Understand the Times!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

1 Chronicles 12:32 And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Among the mighty men of David were those of the tribe of Issachar whose special gift was their understanding of the times, a gift of prophetic insight; and this was such a precious gift because included in their discernment was the ability to know how to apply it. In our time prophecy is everywhere. Yeshua (Jesus) warned us that there would be false prophets in the last days, especially approaching His second coming, and He said the prophecy would be so subtle and the false signs so powerful that even the elect might be deceived if that were possible; [Mt. 24:24] While it's clear to many of us that we're living in prophetic days, there are also millions who have no clue of the current times and seasons.

So we're faced with a challenge and a profound, multi-faceted responsibility: to acknowledge the significance of our times, to awaken others to this reality, to rightly discern true from false prophecy, and to know what to do about the things we rightly discern. Wow! Not an easy task. How do we even begin?

I believe that we have a prophetic "anchor"…a fundamental sign, missing throughout all of Church history, until our day. This sign is the rebirth of Israel as a nation. Many of the OT prophets foresaw the ingathering of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland in the latter days. [Jeremiah 30; Isaiah 43:5-6; Amos 9:14-15; and many others]. Isaiah prophesied the nation's rebirth in a single rhetorical question, "Can a nation be born in a day?" [ Isaiah 66:8]. One hundred years ago Israel, (then called "Palestine" by the Romans, as an insult to the Jews), was a barren, sparsely inhabited province in the Ottoman empire, and Jerusalem was hardly ever mentioned in conversation unless someone was reading scripture. Today, Israel is a thriving resurrected nation, reclaimed from desolation, established in one single day, (May 14, 1948), and Jerusalem is in virtually every daily newspaper, the subject of intense controversy throughout the civilized world. This one sign assures me, personally, that we are really and truly living at the end of the age.

I believe we must acknowledge this, share it, WATCH very carefully, and PRAY as the developments in the Middle East conform themselves to the Word of God. The prophetic clock is ticking toward the final hours of this age when the Lord Yeshua will return in power and great glory to judge the entire world of men.

The sons of Issachar understood their times, and knew what to do. Watching and praying, we can too. Preparing ourselves with holy living for the Lord's return, we must also warn those who live in ignorance of these amazing days by showing them the prophetic sign of Israel's resurrection, and warning them to repent, believe the gospel, and be accounted worthy to escape all these things and to stand before the Son of Man!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment

Watch the Wheelbarrows!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

2 Corinthians 2:11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev used to tell of a time when there was a wave of petty theft in the Soviet Union. To curtail this, the authorities put guards up around the factories.

At a timber-works in Leningrad, one guard knew the workers in the factory very well. The first evening, out came Pyotr Petrovich with a wheelbarrow containing a great bulky sack with a suspicious-looking object inside. "All right, Petrovich," said the guard, "What have you got there?" "Oh, just sawdust and shavings," Petrovich replied. "Come on," the guard said, "I wasn’t born yesterday. Tip it out."

The worker tipped and nothing came out but sawdust and shavings. So he was allowed to put it all back again and go home. When the same thing happened every night of the week the guard became frustrated. Finally, his curiosity overcame his frustration. "Petrovich," he said, "I know you. Tell me what you’re smuggling out of here, and I’ll let you go."

"Wheelbarrows, my friend, " said Petrovich, "wheelbarrows."

Is your attention being diverted? Think about it. Are you (allowing yourself to be) preoccupied with something that seems innocent, while the real, significant, substantial matter is slipping by every day, unnoticed? The strategies of Satan to divert our eyes onto “sawdust” and miss "wheelbarrows" are many. What is the "sawdust" in your life, in mine? For some of us, it might even be a fascinated preoccupation with Last Days events, which diverts us from the mandate to make disciples…for others it might be neglecting our children for the sake of "ministry". If we take the time to look, each of us really knows how we miss the "wheelbarrows" for the "sawdust". But just like that savvy guard, we ought to wise up quickly and identify the problem. Right?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment

Don't get distracted!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

2 Corinthians 2:11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. 

Toward the end of 1941, as the second world war was raging in Europe, the Japanese ambassador was sent to Washington D.C. apparently seeking peace; however back in Japan, the emperor was planning the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The Japanese empire sent their ambassador to D.C. as a distraction, so the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor took the United States completely by surprise.

