid growth. In one sense, this is positive evidence of the religious freedom that we enjoy in the United States.

Today, the Hebrew Israelites are as diverse in practice and beliefs as any Christian denomination. The spectrum begins with the more mainstream, established, Church of God and Saints of Christ, to the more informal and counter-cultural group, the House of Israel.

Although there appears to be little doctrinal orthodoxy between the various groups, there are a few tenets that are consistent among all of them. Some of these distinct teachings are as follows:

  • Certain African descendants in America represent the lost tribe of Israel, God’s chosen people.
  • Caucasians are descendants of Esau and the Edomites.
  • Caucasians will be enslaved as a just reward for colonization and enslavement of black people on the day of judgment.

Blessings and Curses

One of the most significant beliefs of the Hebrew Israelites relates specifically to the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy functions as a sort of last will and testament to the children of Israel from Moses. They’re like his parting words before he dies, and the transfer of power is passed from him to Joshua. One of the key themes in the book of Deuteronomy is that of blessings and curses. This theme is manifested in several ways throughout the book (see Deuteronomy 11:26, 27:11-26, 30:1). These blessings and curses are representative of the covenant relationship that God was establishing with His chosen people.

Hebrew Israelites consider the blessings and curses (particularly the ones in chapter 28) to be directed toward them. Possessing strong references to slavery, many within the Hebrew Israelite community believe such scriptures are a prophetic foretelling of American chattel slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

There’s Nothing New under the Sun

While the references to slavery in Deuteronomy 28 should not be taken as a direct reference to chattel slavery in the Americas, there is a deep message that we can gather from the allusion. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Hence, it’s possible that the old adage, “history repeats itself,” stems (at least in part) from this text, which is one reason why when we read Deuteronomy 28, we see significance and meaning for our time.

Additionally, the text speaks about a kind of suffering that members of the African diaspora (especially those in America) can certainly sympathize with. The text describes a kind of disenfranchisement that almost perfectly describes the African American experience.

“You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity…The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower” (Deuteronomy 28:41-43 selected).

These verses are just a snapshot of the issues and concepts mentioned in the text that are especially relevant to the black experience. Yet, there are several considerations that should prompt us to look closer for the contextual meaning of the text.

Prophecy and Fulfilment

Hebrew Israelites assert that Deuteronomy 28 applies directly to certain groups of African-descended people. The challenge is, if we accept this assertion, we would be setting aside a historical record that is universally accepted as a direct application and fulfilment to the prophecy.

Especially significant to the Hebrew Israelite perspective of this chapter is the interpretation of the very last verse in the chapter:

“The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you” (Deuteronomy 28:68 NIV).

The intimation that the Israelites would be returned to slavery on ships is one part of this that is identified as significant and characteristic of the African American experience. Nevertheless, a few elements in this verse should cause us to question such an interpretation.

First, the reference to Egypt is significant. This would suggest that black people will ultimately be enslaved by black people. Are we to surmise that Egyptians here represent Caucasians rather than Edomites as has been previously asserted? Moreover, the closing phrase, “but no one will buy you” suggests a level of depravity and degradation worse than the initial slave experience. Hebrew Israelites, however, generally believe that vindication of black people comes at the judgment. If this is the case, what ways could a second slave experience be manifested, and when or why, given the expected vindication?

Bible scholars generally agree that this second slave experience, wherein Israelites were transported on ships, is believed to have been fulfilled during several sieges of Jerusalem by emperors like Vespasian, Titus, and Hadrian. According to John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, “this prophecy was literally and exactly fulfilled, and one which is owned by the Jews themselves” in the devastation and ultimate total humiliation of the Jews during this period.1

Real Solace in Suffering

Given the reality that the black experience in America is fraught with hardship, struggle, oppression, and degradation, the parallels of struggle between African Americans and Jews are striking. Nevertheless, this aforementioned realization also makes us aware of the pain of all people. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated. For this reason, we embrace God’s invitation that all people be welcomed into the diverse, multiracial and multiethnic family of God. And we celebrate that powerful pronouncement that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV).

