SUFFERING FOR CHRIST’S SAKE
QUESTION: I have a friend who says God wants us suffer for His name’s sake. The scriptures he uses to back up what God means by suffering are Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 3:17 and 1 Peter 4:19. Can you explain the context of suffering that this gentleman is speaking of?
ANSWER: People who try to assert that God’s wants us to suffer for His name’s sake always puzzle me because I’ve never heard anyone give even one good reason why He would want this. The most common answer is “to make us better Christians”, but Hebrews 10:12-14 says from God’s perspective we’re already perfect, a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), as righteous as He is (2 Cor. 5:21). Is there any amount of suffering that could make us better prepared to spend eternity with Him than what He’s already done?
In Philippians 1:29 Paul was referring to the Christians in Philippi being deprived of their jobs because all the trade unions were dedicated to pagan gods. This has been a constant in various parts of the world throughout the Church Age, but it’s not because God has ordained it, it’s because the evil one has always opposed Christians and during this age he is in control here (1 John 5:19).
In 1 Peter 3:17 the context is being criticized for good behavior. Peter said if you’re going to be criticized for your behavior, it’s better that it happens because of good behavior than bad behavior. And 1 Peter 4:19 continues the same train of thought; being insulted because of the name of Christ. Just about every Christian has endured some of this at one time or another, but none of it is because God wants it. It’s because the world is an evil place.
By using these passages, people are blaming God for the evil in this world, when it all came about due to man’s disobedience.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome the world (John 16:33). He could have said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart because you will have the last laugh.” And Paul said, “Our present suffering is not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). These verses help us keep things in perspective.
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TEHRAN THREATENS US BASES AS TRUMP RESHAPES IRAN STRATEGY
By REUTERS October 8, 2017 12:20
(click on link below for article related – Graphs/Videos:)
“If America’s new law for sanctions is passed, this country will have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km range of Iran’s missiles,” warns Revolutionary Guards Corps chief.
BEIRUT/DUBAI – Iran warned the United States against designating its Revolutionary Guards Corp as a terrorist group and said U.S. regional military bases would be at risk if further sanctions were passed. The warning came after the White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump would announce new US responses to Iran’s missile tests, support for “terrorism” and cyber operations as part of his new Iran strategy.
“As we’ve announced in the past, if America’s new law for sanctions is passed, this country will have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km range of Iran’s missiles,” Guards’ commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to state media. Jafari also said that additional sanctions would end the chances for future dialog with the United States, according to state media, and issued a stark warning to American troops. “If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world particularly in the Middle East,” Jafari said. The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are Iran’s most powerful internal and external security force. The Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign espionage and paramilitary wing, and individuals and entities associated with the IRGC are on the US list of foreign terrorist organizations, but the organization as a whole is not. Iran sees the Sunni Muslim militants of Islamic State as an existential threat to the Islamic Republic where the majority of the population are Shi’ites. On June 7, Islamic State claimed an attack on Tehran’s parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, killing 18 people. The Guards fired missiles at Islamic State bases in Syria on June 18 in response. Guards commanders have framed their military involvement in Iraq and Syria, where they are fighting to support the government of President Bashar al-Assad, as a fight against Islamic State. Dozens of members of the Guards, including senior commanders, have been killed in Syria and Iraq. MISSILE PROGRAM The website for state TV reported Jafari as adding that the United States was mistaken if it thought it could pressure Iran into negotiating on regional issues. Jafari also said that Tehran would ramp up its defense capabilities, including its missile program, if the US undermined a nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers. Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to limit its disputed nuclear program in return for the easing of economic sanctions. However, Trump is expected to announce soon that he will decertify the deal, a senior administration official has said, in a step that potentially could cause the accord to unravel. “The Americans should know that the Trump government’s stupid behavior with the nuclear deal will be used by the Islamic Republic as an opportunity to move ahead with its missile, regional and conventional defense program,” Jafari said, according to state media. The prospect of Washington backtracking on the deal has worried some of the US allies that helped negotiate it, especially as the world grapples with another nuclear crisis in the shape of North Korea. If Trump does not certify that Iran is in compliance, the U.S. Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the deal. U.N. inspectors have verified Iranian compliance with the terms. The Guards navy was also carrying out a military exercise on Sunday in the Gulf, an area of tension with the US navy in recent months.
More than 110 vessels were involved in the exercise, including some that have rocket and missile capabilities, a state media report quoted a Guards commander as saying.
Americans warned: Recognize the reality of demons
‘People who love this world are going to burn like a Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage in hell if they don’t get things right’
The world seems to be going crazy. Evil is on the march. Might there be supernatural forces at work?
