What is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God?

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What is the gospel of the Kingdom of God?

by Kelly McDonald, JR.

When our Savior, Jesus Christ, came to earth, He said, “The time has come…The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) Jesus talked about the Kingdom. That was the central focus of His ministry. His sermons and teachings give us details about that Kingdom. What does the gospel of the Kingdom of God mean, and how do we experience that Kingdom today?

Before we can really understand this good news, we must understand the historical background behind Jesus’ words. The Roman Empire ruled the Promised Land (and most of the Mediterranean world) in Jesus’ lifetime (approximately 3 BC to 31 AD). The ministry of Christ began around 27 or 28 AD.

Just before His ministry began, the Romans had a time of peace and prosperity under the Emperor Augustus, who ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD. There was plenty of food in the empire. They had peace from all of their enemies. This led many people to call Augustus “Savior”. People began to proclaim the “good news” of the Roman Empire. The Greek term they used for good news was euangelion. There were songs written about Augustus, and his fame spread far and wide. Jesus preached the good news of the Kingdom of God. He used the same Greek word, euangelion, to describe God’s Kingdom. The term gospel is a word which simply means “good news.”

The gospel was not just a message with spiritual meaning; it also carried political ramifications. It stirred up the Romans because this gospel was about a different kingdom. This is why so many Roman Emperors over centuries have tried to destroy Christianity. They saw the gospel message about the Kingdom of God and its supreme ruler in opposition to their own kingdom. This was a true assumption on their part! The gospel message is in opposition to the idea that human governments can be supreme.

Today, the world thinks that it can solve all of its problems by human intervention. We think that by human government and effort, we can make the world a better place. We are trusting in man. Our political leaders are trusting that other nations will solve their problems peaceably and not resort to war. The Romans wanted to spread the message that the Roman Empire would take care of all their needs, provide military protection, and give them hope for their future. When the gospel of the Kingdom of God was being proclaimed, it was a challenge to Roman dominance in the lives of people. Instead of looking to people and human effort to provide for our needs, we are to look to the Almighty God. Instead of relying on human government, we are to rely on the Government of God.

Jesus was trying to focus people’s thoughts away from the earthly toward the spiritual, Heavenly realm. As Paul wrote, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2, NKJV). By accepting Jesus Christ through repentance of our sins, we enter into a Kingdom where our needs are provided for. Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-33, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When we seek the Kingdom of God, our needs will be provided for. We also learn from Jesus’ words a proof of God’s existence: God exists because He knows our needs and will meet them. People in other religions (which Jesus called pagans), have to run after and search for food and clothing. They are worried about their daily needs. Why is this? They do not serve the one true God that created all things. They are trying to achieve these things by human effort alone to meet their needs. We should always do our part (faith without works is dead –James chapter 2), but those that belong to God’s government receive supernatural intervention for their needs!

Human governments obtain legitimacy by offering to provide for basic human needs. Instead of forcing you to run after basic needs, they want to be your provider! Think for a moment about the things that human governments promise us. 1) food or money (food stamps and welfare); 2) healthcare for those times when you are sick; 3) protection from foreign enemies; 4) freedoms defined by law. God’s Kingdom provides all of these things as well. Jesus made the promise in Matthew 6:25-33 that our physical needs would be met. There is a built-in healthcare system in His Kingdom where we can pray for the sick and they are healed (Matthew 4:23). He promises to protect us from our enemy, Satan the devil (Luke 10:19, John 17:15). He also has a righteous body of laws that guide our daily lives (James 1:26-27, Isaiah 2:1-5).

Human governments want to take your children and teach them right from wrong. They want to train us to think a certain way so we can be subject to the state. The Lord promises to teach us all things through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). Part of Jesus’ gospel message is that we no longer have to put our trust in human governments when it comes to our needs. Our focus is re-directed to the Heavenly Father. Being citizens of the Kingdom of God means that we are a part of a different world entirely that defies the natural realm; it defies the normal way of doing things. Our provision, our behavior, and our lifestyle will be opposed to the world as it is today. God is preparing us for the world tomorrow!

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New Booklet – Prayer and Fasting

New Booklet now available!

