Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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Historically, Who Was Jesus?

          There is no doubt that Jesus was born, existed, died on the cross and rose again, from the dead.  The historical facts verify these things.  The only question the skeptic has left is who was He, in comparison to who He and others said He was.    

Jesus' resurrection seems to be the major sticking point. The following are the facts -
1. The tomb was found to be empty.

2. The belief of the disciples, that He appeared to them after His death and who then went around telling the people about Him.  Presently, two and a half  billion people claim to be Christian.

3. He was pronounced dead, by a Roman soldier, to Pilot. He would not have lied to Pilot, the head Roman leader, to whom he was subject.

4. The first few reports of His resurrection were not believed by His disciples.  When they saw Him they believed.

5. Over 500 witnesses saw Him alive, throughout a 40 day period of time.  Most of these witnesses were still alive when it was written, in the Gospels, that they saw Him.

What historical writings, other than the Bible, told about Jesus?

1. Flavius Josephus:  Josephus wrote “Antiquities of the Jews” in about 94AD. In it he mentions Jesus twice.

2. In his Annals, Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 CE) writes that Christians "derived their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate" (Annals 15.44)

3. In his The Lives of the Caesars, Suetonius, writing around 120 CE, states: "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Emperor Claudius in 49 CE] expelled them from Rome." (Claudius 5.25.4)

4. In a lost work referred to by Julius Africanus in the third century, the pagan writer Thallus reportedly claimed that Jesus' death was accompanied by an earthquake and darkness.

5. Pliny the Younger, writing near 100 CE, corresponded regularly with the emperor Trajan. In these writings, Pliny specifically mentions and describes the beliefs and practices of Christians in Asia Minor, and asks Trajan's advice about what action to take against them, if any. However, Pliny's writings provide no independent confirmation of the events of the New Testament, but merely show that there were indeed Christians living in Asia Minor.

6. There are only a few clear references to Jesus in the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings compiled between approximately A.D. 70-500.

7. In  c170 Lucian wrote a satire on a Greek philosopher in which the philosopher spent some time with Christians. In the course of this, Jesus is mentioned.

8. Celsus was a philosopher who wrote a treatise against Christianity (c180AD) in which he mentions Jesus.

9. Thallus: Wrote a history in the mid first century AD which mentions the darkness at Jesus’ crucifixion. The work is lost but was quoted by the second century Julius Africanus.

10. Phlegon: Wrote an astronomical treatise which mentions the darkness at Jesus’ crucifixion.

11. Clement of Rome:  In 96AD Clement wrote a letter to the church in Corinth. In this he mentions Jesus and alludes to the New Testament.

12. Ignatius of Antioch:  Wrote a series of letters as he was taken to Rome to be killed for his faith in 117AD. He mentions Jesus and quotes from the New Testament.

13. Polycarp:  Polycarp wrote a letter at the start of the second century AD in which he mentions Jesus and quotes from the New Testament.

14. The Didache:  This is a work of uncertain date but probably from the first century AD. It mentions Jesus and quotes from the New Testament.

These are so close to the time of Jesus that to ignore them would be an example of complete bigotry.

"The wealth of these sayings is evidence that Jesus was a historical figure. From only the non-Christian sources we can find out:-

1. when Jesus lived, where he was born and brought up,

2. where he carried out his teaching,

3. that he had influence as a teacher,

4. that he performed actions considered to be miraculous,

5. that he was executed,

6. that people claimed to have seen him alive afterwards,

7. that he was widely described as “Christ”

8. that he had a brother called James" (http://www.biblethink.org.uk/page26.html)

"Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts, and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate. There is a significant debate about his nature, his actions and his sayings, but most scholars agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7-4 BC and died 30–36 AD, that he lived in Galilee and Judea and did not preach or study elsewhere, and that he spoke Aramaic and perhaps also Hebrew and Greek.

Scholars attribute varying levels of certainty to other episodes. E.P. Sanders and Craig A. Evans independently state that there are two other incidents in the life of Jesus that can be considered historical: that Jesus called disciples, and that he caused a controversy at the Temple. This extended view assumes that there are eight elements about Jesus and his followers that can be viewed as historical facts—four episodes in the life of Jesus and four about him and his followers, namely:

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. He called disciples. He had a controversy at the Temple. Jesus was crucified by the Romans near Jerusalem.

