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February 2017 Prophetic Observer

For printable version, click here.


The Final Assault

by Bob Glaze

Obama and Trump in the Oval OfficeThe last six to eight years have seen a tremendous assault on the American people, especially American Christians. While most Americans sighed in relief when Mr. Trump triumphed over Hillary Clinton, we must realize that the real battle has just begun. WHy? Because when the devil is getting his way, he is pleased with the status quo and dwells on his victories. However, Scripture tells us that he never relents his onslaught against anything godly. Normally when a victory is gained after a long, hard-fought battle, we let down our guard, relax, and rest. This must not happen.

We not only have many new projects to begin, but we must undo the bad policies that have been put in place during the past several terms by presidents that did not have a correct worldview. We have been left with an innumerable amount of horrible deliberate decisions, many of which were made by politicians that were thinking only of themselves and feathering their own future nest, both Democrat and Republican. These things were done by those who have an incorrect worldview based upon their conscience, not Christian convictions. Man is born a sinner; therefore his conscience is based upon sin. Conscience is the capability of the human soul to pass moral judgment on its own thoughts and actions and can only be corrected by a close relationship with Jesus Christ.

For those who believe that the battle has been won—that we can sit idly by and wait for deliverance—are badly mistaken. "Gird up your loins." When injustice and ungodliness prevails Satan is most happy, but when that scenario is threatened or jeopardized Satan increases his pressure on those who now serve him by going around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

President Obama and his predecessors are leaving behind a woeful legacy of malcontents; millions dependent upon government handouts, such as food stamps and welfare; a national debt close to $20 trillion; a depleted military; racial tension; failed social medicine; an unrelenting attack on our first and second amendments; runaway illegal immigration; a myriad of executive orders that need to be revoked; failed foreign policy that honors our enemies (such as Iran and Palestinians) and shuns our allies (such as Israel); unnecessary EPA policies (i.e., "man-made" global warming) that destroy our economy with false data; and millions that have given up hope to achieve their American dreams. Those clearly indicate deliberate failed leadership that from the beginning set out to reduce the greatest nation on earth to third-world status.

We wonder just how long God will put up with this nonsense. In the Old Testament book of Habakkuk, the prophet complains to God about the moral depravity of the chosen people. He complains to God of violence, which includes all manner of wrong done to one's neighbors. He asks God how He can look upon evil and leave it unpunished. He tells God that since He is slow to put an end to the iniquity, the law is dead, right is powerless, and because the righteous are unable to act as they desire, being opposed by the wicked, wrong judgment proceeds. In other words, right has become wrong and wrong has become right. The rulers had legislated morality. Ecclesiastes 1:9 states, "there is nothing new under the sun." We perhaps find ourselves in similar circumstances.

To Habakkuk's appeal, God answers that He will send the Chaldeans to punish the evildoers with a terrible vengeance. However, the Chaldeans themselves will offend by pride and unrighteous acts. God had already planned punishment using Israel's enemies to punish her.

Is God punishing America because of its rebellion and iniquity against Him? The Chaldeans have been replaced by fanatical Islam bent on destroying Christians and Jews and replacing a law representing God's law with sharia law. Can America continue into the Tribulation or will it, like Sodom, be extinguished after the righteous are removed at the Rapture? I believe that America has been given a last window of opportunity for revival before that terrible the day of wrath. We are in fact writing our own epitaph.

What makes the church grow? Several years ago, on one of our mission trips to China, we met with that grand old Chinese pastor Samuel Lamb in Guangzhou. On this trip he allowed me to interview him on video. I asked him how he prayed for American Christians. His answer was short and to the point, "I pray for persecution because that is what makes the church grow." He was one of many Chinese pastors, such as Pastor Alan Yuan, that had suffered severe persecution because of their faith. He had spent 21 years at hard labor, the last 15 in a coal mine north of Beijing. He spent 17 hours a day in the mine without seeing the sun. If we are asked to suffer persecution like that, are we willing? It could come to that.