Karl Payne, author of “Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance,” is convinced there are. In a recent interview on “Hagmann & Hagmann,” the former chaplain for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks explained why this time in history is so ominous.
“Just the whole thing with Satanism, occultism, demonism, it is so much more blatant … my goodness, just in the last decade even, you can’t even turn on the TV and not see this stuff,” he observed.
“And then we kind of wonder: ‘Why are people acting more bizarre? Why do they not value life?’ And I say it’s because they watch people get killed on videos all day long and on TV programs all day long and they glamorize that kind of stuff. And no one’s got the guts [to turn it off], including many of our parents, because they don’t want their kids to feel left out especially if they’re Christians. ‘We wouldn’t want them to feel odd, so let them watch this nonsense.’”
Payne argues it is time for Christians to start taking a stand against demonic influences in the culture by refusing to let their children consume spiritually destructive material. More importantly, he argues, it’s time for adult Christians to hold themselves to the same standard.
“I still believe that as a man thinks in his mind … so is he,” the pastor said. “The things I think about are the things sooner or later I start thinking are more reasonable. And so, yes, I think there’s a real strong correlation between the explosion of celebrating the occult, and demonism, and Satanism … and people where you really have to ask if they even have morals.
“It can’t all be blamed on demons … but a good part of it, you know we’ve opened a door to this, and we’re just kind of amused with it I guess. But I’m not amused. The people I work with are not amused.”
Even Christians, argued Payne, often dismiss the topic of spiritual warfare and the reality of the demonic. Payne, pastor of leadership development and Christian education at Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington, said that during his own Christian education the subject was “besmirched.”
“It was just something we were taught to ignore, ridicule at worst, ignore at best,” he recalled. “What we were never trained to do is how to identify what is real and what isn’t about spiritual warfare.”
However, things have changed.
“Many of those same graduate schools have been inviting me back, saying, ‘We laughed at this when you were here [but] we would really like some input.’”
Teaching Christians about the realities of spiritual warfare is deeply important to Payne. The necessity of publishing his book on the issue was brought home to him during a health scare.
Arm yourself for the most crucial battle of all. “Spiritual Warfare,” available now in the WND Superstore.
Payne recounted how doctors thought he had cancer and might only have a few years to live. As he thought about what he wished he had accomplished, at the top of his list
“I put that on kind of a high priority and turns out I didn’t have the cancer they thought I had,” he remembered. “In other words, it wasn’t something I tried to promote or push. I probably tried to ignore it like a lot of folks in my generation. But it’s real.
“And I tried to write it in such a way where I say, you don’t need me, you don’t need an umbilical cord stuck to me, the same God that lives in me lives in you, you just need a little bit of an understanding about how the whole thing works, how the demonic works. And then learning how to fight instead of run. Learning how to stand up instead of roll over.”
Payne said it takes discernment to understand whether or not a person’s problem is demonic, instead of physiologically or mentally oriented. He recognizes many people mock even the possibility the supernatural exists.
“When you’re in a world where we are told we’re empiricists, we’re rationalists, if you can’t put it in a tube and test it through the senses, it’s not real, it’s not meaningful, then when you start talking about anything supernatural or paranormal, whether it’s God or Satan or demons or angels, they just roll the eyes,” he said.
Payne says the inability of Christians to call supernatural evil for what it is comes from fear of mockery or social exclusion.
“Perfect love is supposed to cast out fear,” he noted, citing the Bible. “So why do you allow yourself to be controlled by fear?”
Instead, Payne urges Christians to educate themselves on the issue.
“When someone walks into your front room demonized, and you don’t have a clue, and you watch them on your floor, contorted, foam coming out of their mouth, screaming their name is something it isn’t, you can just say, ‘I just refuse to recognize this because I wouldn’t want someone to think I’m a whack if this is really going on.’”
Not only does Payne urge Christians to recognize the reality of demonization, he urges them to act to make sure demons and evil thoughts can’t find an open door. This means looking to a person’s own sins.
“When you don’t deal with sin … you potentially open up places of control to … the devil,” he said. “You play games long enough and you may find out that you’ve had a door kicked open. And all of a sudden it’s like you had to think about doing the wrong stuff, now I just kind of do it.”
Instead of dwelling on evil, Payne says Christians should actively meditate on what is good and true.
“One should start thinking on the things that are godly,” he said. “Start thinking the things Christ would think. I don’t care what the world thinks. People who
dwelling on evil, Payne says Christians should actively meditate on what is good and true.
