by Bill Rudge
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by Bill Rudge
The presidential election was many days past with many questions and concerns. Peace and joy were removed from many homes and replaced with conflicts and disagreements – sometimes outright hostility. Many people were overcome by worry and fear concerning the election and the coronavirus. However, I assured them that the only way to be at peace is to strengthen ourselves in the Lord by remembering His past faithfulness and to have a biblical perspective regarding national and world events; encouraging them to reflect on the following scriptures and how they relate to us today.
An important and timely truth is spoken through King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, when the ten northern tribes of Israel were removed from his control. First Kings 12:15 says, “It was a turn of events from the LORD.” Verse 24 of this same chapter reiterates this by stating: “You must not go up and fight against your relatives the sons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come from Me.”
Daniel provides additional insight concerning the course of nations and their leaders:
He [God] removes kings and raises up kings…. The Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes (Daniel 2:21; 4:17).
God forewarned many times in Scripture what would happen to Israel, Judah, and other nations for abandoning the ways of the Lord and tolerating wickedness and injustice. The Bible provides and history proves what befalls a nation that forsakes the LORD Who has so richly blessed and protected them.
During a time of ongoing wickedness and disingenuous repentance the nation of Judah wondered:
Have You completely rejected Judah? Why have You stricken us so that we are beyond healing? We waited for peace, but nothing good came; and for a time of healing, but behold, terror! (Jeremiah 14:19).
The idolatry, immorality and injustice of the leaders and people of Judah became so repulsive to God that Jeremiah 15:1 records these strong words:
Then the LORD said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of My sight, and let them go!”
There came a point in Judah’s wickedness that it became ineffective to intercede for the nation because of its persistent unrepentance. Even prayers by Moses and Samuel would not deter judgment. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states concerning this:
The Lord refuses to avert judgment from His people; His decision to punish them is irreversible. Therefore the continued intercession of Jeremiah or of any others cannot succeed. The people’s incorrigibility has placed them beyond the power of prayer. Moses and Samuel would have been unable to move the Lord from His decision. The Lord commands that the nation be sent from His presence.
Without wholehearted national repentance, Judah’s fate was sealed. Her widespread indulgence in sin and rebellion before the Lord rendered her insincere, self-serving remorse, insufficient to alter the course of God’s judgment. The question today is: How close is America to a similar fate? (A couple other enlightening sections of Scripture to read and ponder at this historic time is Jeremiah 7:1-34 and Ezekiel 33:23-33.)
God Takes No Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked
Excerpts follow of what Ezekiel was told by God:
“Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, cut off its supply of bread, send famine against it … or if I should send a plague [pestilence] against that country and pour out My wrath to cut off man and beast from it, even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness. How much more when I send My four severe judgments: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it! When you see their conduct and actions, you will know that I have not done in vain [without cause] all that I have done,” declares the Lord GOD. “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 14:13-23; 33:11).
What the Apostle John foretold in Revelation is a mirror reflection of Ezekiel’s prophecy of God’s “four severe judgments”:
When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth (Revelation 6:7-8).
Let me briefly interject another biblical truth here: Those nations which rejoiced over Judah’s judgment would incur similar punishment. Edom is just one of several nations in the Bible God judged for hostility against His people or for “celebrating” over their demise. Excerpts follow:
Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir [Edom], and prophesy against it and say to it, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am against you and will stretch out My hand and make you a desolation and a waste.’ Because you have said, “These two nations [Israel and Judah] will be mine, and we will possess them,” although the LORD was there, therefore as I live, declares the Lord GOD, “I will deal with you according to your anger and according to your envy which you showed because of your hatred against them. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have heard all your revilings which you have spoken against Israel and have spoken arrogantly against Me; I have heard it.” Thus says the Lord GOD, “As all the earth rejoices, I will make you a desolation. As you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel because it was desolate, so I will do to you. You will be a desolation, O Mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it. Then they will know that I am the LORD”’ (Ezekiel 35:2-15).
This sounds eerily similar to what will occur after severe persecution and martyrdom of those who come to faith in Jesus Christ during the Tribulation period:
Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.” (Revelation 16:4-6).
