Seven Keys to Answered Prayer

Seven Keys to Answered Prayer

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The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!
From the February 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

God has literally hundreds of promises written down for you in His Word saying that under certain terms and conditions, He will cause things to happen for you if you will ask Him. He promises supernatural intervention. He promises to deliver you from trouble, to supply your every necessity, to fight your personal battles for you, to heal you when you are sick and even to prosper you financially!

Why then, do the prayers of most people go unanswered? The vast majority simply do not know how to pray. The Bible reveals seven basic conditions you should fulfill to be certain your prayers will be answered. Let’s learn what they are.

1. Know God’s Will

1. To get answers to our prayers, what example did Jesus set that we should follow? John 5:30, last part. Are we also to understand God’s will? Ephesians 5:17. How can we get to know His will? 2 Timothy 2:15.

Comment: By studying God’s will, which is revealed in the Bible, you will begin to think more as God thinks. You will come to know that God is love and that His will is for our good.

2. If we pray according to God’s will, can we know that God will answer our prayers? 1 John 5:14-15.

3. After God led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, they rebelled to the extent that His wrath was stirred! Consequently, what did God tell Moses He would do? Exodus 32:9-10. Did Moses immediately intercede on behalf of Israel and ask God to spare the nation? Verses 11-13. Did God listen to Moses? Verse 14.

Comment: Notice how Moses pleaded with God. He recalled the promises God had made to Abraham, Isaac and Israel, which revealed God’s will to multiply and bless their descendants. It was Moses’s faith in those promises—and his assurance that God would abide by them—that gave him such boldness in talking to his Creator!

4. Are we to approach God’s glorious throne with boldness? Hebrews 4:16.

Comment: When Moses prayed for Israel, he was able to pray boldly and courageously because he knew God’s will. To pray with real faith and confidence, you too must first know God’s will. You must come to know how God thinks and acts. You must understand the purpose He is working out on Earth and the promises He has made in His Word.

2. Believe God

1. According to Jesus Christ, is it essential to believe God before we can receive what we ask of Him? Mark 11:24.

Comment: Most people do not realize that a disbelief that God will keep His promises or back up His Word is simply a lack of faith.

2. Does the Apostle James, the brother of Jesus, confirm that faith is an absolute prerequisite to receiving answers to our prayers? James 1:5-7.

Comment: The person who “wavers,” or doubts God, will not receive an answer to his prayers. If you lack the faith to trust God, ask God to give it to you. After all, faith is one of the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), which is a gift from God.

3. A stunning example of answered prayer is recorded in 1 Kings 18:20-39, where you read about the Prophet Elijah confronting the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Was there any doubt in Elijah’s mind that God would perform a miraculous feat? 1 Kings 18:36-37. Did Elijah get the results he prayed for? Verses 38-39.

Comment: Notice that Elijah, like Moses, knew God’s will and gave it as a reason for God to intervene (verse 36)—never doubting that He would!

3. Obey God

To get results from your prayers, you must not only know God’s will and believe Him, you must also be willing to act on His Word.

1. What does God label the person who says he “knows God,” and yet does not keep His commandments? 1 John 2:4.

Comment: If you haven’t yet learned to accept God’s Word as the authority in your life, then you can’t really get to know God through prayer.

2. Can those who persistently refuse to keep God’s commandments really expect Him to answer their prayers? 1 Peter 3:12. What is “doing evil”—what is sin? 1 John 3:4. Does sin cut you off from God? Isaiah 59:1-2.

Comment: Here is one of the major reasons why so many prayers are not answered. God will not listen to a person who rebels and persistently disobeys His Word.

However, in certain instances, God does sometimes hear and answer the prayers of those who, in ignorance of the full intent of His law, are not conscious of their sins, but obey Him as far as they know. The lepers and cripples who came to Jesus to be healed didn’t know all of God’s truth, but they did realize that Jesus was sent from God and could heal; and they acted on what they knew.

So it is a matter of your heart or attitude. If you come to God in a humble, repentant spirit and are determined to obey Him to the best of your knowledge and ability, He will hear your prayers. But for anyone who knows the truth, there is no excuse to disobey God.

3. Can true Christians have a special confidence that God will answer their prayers if they are obedient? 1 John 3:22.

4. Fear and Humility

Too many have a self-sufficient attitude and think they can get along fine without God. They neither fear God, nor respect His Word as the authority in their lives. If people with that mindset pray, does God respond? Let’s understand.

1. What is the first prerequisite to be able to understand God and His ways? Psalms 111:10; 112:1.

Comment: To “fear” God means to revere Him—to stand in awe of Him, His law, His government and His will for us. It means we are apprehensive to disobey Him. The fear of God is not dread or terror. Rather, it springs from love. When we approach our Creator in that attitude—deeply respecting His power and authority over our lives—He will hear our prayers.