Humanity all over the Earth is joined with Christ in His suffering. Whether in the chattel slavery of the American South or the Jewish Holocaust of Europe, humanity can take solace in the fact that its suffering is known and felt by God. Our greatest hope is that our God in whose suffering we are joined, who experienced torture at the hands of institutions, will come again and we who were joined with Him in suffering will be joined with Him in the glory of Heaven.

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CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

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1 John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, 1746 – 1763.


This article is part of our 2019 July / August Issue
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Note to Self: We Win

Does anxiety confuse your thoughts regarding the end-time? Remember this.

“We’re living in the last days!” They said it, and they’ve been saying for years it seems.

“They” is every deacon, elder, church mom, pastor and saved Christian since I was born. I’ve the heard term “last days” for years. I’ve also been to enough church seminars to know the world is in terrible shape and that something needs to happen or humanity will inevitably destroy itself.

The Believer’s Bucket List

Yet, as I grew up, those prophetic cries were drowned out by my own desires to graduate, get married, have kids and make a bucket-list trip back to the motherland of Africa before the skies parted and trumpets blared. Now as an adult, despite my earthly acquisitions, I find those prophetic cries tugging at my thoughts with consistent urgency.

What was once “end of time prophesy” has become now a daily reality. Don’t believe me? Just turn on the news. Early one Wednesday morning, I woke up to the news of 20 year old Stephon Clark, an African American male, shot 20 times in his grandmother’s backyard after police confused his cell phone for a gun.

News and Neurosis

As a mother of a young son myself, sorrow filled my heart. I am not alone in my weariness of the world’s chaos. Civil unrest brews like a pot of boiling water left on the stove too long as minority communities process yet another incident of social injustice at the hands of police and frustrated youth protest in the streets.

If I’m honest, fear knocks at the door of my conscious with each breaking news story. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains… Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,” Matthew 24:6-12 NIV.

How is it that a book written thousands of years ago could so accurately portray the current state of our world? Well, scripture says in Matthew 24:33 ESV “So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” Therefore instead of being afraid of the idea that Jesus really is coming back or pushing it away, we can live in anticipation of eternal relief.

Skip to the End

The blessing in knowing prophesy is that we already know how the story ends, even if it seems like the bad guy is winning. I don’t have to live in trepidation because tumultuous times won’t last forever.

Thankfully, the same wisdom that persistently reminded me of the  soon coming of Jesus, also equipped me with promises to answer the door when fear comes knocking. John 16:33 reminds me, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

So, are you struggling to make ends meet? Lost a friend to cancer? Know that there is room in your heart for hope!  Justice is coming because Jesus is coming! One day soon, the hurricanes, wild fires, mass shootings, and grief-filled tears shed for loved ones lost to disease will be done away with.

As a child of God and believer in Jesus, I can trust that all the chaos we see in the world is Earth’s final declaration of a soon coming Savior. Maybe you’ve been looking at the news and you are filled with fear, or anger, frustration, worry about how the chaos is affecting you’re family?  Maybe you’re not sure how the whole prophetic story ends- let me tell you- we win.

*Want more? Get your copy of our “Beginner’s Guide to the End.” Sign up for a Message subscription today!




Jesus Will Stand Up. The Unjust and Injustice Will Stand Down.

The Gospel According to Paul: Justice Will Soon Stand Down. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, July 1, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 07.01.2018” on Spreaker.

 

“Regarding the angels, he says, “He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire.” But to the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice” (Hebrews 1:7–8, NLT).

Something’s Bound to Happen Soon

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the injustice in this world. I am tired of murderers who should be incarcerated walking boldly like they are on vacation. Certain people groups receive preferential treatment while others suffer, and I am tired of that. I am tired of the have and have nots disparity. Some public officials have a sense of autonomy that disregards checks and balances, and I am tired of that. I am tired of laws that do not apply to all people regardless of any qualifying factor, across the board.

If something in our society does not change for the better soon, we will self-destruct. Sin, degradation, and injustice cannot continue to be embraced without natural and eternal consequences.

Will the King of Glory Please Stand Up?

As Daniel saw, kings and kingdoms would stand up, and take a seat. One day, Jesus will stand up, halting injustice and hatred once and for all.