Prayer and Fasting.

Jesus said, “When we pray…” and “When we fast…” (Matthew 6:5, 16-18). There is an expectation from God that we will pray and fast. It is a powerful spiritual discipline that has delivered entire nations from the brink of destruction and prepared people for powerful encounters with God. In this booklet, you will learn the practical application of fasting  and the powerful spiritual benefits that come from it.

To download this free booklet, click the picture below!

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Three New Booklets for Free Download!

Exciting Announcement!

We now have three new booklets to download for free!

  • Understanding Bible Prophecy – Ever wanted to understand the meaning of the beasts, horns, and other symbols in Daniel and Revelation? This booklet will give you a foundational understanding for Bible Prophecy.
  • The Nations of Prophecy – In prophecy, God deals with nations. In this booklet, you will learn the major nations listed in the Bible, some of their history, and their prophetic place in end-time events.
  • The Order of End-Time Events – In this booklet, you will learn the general flow of events to end-time prophecies.

Click on any of the pictures below to download these booklets for free! These can also be found on our “Free Booklets” page. 

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Five Traits for the Younger Generation

 

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Five Traits for the Younger Generation

Throughout history, there has been the back and forth dialogue between the younger generation, full of zeal, and the older generation, full of experience and wisdom. The youth tend to be excited and desirous for action. The older tend more circumspect and cautious because of life experience. At times in history, the differing perspectives of old and young have caused strife with each other.

For a Biblical example, consider Rehoboam. Rehoboam was a younger king who needed wise counsel. He sought the counsel of the older generation first and then that of his companions. Unfortunately, he choose the counsel of his companions, which led to ruin.

On the other hand, we consider the example of Timothy. Timothy was a young man, yet a leader among older people. Paul instructed him on how to work with others: “1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (I Timothy 5:1-2). Timothy responded to Paul’s instruction. Paul and Timothy worked together as a spiritual father/son in the Kingdom of God.

I have worked with older people much of my life. When I was in high school, they called me a “young man with an old soul” because I tended to identify with older people. This is even more true now that I am in the insurance industry. There are qualities in the older generation I have come to admire and specifically target in my own life for improvement.

The younger and older Generations don’t have to be at odds with one another. In this segment, I point out five things that younger people must do to gain the confidence of the older generation. It requires that younger people recognize the values and experience of older people.

I believe this is a huge key in seeing the younger and older generation work together for the Kingdom of God. These five traits are valuable in all aspects of life, even outside of the gospel work.

  • Keep Your Word – The older generation grew up in a time when a specific saying was prominent: “Let your word be your bond.” This means what you say is what you mean and you intend to do it. They lived in a time when a hand shake or verbal agreement was trustworthy; they remember the time when we didn’t need large written contracts and armies of lawyers. Don’t tell someone that you are going to do something and then not follow through with it. If you are not sure you can do something, then don’t volunteer for it.
  • Be Committed – If you decide to help, don’t give up after a few tries. If you accept an assignment from a church leader or anyone else, stick to it. Don’t commit to something and then become distracted. When you are young, you want to explore the world and live life to the fullest. You don’t fully know what you want to do in life. On top of this, your peers are pulling you in different directions. To this end, it can be easy to become distracted. Don’t accept a commitment unless you fully intend to follow it through until completion. Learn to schedule things so you stay on top of your commitments. Very much tied to commitment is loyalty. In our fast-paced world, it can be easy to be “flighty” in our commitments. In other words, you might be working for one ministry and see what you perceive as a “better opportunity” with another ministry. This can cause you to forsake previous responsibilities with your present ministry. Don’t church hop looking for better opportunities to advance self. Find somewhere you can labor and be loyal; stay committed.
  • Be on Time – Timeliness is very important. Everyone understands a few minutes late, but when you are consistently 15 or 30 minutes late, or not showing up at all, you have no credibility with the older generation. Plan your life to be there at the proper time.
  • Listen – When we are young, we all think we have it figured out. This happens to nearly everyone. Realize that older people have been young before. They were not born older. Human nature doesn’t change, despite the time period we live in. Learn to listen to what the older have to say, as they have made mistakes in life they are trying to save you from. At the same time, they are trying to guide you in areas they already have received victory. Some lessons are borrowed, others are paid for. Borrow as many as possible. “There’s nothing new under the sun”; you don’t’ have to reinvent the wheel. Take correction and follow through.
  • Prioritize Your Life – “Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich” (Prov. 21.17). Don’t spend your life in vain pursuits. Younger people like to be active in recreational activities, like sports, but don’t let that be the sole purpose of your life. Take a serious interest in your relationship with God, your financial future, and the above mentioned attributes. Recreation comes after the important items have been addressed.