2. What kind of person does God relate to? Isaiah 66:2.

Comment: The word poor refers to humility, not poverty. God regards those who are truly humble—void of pride, arrogance and self-righteousness. He esteems those who tremble at, or very carefully observe, His words; and those who are of a contrite spirit—deeply affected by and repentant of disobeying His instructions and commandments.

On the other hand, God resists the proud (James 4:6).

The attitude of godly fear and humility is vital in prayer and at all other times.

5. Be Fervent

1. How is fervent prayer described in the Bible? 2 Chronicles 32:20; Psalm 62:8.

Comment: Notice the words “prayed and cried” (figuratively crying out, and at times literally crying) and “pour out your heart.”

It is common today among many to recite brief, memorized prayers, word for word. God is not moved by prayers of rote because they are not from the heart.

2. How fervent was Jesus in His prayers? Hebrews 5:7.

Comment: When Jesus prayed to the Father, He meant it. His prayers had deep meaning. He felt them. He was deeply moved on many occasions when He communed with God.

3. What can you expect if you pray fervently? James 5:16.

Comment: This kind of prayer “avails much”—it achieves great results! Energetic, heartfelt prayers are well-pleasing to God. When you wholeheartedly call upon God, you can expect real answers to your prayers.

6. Be Persistent

Some people, if God doesn’t answer right away, begin to lose faith and give up praying. They forget that although God promises to answer when we ask according to His will, He nowhere promises to answer right away. God does not tell us exactly how or precisely when the answer will come.

1. Is this why Jesus gave the parable of the persistent widow? Luke 18:1-8.

Comment: The New International Version correctly renders the words “not to faint” as “not give up”! Jesus gave this parable to show that even an unrighteous judge would finally hear the pleas of a widow who kept coming to him. So we should keep praying to God, even though He sometimes doesn’t answer right away.

2. Is God building patient faith into our character if we have to wait on Him to answer a prayer? James 1:3-4.

Comment: We must be persistent in prayer until God answers. If He doesn’t answer your prayers immediately, exercise patience and keep praying until He does answer.

However, don’t nag at God! He has supreme wisdom to know when and how to best answer your prayers. Occasionally remind God about your problems or afflictions; don’t cease praying about them.

God always keeps His promises—He cannot lie (Titus 1:2)—so He is bound to perform His part in His own time.

7. Use Christ’s Name

The seventh condition of answered prayer is the correct use of Christ’s name. This is a greatly misunderstood subject, and Christ’s name is often abused.

1. Is it possible to have access to the Father apart from Jesus Christ? Ephesians 2:13, 18.

2. After Jesus had been with His disciples for over three years and had taught them God’s will and how to obey it, how did He say they could petition the Father directly, for His help? John 14:13-14; 16:23-24.

Comment: These verses give us the privilege of employing Christ’s name—asking by His authority—when we pray to God the Father.

Most people misunderstand how we can ask “in Jesus’s name.” When a government sends an ambassador—its chosen representative—to another country, he is given authority to carry out certain business in the name of, or on behalf of, that government. His authority is limited to do only what the government has specifically authorized him to do. Likewise, God’s children can rightfully ask the Father for things “in Jesus’s name” when they know it is His will—that His authority stands behind it. Just rattling off the words “in Jesus’s name” to a prayer that is contrary to His will is of no avail! You need to study the Bible to know more about the principles of Christ’s will, in order that you may ask by His authority.

God wants to hear from you, but He will not force you to do anything. You must choose to rely on Him—to humble yourself, recognize your weaknesses, and depend on Him. When you do, your prayers will accomplish a miraculous change in your life. So pray to God every day—continually, regularly, fervently—and expect God to answer!

What Did Jesus Say About ‘Natural’ Disasters?

What Did Jesus Say About ‘Natural’ Disasters?

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From the February 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Mark 2011 down as yet another record-breaking year for “natural” disasters. Over those 12 months, the United States was smashed by the deadliest tornado season in decades, an unprecedented wave of triple-digit heat, devastating droughts and billion-dollar blizzards, hurricanes and floods.

All totaled, 12 billion-dollar disasters pounded the United States in 2011—three more than the previous record set in 2008. These catastrophic events were responsible for killing 1,000 Americans and causing $52 billion in damages.

As the Associated Press reported on December 7, “With an almost biblical onslaught of twisters, floods, snow, drought, heat and wildfire, the U.S. in 2011 has seen more weather catastrophes that caused at least $1 billion in damage than it did in all of the 1980s, even after the dollar figures from back then are adjusted for inflation.”

Breaking it down further, ap revealed this alarming trend: During the 1980s, the United States averaged just one billion-dollar disaster per year. In the 1990s, it jumped to 3.8 per year—then 4.6 during the first decade of the new millennium.

So far in this decade, we have averagedsevenbillion-dollar disasters per year.

Something is frighteningly wrong with the weather.

What Is the Cause?

Some experts say we’ve just had a run of bad luck—that it’s purely a matter of happenstance. Others attribute the cause to “global warming.”

