#BlackLivesMatter

Can’t sleep? Me Neither

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Can't sleep, mind busy

Can’t sleep

Unable to sleep, waking up frequently during the night and not getting a proper 7 to 8 hours sleep is detrimental to our physical well-being, our moods, our Spiritual well-being, our mental well-being and just overall our ability to function at our best. At the time of writing, it’s 03h30, and the 5th time I’ve woken up. I feel like shouting out as loud as possible like they do in comic books! AArrrrggghhh!

Trials and Tribulations keeping you from sleep

The stresses that surround me and my family in these desperate and unprecedented times are many. Which I won’t get into now, keep me up at night. The few hours I do sleep I have these strange, wonderful, terrifying, muddled up, neon-lit dreams. Dreams I can make no sense when I wake immediately after the dream. Which I have forgotten by the time my day has to start. They say you should write down your dreams the moment you wake up. That way you have a record of it. I’ve tried that once or twice, but I’m so tired, I forget to write it down or just don’t feel like it. I need sleep! Proper sleep.

What Jesus Says about rest

Jesus says 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30

Prayer for sleep

Heavenly Father, I pray, I bring all my burdens to you. I ask for your gentle heart over me and my family, and for you to provide rest for our souls. Lighten the burden on us, oh Lord, strengthen us, and give us rest. In Jesus name, Amen.

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South Africa Burns, not sleeping

The other stress that keeps me up at night, is watching how the leadership of South Africa is bringing the country to its knees. Yes, this is the best position to pray from, but in the context intended here, we’re on our knees begging our leaders to hear our cries of pain, but we’re being ignored. Corruption, self-indulgent desires, filling up their own pockets with money, and controlling this once beautiful country with a whip is hurting us more than any pandemic ever could. South Africa is burning under the greedy, prideful, arrogant and gluttony of it’s leadership.

Prayer for South Africa

Father God, good leaders, come from you. Lord this nation needs leaders with discerning hearts, wise minds and good counsel. I am asking you to give us wise leaders that will lead this nation in the right direction. Remove the wrong people that are corrupt and living against your word from influential positions. Let our leaders be people who honour your Holy name for it is only from you that they will get true wisdom. It is in the mighty name of Jesus that I believe and pray, Amen.

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God’s Design for sleep

In God’s perfect design for you, He designed you to sleep. He can help you get a good night’s rest. This physiological fact is embedded in the biology of every person on earth. Yet roughly one third of us struggle with insomnia. About 10% of us are chronic insomniacs who struggle every night with debilitating sleeplessness.

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God’s Intent for rest

Yet God intends calm, relaxing sleep to be a gift He offers you. A gift of restoration and replenishment from God who loves you more than you can imagine and has promised to protect and provide for you. Didn’t Jesus offer rest for your weary soul when he said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”? You can know God wants you to experience serene, relaxing sleep as His gift to you, His child.

Uncertainty keeping you from sleep

When we are filled with doubt and anxiety, it’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep. We wake up in the middle of the night filled with fear and worry. Our minds “spinning” from one worry to another. But what is the root cause of this anxiety? Isn’t it uncertainty about whether God is there for you, whether He really will protect and provide for you?

Confidence in God for good rest

But if you had an unshakable confidence that God would always be there for you and that nothing could ever separate you from Him and from His love, wouldn’t that help you relax and drift off to sleep at night?

Child of God

Do you realise that as a child of God, you are secure in Christ? Jesus Himself said that nothing and no one can separate you from Him and His love. 

As His child, you are secure in Christ. Let your mind meditate on this thought: “I am secure in Christ”. You are secure beyond anything you can imagine because it is the God who created all things who secures you. And it is this security that your spiritual enemy tries to steal for you. Giving you worry and concerns that in Christ, you need not bear. But you’re not going to let this happen. Instead, right now picture yourself trusting your loving Saviour with every care and concern you have. 