Distraction is a common tactic in warfare. Our enemy is constantly seeking to distract us, both to divert our energies and to keep our eyes off his attack strategy.  He wants to distract us from our calling and set us up for the kill.  Whether it's things of this world, getting caught up in issues that are really not our business,  personal rivalries, pointless worrying, or fruitless endeavors — let's face it — we can be easily distracted! We need to constantly refocus our attention to the things that truly matter as we fight the good fight.

Be aware of this tactic of the enemy — learn it well. Take a break, check your activities and priorities for distraction, and see if it's being used against you. Then refocus your energy towards the good fight!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment

Beware of Snakes!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Luke 10:19 Behold, I give to you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the authority of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

The legendary preacher, Charles Spurgeon once said, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”

Often the question is whether something is "right" or "wrong”, and may be answered quickly and easily. But sometimes we are faced with a much more difficult discernment: the difference between “right" and "almost right”. I love to take the kids to the zoo, and whenever we go we always go into the snake house to look at all those beautiful slithering reptiles– but more often than not they are so well camouflaged that they aren't easy to find. Once you've spotted one, however, and recognized its markings, it becomes much easier. So George, why are you telling me about your trips to the zoo?

The Bible identifies our enemy as a serpent, and just like the ones at the zoo he camouflages himself extremely well. Satan knows that the Lord has given us authority over him, so he has to seek ways in which we fail to recognize him. He knows that defending ourselves would be much easier if he came out and said, "I'm here and I hate you!" So he lurks in the background, in unsuspected places waiting for an opportunity to steal, kill or destroy— and much of the time we don't realize he's there until we find ourselves in the thick of an attack. And what is his "camouflage" ? Looking as much like a good guy as he can, so we would never suspect his true nature and intentions. That's why Spurgeon gives us the advice about discernment between "right" and "almost right"; and why the Lord Himself told us to be "wise as serpents"!

Pray to become skilled in discerning your enemy's camouflage, remembering he comes as a "minister of righteousness" or an "angel of light" who knows how to blend into your world, and to look and talk like a friend. Don't go by feelings alone, be careful about flattery, know your Lord through prayer and let God's Word dwell richly in you being filled with His spirit. You want to be well defended against the subtlety of the Serpent, especially these days!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment

Take Your Thoughts Captive!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 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;

Picture this — you come home from a long day of work — you walk into your living room — plop down on your couch in exhaustion — and there in the corner of the room — your eyes are drawn to something moving — it's a rattlesnake! Do you say to yourself, "Oh, I'm too tired to worry about that now, I'll deal with it later?" Of course not! You jump up right away, find a bat or something, alert your family, call the neighbors, 911, the fire department, the national guard, and start praying with all your might! It's a life-threatening situation!

Though it may sound extreme, negative thoughts, which are lies, opposed to God's truth and character, should be treated the same way when they enter our minds. We ought to immediately sense their danger and rise to action; take that thought captive and bring it under submission to the truth of God's word. These thoughts are as poisonous to our minds and souls as rattlesnake bites are to our bodies. If we realize that danger, we'll be extremely vigilant to watch what we allow to sneak into our minds and remain there. Thoughts cannot be taken captive until they appear and are recognized. So we need to watch them carefully and consider whether they're good and true or not.

Bad thinking comes in many forms. Dangerous thoughts can be obvious and easily recognized as sinful and evil or destructive, lustful, vengeful, spiteful, and vain; or they can be subtle as snakes, quietly lying in the background like clever rationalizations or spiritual pride. Whatever form they take is dangerous to our spiritual well being, and this word from Paul exhorts us to deal with them on the spot, just as if a snake had entered the house.

Your mind is active and thinking during every waking hour, (and also of course in your dreams). Developing a habit of watchfulness over your thinking is a challenging discipline that will change your life and protect your spiritual house. Knowing the word of God is a tremendous help since the word contains God's thoughts which are the corrective for our bad and wrong thinking. So pay attention! What was that my mind just told me? Is that true and good, blessed and holy…or is it a snake? Respond accordingly…and fast!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Discernment