God, however, says it is a sign that we are living in the very last days. Weather disasters, as they increase in frequency and intensity, are actually fulfilling Bible prophecy. They are among the signs that Christ gave pointing to the end of this present evil age.

In His Olivet prophecy in Matthew 24, Jesus Christ gave His disciples a chronological overview of events to occur in the lead-up to His return. In verses 21-22, Christ said there is a time coming when no flesh would be saved alive if He didn’t return and prevent it. This is speaking of World War iii—a 3½-year bloodbath that will culminate in the “battle of that great day of God Almighty.”

But before the battle of mankind against Christ—before the European beast power and the Asiatic kings of the east square off—before Europe lashes out at the modern-day descendants of Israel—before it surrounds Jerusalem with armies—before the European king of the north comes against the Islamic king of the south like a whirlwind—before radical Islam captures East Jerusalem—just before all of this happens, Jesus said weather patterns and other natural phenomena would take a violent turn for the worse!

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in [different] places” (verse 7). The return of Jesus Christ, in other words, will be preceded by a sharp upsurge in “natural” disasters.

Jesus also said that famine—a shortage of food and water—and then pestilences (or disease epidemics) would accompany these weather-related disasters.

In May of last year, in a television program, the Trumpet’s editor in chief told Key of David viewers that the word famines needs to be seen not only in the context of war—which certainly causes famine—but also in the context of extreme weather. These epic disasters, in other words, are prophesied to have a profoundly negative impact on food production—a reality that is now making headlines nearly every day.

In like manner, Christ’s reference to pestilences can also refer to the diseases that often follow in the wake of such disasters. And if you examine how the Greek word is used in Acts 24:5, another dimension is added to Christ’s prophecy—the social breakdown that comes as a result of famine and pestilence.

The Beginning of Sorrows

These are the days we are living in right now! Weather disasters, as they increase in frequency and intensity, are actually fulfilling Bible prophecy. We are experiencing the outer edge of a storm that is about to inflict the worst suffering mankind has ever known.

Jesus Himself said it: “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (verse 8). This is where we are right now in Bible prophecy! Sad to say, the ever intensifying disasters we are seeing right now are only the beginning. It is prophesied to get much worse.

But Jesus did not leave us without hope! The Anchor Bible compares the “beginning of sorrows” to the beginning of birth pangs: “It’s almost a technical term for the sufferings which would immediately precede a new age, the age of the Messiah’s reign.”

What a beautiful picture! Right now, this world is being violently shaken by a rapid succession of agonizing birth pangs. But Jesus tells us that these catastrophic events will soon “give birth” to a new age of world peace and prosperity—a utopian paradise that will be totally free of weather extremities and other unnatural phenomena!

The Mystery of Human Creativity Explained

The Mystery of Human Creativity Explained

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Invention and imagination are awesome, and uniquely human, abilities. Where did they come from? Why do we create?
From the February 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Human creative genius has left its mark on our world. It has advanced civilization by improving human living conditions. Think about the creative inventions that have drastically altered and improved our lives: airplanes, cars, light bulbs, telephones and television, just to name a very few. Man is virtually defined by creativity—in manufacturing, art, literature, music, humor, and virtually every other field of activity.

Every human is a creator. The photographer John Loori wrote: “Creativity is our birthright. It is an integral part of being human, as basic as walking, talking and thinking.” The playwright Julia Cameron writes: “Creativity is the natural order of life.” The historian Paul Johnson writes: “Creativity, I believe, is inherent in all of us.” Creativity expert Michael Michalko writes: “We were all born as spontaneous, creative thinkers.” Tom Wujec, creative director of Digital Media Services at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, writes: “We experience creativity every time a fresh idea pops into our minds. And we can summon creativity when we need it.”

In November 2011, Time published a special edition titled “The Invention Issue.” This issue featured 50 of the latest ideas being developed into new products. Here are some examples: a 3-D transistor that will use half the power and be about 37 percent more effective; an artificial leaf that will convert the sun’s rays into storable chemical energy; a tiny rectangular camera that captures an entire light field, allowing the photographer to refocus a picture after it is taken; an led light bulb to replace the incandescent and fluorescent; and a surveillance device that looks like and flies like a hummingbird. Truly amazing.

These creations are a reflection of the human imagination at work. Man has an almost limitless imagination. Humans use creativity so frequently, we miss what a miracle it is to be creative. Creativity didn’t begin in our technological age. Human creativity helped bring about the technological age.

Only man has the ability to create pictures in the mind and then manipulate materials from the earth to bring into reality what was imagined. Imagination ignites creativity and gives the human mind its uniqueness.

It is imagination that opens the door for us to meditate on our origins and our destiny.

Where Does Creativity Come From?

One theory of human origins postulates that millions of years ago, life began on Earth from a mathematically impossible chemical reaction—maybe caused by a lightning strike to a slimy pond of chemicals—that over eons of time, through incredible non-intelligent processes, first formed into a microscopic acid, then to an amoeba, then to a slug, eventually to an ape, and finally to a man who can sit down, be still and think back historically, asking himself: How did I come to be here?