I think it is imperative that the older generation encourage younger people in these areas and affirm them when they see progress. Use both correction and affection in appropriate measures and at the appropriate time.

While the young want to act, they need the direction of someone older. The younger must listen. At the same time, the older cannot act in a way where caution leads to inaction. Don’t be so afraid of releasing the youth to action that they become disinterested. Find ways to channel it.

I want to affirm that this blog is not a polemic against the younger generation; I am not bashing or coming down due to a specific event. No external event has triggered this blog. It came by revelation. I am simply pointing out characteristics the older generation values to help younger people and older people connect in a more meaningful way.

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What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

 

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What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

“1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.” (Hebrews 6:1-3)

The doctrine of baptisms (plural) is a foundation of the Christian faith. It is listed beside repentance, faith, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. It is not something we are supposed to neglect. Why is Baptism plural in these verses?

John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). This is reiterated in Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33. John the Baptist, who was a prophet of God, promised that there was going to come a baptism in the Spirit. Jesus would bring us this baptism.

Interestingly enough, Jesus never baptized anyone in water.

“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)” (John 4:1-2). John the Baptist and Jesus’ disciples baptized with water. Jesus never baptized in water because that was not the baptism he came to administer. He came to administer a baptism that could not come through human effort alone. It could only come through the Spirit of God.

In John 20:19-23, Jesus blew on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit. About 50 days later, they received even MORE of that same Spirit! In Acts 2:1-4, the Bible reads, “1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The disciples in Acts 2 were filled with the Spirit. As a result of this, they spoke in tongues. This is the outward evidence that the Holy Spirit of God was flowing out of them like a river of water.

When this was poured out, the Apostle Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39).

Jesus said that this was a promise of the Father. He promised it, and it was poured out upon the disciples. This Baptism of the Holy Spirit is also referred to as a gift from our Heavenly Father. Our gracious Father has gifts for His children.

In Acts 18:24-26, a man named Apollos was ministering to a group of people. In Acts 18:25, it is written, “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the Baptism of John.” In verse 26, the Bible records that Priscilla and Aquila invited this man of God to their home to explain to him the way of God more adequately. Apollos only knew the Baptism of John. He needed to learn about this Baptism. This means there is another Baptism we need. We need the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 19:1-11, we learn about a group of people who were baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is a precious promise of the Father.

The baptisms of water and the Holy Spirit are supposed to be fundamental teachings that all believers are familiar with. When we repent of our sins, we receive the Holy Spirit. However, there is more available for us. One of the reasons why Jesus came was to Baptize us with the Holy Spirit.

We have a free booklet called “Be Filled With the Spirit.” It goes more in depth about this subject. To read more about this baptism, click this link HERE

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Practical Ways to Celebrate Hanukkah

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Hanukkah

 

Of course, it is always a great idea for ministries to host special conferences or services to remember this tremendous time of the year. After all, Jesus celebrated it!

A common celebration in the home is the lighting of a hanukkiah. A hanukkiah is a nine-branch menorah. The menorah in the temple was a seven branch. The Jewish people use this special nine branch to remember the oil that lasted eight days. The middle branch in the nine-branch menorah is called the Shamash branch. It is the servant branch. This candle is used to light all the other candles during the eight days of Hanukkah.

During Hanukkah, some families get together and light the menorah each night. The first night, they light the Shamash branch and then 1 branch. The second night, they light the Shamash branch and 2 branches, and so forth. On the last night they light the Shamash and all 8 of the other branches. While the hanukkiah is lit, some families pray special blessings over each other. The nine branch menorah represents the nine Fruits of the Spirit and the nine Gifts of the Spirit! Amazing!

