My Church is Bigger Than Yours… Na Na Nah Boo Boo

I hope that title caught your attention. In all honesty, I can probably say that my church is not as large as yours is. However, this title is a little funny look at the way we sometimes compare ourselves to one another. We often get caught up on how big a church is.  Many like to boast that they go to such and such church, “You know the big one on the corner of such and such“.  With so no lack of pride we will tell of the great sanctuary and the stain glass windows. Or maybe we will point out the multiple classrooms, the coffee shop or the bookstore. There is nothing wrong with this.  Unless we put our measure of success upon how big our church is.  Different size churches can have great success in their place in God’s plan. The apostle Paul wrote, “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” (1 Corinthians 12:5).

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In truth most churches in the world have less than 100 people on their rolls.  The bulk of  churches of the world are small to medium congregations that vary from 5-250 active members (I specify active because active members are the only ones who contribute to the mission of the church – don’t fool yourself).  The major growths in Christianity around the world are brought from small churches that grow into medium churches or who plant other small churches.  These churches are different in their purpose and design than larger churches. They have their own positive and negative attributes.

Small churches (less than 100) have high levels of member commitment.  The members are also more consistent in their tithes and offerings, and volunteer work.  They have less of a staff and therefore dedicate more of their budget to missionary work.  They will likely have a bi-vocational pastor, and because of their small size, he will be easily available to the membership.  The membership is likely to be aware of the burden on the clergy and are more likely to assist the pastor with his duties and donate food and clothing to him and his family to ease his financial burdens.  There is a genuine care in the membership for one another.  Evidence of this is that these churches are likely to have a food closet that is open to any members of the local church. Membership in these churches are generally aligned from family and close friendships, and an occasionally new comer who was invited to attend and then joined the church.

Their Achilles heel of an older small church is that they are likely to have a good portion of their budget tied up in building maintenance.  They are also likely to have most of their membership in being 65 or older.  They are also likely to have no children.  As a general rule their membership is not seeking to increase membership.  If this is the case for a small church, then they are a dead church. Unless a change is brought in their evangelism they will no longer exist.   For the majority of small churches who are active in evangelism, they will soon grow either in church planting other churches and missionary work, or they will increase in size and take other responsibilities and outreached in the community. 

Medium sized churches of congregations of 101-250 active members are more likely to open their buildings up for use to outside organizations that serve a service to the community.  Those may be the scouts, a food bank, a day care center, a meeting place for AA or NA meetings and such.  They are likely to have a free library available to members instead of a bookstore or a coffee shop.  Their main interests are likely to see the membership grow through discipleship classes, small group studies, consistent Wednesday evening Bible studies, Tuesday evening prayer meetings and these things.  They will have active committees to care for different needs of the church, its membership, and the outreach programs.  They are likely to have a lively children’s ministry, and may even have a certified school for certain age ranges. 

As you can see there is a great service that the small and medium churches perform to the growth of Christianity, missions, and in service to the community. So if you’re in a small church, don’t sweat it.  Enjoy the fellowship, get involved with the mission, and share the name of Jesus!   

Luke 13:6-9 Dung Up Your Roots

6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

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This passage is a call to repentance.  It is not only to the sinner, but to those who think that they are holier than others.  If you look into the text preceding this parable, we see Jesus is responding to a common belief that has somehow tricked down through the ages.  The question is do people suffer as a punishment from God for sin?  More specifically do people die as judgement from God for sin?  IN the case of the Jews, they wondered if the Gentiles would receive a greater punishment because their sins were worse than the Jews? Jesus, tells them that those who had suffered, referencing the verses before, were not any worse a sinner than those of whom he was talking to.  Then he tells them directly that their fate is the same, unless they repent.  Then he illustrates his reasoning with this parable in Luke 13:6-9.

In this illustration, we see the owner of the fig tree who is talking with his servant about the tree.  The tree was planted with the owner hoping to have the fruits that it would yield.  He probably imagined like many of us would, that the tree would be a big and strong tree with many fruits.  He may have imagined that he could one day lay under the shade of the tree and reach up and take a fig and enjoy the sweet delights of his investment.  Maybe he could share some with neighbors, or make delicate cakes or jams with the honey like figs.  He could gain joy from showing his tree off to his friends and telling them how it was just a twig when he had first planted it. 

But today, was one more day among many where he had walked out to the tree and it sat there, fruitless.  Most fig trees take three to five years to start ripening fruit.  We should assume that because the master was the owner of the vineyard, that he had already considered this. He waited until the customary time that they tree should be producing the fruit he so loved to eat.  The story even tells us that it had been three years. So, year after year this owner waited in patient hope that the tree would start new stem growth and produce ripe figs in due season.  Finally, the day has come.  The owner can no longer justify to himself the need to let the plant continue to waist valuable soil in his fields.  He calls his servant, “Cut it down and burn it.” He says with a sad and frustrated heart.  So many hopes for the little tree were now gone.  It was time to make room for another tree that would hopefully bear some fruit. 

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The servant, however, pleads on behalf of the tree.  Please! Let me ease the ground surrounding the roots of the tree.  Let me then put dung on the roots.  Let me soften the soil and put in some fertilizer and give it another season to have a chance to mature and to be pleasing to you.  Then if it bears fruit, we can continue to care for it and rejoice over the tree.  But, if it does not then we know we tried everything and gave it every opportunity to produce good fruit and I will remove it from the field.  The master then relents and continues in patience as the servant begins his tasks of breaking up the ground and seeding the dung about the roots of the tree, then I would imagine the faithful servant waters the soil and undoubtedly prays for good fruit in due season. 

There are some things to learn about God in this parable.  Some spiritual truths lay hidden in the telling of this story by Jesus.  It is an example of the expectations, judgement, and patience of God the Father.  We can see the interceding of the servant.  Much like the intercession of Jesus Christ, our great high priest before the mercy seat of God.  I think it such an amazing thing that God has taken the time to give us his reasoning as to why he does some of the things he does.  Surely if God has taken to time to give the why behind the what, we should sit up and listen. 

Expectations of God

Here in this analogy given by Jesus, we see a very reasonable expectation.  The owner of their vineyard expects his fig tree to give him good fruits.  He expects figs to come from his fig tree. Now we can understand that likely Jesus was talking to Israel who had been planted in the promised land and was expected to be God’s people.  As God’s chosen, they were to be an example to the nations of how to worship God.  Israel was to expound upon the nations of the world that Jehovah was the only God.  They were expected to bear fruit for him. 

In like manner we as the Church are expected to show forth fruits in showing that Jesus is the only name by which a man can be saved from their condemnation. (John 3:15-19) But not just any fruits.  We are expected to produce good fruits.  Fruits worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8). The fig tree was expected to produce figs.  We are expected to produce fruits according to our kind also. (2 Corinthians 9:10) The Apostle Paul confirmed this to the Romans saying, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”(Romans 12:1) Here we see that Paul explains that if you believe in God, then it is reasonable that you should do what he expects, that is to produce good fruit.  In the following verses in Romans 12 we see that this good fruit of self-sacrifice includes: non-conformity to the world, transformation by renewing of the mind, being an example of what is good and acceptable to God, being humble, and walking in faith. Sounds like the same things that God expected of Israel.  Listen this is not to be saved, but to those who have been redeemed.  It is a reasonable expectation for them,… for us,… the redeemed of the Lord.

In Matthew 7:16-20, Jesus tells us exactly what is expected.  He says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” The apostle Paul tells us the manner and reason for our salvation.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The problem with the fig tree is that it was producing no fruits at all.  They were neither good nor bad, they were nonexistent.  By their fruits you shall know them… A fig tree that does not produce figs is a dead fig tree.  James writes, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”(James 2:26) Now take a look at what Jesus said, “every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” A dead tree does not bring forth good fruit. A dead tree is good for nothing and is cut down and burned.

