Sunday, 29 July 2012

World Peace?

Recently, as part of a course I'm doing with Herbert W. Armstrong College, I have been exploring the 'end times' - a fascinating, mind-blowing, enigmatic topic which leaves one obsessively pondering over the 'signs' and their 'interpretations'.

During the 'end times', we see that world leaders or authorities will promise 'global peace'. Sadly, we read on in prophesies that this is a 'superficial peace'.
'World Peace' is a concept that humanity has yearned for, for decades and centuries; unfortunately it is a dream that some have given up on. Nonetheless, leaders a many, past and present, have sought it, following what they've thought to be right.
However, has anyone successfully achieved it? No! Will they ever successfully achieve it? Sadly, No! ...but Why Not?...

War and war related turmoil, is what cuts short the path to attaining 'World Peace' - history has taught us well that those who have actively sought 'World Peace' have only found themselves creating wars.

James 4:1-2
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

The root of war, is 'human nature' - the various fleeting desires contrary to God's will and commands, battling within us, conceiving corruption that in turn gives birth to war. We, as humans, are 'stiff-necked' - refusing to submit to authority, God's authority - instead we let our pride, vanity, jealousy, lust and selfishness rule over us.
An increase in knowledge, as the Bible says, directly increases pride if it isn't built on the love of and for God. As those who possess knowledge or authority count themselves 'great' in some form or another, they trust their own judgement and become 'self-reliant'. This is true for those who turn against God and place their love for pleasure (of any kind) before Him.

Proverbs 16:25
There is a way that appears right, but in the end it leads to death.

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

What we perceive as 'right' surely leads to death if we aren't rooted in the Lord and His word. The heart - 'the center of human thoughts and emotions' - is highly deceitful as it is swayed effortlessly by our flesh's fleeting desires. We also read that it is complicated, hence, incomprehensible. It is probable that one, especially a leader or ruler, is swayed by it, blinded by the thirst for power, popularity and recognition. Thus, their deeds and intentions, are bound to be tainted by their own flawed nature (One of they key reasons, why I strongly believe in good, fervent, praying Christians ruling and leading the country (point will be made clearer)).

Romans 3:16-17
Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.

Isaiah 59:8
They way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace.

Isaiah 33:7-8
Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly. The highways are deserted, no travelers are on the roads. The treaty is broken, its witnesses are despised, no one is respected.

In an attempt to bring about such 'peace' the UN was formed, and world leaders constantly intervene in the affairs of other countries; they've achieved a lot but haven't resulted in much with regards to 'World Peace' - corrupt leaders have always arisen and never cease to arise! It is elucidated that the carnal mind does not know what peace or justice truly means, it just 'thinks' it does. All their ways are tainted by the desires of the flesh - primarily, because it lacks the 'fear of God'.
Human plans for 'peace' always end abruptly causing a lot of pain - they do not provide a lasting solution. However, during the worst point of this pain God promises to intervene, commencing the 'end of the age'. War is always the result of lust and covetousness - a part of our human nature - man cannot 'change' this nature, he cannot transform every heart, let alone his own. World authorities and leaders propose negotiations of various sorts, but they cannot address the problem, thus can NEVER bring about lasting peace.

Isaiah 33:9-10
The land dries up and wastes away, Lebanon is ashamed and withers; Sharon is like Arabah, and Bashan and Carmel drop their leaves. "Now will I arise," says the LORD. "Now will I be exalted; now will I be lifted up."

Ezekiel 36:26(a)
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you...

Only God can change the human heart and nature, he can renew us and give us a 'new' one when we become 'born again'. A ruler or government that focuses on truly fearing, trusting and obeying God will be able to possess a clear, deception free heart led by God, however in our secular society this seems highly improbable; in fact, such a government has never been established and will not be able to thrive, in our present world. Do not be heavy-laden, God certainly promises to intervene. He is the only remedy for wars and turmoil, He is the only solution, the only one who can bring about 'World Peace'. Until He sees it the right time to bring about His kingdom where this phenomenon is possible and can prevail, our efforts are in vain.

Therefore, let us not be fooled by the worthless, empty promises made or assurances given with regards to 'peace'; it is a heavenly nature which we know NOTHING of! Instead, let us continue to evangelize and stand up for the sake of the Gospel in all aspects of life and law, and importantly, let us lift our leaders, authorities, governments and countries in prayer - seeking God's kingdom, His will and for lives to be transformed continually by the Gospel, until He returns. He has promised, He has the power, thus He will fulfill - Fear, Trust and Obey!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Get Your Multicolored Coats On!

Listening to a sermon by Jentezen Franklin, my soul was stirred...

What made Joseph the object of reproach, scorn and hate, in the sight of his brothers?

His dazzling, gorgeous, vibrant, loud, multicolored coat!


It made him different; unique and special - thus, stand out from the crowd.

That's exactly how we ought to be as Christians! Our lives should be like the multicolored coat...
We ought to challenge and let go of status-quo! Quit trying to fit in, quit trying to be like everyone else!

1 John 2:15
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

What does it mean to be different?

Ideologies, practices that are obviously sinful, have become fashionable and society's norm - drunkenness, lust, sexual immorality, foul it! Seriously, do you want to be a part of that? Do you want to be associated with all that filth?
Our Savior has given up His life to save us from our sinfulness, how much do we value the price He paid? We merely insult it, if we willingly take pleasure in indulging in it!
If everyone else spends their weekend getting drunk, say NO, resist yourself. Silence and rebuke the urge in yourself to indulge in sinful talk or behavior. Say NO!
Shouldn't there be a tangible, audible, visible difference in the lives of those inside and those outside the church?