I find courage in our theme text, because it agrees with one of my favorite visions in the book of Daniel. Daniel saw successive world empires from Babylon, to Medo-Persia, Grecia, Western Rome, the division of Western Rome, the Papacy, and the joint religio-political venture between the Papacy and the United States of America that is finally supplanted by the kingdom of God. Among the empires mentioned here, and the powers referenced in Daniel chapter 11, many stand up and then sit down. They stand up, oppress the nations, and must take a seat. They stand up, oppress the consciences of the nations, and must take a seat. They stand up, and in the arrogance of their power, they abuse privilege, and must take a seat.

But, soon Jesus Christ will stand up, as in Daniel chapter 12. And, the only seat He will take in that day is upon His throne of glory.

Who is the King of Glory? The Lord, strong and mighty. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord, mighty in battle; He is the King of Glory.

Jesus’ justice, authority, and kingdom will soon unseat every earthly power forever, like a massive stone grinds all inferior materials to powder. I am so glad that when He returns, it will be the beginning of everlasting justice and peace in the entire universe.

Sit Tight

Until then, give thanks for God’s love and the ministry of holy angels who will help guide us along the right path, along with the blessed Holy Spirit. Give thanks for the great news that soon every knee will bow, and every mouth will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, our Father.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Jerusalem: A Prophetic Challenge

Exactly seventy years before the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, President Harry Truman was among the first heads of state to recognize the newly established state of Israel. Sanctioned by a vote by the United Nations in 1947, this new nation was to be a sanctuary, of sorts, for mostly European Jews who were seeking refuge from centuries of government sanctioned persecution in their European homelands.

Jerusalem, Israel – view of the Mosque. Jewish worshipers pray at the Wailing Wall, Friday evening starting Shabbat in the sunset, Old City of Jerusalem.

The historical record provides a morbid picture of Christendom’s England, France, Portugal, Spain, Poland and Russia carrying out terrible atrocities against their Jewish neighbors. This seemingly coordinated genocidal quest culminated with Adolph Hitler’s dreaded Holocaust that claimed an estimated six million Jewish lives!

Forgetting “Never Forget”

Gripped by global guilt, the Europeans that controlled the United Nations thought they were righting a wrong when they voted to carve out more than fifty-percent of the land of Palestine and gift it to the mostly immigrant Jewish population. They were totally oblivious to the fact that the creation of this new “state” would mean that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians would be immediately colonized and disenfranchised. This callous insensibility was undoubtedly based on the fact that the very governments that sanctioned the partition of Palestine were themselves colonizers over nations and islands in Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Caribbean.

When the newly created “Jewish” Palestine became “Israel” in 1948, the “Israelis” officially aligned to the colonial quest of their European counterparts. Sanctioned, equipped, protected and trained by their former oppressors, this new “nation” fashioned a society after Jim Crow America and Apartheid South Africa—a society in which the Palestinians were the “negros.” While screaming “Never Forget” to their western compatriots whose shameful inaction had almost led to Jewish extermination, these survivors of the cruel concentration camps had themselves “forgotten” what it meant to be victimized.

Embed from Getty Images

Ignoring—and sometimes embracing—the overtly racist concept of a “Jewish” state, American Evangelicals have been firm in their support of the State of Israel. As far as they are concerned, God had masterminded the 1947 vote in the United Nations. They are steadfast in their conviction that the Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob personally commandeered the return of His dispersed people to their ancestral homeland in fulfillment of select biblical prophecies. Evangelicals throughout North America proudly profess their love for the so-called “Holy Land” and its people.

A Triple Irony

Ironically, Evangelical “support” for Israel is not as pure as it appears. As far as they are concerned, the “return” of Jews to Palestine is a necessary chapter in their prophetic book. As a number of Evangelical influenced apocalyptic movies have recently demonstrated, the next chapter in the scenario features the catastrophic Battle of Armageddon that will take place in that very region and end in the deaths of many of the very Jews they now claim to love! In no uncertain terms, their support of Israel is based on theological selfishness. Unless the Jews maintain political control of Israel, they reason, Jesus cannot execute the secret rapture that leads to the Millennium.

