December 26, 2022

Ep.1261: Am I Listening to the Angel?

Looking at Jesus’ birth through the messages of angels

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CHAPTERS

[00:15:33]
What dramatic message did the angel Gabriel give?


[00:28:28]
How did Joseph respond to angelic instruction?


[00:42:48]
Who heard angels after the birth of Jesus?


Theme Scripture: Luke 2:10

Christmas is such a great time of year! It gives people something to look forward to, something to be excited about. Decorations spring up and brighten our environment. We love giving gifts and we certainly love receiving them. Most of us get some extra time off to be with family or to just be able to do things. Sadly, the foundational reason behind this great time of year has become less and less relevant. All of this giving and good will stems from recognizing and honoring the birth of the most influential and heroic human being in all of world history. With the birth of Jesus, the world began to change. For most people that change has been imperceptible for the last 2,000 years, but it is happening. How do we know? An angel told us! Did you hear what he said?

Continue Reading

400 years of silence

God often communicated with ancient Israel by sending prophets and angels to deliver His messages. Before the time leading up to Jesus’ birth, there was a 400-year prophetic and angelic silence from God. When angelic messages began to be delivered after this 400-year silence, it meant that something of great importance was happening. That something was the birth of Jesus, and it was a sacred and important event in God’s eyes. When angels speak, those being spoken to should listen with care.

Zacharias was literally left speechless

To have one angelic message delivered regarding a specific series of events would be dramatic, especially after centuries of God’s silence. It could easily have left the recipient speechless, and as a matter of fact, that is exactly what happened. Zacharias, the man who would be John the Baptist’s father, was struck speechless when he was visited by an angel and doubted the angel’s message. Zacharias learned much from this, and his experience made him stronger in faith and devotion. The point is, after his initial doubts, he listened to the angel and acted on what he had heard.

To have two angelic messages delivered would be awe inspiring. Mary would be the next recipient of an angelic message. She also listened to the angel, even though her responsibilities from that message would fundamentally change every aspect of her life. One common thread from both of these angelic messages was their connection to ancient biblical prophecies. By listening to the angel’s messages, both Zacharias and Mary were also listening to Bible prophecy.

But this is just the beginning. In all, there were seven messages from God to those who were involved before and after Jesus’ birth. Check out our December 26, 2022 podcast, “Am I Listening to the Angel?” for more. We outline these seven messages and look at their connection to prophecy and God’s plan. What we find is a profoundly revealing pattern. Those angelic messages were not merely meant for those specific individuals to whom they were given. They were and are ageless messages for all of us. The question is, are we listening to the angels?

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December 19, 2022

Ep.1260: Do I Suffer From Rapture Anxiety? (Part II)

Challenging the rapture’s trumpet and concurrent raising of all Christians

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:13:26]
How do Christians who have died respond to the trumpet of God?


[00:26:47]
Are the faithful resurrected instantaneously at Jesus' return?


[00:42:05]
Matthew 24 describes how one will be taken and the other left. Is that the rapture?


Theme Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:17

God’s plan for humanity is powerful, positive and proactive and is built upon the ransom price Jesus paid for every man, woman and child who ever lived. This plan is one of great joy! All scriptural events and prophecies point to the unfolding of this plan. As we observed in Part I of this series, the widely held Christian teaching of the rapture, in all of its varied interpretations, does not seem to fall in line with this plan. Instead of hope, it seems to bring distress and chaos. In Part I, we began systematically looking at the key elements of the scriptures from which this teaching is drawn. Our objective is to look at these texts in the context of the Bible itself and not the context of our opinions or our church's doctrine. Here in part II, we continue to unfold what we believe God’s word actually teaches.

Continue Reading

Care needs to be taken when reading the verses in 1 Thessalonians 4 that are used as the basis for the rapture teaching. In Part I of our three-part series, we examined much of verse 16, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God.” We found that the shout and the voice of the archangel were spiritual activities, things that could not be perceived by human ears. The shout is the command for all those who died in Christ to rise to heaven. The voice of the archangel is the command of God through Jesus for the reestablishment of Israel to begin, as described in Daniel 12:1.

Is the trumpet of God a literal trumpet?

Because the shout and voice of the archangel are not audible to humanity, we believe that this trumpet fits the same description. It also is a spiritual sounding, but of what? 1 Thessalonians tells us that the shout, the voice and the trumpet all happen at the beginning stages of the return of Jesus. Acts 3:21 tells us that Jesus does not return until the time of final restoration of all things, so we see this as a trumpet signaling restoration. Why? In Old Testament Israel, God had arranged for a trumpet to be blown every 50 years to signal a year of jubilee. What did that mean? It meant that all things were to be restored to the way God had designed them. Jesus returns with the trumpet of final restoration!

