Part of the end time prophecy in the Bible pertains to the fact that Christians will be persecuted for their beliefs.
But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
When we approach the end of this time, Christians will experience a persecution that includes children rising up against their parents, they will be beaten, and could ultimately die martyrs for their faith.
But I think it is also important to understand that persecution comes in many forms and we are already experiencing a gradual transition. Christians are asked to take their beliefs out of the public system and keep it locked up in a corner of society not to be seen again. They are ridiculed and called discriminators. The pressure is great to give it all up and in fact, many do.
If you look out over society, children are rising up against their parents. They are going their own route in today’s world and are looking back calling their parents out of touch with reality.
Simply put, persecution at this stage (at least in free countries) comes in the form of intense peer pressure. The devil controls the most used media outlets to a large degree and he takes more and more. You need to look no further than some of the shows on television and look at the stances of our government leaders on things as simple as religious freedom. For example, having a belief based on actual scripture is no longer permitted in public. Certainly not stating it publicly.
It is necessary to be on guard and be prepared. One thing we do know is that some will fall under the pressure but it is important to endure to the end.
….choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
I recently wrote an article that quoted scripture about things going on in today’s society. I got the exact message from some people that I mentioned above. That was to pipe down and keep that scripture to myself. How will you respond when you are asked to do the same thing?
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod. Wise men who saw the star in the east and came to Bethlehem asking where the “King of the Jews” was at because they came to worship Him. King Herod heard about this and was ‘troubled’ or disturbed by this news.
So Herod gathered all his priests and scribes together to determine where Jesus was to be born. His priests and scribes informed him that it was prophesied by the prophet that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. Basically they were referring to scripture in what is now the Old Testament in which it was prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
So Herod then secretly called in the wise men who saw the star in the East and asked where exactly the star appeared. When they told him, he sent the wise men to Bethlehem to find Jesus so that he ‘may be able to worship him’. They then followed the same star until the finally reached the baby Jesus. They began to worship him and then presented him with gifts.
They dreamed that they should not go back to Herod so when the wise men left, they went a different route home. Then Joseph (Jesus’ paternal father) received a dream from God as well that instructed him to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt to escape Herod who would attempt to kill Jesus. With that, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus left in the night and went to Egypt.
They remained in Egypt until Herod died which again was prophesied in earlier scriptures.
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
Prior to the death of Herod, he realized that he had been tricked by the wise men and had all the children of Bethlehem killed that were under the age of 2. This too was prophesied in earlier scriptures.
Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
After Herod’s death, Joseph received another dream from God in which God commanded Joseph that it was now safe to go back to Israel. But Joseph was afraid because Archelaus, Herod’s father, was reigning in place of Herod so instead, he went to region of Galilee and lived in the city call Nazareth. This again fulfilled a prophecy.
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots
Now this prophecy is not as obviously clear as the others. So it requires a bit more digging and something called “word study”. The Bible states that “he shall be called a Nazarene”. The Amplified version of the Bible offers up translations for Nazarene.
Branch, Separated one
Jesse refers to the father of King David. As mentioned in the first summary of Matthew, Chapter 1, Jesus is a descendant of King David.
Recently, Barack Obama became the first US President in history to outright support gay marriage. The interesting thing is that President Obama has really always supported it but he had not declared it outright until recently. In fact, he continually used the phrase that his belief on the matter was “evolving”. This eventually became somewhat of a joke as time went on in the press rooms of Washington.
After a slip up from his administration, he eventually stepped out and offered direct support.
I want to first point out that this article is not looking to be political although voting should be done based on our Biblical principals. This is not a right or left slam. This is a sin slam.
When we go to the polls in November, this should be an issue at the top of the list for the Body of Christ. One might say that both candidates support sin in one way or another. There will be those that will classify this sin on the same playing field as, say, drugs.
But the Bible declares various sins an abomination and homosexuality is one of them.