Jesus was a Galilean. His activities were confined to Galilee and Judea. After his death his disciples continued. Some of his disciples were persecuted ." (Wikipedia)

          We can see that Jesus was an actual historical figure.  He, His disciples and many others said that He was the Messiah.  He said He was the Son of God.  He admitted to being the Christ of God.  He said He was born to be a king - not of this world.  He said He was the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He said the only way to the Father was through Him.  He said the only way to Heaven is through Him.  He also said: If you deny me before men, I will deny you before My Father.
          The foundation of the Christian experience is not the fact that Jesus lived here as a man on earth.  Jesus always was, is now and will be forever.  The foundation of Christianity is that He, who lives forever, for a short time, came to be with us, in the flesh, to establish the personal relationship with us that He intended to have when He created the heavens and the earth.  

          Now we can see that the question is not who Jesus was; that is well established.  The most important question now is, who is Jesus in your life?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

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Satan In The Church

          For almost 2,000 years the Church has been warned that apostasy would be inserted into the Christian Church.  This apostasy began in several ways.  First, the judaizers and the Gnostics caused trouble in the early apostolic churches, as described in the scriptures.  Second, and even more insidious, is the 'Replacement Theology' as developed by the Roman church in the second and third centuries.  This abominable misinterpretation/misrepresentation of scripture is the basis on which many borderline Christians, and those who are Christian in name only, are led to believe God has abandoned His 'chosen people' in favor of the Church.  This blasphemy has been espoused by many of today's denominations such as the Presbyterian, Episcopal, the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches and Baptists, among others.  Not all local churches and/or parishoners, within these denominations, are tainted with this false teaching.  Be on alert that you are not deceived in this matter.

          To believe in this doctrine, over the doctrine of God, you must ignore all of the Old Testament and many of the New Testament references to The Hebrew  people as being "His people".  Abraham was the first Hebrew, and by his seed the nation of Israel developed. 

          It is well documented in scripture, that when one becomes a "Born Again" Christian, they are grafted into the vine of Judaism, whose root is God.  Therefore we see that a 'true' Christian is in fact a part of Judaism, rather than antagonist to it.  From the beginning of the "Christian Era"(The Church) there were Jews that accepted Jesus as Messiah, and those who as yet have not.  There were those Jews who were pruned out of the branch and there were gentiles who, when they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior were grafted in. Nowhere is it stated that the new branches replaced the old branches, but rather that the old discarded branches could be grafted back in again.  Let us not forget the 144,000 Jewish boys who are going to recognize Jesus and preach His salvation during the tribulation period. 

          Divestment in Israeli businesses, and companies who do business with Israeli companies, as proposed by some groups and associations, falls into direct conflict with "I will bless those who bless thee", and calls forth "I will curse those who curse thee". 

          Joint control over Jerusalem, where God chooses to place His Name, by the three monotheistic religions as proposed by the Vatican and others will never be condoned by the 'Creator of the World'.  The name, above all names, is Jehovah,  not Allah; it is that name (and other Jewish derivatives of that name) that He places in Jerusalem.  While we are at it, the Isa in the Koran is not the Jesus in the Bible. You can't get more blasphemous than to deny that Jesus is God, say the Holy Spirit doesn't exist and say that Allah is God the Father, which are the false teachings of the Koran.

          The name Palestine was given to Jerusalem, by the Roman emperor Hadrian, as an insult to the Jews, after the rebellion in 130 Anno Domini (year of our Lord). Obviously, the only ones entitled therefore to be referred to as Palestinians are the Jewish residents of Jerusalem. Most of those, who use that name today, are no more than displaced Jordanians.

          When are we going to finally acknowledge that Jesus, when He was begotten here on the earth, was born as a Jew?  He, being God, decided that He would accomplish his work through His 'chosen people'.  Throughout the Old Testament, the coming of Jesus is prophesied.   He was born through a Jewish girl, raised by a Jewish man, lived as a Jew, was schooled as a Jew, worked as a Jew, respected the Mosaic laws, His disciples were mostly Jewish, He preached to the Jews, and died as a Jew. 

