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Update from the President: October 3, 2019

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Update from the President

October 3, 2019

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This will be the last update until after the Feast of Tabernacles. The next edition will be on October 31. We wish you all safe travels to your Feast location. Several are already en route to where they will keep the Feast. Let’s pray for everyone’s safety in travel, with special attention to locations such as Hong Kong.

We thank all those who are venturing to more distant and out-of-the-way locations in order to serve our brethren. We at the home office wish you all the very best.

This past week during the Feast of Trumpets weekend, Beverly and I visited our brethren and ministry in four Florida cities over three days. We deeply love and respect our brothers and sisters who have been faithful for decades. We were also very happy to meet several new people who have joined us recently. We appreciated the hospitality of Brady and Georgia Veller (pictured above) as well as Doug and Belinda Wendt with whom we stayed four nights.

The Day of Atonement, the Devil and You

“Pride is the carbon monoxide of sin. It silently and slowly kills you without you even knowing.” So writes American theologian Timothy Keller. I could not agree more with this analogy. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. You cannot see or smell it, but if it seeps into a confined space that you are in, you can die of asphyxiation without warning. Many have died in this way.

In much the same way, pride has suffocated many people  spiritually , including the high and mighty. Over my 50 years in the ministry, I have seen this happen too many times, including the tragic shipwrecking of capable and promising ministers.

As we approach the Day of Atonement, there is probably no better time to discuss this subject, this invisible “elephant in the room” living in our midst.

The Day of Atonement pictures the removal of Satan from our presence at the start of Jesus Christ’s millennial and eternal rule. First, Christ returns to the earth, symbolically depicted by the Feast of Trumpets. The Feast of Tabernacles that follows pictures the coming Kingdom of God. In between these events, though, is the Day of Atonement which pictures the removal of the one who has brought evil to this earth and whose prime mission is to suffocate mankind, the inheritors of God’s Kingdom. Satan is the one who has “weakened the nations” and has weakened the Church.

Note the biblical record in both Isaiah and Ezekiel describing how Lucifer morphed into Satan:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘ I  will ascend into heaven,  I  will exalt my throne above the stars of God;  I  will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north;  I  will ascend above the heights of the clouds,  I  will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15 Isaiah 14:12-15 12 How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you” (Ezekiel 28:17 Ezekiel 28:17Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you.
American King James Version×
).

I, I, I, I, I

Five times the prime interest of Lucifer is in himself. Pride is all about “I.” His narcissistic preoccupation with himself led to his rebellion against God. His pride then focused on his perverted passion to take over God’s realm.

But when—in his pride—he assaulted God, he was repulsed and thrown to the earth. He and his demonic horde, however, did not quit and have continued their evil, irrational work to this day. Satan is still active in the affairs of this world.

Satan’s characteristics grew and turned from a preoccupation with self to accusation, deceit and destruction. Satan is called the incessant “accuser of the brethren”:

“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren,  who accused them before our God day and night , has been cast down’ ” (Revelation 12:10-11 Revelation 12:10-11 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.
American King James Version×
).

This has been his preoccupation for millennia. In the story of Job, Satan found fault and questioned Job’s motives for obeying God. He expressed the worst possible thoughts about Job, even after God judged Job as blameless:

“Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’” (Job 1:8-11 Job 1:8-11 8 And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have not you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.
American King James Version×
).

Satan’s constant mindset is of accusation, criticism and judgment. As we observe the coming Day of Atonement, let us give thought to this destructive, deceitful and divisive mindset.

Satan is also the father of liars and the destroyer. Note Jesus’ words:

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for  he is a liar and the father of it  (John 8:44 John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
American King James Version×
).

“And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon” (Revelation 9:11 Revelation 9:11And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue has his name Apollyon.
American King James Version×
). Abaddon and Apollyon both mean “destroyer.”

On the Day of Atonement, we not only think of the devil’s influence on mankind in general, but also on how we personally manage his evil nature in us.

Pride, accusation and deceit leading to destructive acts are right in our midst, and if unmanaged they will bring on spiritual suffocation.

The apostle James tells us simply how to manage this:

“ ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:6-11 James 4:6-11 6 But he gives more grace. Why he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. 11 Speak not evil one of another, brothers. He that speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law, and judges the law: but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge.
American King James Version×
).

On the Day of Atonement, God emphasizes this to us personally through fasting. We are required to fast completely in order to seriously consider these flaws in our mindset. We resist the devil by drawing nearer to God. Fasting heightens that awareness and humbles us. Humility is the opposite of the pride that initiates all of Satan’s deeds.

We must consider our own thoughts and deeds. How have we accused, judged and maligned others? How have we played into the nature of Satan?

The following words by the apostle Paul state eloquently what we want to learn from observing the Day of Atonement:

“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:25-32 Ephesians 4:25-32 25 Why putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. 26 Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed to the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.
American King James Version×
).

May we all have a spiritually productive Day of Atonement as we consider all of these verses and look forward to Satan’s removal.