The bigger irony lies in the fact that the Evangelical scenario is eerily similar to the same Islamic Salafi apocalyptic interpretation that has inspired ISIS and Al Qaeda. They too expect a final battle in the region when the Mahdi (the “rightly guided” Caliph) is confronted by the Dajaal (false Christ) and the forces of Gog and Magog. The disastrous war can only end when Jesus the Christ, the Son of Mary intervenes and defeats the forces of evil.

The irony behind the Evangelical and Jihadi extremist support is trumped by the irony behind Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s speech at the Embassy opening. The entire world watched as the jubilant Zionist leader lauded praise on President Donald Trump for his defiant violation of international law. Bolstered by words from the prophet Zechariah, Netanyahu interpreted Trump’s rogue decision as an undeniable fulfillment of prophecy.

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Even as he delivered his speech with the intonations of a Baptist preacher, Netanyahu was undoubtedly aware that the Christian ministers who accompanied him on the dais embraced a completely different interpretation of the events that day. He was well aware that both John Hagee and Robert Jeffress viewed this as the beginning of the end for the Jewish state. However, his eschatology tells a different story. His vision of the future sees the appearance of a Messiah who would establish the global supremacy of Israel. In his mind, this is a sophisticated game of chess, and Trump was the essential piece on the board that had placed the Evangelicals in check mate and had consequentially immobilized the Salafi jihadists.

Not A Game

The opening of the Embassy in Jerusalem may seem like an apocalyptic chess game to those Christians, Jews and Muslims who view themselves as the exclusive beneficiaries of Divine favor. However, real people are being seriously harmed by these theologically based political decisions. Even as Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump posed for photos and sipped champagne with their ideological counterparts, the Israeli Defense Force was engaging in yet another massacre of oppressed Palestinians.

True believers in the God of peace will not see this as an opportunity to celebrate the fulfillment of a chapter in their prophetic timeline. Even if they are correct, what is there to celebrate when this audacious act will only lead to the shedding of more innocent blood and the fomenting of more unrest in the region? If anything, this event highlights the need for a renewed understanding of prophecy. Not prophecy in the sense of foretelling the future, but the type of prophecy where men and women of God confront societal injustice.

As the recently deceased Dr. James Cone recognized, Divine justice always sides with the oppressed. Those who claim submission to God’s will have no choice but to be God’s channels of love to those who need it most. As you ponder these words, never forget that a tree is known by its fruit.

 

 

 




Mysterious and Marvelous Plan For Your Future

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, May 29, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.29.2017” on Spreaker.

“This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world” (1 Peter 1:10–13, NLT).

Secrets of Salvation

Can you imagine having a message for people you may never meet, in a time you may never live to see, and so important that even the angels are amazed, and you don’t fully understand? Well, this was the case with the story of salvation given to Old Testament prophets for you and all the generations living from the birth of Christ until His Second Coming. It was a secret too wonderful for them to keep to themselves.

There is immeasurable power in God’s plan of salvation (seems we’ve been talking a lot about this lately). He used frail human beings who also needed this message to deliver it with little understanding of its grand import. It was like a mail carrier delivering a small package marked, “handle with care,” not realizing that in it was a check to cover the costs of life saving surgeries for three children whose families could not afford it and insurance would not cover it. All the mail carrier knew was to be diligent and deliver on time. The outcome could not possibly have been known, except by the sender.

Jesus Saves

Over the centuries, our loving God has been kind enough to pull back the layers of His love and how Jesus’ perfect life and ministry could be effectual to save the most hardened criminals, proud religionists, or others addicted to an array of sinful habits. Heavenly angels who never sinned are amazed at the love and power of God. For even their perfect lives are not valuable enough to cover sins against the law, the transcript of God’s character. And they have the privilege of participating in the work of encouraging, protecting, and ministering to God’s people until He comes.

Now it is up to you to experience the blessing of God’s plans for you, share the message of hope to as many as possible and look forward, with faith, to the day our God will be revealed to us. One day soon God will end all sin and suffering. He will end all hunger, poverty, and disease. He will soon keep His promise and return to take His children to a place wherein dwells only righteousness and peace. I hope you look forward to that day. It’ll be here before you know it




Epic Answer To Prayer

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, March 10, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 03.10.2017” on Spreaker.