Yet chemical soup can never ponder how it got to be chemical soup. Though man is made from the elements, he is far more than a bowl full of chemicals. So at what point did chemicals and lightning and the passage of time supposedly create the inimitable human mind?

Intelligent, sincere scientists have devoted lifetimes full of imagination and creative thinking to discovering man’s origins. Yet they are fighting a losing battle. No matter how much men dissect, investigate and postulate, the knowledge of origins has to be revealed by an Originator. The real truth of origins and why man is on Earth is known, is extremely well documented, and is so much more inspiring, rational and satisfying than the wild imaginations of evolutionary theory.

Education, religion and science could get a lot further down the path to understanding human origins and purpose if the people studying origins simply took a fresh look at the abilities of their own minds.

Man a Creator

We tend to overlook the fact that men, women and children are highly creative creatures. In fact, humans are the only creatures on Earth that are truly creative. Don’t be fooled by discussions of spiders’ webs or song thrush nests. Man is the only being that can imagine and then bring into existence what he imagines, whether architecture, art, literature, mechanical inventions, music or sculpture.

Creativity is a highly advanced mental process that involves dreaming or imagination, development and innovation. Let’s be honest: No other creature—ape, chimp, bird, dog or dolphin—can create.

So, shouldn’t this tell us something? Where did we get such power?

Experts studying creativity have uncovered that creative talents and traits are passed on from previous generations. Most great artists, musicians or writers were children or grandchildren of artists, musicians and writers. It is so simple. If we use our imagination and go back a multitude of generations and ask where humans got their ability to be creative, it is not so difficult to understand the answer to that question.

The gifted historian Paul Johnson gives us his insight on this question. In his book Creators, he writes: “We are the progeny of Almighty God. God is defined in many ways: all-powerful, all-wise, and all-seeing; everlasting; the lawgiver; the ultimate source of love, beauty, justice and happiness. Most of all, He is the creator.” Read that quote again. It is from a historian. Could humans be creative because we obtained our proclivity for creativity from our most distant ancestor—God?

To fully understand our origins, the fact that we do create should point us in the direction of God—not an ape. Human imagination and creativity is a key that unlocks the mystery of our true origins and our future.

Let Us Make

If you think about it, even the scientists hypothesizing about man’s origins use imagination and creative thinking. They just use it in a wrong way. Human imagination has to be governed by revealed truth and law, or it becomes fiction—either fruitless or extremely dangerous.

God, who is the Creator of all, is also the Educator. He has made it plain that man is not an animal—did not come from animals—and has a future far greater than animals and angels.

Our all-wise God tells us how we came to be: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Here is fantastic truth that should fire our imaginations. Here is the sought-after truth of origins so simple to grasp. Man is not made after the ameba, ape, cat, chimp, dog, horse or zebra kind. Man is made after the God kind! In Luke 3, the genealogy of Jesus Christ states specifically that Adam was the sonof God. Literally, God is the Father of the human race.

In this age (now coming to a close) we are created physical sons. However, in the soon-coming World Tomorrow man will be given the opportunity to become Spirit-born sons.

In his book The Incredible Human Potential, Herbert Armstrong explained, “Man, to be born ultimately into the very God Family, was designed to have godly-type mind—ability to think, to reason, to make choices and decisions, capable of forming ethical, moral and spiritual attitudes.” Feel free to request a free copy of this amazing book.

Man was created with a mind like God’s, only much inferior. In a limited way, man has the ability to create things from material substances using his mind and hands, just like God. This is the only viable explanation as to why man is so highly creative.

God intended man to use his creativity to subdue and rule over the Earth and its creatures (Genesis 1:28). God put Adam’s creative mind to work immediately by having him give names to the animals (Genesis 2:19). Coming up with a proper name to describe unique traits in each individual animal required a finely tuned process of creative thinking. Eve was also created with incredible creative ability.

Cause of Trouble

Our first parents rejected God and His revealed knowledge and the code of law that would produce all happiness. As a result, Adam and Eve’s creative ability became a source of tragic trouble for them and the family that came from them. Genesis 3 shows that Adam and Eve fell under the control of Satan the devil. Jealous of such a marvelous human mind and its potential, this once-righteous being began to influence men to use their minds for evil purposes. Moses tells us: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6). As mankind turned further and further away from God, men, women and children used their imaginations to create evil. Verse 11 in this same chapter says the Earth was full of violence.

God did not create man to make a violent world. Yet, things got so bad on the Earth that God grieved over the creation of mankind. Man had become so evil in his imagination and actions that God decided to teach man a painful lesson about the destructiveness of sin. He brought about a worldwide flood, destroying all breathing life, including man. However, God spared Noah, his family and enough animals to start over. Did man learn the lesson?