Judgement of God

In the Gospel According to Matthew we see just how sudden and final this judgement is by an example that Jesus makes of an actual fig tree.  Here is that telling. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. (Matthew 21:19) The master came to the tree, expecting to find the good fruit that he desired.  In finding no fruit, the tree was judged to be just as bad as a tree that brought forth bad fruit.  The lack of fruit condemned the tree.  Jesus just said since you will not bear fruit, I have not need for you to take up space in the field.  How many ministers have stopped producing fruit by being complacent in their Sunday schools, and pulpits?  How many churches had failed to produce fruit after years of neglect in their neighborhoods?  How many of us who claim to believe in Jesus have never labored to produce the fruits of righteousness in our lives?  We have failed to tell family members.  We live in complacency.  We tell ourselves that everyone knows that we are Christians and if they want Jesus they will come and ask.  We ignore the commandment to preach, teach, and to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19-20) We know what is good and acceptable to God.  Shall we not be judged? James tells us, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17).  If then, what we fail to do is sin to us, are we not like the fig tree? Have we not behaved like Israel? Are we not in error of our reasonable sacrifice?  No wonder so many churches are dying.  Think not that even though we are forgiven of sin, that we should not be held accountable for our deeds, or lack thereof.

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Romans 2:6-10 – Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

Was not the Lord talking to the church when he said, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:5)? But even so in this statement we see the patience of our God.  He says to remember, to repent, to do the first works… or else!  He will come and remove thy candlestick.  The master of the vineyard said, cut the unfruitful tree down.  It serves no one any good.  Judgement came to the unfruitful tree, and to Israel, and to the unfruitful church.

Patience of God

We however are blessed.  Like to good master who waited patiently for many years for the fig tree to mature our Father waits patiently for us.  He is not hasty to be angry with us (Ecclesiastes 7:9). He forbears us with love.  He is long suffering towards us. The psalmist writes, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” (Psalms 86:15) This truth is echoed throughout scripture.

  • 1 Peter 3:20 – Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
  • 2 Peter 3:15 – And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
  • 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  • Numbers 14:18 – The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
  • Exodus 34:6 –  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

So, in here we see all kinds of examples of the patience of the Lord.  We even learn that the longsuffering of our Lord is what gives us our salvation.  This gospel of Grace through Faith is the result of God patiently suffering for us to redeem us at the proper time.  The perfect example of this is how Jesus prayed for Jerusalem when he spoke, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). Yet there is even a limit to the patience of God.  Just as the master prepared to lay the axe to the fig tree, so to we see the chilling statement the Jesus added after his plea to Israel. “Behold you house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:38)

Provision of Christ

Like the servant of the master who breaks up the ground and fertilizes the roots with dung, Jesus intercedes for both Jew and Gentile.  For the scriptures do say this concerning the work of God towards us who believe on the name of Jesus.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27) So here we have the servant dunging up the roots.  We are weak in our flesh, yet the Spirit strengthens us in our hope of what we cannot see.  The Spirit intercedes for us with prayers that cannot be understood, nor voiced by the lips of men.  It is the Spirit that lives in us that knows our every weakness and what is necessary for us to grow in our faith.  He cries out to God the Father to ask for the things we need to remain faithful.  The we see here also that Christ himself intercedes for us in Romans 8:34. The Word of God says that who can condemn us?  Surely it is not the one who died in our place and who rose again.  The very one who sits at the right hand of honor and authority of God the Father does not seek to judge us.  Instead, he also intercedes for us before the Father.  The scars from his wounded hands, feet and side are a constant witness to the Father of the atonement that he has made by his own blood.  Why then would he commend his anger towards us, of whom, he has cleansed?  So we have no fear of eternal condemnation.  Our salvation is intact in whom we have trusted, in Jesus Christ the Son of God who is the Lamb who was slain for our sin. 

Knowing this then are we ok to become complacent at our good fruit?  No we are should be ashamed at such an attitude of complacency.  Once again, I defer to the Apostle Paul on this matter.

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What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)

We are now dead to the old world and to the old ways of living in the world.  We have become strangers in strange land.  Our soul existence is in Jesus Christ.  We cannot be charged with sin, and yet we cannot return to our old land, as Israel tried to do when delivered from the bondage of Egypt.  We have been delivered from the slavery of sin and death and must now press on the promised land of the Kingdom of God.  With so great a provision made for us, that we are now new creations in Christ and called the sons of God, how can we not seek to be fruitful in good works?

John 6:28-29 – Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

This is what makes us to be fruitful.  We believe in Jesus Christ.  We walk in faith looking forward to the completion of our redemption.  We walk in the boldness of being the children of God through Jesus Christ.  We put away the shameful behaviors because they no longer define us. Remember James told us that faith without works is dead.  So then work out your faith.  Not for salvation, but because you believe that you are already dead to sin, and alive in Christ.  If you are alive in Christ then you are free to bear the fruits of righteousness today. So dung up your roots and be fruitful. Pray and study that you may be encouraged and your faith may be increased, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Go get your shovel.

Is this “The Greatest Story Ever Told”?

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I heard this on the radio this morning.  The host said, “What if I told you a story about someone who could heal all your hurts.”  Then they went on to say, “well it is not a story”.  It is the greatest story ever told.  They went on to explain that Jesus came to heal all of their hurts.  Then they just said that we should have joy over that. It was not a bad thing to say at the first hearing.  I assumed that their reference was to the movie, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” that was released in 1965 by directory George Stevens.  This is a movie adaptation of the biblical telling of Jesus of Nazareth, from his birth to his ascension, after his resurrection from the crucifixion.  Or maybe it was referring to the Gather song, “It’s Still the Greatest Story Ever Told” which sings of the coming of the messiah as the baby Jesus, and how God became his own flesh and blood creation out of love for mankind.  Now, this is the greatest story ever told.  It also happens to be true.  God became man.  The Creator became his own creation to reveal his love of his to his creation. But to say that Jesus came to heal your hurts is the greatest story is a sweet little lie, or at the minimum a very incorrect statement, and no where near the truth.

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You see, since the ancient of times, we have had great men of renown (Genesis 6:4).  We have had wise men, like Solomon to give us sage advice and provide a model of sound judgement.  Men like his father King David to show us how to protect the weak and provide for one another have been around since the beginning.  We have even had men who have walked and talked to God, men like Enoch, Job, Noah, Moses and Abraham.  We even have references to peoples hurts and sicknesses being healed in the Old and the New Testament, without it being a miracle.  The author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts was a physician himself.  God, from his throne was already reaching out to his people and healing their lands, their health, and giving them protection from their enemies.  Jesus did not need to come here for any of that kind of stuff.  Jesus did not come here for that kind of stuff.  Did Jesus heal?  Yes, he did.  Did he come here to heal, yes, but not superficially.  Does he care for you and your problems? Yes, he does.  But that is not the reason why him coming is, “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.  You see we can already do all of these things for one another, if we so chose to do.

We can provide emotional support and care.  We can provide medical treatment, and life saving measures.  We can prolong life beyond what would have been.  We can deter the effects of many diseases and even put many in remission.  We can provide food and clothing to the orphans and widows.  We can encourage one another when going through rough patches.  But what we cannot do, is restore our relationship to God.  We cannot raise ourselves from spiritual death, and make ourselves holy before God. This is what makes “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.  God sent his only Son to restore our relationship to himself.  Only God can give life.  Only God can sustain life.  Therefore, only God and bring us back to life.

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In the beginning God created man with his own hands, and gave him life.  Genesis 1:26-27 – And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 2:7 – And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Here we see the special relationship that God and man had from the very beginning.  God created man with a special vision and purpose in mind.  He created man as a model after himself and man was to be the caretaker of creation.  He was God’s representative on earth.  God planned him out, formed him with his own hands from the earth.  This shows man’s relationship to God and to his creation. The God breathed life into man.  God gave man life in an intimate and direct manner.  Then man became a living soul.  Man from the very beginning was flesh, spirit, and soul.  Man was alive and if you were to continue reading in Genesis you would see that he was in fellowship with God.  He walked and talked to God with no mediator in between, no fear. 