While Christians are wearing each other out “fighting” over the coronavirus and politics, the real battle is already in play. To stand in the midst of what is coming we will need every ounce of strength and must be unified in genuine faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. This is a day and age to know Scripture and have discernment.
Remember, Jesus, as well as the apostles Peter, Paul and John, warned of unprecedented difficulties and pervasive deception in the end times. It is worth noting that Jesus’ first admonition in His famous Olivet Discourse was to “Take heed that no one deceives [misleads] you” (Matthew 24:4). Therefore, Jesus’ foremost warning concerning the end times is of delusion and deceit.
There is no doubt that the foreboding winds of global government, a one world economy and a prejudiced religious system (tolerating virtually anything but true Christianity) are blowing across America and the world. Earth’s final kingdom (Babylon) before the second coming of Jesus Christ will be a unified political, economic and religious system.
In order to implement this global society there needs to be a crisis (or potential crisis) which generates enough fear to make the masses willing to accept the recommended solutions. The only nation powerful enough to thwart a world government and all that entails is the United States. Therefore, the U.S. has to be transformed from nationalism to globalism. This being accomplished, the global elite will be able to dictate every aspect of the lives of virtually everyone on this planet – unwittingly leading to the fulfillment of Revelation 13 and the worldwide reign of the one revealed in Scripture as the Antichrist.
Two thousand years ago the Bible forewarned that the Antichrist would come disguised in false peace and unity. Under the pretense of solving the world’s crises he will initiate a global society with the inability to buy or sell without his mark on your hand or forehead – surrendering your total allegiance to him and his rule. Comply or die!
For over 30 years I have warned about what is coming, striving to prepare the Body of Christ for what is now upon us. Globalists may refer to it as The Great Reset but the Bible calls it the coming kingdom of the Antichrist. What seems so brilliant and beneficial will result in the darkest and most diabolical period in human history.
Nevertheless, we must not be discouraged or fearful, because all our future hopes and dreams are in Christ – not in ourselves, not in a political party, not in a world leader and not in a worldly kingdom. (Read John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.)
Let those who so desire to have their kingdom on this earth enjoy their day and their temporary empire: they may get what they want, but they will not want what they get (see Revelation chapters 17 and 18). This temporary time of unprecedented unity, prosperity and immorality is rapidly coming upon the world and its “church,” but it will be a unity, prosperity and immorality (anything goes) of which you will not want any part! Scripture identifies this global system as Babylon the Great, Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth (17:5). No wonder God calls His people out of her “so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (18:4).
Is There Hope?
As believers in Jesus Christ, our day and eternal Kingdom is also coming – after the destruction of Babylon the Great. We will inherit all we could ever imagine or desire – and far more! Our inheritance in Christ will abundantly satisfy us for ever and ever.
Jesus puts everything in perspective:
What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26).
Assuredly, one day the following prophecy will become a reality:
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15).
In the midst of Jeremiah’s extreme lamentations for Judah’s destruction by the Babylonians, the Holy Spirit inspired him to pen the following promise for the people of his time (and for us today):
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him (Lamentations 3:21-25).
What Should We Do?
At Christ’s first coming many people expected the Messiah to provide political conquest, but Jesus came for spiritual redemption. Today, many people’s prayers and energies go toward political conquest, while God’s priority at this time is for us to share His Gospel in our local community, across cultural barriers and throughout the world (Acts 1:8). A Christian’s top priority must be for evangelism and leading others to Jesus Christ. Certainly you realize that one does not make it into the Kingdom of God because of political persuasion or even on account of good morality; access into God’s eternal Kingdom is only gained through accepting the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the atonement for our inherent sin.
In recent years, many political factions have been determined and committed in their quest to establish their “kingdom” on this earth. How much more should followers of Christ be determined, committed – unified – in bringing people into His millennial and eternal Kingdom?
As believers in Jesus Christ we must have greater passion in reaching people with His love and truth than in obtaining political power and control over this nation and the world. It is imperative that we focus the majority of our remaining time, energy and resources toward reaching this world for Christ before His return. May we be found faithful when He comes!
by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
We all experience times of uncertainty; moments that raise many questions and concerns about what we should do and how things will work out. Currently, like many of you, my wife and I and our six children are working through our own time of uncertainty.