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 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, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:25–27).

When you are in distress, to whom do you turn? When you are confused, dejected, and dismayed, how do you find relief? Let me tell you how the prophet Daniel found strength through his struggle. I promise, you will never forget the story once you see it from this perspective.

Setting The Prophetic Scene

When you have an opportunity, read Daniel 9 and Jeremiah 25 in their entirety. Get the scene. God’s faithful servant is studying the scrolls of Scripture concerning the prophecies of Jeremiah. He is in distress because God’s people have been in Babylonian captivity for scores of years due to their habitual rejection of God’s counsel. He knew God promised that He would judge Babylon for their overreaching, rough treatment of His wayward people (go figure), but the fulfillment seemed to be afar off. In distress, Daniel poured out his heart in prayer and supplication.

What do you do when you are distressed? We don’t know how long Daniel labored in the Spirit with God over the plight of his brethren, but we can reasonably time His one prayer quoted in Scripture at right around four minutes. He appealed to the good name and character of God. He poured out his heart in confession for himself and for the people. He was despondent, yet had hope in the One to whom he prayed.

Amazingly, the Bible says that at the close of his prayers and appeals for mercy, the angel, Gabriel appeared to dear brother Daniel. He appeared to give Daniel insight into what he desired and much more.

Prompt Answer To Prayer

Gabriel said he was dispatched by YHWH at the beginning of Daniel’s prayer. How long did I say the prayer took? It was right around four minutes. Let’s say for the sake of argument that he prayed for four hours or even four days, though he did not. Gabriel said, “At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision” (Daniel 9:23).

What? YHWH sent Gabriel to tell Daniel he was greatly beloved! What a blessing from God. Do you realize you, too, are greatly beloved by God?

Personal Messaging

Gabriel left the heavenly courts, which are easily beyond Orion. Space.com reports that Orion’s stars range from 243 to more than 1,300 light years from earth. Stay with me here. Just one light year in distance is 5.85 trillion miles. Now multiply that by more than 1,300. The distance is truly astronomical (pun very much intended). If heaven is beyond Orion, Gabriel traveled more than 7,605 trillion miles in just minutes to answer a poor prophet’s prayer. And he came, principally, to tell him three things.

Wouldn’t you like to know what he said, having come all that way at impossible speeds?

First, he told him he was dearly beloved. Then, he took his time and gave him a perfect prophecy lesson. Then, he showed him a crystal clear portrait of Messiah at His best.

Gabriel traveled more than 7,605 trillion miles in record speed to tell that agonizing prophet that Jesus saves! Where did I get that? It says so right in our theme text.

Christ, The Central Message

If you are teaching or hearing the prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9 without this central message, you have not truly experienced the prophecies leading up to our days. Gabriel said Messiah would be crucified at a certain point during the 70-weeks prophecy for the benefit of the people, and would end all ceremonies and sacrifices that had formerly pointed to our Savior, once and for all.

When anyone is in distress, YHWH our God will compass impossible distances and overcome impossible odds to tell you that you are accepted in His beloved son, Jesus Christ. The message of salvation through Christ alone is central to all Bible doctrine. Moreover, it is the great equalizer when we have sunken to our lowest in life.

So when you find yourself in that state of mind, please tarry in prayer and look out for the message of God’s love through Christ Jesus to manifest in your experience.

I will say it for you: “Amen!”




Come, Lord Jesus

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, January 22, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 01.22.2017” on Spreaker.

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

In a whirlwind of prophecies, warnings, and sprinklings of encouragement, at the behest of Jesus Christ, the angel showed John things that would shortly come to fruition. Frankly, once the angel was done and John saw all he was permitted to see there was only one viable position the aged prophet could take: “Lord Jesus, come!”

That’s how many of us feel right now. The last several years have been rife with foreign and domestic wars, deteriorating human relations, injustice, government infighting, and religious deception on a level this planet has never known. I suppose one could argue that the Dark Ages or the times of Lot and Noah were similar. However, those times, while similar did not have the full sunshine of truth we now have. Yes, the Lord made Himself known in those times, but we now have the fullness of revelation and the Spirit is further awakening willing people’s understanding. This is what makes these days more ominous. The masses are moving farther and farther from God with the greatest availability of His principles ever. The devil is redoubling his efforts to place the virtual reality goggles of deception over the eyes of millions.