As you light the menorah each night, here are two blessings you can speak. I have them listed in both Hebrew and English.

  1. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai Eh-lo-hei-noo Meh-lech Ha-olam A-sher Ki-deh-sha-noo Beh-mitz-vo-tav Veh-tzi-va-noo Leh-had-lik Ner Cha-noo-kah.
  1. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
  1. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai Eh-lo-hei-nu Meh-lech Ha-olam Sheh-a-sa Nee-sim La-avo-tei-noo Ba-ya-mim Ha-hem Bee-z’man Ha-zeh.
  1. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.

Since eating is always involved with celebration, there are special foods you can make. Most of these foods are oily to remind us of the miracle of God’s oil. Some people make latkes, which are potato pancakes. Others eat donuts or even fried chicken! Any type of oily food will suffice (assuming its clean of course!) Oil represents the Holy Spirit, so each up as much as you want!

When your Hanukkiah is lit, you can always read special Hanukkah-themed stories to your children. You can pray the Sabbath blessings over each other as well. There is a fun game called dreidel. A dreidel is a small top-like toy used to spin. It has four sides on it. Dreidels have four Hebrew letters on them, and they stand for the saying, nes, gadol, haya, sham, meaning “A great miracle occurred there”. You can go to nearly any website about Hanukkah and find the exact rules for playing this game.

As far as personal readings are concerned, you can read the Books of Maccabees. They are not inspired by God, but they are historical books written to describe the events that occurred at that time. Daniel 8 and 11 describe the fulfillment of the prophetic events found in Hanukkah.

Kelly Vonner, an ordained prophet at Hungry Hearts, celebrates Hanukkah with her family. She has some great ideas that you might be able to draw from. Hanukkah is their family’s “Art of Bravery” season. Here are some great ideas that she shared:

“During this season, we take the time to embrace the light, imitate the bravery, and praise God for the miracles that happened during Hanukkah.

While the majority of the world is placing reefs and Christmas trees up in their homes, our family will be creating and decorating our home with “Happy Hanukkah” signs and menorahs. Last year, we created a 3D snowflake and overlaid it with a menorah. The year before, we constructed menorahs from our children’s hand silhouettes. We’ve also created menorahs from Popsicle sticks and Styrofoam balls.  In addition, we use the Light My Fire Hanukkah App to digitally light menorahs and share on social media.

Our “Happy Hanukkah” signs are covered in Bible verses that reference light. As we progress through each night of Hanukkah, we try to add more verses about light, strength, and bravery. We embrace Jesus as the Light of the World, the Light in our home, and the Light of our life.

We have several children’s books in our library as well: “Like a Maccabee” by Raymond Zwerin & Audrey Marcus, “The Maccabee on the Mantle” by Abra Garrett, “Elmo’s Little Dreidel” by Sesame Street, “Biscuit’s Hanukkah” by Alyssa Capucilli and Latke, “The Lucky Dog” by Ellen Fischer.  Our sons use this season to imitate the bravery of the Maccabees by sharing their Hanukkah books with their teachers and classmates. One year my nephew took dreidels to school and taught his classmates how to play. I generally set a menorah on my desk; students immediately ask questions and want to know more about what I believe. During Hanukkah, when most people are focused on Christmas, our family stands up to be soldiers for Jesus.”

The Lord has given me some special readings for the Hanukkah season that I would like to share. These would be great to read aloud after your Hanukkiah is lit. There are three special themes as it relates to Hanukkah: 1) Light, 2) Miracles of God, and 3) Bravery in battle. The Lord showed me that the purpose of Hanukkah is to build your faith just before the winter spiritual warfare begins.