Unfortunately, it was not long until man again degenerated in his thinking. Moses explains, “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city” (Genesis 11:6-8). Prior to this scene at the tower of Babel, mankind had only one language. Communication flowed easily, and men used their imaginations collectively to rebel against God. Essentially, they decided to build a tower tall enough so God could not drown them again for their disobedience. They put their imaginations to work. They developed engineering skill. They brought their mental pictures into reality. They fashioned building materials from the earth. They built.

God recorded for our education, now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. This is an astounding verse. It reveals that man, given enough time and the right resources, can create what he imagines—both good and evil. At the tower of Babel, God saw clearly that man, under the influence of Satan, would develop the technology to destroy himself and the entire Earth. So God put a time delay on what man could accomplish by introducing a multitude of human languages. The confusion created short-circuited man’s creative advance to self-destruction.

Created to Create

When we take an honest look at our world today, we can see that God’s time delay on man’s creative accomplishment has been lifted (Revelation 10:6). Our world is full of marvelous inventions that have made human life so much easier. Yet, on the dark side, man’s creative genius has developed horrific inventions, including weapons of mass destruction that can wipe all life off this planet.

Jesus Christ prophesied that just prior to His Second Coming, our world would be just like Noah’s world (Matthew 24:37-39). Men’s imaginations would be set on doing evil continually (Genesis 6:5). There is no better way to describe the shape our world is in. Men, women and children imagine evil, and then do what they imagine. Thus, we have a world ready to choke on its own filth and blood. Who is to blame? Certainly not God. We have done this to ourselves—with Satan’s help, of course.

Current news and Bible prophecy show us that our world today is just like Noah’s time. We can expect to see unparalleled world upheaval and violence. For a short time, our generation will suffer as no other (Matthew 24:21-22). Much of this suffering will come as the result of the wrong use of our imaginations.

Yet there is great hope: God is not going to let us destroy ourselves. He does plan to step in when we are at the brink of total destruction; when we are ready to fully learn the lesson that rebellion against God can never bring about goodness and happiness.

There is an incredible future just ahead for all mankind. What does that future hold? Men will finally be properly educated about God and His purpose for creating man. Brought to his knees, man will finally be willing to learn and admit that God is not only the Creator but also the great Lawgiver. To learn about God and His purpose for man, human beings will study creation, including the universe.

Discussing God with the Romans, Paul said, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20; English Standard Version). Much of what man wants to know about God and himself has been right before our eyes all along. Instead of looking down and digging in the earth for his origins, man should have been looking around him and up into the heavens for answers. This incredible Earth and the universe could never have come into existence as a result of chance or happenstance.

By studying the Earth and the universe without prejudice, we can gain awesome knowledge. Request our booklet Our Awesome Universe Potential. This free, full-color publication will give you breathtaking details on what we have learned about the Earth and universe from one of man’s most incredible inventions—the Hubble telescope. Combining this knowledge with what is revealed in the Bible, this booklet will show you how the Earth and the universe reveal that a Being of incredible power, intelligence and creativity, with skilled talent for design and engineering, brought into existence a wonderful planet, nestled in just the right place of a vast, expanding universe, made perfect to support microscopic, plant, animal and human life.

Is there a connection between man and the universe? The Bible reveals that there is a surprisingly stupendous tie between man and the countless numbers of stars and galaxies stretched across the vastness of space. Paul revealed, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21; esv). There is a stunning history behind these verses. Even more, there is extraordinary promise and a future as vast and limitless as the universe.

Our Awesome Universe Potential fully explains the history and the promise. This booklet will prove to you that man is destined to take responsibility for finishing the creation of the universe now suffering from decay. It is our awesome destiny to be born into the God Family and bring life to myriads of lifeless planets scattered into the deep blackness of space. What a truth! Man was created to create! And as God’s own sons, we will use that creativity forever.

You Can Conquer Spiritual Lethargy!

You Can Conquer Spiritual Lethargy!

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What to do when you’ve been letting down
From the February 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

The kingdom of Judah hadn’t seen this kind of courageous leadership since the days of King David. Asa was only a teenager when he became king, but he wouldn’t let youthful inexperience stop him from taking bold steps to purge Judah of its widespread idolatry and lawlessness.

Asa put God first, above his own personal wants and desires—even ahead of his own parents. He abolished all the idols “his fathers had made,” and he kicked his evil mother off her throne. The Bible describes the early days of Asa’s reign as 10 years of quiet (2 Chronicles 14:1). What peace God provides when we diligently work to remove idolatry and sexual perversion from our environment!

King Asa wisely used these peaceful, prosperous years to plan for the future. He worked doubly hard fortifying Judah’s cities (verses 6-7) and was careful not to forget God.

Then, when trouble finally did come—an incomprehensibly large, million-man army—Asa trusted in God, crying out for deliverance. “Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power,” he prayed. “Help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee” (verse 11). If we do our part to build spiritual strength during times of peace and quiet, we can still experience rest in the Lord during periods of trial and test.

