Posted in courts, encouragement, jesus, mansions, new jerusalem, prophecy

High School senior privileges: The Courtyard

By Elizabeth Prata

I attended High School in the mid 1970s. It was an excellent high school, offering high-end academics, a thriving sports program, a beautiful campus, and star teachers. To us, though, it was just high school, and the best thing about it was none of those things.

It was Senior Privileges.

Seniors were allowed entry to spaces in the school that no other students were allowed to enter. These spaces were severely restricted, and anyone who was not senior was barred.

For example, the Health Room was once a senior-only room, and was furnished with couches, a television, and refrigerator, if you can believe it. Even more unbelievable in this generation’s health-conscious era, of the area of the school’s inner courtyard where three brick walls connect was once reserved as a smoking area for students. Smoking is now banned on the entire campus.

I never took advantage of those privileges but there were two others that I enjoyed.

Seniors during the 1970’s and 1980’s could sign themselves in and out of school. If we had a study hall first period of the day, we were able to come in late. We were able to sign out of school in the case of a last period study hall. I used to sign out and go to McDonald’s and get breakfast, which was a new offering back then. McDonald’s introduced the Egg McMuffin in 1972 and a full breakfast in 1977. The novelty of the McMuffin and hash browns was too luscious to resist. I signed myself out of study hall and drove to get breakfast a la McD’s style, also bringing back orders for friends who didn’t have a car.

But the greatest privilege to me was that seniors-only could use the courtyard. The courtyard was not an arborist’s dream. It was a scrubby place, not really a greenspace, just well-worn paths amid gasping grass, concrete benches, the aforementioned smoking area, and some trees. But the school was large and being able to cut down travel time between classes to beat the bell was extremely compelling. Plus only seniors could go there.

All the Freshmen knew about senior privileges. We’d look upon the seniors emerging from the courtyard with awe, and excitedly talk about the day we, too, would be allowed entry into this most prized restricted area. I don’t have enough words to relate to you the thirst, angst, and yearning for senior privileges. WE were blocked out, but THEY could go hang out! They could go in and come out! They could remain in a private area just for them! We wanted that!

Courtyard at Hotel Inca Real, Cuenca, Ecuador.
EPrata photo

The parallel to God’s courts is the point I want to make here. Do we possess the same fervency to be in God’s courts? Do we yearn for the privilege of being in His courts?

The Psalmist said,

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:10)

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God. (Psalm 92:12-13)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 100:4)

I know when the time comes to enter His fabulously luxuriant and holy courts, it will be with thanksgiving and praise. But until then, do we yearn for His home, which is our home? Do we look with joy and anticipation when it will finally be our turn to enter the restricted area, the private area reserved for only those chosen? Do we crave to be there, enjoying the privilege of being in His court?

I can’t imagine what it will look like or what it will be like to enter His courts. The Bible tells us that we can’t conceive of it. My juvenile mind could not conceive of any privilege or any courtyard sweeter than the High School Courtyard reserved for those of a certain age. Just as now, my juvenile Christian mind cannot conceive of a courtyard sweeter or more tranquil that, say, the one at the Hotel Inca Real in Cuenca Ecuador, adorned with plants, tiled floors, resting benches, beauty and peace.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– (1 Corinthians 2:9)

But I can and do joyfully anticipate His courts even without being able to visualize them. It is quite humbling to think of Jesus preparing this place for us.

EPrata photo
Posted in government, jesus, prophecy

Christ is Prince of Governments

By Elizabeth Prata

*I wrote this in 2015. by March of 2019 we were all pondering these things more immediately…

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:29-32).

I heard a good sermon on the aspect of Jesus as Prince. On Expositor.fm my usual morning line-up to which I dedicate some time in the AM includes wonderful sermons from Barnhouse, Boice, MacArthur, Lloyd-Jones, Sproul and more. A sermon from Acts 5:29-32 delivered by Martyn Lloyd-Jones struck me. Two Lines of History, looked at Jesus as Prince over governments.

We must obey God rather than men is not a license to run amok and freely break the law and become rebellious, of course. God instituted Governments. He is sovereign over them. What is meant here is that where a choice comes to obey God OR man, we obey God. That was the choice given to Peter and he chose wisely.

The concept is, Jesus is savior but also Prince- Governor of nations! He is the Prince of the Universe, the only one who can govern, the only one who has a right to govern, the only one who is going to govern. But the world rejects this. It needs to be convinced of this, convicted of it.

Of man’s history, man’s government, what are the characteristics of this? It is quite clear in history and in the Bible that God’s government has been rejected by man who rejects the voice Divine. Despite all of man’s efforts to produce order, the jungle is always encroaching. Man sweats, labors, cuts back the jungle of immorality and yet strife, lawlessness, dictatorships, wars always encroach.