Let all who want God’s kingdom to come, and His will to be done, please submit to God, learn the prophecies, warn people of the judgments that will soon break forth on the earth so that they can be spared. Our God is not willing that any should perish. He wants all to come into a saving relationship with Him. Will you covenant to do your part to that end? Jesus is coming sooner than we believe. Are you planning to be ready?




Picture Perfect Proof

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, September 18, 2015

Today’s Scripture:

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” (Revelation 6:12–13).

Today’s Observation:

From the beginning of the Revelation until now, the Lord has given us a small peek into His mind on last days events. Through discernable symbols, He has manifested startling realities related to the lives of His people and that of those who do not love Him. He gives the Revelation in language we can understand, and in a logical order, if we are willing to submit to His Spirit and see what He is communicating.

As we have said multiple times before, these seals are representative of mysteries concerning our lives on earth, as they unfold in successive eras in time. Thus, the events revealed under the sixth seal must naturally occur following those of the fifth. This is a critical reality for us if we intend to understand what we are reading.

This seal is intriguing to me (I know I have said this before)! Not only does it point to very specific events in verifiable history, but they also occurred in the same era, minimizing the risk of misinterpretation, and following the events of the preceding seals. This is key. To discern this Revelation, we must observe these two important details.

What did John see? He saw an earthquake, the sun being darkened, the moon appearing red as blood, and stars falling. On their own merits, these would not seem too amazing, considering a couple of them are fairly frequent occurrences. But, what if these all occurred on an epic scale? What if they were at a level that we had not seen before? What if they all occurred in the same era?

Do note that following the era of major prophetic events under the sixth seal, our Lord will come. We are so blessed that He is merciful enough to hold the doors of probation open for as many people as possible to enter into a relationship with Him.

Since this is a basic devotional thought, and not a full Bible study, I invite you to read the website www.finalevents.com for deeper insights into these and other events. For now, do an objective online search for the following events and dates.

See what you can dig up:

Notice that these events even occurred sequentially just like the Bible describes! We will talk about this more in tomorrow’s devotional thought, but more impressive than those events, is what John saw next. I don’t want to steal his shine for tomorrow’s devotional, so I will borrow a verse from the Old Testament for now. The Bible says: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, Before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, As the LORD hath said, And in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” (Joel 2:31–32).

The Bible teaches that the next big event following these is the Second Coming. There are many smaller events that draw our attention to His appearing, which we will discuss in our devotional thoughts in the future. Do note that following the era of major prophetic events under the sixth seal, our Lord will come. We are so blessed that He is merciful enough to hold the doors of probation open for as many people as possible to enter into a relationship with Him.

Conclusion

The same God who predicted the succession of multiple world empires in Nebuchadnezzar’s day, also said that He would never leave or forsake His people.

The Lord went to great trouble to show us things that would happen in the last days. Unfortunately, many people get stuck on the events and miss the purpose of God’s Revelation. We will not do that here. All the mysteries, events, and counsel, etc., in the Revelation are there to demonstrate God’s love for us and to prepare us for eternal life. That’s brass tacks. If He can show Himself reliable and give adequate warning of impending crises, we can trust His promise that He is actually preparing a place for us to live with Him forever.

Many times people have tried to dethrone the Scriptures through doubtful arguments. Besides the personal experiences that we can have though close encounters with God there, prophecy is the biggest body of evidence supporting its validity. As we will see as we unpack the Revelation further, since God’s predictive words on events we can clearly see in documented history were so strikingly accurate, we can trust that the entire Bible is also true. The same God who predicted the succession of multiple world empires in Nebuchadnezzar’s day, also said that He would never leave or forsake His people. The same God who said that there would be a time of religious persecution that would last exactly 1,260 years (more on this another time) also said that if we confess and forsake our sins, He would forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You can trust God! Trust Him with your fears. Trust God with your joy. Trust God with your deepest, darkest secrets. Trust Him with your very life. He’s worthy. He has earned it.

A Prayer for Your Hearts:

Lord, please help us to trust you today. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.