In its final desperate hours the status quo is weaving a sinister rag to interrupt and thwart a deviation from the crooked road that has paved the way for the theft of American virtues. In his final gasp, Mr. Obama is commuting sentences of inmates at an alarming rate. These landmines are being strewn in the path of the president-elect for no other reason than to slow down or damage future changes. These inmates are guilty of everything from drug possession to mail fraud. The one that grabs the attention of all decent law-abiding citizens is his latest, commuting the sentence of United States Private First Class Bradley Manning, a transgender who became Chelsea Manning.

"Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier who became one of the most prominent whistleblowers of modern times when she exposed the nature of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who then went on to pay the price with a 35-year military prison sentence, is to be freed in May as a gift of Barack Obama in his final days as president" (The Guardian). This deviant from God's creation is being rewarded for treasonous activity that put many of our military and this nation at risk. This assault by Obama is nothing more than a slap in the face of Mr. Trump.

On April 24, 2015, during a ceremony of Israel signing a contract to purchase nineteen F-35s in 2016 Biden is quoted as saying, "If you were attacked and overwhelmed, we would fight for you," during Israel's 67th Independence Day celebration. "Biden's appearance at the event comes after months of heightened tensions between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama over Israel's fierce opposition to US support of a deal that curbs, but does not eliminate, Iran's weapons program. … As he stood under a large Israeli flag, Biden promised that his country would always 'have Israel's back'" (www.jpost.com).

However in an article written in the Jewish Press we see a different Biden. On December 27, 2016, Biden is accused by Israel of pressuring Ukraine to vote in favor of Resolution 2334 by lobbying foreign leaders to vote yes. The United States refrained from voting, which allowed the measure to pass. "Israel's Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, told CNN and MSNBC on Monday that Israel has clear evidence the Obama Administration labored hard to support the resolution, but insisted he would provide the evidence only after President-elect Donald Trump takes over" (www.jewishpresss.com).

On January 12, 2017, President Obama took another jab at Mr. Trump by awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom award to Vice-President Joseph Biden. This was actually a second-handed attempt to once again distance himself from support of Israel while Mr. Trump promised to be the best friend Israel can have. The United Nations Security Council voted on December 27, 2016, on Resolution 2334.

On January 18, 2017, Vice President Joe Biden delivered his final speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "The gist of his speech was simple: At a time of 'uncertainty' we must double down on the values that made Western democracies great, and not allow the 'liberal world order' to be torn apart by destructive forces" (www.cnbc.com). He blasted Russian president Vladimir Putin for interfering in the election, an obvious shot across the bow of Trump. Biden urged world leaders "to maintain the status quo." The status quo is that of a global nature, while Trump has maintained that he will push for "America First."

Another assault on the incoming president-elect is the ejecting of Russian diplomats from their property in Maryland. It has long been known that the Russians don't just have parties, swim, and sip vodka at these properties; they are continually spying on U.S. government agencies. United States spy agencies maintain properties in Moscow for the same reason. So why would we be surprised during the election and suddenly chase them out of the United States. If our CIA agents in Moscow is not spying on the Russians, then they are amiss.

"Property records show that the Russian government owns two properties on Town Point Lane, about five miles west of Centreville, where the Chester River meets the Corsica River. One parcel of 45.52 acres is valued at about $8 million for tax purposes, while the other is just shy of an acre and is valued at $537,200" (www.baltimoresun.com). The 45-acre site on the Corsica River near Centreville was purchased by the Soviet Union in 1972. In 1992, the property was renovated to accommodate up to 40 families. According to the article, the ownership has been widely known for decades. If the property has been owned by the Soviet Union and then by Russia after that, did our CIA and FBI not suspect that it was a center for spies until Donald Trump won the election?

Finally, there have been a lot of reports about a possible attempt on Donald Trump's life before, during, or after the inauguration. This is certainly not new. Many presidents in the past have endured the same threats during inauguration and while in office. We would certainly not want anyone assassinated for any reason.

