Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Date Setting And Paranoia - What's A Christian To Do?

BIBLICAL PROPHECY! BLOOD MOONS! THE FALL FEASTS! THE RAPTURE! THE TRIBULATION! DESTRUCTION! DEVASTATION! THE END OF THE WORLD! ECONOMIC COLLAPSE!

Seeing the unsaved being influenced by their own fearful thoughts and gripped with fear about the possibility that mayhem and destruction is right around the corner is one thing, but when those who call themselves Christians let fear and uncertainty grip their heart and control their thoughts and actions, that's quite another. Yes, there are principalities and powers at work in this world, but Christians have One greater who lives within them... the Holy Spirit. We must not allow ourselves to get caught up in all of the hype of this season of change. For years, believers have predicted the date of the Rapture and unbelievers have predicted the destruction of the world, oft times to the determent of those who believed such stories. Neither the rapture nor the earth's destruction have occurred.

We can excuse the unbeliever for predicting the ultimate demise of the planet and everything on it, but can we excuse the believer of believing that the date of Jesus return can be predicted? Jesus said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Matthew 24:36  He didn't say, "...knoweth no man, except those who were clever enough to figure it out." No, he said, "...knowth no man... but my Father only." The blood moons and everything else being thrown out there by those believers who have studied God's word, Jewish tradition and world history, doesn't really give us a clue as to when the Rapture will take place. These individuals have absolutely no idea when the Rapture will take place. It's all guesswork. There's not going to be that one believer in Heaven who will be able to say, "Yep, no one else figured it out except me."

Just recently, September 13, 2015 was thrown out there by some Christians who believed that this was the date of the Rapture. That date has since come and gone. Now I understand that some are claiming that the Rapture will occur on September 28th at the next blood moon. does anyone believe that the Lord will return on that date? Let's see a show of hands. Anyone? Let me state this as clearly as I know how. If you are absolutely positive, and believe in your heart, and you know that you know that you know that the Lord will return on a specific date, then you can be positive that you are wrong because Jesus said that no man would know the day nor the hour of His return.

Be honest... how many of us, in the past, have bought in to the idea that the year had finally come for the Lord's return? (I'm raising my hand) That year passed without the Rapture, then the next and the next until we now find ourselves here in the latter part of 2015. Some are positive that this is the year. Really? What happens if and when 2016 rolls around. Will you then be positive that the Rapture will take place in 2016? What if we reach 2017? How positive will you be then that 2017 will be the year of the Rapture?

Even though we don't know the day or the hour, we've been told that we will know the season. Many of us believe that we are in that season even now, but we have no idea how long this season will last. We know that Jesus' arrival is imminent and it could occur at any time, but that's not to say that this season won't last another year or two. I hope that's not the case. I hope that the Lord does return this year, but I'm not going to listen to those believers who lead people on and chose their words to carefully craft a prediction while still weakly claiming that it's just an educated guess. 

While we're here, we have a war to fight. We're here to take back ground from the enemy and to advance the kingdom of God here on earth. We're here to rescue as many saints as possible, while the enemy continues to make his preparations for the coming of his Antichrist. God has Satan hemmed in so that he can only accomplish so much, but when the point is reached where the world is ripe for the great deception that will fall upon them, and when that last brother or sister that God is waiting for has repented of their sin and believes in the One who gave His life for them, then we'll be ripped from this world in a blink of an eye while the full force of evil in this world is released!

There are people out there in the Christian community who will talk about the blood moons, the Jewish Feasts and the "last trump" and who will try to convince us that the blood moons signal catastrophe and that through their study they've concluded that the Jewish feasts and the scripture relating to the "last trump" show that the Rapture will occur on the last day of Rosh Hashanah. These individuals have received monetary gain from the books, videos, charts, posters, etc... that they've sold which make these claims, all the while telling us that they're not date setting. If it's not Rosh Hashanah 2015, then all through next year the date setters will be talking about Rosh Hashanah 2016.  

What they don't tell you is that the Jewish calendar has gone through some changes since Jesus prophetically fulfilled the first four major feast days. Without getting into specifics, the Jewish calendar that was around when Jesus walked this earth isn't the same calendar that they use now. The Jewish calendar used to be based on the lunar cycle, and eye witness accounts of when the new moon appeared, but as I understand it, that was changed in the fourth century when it was changed to a fixed calendar. As you can imagine, those in Jesus' time would be celebrating a holy day on a particular day while those in the fourth century and beyond would be celebrating it on another, since they would be operating under two different systems of marking days and months. The modern calendar allows for the adding and taking away of days so that certain holy days don't fall back to back or on the "wrong day."

The point I'm trying to make concerning these two methods of marking time, is that it makes no sense to try to connect the "last trump" Jesus spoke of with the last trumpet blast of the modern celebration of Rosh Hashanah because it's more than likely that this holy day won't line up with the old lunar calendar. That's why if Jesus was referring to Rosh Hashanah when He made mention of the "last trump," it would most likely be blown on the date that Rosh Hashanah would have ended on in regard to the old Jewish calendar and not the last day of Rosh Hashanah that is marked on the modern Jewish calendar that they use today.

Many of us feel that we are in the season where we are to look up and expect the arrival of the Bridegroom, but it's not a time to panic and believe that every news story is going to lead to the immediate destruction of this nation. Yes, the United States is most likely going to fall, because the greatest and most powerful nation that there has ever been on this planet is found nowhere in biblical prophecy.

Instead of fearing what is to come, we need to prayerfully prepare for what we may need to go through before the Bridegroom arrives. We don't know how bad things are going to get in this world or how bad it's going to be for born again believers before the Tribulation begins. We are already seeing the leading edge of Christian persecution in this country and it's only going to get worse as we get closer to Yeshua's return. 