Then a horrible event took place.  Man was deceived by an enemy of God, who was once one of God’s chief angels.  This fallen angel wanted to God.  So he used cunning words to deceive the woman and the man that God was unfair and unjust.  This deceptive picture of God caused man to question God’s word and authority.  This led to the first sin of disobedience against God.  Because man’s image of God had been distorted by what they were told about God, they believed incorrectly, and sinned.  This is the same reason that I am writing this today.  This false image of who Jesus is and why he came is a deception that must be confronted, lest anyone come to Jesus for the wrong reasons, and miss out on the real reason he came.  Did Jesus heal people of their hurts, diseases, and deliver them from devils?  Yes, he did.  However, those were just signs to prove his authority for why he really came.  The reason he came is so much more important than just physical healing or food for your stomach.  He came to give you life, life that you have never had before.  He came to deliver you out of the hands of death.

You see sin, brought death.  Not just spiritually, but physical death also.  Diseases, famine, pestilence, injustice, mental illness, and far more are all brought about by sin.  These are not brought about by God, but by our fallen condition, caused by sin.  We have never known a day without sin, since the fall of mankind in the beginning.  This is part of the reason we cannot redeem ourselves.  We do not even have an idea of what true justice, or righteousness looks like.  But God does.  He above all knows the cost that sin has had upon us, his special creation.  Therefore, Jesus came to make us his righteousness.  He was sent by the Father because someone had to die for the sin that we were trapped in.  It had to be someone who had never sinned, nor was a receiver of the curse of sin through the bloodline of Adam. 

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  This is the statement made by God through the apostle Paul. The only payment for sin is death.  That is the only reward that sin ever brings – eternal death.  But God gives eternal life through Jesus Christ.  The apostle John recorded the words of Jesus as this, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) So, let us take a moment to reflect on these two statements made by God.  Sin, of which we are all guilty of by inheritance, action, or omission is punishable by death.  There is no alternative to this debt.  Unless the debt is paid for us. 

Now, here comes the Creator.  He loves us so much, that he created us with a special purpose and in an intimate manner and remembers the intimacy we once had.  He desires to have this intimacy once again with his creation (you and me) so much that he decides to pay the death penalty for us.  He does this though sacrificing his own son, Jesus Christ. Since Jesus died in our place, anyone who believes and accepts this payment of our death debt through the death of Jesus can be saved based on that belief. Now we who believe are brought from death to life.  We are not just spared death and given a life, but we are given eternal life.

So what is eternal life? Jesus put it like this, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3) Eternal life is the restoration of the creation to the Creator.  We once again are able to walk in fellowship with God.  Remember, he is the source of life.  Life emanates from him.  Without him there is no life. We are tied into the source of life for eternity because he is eternal.  He does not change, nor die, and neither do we.  We have eternal life through Jesus Christ unto God the Father, sealed by the Holy Spirit.

What is the difference in what you believe? He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36) You see we must have a clear understanding of who Jesus is and why he came.  He came to do far more that just heal our hurts.  He came to restore our relationship to God himself.  He came to deliver us from death and from the wrath of God.  Those who reject him, or who do not believe on him, are already under the wrath of God.  Deliverance from the wrath of God comes in this way…

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That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)

Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Believe that he was sent by God the Father to redeem you.  Believe that Jesus did everything necessary to redeem you though his death, burial, and resurrection.  Believe from the heart is not a feeling, but a choice to fully believe this as the truth.  Belief on Jesus is what makes you righteous before God, and confession of this faith in Jesus Christ is what ties this belief to your acceptance of salvation.  This is because it is prof of your belief.  Not for God, but for yourself and for those who need to hear the truth.  God Saves… this is “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.  It is the story of how God loved you so much that he sent his son Jesus Christ to die for you, so that you could live with him.  God has done for you what you could not do.  He saved you from wrath, and death.  He gave you eternal life. 

A Letter for My Son – Proverbs 3:1-7

A Letter for My Son

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

A father tries his best to pass on knowledge and life skills to his son. He tries to give him all the good things that he has learned and instructs his son on the pit falls of life.  He warns him of the dangers that certain things possess. A father strives to pass on more than knowledge.  He instructs in principles for the living of a successful life.  When these principles are adhered to, they guide the listener through proper decision making when the father is no longer present to turn to. These principles of life become the everlasting wisdom of the father in the heart of his son. 

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The father also establishes clear cut rights and wrongs in actions and thinking.  These are things that must be black and white, absolute right and wrong, unbendable truths.  An example, A man should never strike a lady. Another example of such would be, A man should never take advantage of the week or elderly.  Another one from times past would be in the saying, “For God and Country”. Thus establishing the two things that a man must be loyal to.  I would add to it in this order, “For God, Family, and Country”. These are things that a man should always know are wrong and never accept any excuse to violate.  Nor should he respect or accept that any man should be allowed to violate these rules of manhood.  Therefore, these rules that the father teaches his son should never be violated by his son.  This passage of a clear line that should never be crossed is the single most important thing a father teaches a young man of integrity.  A man’s word used to be his bond, that was because fathers used to teach and model this rule of integrity.  A man who does not honor his word, has no integrity.  The end never justifies the means.  Instead, the means is what makes the end justified or not.  So we see the law and the commandment of the father.  They are principles and standards for how a good and godly man will act.  A man who can be respected by man, beast, and God.

The father’s warning is simple.  Don’t forget what I have taught you.  Then he adds one more piece of sage advice. He says, “let”- “let thine heart”.  Many men know what is right to do, and yet they do it not.  Many of men know in their heart of hearts that what they desire to do is ludicrous, and wrong; yet they do it anyway. Therefore, the wise father tells his son that it is not enough just to know what is right and wrong, but you must live it correctly.  Knowledge of right and wrong must be evidenced in you very heart.  You must allow your heart to do the right things.  It is a choice to follow good advice or to ignore it.  You can choose to live by the good principles and truthful commandments of your father or you can disregard them.  So this good father tells his son, let your hear desire to do what you now is correct.  A man should always desire to do what is good and have the backbone to abstain from what is foolish.  If he does not, then he is not a man, but a child.  For a child cannot stand on his own, as a man must. This father’s will is for his son to stand… stand for what is good and just.  He desires for his son to not walk in shame before other men, nor before his God. Then he encourages his son.

For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. The things that you have learned from me, my law and my commandments; these principles and standards of conduct, will lead to success.  They will give you a long life, you will live longer if you do not take another man’s wife, for example.  Another such example is that incurable diseases come from acts of sexual immorality.  These diseases lead to a shortened, and painful life with ruined relationships, loneliness, and anger.  Keeping your life simple and clear of ungodly desires with give you a life the is happy, healthy, and peace will follow you, all the days of your life.  They will add to the quality of your life and the life of your family.  Prosperity comes in times of peace.  We can see how this leads to prosperity.  Then he tells him about another principle for this successful life.  Something we men all too often forget.

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:  Many men are taught how to be tough.  We are taught how to stand up and to be strong, to hide our emotions and never show weakness.  We often misinterpret these teachings.  You see being strong and containing our emotions does have some benefit in lead and motivating others.  It does also instill in us an attitude to never quit doing what is right in the face of opposition.  Endurance in the faith is a godly quality.  But when we pervert it in our hears to become cold and brutal, ignoring the pleas of others, that is wrong.   Many young men today use the “respect” issue as a means to justify the using of fear and intimidation to demand respect of others. Fear is not respect.

In reality these brutish men have done nothing to deserve respect. Imposing your will on others through fear and intimidation is nothing to respect. Instead they bring shame to their families. It is the tool of the week in heart and cowardice, especially of, those who have no respect for themselves in seeking to hide their own frailties and shortcomings. A frightened adolescent who is afraid to be a real man and open his heart to the care of others. Hardheartedness is never approved of by God.  Instead, the father tells his son to always be merciful and to always seek the truth.  This is proper in judgement. 

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Someone who cannot invoke judgement and give a reward and punishment cannot show mercy.  Now you may empathize with someone and feel sorry for them.  However, you are in no position to be merciful to them.  You can plead for mercy for them to the one who can show mercy, but you cannot provide mercy.  A father can show mercy to his children.  A judge can show mercy to a criminal.  A king can show mercy to whom he governs over.  Here the father tells his son that a good man shows mercy and upholds the truth.  He holds himself accountable.  Mercy and truth should be a part of who he is as a man of integrity.