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Complete Security in good rest

Feel the security – the complete security of your Heavenly Father – surrounding you, enveloping you, holding you. Relax. He is your security and there is none greater….He is Lord of all and that includes the details of your life. Jesus said that even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. The details of your life matter to Him. So relax in His unlimited power to protect you, provide for you, and give you the rest you need tonight.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, grant me a good night’s sleep tonight. Every night, I want awake refreshed and ready to begin another day loving you. Thank you again for blessings so undeserved and too numerous to count. I love being your child. And I long for the word “faithful” to describe my service to you, each day of every year. When I awake in the morning, may it be with a joyful smile, not a grumpy spirit. May your protection and your presence bathe this place with peace and safety against the enemy. Good night, Lord. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Devotional, Don't Worry, 6 comments

Revelation: “The Mark of the Beast”?

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A connected but fallen world

Living in the world we do today, with such easy access to information on the internet, is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because we can easily use today’s technology to teach and to learn new things, learn a new skill, get information about any topic your mind could possibly think of; there are no limits to what you can find on the internet. It’s a bad thing, because it also opens a world of false information, fake news, unbiblical teachings and writings and a world of information that can mislead you. It is, through the Spirit, that we must learn to sift through the noise of all this information and discern what is true and what is not. Today we will tackle the subject of the “Mark of the Beast”.

This is the first post to my 30 day challenge.

Discerning truth from false

If you’re wondering why I started with the above paragraph – it is too easy to read something on the internet and immediately take it as the truth, something that strikes fear and panic into your mind. Today I want to [attempt] (emphasis on attempt) to give clarity on the book of Revelation, and more specifically, Revelation 13, which many have interpreted as the coming of a “one-world government” (Revelation 13:7), with “one-world leader” (Revelation 13:2), with a “one-world religion” (Revelation 13:8) and with a “one-world currency (Revelation 13:16-18).”

Disclaimer

I encourage anyone to correct my interpretations in this blog. Revelation is a book in the Bible that uses many metaphors, and they can be difficult, if not impossible, to decipher and explain. What follows below is open to comments, disapproval, re-proof, and correction (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

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Introduction to Revelation

The purpose of the book of Revelation is to reveal the full identity of Jesus Christ and to give warning as well as hope to all believers.

The person who penned Revelation is identified as the Apostle John, but Revelation 1:1-2 announces both the book’s title (it is a revelation) and its divine author, Jesus Christ.

(The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant Johnwho testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ). Jesus the Messiah has the authority from God, Our Heavenly Father and His, to describe the coming events to His servant John, for communication to churches (specific churches as well as Christians who are the church).

Good vs Evil

Revelation is an unveiling of unseen Spiritual forces operating behind the scenes in history and controlling its events and outcome. It is the cosmic conflict between God and his Christ on the one hand, and Satan and his evil allies (both demonic and human) on the other. We as Christians already know and accept that Jesus, the Lamb of God, has already won the decisive victory through His sacrificial death, but the dragon continues to assault His church by death-throes, false teaching, division amongst believers and the allure of materialism and cultural or secular approval.

Visionary Prophecy

This is conveyed in a series of symbolic visions that exhibit the influence of Old Testament prophecies, especially those from Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah.

The visions granted to John both warn the church and fortify it to endure suffering and to stay pure from the defiling enticements of the present world order.

The book of Revelation identifies as both a book of “apocalypse” and as a book of prophecy.

Apocalypse is derived from the Greek “apokalypsis”, meaning “revelation, disclosure, unveiling” – that is the disclosure of unseen Heavenly or future realities.

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At God’s appointed time, the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ will burst onto the world scene. Then everyone will know that Jesus is Lord of the universe! Those who love Him will rejoice, greeting their Saviour with hearts overflowing into songs of praise.

But His enemies will be filled with fear.

Is COVID-19 or the vaccine the “Mark of the Beast?”

Straight up, easy answer to this question is No. Revelation does not speak of the mark of the beast being anything medically related.

It is easy to understand how in today’s times, how easy it is to find news on the pandemic, can cause panic, fear and protests, which could easily be seen as the end times – the start of the end times.

Many pandemics have occurred in the world over centuries and millennia; from Antonine Plague (A.D. 165-180), Spanish Flu (1918-1920), AIDS, Ebola and now COVID-19, all of which claimed and in some cases are still claiming the lives of many, and yet we are still here. The world hasn’t ended. Jesus hasn’t returned.