 

Day 1 – John 10:22-39, Luke 6:6-10, John 4:43-54, Matthew 8:5-13, Exodus 14:1-31

Day 2 – Genesis 1:1-3, Luke 7:11-17, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:26-39, Luke 22:50-52, Joshua 6:1-21

Day 3 – John 8:12, John 5:1-9, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:49-56, Judges 7-8:12

Day 4 – I John 1:5-7, Matthew 9:27-31, Matthew 9:32-34, John 6:1-14, Judges 15:9-14

Day 5 – 1 Peter 2:9, John 6:16-21, Matthew 14:34-36, Matthew 15:21-28, Matthew 20:29-34, 1 Chron. 11:10-25

Day 6 – Mark 10:27, Mark 7:31-37, Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 8:22-25, John 11:1-44, 2 Kings 6:8-23

Day 7 – Zechariah 4:6, John 9:1-7, Matthew 17:14-21, Luke 13:11-17, Zechariah 9:13, 2Chron 14 (KJV or NKJV)

Day 8 – Lev 24:1-4, Luke 14:1-6, Luke 17:11-19, Mark 10:46-52, 2 Kings 18-19:1-19, 35-36, Hebrews 11

 

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What is Hanukkah?

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What is Hanukkah?

The Christian world at large does not give much attention to the celebration of the Feast of Hanukkah. The interesting thing is that Jesus actually kept this feast himself in John 10:22-39. This means that this feast has special significance for every believer! He only did what He saw the Father do (John 5:19). What many people do not understand is that the Hanukkah itself is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy! Moreover, the Hanukkah story foreshadows certain events that have yet to happen, including the rise of the Anti-Christ (the man of lawlessness).

Daniel 11 is a prophecy that explains the breakup of the empire of Alexander the Great and the events that immediately followed. When Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., a civil war erupted as to who would control his empire. In 301 BC, his empire was broken up into four parts. By 276 BC, only 3 of them remained. Most of Daniel 11 is focused on the interactions between two of these kingdoms: the kingdom of the north and the kingdom of the south. The Kingdom of the North was the Seleucid Kingdom, which ruled from modern-day Turkey to India. The capital city was named Antioch, which is in Syria today. The southern kingdom was known as the Ptolemy Kingdom, which ruled Egypt and parts of North Africa.

 

Daniel 11 addresses the interactions between these two kingdoms. Why? Between these two kingdoms rests the land that God promised to the children of Abraham. The conflicts between the northern and southern kingdoms create the environment for the events that are commemorated during the Hanukkah season.

In 175 BC, a man came to power in the kingdom of the north named Antiochus IV. He gained the throne through flattery and intrigue, just as Daniel prophesied in Daniel 11:21. At this time, Onias III was the high priest over the temple in Jerusalem. There were people in Israel at that time who were Hellenists. Hellenists believed in the superiority of Greek thought, language, and culture over others. In fact, Hellenists wanted to lessen the practices of the Hebrew Bible. One group that supported Hellenism were called Tobiads.

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In 173, the Tobiads caused Onias III to be deposed from the priesthood. Their choice for that position was Jason. Jason bribed Antiochus IV for his favor in this endeavor. Jason was pro-Greek and tried to Hellenize the Jewish people. Jason built a gymnasium in Jerusalem. He also sent money to have sacrifices made to Hercules at the Greek Olympic games.

In 171 BC, Jason was overthrown by Menelaus, who paid even more to receive the position of high priest. Menelaus even went as far as to take vessels from the Temple of God and give them to Syrian nobles in return for their support. Onias III exposed this betrayal, but was compelled to go into hiding. He was subsequently killed. This was the prince of the Covenant who was killed as discussed in Daniel 11:22.

In 170 B.C., the king of the South (Ptolemy Philometer) tried to conquer Israel and take it from Antiochus. Antiochus fought back and drove his forces out of the country. He did not stop there! He conquered almost all of Egypt.

While Antiochus was fighting in Jerusalem, the Jewish people heard a rumor that he died. As a result, they deposed Menelaus. As Antiochus was on his way back from fighting in Egypt, he stopped in Jerusalem. He reinstated Menelaus and stole the golden table of shewbread from the Temple of God. He then returned to Antioch.