God smote the Ethiopian army before all of Judah. He then sent the Prophet Azariah to deliver a message of hope—and warning. The prophet declared, “The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2).

Asa heeded God’s loving instruction, and just as God had promised, blessings poured into the land. These blessings were so visibly obvious that many Israelites to the north started to move to Judah. They wanted to experience what it was like to be ruled by a righteous king! King Baasha of Israel was so alarmed by the exodus of his own people that he fortified Israel’s southern border, turning the city of Ramah, just six miles from Jerusalem, into a military stronghold.

Asa was distressed by this provocative act. Israel’s army was right at Judah’s doorstep. In his mind, this was an act of war. How would this righteous king respond?

Incredibly, after a long history of walking by faith and trusting God, King Asa gathered a large store of treasure from God’s house in order to finance a shady military alliance with Syria. Instead of looking to God, he paid a Gentile king to get rid of the problem!

At first, this unholy alliance seemed to work out: Syria invaded Israel, overthrew numerous cities, and forced Israel to evacuate its military stronghold. Ramah fell back into Judah’s hands. But these seemingly fortuitous events actually marked the beginning of a tragic end for a king who had devoted most of his life to faithfully serving God.

God immediately sent the Prophet Hanani to correct His wayward king: “Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars,” he said (2 Chronicles 16:9). Sadly, this loving correction from God only infuriated the aging king. He locked God’s prophet in prison and then unleashed a violent persecution against his own people (verse 10).

Soon after, Asa was stricken with a deadly disease. He refused to seek God’s miraculous intervention, turning instead to the feeble assistance provided by men. Within two years, he died, bringing an ignominious end to the short second act of a kingly reign that had been noted for legendary works.

“And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel” (verse 11). Yes, both acts are recorded—the first and the last.

In the first act, Asa was on fire for God. He brought Judah out of religious confusion and purged its cities of lawlessness. He cleaned house in Judah—and it prospered and grew. When the Ethiopians came to conquer, Asa cried out to God, who delivered Judah.

But toward the end of his life, in the second act, Asa had drifted far from God. This didn’t happen overnight. Over the course of many months, perhaps years, Asa steadily lost contact with God. His faith weakened. And when pressures intensified, when personal trials increased, he turned to men for help rather than God.

King Asa is no different than many of God’s own people in these latter days—brethren of God who are characterized as being spiritually lukewarm (Revelation 3:14-17). They no longer have the burning zeal and unshakable faith they had at the start of their conversion. They don’t pour out their hearts to God in effectual fervent prayer like they used to. Their deep and enduring love for digging into the fascinating truth that is buried in God’s Word has waxed icy cold. Fasting, fellowship, meditation—these all have fallen by the wayside.

Has any of this happened to you? Have you neglected God and allowed the disease of spiritual laxness to spread into your life? Have you, perhaps after getting off to a strong start, slowed way down—or maybe come to a complete stop?

If so, then take heed and learn from the unhappy lesson of a Jewish king whose first works were much greater than the last. For Asa, it didn’t have to end that way—and neither does it for you. Like Asa—who could have repented, but didn’t—you can turn back to God, even at the very end of your life, and finish the race the way you started.

You can go back and “do the first works” while there is still time (Revelation 2:5). But you had better hurry. Jesus Christ is coming quickly.

Ethiopia in the Crosshairs

Ethiopia in the Crosshairs

MOHAMED MOKHTAR/AFP/Getty Images

The armies of radical Islam are circling Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti.
From the February 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

The Trumpet does more than simply analyze blockbuster headlines. We also write them—often months, years, decades even, in advance.

Here is a blockbuster headline soon to come out of Ethiopia: Islamists gain control of Ethiopia, Eritrea.

It’s easy to glance at Ethiopia, a pro-Western, comparatively stable, predominantly Christian country that rarely makes prime-time news, and think that’s absurd. But if you look closely, and consider the broader perspective, Ethiopia’s future is grim, very grim. In fact, Ethiopia is in jeopardy right now.

Surrounded by Islam

First, consider Islam’s control over the region. Start in Morocco, the western gateway into the Mediterranean, where in November the Islamist Justice and Development Party, which represents the Muslim Brotherhood, came out on top in parliamentary elections and now leads the nation’s coalition government. Islam’s victory in Morocco occurred less than a month after the Ennahda Party, another outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, dominated national elections down the road in Tunisia. Next door in Libya, where Col. Muammar Qadhafi was recently ousted and killed, Islamist parties, some of which are associated with radical terrorists, are gaining the upper hand.

Head a little farther east and we come to Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood and hardline Islamist political parties trounced their competitors in parliamentary elections last November and December. In the first two rounds of voting, Egypt’s Islamist parties garnered nearly 70 percent of the vote! It’s now abundantly clear, lamented Caroline Glick last December, that “Egypt is on the fast track to becoming a totalitarian Islamic state” (emphasis added throughout).