 For further information on this subject I refer you to some of our past writings:

Anti-Semitism    http://www.thespiritsnestministries.com/2012/07/anti-semitism.html

Believing the Lie   http://www.thespiritsnestministries.com/2014/01/believing-lie.html

Jew Envy   http://www.thespiritsnestministries.com/2012/03/jew-envy.html

Eloi, Eloi, Boruck HaShem, Adonai, Amen

Thursday, April 10, 2014

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Blood Moons

          "Hear oh Israel: the Lord our Lord is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4).  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  The interpretation of scripture is by the power of the Holy Spirit, present in the believer.  "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of Heaven..."(Matthew 13:11).  The Lord created the sun, the moon and the stars for signs(Genesis 1:14).  "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2: 31).  Our Lord has many ways to communicate with us: the Bible(Word of God), dreams, visions, revelation by the Holy Spirit and signs in the heavens.  The question is, are we watching and listening?

          Four consecutive lunar eclipses in a row, without any partial eclipses in between, are known as a tetrad.  The tetrad of blood moons, in history,  occured around the Jewish events - not necessarily  right on them.  There have been 500 tetrads in history; 1-2013.  This 2014 to 2015 tetrad will be the fourth since 1492. 

History of the Tetrad (four blood moons)

1.  1492-94  The Jews were kicked out of Spain while Columbus (thought to be Jewish) discovered America, which turned out to be a safe haven for the Jews.  There are more Jews in America than in Israel.

2.  1948-50  Israel became a Nation again.

3.  1967-68  Israel took possession of Jerusalem.

4.  2014  Calendar

April 15, 2014 - Passover - April 15, 2014

October 8,2014 - Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot

     2015   Calendar

March 20, 2015  Total solar eclipse

April 4, 2015  Passover - blood moon

Sept. 13, 2015 Rosh Hashanah - partial solar eclipse

September 28, 2015 Feast of Tabernacles - super blood moon

Are there future tetrads predicted?

Feast of Tabernacles will be on Monday October 10, 2022.  A total lunar eclipse will take place on May 16, 2022, the first of two total lunar eclipses in 2022, the second being on November 8.  There are no more tetrads on feast days for at least the next 500 years, as established by NASA’s orbital experts.

          We know that Jesus was born in September at the feast of Tabernacles, and He died on Passover.  He rose again on the festival of First Fruits.  Supposition is that the rapture will be on the feast of Trumpets and the second coming will be on the feast of Tabernacles.  The year is the illusive point of contention.   We must keep in mind that it is the Hebrew calendar that must be used.  Don't ask me, because only God the Father knows the dates.  "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;(Revelation 6:12)."

          I do recommend, if you desire further information, you go to the original discoverer of the blood moon phenomenon, Mark Biltz. (http://www.elshaddaiministries.us/)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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Prayer Warriors

          A few months ago, I became a part of the prayer chain at our Church. This morning I began reading one of the prayer requests and her accompanying prayer that she had written for each of us to pray and join in agreement.  She and her husband have been the main building blocks in the creation and maintenance of what has become a very robust and vibrant prayer ministry.  They have taken part as prayer warriors, not just for months, but for years.  As I read her prayer, I could only thank God for the inspiration that both hers and her husband’s prayers have been to me.

As I began writing this morning, my intention was to write a brief paragraph expressing my thanks for the encouragement I have often received just in the reading of the prayers of others.  However, before I knew it, the ‘paragraph’ had blossomed and grown into far more. Being a part of our prayer chain, even though it has been but a short blip in time for me, has served to awaken my heart to the importance of our commitment in this arm of service unto our Lord.  I have not had the pleasure of even meeting many of the persons involved, but meeting each of them through our prayer ministry has been a blessing that has been used as a love letter from The Lord to instill within my heart the truth of His word when He promised, “where two or three gather in my name, He there I am with them.”(Matt. 18:20)  We may not be 'together' face to face, but more importantly and far more powerfully, we are 'together' in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

     Some time ago, our pastor came to visit me while I was in the hospital.  The conversation brought up a mention of the increased problems being faced by the person who was the main core and supporter for the prayer chain.  As her own family needs had presently become more intensive and demanding, she was finding it harder to devote as much time as was needed.  I got the impression that she might be concerned for the continuation of a robust and vibrant intercessory prayer ministry within our church which, as I have learned, is not limited to the confines of our own church, but is often opened to requests from those in the world at large.  She and others had been praying that the Lord would move others to take up the slack and relieve her of having to carry so much of the load.  At the time, you would not believe the load she was already carrying as caregiver of several members of her family.  Before our pastor left, we joined in prayer.  After returning home from the hospital, I was further encouraged through my sister, and the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit to, slowly but surely, begin to take part in the prayer chain ministry.      