So why should COVID-19 or the vaccine be viewed any differently? The point is, COVID-19 is no different, and should not be viewed as the “Mark of the Beast”.

Revelation 13 – The Beast of the sea and of the earth

The beasts spoken of in Revelation 13 are from a dream, some might say a disturbing dream for anyone, a dream that Daniel, a godly prophet and a man of unshakable faith, steadfast in his daily walk of fellowship with God, had.

Daniel 7
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Earlier in this blog, I mentioned that many have interpreted sections of Revelation 13 as the coming of a “one-world leader” (Revelation 13:2) a “one-world government” (Revelation 13:7), with a “one-world religion” (Revelation 13:8) and with “one-world currency (Revelation 13:16-18).” I cannot emphasise my next point enough; when reading the Bible, the most dangerous thing to do is to take single verses in isolation and make a conclusion from it. So, I will not be doing that. I will be looking at Revelation 13 as a whole.

Also, please remember, the book of Revelation uses vivid imagery and metaphors, so the beasts and images described, will not be manifested in the form they are described.

The Beast out of the Sea

13 The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 

One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 

It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

Whoever has ears, let them hear.

10 “If anyone is to go into captivity,
    into captivity they will go.


If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
    with the sword they will be killed.”

This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.

The Beast out of the Earth

11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 

12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 

14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 

15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.

Satan’s rule

We are first introduced to Satan’s two accomplices – the beast of the sea and the beast of the earth. Together the three evil beings form an unholy trinity opposing the Holy Trinity.

The beast out of the sea is given political power and the beast out of the earth is given power to do miracles.

Satan and these beasts work together in an attempt to capture the control of the world and to overthrow God.

This could be seen as one world leader (Revelation 13:2), but only temporary.

The Antichrist

The beast of the sea is the Antichrist, a false messiah. People will follow and worship him because they will believe they have been saved by his power and miracles.

He will attempt to unite the world under his leadership, so “one-world government” (Revelation 13:7) and will try control the world economy, so “one-world currency” (Revelation 13:16-18). This beast will manipulate others, to point to himself and promote evils plans. Following the beast will be foolish as God, by contrast, will use His infinitely greater power and love to build up. The message here is, do not be misled by claims of great miracles or reports of the return of Christ – When Jesus returns, He will reveal Himself to everyone at the same time.

The power the beast has, although given to it by God, is limited by God as well.

The beast will only have authority for a short time, but God will still maintain full control.

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Untouchable Spirits

The best part is, the beast may be able to rule over us, but Spiritually, it cannot touch us. It will establish worldwide dominance and demand worship, which many will do, except true believers. As a believer, in your refusal to worship this beast, will mean temporary suffering, but eternal life awaits you. Being faithful in this time could mean imprisonment, persecution or even execution. All the beast will be able to do is harm believers physically, but no Spiritual harm will come to those whose faith in God is sincere.

This time of persecution will give believers the opportunity to exercise their endurance and patient faithfulness. So, do not allow yourself to fall into Satan trap when the hard times come. Instead, testify for God.

A counterfeit Holy Spirit

The beast of the earth, identified as a false prophet, is a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit. What will seem as good works, serve only to deceive us. The second beast gains influence through the signs and wonders he performs on behalf of the first beast. We must ask, with great respect, to each miracle we see, if it is consistent with God’s way.

Finally, the most spoken of and most focused on part of the book of Revelation, is the mark of the beast. This leads many to think that the book of Revelation is a book about Satan, which couldn’t be furthest from the truth. To the contrary, the point of Revelation is to reveal and uncover the victory of the Lamb and the victory the Lamb shares with his people. Jesus is the focus.

Identifying what form this mark will take, (although it is identified in Revelation 13:18 as a number, “666”), is not as important as identifying the purpose of the mark.

It’s simple, accept this mark and you choose to operate in the economic and political system Satan promotes, and rebel against God. Refuse the mark, means you commit yourself entirely to God, choosing physical death in faith to Jesus Christ.

Remember, the mark of the beast is described as a visible mark on believers – this clearly excludes pandemics and vaccines.