What's a Christian to do? We need to live each day in it's own time. We need to continue to believe, pray, share, witness, evangelize, teach, etc... We need to continue to depend on God to increase our faith, give us strength, and lead us by His Holy Spirit. Jesus said that His return would be as the great flood occurred in Noah's time. Everyone would be eating and drinking, getting married, and going on with their daily lives. His return will happen suddenly, as a thief in the night. In the blink of an eye we'll be ushered into His presence and our thoughts will no longer be focused on what is happening in the world, but will instead be focused on the One who saved us through His blood on the cross.

You know who I want to meet in heaven? I want to meet that man, woman or child who shares Jesus with that last person who receives salvation before Jesus returns. I want to go up to that saint and say, "Well done," before giving him or her a big hug in appreciation for being so faithful and obedient to God.

Last words: Don't fall into the date setting trap. Live your days one at a time while looking up in anticipation of the arrival of the Bridegroom. One day, when you least expect it, you'll hear that shout and that trumpet blast, and in that moment we'll be home!

Friday, August 28, 2015

The First Resurrection And The Rapture

It's easy to confuse the first resurrection with the Rapture. After all, they both involve resurrected bodies. The Rapture isn't exclusively a resurrection. By that, I mean that yes, the saints that have gone before us will be reunited with their bodies and have them transformed into immortal and incorruptible bodies just a moment before we, who are living, have our bodies transformed in like manner. It isn't described as the first resurrection, but as being caught up. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with with trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1Thessalonians 4:16-17 KJV) 

The first resurrection won't involve the living, but the dead in Christ. Here we see both the living and the dead being "caught up" to be with the Lord forever. It's not known as a "resurrection Rapture," but only as the Rapture (the catching away of the living and dead in Christ). The Rapture won't be the first time that the dead have been resurrected either. If you remember, immediately after Jesus rose from the dead, others rose from the dead as well. 

"Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." (Matthew 27:50-53 KJV)

It would be just as easy to confuse this with the “first resurrection” as it would be to confuse the Rapture with the "first resurrection."

So when does the "first resurrection" occur?

"And I saw thrones, and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for their witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, nor in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Rev. 20:4-6 KJV)

This scripture specifically mentions events that will occur only at the time of the Tribulation. Those who participate in the "first resurrection" were beheaded for their witness of Jesus and for the word of God, did not worship the beast, and did not receive the mark of the beast on their hand or forehead. It's clear that the "first resurrection" occurs AFTER the Tribulation, when Jesus returns to Earth along with those who had been raptured seven years prior. 

Many will use this as support for a post-Tribulation Rapture, but that just isn't the case. If you read the following verses, you'll see what I mean:

"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the alter the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." (Rev. 6:9-11  KJV - bold mine) 

God is very specific when He is describing those who are "under the alter." 
  • They are the souls who were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
    • Christians will be killed during the Tribulation
  • They are told to "rest yet for a little season."
    • "little season" - Remainder of the Tribulation
  • They are to wait until their fellow servants/brethren are killed as they were. 
    • Their fellow brothers and sisters will be killed during the Tribulation in the same way they were
These souls aren't representative of every Christian who is waiting to be resurrected at a post-Tribulation Rapture. These are specific souls that have been persecuted and killed because of their faith and it is during the seal judgments that they are first mentioned, linking their persecution and deaths to the Tribulation. These souls mentioned here in Rev. 6:9-11 are the same souls mentioned in Rev. 20:4-6. They are the souls who are part of the "first resurrection" and who "lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." 

Is there a second resurrection?

Well, yes and no. It's not specifically called the "second resurrection." It's called the "second death." It occurs at the White Throne Judgment after Satan is finally defeated and condemned to eternity in hell. It is at this time that those who died apart from God, are resurrected and stand before Jesus to be judged by the law of God, receiving the eternal destiny that they have chosen for themselves… eternity in the lake of fire and brimstone. This is why you need to repent and believe, so that you can be part of the experience known as the Rapture or, if you are left behind, be a part of the first resurrection. Just as those who take the mark of the Beast are automatically condemned to Hell, those who are part of the “second death” are destined to spend eternity in Hell.


Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
TribulationHarvest.net

Monday, August 03, 2015

The Spirit Of Python Is A Spirit Of Divination And Nothing More

Over the past few weeks, I've heard references regarding something called the "spirit of python." This teaching has obviously been around for a few years, so I thought I'd take a closer look at what this is all about. I've taken the time to read what people have had to say online and I've watched some videos on the subject. I've been sitting on this article, tweaking it here and there and waiting for someone to respond to my social media posts, offering up some information that I haven't yet considered; something... anything that would add to what I've already learned about this subject. None has been forthcoming, so here is my opinion on this subject.

The teaching I've heard starts off, simple enough, with a scripture that makes mention of the subject of this article:

"And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. 19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains were gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans." Acts 16:16-21


The first thing someone will tell you when discussing this subject is that the word "divination" that is found in verse 16 isn't the proper translation of the Greek word being used here. The Greek word is puthón.

Vine's Expository Dictionary describes the word puthón this way: 

(Eng., "python"), in Greek mythology was the name of the Pythian serpent or dragon, dwelling in Pytho, at the foot of mount Parnassus, guarding the oracle of Delphi, and slain by Apollo. Thence the name was transferred to Apollo himself. Later the word was applied to diviners or soothsayers, regarded as inspired by Apollo. Since demons are the agents inspiring idolatry, 1Cr 10:20, the young woman in Acts 16:16 was possessed by a demon instigating the cult of Apollo, and thus had "a spirit of divination."

What does that mean? It means that spirit of puthón is associated with a false religion. This demonic spirit has a major role in the protection and assistance of those who practice divination. So in Acts, when it's said that the woman had a spirit of puthón, it's referencing the demonic spirit that protected and assisted those who practiced divination. That's why KJV translates that word as divination instead of the word python. Although python is the English translation of this word, it's difficult, scripturally, to connect it's behavior with that of an earthly python.