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon is a monumental work. He listed five reasons why civilizations decline and fall.

1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.

2. Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.

3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports are becoming more and more exciting and brutal every year.

4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within the decadence of the people.

5. The decay of religion–faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, and becoming impotent to warn and guide the people.

(Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1787).

Geographically, Paul was a resident of Jerusalem but a citizen of Rome. Spiritually we are residents of Georgia (or Kentucky or Washington) but our citizenry is in heaven. We owe respect and allegiance to those whom God has set over us in government, but our highest loyalty is toward the Prince of Governments.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7)

Let us sort out out our loyalties and allegiances. Let us look inward in order to prepare for a moment which may come to us as it did to Peter, and make our decisions regarding God and man.Will we obey man, or will we obey the Prince of Government?

A polling station, with watchful Jesus over the government…EPrata photo
Posted in darkness, jesus, sin

‘It’s a darkness that claws at your sanity…’

By Elizabeth Prata

Darkness is a primal thing. No one likes it. No one seeks it. We think we have beaten our ancient fear of it, but it is only the fragile light bulb that makes us think we are less primitive than we are.

Darkness is disorienting, you cannot see the ground ahead of you nor the prey sneaking up on you. As a child, the prey is the alligator living under the bed. As an adult, the darkness is a thing to be laughed at in the light and a thing to be dreaded while in the dark.

For generations and centuries, man hated to see the sun set, having no candle to ward off the night spirits. Even with a candle or kerosene lamp, its flickering glow seemed too meager to combat the oppressive night.

Sailors for millennia will tell you that the night watch from 2-4 am is the most chilling. Terrifying is the night, especially if there is no moon and the stars are obscured. Samuel Taylor Coleridge captured this in the stanza about sailing at night in his famous Rime of the Ancient Mariner,

Rime of the Ancient Mariner,

The Sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out;
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o’er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.
We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman’s face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornèd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

The River Styx is the Greek mythological river that separates the outer world from the underworld. It is a kingdom lorded over by Hades, and guarded by Cerberus the three headed dog. Charon is the ferryboatman who brings the lost souls across the river to their eternal doom. The term ‘stygian darkness’ comes from the Styx.

In Stories of the Ships, author Lewis R. Freeman described ‘the darkness you could lean against’ … so apt!

I was in total darkness once. I do not mean the dark night, or even the dark when I was sailing, though that is very dark. I mean under-the-earth kind of dark where there is no spot of light nor any particle of brightness nor any beam of luminosity…just oppressive dark. It was when we toured the Queen Copper Mine in Bisbee Arizona. The tour takes you down under the earth and as you go along, they explain about mining. Sitting in the little rail car, the tracks clacking, we rattled further and further away from the sun, from the warm light, into gloom that closed in upon us with the earth.

[I]f thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.

~Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil/Chapter IV

When we got to the bottom, the tour guide told us to turn off your headlamps, and for 5 to 8 seconds we sit in a darkness so black is it alive. It suffocates, and permeates the brain to the extent that you want to scream and scrape your way out. It is a darkness that is palpable, suffocating you with its wild dementia. It is a darkness that claws at your sanity. When the lights come back on your mind relaxes at the soothing balm that brightness brings.

In darkness such as this, your eye has no opportunity to grasp a single detail, and instead, the mind is floating as a raft upon the darkness, free-wheeling and unhinged from the anchoring light.

The Bible frequently uses light and dark to contrast truths. John 12:35 says “So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; also, the one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.

Sin is darkness. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

The power of satan is darkness. (Acts 26:18)

The LORD spoke much in the Old Testament about the Day of Darkness. His judgment brings darkness.

“Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18).

But Jesus IS THE LIGHT!!

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

How wonderful we can follow Him, a Light that never goes off and never dims. We will never walk in darkness if we follow Him. He knows the way, because He IS the Way!

If you do not follow Him, O, my heart aches in sadness to say, but there the person will remain in outer darkness all their lives throughout eternity. A person who dies in their sin, will remain in that clawing, palpable, screaming darkness forever- in hell.

Hell is a place of outer darkness (Matthew 22:13) where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12). I dare not even try to imagine the stygian darkness of the hellish place Outer Darkness is. That it is named for its very absence of light indicates how dark it is, indeed.

But people, the precious Light has come!

“Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” (John 12:36)

What an inexpressible joy to know we will have the Light, we will be in Light for all eternity, pure, bright glory Light, brighter than the sun and shining forth from the face that looked down upon his people and took pity on us, with compassion died for us, rose again to minister to us, and saved us from the terrible darkness.