Leviticus 18:22 - Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
So what exactly is an abomination? Dictionary.com declares that abomination means:
a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, etc.
So whether you are a Republican or Democrat, make no mistake about it. It is your American duty to vote and your Christian duty to do so in the ways of God. We each need to make our beliefs known and it needs to be the number one issue in November. Christ is the number one issue in our lives and He will be with us in the voting booth.
keyswords: homosexuality, Christianity, President, United States, marriage, sin, vote
There is a song out by MercyMe that is very popular called “I Can Only Imagine”. The words in the song discuss what it will be like when we are before the Lord. Would we stand in His presence, or kneel. Would we dance for Jesus, or in awe, would we be still.
What an awesome thing to think about. What we will do, we truly can only imagine. But there is coming a day!
In 2 Samuel 6:14, it says that David danced before the Lord.
And David danced before the LORD with all his might
You may wonder why David would dance before the Lord. For David, this was a form of worship. It was one that honored God. The Bible says he did it “with all of his might” so it was not just a simple worship to God. It was one that he put his entire effort into. While the Bible doesn’t say it, I imagine David sweating and having chills go up and down his spine as he honored God and showed Him how much he loved Him.
At churches across the nation, many people choose to worship by dancing before the Lord. There is something about it that opens us up to the Spirit of God. Just writing this, I can feel the presence of God. What if we danced before the Lord and He filled us with the Holy Ghost? What if we were so overcome by His presence, we could not contain it. It would simply be amazing.
While walking, I thought, wouldn’t it be incredible if people all around the world took 5 minutes out of their day at the same time, went to a private area, and danced before the Lord in worship. There is power in prayer of just one, so can you imagine a world full of prayer warriors?
One thing we should remember is that it is not a show. Worship is between you and God. My recommendation is to do it in private unless you are worshiping with other like minded worshipers (such as church). To emphasize that worship is not intended to be a show for others, you have to turn no further than Matthew 6:16.
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
From this, we learn that these men fasted with the intention to show others they were fasting. But fasting is done for the Lord, not others.
So I encourage you to take 5 minutes out of your day and worship God. Tell your friends to take a moment as well. Maybe we can gather enough steam and all of us simultaneously dance before the Lord on March 1, 2011 at 9pm CST. This is late enough that most will be out of work and most of our daily activities will be over. Feel free to have a church gathering for worship or do it in your closet at home. But remember who we are doing it for. The Lord our God.
Summary of the Book of Matthew, Chapter 3
Matthew moves ahead in time and mentions John the Baptist. John the Baptist is preaching in the wilderness saying
Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand
He tells the people that the prophecy of Isaiah is coming to fruition and that they need to “prepare ye the way of the Lord”.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
John the Baptist’s clothes were made out of camel’s hair and he wore a leather girdle. The food that he ate was locusts and honey. All of this was prophesied in the Old Testament as well (Lev. 11:22; II Kings 1:8; Zech. 13:4). People came from all over to be baptized by John and to confess of their sins. Even Pharisees and Sadducees came to John. But John called them a generation of vipers and told them to bring forth fruits for repentance.
He also told them to not say they too are sons of Abraham because the fact is God can raise up ancestors of Abraham from stones. John then uses an illustration by stating that an axe is ready to go at the root of the tree and if the tree does not produce fruit, it will be cut down and thrown into the fire. This is in reference to the fact that everyone faces a choice. We can either be fruitful and follow the ways of the Lord or we will face the fire.
John then tells the people that he will baptize the people with water but “he that cometh after me is mightier than I….and he shall baptize you with Holy Ghost, and with fire.” John then uses another analogy to explain the choice we face. He tells how God will use a fork to clean wheat off the floors and store the wheat in his barn but the chaff (which is the dry casing of wheat and unusable) He will burn in the fire which cannot be put out. Again, he is referring to a Heaven or Hell choice. The person John speaks of is Jesus.
