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Weekly Devotionals

Two Kinds of Light

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  -II Corinthians 4:6

“Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”  -I Corinthians 15:46

“…So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he doesn’t know how. For the earth brings forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”  -Mark 4:26-29

Have you ever thought about how interesting that leading scripture from Mark is?

As I was thinking about writing this inspirational, my mind went to an unusual chart which the Holy Spirit inspired and revealed to my father in 1937.  The chart displays the principles by which our Divine God has revealed Himself to man throughout historical times — by light revealed to men physically, light revealed to men legally, and light revealed to men spiritually.

To me it is strange that, in the purposes of God, the revelation and reality of physical light came before the revelation and experience of spiritual light.

Light is a strange phenomenon.  It is the only entity that I know of that can appear in the form of rays as well as in physical (quanta) form.  When light goes through a grating, it can switch from ray form to physical form and back again.  It is as if it has a physical and a non-physical mode of expression, which it does.

On my recent trip to Kenya, I had cause to think about this same subject.  Years ago when we first went to reach out to the Maasai, there was nothing but people, cattle and manure-and-stick-covered dwellings in the undeveloped bush.  Now, in that same location there is a well, irrigation farming, school and church.  Even further, our national director has informed me that she appealed to the regional Kenyan Power and Light Company, and they have agreed to take electricity to the Maasai community at Emuruadikir.  Can you imagine what an impact this will have on this place and on these people?

Some years ago, a WME donor wanted to communicate with a Maasai student by email.  We took an opportunity to videotape the area to provide some explanation to the donor.  We showed a typical Maasai hut.  We arranged to speak to the head school teacher in front of it.  Did he know what the internet was?  No!  Did he know what a computer was?  No!  Did he have electrical power?  No!  Did he have a telephone link?  No!

But that was then; and this is now.  And what about the future?  I see a proliferation of two kinds of light, but especially the light that is spiritual.  I can see a computer lab at the school with power for computers.  If power is there, can phone links be far behind?  I can see Maasai children and adults trained to use programs like MS Word.  I can see light available for the people to use at night for classes and for cooking.  And physical light and its blessing will be followed by spiritual and academic light and their blessings.

I foresee the light of the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ to men, women and children in a mighty way.

 By John G. Cathcartwww.wme.org

Two Things in Life Are Constant

“The only constant is change.” – Heraclitus of Ephesus

“Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art…”  from the poem “Bright Star” by John Keats

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them… Or ever the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.” – Ecclesiastes 12:1 & 6

 

I read an editorial in the newspaper recently that started out talking about Kodak filing for bankruptcy. I then thought about how Art Linkletter asked for the film concessions at Disneyland as payment for a favor he did Disney, and he said it was the most profitable little enterprise he had ever undertaken. I remembered when I heard a patent attorney discuss how the tradename “Kodak” was actually meaningless, but it had been pumped full of meaning by the filmmaker. Besides “Coke,” at one time Kodak was probably the most recognized name in the mind of the general public.

George Eastman revolutionized picture taking by his invention of the Box Brownie – I used to have one, and I loved that camera. Eastman did away with glass plates, emulsions and that whole mess, reducing the complexity of taking photos, and Kodak became king of the photo game for one hundred years. Years before Kodak’s invention, my grandfather would bring out his big wooden box camera mounted on an ornate, impressive looking wooden tripod, and he would cover his head with a large fabric cloth to look at an image on a plate before taking a time-lapse picture of our family yelling, “Hold that pose!”

This newspaper editorial on Kodak was strangely timely for me because I had been doing some spring-cleaning and had come upon a camera I had not used in years. Thinking back, I realized I bought it about thirty years ago. It came with a book called “The ABC’s of Picture Taking Ease.” They should have dropped the word “ease” and changed the title to “The Elements of Picture Taking” or better yet to “An Introduction to the Complexities of Photography.” The camera came in a beautiful but bulky carrying bag complete with flash attachment, telescopic lens and a miscellany of additional attachments, devices and batteries. The whole thing was remarkably heavy. What hurt me now was the fact it was a magnificent dinosaur that I did not want to part with. It used a 36-shot roll of Kodak film with little plastic containers to eliminate light. Armed with this magnificent device, I considered how I could take pictures in the field and bring them back to be developed, but how I could not monitor what picture I was taking or manipulate those pictures; and I realized, heartbreak of heartbreaks, the photos wouldn’t have the quality needed to use in our WME publications. Woe, woe, woe!