You see he says to put them about they neck and to write them on his heart.  This causes a man to examine himself and to keep himself in check.  I have a necklace that I wear every hour of every day.  It has an anchor pendant on the chain.  I wear this for a two-fold remembrance.  The first is to remind me of the calling of the gospel of Jesus Christ upon my life.  If reminds me that he said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).  The second is that it reminds me of my dad, who was seaman, and an avid fisherman. 

Now, when I look in the mirror every morning the two things, I am reminded of are the commandments of my God. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40) and the promise to be a fisher of men.  Then I am also reminded of the many things my dad had taught me about the way a man should act and feel.  You see in looking at this necklace that I put about my neck, I am reminded of proper priorities in my life. 

In putting the things into my heart, this is a purposeful consideration and a constant meditating on the things I have been taught, by God through scripture and through the law and commandments of my dad, in every situation that comes up in my day.  I am forced to examine my thoughts, and the desires of my heart when I look in the mirror and consider the teachings I have received from childhood.  Because I have chosen to let my heart accept the truth, I know in my heart what is good and godly and what is not.  By choosing to do what is good and godly I choose to live at peace with man and with God in mercy and truth.  This brings the peace.

This peace is not just from men, but in living a righteous, faithful life before God, so God and I are at peace with one another.  So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  The law and the commandments given to a son, by a God fearing father are the passing down of the keys to success and happiness in life.  They are the means of having a successful relationship with God, family, and country (men).  The advice that is passed on?  Son, always trust God.  Son, always seek the truth (God). Son, always love God.  Son, always be kind and merciful.  He says this in another way.  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.  What then is a wise man, my son?  A wise man is one who knows his limitations, understands the fear of the LORD (Jehovah), and goes in the exact opposite direction from evil and even the very appearance of it. My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 

Love Dad…

Pray, and Pray Now – John 16:26-27


At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. – John 16:26-27

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We live in a great age in the prophetic timeline. We live in the time of the Grace of God. We now have access to God in a way that the prophets of old so desired, and yet went to their graves not realizing. Moses met with God at the burning bush, had multiple conversations with God, and even went up to Mount Sinai several times to meet with God in the exodus. He saw the Lord descend from heaven in a pillar of fire and smoke. He even had a glimpse of God as he passed by Moses.


Abraham saw the angels of God and even the Son of God, talked with God, and was even called God’s friend. However, neither of these were allowed into the holy of holies. Neither of these had God indwell them with his Holy Spirit.


Even John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets who was on the cusp of the dispensation of the Gospel of Peace and the sending of the Holy Spirit did not have access to the Father as we do today.


We have intimate access to God that was previously not know. Even when Jesus told his disciples these words, “until now you have asked nothing in my name”. But now in that day, in this day we can ask in his name. We have a guaranteed audience and have been given access to the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. No other religion in the world can make that claim, only Christianity. Therefore, we can ask in his name.

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We are to ask and to continue to ask. Paul says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And so in this day we are to pray in his name and to pray continuously in his name. We must understand that we have full access and permission to approach God the Father in the name and authorization of Jesus Christ. For Jesus said, “I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you”. No instead he tells us that I do not need to go to the Father on your behalf, because the Father himself loves you and desires to hear from you directly. The Father loves us because we love his son and obey him. The Father knows that we love his son because we obey him. (John 14:23; John 15:16; 1 John 3:21-22; Philippians 2:11)


The Father testifies of the son on more than one occasion saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) Because we have loved his Son the Father loves us. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). He knows that we love him because we listen to him, and we keep his commandments. (John 14:15)
But as we read what Jesus said in our text, that the Father loves us “because ye have love me (Jesus), AND have believed that I came out from God.” So then loving Jesus unto obedience is necessary, but also the believing that he is the Son of God, and that he is from God. Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me…” (John 6:39).


What then is the will of him (God the Father) that sent him (Jesus the Son of God)?
• That all that the Father gives him should not be lost, not one
• That all that Father gives him should be raised up on the last day
• That all that see and believe on him (Jesus Christ) should have everlasting life
• That all that see and believe on him (Jesus Christ) should be raised up also on the last day


Therefore we can come before the Father with boldness to lay our petition before him. To pray and to seek and to find. For he says in our text that all we need to is ask. Ask for it. Ask for what it is that you desire of a sincere and concrete heart. In other places he tell us to seek, and to seek earnestly. So then we are to seek in earnest fervent prayer. For James, the half-brother of Jesus tells us that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16) In east-Texas we would say that man’s words “hold water”. There is weight in the fervent prayer of a righteous man. It is because of who he is, who he knows, and what they mean to one another. Trusting in someone’s words means to trust that someone. John the one whom Jesus loves, said, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15) It is with great relief that Jesus tells us in our text that all we need do is to ask.

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In the time of the Temple period only the High Priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies. The High Priest had to go through quit a lengthy ritual to enter into the Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwelt. To fail at any point in the preparations could lead to his death. Now we have free access to God. We can enter his gates with full joy knowing that we need not fear death. We do not have to worry if we have been properly cleansed, because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has taken care of all the requirements and removed all uncleanliness from us. We do not have to earn the right, pay a fee, or even plead for the audience. We only have to come and ask. Simply ask. We must never fail to ask. To ask should be our first act.

If one has never asked God for anything, then they must be an unbelieving, unregenerate soul. For if we truly believe that we can have anything we need to please the living God and to be of service to him, to receive the rewards he gives to those who ask, then surely we would ask. It is true that if you do not believe, you will not ask.


Therefore,
• If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God (James 1:5)
• If any lack in our health, let him ask
• If any lack in our homes, let him ask
• If any lack in a sound mind, let him ask
• If any lack in matters of the spirit, let him ask
For we know this, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask of him?” (Luke 11:13). We do not need a formal set of words. We only need to ask. Just as we would to anyone in whom we trust.


We do not need to worry about how accurate our word order is, or how proper our speech. There is no special formula. There is only the sincere desire of the need from a pure and upright heart. Not a seeking of evil, but because of a great care for goodliness and the desire in righteousness. For how can we ask in his name and pour out a selfish desire? Lord, please listen to me for his sake (Jesus).


When I was a young man, I went over to help my dad with a plumbing issue that he had. I did not have the right tools and could not afford the tools needed to complete the task. My dad sent me to the local hardware store. He told me that I should go see the owner and explain what tools and material were needed and who they were for. Then once all the items were totaled up the owner told me all I had to do was to sign on the receipt. I told him I did not have the money for the items, he told me it was ok, because I asked for them in my father’s name, and he trusted my father’s name. He knew that my father’s name was honorable and that he would take care of the bill. I left the hardware store with everything I needed to complete the repairs because I had asked in my father’s name.


You see Jesus says, use my name when speaking to the Father. For Jesus also said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) We are allowed to use that honor in speaking to the Father. The honor associated with the name of the only begotten Son who the Father is well pleased in. Therefore, this should be our governance, if Christ would not pray for it then I should not either. If our desire should conflict with the desire of the Father then we should decline our will to his. Who would dare bring shame upon another’s name by asking inappropriately for something that would be out of character for the one of who’s name they are asking in?


Surely if I would have gone into that hardware store and asked for an excess of materials, or for items that were not warranted for me to use for the job I was sent for, then he owner of the store would have been wise and denied my requests. In addition, any other time I approached and used my dad’s name, then he would have had suspicions against my motives. Eventually, he would not let anyone receive goods on my dad’s name. I would have ruined the reputation of my dad’s name. Shamefully many Christians have already ruined their witness for Christ, by abusing his name. We therefore should not, cannot defile the precious name of Jesus with such a request.


What then is the “day”? For Jesus does say, “At that day ye shall ask in my name…”. It is the day in which he has returned to the Father. It is the day in which the Comforter has been sent unto us. In reading the preceding chapter we see that this in all in the context of persecution. In that day, when persecutions arise, you will ask of the Father in my name. One thing is guaranteed that when persecutions arise so does the voices of the children of God.


Was not Gideon found hidden in the winepress while threshing his wheat in order that the Midianites might not discover him? Did not Israel turn to the Lord and cry to him for deliverance because of the persecution of the Midianites? Did the Lord then answer, and give Gideon all that was needed to deliver Israel from the Midianites, and return the prosperity of the land? Undeservedly, they asked. The Lord was gracious in his deliverance. Why? Because he loved them and desired to do good things for them.