The final outcome for the transfer of power will have already taken place by the time you read this article. We pray for a smooth transfer so that this nation can move on to better days and regain its greatness both at home and abroad. We also pray that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton might fade into obscurity out of the limelight and enjoy their retirement out of politics. That would be an assault on political correctness.


WineskinWineskins

by Larry Spargimino

There are some things you shouldn't do: play with matches, and cross the street without looking. Dr. Hutchings added another: "Never wear white socks when you are wearing a dark suit." With a twinkle in his eye he said, "Those who violate this law face great risk."

Jesus warned us about some things that we should not do. One of them is extremely important when we think of God's purpose for the Body of Christ in these last days: "Don't put new wine into old wineskins." In Mark 2:22 we read: "And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles."

"Bottles" in the KJV is a translation of a word that means "wineskins." Jesus wasn't talking about glass bottles. He was talking about wineskins—animal skin containers used for liquids. Old wineskins lose their elasticity and are unable to contain the pressure produced by the chemical processes of new wine.

The old wineskins represent the legalism and self-seeking practices of the scribes and Pharisees. They cannot accommodate the teachings of Israel's Messiah, Jesus Christ.

There is no question about it: there is new wine. It came upon the believers at Pentecost. The Ascension of Christ—often neglected in our preaching and teaching—led to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. The question for all of us: Can we contain the new wine, or are we old wineskins?

But why was Jesus talking about wineskins? Why that particular reference? How did this teaching fit into Jesus' ministry? Are there lessons for us today? As we seek to answer these questions, let's look at what was happening in His ministry. Were there any old wineskins? Hint: Watch the religious crowd, those "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (2 Tim. 3:5).

The Healing of the Paralytic (Mark 2:1-12)

Jesus was preaching in a house where He was staying. Word got out that He was back home. People quickly flocked to that house. The place was packed. There was no room left for a single person, let alone four men carrying a mat with their paralyzed friend on it.

Not to be turned away, these four men climbed up on the rooftop, dug a hole through the clay and grass, and let down their friend. Jesus is preaching. Here comes this mat. Jesus says, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." To prove that He has authority to forgive sin, Jesus tells the man to get up. He does. He stands, takes up his mat, and leaves.

Everybody is pretty amazed and pretty happy. They glorified God and said, "We never saw it on this fashion." Everybody was pretty happy—except the scribes. They believed they knew Scripture, and this was wrong. They charged Jesus with blasphemy. He had insulted God. Only God can forgive sin. They were right about God, but wrong about Jesus.

Plucking Grain on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28)

On a sabbath day, Jesus and His disciples were walking through grain fields. His disciples began plucking off heads of grain and snacking. They were hungry. The Pharisees, however, were upset: "Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?"

Jesus responded by referring them to a scripture which they should have known, how in the days when Abiathar was high priest, David ate of the sacred loaves of bread and gave some to his companions. Technically, David broke the law, but Jesus says they were "blameless" (Matt. 12:5). Then Jesus tells the complainers they had "condemned the guiltless" (vs. 7). "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).

Interesting, isn't it?—the religious crowd was finding fault where there was none to be found. Allegedly, Jesus was allowing that which was "not lawful." When you are an old wineskin you can't accommodate new wine.

If you are a parent and have a child who is doing something that religious people don't approve of, they will look at you with a gaze that cuts like a knife. You know what they are thinking: "If that father were a good father he wouldn't let his little boy do …" Jesus faced something similar many times over. There were at least five things that the religious crowd didn't approve of:

  1. Jesus' claims;
  2. Jesus' associations—the poor, gentiles, women, "outsiders." If He were a rabbi, you would think He would have associated with the "right people."
  3. His description of the Heavenly Father—concerned with real people and real needs. Jesus, likewise, had great compassion: "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Matt. 9:36). Two verses earlier, however, the Pharisees missed His compassion and said: "He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils" (vs. 34).
  4. His miraculous works. They claimed He was not from God yet He was doing what only someone approved of God could do. Jesus kept on embarrassing them.
  5. His attitude toward them. In fact, the harshest words that Jesus ever spoke were not directed at prostitutes, Roman soldiers, Greek philosophers or donkey jockeys. His harshest words were used for the religious establishment: "hypocrites!" "blind guides," "fools," "ye serpents, ye generation of vipers" (Matt. 23:14, 17, 24, 33).