Our nation is also facing uncertainties. Many are overwhelmed with questions and concerns: When will this pandemic end? Will there be another spike in the virus? Will there be a food shortage? Do masks really help? Should I go out in public settings? Will I lose my job? How will the election results impact my life, my family, America, the world?
So too, Jesus’ disciples experienced their times of uncertainty. For about 3 years, the disciples had served at the side of Jesus where they were direct recipients of His daily teachings and eyewitnesses to His miraculous power. Now, they were confronted with the uncertainty that Jesus was going to leave them and with the uncertainty of the implications to follow. Just as it would be today, we find in John chapters 14-17 many what, how, why, where and when questions (John 14:5, 22; 16:17, 18). In response to their questions, Jesus asserted that even though we will have tribulation in this world, we can have peace because He has overcome the world (John 16:32, 33).
In light of these words by Jesus, we are addressing here three specific questions about the peace that Jesus offered His disciples and is available to us right now.
Question #1: What is this peace?
The peace that Jesus gives (see John 14:27) does not come from this world. Instead of trying to find it by looking to others (celebrities, politicians, etc.) or looking within, the peace Jesus provides can only be found by looking to Him. The idea of peace that the world promotes is a life without conflict and difficulty, but there are problems with this approach to peace: It is circumstantial. In other words, it is a peace that solely depends upon your circumstances/conditions. Because it is circumstantial, a worldly approach to peace is temporary. Certainly, we all have moments when life goes well and we don’t face any direct conflicts or challenges. But we also know that this peace is short-lived because we are all going to face tribulation, conflicts, and difficulties. In fact, the Greek word Jesus used for tribulation in John 16:33 means to be pressured or squeezed to the point you feel confined with no way to escape!
This is exactly how many feel right now with the current pandemic and state of our Union; squeezed with no way to escape as these uncertain times have robbed us of peace, individually, and collectively as a country (and the world). But while the peace of this world depends upon life’s circumstances, the peace that Jesus provides transcends our circumstances. We do not have to wait for circumstances to change.
Jesus’ peace impacts our lives by producing courage. Amidst their questions and fear, Jesus told the disciples to “take heart” (John 16:33). In the Greek this means to take courage and be of good cheer. This is the courage of confidence that rests not in ourselves, nor in our circumstances, but in the God we serve. Consider Joshua who faced uncertainty as he led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. As he took on this momentous task, God instructed him to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). The key for Joshua’s courage did not rest in his own ability but in the fact that He served a faithful God who would be with Him. This is why Joshua was told to meditate upon God’s law (Joshua 1:8), so that he would not only have a proper understanding of what to do but a proper understanding of the One (God) who called him to do it.
Jesus’ peace impacts our lives by the removal of anxiety and fear. As Paul sat in a prison for preaching the Gospel, he wrote these powerful words:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Despite his circumstances and the uncertain outcome, Paul still had the peace of God, a peace that Paul reminds all believers will guard us from being controlled by anxiety, doubt and fear.
Question #2: How is peace provided?
When we examine John chapters 14-17, we discover two ways Jesus provides this peace: first through the presence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:25-26; 15:26-27). “Helper” refers to someone who has been called to come alongside to help and plead the cause of someone else. This is exactly what the Holy Spirit did in the lives of the apostles as He provided them with wisdom, guidance and strength. In fact, Jesus goes on to say that it was for their advantage that He leaves them and sends the Holy Spirit (see John 16:7). How could it be an advantage for the disciples that Jesus would leave them? What could be more spiritually advantageous than literally walking and talking with Jesus? By forcing the disciples to step out of their comfort zone, they could learn to trust God in a deeper way and experience the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.
My sister and brother-in-law recently watched their only son leave for the Navy. But knowing they had raised him to love the Lord, the sadness of seeing him go also brought with it the joy and confidence that God would continue to work in his life in a deeper and more powerful way. Sometimes the only way to grow is to step out of our comfort zones and encounter the uncertainties of life with faith and trust. Thankfully, we do not have to do this in our own strength, because we have the active presence of the Holy Spirit who right now can strengthen and empower us in our inner being (Ephesians 3:16).