Travel north from Cairo and we hit Gaza, the stronghold of Iranian proxy Hamas. Farther north still are Lebanon and Syria, where there are an assortment of Islamic terrorist organizations, one of which recently lobbed two missiles into Israel. Syria is led (still) by Bashar Assad, a stalwart ally of Iran, and is a key staging ground for radical Islam’s war on Israel. North of Syria is Turkey, a nation that has in recent years slid toward the radical Islamist camp.

Skip east of Turkey and you find Pakistan and Afghanistan, two bastions of radical Islamic terrorism. Retrace your steps west and there’s Iran: the command center of global Islamic terrorism, a nation on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, led by mullahs determined to create a nuclear apocalypse. Across the border in Iraq, Iranian proxies are right now filling the power vacuum created by the departure of U.S. forces.

Farther south, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are all alarmed by the rise of Iran-sponsored Islamic terrorism. Head south from Riyadh and we come to Yemen: a chaotic, headless state where Islah, the Islamist political party created by the Muslim Brotherhood, will likely get the victory when Yemenis finally get around to voting. From Yemen we hop the Gulf of Aden to get to Somalia, where Islamist pirates routinely hijack vessels in the Indian Ocean and the fragile Transitional Federal Government (tfg) routinely wards off attacks by al-Shabaab and its terrorist partners.

Finally, we come to Ethiopia, a nation standing in the path of this barreling, Iran-steered, radical Islamist freight train! Is it any surprise that the Ethiopian government recently discovered a plot by Wahhabi Muslims to turn the country into an Islamic country governed by sharia law?

And Next Door, in Eritrea

Meanwhile, radical Islamist forces have gotten a foothold in Eritrea, Ethiopia’s regional adversary and a nation strategically situated at the gateway of the Red Sea.

In 2006, the United Nations accused Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Hezbollah of providing arms, training and financing to Islamic militants in Somalia via Eritrea. In December 2008, reports emerged that Iranian naval vessels had visited the Eritrean port of Assab and deposited an undisclosed number of Iranian troops and weapons there, including long-range and ballistic missiles. A few months later, an official in Somalia’s tfg government accused Iran of arming al-Shabaab via Eritrean middlemen.

Most recently, Kenyan media reported in November that a shipment of arms, the third of its kind, had been delivered via Eritrea to al-Shabaab in Somalia. Eritrea’s support of al-Shabaab, and of Islamic terrorism in general, is so serious that the UN Security Council last November imposed sanctions on the country. The sanctions, stated U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, will send the message to Eritrea “that it will pay an ever higher price” for its support of Iran and radical Islamist groups.

In fact, sanctions are more likely to drive Eritrea more firmly into the Iranian camp.

Still More Pressures

In addition to the radical Islamist problem festering inside its borders and the growing threat from Eritrea, Ethiopia is under increasing threat from the radical Islamist presence in Somalia. Mogadishu’s Transitional Federal Government is frail and politically immature, two issues made worse by the fact that it is under near-constant attack from al-Shabaab and its regional supporters, including Iran. Ethiopia’s border with Somalia is nearly 1,000 miles long, and the risk of the Islamist war spilling over into Ethiopia is real, which is why Ethiopia supports the tfg. By doing so, however, Ethiopia risks becoming a target of al-Shabaab and its radical Islamist partners.

That’s not all Ethiopia has to worry about. Last August, Iran’s foreign minister visited Somalia and met with President Sharif Ahmed and other leaders in the tfg. The official purpose of the visit was to discuss Iran providing humanitarian aid. According to Stratfor, relations between Ethiopia’s leaders and Ahmed are strained. It’s possible, explained Stratfor, that the meeting between the Iranian foreign minister and the president of Somalia “could have been used to explore other sources of political backing” (Aug. 26, 2011).

No doubt, the visit to Somalia by the foreign minister of the number one state sponsor of Islamic terrorism gave more than a few Ethiopian officials nightmares!

No matter what angle you view it from, the picture is the same: Ethiopia is under extreme pressure to come under the influence of radical Islam!

When you look at a map, it is not difficult to see why Iran wants to ramp up its presence in this region. It wants control of the southern entrance to the Red Sea! To get this, the regime in Tehran needs sympathetic Islamic governments in Eritrea, Djibouti and Ethiopia. This is what makes the Islamist encroachment on Ethiopia so significant!

Iran controls the Strait of Hormuz, and via its Islamic allies in Egypt is fast gaining decisive influence over the Suez Canal. When it eventually gains influence over Ethiopia and Eritrea, Iran will control the Red Sea.

When that happens, Iran will have the power to lock down virtually the entire Middle East!

Ethiopia in Prophecy

Last year, as the West was merrily endorsing the “democratic” revolutions sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry warned that something more sinister was afoot in the Arab Spring. In the end, he warned, Iran and radical Islam will emerge the victors.