Be skeptical

Each and every generation have to keep a healthy degree of skepticism about the pressures of society’s pleasures. We have to discern what is good for us Spiritually and what is not.

Is any of this happening right now? You’ll have to discern that through the Spirit for yourself. Is COVID-19 the beginning of any of this? Again, no one can be sure. Only God knows when this will happen.

Is COVID-19 or the vaccine the mark of the beast? No. Are we currently living with a one-world government, a one-world currency, with a one-world leader with one-world religion? Also No. Are we living in the end times, well Yes, we have been ever since Christ rose into heaven, as His promise to return continues to give us hope.

We are reassured that good will triumph over evil.

We have hope as we face difficult times and we have guidance when we are wavering in our faith. Christ’s message is clear – there is hope for all believers in every generation!

The light of world, Jesus, will always overcome the darkness.

In the greatest battle mankind will ever see, Remember – Jesus wins!

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Revelation, 12 comments

The Gospel of John – He Must Become Greater

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We will be looking at John 3:22–36 to close off our in-depth look of this chapter. Here John describes an argument between followers of John the Baptist and a Jewish religious leader, over purification. The passage does not name who the Jewish leader is, but it is possible this man was Nicodemus, who had just been discussing the same topic with Jesus. John the Baptist isn’t upset that his followers are dwindling, while Jesus attracts more followers. Instead, he makes it clear that this was his mission, and seeing it succeed makes him happy. Rather than being selfish about our own applause, we should be happy when our efforts cause people to praise and follow Jesus.

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Follow this series on the Gospel of John here:

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John 3: 22-36

John Testifies Again About Jesus

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Jesus spent some time with the disciples, teaching them about baptising. This is one of the most important aspects of being a Christian – time with God. The Bible gives believers many promises of knowledge, wisdom, and strength for a person who spends considerable time communicating with Christ. Simply becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically make a person spiritually strong. The disciples were able to transform the world because they were deeply, intimately connected to Jesus. We as Christians should be doing the same.

The people began responding to this message that Jesus and John the Baptist were a legitimate spiritual threats to Jerusalem’s established religious ways. It is evident that there was an extremely strong response to the messages John and Jesus brought. The location John chose had plenty of water, suggesting many people were being baptised that was necessary to find a place with “plenty of water,” The message was having an impact.

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John the Baptist is confronted with the fact that Jesus is attracting many followers, more followers than him. This meant that people were leaving John the Baptist to follow Jesus instead. Rather than becoming jealous, petty, or angry, the Baptist has the right response.

John the Baptist’s mission was to call people who would follow Jesus. Seeing this happen means his mission is a success! And, since this was never about him in the first place, the Baptist is very happy. Later on, John the Baptist compares himself to the best man at a wedding, and Jesus to the groom. Seeing the happiness of the groom, and the attention he receives, makes the best man ecstatic, not jealous. For the Baptist, it’s wonderful to see Jesus gaining the interest He deserves.

This is an important guideline for Christians. As John the Baptist says, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.” No matter what success we have, we owe it to God. We shouldn’t be angry or frustrated when others seem more successful; God is ultimately the one in control and His approval is all that we should desire.

John the Baptist’s words in verse 30 are especially important for all Christians “He must become greater; I must become less”. The goal of teaching and preaching is to lead people to follow Jesus, those people should then grow and mature in their walk with Jesus. The point of ministry is not to make the minister look good, but to help others in their walk with God. We must humble ourselves before the Lord.

Jesus’ ministry is from God, but, unfortunately many people reject it. Verse 36 is an important ending to the core Gospel message “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them“. Those who put their faith in Christ will be saved, but those who reject Him will face the wrath of God.

What we have on our own is so limited and imperfect; but what Jesus has for us is limitless and impacting. Be transformed and renewed; be His and His alone so your life shines His Way; allow His uniqueness and impact to take you beyond your own set limits and your doubts into the far reaches and depths of your spiritual formation so you are more faithful, assured, and fruitful, because your life belongs to Christ. He is your Lord, so be and do and act in accordance with who He is and what He has done for you!

This passage emphasises the exclusivity of the Gospel: there is absolutely no other way to obtain heaven, but through Jesus Christ.

Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 2 comments