The second way Jesus provides His peace is through the fellowship (unity) of believers. As Christians, we are not designed to live as islands unto ourselves. Instead, we are called to live out our faith within the community of other brothers and sisters in Christ. Before Jesus faced His arrest, trial, and crucifixion He specifically prayed for the unity of all believers (John 17:20, 21). Unity within the body of Christ occurs both on a doctrinal level (what we believe) and on a practical level (how we live out our faith). It is on this practical level where – when we go through uncertain and difficult times – it is our function as a body to encourage and bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
I have several friends with whom I meet on a monthly basis to pray. They have been a source of peace in my life as I have been for them when they faced times of uncertainty. As the Body of Christ, Jesus wants us to face our problems unified, so we may have the peace that comes through the support and love of each other. As believers in Jesus Christ, may we be unified during this time of uncertainty so we can be instruments of hope and peace to a world desperately needing it.
Question #3: How can I experience this peace?
If you want to experience the peace of Jesus right now, the very first thing you must do is repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. The Holy Spirit will dwell within you and begin to produce the fruit of His Spirit in your life – one of which is peace (Galatians 5:22-23). Secondly, you must place your trust in God and not your circumstances. This act of trust will require you to yield your will to God’s will. Jesus provides the best example of this as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42).
Knowing the agony of what He was about to experience, Jesus surrendered His will so that He could fulfill the will of His Father. This same attitude is what we need to display when we face times of uncertainty. We need to trust God and yield to His will, even when it does not seem to line up with what we want. Happily, we have the confidence that we are surrendering ourselves over to a sovereign God who is not only in control of every detail of our lives, but truly has our best interests at heart.
In this time of uncertainty, we should do more than strive for personal peace, but also seek to be used by God to bring hope to others. I recently read an article that discussed how previous pandemics in history caused major shifts in the world. Two of these impacted the Roman Empire in the 2nd century and 3rd century A.D. causing a major shift in the Empire’s worldview. According to the author, these pandemics had a mortality rate of about 25-30% of the empire’s population. At this time the empire was pagan; the majority of people worshipped multiple gods. Christianity was less than 1% of the population. The response of the Pagans and Christians to these pandemics was starkly different. The Pagans opted to live in self-isolation with the goal of self-preservation, while the Christians sought opportunities to minister to the sick and hopeless. This response by the Christians, along with several other factors, affected the Roman empire so dramatically that the author concludes by saying, “in roughly a span of a century, an essentially pagan empire found itself well on its way to becoming a majority Christian one.”
While we need to use wisdom during this pandemic – especially those of us who have underlying health risks – let us not waste the opportunity God has provided for us at this time in history! In a world overcome with uncertainty and fear, may we be living testimonies of the PEACE that comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Bill Rudge has challenged thousands of believers and Christian leaders to fast and pray. Fasting enables you to enter God’s presence with a hunger in your belly that represents the hunger in your soul. This powerful booklet, Fasting for Sensitivity and Power, will equip you to master the ancient biblical principles of fasting, which have so greatly impacted Bill’s life and ministry. Bill’s updated booklet is a great way to start the New Year as it teaches you:
• The Purpose of Fasting • Biblical Fasts
• My Fasting History • Types of Fasts
• The Big Three • Fasting Procedures
• Physical Restoration • “Impossible” Situations
• Principles of Prayer • Powerful Prayers
• Personal, Family, and Ministry Prayer and Fasting Lists
Bill’s e-booklet on fasting is available free of charge on our web site, https://billrudge.org/fasting-sensitivity-and-power-1. You can also find the e-booklet for a small fee on Amazon.com.
By Jan Gunsley
I was sitting with Ruth Carnino at the St. John XXIII Home in the fall of 2008 when Bill Rudge came to visit and left the “God’s Promise” tract which includes so much: Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer, Scriptures of Encouragement, Eternity, Knowing Him, and Words of Hope.