The Lord God desires to do good for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Ephesians 2:8-10 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Psalms 37:4 – Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.


If you are in persecution for Christ, then you shall ask in his name, and it shall be done unto you. When they beat upon for your testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pray, and ask. The Holy Spirit will equip you in your time of need. For the scripture reads, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Matthew 10: 19-20)


We pray not only in persecution, but also in deliverance and in the days of plenty. We then give thanks and ask for the continued blessings of God. We ask for wisdom to remain obedient and to never become slack in our praises. Ask and he will give you, because he loves you, and desires good things for you. Pray therefor for your real need. The hunger and desire to the believing is to be in his presence. Does not he say, in that day YOU WILL ASK?


You will ask because it will be your God given desire to pray. The Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance all things that we have been taught concerning the Lord. It is the Holy Spirit who prays for us and who teaches us to pray. So in our time of Joy we ask, and in our time of trial we ask. In the suffering of those we love, we ask. We ask in his name. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) For the labor of which we must set upon is intensive. We have not yet entered into his rest, for those who have entered into rest, labor no more. We instead look to him and pray in his name, our high priest unto God the Father, knowing that he has provisioned for us access to the grace of God. We can labor then and not faith, because we can pray, and ask what we will, for his will. We can pray, and pray without ceasing. For in that day, this day, we can ask what we will of the Father in Jesus’ name and the Father will give to us, because of the love for us and the honor to the Son. The Father is honored that the Son has been obedient and glorified the Father with his children. Every good Father loves his children. Pray, and pray now.

Martyrs of Nigeria

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116.15)

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I read today from, The Christian Post, about Reverend Silas Ali of Evangelical Church of Winning All, and how he was brutally murdered. This church is located in Kaduna State, Nigeria.  Their pastor’s remains were found after a search was made when he had come up missing.  The police speculate that he was attacked around Kibori, near Asha-Awuce, where his body was found.  He had been mercilessly hacked to death by machetes.  While the assailant(s) are unknow, there is a pattern of Christians being killed Nigeria without any signs of relief. 

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law repots that thousands of Christians have been killed in Nigeria.  They report that at minimum of 3,462 Christians have been killed in just 300 days.  They have been killed by Islamic extremists, and the government appears to be helpless to deter the genocide. [1]

We need to pray for Nigeria and for our Christian brother and sisters that are in harms way.  We need to pray for their strengthening and faithfulness.  As the apostle Paul says, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, … that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love…” (Ephesians 3)

We need to pray for the conversion of the souls of the Islamic extremists.  We need to pray that the Lord will open their eyes to the truth.  The truth that Jesus is the Son of God.  We need to pray that their hearts will be made ready for the planting of the seed and that they will receive watering of the seed of the Word, and that this will flourish into a white field ripened for harvest.  For we do not war against the individuals who commit such atrocities, but rather the spiritual principalities who have blinded the unfortunate followers of radical Islam.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

We must also encourage one another in this life and remind one another that we serve a God of the living, not the dead.  For the psalmist says, “For though hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from failing.   I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:8-9).  Who is this God?  Why he is the Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified and was buried, and then triumphantly defeated death, by raising himself from the grave.  It was he who left us no doubt when he said, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32) 

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What then do we have to fear of men?  Though they kill the body, they cannot kill the soul.  For the soul lives on.  Those who love the Lord and die for him are greatly loved.  The Lord spoke to us in the psalmist and let us know, “precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”  What a labor of love it is towards the Lord God to lay down one’s own life for his sake.  The LORD loves and rewards those who are faithful unto death.  These extremists who think that they do God a favor by killing his children have only joined together the Father with his loved ones and have heaped coal upon their souls.  We should pray for their salvation, because they act in ignorance.  They have been deceived into thinking they are doing a favor for God and gained his approval.  Instead, they have gained his wrath to be poured out upon them, in everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire which was made for the Devil and his angels.  Much like Paul who was deceived by the foolish teachings of his own religion and persecuted the children of God, these men have gone astray.  However, like Paul, they can be made to see the error of their way, through the Lord Jesus Christ.  They can be given the opportunity to see, and hear, and to repent and turn to the God who loves them. We pray therefore that they will see the truth in Jesus Christ and come to repentance, and then reproduce disciples who love the Lord Jesus Christ. 

References

Kumar, A. (2021, September 13). Migerian Pastor Macheted to death; body foung by search party. Retrieved from The Christian Post: https://www.christianpost.com/


[1] (Kumar, 2021)

Overcome Because Greater is He – 1 John 4:2-4

Is the Spirit of the Antichrist in Turkey?

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:2-4)

In the early church the spirit of the antichrist was very evident in Rome. Emperor Nero systematically rounded up Christians and put them to death in very grotesque and very public executions. The Christians were shunned and marginalized in Roman society because their beliefs did not fit in with mainstream Roman culture.  This identity given to Christians as being less of a person and a person to be ridiculed made it easy for them to become the emperor’s scapegoat.  The dehumanization of the Christians in Rome made it easier for the Roman citizens to accept and participate in these horrible acts committed against their own brothers and sisters of Rome.

You see in the summer of AD 64 approximately three quarters of the city of Rome had burned.  The prevailing suspicion was that Nero himself had ordered the arson in for his own amusement, or for his plans of revitalizing Rome, buy getting rid of the slums of Rome.  Either way, the citizenry was up in arms, and Nero needed to deflect the attention from himself.  He therefor pointed the finger to the Christians.  After all they were the ones who claimed that Rome was wrong in its Idolatry, sexual immorality, and in many other ways they just didn’t fit in with aspects the liberal Roman society.  Public announcements were made.  Christians were the enemy of the state.  Historian Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 BC) wrote in The Annals concerning the Great Fire of Rome.

44.2. Yet no human effort, no princely largess nor offerings to the gods could make that infamous rumor disappear that Nero had somehow ordered the fire. Therefore, in order to abolish that rumor, Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians, who were infamous for their abominations.

44.3. The originator of the name, Christ, was executed as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius; and though repressed, this destructive superstition erupted again, not only through Judea, which was the origin of this evil, but also through the city of Rome, to which all that is horrible and shameful floods together and is celebrated.

44.4. Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race. And perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps.

44.5. Nero gave his own gardens for this spectacle and performed a Circus game, in the habit of a charioteer mixing with the plebs or driving about the race-course. Even though they were clearly guilty and merited being made the most recent example of the consequences of crime, people began to pity these sufferers, because they were consumed not for the public good but on account of the fierceness of one man. (Westmont.edu, n.d.) (Clayton, 1947)

Christians in the Roman Empire were ostracized from society by:

They were accused of atheism because they did not accept emperor worship, nor polytheism.

The were generally form the poorer sections of society

Christianity was put on the list of illicit sects a little after 50 AD

Christianity was declared illegal in 64 AD

They were accused of secret immoral worship ceremonies that included cannibalism, incest, and bestiality

They were considered social radicals because their beliefs were at odds with acceptable Roman practices and indulgences

This edict of Emperor Nero started 120 years of open, socially acceptable, state sponsored terrorism on Christians.  This would include the martyr of many Christians.  Some estimate the number of Christians martyred to be up to 2 million.  This would also include the martyrdom of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Just as Rome made a step-by-step approach to the eventual attempted genocide of Christians for political purposes, in the past; we see modern day Turkey using the Christians as a means of attempting to reestablish the Caliphate. In a purposeful process Turkish Christians are being used as a scapegoat for failed governmental policies and actions.  “Turkey’s Christians are becoming a welcome scapegoat for Ankara. Erdogan has miscalculated on various fronts in Syria and Libya and is now looking for someone to serve as a distraction.” (DW, 2020)