Let's look at the behavior of this woman. We know that she:
  • is possessed by a demon.
  • can tell people about things in their personal lives and predict their future.
  • is a slave being used to make money for her masters.
  • is exalting Paul and Silas instead of God.
  • is making herself equal with them by associating with brethren who exhibit supernatural abilities just as she does, and with no official rebuke from them.
How does Paul handle the situation? Well, at first he does nothing but ignore her. Why is that? Scripture isn't clear about why he waited to cast out that demon, but an educated guess would be that it was probably because the Holy Spirit was instructing him to wait.

Days later, Paul's heart becomes grieved. Again, why? Once again, scripture isn't clear why, but we can take another educated guess. I can think of several reasons:
  • Here we have a slave woman who Paul can see is under a demonic influence. Her greedy masters, are using her spiritual state to make themselves rich. 
  • The demon who is possessing this woman knows who Paul and company are, and declares it openly. Do her masters repent and ask for forgiveness and for the Apostle to drive the demonic spirit from her? No.
  • This demon tries to blend in with the Jesus crowd in order to deceive the populace. If he can make himself out to be a spirit of light, when he is in fact a spirit of darkness, he can deceive an even greater number of people and pollute the message of salvation with it's own brand of false religion.
  • Like Satan in the Garden of Eden, this spirit of puthón mimics it's master and speaks just enough truth to deceive people into believing that it's the author of truth. God alone is the source of all prophecy and revelation. He alone is the Author of truth.
Whether it was one or a combination of these things, or something else entirely, that caused Paul's heart to grieve, he takes care of the situation by casting out the demon. Once the slave woman's masters realize what's happened, they panic. They've just lost their moneymaker and they're not happy about that. They complain to the local authorities, who then punish Paul and Silas by whipping them and throwing them into prison.

"And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charing the jailor to keep them safely: 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks." Acts 16:22-24

The spirit of puthón is a demon that protects and assists those who practice the sinful act of divination. This demon, under Satan's direction, seeks to displace God as the author of truth. Satan knows that mankind responds more readily to something that is seen than something (or someone) that is unseen. We see examples of that in the scriptures all the time. One that sticks out in my mind is 1 Samuel chapter 8, where Israel rejects an unseen God in favor of being led by a king that they can actually see. 

Satan takes advantage of this human desire by providing mankind with a flesh and bone individual who practices divination under the influence and protection of what cannot be seen, the spirit of puthón.

I guess I interpret this scripture differently than the mainstream python crowd. I see this as a warning. It's an example of how the enemy wants to destroy mankind's faith in God. Satan attempts to deceive us by demonstrating his power through humans, who most don't understand are operating under the influence of the spirit of puthón. This demonic spirit speaks enough truth to be believable while still deceiving the victim. This is what we see in this portion of scripture. This demon possessed woman was making a lot of money for her masters. Business was good because her clients believed she had the supernatural power of prophecy. This demon was proving itself to be successful in its purpose... to take people's eyes off of an unseen God, who alone is the source of all prophesy and revelation, and instead focus their eyes on him.

We have educated Christians taking this portion of scripture and using the word "python" to create a whole new, and in my opinion un-biblical, teaching. We go from a bible study to story telling. We go from the word of God to the word of man. We go from discussing the spirit of puthón as being one that protects and assists in the act of divination and one that tries to create an alternate belief system, to being one that is blamed for many of the ills of Christians worldwide.

We leap out of the bible and take the physical nature of a python and transpose that into Christian teaching related to this portion of scripture. In any other circumstance, it would be considered a false teaching and maybe even the teachings of cults, but because it's being taught in the mainline Christian community, it's being lauded as solid biblical teaching.

Here are some of the things I've read and heard:

"One of the only named spirits in the Bible, the python spirit is a coiling spirit that works to squeeze out the breath of life (the Holy Spirit) and cut off your lifeline to God (prayer)." Charisma Magazine - Sep 25, 2014

"It's not just natural things, you know, keeping you from prayer. I'm busy, I gotta do this, I gotta do that. It's a spirit called python that wants to choke your prayer time out of your life..." Jentezen Franklin. This gentleman has a teaching called, "Spirit of Python: Snake Eggs in Your Head." The description reads, "Sin begins in the mind. Not as an act of the body, not with the act of the soul. It begins with a thought that lies in the mind like a snake egg until it is hatched. What we continually think on, we eventually act on. In this message we learn that we may not always be in control of what enters our minds, but we do have control over how long it stays. But we can get victory. We can renew our minds and get the snake eggs out." 

That's right, folks. Now we're being told we have snake eggs in our mind, which, of course, means that this "spirit of python" is the sole reason for our negative thoughts. It doesn't come from any other demon or even from our own flesh. No, it's the dreaded python spirit. Sorry, I don't mean to be flippant, but spiritual snake eggs? Really? It seems like the spirits of fear, lust, anger, confusion, etc... are out of a job because all these attributes are now assigned to the spirit of puthón.

This demonic spirit seems to be receiving plenty of notoriety as of late. If there's one thing that this spirit has not been lacking, it's the attention that Christians have been giving it and the growing list of things that they have accused it of being responsible for.

This teaching states that this "spirit of python" doesn't strike outwardly with venomous fangs. On the contrary. It's reported that this demon quietly seeks out it's prey and warps itself around them and ever so slowly and subtly squeezes the spiritual life out of them. You know, like an actual earthly python. That is in direct conflict with what the bible says happened in this instance. This demonic spirit was everything but subtle when it had its run-ins with Paul and Silas. It made itself known immediately and it was large and in charge (until it was cast out, of course). Taking this attribute of an earthly cobra and trying to transfer it to this demonic entity just doesn't fit in with this particular scripture, now does it? Unfortunately, this entire teaching is wrapped around (no pun intended) this one portion of scripture because there aren't any other scriptures concerning this demon to support this teaching.