I thought it would really touch people’s lives so I started sending these tracts in sympathy, birthday, get well and other cards. I also gave tracts to my friends, at high school reunions and different get-togethers, and when visiting people. I gave them to the congregation at Orangeville Baptist Church and told them about the tract ministry since they contribute to Bill Rudge Ministries.
When I sold my home in August 2020, we had a sale and my nephew, Daniel Guzik, sat by the front porch and gave out tracts to all. He knows the Lord and was so happy to do it. When done, I told him we had another job to do and that was “to pray for all that received the tracts.” He said, “Oh, I will.”
May you consider a tract ministry! These tracts are free of charge at BRM but eternally rewarding.
Dr. Guy Bongiovanni’s daughter, Linda, and his wife, Esther (above left), donated a library of books to BRM from Guy’s Life Enrichment Ministries. Sheree Zippay and Carolyn Gonano donated their father’s audio equipment, and many other friends of the ministry donated Bibles, books, devotionals, audio messages and other biblical resources and supplies for our World Literature Outreach. Norm Simons and Dick Hetrick picked up the books at Bongiovanni’s, then Bruce Adams helped Norm and Sue Simons load their truck at BRM (above center). Several office staff surrounded the truck to pray for safe delivery and that many lives will be touched for Christ through these materials. Norm and Sue delivered their truck load and Ann Ore (above right) took a van load of BRM materials to missions, with which we partner, who ship them in large containers to various missions throughout the world. We also mail thousands of smaller packages (containing books and audio messages by Bill and BJ) directly to missionaries, pastors, chaplains, military personnel, prisoners, students and others requesting them.
A Note From Esther:
Dear Bill: What a blessing it was to have you, Norman, and Dick pick up the boxes of books from Guy’s library. You are truly blessed to have such men volunteering consistently in your ministry. They certainly portray a servant’s heart. Of course, I am especially grateful to the Lord for you who was so quick to be of help in any way you could. I always say, “you are a ‘trophy’ of God’s Grace.” What you were and what you have become just demonstrates the power of God to change a person’s life. God has blessed your ministry so tremendously, it just thrills me. And, of course, I cannot forget Karen, who has stood by you as your helpmeet. What a blessing! God bless you! Esther Bongiovanni, Canfield, Ohio
by Wendy Wippel
Wendy Wippel is a molecular biologist who specializes in genetics. The following are excerpts from an article in The Lamplighter magazine. Used with permission.
It’s the Christmas season, and amid the baking and the bustling and the bows, it’s easy to lose sight of what the fuss is all about — a baby. As the old carol asks, “What child is this?” There’s a lot riding on your answer. Because that baby is the central figure of human history. Human history, in fact, is divided into two eras (BC and AD) by His existence. (Your birth date? Counted from His.)
• He never traveled more than 100 miles from home, but His followers permeated every country in the world with His story.
• He never wrote a book, but more have been written about Him than anyone else in history, by far.
• The first book about Him, the Bible, has been translated into more than 500 languages, and portions of it into more than 3000 languages.
• He had only 12 disciples, but billions of people discuss His teachings every day.
• He was homeless during His public life, but most of the world’s most beautiful buildings were built in His honor (Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey, Hagia Sophia, Chartres, St. John’s Cathedral, and so on.)
• He died as a criminal, but today thousands of names of cities and countries memorialize His life. (San Salvador, for example, which means Holy Savior.)
• He never married, but more wedding vows have asked His blessing than any other.
• He never had kids, but there’s a really good chance you’re named after one of his family or his friends.
• Untold numbers of people throughout history have willingly gone to their deaths rather than renounce His name.
Jesus is recognized by skeptic and saint alike as the turning point of history. What child IS this? We’ve had 2000 years to speculate: A really moral man? A great philosopher? A champion of social justice? A pacifist? A mythical figure? A revolutionary? An example for all of us to follow?
Those really aren’t the right questions, though. The real question is “Who does He think He is?” And Jesus, tellingly, said none of the above. Jesus said that He came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus said that He came to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). In fact, He said that He came specifically for one moment in time, His crucifixion (John 12:27).