In the April 2011 issue of the Trumpet, Mr. Flurry prophesied specifically that Libya and Ethiopia would be the victims of radical Islam. “Why would Iran be so interested in getting some measure of control over Libya and Ethiopia? To me, the answer is intriguing. All you need to do is get a good map of the Middle East, with the emphasis on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Then you can see why the king of the south, or radical Islam, is so interested in an alliance with or control over these two countries (as well as Egypt and Tunisia). They are on the two seas that comprise the most important trade route in the world!”

When Mr. Flurry delivered that forecast, there was very little physical evidence to suggest Ethiopia could ever be threatened by Islam. What did he base his analysis on? In his April 2011 article, Mr. Flurry explained the prophecy in Daniel 11:40-43, which foretells an end-time clash between a German-led Holy Roman Empire and an Iranian-led Islamic coalition called the king of the south.

In verse 43, Daniel lists the “Libyans and the Ethiopians” as part of the king of the south alliance. “This verse states that Libya and Ethiopia are also going to be closely allied with Iran!” stated Mr. Flurry. Then, with confidence invoked by the “more sure word of prophecy,” Mr. Flurry stated even more emphatically: “Watch Libya and Ethiopia. They are about to fall under the heavy influence or control of Iran, the king of the south.”

It’s amazing, though not surprising, that since Mr. Flurry penned that article, radical Islam’s grip on North Africa and the Middle East has tightened immensely. From Morocco to Yemen, Istanbul to Cairo, Iran and radical Islam have grown, albeit to varying degrees, in power and influence.

Believe the facts, and believe biblical prophecy. It won’t be long now till you read this headline: Islamists gain control of Ethiopia, Eritrea. Not on the front page of the Trumpet, but on the front page of the New York Times.

And when you do, remember where you saw it first!

What Diapers and Rash Cream Tell Us About the Economy

From the January 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Diaper sales are plummeting. Across all categories—brand name, generic, bulk and so on—sales are down. Why? Not because new technology has made them obsolete. It’s because people are cutting their budgets to the bone.

It could be a sign the economy is worse than many perceive. Even survivalists—end-of-the-world types—commonly list diapers as potentially one of the most sought-after luxuries in a post-Wal-Mart world.

But don’t feel too sorry for the diaper companies. Sure, they may be taking a bath on diaper sales, but they are cleaning up selling rash ointment: Sales are up 8 percent for the year. Why is that? Less-frequent changes.

The biggest spikes in diaper rashes appear to be in inner cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, a sign that even in neighborhoods that are massively subsidized by social programs, people are struggling more than usual. It is a choice between diapers and paying for food and heat, says Daniel Taylor, a pediatrician in Philadelphia.

With unemployment so high, and wages that haven’t budged in a decade, for many people there is just no room for error.

A September national poll found that one in three Americans would be unable to make their mortgage payment or rent beyond one month if they lost their job. A whopping 10 percent of respondents earning $100,000 per year or more said they couldn’t even cover one month if they lost their job.

America is living in a new “trickle-down poverty era,” writes the Oklahoman’s Malcolm Berko. During the decade from 1997 to 2007, consumers took on more debt than they had for the previous 100 years combined.

Inmates Running the Firehouse

The government led the way. George W. Bush added $1.5 trillion to the national debt in his first term. He added another $3 trillion in his second. President Obama is on track to add as much debt during his first four years as President Bush did in his eight disastrous budget years. Then on November 16, the Treasury Department said the debt had climbed to a record $15 trillion—almost 100 percent of America’s gdp.

Of course, debt eventually needs to be repaid (or defaulted on). This becomes impossible when it is especially gargantuan.

This is where America is today, indicates Berko. This generation “will have a lower standard of living than their parents”—that is just how it is going to be.

You can see the contraction in a lot of cities, not just the recent high-profile bankruptcies in Birmingham, Alabama; Vallejo, California; and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

In Highland Park, Michigan, the city is literally going dark. dte Energy has repossessed most of the city’s 1,400 light poles, and is selling them for their scrap metal value, as part of a settlement to cover $4 million in past-due bills. Residents report crime is already rising.

Money issues are so bad in Topeka, Kansas, that in October officials voted to decriminalize domestic violence in order to save the cost of prosecutions. The District Attorney’s office said it would also no longer prosecute any misdemeanors. As of September, 30 cases of domestic violence had been dropped.

In Georgia County, Florida, officials are mulling letting inmates staff firehouses. “The inmates would have no guard, but would be monitored by a surveillance system and by the traditional firefighters, who would undergo training to guard the inmates,” reported the Florida Times Union (Oct. 8, 2011). The move would save the county up to $100,000 per convict. California already has 4,000 inmates serving in firehouses.

Cities going dark. Law and order going unenforced. Criminals released from jails. Rich getting richer. Poor getting poorer. Upper-class people living paycheck to paycheck. $15 trillion national debt. It is hard to picture prosperous pre-2008-economic-crash America coming back anytime soon.

In fact, America’s economic condition will get much worse before it gets better. Soon, cutting back on diapers will be the least of people’s worries.