When you are an old wineskin you can't accommodate new wine.

The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20)

Jesus talks about a man who goes and sows seed. The seed is the Word of God. Some people respond differently to the seed of the Word. Like different soils, different people don't all produce a good crop.

Some seed falls by the pathway. The birds come and gobble it up. Some seed falls on rocky ground, where there is not much soil. The sun rises and the seed is scorched. Some seed falls among thorns. The thorns grow, and choke the seed. Some seed, however, falls on good ground. The seed grows and produces a great harvest.

But why does Jesus teach in parables? "Unto you," Jesus says to His disciples, "it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables. That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them."

Harsh words. For the Calvinists who believe in double predestination, He is speaking about the non-elect. For people who think you need to be baptized in water to be saved, He is speaking about those who have not been baptized. For those who need to keep a certain day, He is speaking about those who don't keep that day.

But in context, Jesus is speaking about the religionists—the professors who are not possessors. The same crowd He was speaking about in Matthew 23.

In Mark 4:17 Jesus speaks about the seed that "have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended."

Who are the persecutors who bring about persecution because of the Word of God? Roman centurions? Greek philosophers? German Nazis? None of these. The religious crowd who hated Jesus. The same group that plotted to take His life when none of their schemes to silence Jesus worked (Mark 3:6). The persecution comes from the old wineskins. Those who have lost their elasticity. Are you an old wineskin or a new wineskin? Here are some of the marks of new wineskins.

Faith in God and a hunger to see God's power manifested. Jesus is pleased when we believe Him, and He is amazed to the point of grief when we don't. This is what happened when He came to Nazareth: "A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country. … And he could there do no mighty work. … And he marveled because of their unbelief" (Mark 6:4-6).

A sense of mission and purpose. The same day that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, Jesus appeared to the disciples. They were in for a big surprise. The doors were shut because of their fear of the Jews. Jesus wished them peace. "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you" (John 20:21). Jesus had a sense of mission and purpose and so should we. Early in His earthly ministry, after the temptations (Luke 4), Jesus came to Nazareth. He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as He often did. He found a place in the scroll of Isaiah and read from it: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel. … He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. … And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:16-21).

Those who are new wineskins are on the move. They are obedient to the Great Commission. New wine will inflame a sense of mission and purpose. Old wineskins will sit within the confines of the church building and complain about all the bad people "out there."

A new and radical way of life. Jesus said, "I am the way." He didn't say, "I am the religion." The Christians in the Book of Acts were known to follow "this way" or "the way" (Acts 9:2; Acts 24:14). They were following the example of total commitment and service set by Jesus (1 Pet. 2:21). New wineskins are flexible and ready for stretching. They walk in the footsteps of Jesus—even to the point of martyrdom (Matt. 16:24-25).

Perseverance in Prayer for particular victories. I like to call this "praying for a breakthrough." A "breakthrough" is a military concept. When one army is able to weaken the enemy's stronghold to the point of collapse, a breakthrough can occur. In the ancient world this breakthrough involved the use of siege weapons.

When the angel who was wrestling with Jacob saw that he was not winning over Jacob, he touched Jacob's thigh which was immediately out of joint. But Jacob would not give up. He wanted deliverance from danger posed by Esau. And he wanted it badly. He wanted a breakthrough! (Gen. 32).

What do you need from God right now? What wall do you want to crash through? How badly do you want it? There are times when God only releases His blessings on us after a season of prolonged and exhausting wrestling.

We are living in desperate times. These are also times of great opportunity for those who will allow the Holy Spirit to make and mold them into vessels of glory. Move out, for "the night cometh when no man can work" (John 9:4).