“One should start thinking on the things that are godly,” he said. “Start thinking the things Christ would think. I don’t care what the world thinks. People who love this world are going to burn like a Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage in hell one day if they don’t get things right, even if they feel good about what they were doing.
“So I want to see things the way Jesus sees them. I think about things the way Jesus did. … If I know my thinking is wrong, start challenging it and start replacing it with what biblically is true.”
Finally, Payne said, Christians should not overestimate the power of demons – and remember only they can open the doors to demonization.
“Demons are squatters, they’re created,” he said. “God is the Creator, He’s the owner. Demons are simply part of His creation, they’re squatters. But if you throw rooms open and doors open to squatters, it’s quite naïve to think they’re not going to say, ‘Hey, if you don’t mind me messing around with your life, I’m going to mess around with your life. Because if I can keep you distracted, I can’t keep you out of heaven but at least I can keep you from helping anyone else get there.’”
WASHINGTON SOURCES SAY PRESIDENT WILL REJECT IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL NEXT WEEK
“As for those peoples that warred against Yerushalayim, Hashem will smite them with this plague: Their flesh shall rot away while they stand on their feet; their eyes shall rot away in their sockets; and their tongues shall rot away in their mouths.” Zechariah 14:12 (The Israel Bible™)
Multiple sources in Washington D.C. have reported that President Donald Trump plans on decertifying the Iran nuclear deal next week.
On Wednesday, The Washington Free Beacon and The Washington Post reported that President Trump is expected to declare Iran in breach of the deal next week. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal that was brokered by former President Barack Obama with Iran first signed in 2015, has to be recertified by the president every ninety days and the next deadline is October 15. President Trump has recertified the deal twice since entering the Oval Office. If the Iran deal is decertified by the president, the decision is then moved to Congress which will have 60 days to decide the future of the deal, which might include reinstating sanctions that were removed under the agreement.
The president is scheduled to deliver a speech on October 12, but the White House has not confirmed that the speech will take place or what its subject matter will be. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a press conference on Thursday, “The president is going to make an announcement about the decision that he’s made on a comprehensive strategy that his team supports, and we’ll do that in the coming days.”
Opponents of the nuclear deal have claimed that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear watchdog tasked with verifying Iranian compliance, have been prevented from doing their job.
“The IAEA’s admission that they are unable to verify a fundamental provision under the nuclear deal-that the Iranians are not engaging in activities or using equipment to develop a nuclear explosive device-is highly alarming. In these circumstances, issuing a compliance certification would be a serious mistake,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz said to the press.
“If the Iranians are serious about a peaceful program, they need to prove it. Iran’s continued refusal to allow IAEA access to military sites-a clear requirement of the terms of the deal-renders the JCPOA utterly ineffective, and, even worse, a sham that only facilitates Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons. This absence of any meaningful verification is yet another reason to vitiate this foolhardy agreement.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last month that he will not reopen the deal for negotiations.
AN EYE FOR AN EYE: IRAN PROMISES TO PARTITION SAUDI ARABIA IF IRAQ IS PARTITIONED
By Prof. Hillel Frisch – https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/iran-partition-saudi-arabia/
Iran is now openly threatening to dismember Saudi Arabia for its support for Kurdish independence and secession from Iraq. This ratcheting up of tensions has implications not only for those two countries but for the region and the world at large. Israel would do well to remember that the Middle East is growing ever more volatile, and the US should sharpen its resolve to contain Iran.
The Iranian-Saudi struggle over primacy in the Middle East is hardly new. As early as the 1980s, in Tripoli, Lebanon, the Saudis supported Sunni militia forces in their struggle with the Alawites for control of Lebanon’s most important city in the north. Even then, the newly created Hezbollah, Iran’s first and most important proxy militia in the Arab-speaking world, sent fighters to the city to support the minority Alawites together with agents of the Assad regime in Syria that by then had allied itself with Iran. This was to become the longest, most durable, and most resilient strategic relationship between any two states in the Middle East.
From that time on, the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia has expanded, sometimes in fits and starts, at other times in an almost linear fashion, as new battlefields between the proxies of both states have emerged. By far the most important were the battlefields of Syria and Yemen, the indirect consequences of the so-called Arab Spring. Instead of yielding democracy, the uprisings descended into deadly civil war in which the proxies of both states battled it out.