EPrata photo
Posted in grace, jesus, mercy, watchman

Pray for mercy for each other

By Elizabeth Prata

Mercy. A beautiful quality of God. Here is CARM.org’s definition of mercy and how it differs from grace:

Mercy
Mercy is the act of not administering justice when that justice is punitive. Because of our sinfulness we deserve death and eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23; Isaiah 59:2), but God provided an atonement for sin and through it shows us mercy. That is, He does not deliver to the Christian the natural consequence of his sin which is damnation. That is why Jesus became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21) and bore the punishment due to us (Isaiah 53:4-5). It was to deliver us from damnation. (Compare with justice and grace.)”

“God saved us according to His mercy (Titus 3:5) and we can practice mercy as a gift (Rom. 12:8). “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Mercy is not grace.

Grace
Biblically, grace is unmerited favor. It is God’s free action for the benefit of his people. It is different than justice and mercy. Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. In grace we get eternal life, something that, quite obviously, we do not deserve. But because of God’s love and kindness manifested in Jesus on the Cross, we receive the great blessing of redemption.”

Sometimes we think to ask for mercy from God. The tax collector was commended for his humble appeal for mercy to Holy God. 

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” (Luke 18:13)

Here is something to think of even further. There are many people who say they are watchmen. As a matter of fact, we are all called to “watch.” In Mark 13 between verses 33 and 37 Jesus said to “watch” four times! He said to watch for His coming, and to pray. Watch for the householder. Stay awake and watch. And He finished by saying “what I say unto you I say unto all.” So we all are supposed to be watchmen.

So we watch.

But there is more to do than simply watch. What else are Christian watchmen supposed to do? Well, pray, as stated above.

We also share the good news of salvation.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they seethe return of the Lord to Zion.(Isaiah 52:7-8).

But there is something else we can do besides watch, pray, warn, and share the Good News. It’s mercy. The prophets of old often warns, often shared the good news, but one of their jobs was to plea for mercy before God on behalf of the people.Do we pray to God for mercy for our people?

The tax collector was praised for acknowledging his own hopeless state, and pled for mercy to God who dispenses mercy.

After we remove the log from our eye and repent of our daily sins, (so we are not prayerful hypocrites) when we pray, plea for mercy for your church family too. We should pray and plead for mercy for our brethren.

Paul asked the Lord to grant mercy on the house of Onesiphorus–

May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains,” (2 Timothy 1:16)

In his salutation,Paul often wrote that he asked the Lord to show mercy to his loved ones as in this example:

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” (Jude 1:2)

I believe that when we pray for mercy for others by name or in groups, it is harder for us to be critical of them, and it makes it possible to love them even more. Because, He loves us and showed mercy…not dispensing our earned justice of His wrath but instead He mercifully reconciled us to Him through Jesus.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,” (Isaiah 61:10b)

Pray for mercy for the people you love.

Posted in earthquake, end time, frankenstorm, hurricane sandy, jesus, prophecy, shell shock

Spiritual warfare and battle fatigue

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

Are you battle weary? Our daily battle as Christians is tiring, isn’t it? We battle our sin. We battle intrusion of other peoples’ sin. We battle false doctrine. We do this daily. There are some bigger battles that crop up, like the one happening at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention on June 15-16. There, a host of like-minded representatives sent from the member churches, called “messengers,” will voice their opposition to Critical Race Theory and Egalitarianism (and its result, women preaching) to the mass who have gathered. The intention is to thwart the liberal drift. A previous battle like this had occurred in 1979-1980, called the Conservative Resurgence. It was an attempt, like the one coming up next week, to re-steer the Convention away from creeping liberalism and toward conservative, more biblical waters.

Continue reading “Spiritual warfare and battle fatigue”
Posted in encouragement, high priest, jesus

It feels like there’s no one left who is a true believer…

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

Apostasy is a hard, hard thing. For anyone who is righteous, seeing loved ones succumb to the sway of a false doctrine, or follow a false teacher, it is a torture to the soul and a agony to the mind and a hardship on the soul. I see a Blackaby book on a pastor’s desk and I worry. I hear a woman refuse to acknowledge Joyce Meyer is false “because she preaches straight from the Bible” and I mourn, I see a woman wear a “Walk to Emmaus” tee shirt and I fear. Encountering these things in my daily routine is grieving.

