The Laodicean Stage of Church History

 

The Laodicean Stage of Church History

In this, as in all six previous letters, we must step back and take the long view of church history. Each of the seven churches of Revelation represents a time when the prevailing atmosphere of the worldwide Christian church matched the conditions described in the letter. Looking back across twenty centuries of church history, we can see how accurate each of these prophetic symbols has been.
Now we come to the seventh age of the church, the Laodicean period. It is clear, as both history and prophecy confirm, that Laodicea symbolizes the church of the twentieth century, the last age of the church — Our own age.

The Laodicean period is characterized by the phenomenon of people dictating what will be taught rather than submitting to the authority of the Word of God. It is significant, I believe, that the name "Laodicea" means "the judgment of the people," or to put it loosely, "people’s rights." For isn’t that the cry of our times?
Laodicea is where the people tell the ministers what to preach. We see this happening around us today. The apostle Paul predicted in his second letter to Timothy that in the last days, "men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." Tragically, this is already taking place around us.
There used to be a time when the church taught that the natural self with which we were born needed to be crucified, denied, kept under careful control. Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Yet we live in a day when churches are openly, brazenly advancing the self, teaching that we should assert the self and discover the powers and possibilities of the self, all apart from the necessity of a new birth.
Once the inerrancy of Scripture formed the bedrock of all evangelical churches. You could depend on the fact that the Bible was fully accepted as the inspired Word of God. But now churches, colleges, and seminaries which call themselves evangelical are rethinking the nature of Scripture, denying its inerrancy, and claiming it cannot be fully trusted. Instead of people submitting themselves to the judgment of the Word of God, we have people submitting the Word to their own judgment!
This is the age of compromise within the church. The church of the twentieth century is fast becoming a drifting church, a lukewarm church, a nauseating church in the eyes of the Lord. Once the church exhibited a burning desire to evangelize the world, to save those who were lost. Today, that desire has cooled in many churches, because pastors are telling their congregations that God is too loving to condemn anyone to an eternal separation from Himself. They say that good people who live good lives, even though they live apart from Jesus, will still be saved.
The church in the twentieth century is drifting away from the biblical truth that all have sinned and fall short of the standard of God’s perfection, and that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. Even while the lostness of mankind is made unmistakably plain by the rise of crime, the plague of drug abuse, the failure of morality, the increasing pollution of our planet, compromising Christians in complacent churches continue to preach a feel-good "gospel" that has nothing to do with the authentic good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Once it was unheard of that Christians would suggest that the killing of unborn babies should be condoned, or that practicing homosexuals should be ordained to the ministry or married in religious ceremonies. Yet these things are taking place today at an accelerating rate.

Truly, this is the age of Laodicea.
(from God’s Final Word, Copyright © 1991 Ray Stedman.)

 
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Mental health link to diet change

Mental health link to diet change

Changes to diet are being linked to a range of mental health problems

Changes to diets over the last 50 years may be playing a key role in the rise of mental illness, a study says.

Food campaigners Sustain and the Mental Health Foundation said the way food was now produced had altered the balance of key nutrients people consume.

The period has also seen the UK population eating less fresh food and more saturated fats and sugars.

They said this is leading to depression and memory problems, but food experts said the research was not conclusive.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: "We are well aware of the effect of diet upon our physical health.

DIET AND MENTAL HEALTH
Depression – Linked to low intakes of fish – high in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for good brain health
Schizophrenia – Epidemiological evidence has shown sufferers have lower levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, unclear though what changes need to address this
Alzheimer’s disease – Some studies have suggested high vegetable consumption can protect against the brain disorder
ADHD – Research shown children with disorder are low in iron and fatty acids

"But we are only just beginning to understand how the brain as an organ is influenced by the nutrients it derives from the foods we eat and how diets have an impact on our mental health."

And he added that addressing mental health problems with changes in diet was showing better results in some cases than using drugs or counselling.

The report, Feeding Minds, pointed out the delicate balance of minerals, vitamins and essential fats consumed had changed in the past five decades.

Researchers said the proliferation of industrialised farming had introduced pesticides and altered the body fat composition of animals due to the diet they are now fed.

For example, the report said chickens reach their slaughter weight twice as fast as they did 30 years ago, increasing the fat content from 2% to 22%.

The diet has also altered the balance of vital fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 in chickens which the brain needs to ensure it functions properly.

Fats

In contrast, saturated fats, consumption of which has been increasing with the boom in ready meals, act to slow down the brain’s working process.

The report said people were eating 34% less vegetables and two-thirds less fish – the main source of omega-3 fatty acids – than they were 50 years ago.

Such changes, the study said, could be linked to depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Alzheimer’s disease.