In 168 BC, Antiochus attempted to completely subdue Egypt, but he was turned back by the Romans. Frustrated, Antiochus marched toward the land of Israel to unleash his rage from another failed invasion of Egypt. While enroute to their homeland, the Greeks stopped at Jerusalem. They approached the city with peaceful intentions. Once they had gained access into the city, they pillaged it. Men were killed and women were sold into slavery.

On the 25th of Kislev (the 9th Hebrew month), Antiochus had a pig sacrificed on the altar of sacrifice. He spread pig’s blood in the Holy Place and Most Holy Place. He had a statue of Zeus put in God’s Temple with his own likeness carved onto the face. This was called the abomination that makes desolate. This wicked man put himself in the place of God and commanded the Jewish people to bow down before him. He even changed his name to Antiochus Epiphanes. Epiphanes means “God manifest.”

During his reign over the land of Israel, Antiochus outlawed keeping the Sabbath, celebrating Holy Days of Leviticus 23, reading of the Hebrew Scriptures, circumcision, and all commandment keeping. Those caught with the Holy Scriptures or performing circumcision were executed. How terrible!

The Jewish people rebelled against this tyrant. Mattathias Maccabeus and his sons led the Jewish people in a revolt against Antiochus. They achieved victory after victory over the Greek forces. Sometimes they were outnumbered as much as fifteen to one (15 to 1) and still routed the enemy! Though the Greeks were better trained and equipped, God gave his people victory in this struggle against lawlessness and evil.

In 165 BC, the Jewish people drove out the Greeks and re-captured the Temple. On the 25th of Kislev, the people of God began to purify the Temple from the idolatry that defiled it. This was three years to the day that it had been defiled! They got rid of the filthy idol of Zeus that Antiochus had placed in the Temple. They even destroyed the altar of sacrifice and had a brand new one constructed. They began to burn incense once again on the altar of incense and placed bread on the table of shewbread.

Before they could rekindle the menorah, they needed oil. After searching the Temple, most of the oil they found was unclean. Fortunately, they did find one small jar with the high priest’s seal that was unopened and also clean. Though it was only enough oil for one day, they lit the menorah on faith. They celebrated for eight days, patterning this celebration after Tabernacles, which they had not been allowed to celebrate the previous three years. Amazingly enough, the menorah oil lasted the entire eight days!

In 164 BC, Antiochus died of a mental illness. Matthew 24:1-15, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, and Daniel 11:36-45 tell us that these events will play out once again! We will discuss this in the future.

From that time forth, the Hanukkah celebration was established as an eight day celebration starting on the 25th of Kislev. In the time of Josephus, this festival was called the festival of lights. Great emphasis was placed upon every individual to light a lamp in honor of this great victory.

Hanukkah today is to remind us of the miraculous working of God in our lives. Recall how God has empowered you to overcome; how he delivered you from situations that were impossible by human standards. Jesus spoke much about miracles at Hanukkah in John 10:22-39. It is a reminder that we are never to allow the plans of man or of satan to interfere in letting our light shine.

Lessons we learn from Hanukkah:

  • We must stay loyal to God; we cannot compromise or conform to culture; the Hellenists wanted to conform to culture to please those in power.
  • The miracle working power of God; the small supply of oil lasted 8 days.
  • The miracle of victory; the Jewish people against all odds had victory over the enemy.
  • Walking by faith, not by sight. The Jewish people had to walk by faith the entire time this ordeal went on. They couldn’t look at the odds against them, but the God who fought for them.
  • God can take a little and multiply it (consider the church of Philadelphia – Rev. 3:7-10).

 

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New Booklet: Deciphering Daniel 11

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Greetings everyone!

We now have a new booklet available for download!

Deciphering Daniel 11: Key to the Hanukkah Story.

This booklet is a verse by verse commentary of Daniel Chapter 11, which covers the events surrounding the Hanukkah story. Daniel chapter 11 is considered the most detailed prophecy in the entire Bible. God gave Daniel prophecies so detailed that they prove the Bible’s validity and existence. In it, we learn of events from Daniel’s time up until the return of Jesus Christ.

To read this booklet, click the picture above!