Check out our December 19, 2022 podcast, “Do I Suffer From Rapture Anxiety? (Part II)" for more. We elaborate on the magnitude and meaning of this trumpet and what the dead in Christ rising first entails. We then go into the big questions of timing. Do all Christians who are alive at this time instantaneously rise up to heaven when this happens as the rapture teaches? The true answer to this question does not come from Christian tradition; rather, it comes from careful study of Scripture. Join us as we unfold the inspiring truths that the Word of God reveals!

 

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December 15, 2022

Ep.: Who did God punish for killing Jesus?

God, in fact, punished Israel many times for their sins. Shortly after they received the Law through Moses, God warned them, saying, “…if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins” (Leviticus 26:18). History confirms that this punishment occurred when the Gentile nations dominated Israel for well over 2,000 years.

The prophecy in Hosea compares Israel to an unfaithful wife. It says, “The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him” (Hosea 12:2).

Zechariah specifically connects Israel’s ongoing punishment with their rejection of Christ.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass…even today do I declare that I will render double [punishment] unto thee

Zechariah 9:9,12 

Near the end of Jesus’ ministry, he lamented as he looked over Jerusalem. He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou who murders the prophets and stones those who have been sent to thee!  How often have I desire to gather thy children to me, just as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not come! See, your house will be left to you desolate!” (Matthew 23:38).

The fulfillment of this prophecy took place in AD 70 when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and killed and enslaved thousands.

It should not be surprising that God would punish Israel. It would be surprising if He did not. The principle is conveyed in Proverbs 3:12. “For whom the LORD loveth He corrects; even as a father the son in whom he delights.” Because of the special relationship Israel has with God, He was required to punish them for their own good, just as any father would.

 However, the story does not end in punishment.

After Israel’s time of punishment, Zechariah (9:14-17) describes Jehovah once again defending His people.

“And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people”

Zechariah 9:16

Today, we can witness the evidence that Israel’s period of punishment has ended. They are now a thriving nation, after 2,000 years in exile.

Was Rome punished for crucifying Jesus?

That is a good question. Rome was not in a covenant relationship with God; therefore, their position was different. God was not required to punish them, as He was with Israel. Roman soldiers were the persons carrying out the orders of Pilate; they had no awareness of who Jesus really was. However, there may have been personal consequences for Pontius Pilate. He knowingly had an innocent man put to death.

Britannica Encyclopedia says the following about Pilate:  “He was then ordered back to Rome to stand trial for cruelty and oppression, particularly on the charge that he had executed men without proper trial. According to Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History, Pilate killed himself on orders from the emperor Caligula.”

It is impossible for us to know if this was punishment from God. But even Roman authorities saw his cruelty and punished him accordingly. 

To learn more about God’s plan for the Jews listen to, “Is Israel a Thorn in the Side of the World?”

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December 12, 2022

Ep.1259: Do I Suffer From Rapture Anxiety? (Part I)

Questioning the rapture in the light of careful scriptural analysis

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:38]
Did the Apostle Paul teach about a traumatic event called the rapture?


[00:25:54]
Does Jesus return in an instant?


[00:45:57]
What does it mean that Jesus shouts as an archangel? Who is he shouting at?


Theme Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Christianity is divided into many denominations and groups. These divisions create a wide variety of teachings that elicit a wide variety of reactions. Take the rapture as an example. In its basic form, it interprets the Scriptures to say that Jesus returns with a shout and a trumpet. He raises the dead Christians to him first and then all those faithful who are still living will be dramatically and immediately taken up to him as well. For both Christians and non-Christians, the drama of this view brings eye rolls and disdain from some, excitement and anticipation from some, and all-out fear, trauma and "rapture anxiety" from others. The rapture is a big teaching based upon a few scriptures. The big question is, does this teaching fit squarely with the original Christian doctrine we learn from the Bible?

Continue Reading

The Apostle Paul loved the newly converted and maturing Christians who lived in Thessalonica. He had preached to them and lived among them for a short time. After leaving them, he was unable to return to them due to illness. He sent Timothy to check on them and wrote the letter we now call the book of 1st Thessalonians. This letter was one of fatherly love, compassion and encouragement.

What does this have to do with examining the rapture teaching and the anxiety it brings to some? Everything! In the 4th chapter of this book, Paul was explaining how Christians in their day would be united with Christ at his return and reunited with each other as well. He was teaching them these things to help them cope with their separation from him and the death of some of their brethren. He was tenderly building their faith and in a very fatherly manner telling them, "Everything will be okay!"