The two groups urged people to adopt healthier diets, with more fresh vegetables, fruit and fish, and called on the government to raise awareness about the issue.

Report researcher Courtney Van de Weyer said: "The good news is that the diet for a healthy mind is the same as the diet for a healthy body.

"The bad news is that, unless there is a radical overhaul of food and farming policies there won’t be healthy and nutritious foods available in the future for people to eat."

Rebecca Foster, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said: "The evidence associating mental health and nutrient intake is in its infancy, this is a very difficult association to research and in many cases results are subjective.

"Therefore, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the association between mental illness and dietary intake at this point.

"However, the nutrient recommendations outlined in this report are in line with recommendations for good health, which should continue to be advocated by all health professionals."

On What Day Was Jesus Born?

On What Day Was Jesus Born?


While much of the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December, can the actual day of Jesus’ birth be determined from scripture? This question will be explored in some detail, and will yield a result that is quite intriguing. The first passage we will consider begins with the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias:

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

Luke 1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, …

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, …

The clue given to us here is that Zacharias was of the "course" of Abia.

The 24 Courses of the Temple Priesthood.

King David on God’s instructions (1 Chr 28:11-13) had divided the sons of Aaron into 24 groups (1 Chr 24:1-4), to setup a schedule by which the Temple of the Lord could be staffed with priests all year round in an orderly manner. After the 24 groups of priests were established, lots were drawn to determine the sequence in which each group would serve in the Temple. (1 Chr 24: 7-19). That sequence is as follows:

1 Chr 24:7

1. Jehoiarib

2. Jedaiah

1 Chr 24:8

3. Harim

4. Seorim

1 Chr 24:9

5. Malchijah

6. Mijamin

1 Chr 24:10

7. Hakkoz

8. Abijah

1 Chr 24:11

9. Jeshuah

10. Shecaniah

1 Chr 24:12

11. Eliashib

12. Jakim

1 Chr 24:13

13. Huppah

14. Jeshebeab

1 Chr 24:14

15. Bilgah

16. Immer

1 Chr 24:15

17. Hezir

18. Aphses

1 Chr 24:16

19. Pethahiah

20. Jehezekel

1 Chr 24:17

21. Jachim

22. Gamul

1 Chr 24:18

23. Delaiah

24. Maaziah

1 Chr 24:19 These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.

Now each one of the 24 "courses" of priests would begin and end their service in the Temple on the Sabbath, a tour of duty being for one week (2 Chr 23:8, 1 Chr 9:25). On three occasions during the year, all the men of Israel were required to travel to Jerusalem for festivals of the Lord, so on those occasions all the priests would be needed in the Temple to accommodate the crowds. Those three festivals were Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Deut 16:16).

The Yearly Cycle of Service in the Temple.

The Jewish calendar begins in the spring, during the month of Nisan, so the first "course" of priests, would be that of the family of Jehoiarib, who would serve for seven days. The second week would then be the responsibility of the family of Jedaiah. The third week would be the feast of Unleavened Bread, and all priests would be present for service. Then the schedule would resume with the third course of priests, the family of Harim. By this plan, when the 24th course was completed, the general cycle of courses would repeat. This schedule would cover 51 weeks or 357 days, enough for the lunar Jewish calendar (about 354 days). So, in a period of a year, each group of priests would serve in the Temple twice on their scheduled course, in addition to the 3 major festivals, for a total of about five weeks of duty.

The Conception of John the Baptist.

Now back to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist.

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, …

Beginning with the first month, Nisan, in the spring (March-April), the schedule of the priest’s courses would result with Zacharias serving during the 10th week of the year. This is because he was a member of the course of Abia (Abijah), the 8th course, and both the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15-21 Nisan) and Pentecost (6 Sivan) would have occurred before his scheduled duty. This places Zacharias’ administration in the Temple as beginning on the second Sabbath of the third month, Sivan (May-June).

 

1st Month

2nd Month

3rd Month

Abib – Nisan
(March – April)

Zif – Iyyar
(April – May)

Sivan
(May – June)

First
Week

Jehoiarib (1)

Seorim (4)

All Priests
(Pentecost)

Second
Week

Jedaiah (2)

Malchijah (5)

Abijah (8)

Third
Week

All Priests
(Feast of Unleavened Bread)

Mijamin (6)

Jeshuah (9)

Fourth
Week

Harim (3)

Hakkoz (7)

Shecaniah (10)

Having completed his Temple service on the third Sabbath of Sivan, Zacharias returned home and soon conceived his son John. So John the Baptist was probably conceived shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan.

The Conception of Jesus Christ.