My shiny, impressive looking camera was a mute sermon on display. First, it testified that nothing lasts very long, let alone forever. The world is changing around us, and our personal world is changing day by day. Second, it says that one day things that are personally important, precious, valuable and modern will be insignificant, nostalgic, antique and outdated. Time tends to do that.

There are only two things in life that are constant. The first is change, and change makes our worlds irrelevant in due time. The second is Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He makes us eternal treasures to God and others. As the saying goes, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

By John G. Cathcart
http://www.wme.org

 

 

 

Real Mission Work

“And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding …” -Ezra 8:18

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” -Romans 8:14

I was six years of age and living in South Africa.  My father was going to preach, and I was with my mother in a second vehicle.  Suddenly, Brother DeBrien who was riding with us said, “Sister Cathcart, stop the car — I have left something behind!”  He rushed back into the house and returned after a few minutes.  My mother asked, “Brother DeBrien, did you forget your Bible?”  He responded, “No, I forget my nickel-plated pistols. Where we’re going, they will kill you for a few pennies.”

Now, let’s fast forward a few years but keep to the same theme.

We just returned from a trip to visit the WME work in Kenya.  This trip was unusual because things started going wrong from the very beginning when a meal truck banged into our aircraft as we were attempting to depart from DFW.  When we finally arrived at the airport in Nairobi, there was no one to meet us.  A Kenyan friend came to our rescue.  We discovered our hotel reservations had been cancelled.  We managed to work things out slowly, but strange happenings continued to plague our visit.  The delays that resulted forced us to cancel a trip to the Maasai mission at Emuruadikir.  We decided to instead visit the large slum at Kibera-Soweto, but we missed our scheduled time of departure due to more problems.

By this time, I was waking up spiritually to the significance of these unusual problems and the accompanying conviction in my spirit.  I said to my WME associate, “The Lord is telling us not to go. This number of negatives is not natural; it’s the Lord talking to us through our circumstances.”  My associate protested, “The people will be disappointed if we don’t go.”  I responded, “They’ll just have to be disappointed.  I’m going to listen to the Lord.”  The Kenyans wanted us to leave for the slum at 2:30 pm.  But a phone call came from a Kenyan detective friend.  “Don’t come,” he said, “There’s been an incident.”

We found out a bit later that my WME associate and I had been targeted.  Our detective friend felt he should go ahead of us and check the scene.  He had gotten out of his car at the gate of our WME school and purchased some oranges for the kids from a roadside vendor.  Four teenagers walked up and started talking to him.  They knew of our coming visit, and this gang was tired of waiting for my associate and me to show up.  Instead, they decided to jump the detective who came before us.  Suddenly, our detective friend was looking down the muzzle of a gun.  One teenager who recognized the detective and knew all about our school yelled to the gunman, “Shoot him! Shoot him!”  The detective remained totally calm; and while the boys were distracted for a second or two, he retrieved his pistol and shot the gunman in the chest.  The other gang members ran off into the slum.  The gunman has since died while another of the young men in the attack was gunned down in later activities.

In Kenya, men without congregations or followers start claiming they are Pastors, Reverends, and eventually self-appointed Bishops.  These men deceive well-meaning Americans in order to rip them off financially.  One such “Bishop” in the Kibera slum is opposed to WME.  He aligned himself with a minor government official and arranged to have part of our school security-wall torn down, neither of them having the proper authority to do so.  Because the wall was missing, our school children witnessed the shooting described above.

So what are the lessons here?

First, as many as are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  God can and will speak to us, even in the midst of and through our circumstances.  When He does, we need to listen carefully.

Second, WME is into real missions work in countries plagued by violence and spiritual darkness.  There is a desperate cry of the Spirit to provide high school education to as many children in Kenya as we can.  Kenyan government only educates children through the 8th grade.  Children graduate from the 8th grade and have no hope for the future.  The teenager who knew our school and planned the attack should have been attending a Christian school.  That might have saved his life from the dark path of destruction he is now locked into.

