Don't forget the Price that was Paid!

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Amos 8:11-12 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

As the United States celebrates the 4th of July tomorrow – Independence day – we're often reminded of the price that was paid for our freedom. But today, in that spirit, I want to recall a time when a heavy price was paid for a translation of our Bible.

William Tyndale, a 16th century Englishman, translated the Bible into English while living in Germany. Finally in 1525, he was able to publish a New Testament in English. But the church authorities at the time were not pleased and they angrily sought to destroy Tyndale and his translation. Finally, he was caught and brought back to England where he was burned at the stake.

As he was dying, he uttered these words: "Lord open the eyes of the King of England." His prayer became a prophecy, as it was the King of England, King James, who finally did publish the entire Bible in English about a hundred years later.

Our English Bible translations became a reality through William Tyndale's heroic sacrifice and bravery, ultimately at the price of his lifeblood. This Independence day, don't let your Bible sit on the shelf gathering dust. Considering the cost that was paid so you could read it in your native tongue, let's all take full advantage of this precious gift.

The freedom that we so enjoy on this day is only a taste of the real freedom we have in Messiah; the promise of eternal forgiveness and freedom from sin. The cost of that freedom was the precious blood of the savior Yeshua (Jesus). William Tyndale offered his life so we could read about this spiritual freedom in our own language. As we celebrate our earthly freedom this Independence Day, let's not forget to also give thanks for our eternal liberty that we find in our Lord.

Are You At Peace?

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Back in the third century Cyprian the Bishop of Carthage wrote to his friend Donatus: "It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered, in the midst of it, a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy, which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians, and I am one of them."

This is the kind of peace that we are supposed to experience as believers. The kind of peace that people notice, especially when we display it through our troubles. The kind of peace we can attain when we're despised — when we're persecuted — when everything is chaotic around us.

Yeah, it's a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But we have victory in our Lord. Let's determine to trust God for that victory in a way we haven't before.

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

There's another blessing coming!

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Romans 11:12 Now if the fall of them [Jews] be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

The parable of the Prodigal son might also serve as an illustration of the relationship between Israel and the Church.

In this perspective, both Israel and the Church have been in the position of each of the brothers, but for the purpose of this message we will look at the Church as the older brother. Since the Jewish leadership rejected the Messiah at his first coming, the Jewish people have been dispersed across the globe for nearly 2000 years, as it were, fatherless, and without a homeland. The result of this rejection has been grace to the Gentile nations as the gospel has gone out over the world, while the Jews have been persecuted, often in the name of their own Messiah, Yeshua, (Jesus).

Although the Gentile church was warned by Paul in his letter to the Romans (Chapter 11), not to become proud in their knowledge of the Messiah, but to remain humble and loving toward Israel, to make her jealous, the church has largely failed (until recently) and has, instead, adopted an attitude toward Israel almost identical to the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Those who believed that God had forsaken the Jewish people because of their disobedience, remained silent or even participated in the persecution of Jews.

Now, to the amazement of many Gentile believers, Israel's restoration has begun, the "Prodigal" son is returning, just as the prophets foretold. And just like the older brother, much of the Gentile church has failed to comprehend the unconditional love of God and His faithfulness to Israel, and is complaining about or even opposing this restoration, which is beginning as a physical return to the ancient homeland, and will continue as a complete national spiritual rebirth. The Lord will adorn them with a robe, prepare a kingly feast and restore Israel's position in the Millenial Kingdom.

So, now…how will we, as the "elder brother" church respond to this restoration of our "younger" brother? Will we, in self-righteous contentment and jealousy despise and oppose this grace toward Israel? Will we become angry and bitter that, after 2000 years of labor in the father's vineyard, he hasn't thrown a party for us, but ecstatically welcomed our undeserving "brother"?

If we do, I believe we will miss our blessing.

Charles Spurgeon stated, "I think we do not attach enough importance to the restoration of the Jews. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this. The day shall yet come when the Jews, who were the first apostles to the Gentiles, the first missionaries to us who were afar off, shall be gathered in again. Until that shall be, the fullness of the church's glory can never come. Matchless benefits to the world are bound up with the restoration of Israel, their gathering shall be as life from the dead."

A great blessing of God is bound up with His love and faithfulness to the Jewish people – a blessing for us which is closely related to our response to this returning "Prodigal Son". Will we embrace him, join and participate in his joyful return? Will we be a responsible older brother and seek to mend and heal the wounded relationship with the Father? Or will we remain silent as Israel is confronted by all manner of opposition, including those who are calling for their annihilation? My friend – if there was ever a day when we need to be the elder son that should have been – it's today! With so much work to be done, please remember us in your prayers, as we labor in the midst of this amazing prophetic restoration of the Lord's beloved (for the sake of the fathers), Israel.

Persecution is coming? Are you ready?!

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Genesis 37:4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
John 15:25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Being hated without cause is an aspect of Messianic prophecy that applies to both Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David. Just as Joseph was hated by his brothers, and David was hated by Saul without cause, is it any wonder that Yeshua (Jesus) was hated by the world without cause — thus fulfilling a Messianic Psalm. [Psalm 69:4 ]. And should it surprise us that He is still hated? And if Yeshua was hated without a cause, should we expect our lives be to any different?

As thousands of saints suffered intense persecution in ages past, and thousands are still being persecuted today (126,000 martyrs last year alone), they prepare(d) the way for the salvation of millions of others. Since Yeshua said "Greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends", the love expressed by the martyrs is a tremendous source of inspiration to all of us.

As we are rapidly approaching the end of the age, we can expect persecution to be on the rise. We're sent out as sheep among wolves – so lift your head high when suffering persecution for the Lord. Your response of faith and love could well lead to the salvation of the ones persecuting you!

Wake up and smell the roses!

Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

An ancient story is told of the Queen of Sheba. She sent two wreaths of roses to Solomon, one real and one artificial, to test his reputed wisdom. She defied him to detect the genuine from the artificial. Solomon at once directed that some bees be brought into the room and of course, they immediately flew to the real flowers and thought nothing of the counterfeit.

So it is with us as believers. When we find ourselves overwhelmed, surrounded, being attacked from every side with the bees of revile and persecution, it simply means they recognize that we are the real deal! Our beautiful aroma attracts those scary bees but the Lord, in the end, "Where,[oh bees], is your sting?"

Rejoice when the bees come around! Don't lose heart! God has the victory!