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.

The devil has got to HATE you - hate you for not following the crowd; for not conforming to the repulsive, world pattern he has integrated into our society.

Moreover, Joseph's brothers wanted his coat, they were jealous - they longed for the coat to the extent that hatred sprung from their deprivation.
Live a life that dazzles others, baffles others...a life that others want, a life that reflects your Savior and how much you value His sacrifice. Let us pray that God strengthens and equips us to stand out from the crowd, make Him proud and not to give in to external and internal pressures we continuously face.
If there isn't a change in yourself - a vibrant, loud, eye-catching change in the way you live your life - ask yourself, WHY?

If you're not hated, you're not living right!

John 15:19
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Dare to be different to make a difference!
Get your multicolored coats on!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Daniel's Bewildering Visions

A couple of days ago I was reading Daniel Chapter 8. It describes one of Daniel's most bewildering visions. What amazed me was its near future, historical relevance and the simultaneous distant future, apocalyptic relevance. Even after Gabriel interprets it, explaining the historical relevance, Daniel is left perplexed and worried, accentuating the complex nature of his visions.

The Historical Relevance

What Gabriel states, in explanation to Daniel, has already come to pass, Biblical prophecies are real, another proof that the Bible isn't just an ordinary book written by a bunch of crazy men - it is God-breathed and was written by men who were inspired by God, they themselves understood very little of what they actually noted down (as depicted by Daniel's baffled response).

The vision commences with the image of a ram with two long horns - however, one horn is longer than the other. The ram established its might in the north, south and the west.  Gabriel later refers to the ram as the Medo-Persian empire. The longer horn clearly refers to the Medians as they emerged first and the later, the Persians. As the map illustrates, the directions in which the Medo-Persian empire extends its dominion historically, is accurate with the Biblical prophecy. Moreover, this also fulfills one more of Daniel's visions as it links to the 'bear with 3 ribs' in Chapter 7 - Medo-Persian empire, having defeated Babylon, Egypt and Lydia, seems to fit the description well.

Map of the 4 divisions of GreeceHistorically, the Greek empire followed the Medo-Persian with Alexander the Great actively conquering over and thrashing the Medians and the Persians. Gabriel's interpretation of the goat which follows the ram, therefore is very accurate. It is also, thus, universally agreed that the single horn symbolizes Alexander the Great. After this horn was broken, in its place emerge 4 smaller ones - from one of the four, emerges a tinier one. This beautifully parallels with the four Divisions of the Greek Empire after Alexander's death as the kingdom was divided between his four general successors: Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus and Ptolemy.
However, unlike the unanimity in the agreements regarding the interpretation of the other images, the little horn has been the center of many disputes, disagreements and debates - while some outline the possibility of it representing Antiochus of Epiphanes, a Syrian who ruthlessly persecuted Jews; others believed it could represent the Roman Papal Dynasty, due to its predominant influence in laws and other matters which also complied to the description in Chapter 7. (Please check out this article for an in depth analysis of the various interpretations: The 'Little Horn' of Daniel's Sea-Beast)

The Apocalyptic Relevance

Besides the excitement this evokes, we ought not forget the passage's apocalyptic relevance which will affect our future. Gabriel did say, "...seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future." This is the beauty of the Bible, although it was primarily meant for the different era, it is also very contemporary and relevant to our society. The words in it are ever-pertinent, thus significant, and should not be changed!

Many have devised ideas and interpretations trying to surface the apocalyptic relevance the book of Daniel holds, especially this Chapter! (I know that I myself have formed an idea of my own about how this fantastical book relates to the end times - which, for obvious reasons, I will not be sharing here!) But, God is the only One who ultimately knows what these wise words truly mean; our incompetent minds often fail us.

However, one thing is certain. The precision and accuracy rendered historically, automatically implies the same when we take the apocalyptic relevance into consideration. Be weary, search God's word and earnestly seek to fathom its mysteries in prayer. Let us be prepared for the Lord's coming! Are you ready to meet our Lord, the God of the universe?
Recently a thought grabbed my attention... one of the worst feelings one could ever feel, is when they care about or love a person to such an extent, however that same care or love isn't reciprocated, appreciated or even recognized.

This thought saddened me greatly. As I reflected, I realized something far more upsetting...
There is Someone who cares about me very much, He has done so much for me, He loved me to such an extent that He gave His life to save me - that Someone is God...however, I rarely thank Him, I rarely show my love for Him, I rarely do anything back for Him, in fact I rarely think about Him although I'm always on His mind! Does this sound familiar?

We neglect spending time with God, the one who immeasurably loves us. We seldom reciprocate, appreciate or even recognize the love He has for us...wouldn't that sadden, grieve and hurt a God who has sacrificed everything for us. The greatest heartache is said to be, when one waits for a loved one without realizing that they're trying to avoid them. If this can be said of humans, whose love is 'limited', it'll have to be aggrandized greatly to express the heartache God feels, whose love is 'unlimited'.

Give Him what He deserves, set aside at least a small part of your day, say 30mins or an hour, just to focus on God and spend some quality time with Him. A lack of communication not only hurts people, it destroys a relationship.