Understand the Times!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Expectation

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 » Expectation

Know Your Shepherd!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Expectation

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Isaiah 40:11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm (z’roah in Hebrew), And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.

John 10:10-11 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

In Israel, we often see goats and sheep roaming the countryside. Driving through rural Israel often involves suddenly stopping to allow a herd of sheep or goats to cross the road. But interestingly, I have never seen “sheep kill" on the side of the road in all the years that I’ve lived in Israel. It’s because sheep don’t roam without a shepherd!

The Lord is gathering His lambs with His arm, and carrying them to His bosom. This is not a distant relationship but one of loving care and intimacy with His sheep. He said, "I know my sheep and my sheep know me." [John 10:14]. Then He continued, "..and I lay down my life for the sheep."

The most vulnerable time for defenseless animals is at night when they need to sleep. The sheepfold is where they are gathered by the shepherd each night; a stone compound, with rocks stacked high enough to keep out predators, but without a door. Yeshua (Jesus) declared Himself to be the “door of the sheep” [John 10:7-9] because, as a Good Shepherd, He lies where a door would typically be so that nothing could go in or out, without passing by the Shepherd!

As evil seems to be rearing its ugly head in every facet of life these days, and greater darkness seems to be looming on the horizon, we need to truly realize the powerful and complete protection that our Good Shepherd provides. Nothing can get to us unless it goes through Him! When the Lord laid down His life for us He also gave us a fortress of protection and safety which is impossible to break.

Knowing of the dark days we would be facing Yeshua afforded us a profound sense of safety in Himself so that we absolutely need not walk in fear. Promising never to leave nor forsake us till the end of the age He gave us the security of intimacy with Himself, in and through every trial or danger. We need never doubt…that we can trust Him.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Expectation

Do you ever feel like you're listening to a broken record?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Expectation

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Romans 13:11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

While I was in the States, I read several stories about Ronald Reagan that made me appreciate him as a person and as a leader. But one amusing story really caught my attention and made me smile. When he was a young man, Reagan worked at a radio station and sometimes played records of sermons. His shift at the station was a one-man operation and so, on occasion, Ron would set the record playing and then sneak out for a cup of coffee. One day he got a call while he was at the coffee shop from the station's owner, ordering him back to the station, and then … he received his termination notice. He'd returned to the station finding the record skipping at a particular point in the sermon;

"Go to Hell, go to Hell, go to Hell, go to…"

There are probably several messages we could draw from this funny little sequence, but what spoke to me most was this, that in recent years we've heard the message repeated over and over again like a broken record, "The end is near, the end is near, the end is near, the end… and, "The Lord's return is at the door…";

Yet, the fact is that we are very near to the Lord's return and there are many signs of His soon coming. So if the message sounds repetetive perhaps it's because the Lord's return is much nearer now than when we first believed — even at the very door. And the whole point of thinking about and dwelling upon Yeshua's return is that we want to be ready, keeping close accounts with Him, living holy and fruitful lives…spotless, blameless, at His coming. Our bridal love for Him will keep us looking up and listening for the cry; "Behold, the bridegroom cometh!"

Worthy Christian Devotions » Expectation

He’s Melech Ha Olam!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Expectation

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Revelation 17:14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful."

Just about every Hebrew prayer begins by saying, “Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha Olam” which, translated, means, Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe. Now think about it, King of the Universe! Wikipedia defines "universe" as, "the composition of all the planets, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space, and all matter and energy". Hmm…that’s a lot to be king over!

So He’s the King over hundreds of billions of stars, and hundreds of millions of galaxies – the King of everything! Now this might make this King seem somewhat "out of reach" for you and me. But He's not. Because this King decided to walk into His universe as a little human being so that He could relate to us better. He's big. Bigger than you can imagine. But He's also accessible because He made Himself small too.

So, don't worry. The distance and size of God are not a problem for Him or for you. He knows and understands all your thoughts, worries, your fears, your anxieties and your troubles! And “If God is for us, who can be against us?” So be at peace my friend, and let Him take care of it all. He truly is “Melech Ha Olam” – the King of the Universe, but He's also your best and closest friend.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Expectation

Outnumbered, Exhausted, but Still in Pursuit!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Expectation

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Judges 8:4-6 When Gideon came to the Jordan, he and the three hundred men who were with him crossed over, exhausted but still in pursuit. Then he said to the men of Succoth, "Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. "And the leaders of Succoth said, "Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?"

Judges 6:12 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

"Exhausted but still in pursuit…" Well, now we know why the angel of YHVH addressed Gideon the way he did. With his small three hundred man army he had just decimated the army of Midian — but the victory wasn’t complete, and so the Jewish general and his small, exhausted, hungry, band were determined to cross the Jordan and take care of 15,000 additional Midanite enemies and their leaders, Zebah and Zalmunna.

Once chosen and appointed to his task, Gideon didn't settle for the slaughter of 120,000 Midianites. He might have reasoned that, having driven the remaining enemy force across the Jordan River, a natural barrier, Israel was now safe. After all, he and his men were exhausted and hungry. But this victory was insufficient, especially because the Midianite leaders were still alive. Instead, Gideon continued to press on, refusing to settle until the job was completely done. His refusal to allow serious physical discomfort to compromise his objective is apparently one of the things that qualified Gideon as a "mighty man" of God. No settling into a comfort zone for him.

Are you moving toward victory, but exhausted and hungry? Be careful now. Comfort could be your greatest enemy. And your so-called friends may not be standing there to give you a hand, but rather, watching skeptically from the sidelines to see whether or not you'll make it through your "heroic effort". Now is not the time for self-pity, fleshly resentment, or mediocrity. "The comfort zone is for those who are exempt from pain but denied progress; protected from failure but held in the grip of mediocrity." Keep your focus and spiritual passion for victory, and finish the job appointed to you — because God has too much invested to settle for mediocrity!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Expectation