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Voices of the Martyrs: Part 1 – Blandina

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Too often we forget that the path laid out before us today was paved many years ago. In this 3-part series called “Voices of the Martyrs”, we want to examine a few examples of those who have bravely endured suffering for us to have the truth we hold dear today as Christians.

There will be some gory details in these blogs, but we need to understand the price that has been paid for us to thrive today.

We will start with the persecution that took place under Marcus Arelius, who was Roman Emperor from 169-180 AD. The worship of the old pagan gods of Rome was of high importance to him. It was something he desired early in life. As a boy he was inducted into the Salian priesthood of Rome. He joined the concepts and practices of Roman religion with the Empire itself. This means that Christianity was an opposed belief system since it espoused one God while also denying other deities.

One of the heroes of the faith from this time period was a woman named Blandina. She was tortured and endured more than most people could handle. Her constancy in the midst of her suffering turned people who had strayed from the faith back to the faith.

The historian Eusebius, who wrote a history of Christianity in the early 300s AD, tells us about this faithful hero of our faith:

“Blandina was filled with such power as to be delivered and raised above those who were torturing her by turns from morning till evening in every manner, so that they acknowledged that they were conquered, and could do nothing more to her. And they were astonished at her endurance, as her entire body was mangled and broken; and they testified that one of these forms of torture was sufficient to destroy life, not to speak of so many and so great sufferings…

But the blessed woman, like a noble athlete, renewed her strength in her confession; and her comfort and recreation and relief from the pain of her sufferings was in exclaiming, ‘I am a Christian, and there is nothing vile done by us.’

But Blandina was suspended on a stake, and exposed to be devoured by the wild beasts who should attack her. And because she appeared as if hanging on a cross, and because of her earnest prayers, she inspired the combatants with great zeal….

As none of the wild beasts at that time touched her, she was taken down from the stake, and cast again into prison. She was preserved thus for another contest, that, being victorious in more conflicts, she might make the punishment of the crooked serpent irrevocable…

For through their influence many who had denied were restored, and re-begotten, and rekindled with life, and learned to confess

And, after the scourging, after the wild beasts, after the roasting seat, she was finally enclosed in a net, and thrown before a bull. And having been tossed about by the animal, but feeling none of the things which were happening to her, on account of her hope and firm hold upon what had been entrusted to her, and her communion with Christ, she also was sacrificed. And the heathen themselves confessed that never among them had a woman endured so many and such terrible tortures.” (excerpt from Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, Chapter 1:17-56)

Take some time today to reflect on the endurance and sacrifice of this special woman and her contribution to the Christian faith.

Kelly

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What is the meaning of the phrase “Under the Law”?

Attitdues

What is the meaning of the phrase “Under the Law”?

 

In Romans 6:14, Paul wrote: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

People use this one verse to say that God’s Law is no longer necessary in a believers life and that we do not have to obey it any longer. What does this verse really mean? The key with this verse, and all verses, is the context.

In the next two verses, Paul wrote, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:15-16)

One definition of sin in the Bible is transgression of God’s Law (I John 3:4). To clarify the phrase “under the law”, we must go to the other letters of Paul.

In Galatians 4:4-5, Paul wrote: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (KJV).

If the phrase “under the law” in Romans 6:14 means obeying the Law, then Paul said in Galatians that Christ only came to redeem those that were obeying the Law. We know that is not true! Christ came to redeem all mankind (John 1:29, 3:16).

The phrase “under the law” means under the penalty of the Law. We were under the judgment of the Law because of our sins! Christ was born under the penalty of the law to free those who were under its penalty – which is all of us! All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

In Romans 2:13, Paul wrote: For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”

Later in Romans, Paul wrote that the Law is holy, righteous and good (Romans 7:12-14). In Romans 8:7, Paul explains that the sinful mind is hostile to God’s Law and refuses to submit to it.

Being under grace means that we have a grace period to learn right from wrong. We are not under the law’s penalty, but we are not free from its requirements because grace is not a license to sin or transgress God’s Law.

Our goal and aim is to let the Holy Spirit guide us in obedience to the commandments of God. Since we are under grace, we are alive in Christ and enabled to obey the Law of Life (see also Deut. 30:11-15, I John 5:1-5).

 

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