Turkey is in the process of becoming a Sunni Muslim state. As a part of this state sponsored movement and its anti-Christian theology Turkey has refused the readmittance of protestant ministers into the country.  Posted anti-Christians slogans on billboards, and bus stops and recently mandated that all Christians leave Turkey in 10 days.   This mandate includes American or other nationalities that are married to Turkish citizens, even if they have children. This divides families and even mother’s and nursing babies. The Hagia Sophia (God’s Holy Wisdom) is a Christian church that once served as the center for Orthodox Christianity, and is also designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site has been converted to a Mosque and the ancient mosaics inside are now in danger of being lost forever.  This makes the 3rd Byzantine era Christian church to be recently converted to a mosque. This is part of a larger step that Islamic leaders see in reestablishing the caliphate that includes the overtaking of Athens, Greece and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

This is the spirit of the antichrist.  It is spread all across the globe.  Even in America we see that recently a nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska was persecuted by Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Kamala Harris, D-California whose questioning reasoned that a Christian could not hold a public office.  Fox news reported that on campuses throughout the United States, Christians are openly ridiculed with hate speech and false accusations by academics, social groups, and organizations. (Ingle, 2019) 

Christians are being accused of being insensitive, hypocrites during the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues with church closures, preaching of condemnation from sin, judgement from God and other twisting of Christian values and ethics.  Christians who meet in in-person services are blamed in the media for the furtherance of the spread of the Corona Virus. Christians in America have been marginalized as church services and ministry positions have been deemed unnecessary and non-essential.  Church member have been fined and pastors arrested for acting within their 1st amendment rights. The 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridg-ing the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (Constitution Cente)  No law is supposed to be made to prohibit the free exercise of religion, curtailing the freedom of speech, or the right of peaceable assembly.  Moreover, it is the right of the people to request the government to account for overreach of authority.   But these things are to come.  We know this because we were told of these things by Jesus Christ himself.  Jesus said in this world we would have tribulation.

We can read in the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus warns us.  We will be delivered up to be afflicted, and killed.  We will be hated by all nations.  Many will be offended by us, and by him (Jesus).  We expect these things.  Many of the old Baptist preachers used to preach on a regular basis of the suffering of the saints and the expected persecutions that we will endure.  They used to tell us how we should look forward to pains of self-sacrifice for Christ.  Peter and some of the other Apostle when imprisoned and beaten rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ. (Acts 15: 40-41) Paul himself recounts how he multiple times he was spat on, beaten, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked and endured many more sufferings for the cause of Christ over decades of service.

Today we have gotten to far away from that.  We have dropped our spiritual guards as it were.  Our eyes have stopped looking to God.  Our lips do not open for our afflicted brethren.  Instead we pray for a new car, or a new house.  Maybe we pray for God to let our favorite team to win the game.  How superficial are our prayers? Our knees fail to bend to the Lord God.  We no longer seek the will of God in our lives, but our will in Gods. We have lost our salt.  Instead of being a good and faithful servant who wisely invests the resources and time of his master, we have become selfish, and lazy.  We seek our own comfort over the mission to which we have all been appointed to by Jesus Christ. We are to be his ambassadors and to speak of his name at every opportunity, boldly declaring his mercy.  We know the signs.  We know that the time of salvation is now. We know that as it draws closer to the end of the age, that persecutions will get worse. I wish to encourage you though.

The Lord God is over all of creation.  He is infinite.  That means that he is totally self-existing.  He has no beginning.  There is no point in which he did not exist. Because of this, he has no ending.  There will never be a point in which he does not exist.  He is before all things and holds all things together (Colossians 1:17) God is immutable.  That means that he never changes.  Since God never changes that means that who he is never changes.  His love never changes. His righteousness never changes.  His WORD never changes.  He simply IS who he IS.  He himself said, “I the LORD do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)  Because God never changes, he is ever faithful. So when scripture says that the mercies of the Lord endures for ever; that is what He does. (Psalm 16:1; Psalm 136)

He remembers our lowly estate.  He remembers that we are created by him.  He remembers that we are broken because of sin.  He remembers that we are not as faithful as he is.  He remembers that we have limitations to our endurance.  He remembers that way to often we are weak and self-centered.  Yet his mercy endures.  He commands his love towards us.  That means despite it all, he chooses to love us each day, each moment. It is his grace that is sufficient for us; not our own working.  His love does not depend of who we are, but who he is.  He gives us of himself.  He gives us victory over the world and over the antichrist.  God told us through the writings of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:18, “I will be a father to you, and you shall be the sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”  John says, “See what king of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)  This special honor is for those who believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as savior and as Lord. (John 1:12) By this truth we have already overcome the world and the antichrist. 

We have already been delivered from death to life. Because of this we do not need to fear the antichrist nor the world.  They can only kill the body, not the spirit.  This body must be shed because it is corrupted.  We know that if you put a rotten apple in a barrel with good apples, in short order the good apples will rot. So it is the same with the kingdom of Heaven.  Corruption cannot enter in.  So we must be removed of this rotten body and be given a new one.  This happens in the resurrection.  Since Jesus was raised from the dead, we know that we also will be risen from the dead, because scripture says that we will be like him.  This is our hope in the future.  But it is not our only source of joy.

We must remember that the Lord is ever present, and that he is always by our side.  He is not estranged from our afflictions, nor unaware of the presence of our enemies; for our enemies are his enemies.  In fact, they are our enemies because we are his.   So, it is not that he assumes our enemies for us.  Instead, his enemies assume us as enemies.  That means that he is obligated to respond on our behalf. This brings us to an awesome point in scripture, “For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4) Even more we know that we are overcomers because all temptation is common to mankind.  There is no new temptation of trial that a man has not ever endured before.  God will not leave you to be tempted beyond what your capable of handling; instead, he provides a way to escape it.  This gives us another advantage in enduring. (Philippians 1:29) 

Here is a secret.  You who are believers in the death, burial, and resurrection already have everything you need to have this victory.  Read what John wrote, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:1-4)  Paul again tells us in Romans 8:1, “Thee is therefor now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  Faith in Jesus is our secret to eternal life.  Faith in Jesus is our secret to overcoming the world.  Faith in Jesus is our secret to enduring trial, tribulations, and persecutions.

We can see that (1) Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ (Son of God) is come in the flesh is from God. (2) Those spirits who do not confess Jesus Christ (Son of God) are from the Antichrist, not God.  This includes Muslims, Hindus, Atheist, Gnostics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and more. (3) We were for warned that this evil spirit would come and that it was actually already here.  This would probably be better to understand is we said that the spirit of the antichrist is already here and will continue to be here, gaining influence and power.  (4) We are the children of God – see point one. (5) Because we are the children of God we have already received victory through our faith in Jesus – see point one.  (6) The Spirit who resides in us is bigger, stronger, and of more authority and might then the spirit that is in the world (spirit of the antichrist-see point two).   

Now that we have nothing to fear in life or death we are free to truly live for Christ.  We can love others because we have been loved of God.  We can forgive others because we have been forgiven by God.  We do not need to fear sickness, or death because God has already given us eternal life.  We do not need to worry about earning it, or losing it, because it was a gift by a self-sufficient God who needs absolutely nothing from us.  We can turn our attention to our suffering brothers and sister.  We can get involved in the nitty gritty of standing up for them. 

Our duty is to seek the Lord on their behalf.  We are to send them relief.  We are to provide them the resources that they need to endure. They need food, water, clothes, bibles, financial and legal support. These are things we can do.  These are totally biblical things we can do. How can we say that we love them and not assist them? Paul went on a circuit from gentile church to gentile church bringing money and other resourced gather from the route back to the persecuted church at Jerusalem.  This was not a church tax, it was a benevolence given to the saints in Jerusalem that would have starved without it.  Many of the Mediterranean churches members gave sacrificially to this relief effort. 

We can get involved with the political and legal processes available to us, especially here in the United States.  Paul himself used his Roman citizenship, his Jewish standing, and his legal wit to advance the gospel and to curtail the efforts of the overreach of local authorities and even governors and kings.   We have the right to exercise our votes in the House of Representative, and the Senate at state and federal levels.  We need to get involved and ask candidates for the President of the United States, Governor, and even the Mayors office how they will represent us as Christians.  We need to know where they stand on abortion, or on sexually immoral practices, the role of the judge and their view of the division of powers in the Constitutions of our States and the United States of America.  We need to know how their policies on policing, foreign aid, and humanitarian relief for Christians throughout the world. 