This teaching also includes the idea that this demonic spirit can choke a marriage, choke a ministry, choke your joy, choke your finances, choke your prayer life, choke your spiritual relationship with God... choke, choke, choke. An attribute of a python is once again erroneously transferred to the spiritual description of this demon in a way to make you believe that when you've reached a point of stagnation in your walk with the Lord or you become limited in other areas of your life, it must be because of this particular demon's influence.

It seems that this demon can slowly squeeze the Holy Spirit out of you. Ready to jump some hoops? 
  • An earthly python squeezes you until you have difficulty breathing. This attribute is incorrectly transfered to the spirit of puthón.
  • Breath is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
  • Since the demon is supposedly squeezing the spiritual breath out of you, he's actually squeezing the Holy Spirit out of you.
I wasn't aware that any demon had authority over the Holy Spirit. In fact, I'm positive that none of them have the authority to "choke" Him out of our lives. 

As this teaching reveals, anything that goes awry in your life can be attributed to this demonic spirit. Demons must love getting credit for things they don't do. Are we so busy trying to shift the blame for the negative situations in our lives that we're actually willing to give credit to a demon that has nothing to do with it? Just as the populace was giving credit to the demon for the prophecies it was giving through the woman in the related scripture, are we giving credit to him for things that he doesn't even do? Are we building up this demon to be more than what he is? I believe the Christian community is doing just that.

Don't feel like praying? It's not your own spiritual laziness, it's the fault of that python spirit who wants to cut off your breath and prevent you from speaking with God.

Feeling the financial squeeze and don't want to tithe? It's not your reluctance to rely on God to provide for your needs, it's that python spirit that's strangling your finances so that you can't tithe. 

The congregation of your church isn't growing? It can't be the perception that others have of your church, or that the Holy Spirit isn't providing the increase, it must be that python spirit strangling church growth.

Your children have become rebellious? It can't involve the spirit of rebellion or the fact that you're not paying enough attention to them or giving them proper discipline in their lives. It must be the spirit of python coming in to strangle all the joy out of your life.

You must see where I'm going with this. When we begin labeling the attributes of a python in the physical world and use those attributes to describe this spirit of puthón in the spiritual world, we're going a bit too far. Where does it end? Negative thinking, fear, depression, etc... it's all being attributed to this "spirit of python." What negative thing in a Christian's life can NOT be attributed to this demon?

I know I'm going to get some serious heat about this. Too many Christians are too invested in this teaching to stop and give what I have to say serious thought. There are Christians that I respect who are spreading this teaching throughout the body of Christ. I don't believe it's scriptural and because of that, I have to speak up. My concern can't be about how it will be received or whether people will block me on their social media sites. Sometimes in a battle it's only you and the Lord. I've experienced that more than once in my lifetime. I know that there are others out there that just can't seem to make the connection between the story in Acts 16 and this teaching on the "spirit of python," but they are unwilling to go against the flow and speak out. That's okay. I'll do it for you.

To Recap

Here is what I believe the spirit of puthón to be:
  • It is a demonic spirit.
  • It's name is descriptive of its association with divination.
  • It deceives mankind and takes their attention off of God by promoting a different belief system.
  • It is subtle, like it's master, Satan.
  • It's main purpose is to entangle people in the occult (palm reading, tarot card readings, séances, occult rituals and chants, crystal ball reading, etc... which all forms of divination). This can lead to participation in other occult practices, like voodoo, incantations, witchcraft, etc...
  • It exhibits no other power or influence but that which is associated with divination.
    Here is what I do not believe the spirit of puthón to be:
    • It is not the cause of almost every negative thought.
    • It is not a spiritual being with the attributes of a physical reptile (other than being subtle/crafty, as it was in the Garden of Eden).
    • It does not operate in "restricting" or "choking" or "crushing" Christians in almost every area of their lives. If I was hard pressed to use that type of symbolism to describe this demon, I would have to say that as one delves deeper into the occult, this demon slowly chokes off your Christian walk.
    Personal Experience: I have to admit that I have had experience with this demon in the past. I now know what his name is, and that's a plus. As a young Christian, I experienced the temptation of becoming involved with something that would give instant gratification... the occult. I thought about it, purchased a book on the subject, tried to make contact with ghosts (which are just demons in disguise) and even purchased and used a Ouija board (with results). The answers I received frightened me, which prompted me to repent and throw all of that demonic stuff away. This preceded what was to happen years later...

    Second Hand Experience: Twenty-six years ago, I was married. Three years later, my wife left me and the children so that she could live her life the way she wanted, which included alcohol and marijuana. What I didn't find out until a few year later was that my wife, who was a new born again believer when we were married, was becoming involved in the occult. She was seeing a "witch" and was participating in tarot card readings. She eventually purchased a set of these cards for herself. From what I understand, she used them often.

    Why am I sharing this with you? Because I know from personal experience that this "spirit of python" acts just like it did in the scripture quoted at the beginning of this article. It didn't come in quietly and start squeezing and choking me, nor did it seem to have that effect on my wife. The spirit of puthón's influence made us believe that we could have power of our own and have it in this world. It was a seductive temptation that both she and I fell to in different times in our lives. It is not difficult for me to understand how this woman described in Acts 16 made so much money for her masters. 

    We fight against powers and principalities all the time. I just don't believe that this particular demon is responsible for everything that people want to attribute to it. I believe that it's function is clearly stated in scripture and that people have taken the "python" thing totally out of context and given it a meaning it was not intended to have. They have taken a spirit whose sole purpose is in protecting and assisting one who uses the satanic power of divination and has built that demon up to be more than what he actually is. 

    If I had to boil all of this down to one sentence, it would be this: The spirit of puthón is a demon of the occult that exhibits no other ability other than those associated with divination.