Christians are called to change these realities and to bring in the Kingdom of God.  We need to provide high school education for our children in Soweto.  We need donors who are willing to step into the gap to save young people in desperate need.  Jesus came to seek and save the lost, abandoned and hopeless. Let us follow in the footsteps of Christ, and let the mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus.

By John G. Cathcart
http://www.wme.org


Tongues of Men and Angels

“The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary…”  – Isaiah 50:4

“…my tongue is the pen of a ready writer…”  – Psalm 45:1

The “Freudian slip” is named after the psychologist Sigmund Freud. A Freudian slip is when you mean one thing and say another. Freud had noted and analyzed numerous seemingly trivial, bizarre, or nonsensical errors and slips of the tongue which he concluded were linked to the unconscious mind. As has been observed, a Freudian slip is when you think one thing and say your mother… ooops, I mean another; or Freudian slips reveal the intention of the peeper…er speaker, much better than he or she intended to say.

It is really interesting how psychologists recognize a very similar world to that of the born-again Christian. Christian writers such as Paul talked about the composition of a man as being spirit, soul and body – or the spiritual man, the soulical man and the carnal man. By contrast, psychologists talk about the superego, the ego and the id. It is the same thing from a different viewpoint. The first is the viewpoint of the “sacred,” and the second the viewpoint of the “secular.”

But, as far as Christians are concerned, the psychologist’s “superego” is the eternal spirit man who at death returns to God who gave it. While to the secular psychologist, the superego is the higher man of the intellect, but a man who is ultimately purely physical “brain” and dies with the rest of the material man. To the Communist, man is matter in motion; to the Christian, man is a work in progress.

Christians experience a similar thing to the so-called Freudian slip; however, in the case of the Christian, the “slip” is linked to the indwelling Holy Spirit and not to the material and mental subconscious. To the Christian, this is a question of “now, where did that come from?” It is a revelation of the Spirit, and oftentimes we are not aware of it when it happens. Across the years, I have been amazed and amused at people who came to me and said, “I was so blessed by what you said to me the last time we met – can you repeat it?” Usually I cannot. On one occasion, I replied to a person’s description that it sounded so good I wish I had heard it myself.

When you have such an experience, God is using you as a human vessel to speak His word and convey His encouragement into another’s life. Such an experience should be very affirming to you. Think of it! You are being used by and of God. You are a vehicle of the Spirit’s blessing. And please note from the introductory scripture above that God gives you the tongue of the learned and not the brain of the learned. The gift of the Holy Spirit is tongues, not brains.

I had such an experience recently in response to some words I had been quickened to write on a Christmas card to our national director in the Philippines, and this was his response:

Dear Pastor John:

The Lord be with you. I received the very nice and wonderful Christmas card you and Patricia had sent me. The words that you penned on it were so uplifting and encouraging, they put fire in my heart to continue and to do more for Jesus. Thank you John, and may Our Lord Jesus Christ continue to bless and to use you for the advancement of His kingdom. I am looking forward to seeing you in 2012.

René

Remember that God’s word through you gives seed to the sower, bread to the eater and prospers in the thing that God purposes – which means it should be as big a blessing to you as it is to the person to whom it is sent.

By John G. Cathcart
http://www.wme.org


The Free and The Brave

“Then the chief captain came and said to him, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman?’  He said, ‘Yes’.  And the chief captain answered, ‘With a great sum I obtained this freedom.’  And Paul said, ‘But I was free born.'”

-Acts 22:27-28

“And herein is a true saying: One sows and another reaps.  I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labor: other men labored and you are entered into their labors.”  -John 4:37-38

Recently, I was watching one of WME’s TV programs when I was struck by something that Maurice Taitt (a member of our Board of Directors) said during the section entitled “Lesson for the Day.”  Maurice mentioned that he recently had studied the words of our national anthem.  “The Star Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.  Maurice was impressed by the fact that all four verses ended with the words, “…O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

The “Star Spangled Banner” was not the only song that was a candidate for the US national anthem.  Before 1931, other songs served as official American hymns.  “Hail, Columbia” served the purpose for most of the 19th century, and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” was also a de facto anthem.  But the “Star Spangled Banner” was recognized for official Navy use in 1889 and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916.  Finally, it was made the national anthem by a Resolution of Congress on March 3, 1931.