It’s not to say that these people or any person who reads a book, accepts a teacher or participates in a retreat once is an apostate. I participated in both the Experiencing God study by Henry Blackaby and a Beth Moore Living Proof weekend and a DVD retreat, but in doing so alerted me to the falseness of their teachings. It gave me a close-up view of what it was that troubled my soul so much. That’s what false teaching does, it either grieves the soul and alerts one to its falsity or it entrenches one deeper into their lack of discernment. I worry because I know when someone doesn’t or won’t see the falseness of a particular doctrine or teacher, the false teacher or a false doctrine has successfully taken root into their mind. Satan won’t let that go. Unless they refute it and repent, it will grow like gangrene. That is the way of things. (2 Timothy 2:17; Acts 14:2)

It feels sometimes like there are hardly any people with discernment left. It feels like so many friends and family are falling away. I know from your emails and blog comments that many of you are in locations where there literally are no good churches or where false teaching abounds. Doesn’t it feel like were the only ones, sometimes!

Here is where we praise the gracious Lord for His examples for us in scripture. We are not alone! Elijah thought he was alone! Jeremiah was tortured by the apostasy around him and in his lifetime, judgment came! Noah preached 120 years and only had 7 converts! Isaiah was told to prophesy until there was literally no one left!

“And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”… God assured him, Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:9-10, 18)

My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. (Jeremiah 4:19)

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. …These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
(Genesis 6:5-6, 9)

“Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste,” (Isaiah 6:11)

In the New Testament, imagine there being no ‘church down the road’ you could switch to when apostasy is so rampant in your church you have to leave. The Corinthians were having chaotic services, drunken Lord’s Suppers, and immorality and sexual impurity were a problem. But that was the ONLY church. Can you imagine how the few pure and holy Corinthians felt?

I’ve seen a massive defection from the faith since 2008. I’ve also seen a horrific decline in discernment since then too. The rise in apostasy to my mind and according to how I interpret 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is that the time is near when the rapture will occur. The defections of millions from the faith and the fast tsunami of apostasy in even evangelical denominations shows this, in my opinion. The curtain on this age is coming down, and fast.

Each of the prophets named above walked closely with God. Even in times of terrible apostasy when they were literally the only ones in their sphere left who were faithful. They were human, to be sure. Elijah suffered a bout of depression. Jeremiah was tearful and mourning much of the time. The key is, they clung to God.

Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9b)

Take encouragement! The Lord Jesus is near to us. At the time of His incarnation, there were few faithful ones. His religion had been turned into a mockery. They rejected His words while clamoring for His miracles. They wanted His ‘stuff’ but not Him for Himself. He knew apostasy! He knows the pain we feel when people reject our precious Jesus and go astray! Don’t give up the fight!

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)

He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. (Hebrews 5:2)

Pray for those who are ignorant and going astray. Pray for yourself in your weariness and sadness. Jesus is with us. It is good.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Posted in jesus, new earth, pets, rapture

Pets and the Rapture*

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m asked more often lately about what will happen to our pets when we’re raptured. Some ask about the animals we keep, being a farm community. My county abounds with cows, bulls, buffalo, mules, goats, chickens, sheep, pigs and more. I find the question fascinating, and also encouraging. I’m personally invested in the question, too, being an inside cat owner.

The book of Genesis tells us that we are unique in God’s creation, being made in His image and likeness. Also, though we and the animals have the breath of life in us, we were made to have dominion over the animals. Jesus died on the cross for salvation of his people, not animals, who as far as I know do not have a soul, at least, not an eternal soul. It is reasonable to assume that our futures will be different, being of different flesh and having had different roles on earth.

Continue reading “Pets and the Rapture*”
Posted in jesus, repent

Nebuchadnezzar understands the power of a holy God

By Elizabeth Prata

“Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” (Daniel 3:28-29)

THERE IS NO OTHER GOD. (He is holy and true).

There is no other God ABLE TO DELIVER. (Jesus saves)

There is no other God able to deliver IN THIS WAY. (His power is unsurpassed).

So what does all this mean?

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

The scriptures are remarkable!

 

Posted in cross, jesus, pope

Mourning the lost- Catholics

By Elizabeth Prata*

catholic
Milan’s Duomo, AKA Catholic Cahedral. EPrata photo

Over a billion Catholics are in spiritual bondage to their heinous religious system. There are many things they lack spiritually but I can think of three to address that we can point them to. First, we can point to Christ and the Bible to help them overcome what it is they lack: knowledge of grace, assurance in their salvation, and trust in Jesus to fulfill all He has said.

~~~~~~GRACE~~~~~~

The simple truth at the center of a born again believer’s faith is surrounded by Grace- that Jesus descended from heaven, lived as fully man and fully God for 33 years, died on the cross as the lamb sacrifice for our sins (taking upon His shoulders the wrath of God), was buried and three days later rose again. This is the Gospel. Continue reading “Mourning the lost- Catholics”