    Here is my hope, that either:
    • I am right and that what I consider to be a false teaching will be shown for what it is.
    • I am wrong and have somehow missed a mention of other scriptures that would reaffirm this teaching of a "spirit of python," at which point I will update or delete this article.
    If you believe that I have the wrong end of the stick, then please share your thoughts below with scripture to back up your statements. These scriptures must apply to the subject of this article. All other comments may be deleted. I know that this subject can be a divisive one, so I'm hoping we can have a calm discussion about this subject.

    Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
    TribulationHarvest.net

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    Is The Word "Rapture" In The Bible?

    Can the word "rapture" be found in the bible? Here is my answer short and sweet. "Honestly, it all depends on what language the English translation came from."

    Let's look at the verse we're discussing: "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1Thessalonians 4:17 KJV)


    From Greek to English


    Let's take a look at the Greek word that's at the root of this discussion.

    Harpazo (har-pad'-zo) 1) to seize, carry off by force 2) to seize upon, claim for one's self eagerly 3) to snatch out or away

    Since the New Testament we know and love is translated from the Greek language, the word "rapture" doesn't appear in our English translation. The English translation from the Greek word "harpazo" is "caught up." The KJV translation is correct.  Greek (harpazo) = English (caught up)

    The Middle Man

    So then, where did the word rapture come from? It came by way of a middle man, the Latin language. The Latin translation of "harpazo" is "rapturo." The English translation of "rapturo" is "rapture."

    Greek (harpazo) = Latin (rapturo) = English (rapture)


    Why do we use the word "rapture?"
    The word "rapture" is used as verbal shorthand describing "the act of being caught up, snatched, taken suddenly by force." I mean, if we had to describe it that way every time we mentioned the event, our conversations could get pretty long-winded. After all, there are other examples of verbal shorthand that we use to describe things in the bible. One example is the word "Trinity." Do a word search and you won't find it anywhere in scripture. It's verbal shorthand. When we use that word, it's clear that we're referring to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

    THE RECAP
    • The Greek verb "harpazo" translated into Latin is "rapturo" which is translated into English as rapture. 
    • We often use verbal shorthand to describe something in scripture without having to fully articulate it's meaning. Example: Rapture and Trinity.
           Greek (harpazo) = English (caught up)
           Greek (harpazo) = Latin (rapturo) = English (rapture)

    Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
    TribulationHarvest.net

    Sunday, July 19, 2015

    The World Won't Ever Be Void Of God's Chosen

    Since the creation of mankind, there has always been someone on earth who has had a close relationship with God, even if that individual stood alone or acted without regard to their own personal safety. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Issac, Moses, David, Esther, Elijah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, etc... No matter what Satan did to try and wipe God from the minds of mankind or to destroy God's people, he just couldn't accomplish that task. 

    Then a marvelous thing happened. Jesus came into the world! Through His birth, sinless life, crucifixion, death and resurrection, He provided us access, in His name, to our Father in heaven. Although all believers rejoice in that knowledge, the unsaved, and their slave master Satan, wish that it was otherwise.

    There never has been a time when God was not praised and worshiped on the earth, and there will never be a time when unbelievers will ever experience a world where God is not Lord of all.

    Many unbelievers half-heartedly hope that the Rapture is a real event so that they can finally be rid of all those "intolerant," "hateful," and "judgmental" people who call themselves Christians. What they don't realize is that once Jesus returns for His bride and quickly whisks her away, there will be a whole host of born again believers to take their place.

    That's right, there will be millions of men and women who will repent and believe and take up where the raptured saints left off. Who will they be? 
    • Those who called themselves Christian, but did nothing more than play church on Sunday.
    • Those who walked away from the faith, never truly giving their lives to the Lord.
    • Those who were evangelized and witnessed to, but never made a decision for Jesus.
    • Those who are ignorant of what a relationship with God truly is, and are evangelized and witnessed to during the Tribulation.
    The first two groups will have a working knowledge of who Jesus is and what true Christianity is all about. They will most likely be the ones to teach and lead those who make up the last two groups.

    What the world doesn't foresee is the chaos that is going to arise immediately following this worldwide event. The joyous hope of ridding themselves of every true born again believer will leave them desperate, petrified, horrified, and regretful. The world that remains after the Rapture won't be the world they envisioned. They believe they'll finally make the world a utopia, but it becomes just the opposite.

    Many will develop a hate for God to the point of where it will consume them. They will shake their fists at Him in defiance and help to track down born again believers in order to hand them over to the authorities for re-education, and eventually, execution.


    No, the unbeliever will never be rid of true men and women of God no matter how hard they try. From Adam's time on this earth to the moment Jesus returns as King of kings and Lord of lords at the battle of Har-mageddon, God will always have His chosen people here to spread His word and keep the faith alive in the midst of those who have not yet repented and believed. God has gone, and will go, to great lengths to make sure that mankind has every opportunity to hear the truth, repent, and believe.

    To God be all the glory and honor forever and ever! Amen!


    Repent and be forgiven! Believe and be saved!
    TribulationHarvest.net

    Friday, June 26, 2015

    We Are A Witness To Biblical History

    One of the questions I used to ask online was this... "Do you ever wish you lived in biblical times?  If so, which era would you like to have lived in?"  Well, I'd get all kinds of responses, but the one response I never received was this... "I am living in biblical times.  I'm living in the end times spoken of by the prophets!"

    Yes, we are living in a really exciting time in history.  We're living in a time that the saints before us could only dream about.  Here we are in a world that is on the verge of having the total force of evil unleashed upon it as we and the Holy Spirit are taken out of the way at the time of the Rapture! As the world deteriorates, our one hope lies in the return of Yeshua our Bridegroom!  