Now the reason that the information about John is important, is because according to Luke, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy:

Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
Luke 1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
Luke 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

Note that verse 26 above refers to the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, not Elul, the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar, and this is made plain by the context of verse 24 and again in verse 36:

Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Now working from the information about John’s conception late in the third month, Sivan, and advancing six months, we arrive late in the 9th month of Kislev (Nov-Dec) for the time frame for the conception of Jesus. It is notable here that the first day of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated on the 25th day of Kislev, and Jesus is called the light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5, 12:46). This does not appear to be a mere coincidence. In the book of John, Hanukkah is called the feast of dedication (John 10:22). Hanukkah is an eight day festival, celebrating the relighting of the menorah in the rededicated Temple, which according to the story, stayed lit miraculously for eight days on only one day’s supply of oil.

The Birth of John the Baptist.

Based on a conception shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan, projecting forward an average term of about 10 lunar months (40 weeks), we arrive in the month of Nisan. It would appear that John the Baptist may have been born in the middle of the month, which would coincide with Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is interesting to note, that even today, it is customary for the Jews to set out a special goblet of wine during the Passover Seder meal, in anticipation of the arrival of Elijah that week, which is based on the prophecy of Malachi:

Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Jesus identified John as the "Elijah" that the Jews had expected:

Mat 17:10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
Mat 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
Mat 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
Mat 17:13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The angel that appeared to Zacharias in the temple also indicated that John would be the expected "Elias":

Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

So then, the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th day of the 1st month, Nisan, and this is a likely date for the birth of John the Baptist, the expected "Elijah".

The Birth of Jesus Christ.

Since Jesus was conceived six months after John the Baptist, and we have established a likely date for John’s birth, we need only move six months farther down the Jewish calender to arrive at a likely date for the birth of Jesus. From the 15th day of the 1st month, Nisan, we go to the 15th day of the 7th month, Tishri. And what do we find on that date? It is the festival of Tabernacles! The 15th day of Tishri begins the third and last festival of the year to which all the men of Israel were to gather in Jerusalem for Temple services. (Lev 23:34)

Immanuel.

Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel means "God with us". The Son of God had come to dwell with, or tabernacle on earth with His people.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The word in the Hebrew for dwelt is succah and the name of the Feast of Tabernacles in Hebrew is Sukkot, a festival of rejoicing and celebration:

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luke 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Why was there no room at the inn? Bethlehem is only about 5 miles from Jerusalem, and all the men of Israel had come to attend the festival of Tabernacles as required by the law of Moses. Every room for miles around Jerusalem would have been already taken by pilgrims, so all that Mary and Joseph could find for shelter was a stable.

Also of note is the fact that the Feast of Tabernacles is an eight day feast (Lev 23:36, 39). Why eight days? It may be because an infant was dedicated to God by performing circumcision on the eighth day after birth:

Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

So the infant Jesus would have been circumcised on the eighth and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, a Sabbath day. The Jews today consider this a separate festival from Tabernacles, and they call it Shemini Atzeret.

Conclusion

So, if you have followed the above reasoning, based on the scriptural evidence, a case can apparently be made that Jesus Christ was born on the 15th day of the month of Tishri, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, which corresponds to the September – October timeframe of our present calendar!

Jewish month

Begins the
New moon of

John the Baptist

Jesus

1. Abib / Nisan

March-April

Birth of John
15 Nisan

  4

2. Zif / Iyyar

April-May

 

  5

3. Sivan

May-June

Conception of John
after 3rd Sabbath

  6

4. Tammuz

June-July

1

  7

5. Ab / Av

July-August

2

  8

6. Elul

August-September

3

  9

7. Ethanim / Tishri

September-October

4

Birth of Jesus
15 Tishri

8. Bul / Marheshvan / Heshvan

October-November

5

 

9. Chisleu / Chislev / Kislev

November-December

6

Conception of Jesus
25 Kislev ?

10. Tebeth / Tevet

December-January

7

  1

11. Shebat / Shevat

January-February

8

  2

12. Adar

February-March

9

  3

Tabernacles Future Fulfillment

It is also interesting to note the Tabernacles was a feast of ingathering of the Harvest (Exo 23:16 and 34:22). If Jesus’ first coming was indeed on 15 Tishri, the first day of Tabernacles, then it is quite reasonable to presume that the harvest of this earth, the ingathering of the second coming of Jesus Christ, will also occur on precisely the same date. The unknown factor would be the year that this would happen.

 

Christmas Cheesecake Topped Brownies Recipe

Christmas Cheesecake Topped Brownies Recipe

1 (21 1/2 oz) package brownie mix 
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese; softened
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (16 oz) container prepared chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350�F. Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Prepare
brownie mix according to the directions on the package. Spread into
prepared baking pan. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and
cornstarch until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk,
egg and vanilla until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture evenly over
brownie batter. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.
Allow to cool, spread with frosting and cut into bars.