      Whether The Lord returns tomorrow or many years from now, the urgency of The Lord's call upon His people to awake from our slumber and the disease of apathy is shouting out like the ringing of an alarm.   Each of us needs to hear and respond with action so that we can be His true body that is meant to be the salt of the earth, being doers of the word and not just hearers.  Too often we are lulled into thinking that prayer is something that is best left in the more capable hands of others, as if it required some kind of deeper understanding or preparation.  God never told us that we had to go to school for further training in the art of praying before we were to indulge and take part in the action and practice of it.  He has simply instructed us to pray and pray ‘without ceasing.’  He has even told us when we don’t know how or what to pray the Holy Spirit does, and He will help us. (Rom. 8: 26)  What more could we ask?  There is no more value in a prayer that has a bunch of big words and platitudes in it than there is in a simple cry of our hearts unto the Lord saying, “Jesus, help me!”  It’s not our words that matter, but the action of calling upon the name of the Lord to seek his face in all that we do. (Jer. 33: 3)

     When I first started taking part in this ministry, I quickly became aware of the challenges that it can bring into one's life. One of the first characteristics that I became acquainted with was how overwhelming it can be at times to be given the knowledge of the many needs of others.  I can see how the devil can try to discourage you and me from getting involved in the prayer ministry.  He will whisper his deceiving words and lies to try to stop us before we have hardly even begun: "This is too depressing. Forget about this! Haven't you got enough problems of your own to handle?  After all, you're only one person and what can you do to fix things, or really help any one of them?  Besides that, it just takes too much time and energy."  If we let him, he has a whole litany of lies prepared to throw at us to try to hinder our service, not only to one another, but even more to restrict our service to the Lord.  At one point, upon receiving words of thanks for my participation and expressions of appreciation for the ‘beauty’ of my prayers, I didn’t know how to receive or respond to these complimentary words.  I really ‘felt’ and ‘heard’ the accuser, we know who he is, say, “Uh huh, see there, you’re doing this to draw attention to yourself.”  I began to feel ashamed and even questioned my motives. I was reluctant to give my name as the writer, as I was afraid of giving an “appearance of evil.”  I took my concerns to my sister who is always a great encourager.  Thank God for the continual help and support of my own family members throughout the years of my life.  The Lord used her to straighten out my ‘stinking thinking.’  She showed me how this fear was being used by the devil to try to silence my prayers and service to the Lord.  She pointed out to me that we are each given gifts, and the Lord expects us to use them for His glory.  To hide, and not use them, is to be like the servant that buried that which his master had given him; therefore, upon his master’s return, the servant had only to give back that which originally belonged to his master and no more. (Matt 25: 14- 30)  True, we are not to be boastful of the gifts that God has given us, as if they were of our own making.  But not using them in the service of the Lord is equivalent to quenching the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit which is meant to be manifested to the glory of God in our lives. We have to remember that “Satan is as a roaring lion, roaming too and fro, seeking whom he may devour.”(I Peter 5:8)  If he can stop and silence any one of us, he has succeeded in robbing from the body of Christ; thus, we have enabled him to do so by listening to his lies instead of listening to and following the voice of the Lord.

          Isn’t it ironic that we won’t take our cares to the Lord sometimes because we may think we shouldn’t bother God with our “petty little problems?”  Large or small, God loves us and wants to be involved in every part of our lives.  Would we hide something from our spouse?  Of course not; therefore, there is all the more reason to open our hearts in full disclosure to our Lord who has loved us first.  In addition, some people are timid about praying because they feel they don’t know how to pray as ‘eloquently’ as someone else.  You know that is just another ploy of the devil.  Comparing our abilities to someone else’s is not what God has intended.  Think of all the singers in the world and how their numbers and diversities of talents would be reduced if they all held back in sharing their talent with us just because someone else might sing better.  I can think of some who sing with great technical abilities, but it never touched my soul because their music was without feeling and heart.  There was a lady in our church years ago, that did not have what may be called ‘a great voice.’  But every time she sang, the Spirit of the Lord moved to change the hearts of many who listened.