    I'm sure many of us have wondered what it would be like to talk with someone we've read about in the bible.  We'd like to know what they were thinking and what they were doing when God intervened in their lives.  
    • "Moses, what are some of the details of the journey in the desert that weren't recorded in the bible?"  
    • "Abraham, as you were leading your son to be sacrificed on the alter of God, how did you keep your composure?"  
    • "Rahab, when you let down that cord of scarlet, did you doubt you would survive when you saw the walls come crashing down all around the city?"
    What we don't realize is that these very saints may come up to us to ask us questions about what was happening here on earth in the years leading up to the Rapture. "What were you doing?"  "What was the world experiencing?" "How powerful was the deception with which the enemy clouded the minds of unbelievers?" What were the signs that made you aware of the season of Yeshua's return?"

    We are living biblical history and are witnesses to the continued fulfillment of prophecy as God allows mankind to destroy itself.  We use our computers, phones, tablets, radios, televisions and printed media to follow the events as they unfold, most often in real time!  Society seems to be decaying at a more rapid pace as citizens watch their personal liberties fade away, racism once again burns in the hearts of men, scandals and deception are expected of those holding public office, sexual perversion is accepted at the highest levels of government as witnessed by the Supreme Court's decision concerning same-sex marriage, military forces are positioning themselves, and long-held alliances between countries begin to crumble.  

    We can also see the three major religions of the world begin to coalesce into a one world religion as the Catholic church begins to embrace Islam and Protestant religions.

    We watch as...
    • The terrorist group IS decapitates Christian children and men as they rape and make sexual slaves of Christian women.
    • Iran is being allowed to continue it's uranium enrichment, which will eventually lead to the creation of nuclear weapons with which they can terrorize with world.
    • Israel continues to become more isolated as the United States begins to turn it's back on a long held alliance.
    • China becomes the number one economy in the world and builds a technologically modern military.
    • The United States seems to make one misstep after another, causing our allies and enemies to see us as a declining world power.
    • Earthquakes occur in greater number and in diverse places.
    • The governments of the world become more and more corrupt.
    • The heart of man grows cold.
    • Evil is spoken of as good, and good evil.
    We are at the tail end of the church age, my brothers and sisters. We're not just close, we're very close to the Bridegroom's return. God never promised us that we would be exempt from persecution before the Rapture. In fact, it's to be expected as the dark ruler of this world continues to influence the nations, governments and peoples of this planet. Christian persecution won't just contain itself to other nations, it will shift to this country as well. Already Christians are being harassed, verbally and physically attacked, and forced to stand before a judge to explain their actions.

    The legalization of murdering a child in the womb (abortion) flooded this nation with the sin of the spilled blood of the innocent, and now the Supreme Court has mocked God again by legalizing same-sex marriage. Now, matters have been made much worse. Born again believers don't see this decision as the rest of the world does.  We see the spiritual implications.  We know that God is not pleased, and we await His response as we go forward from here.

    There are dark times coming for the inhabitants of this free land and for the rest of the world. God's patience, though greater than we can possibly imagine, does run out.  This may be the very thing that stirs that anger to overflowing.

    Take heart, brothers and sisters. Although we are entering dark times, we live and operate in the light. We still have the opportunity to be beacons of light in this ever darkening world. Maybe, just maybe, as the world turns darker, those seeking the truth will see our light shine even brighter as this age comes to a close.

    We're beating against the gates of hell in the name of Jesus and those gates cannot prevail against us as we break through them to rescue our brothers and sisters, armed with the sword of the spirit which is the word of God.

    As every day passes, the story we take with us into eternity grows in length and in detail. Now is the time to begin moving forward with more urgency, adding a new chapter to our story as we go forward from here. Time is short.

    When we get to heaven and share our story with the saints that have gone before us, what amazing things will your story hold?


    Repent and be forgiven!  Believe and be saved!
    TribulationHarvest.net

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015

    Experiencing Tribulation Packets - The Reboot

    This article is a supplement to my original article entitled, "Making a Rapture/Tribulation Packet." This is not a "how-to" article. It's just an update about the retooling being done to the packet. If you want to read about how to create your own Rapture/Tribulation packet, please click on the link provided to you above.

    First, a bit of background information. Please bear with me.

    On May 4, 2013, I became homeless.  I was unemployed and my benefits had completely run out. Since I had no option to store everything I had in my two bedroom apartment, I had to give away, throw away or sell most of what I had accumulated. Most went into the dumpster or was given away.  Some was placed in bins to be sold at my sister's next yard sale... hey, I just realized that I never received a penny from that stuff! I even had to sell my car because I couldn't afford the insurance and couldn't legally park it on the street.  What little I had that remained was placed in a few bins and stored in my sister's basement. Thankfully, God had given me enough wisdom to store away the basic items of my Experiencing Tribulation (ET) packets, including sample packets, paperback New Testaments, DVD envelopes, etc...  

    Unfortunately, having been out on the streets for a couple of months, in a men's shelter for another six months, and in a transition house for another two months (for a total of 10 months), and because my sister gave me the ultimatum of taking everything or nothing, I wasn't able to retrieve the packet supplies, so work on the project was at a standstill. Thank God for His mercy upon my wretched life, because He blessed both my daughter and myself with jobs and a small apartment where we could rebuild our lives. 

    It's taken me a while to get around to get the motivation to rebuild this ministry, but the work has begun and every day brings me closer to my goal of assembling these packets for distribution. I provide them free of charge and make absolutely no money off of this project. Any donations I may receive go directly back in to producing more packets. I have given them to unsaved family and friends and to those who hold to a false belief that their association with a particular religion or being a member of a particular church will bring them salvation. I've also mailed some out to born again believers I've met through social media who have expressed a desire to receive a copy so that they can leave it behind, in their home, for loved ones to find after they've been raptured.