Jesus then shows up to be baptized but John says to him that it is John who needs to be baptized by Jesus and then he asks why He came to him. Jesus responds saying that this was the way to fulfill all righteousness and so John baptized Jesus. Immediately after being baptized, Jesus arose out of the water and the Bible tells us that
the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him and a voice from heaven saying this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
After some thought, I have decided to make some changes to Truth Lighthouse. While I will occasionally post articles about various things that affects Christianity, I am going to focus on writing articles about each chapter of the Bible. This is to help others learn more about the Bible but this is also to help me in my study of the Bible. It will be an opportunity to read the Bible in it’s entirety and also study it for the purposes of writing about it. I hope you like the new approach. Feel free to email me with questions.
The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 1
The first chapter of the Book of Matthew starts out going over the lineage from Abraham to Jesus Christ. Matthew takes the time to go over every generation by naming each one. All told there was 42 generations.
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
In verse 18, we learn that after it was agreed that Joseph and Mary were going to get married but prior to the marriage, Mary becomes pregnant through the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. Joseph, who is unaware who the father is, does what the Bible calls ‘just’. He decides to secretly divorce her versus making it a public spectacle. But while he was thinking about this, an angel appeared to him in a dream. The angel told him to ‘fear not’ and to take Mary as his wife because the child she conceived was of the Holy Ghost and this child shall be named Jesus and shall save His people from their sins.
This was going to be fulfillment of a prophecy which said
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
After Joseph’s dream, he did as the angel instructed and took Mary as his wife. Additionally “he knew her not” until she had the baby which they named him Jesus.
When I was in high school, I had a passion for tennis. I was a part of the high school varsity tennis team and I truly loved to play tennis.
During my junior year, my doubles partner and I were ranked third and fourth on the team. When we practiced, we played against the top doubles team in our school who obviously were the top two ranked individuals there.
It was during this time that I noticed my level of play changed when I played them. Whenever we would practice against them, I played much better. I increased both in power and accuracy in order to maintain a game with them.
Conversely, whenever I played against a lower ranked opponent, I tended to play at my ‘normal’ level or in some cases, my tennis game actually diminished.
Simply put, I played according to my opponents, not according to my ability. That got me to thinking. This is very similar to the things we go through in life. There is a saying that states “you are what you eat”. I know that is referring more to the culinary side of things but another way to state it is “you tend to be like that which you consume”. This is true in life, not just food.
If you want to be good, you should be around those that are better.
Think about it. When a teenager starts to steal during their early life, it is not usually because an idea just popped in their head. It is because they were around someone who did at some point. This person they were around not only stole but they also had an impact on that teenager. This comes in the form of friends, music, television, the Internet, you name it. Whatever it was had an impact on that individual’s life enough that they felt it was appropriate to break the law. They consumed an idea from someone else and the idea became a part of their own life.
When you look at an individual that is currently on the wrong path, it is important to understand that they just didn’t decide to do that one day. It was a process that started with them being around something that was influencing them. It was likely a slow steady process that built up over time. And when you consider the devil is the great seducer, it’s not hard to see how someone fell into the lifestyle they are in.
But the great thing is it can be reversed! Just like them being surrounded by bad and being influenced by it, they can also be surrounded by good and be influenced by it too. The Bible tells us we need to be a light to others (Matthew 5:16). We need to be separated enough from the world that those in need can see what it is like to walk according to God’s way.
Moreover, we need to realize what temptation can do to us that are trying to walk according to God’s will. We have the ability to let satan inch into our lives in such a subtle way, it doesn’t seem like that much of a problem until we are waist deep in his lies.
One of my favorite tweet quotes is from @raymondwoodward and he states
“Temptation STARTS wherever you choose to put on the BRAKES, so you need to STOP far enough back from SIN that temptation is still RESISTIBLE”.
That is such a powerful statement and it is so true.