          Satan may try to tell you that this job is just too depressing or too wearisome; however, if we remember that we are to do all things as unto the Lord,(Coll. 3: 17, 23) the joy of the Lord will rise up within your spirit, overcoming the would be depression and lies of the devil, replacing them with “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”(Isaiah 61: 3)  One's heart is stirred to want to rise up and take flight, being clothed with the righteousness of the Lord, and equipped for the battle at hand with the full armor of the Lord.  We may view ourselves as only one voice, inept and unprepared for the job.  But wait, should we not remind ourselves that God has promised that in our weakness He is made strong?  When it came to defeating Goliath, did He choose the biggest and the strongest to go into battle against him?  No, He sent  little David, armed with nothing but a sling shot and five little pebbles, or at least that is what it would have looked like to Goliath, who was laughing incredulously I’m sure as he saw this puny looking young kid coming out to do battle with him.  But David knew he had something far greater than size, armor, numbers, weapons, strength or dependence upon any of those visible things.  He knew, without a doubt, that he was fully prepared as he went forth armed in and protected by the name of the One True God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; through whom he had the victory by faith before it was ever manifested to the vision of the witnesses at hand. (I Sam. Ch 17) When our hearts are moved with compassion for what others are going through, let us remember that we may appear to the adversary as though we too are only ‘puny little Davids,’ but God has said, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”(I John 4: 4) Often, no matter what our own personal problems and frailties may be, they seem to fade from sight when we are willing to take our eyes off of ourselves, and place our focus on Jesus and His desires of what He wants to do in and through us.  We need to remember that we are His vessels, His instruments.  Let us not be intimidated, manipulated, or conformed by the powers this world; let us be transformed into the image of God, having the mind of Christ, “by the washing of the water of the word.”(Romans 12: 1, 2)  He has designed each of us for a purpose, “to do that which is pleasing in His sight,”(Philip. 2:13) submitting our will, to do the will of the Lord.  All He requires of us is a repentant heart that is willing to say, “Here am I Lord, use me.”(Psalm 51:17)

          Sometimes, when reading some of our prayer requests, I remember thinking, how in the world is this person, family, etc. getting through any of this?  In the frailty of my own humanity, I find myself feeling like ‘this is impossible.  All I can do is pray.’  We often think of prayer in terms of being ‘only prayer,’ as if it were a last resort thing to do after we have done all else.  In fact, we have been taught by the word that we should seek the face of the Lord first bringing all our cares to Him in prayer. (Philip. 4:6)  Somehow, somewhere along the way, we have been deceived into thinking that prayer is a miniscule thing of little significance in the battle against the powers and principalities of the darkness of this world.  We have forgotten that the first purpose of prayer is to give praise, glory and honor to the Lord.  We have forgotten how Jesus went out away from the crowds and spent much time in prayer, not only to take His cares unto His Father, but to listen to the voice of His Father that He might always be about doing the work of His Father in Heaven.  We have forgotten that when the Israelites went out to war, the praise and prayer warriors were sent out ahead, giving God the glory, proclaiming victory in the power of the One True God, knowing that the battle and the victory were in the hands of the Lord.  “Not by might, not by power, but by MY SPIRIT, says the Lord.”(Zech. 4:6)  Yes, the battle is the Lord’s, but aren’t we meant to be active members in the army of the Lord?  We have but to look at the ever increasing lawlessness and godlessness of the world around us to know that Satan is not dormant.  Knowing that he is out and active in full force, shouldn’t we be all the more diligent to “pray without ceasing,”(I Thess. 5: 16-18) following Jesus as He is “seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,” ever interceding for you and I?(Rom. 8: 34)


          When I begin to feel downhearted, out of compassion for what others are going through, my first reaction may be, “O Lord, how are they ever going to make it through this?”  And then the Lord reminds me yet once again in the power of His word- "By the grace of God; His grace IS sufficient."(II Cor. 12: 9)  “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”(II Cor. 10: 4)  In unity of the power of the Holy Spirit who continues to do that good work in us till we meet our Lord face to face in Gloryland,(I Philip. 1: 6) let us rise up in His strength to be active members, with fellow believers, in the army of the Lord.  Let us encourage one another and ever proclaim the wondrous saving power found only in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  “Let God arise and His enemies be scattered!”(Psalm 68: 1)  Blessings and the Peace of the Lord be with you and in you in Jesus name, Amen!!