Iran, which over the past year has had the upper hand in the struggle with the Saudis in Syria (thanks to Russian air power and hopeless division among the Sunni proxies of the Saudi state), is now threatening to dismember the Saudi state itself. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, speaking on behalf of his Iranian patron at his annual address on the anniversary of the Ashoura Massacre (at which Ali, revered by the Shiites, lost to the Sunni Caliph as a result of perceived Sunni treachery), warned Saudi Arabia that if it continues to support the beleaguered Iraqi Kurds after their pronouncement of independence, it will act to dismantle the Saudi state.
Hardly anyone in the Middle East needed Nasrallah to spell out the exact nature of this threat. Shiites populated the Hasa region in Saudi Arabia long before the region became the center of Saudi oil discoveries and production. The more oil was discovered and produced in the region, the more intense became the marginalization of the Shiite minority in Sunni Saudi Arabia. This dynamic preceded the Iranian Revolution but intensified as Iran, under the ayatollahs, embarked on a revolutionary and imperialist foreign policy to weaken the Arab states. Its principal targets were Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest Arab state; and Egypt, the most populous and presumably the most powerful.
Nor is it surprising that Nasrallah chose the Ashoura “festivities” (one is speaking of parades of self-flagellating Shiites denoting the oppression visited upon them by the Sunni world) to deliver this threat to Saudi Arabia. No event on the Shiite calendar better evokes the enmity between the two religious strains. Over the past fourteen years, the commemoration of Ashoura has been marred by massive suicide attacks launched by Sunni extremist groups in Iraq’s holy Shiite cities. Iran, the Iraqi government, and many Shiites are convinced that Saudi financial support was crucial in launching these attacks and subsequent massacres as individuals in the crowds crushed each other as they attempted to flee the scene.
Iran is declaring a quid pro quo: if Saudi Arabia participates in the partitioning of Shiite-dominated Iraq by supporting the Kurds, Iran will partition Saudi Arabia. This threat seems to show that Iran has the upper hand in its struggle with the kingdom. It will strike out at Saudi Arabia to defend its proxy, Iraq, not only to defend itself.
This perception is not altogether accurate. No doubt, Iran under the ayatollahs is a formidable regime despite regular pronouncements by experts of its impending demise. Yet as strong as the regime may be, the Persian ethnic and linguistic element that is at the core of the regime accounts for only half the population of Iran. Throughout its periphery live linguistic and ethnic minorities, including a Kurdish minority in the northwest of the country, which have shown in the past an inclination for autonomy if not a clear desire for independence.
Nevertheless, Iran is in the stronger position because with regard to the Kurdish issue at least, it has a powerful Sunni ally in Turkey. For the Saudis, playing the Kurdish card comes at the great cost of dividing the Sunni camp. The Turks are livid over the Kurdish move. The Egyptian elite, who champion territorial sovereignty because of Egypt’s domestic Coptic problem (which has drawn international meddling), is cool if not hostile to Kurdish independence. This leaves Saudi Arabia in a solitary standoff against Iran. The kingdom might have money, but so does Iran – and Iran has many more guns and men to shoot them. In the Middle East, it is usually the guns that count.
The new higher stakes in the Saudi-Iranian conflict have wide implications. For the US, this should mean greater resolve to contain if not punish Iran. For Israeli policy makers, it should bring home that the Middle East is becoming more volatile, dangerous, and unpredictable. Caution is called for, which should include treading very carefully on the Palestinian issue.
SOFT TYRANNY AND TODAY’S SOCIETY
Bill Wilson – www.dailyjot.com
In today’s society, do you ever feel that you should not speak your mind because you will be labeled something you are not? Do you ever feel like you have an opinion and yet uneasy about expressing it? Do you think that as a Christian, it is better to not express your views on morality in public forums? Have you felt any kind of reservation about what you do and say could be listened to by the government, so you watch your words? Are there just certain issues that you don’t talk about much anymore because the response is so visceral and examples have been made of those who say something? Do you feel your free speech is OK so long as you keep it to yourself? It’s selective free speech. It’s soft tyranny.
Alexis de Tocqueville defines soft tyranny in his book Democracy in America, Volume II (1840): “It [the government] covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence: it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
If you are afraid to speak your mind because of the consequences of perhaps losing your job, your livelihood, or that it may invite some government investigation or ruination, you are experiencing soft tyranny. Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” A free people can only exist by adhering to the precepts of God. Bondage is bondage, whether it is sin or tyranny. We live in a society where a very vocal minority is bullying your Constitutional rights. Moreover, eternally these people face great peril. Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness…”
We must speak boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel. Even though many respond with hatred and accuse you based on the very intents of their own hearts, they will not know the truth unless someone tells them. We would not know sin had we not known the laws of God. Don’t be a victim of soft tyranny. Right is greater than might. As Ephesians 6:12-13 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Soft tyranny is evil. Stand against it.