Brutal violence or fatherly encouragement?

The many Christians who believe in the rapture teaching see these verses as signals of extraordinary drama and violence: Jesus returns with a shout and calls all Christians alive or dead to him in an instant. This action triggers an overwhelming chaos for those who are left behind, as they will now face severe tribulation. This belief is outright traumatizing to some, and at the very least scary and brutal. It certainly does not fit into the context of a fatherly letter of encouragement. So, what do these verses really mean?

Check out our December 12, 2022 podcast, “Do I Suffer from Rapture Anxiety? (Part I)." We methodically delve into the scriptures in question by asking a lot of questions and finding scriptural answers. The Bible says Jesus "descends from heaven with a shout," and also that he comes as "a thief in the night." How can both be true? Does his return require all these things to happen in a moment? Is this shout to be literally heard throughout our world? How does Jesus have the voice of the archangel? Join us for a journey through some difficult scriptures! In Part I of our three-part series, we begin the point by point shedding of light on what the Apostle Paul was really teaching.

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December 09, 2022

Ep.: Should Christians use prayer beads?

Sometimes the mind wanders during a time of prayer, as it is ideally a comforting, safe and peaceful time. This lends to a lack of focus or even being a little sleepy. Other times, we are trying to squeeze prayer time in as just one more thing to do on our ever-expanding “things to do” list, and other parts of the list creep in and take over our thoughts.

Prayer beads/rosary beads are used by Catholics to count/keep track of repetitive prayers. However, Jesus warned against such prayers:

And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

Matthew 6:7: 7

Our privilege of communication with our heavenly Father through His son Jesus is awesome and awe-inspiring. Prayers should not be repetitive, rote, or something to rush through. Prayer beads and other “helps” are not mentioned or recommended in the Bible, so we would instead recommend other techniques to help focus us.

Consider these:

– 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says us to “pray without ceasing,” which tells us that we can pray at all hours, at all times, at all lengths. Perhaps your prayer is at a red light, “Thank you, LORD, for this red light to give me a chance to slow down and contemplate something I am thankful for, such as….” or “LORD, my time is in Your hands, so maybe in Your wisdom this extra time is preventing me from getting into an accident. Thank you.” In other words, we should be in constant communication in the moment, which should help with concentration.

– Keep your prayers short when close to bedtime or at times of particularly high stress. Your mind is less likely to wander or get tired. Don’t wait to pray until everything else for the day is done and you are exhausted. A short prayer here is good, but don’t expect to be able to concentrate on longer prayers at this time.

– Write/type your longer prayers to stay focused.

– Take several deep breaths before starting your prayer to center yourself and give you time to shut the outside world off.

– Consider a routine where some activity is done ahead of time to “signal” to your brain that prayer time is coming up. Maybe that is something physical like doing ten jumping jacks to clear your head. Perhaps that means sitting in a particular chair you don’t normally sit in. My cousin has a “prayer chair” in her living room, and the rest of the family knows not to distract her when sitting in the chair. Maybe you can get up a half hour earlier before distractions set in and choose a scripture or two to meditate on.

– Consider a change of scenery – go for a walk, where you can talk out loud to keep your thoughts on track.

– Prayer is an essential part in the life of a Christian and it is important to keep our prayer life fresh so that we don’t lose connection with God.

For more on prayer listen to, “Will Prayer Change Your Life?”

“What Can We Learn From Jesus’ Final Prayers?”

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Do we REALLY have to be on our best behavior even when no one is looking?
Christian zeal

Is My Life on Fire for Christ?

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Learning the true and transformational meaning of Christian zeal
Christian zeal

VIDEO: Is My Life on Fire for Christ?

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shame

How Do We Cope With Feeling Shame?

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Understanding the role shame should and should not play in our lives
shame

VIDEO: How Do We Cope With Feeling Shame?

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highest form of love

VIDEO: What is the highest form of love in the Bible?

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It's time to learn a new Greek word!
broad road to destruction

What Is the Broad Road That Leads to Destruction? (Listener Q&A Series)

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Uncovering what role this road to destruction plays in God’s plan
monitoring spirits

Are Monitoring Spirits Watching Us?

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Understanding how demons can and cannot affect Christians' lives
monitoring spirits

VIDEO: Are Monitoring Spirits Watching Us?

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Jesus' love for others

VIDEO: How did Jesus show his love for others?

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The Scriptures provide us with beautiful examples!
fasting

Should Christians Fast?

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The how, when and why of appropriate Christian fasting