We also must not forget that this battle is a spiritual one.  So we must be educated on the Word of God in order to know the will of God.  The will on God is not a feeling, or a dream of vision that came to us in the middle of our routine eyelid maintenance.  The will of God is that none should perish, but that all should have everlasting life.  We must be active in evangelism, the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the education of the disciple.  We must pray without ceasing.  By that I mean real heartfelt prayer for believers, leaders of government, missionaries, pastors, deacons, and more. 

Bend you knees, lay prostrate before the God who is above all.  Plead with your heart for this and the other nations of the world.  Pray for those who are now locked up in cells for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Pray for the conversion of those who oppress our brothers and sisters.  Have joy knowing that you are an overcomer.  Have joy that the God who created the universe hears your prayers and listens intently to the sorrows of your heart.  He has an open ear for your prayers because you love his Son, Jesus Christ.  He can hear you because of your faith.  Your faith in Jesus had accounted you as a righteous believer.  He hears you.  You are victorious.

Bibliography

Clayton, F. W. (1947). Tacitus and Nero’s Persecution of the Christians. Classical Quarterly, 41, 81-85. Retrieved 7 16, 2020, from http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_s0009838800026082

Constitution Cente. (n.d.). The Constitution of the United States . Retrieved from constitutioncenter.org: https://constitutioncenter.org/media/files/constitution.pdf

DW. (2020, June 23). Opinion: Christians a Welcome Scapegoat in Turkey. Retrieved from DW.COM: https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-christians-a-welcome-scapegoat-in-turkey/a-53918937

Ingle, D. K. (2019, February 27). Opinin: Christian Persecution not just happening overseas — many in us targeted for their faith too. Retrieved from Fox News: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/christian-persecution-not-just-happening-overseas-many-in-us-targeted-for-their-faith-too

Westmont.edu. (n.d.). Tacitus and Piney On the Early Christians . Retrieved from Westmount.edu: https://www.westmont.edu/~fisk/articles/TacitusAndPlinyOnTheEarlyChristians.html

An Encouragement from Psalm 135:6-7

Founders of The Way of Christ Ministry

In Psalm 135:6-7 it reads, “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries. “


What a great display of the power and majesty of God. He is over all creation, because he is the creator. He orchestrated all of these things from the very foundation of the universe. He has the power to control the rivers, seas, air, and the earth. He controls the comet, gives light to the stars, and does all kinds of marvelous things that we cannot see with our eyes. Yet in Matthew 10:29-30 it tells us that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father knowing.
He knows us so well that he has numbered the very hairs on our heads.

Colossians 1:17 says, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” He created and sustains all things, living or dead. This same God who created everything, sustains everything, and numbered the hairs on you head, cares for you also. I echo what he told us in John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me (Jesus).” He loves and cares for you. I speak to you who believe on Jesus Christ for encouragement. Some of us are literally going through a storm right now. God is there. Some are dealing with a loss pf income, job, finances, food, a loved one; God is there. Some are dealing with disease, fears and anxieties, even thoughts of suicide or of harming yourselves; God is there. Where ever your dark place is right now, or what ever you are struggling with, Jesus Christ is there with you.


“Let us arise, and go up to Bethel (the house of God); and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.” (Genesis 35:3) Isn’t this awesome to know that we can go to the house of the LORD and plea before his alter and know that he will listen, and answer us? In our day of distress we can bring ourselves to his altar and just lay it all out there, and trust in him to handle what we cannot. Something more important for us to understand. His deliverance may not be what you think. Here we see God is praised because he walked through the difficulties with Jacob. God led Jacob through his distresses. Even when Jacob was not obeying God, God still sought to guide Jacob, and to give him counsel.


The previous verse says, “Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments.” (Genesis 35:2) Jacob knew that in order for God to be able to fully bless us, he and everyone in his house and who traveled with him would have to stop chasing other Gods and lean only on the one true God. Let us take the same example, stop pursuing other Gods. Submit to the ONE GOD the Father, through Jesus Christ. Since I am talking to Christians, then you have already professed that he is the LORD. So let us observe him and respect him as our loving LORD who cares for us. Let us trust him. Let us bring our concerns to him and offer ourselves as a clean sacrifice, and accept his will for us. Let us, let him walk with us through the trials, this is our deliverance! Let us rejoice in this time where the God of creation is so near to us, taking our hand, and leading us. Let us be in observance of his love and guidance. We are not alone. We are being held by the creator and sustainer of the universe. Amen

The Message, Not the Messenger

The Message Not the Messenger: Acts 26:16-18

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We often feel we are inadequate or lack enough training or knowledge to share the gospel.  Some of us think we don’t have the ability to be a great orator. We get tongue tied, or speak to softly, or stutter. Some of us are held back from the shame of our past. We wonder how could we ever confront someone on what is right or wrong with the things we have done in our past?  Maybe its that we are not the right color, or the right age, or that we are just a new Christian. Insecurities creep in from every direction.  Our insecurities help is to make millions of excuses why “someone else” should tell people about Jesus and not us.

We compare ourselves to Billy Graham, or some other big named evangelist and tell ourselves that I could never be that useful to God.  We may even compare ourselves to the Apostles and say man, I wish I could be like Luke and write amazing things about Jesus and the church.  We may tell ourselves, I could never be like Paul and plant churches everywhere I go.  To often we look at our own limitations and not what God can do; if we were to just be obedient.

Peter was just an average guy  when he was called by Jesus.  He was a fisherman who made a living by the sweat of his brow and the sores on his hands. Peter denied Christ when he needed him most.  Peter was a man of shame. He had to overcome this in love of Jesus Christ. Paul murdered Christians and suffered beatings, sicknesses, and ridicule.  Paul had to be encouraged in his ministry by other believers, and even had to have a personal physician.  Paul had to overcome all of this in the love of Jesus Christ.  Both men, and even Luke had their failings from the past to look beyond.  They had to keep looking forward to the day of redemption, and to be faithful to the commandment from Jesus that they had received.  The commandment to go and tell.  We however continue to look at our failures and let them assure us that we are unworthy to carry such a message.

The truth is, we are unworthy to carry such a message.  However; we are also uniquely qualified to carry the message of hope.  We to must overcome our past by the love of Jesus Christ. You see we did not earn the privilege to speak on his name.  We received a task that is a privilege to perform for him.  We know our dreadful past with all of the horrific things we have done against God and others.  But we are not the only ones who know.  Those who God sends us to, they know it also.  Our friends and family, wives, siblings, children, parents, they all know who we used to be.  More importantly, we know who we used to be. But we have something to share with them.

What we share with them is hope.  We share with them Jesus and a new life that is free from the past.  We show them by our lives that they do not have to be the same way they are.  There is a way to live without shame, addiction and rejection.  None of us started out the way we ended up.  We all wanted to be something better than what we became.  We show them how Jesus can make us free to live life in a better way than we ever dreamed.  We can have redemption, hope, joy, and love!  We can be loved!  We can love others too! The gospel of Jesus Christ is that and so much more.  But, we hide this important message from them because of our insecurities.  We forget that it is not us, but the Spirit of the Living God who resides in us that gives us the ability to bear witness of the things he has done for us, for them.

We don’t see that before Billy Graham was a world renowned evangelist and clergy to the Office of the President of the United States, he was just another guy.  He gave his life to Christ at the age of 16.  He was a farmer’s son.  His first ministry was to lead prayer meetings in a trailer park.  He applied to be an Army Chaplain and was denied do to a lack of formal experience.  He then became a Pastor of a small Baptist church.  He began to host a weekly radio program.  Billy Graham looked for opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Eventually he became the first full time organizer of Youth for Christ.  This is what God used to open doors all across the world for many generations.  Billy Graham was of humble beginnings, without experience, and largely unlearned, and often felt inadequate to speak the gospel of Jesus Christ. But he was obedient.  It is God who made Billy Graham, Paul, Peter, Luke, and all the other historic men and women of God who they are today.