HOPE FOR WHEN WE FALL — AND FALL BIG
Pastor Greg Laurie notes, ‘God cannot forgive the sin that you will not confess’
King David had been ruling Israel for 20 years when the downward spiral began. He had gone from victory to victory. He had distinguished himself in many ways: man of God, skilled musician, gifted poet, wise and compassionate ruler and a man of great courage. He was on a roll. And that’s when temptation hit.
When David was facing Goliath, he was trusting in the Lord. When David was running from Saul, he was calling out to God. When he was anointed as Israel’s king and ascended the throne, he prayed for God’s help. But 20 years had gone by, and David was kicking back, taking a spiritual vacation. His heart was slowly but surely turning away from God.
God had warned Israel that their kings were never to take concubines (see Deuteronomy 17:16-17). Why? Because their hearts would turn away. That is what was happening to David. He was being consumed by lust. The problems is that you don’t feed lust; you starve it. David had been feeding his lust with concubines, and one thing was leading to another.
One warm spring night when the soldiers went to war, David went to bed. He was in bed when he should’ve been in battle. He was staying up late, sleeping in and being physically and spiritually lazy. And then he saw the beautiful Bathsheba, who was bathing herself on a rooftop, and he immediately wanted to know who she was.
Someone told him, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite” (2 Samuel 11:3 NLT). In other words, “She’s married and you’re married, so forget about it.” Sometimes other people have a better sense of what we’re doing than we have. The messenger knew David was a womanizer. And he knew what David saw. God was putting up a roadblock in David’s life to keep him from sinning.
In the same way, God puts up roadblocks in our lives. When we try to do something wrong, God doesn’t make it easy for us; he makes it difficult. That’s why I think it’s so ridiculous when someone claims they just fell into adultery, kind of like tripping over a rug. They didn’t fall into anything; they planned it, plotted it, and executed it. They had to jump through a lot of hoops to end up in that situation.
That’s what David did. He went for it. Then Bathsheba sent word that she was pregnant. He was in a mess of a situation. But David wasn’t coming clean. Instead, he had an idea. He thought, “I’ll bring back Uriah from the battle to go spend the night with his wife. He’ll think it’s his child, not mine.” So he gave the order, and Uriah was brought back from the battlefield and sent to his home.
Uriah, however, couldn’t bear the thought of being with his wife while his fellow soldiers were still on the front lines. So he slept outside his house the first night. The next night, David got him drunk and then sent him home. Still, Uriah would not sleep with his wife.
Yet David wouldn’t give up. He ordered his general to send a charge against the enemy and then have everyone fall back, leaving Uriah on his own. As a result, Uriah was killed in battle, and word came back that Uriah was dead.
Then we read, “The Lord was displeased with what David had done” (2 Samuel 11:27 NLT). David married Bathsheba and thought no one would ever know. Despite this, he was miserable. Someone who is really a man or woman of God will live in guilt when they’re sinning. They eventually will get right with God. And that is what David did. He was still the man after God’s own heart.
In the aftermath he wrote, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!” (Psalm 32:1 NLT)
For 12 months David had fought the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He wasn’t experiencing God’s presence as he had before. Was he still in a relationship with God? Yes. Was he in fellowship with God? No.
When your children disobey you and disappoint you, are they still your children? Yes they are. Are they in a good relationship with you at the moment? Probably not. That is where David was. But he repented.
God forgave David, but David still faced repercussions for his sins. He saw it played out in the lives of his children. His sons and daughters behaved badly. They rebelled against him, and they did some of the very things he himself did. He lost a lot of moral authority. Yet he was forgiven by God and made his way into the Messianic line.
David’s genealogy is the most exclusive in human history. And who else made it into that genealogy? Bathsheba. That’s called the grace of God. God gives second chances. Yes, David fell, and he fell big. But he came back strong.
We have ups and downs in our lives, but the Christian life should not be up and down. Rather, the Christian life should be in and out: in for worship and out for service. Jesus said, “I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures” (John 10:9 NLT). We come in and find pasture. We get refueled. We get perspective. Then we go out into the world to be world changers.
However, the only way you’re going to be a world changer is if your world is changed first. God cannot forgive the sin that you will not confess. David could have lived in sin. David could have ended in sin. But he came back to the Lord.
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9 NLT). Jesus died for me, and he died for you. He rose from the dead three days later and is ready to come into your life, if you would like him to. You can be forgiven of your sin.