We need to surround ourselves by that which is right so that we may avoid the devils temptations. This includes anything and everything that the devil uses to tempt you. Matthew 18:9 states
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
So let’s surround ourselves with that which is good and help those that are surrounded with that which is evil. Be a beacon for them and be there for them so that they may have the right influence in their lives.
May God be with each of us as we continue on this soul winning mission that God has given us.
Does God want us to be rich? Some ministers think so. So do some Christians. In fact, a very similar topic arose when Jesus was with His disciples. A young man approached Jesus and asked him how can he have eternal life.
Teacher, what excellent and perfectly and essentially good deed must I do to possess eternal life? (Matthew 19:16 AMP)
Jesus responded by asking why the young man asked about perfectly and essentially good since there is only One who is perfectly and essentially good and that is God. Jesus followed it up by saying that in order to have eternal life, the young man must follow the commandments. The young man responded that he had followed all those since he was a young man and so he asked Jesus, “what do I lack?”
If you would be perfect [that is, have that spiritual maturity which accompanies self-sacrificing character], go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; and come, be My disciple [side with My party and follow Me]. (Matthew 19:21 AMP)
Basically Jesus asked him to lay down his riches. Unfortunately the man was not ready to do that and walked away very sad. Jesus then turned to his disciples and had this to say about rich people getting into heaven:
Truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23-24 AMP)
It is important to note that Jesus did not say it was impossible for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. He said it was difficult. In fact, it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into Heaven. How is it possible for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle? Only through the power of God.
In other words, seeking riches is simply the wrong way to go. God, and only God, should have control over that. If you seek riches, you are seeking something other than God. We should be seeking a relationship with God and using what God has given us to further His kingdom. Let God handle the finances.
To say that God wants us to be rich misses His message in my opinion. We don’t need to be rich to serve God. If we become wealthy, the reason it becomes so difficult to make it into heaven is because the money can become between you and God. You grow more independent of God. You look to money as an idol that you worship but in a subtle and seducing way. The devil makes you think that you need it to survive. You only need God to survive. He supplies all our needs.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 KJV)
I would like to share with you a brief testimony. About 4-5 years ago, I longed to be rich. I was very much in the mode of moving up the capitalist chain and had ambitions to be a millionaire, billionaire, and more. Most things I did in life were geared towards that. It was very much a driving factor in my life. Then in a very short period of time, my life changed. God began to speak to me and through various trials in my life, I began to realize that I did not need to be rich and in fact became very nervous about becoming so because I feared it would disrupt my relationship with God.
Amazingly, in two short years, my income more than doubled as I began to take on that new view of life. I am so thankful and feel so blessed yet I pray that God take away what He has given me should it ever come between us. The reality is I don’t want to be that young man that turned away from God in order to keep his riches. It is better to die a pauper and go to Heaven than to die the richest man in the world and go to Hell.
I simply cannot believe that people should be told that God wants them to be rich. I have learned that God decides these things and He has determined that not everyone can handle it and certainly not everyone needs it. He may decide that a handful of people need it to further His kingdom but it will not be more than necessary. It will be just enough because He is still supplying all our needs. Not the greenback.
If you are seeking those things, remember the following verse.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5 KJV)
If you are not content with what you have, then you do not have Jesus.
What if Christian believers of opposing doctrines could not debate doctrinal issues using anything but scripture? Naturally they could use filler words such as “But the Bible also says…” but outside of that, they could only use scripture. One thing is for sure, at least you know that both sides would only be discussing truth.
But I really think the true benefit would be that people would actually learn truth. People would find it difficult to continue to believe false doctrine. Granted there would be those that would continue to believe false doctrine but I truly believe that many would began to realize that some things were not as they originally seemed.
But I suppose the real problem would not lie in the difference of doctrines but in the fact that the debate might not last that long given that most probably would know about 2 verses to back up their doctrine.
Nonetheless, I think that this poses a unique challenge. We should all study the Bible with intensity in order to understand what truth truly is. So when someone asks us what we believe, we can not only tell them, but show them.