What child is this? We all have to answer that question for ourselves. And eternity rides on our answer. Why? Because God created humans to be with Him. But you probably know what happened next – Adam and Eve disobeyed the one rule that God established, and humanity became tainted with sin. And as descendants of Adam and Eve, we inherited that condition. We’re all SIN positive.
The problem is that sin can’t survive in the presence of the holiness of God. But that same God still loves us and wants us to be with Him. So Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. We’re what was lost (John 1:12; 3:16).
Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s great for you, but it’s just not my thing.” Or, “I have my own faith.” Or, “We all worship the same God.” Then what child is this? One that made some pretty amazing statements:
I am the way, the truth, the life. No man comes to the Father but through Me (John 14:6). All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me (Matthew 28:18).
Nobody else said things like this. Not Mohammed. Not Confucius. Not Buddha. Nobody. People these days say that makes Christianity exclusive. Except that Jesus also said that whosoever believes in Him can have eternal life. Whosoever.
So what child is this? You can call Him a liar. You can call Him a lunatic. Or you can call Him Lord. “Undecided” isn’t really an option. He didn’t mean for it to be.
Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be the Messiah, a Messiah described in Isaiah as “wounded for our transgressions,” whose chastisement made peace for us with God. Jesus said that He came to give us life as a ransom for many. Nobody else said that. Nobody.
That’s what sets Jesus apart. Only He laid down His life for your sins and mine. And when He died on that cross (a fact documented in Roman records) it would have certainly seemed that was the last history would hear of Him.
But the cross that He died on is now the world’s most common symbol, engraved on tombstones, mounted in and on churches, scattered on hillsides and hung around a whole lot of necks.
So what child is this? That’s the question. And the answer … God, in the form of Jesus, left heaven to seek and save that which was lost, meaning you and me. When He died on the cross, God was saying that He loves you. He Himself came to earth to give His life as your ransom. It was the God of all the universe, whispering into your ears, “I do.” And that God, who still loves you, stands at the altar, waiting for your answer. He’ll wait. He has all eternity to do so. Do you?
by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.
King Herod was famous for the many buildings he constructed, and for his insatiable desire for power. He would go to any length eliminating threats to his kingdom. He even had several family members, including his wife Mariamne, executed. Consequently, the Roman emperor Augustus reportedly said, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than son” (Macrobius, Saturnalia, 2:4:11) – the implication being that, since Herod was a Jew, he did not eat pork and his pig would be safe.
Herod’s deceptive and violent reaction should come as no surprise then, following the wise men’s visit to Jerusalem in search of the newborn King of the Jews. Only Herod could be the King of the Jews, so in response to the birth of Jesus, he ordered the slaughter of all boys two years old and under (Matthew 2:16-18).
The same spirit that lived in Herod is alive today in those who oppose the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have declared an outright war to eradicate the Christian faith.
Despite the battles raging around us, take comfort in knowing that our God is in control. His plans can never be thwarted, and although it may seem for a time that the enemy is winning, the final outcome of the war has already been decided (Revelation 19). Until that day of rejoicing, let us stand against this spirit of Herod by living authentic lives, being transformed by the power of God’s Spirit and demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ – even to the very ones who assault and attack His name.
Just as the spirit of Herod could not silence Jesus back then, it will never silence the true message of Christmas. Let us share and live out this message everyday in a world that desperately needs to hear it:
Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11).
by Jim Weikal
Children and adults are able to recognize a Christmas gift. Bouncy bows, tightly stretched ribbon, colorfully designed paper, and sticky labels with “To” and “From” are a dead giveaway. However, there is a gift that keeps on giving but it is constantly missed by most of humanity – Jesus Christ.
He made the world but the world’s people did not even know Him. They believe a god or gods of their own creation made the world or it just happened by random chance. But some received Him and believed in His name.
The true Light which gives light to every man came into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (John 1:9–12).
You may get several Christmas gifts this season, but if you miss the true gift that came into the world, you have received only perishable trinkets. You may have a sparse Christmas this year, but, if you receive the Light that came into the world, your gift is imperishable and eternal: “the right to become children of God.”