    The Reboot

    After reviewing the information that I had placed in the original packets, I decided that it needed a reboot. The DVD was okay, but there were more videos that I wanted to add to it and I wanted to make the DVD itself look more pleasing to the eye, hence the desire to create DVD labels instead of using a Sharpie to write the title on the DVD.

    When you look at finished project that someone has created, it's easy to overlook how much work went into developing some of the individual pieces of that project. Take the DVD for instance. A lot of time and effort went into finding the right content. It's difficult to find good content that won't be considered by the unsaved to be "too preachy" or "confusing." They need milk, not meat, and I had to consider that when deciding what videos to burn onto the DVD. Then there was the project of finding the right software to upload them into so that I could burn the DVD. I had purchased some DVD's and some DVD envelopes already, so they were on hand and I didn't have to purchase those when I started the reboot, but had I not had them in my possession, I would have had to go out and purchase them.

    Everything I've done with the DVD's up to this point hasn't put a strain on my wallet, but things are about to change. I've reached the next stage in this project and a trip to the store in unavoidable.  I need to purchase a DVD label applicator (who knew there was such a thing... I certainly didn't), DVD labels and a color ink cartridge for my printer (which will be the most expensive thing I'll be purchasing for the entire packet).  I've already designed the DVD label, so I need to purchase the items I've just listed, print the labels, stick them to the DVD's and slip them back in their envelopes.  Fortunately, I put aside a little bit of money when I received my tax return in February, so I'll be using that to help finance this project. I specifically put that money aside to use to help support others in their ministry and to purchase things that I need to spread the word of God (tracts, t-shirts, etc...).

    Once the DVD's are completed and tucked away, there are a few more projects that will need my attention.

    Reboot Cover Coming Soon
    Experiencing Tribulation Booklet
    I created a booklet to bring the reader through the scriptures, from the moments just after the Rapture takes place, to the resulting chaos, to the rise of the Antichrist, and ending with the Lord's return. I quote scripture (mostly from Revelation) and then paraphrase what God is revealing to us through His word. At the end of the booklet is a message about repentance and salvation. I didn't add any artwork to my original version, except for what is found on the cover. My initial thought was that artwork wasn't necessary. It wasn't going to be an issue after the Rapture because whoever was reading the booklet wasn't going to be interested in pictures, but in the information provided. Besides, artwork takes up valuable space and raises the final cost of printing, so I opted to nix the artwork. This time around, I'm going to put in a few graphics. I thought, because this isn't just something that will be accessed after the Rapture, I'm sure many individuals receiving these packets will want to open them up to see what's inside, just out of curiosity. Graphics was suddenly seen as necessary to the project.

    Because this is a reboot, I've already searched for and found some relevant graphics that I'm going to add, especially when it comes to the seven seals, trumpets, and bowl judgments. The number of pages will increase slightly, but I'm sure it will make for a more attractive booklet that will be more pleasing to the eye, which may help carry the reader on to each successive section of the booklet. I still need to review the body of the text to discern whether there are any rewrites to make. One thing about a project like this one, you can always find something that you feel can be rewritten. It gets to the point where you have to force yourself to stop and just complete the project or you'll never finish it.   

    Tribulation Timeline
    I've created something I like to call a Tribulation Timeline. It's an 8.5x11 double sided paper that breaks down what will happen during the Tribulation and when it will happen. It's a shorthand version of my ET booklet. It's not as complicated and as intricate as a lot of the timelines out there, but it works. The only copy of the timeline that I have is in pdf format, so I can't edit it.  It will need to be recreated, so there's another project to add to the list of things to be done before the packets can be assembled. 

    Bibles
    I purchased some inexpensive paperback New Testament bibles a while back, so they were stored with the rest of the ET materials. I really found it useful to create some labels for the inside cover. They contain information that leads the reader through the salvation message from beginning to end. The labels provide scripture references and their corresponding page numbers to make it easier for the new believer to find. I've assume that new believers will be unfamiliar with the chapter/verse arrangement of the bible. To draw the reader's eye immediately to the scripture quoted, I've also underlined or highlighted those particular verses in the bible itself. 

    If you're going to copy this idea, I would suggest that you choose one bible and stick with it so that you don't have to be concerned about the page numbers on the labels matching the pages in the bible. Purchasing bibles from different publishers each time you order them means that you'll have to update your label information, and that's just more work. A paperback KJV from publisher #1 won't have the same set up as a paperback KJV from publisher #2, so stick with the same version from the same publisher unless you don't mind updating your labels.

    I opted to purchase only the paperback New Testaments for several reasons:
    • They're less expensive than purchasing a paperback bible that includes both the OT and NT, allowing me to be able to purchase and distribute more of them.
    • Since two thirds of the earth's population will expire before the Lord's return, most people will be living short lives. I felt it was better to leave them with information vital for their salvation.
    • Owning a bible will probably be outlawed, especially if someone identifies themselves as what the world, even now, calls a "fanatical" and "intolerant" individual. Remember, the Antichrist (after being possessed by the Devil himself) will demand to be worshiped. If preaching and sharing the word of God can be seen as hate speech in this day and age, imagine how it will be viewed under the authority of the Antichrist. A thin paperback New Testament will be less conspicuous hidden under clothing or stuffed in a bag if the need arises where born-again believers needs to carry it with them.
    In order to complete this task, I will need to purchase the labels. The information to be printed on the labels will need to be double checked so that I can be sure that they reference the right pages in the right bible. Right now my stash contains two different paperback NT's. I'm not sure which version my labels reference. Then the labels will need to be affixed to the inside front cover in a specific order. I was using address labels to accomplish this, but I may switch over to one or two large labels. It would be less time consuming to attach them than it would be to attach all those small mailing labels. The scriptures printed on these labels will need to be underlined or highlighted in the bible. As I said above, a lot of expense and work goes in to preparing everything before the packets can be made.