As I was looking at the words of “Hail Columbia,” I was struck by the fourth and fifth lines of the first verse.  After hailing the revolutionary heroes who fought hard for freedom, it says: “And when the storm of war was gone, Enjoy’d the peace your valor won.”  Those words are poetic nonsense; they are not true.

So what is the truth?  What happened to those fifty-six men who concluded the Declaration of Independence by pledging to one another “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”?

All became the objects of vicious manhunts.  Their homes were plundered; their estates destroyed.   The wives of some were captured and treated with great brutality resulting in death.  Some became penniless refugees living in caves and woods.  Holdings were confiscated; families were driven from their homes.  Timber, crops and livestock were taken; children were removed from their families, never to be seen again.  Some were betrayed by British sympathizers; some were dragged from bed, brutally beaten, thrown in jail and starved.  Some died broken men, while some endured in ruined health.  Some bled their credit and fortunes dry; some died early and impoverished; others survived on charity.  Of the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds, five were captured and imprisoned, twelve had their homes completely burned, and seventeen lost everything they owned.  Some, like the heroes of Hebrews 11, refused deliverance.

But not one of these fifty-six patriots defected or went back on his pledged word.

In the TV program I mentioned, Maurice Taitt observed that bravery and freedom are companion characteristics of a people; but he wondered aloud how we the people of the United States compare in 2013 with those fifty-six men of 1775?  Do we discern a tendency to sacrifice freedom on the altar of fear and bravery on the altar of safety?

Your citizenship may be free by right of birth, but it is not cheap.  Others obtained this liberty at a great price.  Fifty-six heroes sowed, and 300 million are reaping today.  But be assured that neither in our natural or our spiritual life will freedom from slavery, terror and sin ever exist without the bravery to lay down our lives for country and for Christ.

By John G. Cathcart
http://www.wme.org


The Cleansing Pope

“Then I heard one saint speaking to another saint, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spoke, ‘How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden underfoot?’ And he said to me, ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.'”  – Daniel 8:13-14

“Moreover, when you shall divide by lot the land for inheritance, you shall offer an oblation to the Lord, a holy portion of the land… and it shall be the sanctuary and the most holy place.”    – Ezekiel 45: 1& 3

In recent months, I have been taking our radio audience through the Book of Zechariah.  Most recently, I have been dealing with the second section of Zechariah which is the ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters that cover the period from Alexander the Great through to Jesus Christ.  The parallel eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel is the vision of the Ram and the He-Goat, or the clash between ancient Persia (Iran) and Greece.  Bible scholars agree that Zechariah chapter nine starts with the path of Alexander the Great after the famous Battle of Issus in 333 BC.

I was sitting at my desk with my mind on other things, when suddenly a scripture in Daniel came to mind that 2300 prophetic days or 2300 literal years would lapse before the Temple of the Lord would be cleansed.  Now I have learned that often the Spirit will speak to you “out of the clear blue sky” rather than when you are searching scripture or seeking revelation.  I think it is because what you receive “spontaneously” is pure and untainted by your personal thinking.

The name translated “certain saint” in Daniel eight is Palomi, which means “The Wonderful Numberer” and should at least make us realize that the math isn’t going to be simple.  Biblical prophecy does not start or end on an exact, specific date.  There are multiple starting and ending dates; there are overlapping fulfillments.  But one date we can be sure about in this prophecy is 333 BC when Alexander defeated Persia and established the first international, multi-cultural empire.  Twenty three hundred prophetic “days” later we arrived at the initial starting date for the cleansing in 1967 AD, or the date of the Six Days War of Israel with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.  If this is coincidence, it’s beyond credulity.

