Understand the Times!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Urgency

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 » Urgency

Wake up – the eruptions are here!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Urgency

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Zephaniah 2:2-3 Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the Lord's fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the Lord's anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the Lord's anger.

In the 1883, Captain Sampson of the British navy witnessed one of the greatest volcanic eruptions in history which took place in Indonesia. The eruption was so powerful that its shock waves traveled around the world seven times. The volcano shot miles of debris into the atmosphere which fell to earth as far away as Madagascar – over 2000 miles distance. Captain Sampson wrote in the ship's log: "I am writing this blind in pitch darkness. We are under continual rain of pumice-stone and dust. So violent are the explosions that the ear-drums of over half my crew have been shattered … I am convinced that the Day of Judgment has come."

These men witnessed something extraordinary, and it caused them to ponder the inevitable question — Is this the end? What was the crew thinking and feeling as they were deafened by the massive explosions, and blinded by the clouds of smoke and ash? To them it must have been as if the sun had become like sackcloth! Did this experience change their lives? Were they now powerfully aware of how fragile life is? Did they suddenly begin to examine what their lives had consisted of up to that moment?

Imagine yourself in that boat as these events are taking place. Now picture yourself at the present moment … are you thinking about what your life has been about, or what it is now? Are you thinking about what it could be??

Wake up. Recognize that eruptions are already taking place, and these are the Lord's warnings to this sleeping world; warnings that His return is NEAR! We are privileged to be witnesses and participants in the most extraordinary times as the end of the age draws near. But God is looking for people who are awake, who are wise, who understand the signs of the times, and who know Him … so they can do exploits and can shine like stars in a darkening world– will you be one of them?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Urgency

The Sirens are Sounding!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Urgency

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Matthew 24:3-6 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

At the beginning of the recent conflict with Hamas, we discovered an app called "red Alert", which we, (along with millions of others around the world), installed on our iPhones. The app sounds an alert warning each time a rocket is fired into Israel, and identifies the city or area where the rocket(s) are expected to land. On the first day of "Operation Protective Edge" we were amazed at how often the alert sounded as hundreds of rockets flew out of Gaza. Driving with friends from the Galilee region back to our home in the Negev, the eerie warning sounded over and over again. With each warning we knew that potentially hundreds of people were in danger. And this has continued day after day for the past 11 days. Even today my phone has gone off incessantly.

As the days wear on, some of us here have begun to be accustomed to a life in which alarms are always sounding. Our senses are becoming dulled by the constant sounds of danger, especially as most of the time the rockets have not headed our way. But recently our own town of Arad heard 3 separate real alarms warning that rockets were headed in our direction! And yesterday, following the warning, a rocket fell in a Bedouin town, an Israeli-Arab community, which killed a man and injured a few children, just a few miles away.

This was a real lesson for us … hearing the warnings for those nearby, over and over again, can make you numb, like the boy who cried "wolf!" But when the wolf actually comes for you, when the rockets are really heading your way, the adrenaline rushes and you are fully awake and activated!

This is so similar to the days in which we're living…as alarms are constantly going off "nearby" to all of us, but for many, not yet hitting "home". The Lord clearly warned of particularly troubled times as His second coming drew near, and He wanted us to read these signs and be aware of their message. "Behold, I am coming soon."

Let's not become dull to the world's "sirens" because of how often we hear them. These warnings are intended to quicken our attention, accelerate our preparation, and excite our expectation. Our Bridegroom is coming soon. If we're living to please Him we'll be about His business, keeping one eye on the Heavens. Then, whatever happens, even if the siren sounds for us, we'll be ready for whatever follows.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Urgency

Be God's Messenger!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Urgency

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jonah 3:5-9 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.9Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

Jonah preached his 8 word sermon and the Ninevites were struck with the fear of the Lord and moved to complete repentance.

The king stood up (a sign of his serious intent), removed his royal robes (a sign of humility), covered himself with sackcloth (a sign of mourning), and sat in the dust (a sign of repentance). Then, according to the King's edict, every soul in Nineveh responded with desperate fasting. It's hard to imagine that level of conviction coming upon an entire metropolis of over 120,000 people. But what followed was the greatest revival in history. Every one in the city got saved! This seems so impossible at every level. The whole story of Jonah is utterly fantastic from beginning to end…almost like a fairytale.

But we know it isn't a fairytale.The Lord Himself clearly refers to Jonah's ministry as a historical fact; [Luke 11:29-30].

Through it, God is inspiring us for the days we live in. Look around, isn't the whole world going the way of ancient Nineveh? Isn't the wickedness and moral erosion around us just as horrifying as the evil deeds of the Assyrians? Can God’s judgment be far away?

And what were the chances of Nineveh's revival taking place? If Jonah, who knew God's mercy and grace as a prophet, was against it, who would give the Ninevites a ghost of a chance for salvation? Many of us undoubtedly feel the same way about most of our modern cities. We've stopped believing that God can reach the unreachable or do the impossible. Instead, we say, "It's Nineveh. It's hopeless?" What can we honestly expect in these "Days of Noah and Lot"?

The prophet Daniel, I believe, has an answer for us in these End Times: "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever; [Daniel 12:3]. It took Jonah a while to get there, but he finally did shine the righteousness of God into a wicked city; and he led many to righteousness.

Our God still has some plans with "fairytale" dimensions. If we can get over our cynicism, apathy, judgmental attitude, and unbelief, there are still a few Nineveh's in our future, I believe. I have no illusions about the strength of those negative qualities in us, or the desperate evil in our modern cities. But there are some whose identification with the Lord in His death, just like Jonah, who will lead many to righteousness, just as he did.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Urgency

Wake Up!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Urgency

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jonah 1:4,5 But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.

It must have been a bad storm. These men were experienced, hardened sailors who had seen it all at sea. If they were scared, this could have been the first "perfect storm" since Noah's flood. So they started the first interfaith prayer meeting in the Bible, each man crying out to his own god.  As the ship groaned and creaked in howling wind and massive waves, and the men threw cargo overboard in a desperate attempt to save it, where was Jonah? On deck helping them? Confidently praying to His own God? Shaking with fear and paralyzed with deep conviction? No, he’s taking a nap down below…

How could anyone sleep through a storm like this — especially a prophet of the Most High? I see a few possibilities: one, Jonah was a prophet whose relationship with the Lord was so close he was used to trusting Him through all kinds of difficulties, so he was just abiding in his usual trust. Remember Yeshua (Jesus) also slept during a very bad storm on the Sea of Galilee. Or, maybe the hold of the ship was so deep and Jonah was so tired that he wasn't aware of the grave danger up above; a perfectly natural explanation. And there's one more possibility: Jonah's disobedience made him vulnerable to the enemy. ( For example, I have at times been somehow induced into slumber when I've made a serious decision to spend time in prayer.)

We know for sure the enemy wants us to sleep while the world falls apart around us. His interests are served when we relax in our own eternal security while others are dying in the storms of this world. But Jonah's apathy toward Nineveh morphed into one which actually threatened his own life, without his even being aware of it. He had the authority and capacity to save the others, but the enemy may have poured out on him such a spirit of apathy and deadening slumber that it required the desperate pagans, far more aware of the danger, to rouse the prophet back to his true calling.

Two tornadoes just ripped through a small town in Nebraska. More storms are brewing of every kind; social, economic, political, military. Houses are "burning"; ships are "sinking". Many lives are falling apart. We might be weighed down and paralyzed by it all, or just deeply apathetic because they all deserve judgment while we await the "rapture". But I don't think the Lord wants us to sleep through these storms. At least, not with Jonah's attitude.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Urgency