    Tracts
    Tracts are very useful. They provide a synopsis of what our sinful nature and spiritual condition is, what God has done to rectify this condition, and our need to repent of our sin... to be born again... so that Jesus can restore our relationship with our heavenly Father by transforming us through His Holy Spirit. Finding a tract without a "pray this prayer" section at the end can be difficult to find, but it's not impossible. Several have been included in previous ET packets, but I'll have to review them again to be sure they are appropriate for this reboot. The nice thing about tracts is that they're easy to obtain. They can be purchased at a local Christian book store or online, and they're relatively inexpensive. The ET packets usually contain anywhere from 3-6 tracts that all give the same message, but in different ways.  It's important to remember that we don't know what audience we'll be reaching, so an assortment of tracts is a way of giving the message of salvation to people who have various personalities and respond to the written word in different ways.  Some tracts have powerful artwork and don't hold back any punches, some are drawn like a cartoon and are lighthearted. The rest are somewhere in between.  

    The DVD described in one of the sections above was created in the same manner. There are three videos that are diverse in their approach to the subject of the Rapture and Tribulation. One is like a teaching video, one is like a heart to heart, person to person video and the one that was created through this ministry is just text and music. Then there are the animated videos that were included. Individuals who get their hands on the materials in the packet may be young or old. You have to try to make accommodations for a range of ages.

    Music
    Music is an important part of a born-again believer's relationship with God. It's though music that we praise and worship Him with our voice. It can be difficult to limit yourself to the the number of songs that can fit on to one CD, but my advice would be to make a burn list and whittle it down until the software you're using shows that you are within the storage capacity of that particular CD. 

    Music transcends age, so it's not as difficult creating a music CD as it is in finding other things to fill the ET packet. You just have to be sure your list includes a lot of "middle of the road" songs.  You don't want to have hard rock on your CD because a lot of people won't listen to it. You also don't want to have too many old gospel songs either, because that tends to put people to sleep. One or two of each within your collection is okay and offers the listener the opportunity to just skip over that song if they choose. Many contemporary Christian praise and worship songs would be good additions to your list. 

    Some may ask me why I don't have an issue with burning copies of these songs on to a DVD and distributing them. For one, I'm not making any money off of it. Secondly, I know that in most cases the CD's will end up staying in the packet until after the Rapture. The individuals receiving the ET packets won't actually access the music on the CD's until we're already gone. The unsaved are NOT going to be popping this CD in to their player and listening to it unless it's out of curiosity, and even then it will most likely be a one time thing. It will end up back in the packet with the rest of the, "You take this religion thing too seriously," Christian stuff. Remember, these are individuals who have rejected God outright or who are following the path of false religion.

    Packaging Everything Up, Including The Little Extras
    There are several ways you can package up this information.  Some people use small plastic containers or bins while others use boxes, manila envelopes, shrink wrap, etc...  At one point, I was using shrink wrap. I purchased the clear shrinkable envelopes and the electric sealer, but I realized there was a major problem with that. Although the sealed shrink wrap protected the contents, there was no way I could add to what I had already sealed in the package. If I found an item that would make a great addition to the packet (small business card sized scripture cards, book marks, home made cross necklace, etc...), I wouldn't be able to add it to the packet because the packet would have already been sealed and shrink wrapped. The solution, for me, was to find something resealable that was made in a material that would protect the contents from the elements. I opted to use zip-lock freezer bags. The plastic is pretty thick and it helps to protect the contents from dust, dirt and moisture. 

    If you're giving a prepackaged packet to a family member or friend, you can unzip it and add a personal note or letter. You can also add personal photos and anything else that you think this particular individual would want to have after you're gone. You can even make your own DVD that personally addresses this individual... leaving a piece of yourself behind for them to watch and listen to once you're gone.

    In Closing
    As you can see, getting all the pieces of the puzzle in place can be pretty time consuming and will most likely involve some out of pocket expense, but the end result is worth it. Creating content is the toughest part of the entire process. Once you have the content, it's just a matter of copying that content over and over again, and that's easy.

    Start by creating a generic resealable packet that can be given to anyone. If you wish, you can then take a few of those packets and update, upgrade and personalize them, tailoring them to the person or group you're passing it along to. 

    How do I get them in the hands of my family and friends?  What I like to do is ask them if they would do me a personal favor and just take the packet and put it away somewhere safe. Then I say that if billions of people suddenly disappear (something they believe is just religious fanatic talk), then they have the information they need to understand exactly what has happened and what is coming next. They'll usually take the packet out of love, respect or courtesy for you.

    Updates
    I will try to remember to update this article as the reboot progresses, explaining further what has been done thus far. By the time this article is published and shared, I will have burned 22 copies of the DVD and slipped them into their paper envelopes. The next step will be to purchase what I need to create the labels for them. I'll keep you posted on my progress.


    Update: June 30, 2015 - Purchased the DVD labels and the label applicator. Created the label on the Avery web site today and the results can be seen here on the left. You can see the label applicator and a DVD that has not yet been labeled. Below the unlabeled DVD is one that is ready to go! All of the other DVD's have been slipped into their protective paper sleeves. The photo on the right shows the older version of the DVD label. I think you'll agree that the reboot is a great improvement.

    Update: July 5, 2015 - I've reviewed and updated some of the information inside the Experiencing Tribulation booklet. I've also made a revision to the cover. Here are the old and new covers side by side.


    Original Version
    Rebooted Version
    Almost finished editing the guts of the rebooted booklet. Just need to take my notes and make the changes in the document itself. Will be heading to the printer's next. There's not much time before Rosh Hashanah 2015 and you never know if this will be the year of our Bridegroom's return. I have to get this booklet completed ASAP. It's the last thing I need to complete before putting the packets together. I'll be making a video to show how I do that.


    Repent and be forgiven!  Believe and be saved!
    TribulationHarvest.net