Israel’s Yitshak Rabin named the war, not for Israel, but with reference to the six days of creation.  At the end of the war, Israel had taken the Gaza Strip, Sinai, West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  Conquests to the south almost took Israel to the southern limits of the Land of Promise.  Much is said about the political and military significance of the war, but virtually nothing has been said about the Biblical and prophetic significance of the war.  Much of what Israel achieved was undone by United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was speaking from the viewpoint of international political accommodation when she said there must be a Palestinian State.  Others speak from an aeonian and eschatological prophecy viewpoint if they affirm there must be an oblation and cleansed sanctuary.  Obviously both “musts” are mutually exclusive.  One is based on the will of man, while the other on what Christians believe to be the Word of God.  Both have their opponents and supporters.

However, it is curious, as we approach a Jubilee of years from the first physical fulfillment of promise related to the land, that a simple man of faith named Francis is starting to cleanse part of the spiritual sanctuary beginning with the Curia.  It will be interesting to see what 2016-2017 brings forth.

By John G. Cathcart
http://www.wme.org


The Epiphany Pope

“These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.'” – John 1:28 &29

“Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, and went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. And many resorted unto him and said, ‘John did no miracles: but all the things John spoke of this man were true.’ And many believed on him there.” – John 10:39-42

“Epiphany” means an appearance or a manifestation. Epiphany also refers to a sudden intuitive perception or insight into the reality or the essential meaning of something. In addition, Epiphany is the name for a Christian festival celebrated on January 6th that commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi, or the Wise Men from the East. When pilgrims celebrate the Nativity or the birth of Christ in the Holy Land, they immediately rush from Bethlehem to the place of Christ’s water baptism by John without many really understanding why they are doing so, which makes it a tradition rather than an epiphany.

In Chapter 10 of John, we read about a confrontation Jesus had with the Jews over what they perceived as his blasphemy for “making thyself God.” Jesus referenced His miraculous works as evidence. The Jews tried to take Him, but He escaped. Then Jesus went back to where He had first encountered John and when the Holy Spirit had descended on Him: He returned to the place where He had experienced approval, witness and affirmation. There, in contrast to His critics, a different group of men saw the works of Jesus and believed.

Epiphanies are often, though not necessarily, associated with traumatic events; regardless, epiphanies are life altering. For the carefree, affluent, young Francis of Assisi, it happened while looking at a rather dilapidated church edifice. Suddenly, he heard the Lord say to him, “Build my church.” Francis realized the Lord was not talking to him about the physical edifice he was looking at, but rather the entire church, the Body of Christ. St. Francis of Assisi turned to a life of service and humble relationship. Statues of Francis usually depict him with animals, and particularly with birds, in his arms. (Based on that, it’s thought-provoking that a seagull sat on the diffuser of the smokestack on the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican until about the time the white smoke came out and the identity of the new Pope was announced.)

Francis Xavier was a great evangelist and one of four young men who founded the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. The leading figure of the group was Ignatius Loyola, a man that had been seriously injured in battle by a French cannonball. It was during periods when he had to deal with excruciating operations and recuperation from that injury when he found his calling. Had there been no Ignatius Loyola, there probably would have been no Francis Xavier and no Jesuits.

The Franciscans founded by Francis of Assisi and the Jesuits founded by Ignatius Loyola represent the two distinct poles of Catholic holy orders. Jesuits are all fiery discipline, doctrine, and scholasticism. On the other side, a friend of mine who is a Franciscan priest in Rome says, “With Franciscans, anything goes.” In fact, Jesuits remind me of the other phenomenon that preceded the conclave – The lightning bolt that struck St. Peter’s at the time of Pope Benedict’s resignation.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a Jesuit with Franciscan humility and orientation towards service. He is the combination of extremes that is needed in and for the Vatican. Epiphanies happen to movements as well as to men. Pope Francis may well be the personification of an epiphany for the Catholic Church as well as the first Jesuit, the first South American, and the first Francis elected to the Pontificate.

The first Reformation came in a man of theology and a man of action – Erasmus and Luther. This time it appears that the Catholic church may have both kinds of men in one package. As Cardinal Dolan of New York recently said (as best I can quote him), “This time we got the Holy man and the gravy too.”

It is time for all Christians to pray for the whole Church, the entire body of Christ. As it so happens, St. Francis of Assisi has given us a great model:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.