In Acts 26 we get a look at Paul, or Saul at this time.  It is strange, but; when we consider who would have been the first martyrs of the church we would assume that it would be one of the twelve apostles.  You know the guys who were right there, and saw it all go down.  I could see Peter volunteering himself to go first.  After all, he did tell Jesus that he would go with him unto death!  However; this is not the case.  Instead, the first martyr recorded was a young man.  This youth was named Stephen.  Stephen was one of the deacons of the church.  He tended to the widows, orphans, and other needs of the church and it’s members.  Like other early followers, he was not restricted to just administrative tasks, but was active in spreading the gospel himself.  This is something that we should all learn.  Even though he was a deacon, he understood that his work for the gospel of Jesus did not end there.  He didn’t say, “I’m a deacon, not a preacher”.  In fact, if you study the book of acts you will see that all of the first deacons were also preachers, and evangelists.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what seminary or special training that Stephen went though, or how powerful of a speaker he was.  It does not tell us that Stephen was anything exceptional.  With the exception of this, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” (Acts 6:8)  Stephen was full of faith!  That is it.  Because Stephen was full of faith, God did great wonders and miracles through Stephen.  So this humble young man who believed enough to share his faith soon got into trouble with the local religious groups.

Stephen was brought up on charges of blasphemy for proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  Stephen was stoned to death for his testimony of Jesus.  Now a man named Saul, was one of those present and took pleasure at the stoning of Stephen.  This Saul, would become known as Paul, the same one who would latter change the world with the doctrine of salvation by grace, hated believers in Jesus Christ.  Saul even went further and received authorization to persecute Christians throughout the Providences of Asia.  This meant he had permission to go from town to town and arrest, beat, and stone to death anyone who he witnessed or was witnessed to him, as a Christian.

Paul himself testifies of his own evil deeds that he did.  He tells King Agrippa that he threw many “followers of the way” (Christians) into prison and saw to it that they were executed. Paul himself would testify against them in courts. He said that he often punished them in the synagogues.  He would back them into a corner with his knowledge of scripture and his intellect and force them to commit blasphemy in front of the Pharisees so that they would be stoned to death. When the persecuted fled Jerusalem, then Paul proceeded to hunt them down throughout Asia.  Now, I ask you.  What have you done that is shameful?  What has disqualified you from sharing the gospel?  How many innocent lives have you taken?  How many followers of Jesus Christ have you condemned to death?

OK, so this Saul was on a hunting trip to catch more followers of the Way. Then while Paul is riding along and anticipating his trophies to be won, suddenly, he runs right smack dab into Jesus.  Jesus blinds Saul with his glory and then confronts him on his sin.  Saul, like you and I, repented.  Saul saw the error of his ways, his foolish pride and arrogance, his sins against God himself.  His errors in the past swept before his heart and his mind’s eye.  Saul was immediately sorrowful and his shame was displayed before him.  He suddenly understood how shameful he was.  He was not the righteous soldier of God he had imagined in his vanity.  Instead he was a murderer of the ones that truly loved God.  Saul had worked his whole life and studied hard to be pleasing to God, and yet he had not seen the light.  He was lost, more than any other man. He also knew that his actions, above of all other men’s, could not be forgiven.  The pride that had blinded him, was now gone.  Saul was broken.

Then something happened.  Jesus forgave Paul.  He forgave him of everything, with nothing left out to hold over his life.  Just like Jesus forgave you and I.  But that would not be the only thing that Jesus did for Saul.  Jesus sent Saul on mission. Acts 26:16-18 tells of about this, “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Paul was to rise to his feet, but to never think to highly of himself again.  Paul’s humility would be the strength that God would use to spread his gospel of grace by faith.  Jesus told Paul, “rise and stand upon thy feet.”  Jesus told him to stand up, I have a job for you.  Jesus confronted Paul of his sin.  Once Paul confessed and repented, Jesus stood him up and gave him purpose.  The Lord gave Paul a new life and a new purpose, in and for Jesus Christ.  Now that Paul had been delivered, he was not to return to his old life.  Paul would no long serve his own purposes.  Paul, now that he was redeemed was now a servant of the Lord who had redeemed him.

Paul’s new purpose was to go where the Lord directed and “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

How did Paul start out this mission?  He was humble.  He was blind.  He was dependent upon those around him.  He was led about by the hand. He had to wait on the Lord.  When Paul first started preaching, no one listened to him.  His past immediately came up, and people did not trust him.  They didn’t believe in his conversion.  Then when they did start listening they tried to kill him.  Does this sound familiar?  When you first believed in Christ, were you not treated in such a way?  Did friends and family disbelieve the sincerity of your conversion?  Did they say things like, “Awe you just on a Jesus kick!” Afterward, they would then grow tired of you talking about Jesus and even begin to be confrontational, or avoiding you.  See these same things you go through, even the great Apostle Paul went through.  All of these feelings of inadequacy.  Things that encourage you to just crawl in a hole and not mention the name of the one who redeemed you.  They are real things the enemy uses to silence us.

See we are all the same.  We are all just servants, none of us is better or more important than the other. We all need to be obedient and follow the calling of Christ.  This mission that Jesus gave Saul, it the same one he gave the other disciples.  It is the same one he gives us as new disciples.  This is part of our inheritance.  We have the great privilege to speak life to people in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ.  Let us then do like Saul, who became known as Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Let us get up and put our old lives behind us.  Live the life and purpose that Jesus has now given to us.  Go on mission to tell others about what God has done for you.  How he has delivered YOU from death and shame into love and life in Jesus Christ.  Have we forgotten that the Lord told the Pharisees, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”   We are who the Lord chose to reveal himself to; those who are sick, and feeble, those who are in need.  He did not come to call the religious, but those who are lost and need redemption.  He did not call the perfect, but those who are broken and distraught.  Those who need him are the ones he came to deliver.

We who have believed have now been made anew.  Like a new garment that is clean and nicely pressed we have a new life.  The Spirit of God has come to indwell this new wineskin, not the old. Jesus had laid his hands upon us and healed us from our infirmities.  Jesus removed the shackles of death and the bondage of sin (addictions) that once crippled us.  He has raised us up to be glorified in him, to him, and for him.  We like Saul have been redeemed, bought, for his purposes.  It is by faith that we have been made whole.  Faith that God exists. Faith that Jesus if the Son of God.  Faith that Jesus dies and was buried for our sin.  Faith that we will be resurrected just as he resurrected.  Faith that he will return to establish his kingdom here on earth and destroy his enemies. Faith that we are delivered to eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This is our hope in this life.  We have this newness of life in Christ.  Death died with the old man we used to be.  Now we have a new life in Jesus Christ.  This new life is free from sin, shame, and death.  We have nothing to fear in this life and can then love as Christ has love us.  There is nothing that anyone can hold against this new creature in Christ that we have become.  Paul told Timothy, “let no man despise they youth”. Let no man despise you’re youth, in age or spiritual maturity, for many elders in the church have gone to sleep spiritually.

So again let us, open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among we which are sanctified by faith that is in us concerning Jesus Christ.

Brief Look at KJV, NIV, NASB, and New World Bible: Sampling of Scriptures

Brief Look at KJV, NIV, NASB, and New World Bible: Sampling of Scriptures

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OK, I had some great comments from the last time I showed you some bible verse comparisons between the KJV and others. I have one or two more here that compare the KJV to NIV, NASB, and the New World Bible.  Now I will tell you ahead of time that there has been a constant effort in those who wish to establish a one world religion to remove strong language in the Bible,  change our vocabulary, and alter our doctrines in order to make it easier for professing Christians to be more tolerant of other pagan beliefs and other religious practices.  The effort is to join east to west and lay the foundation of this New World Order that we know will be eventually ruled by the Antichrist.

“Certain words have gathered theological significance through the years and to change them might be to change doctrine… Do the changes in meanings come from new evidence or simply NEW THEOLOGY.” (Foster)

If subtle changes were then made to the meaning of a word, we could change the word without offending anyone, or we could also choose to use the word and correct the previous meaning.  If we say used the word “Christ” then the Christian would assume that we are speaking of Jesus Christ.  Then we could use the term Christ as we saw fit.  So Christ could actually mean “the One”.  At the surface this does not seem like a bad thing, and we could reach a commonality in the term Christ and, the One.  On the surface this seems totally acceptable.  If anyone argued, we could accuse them of being a hater or an extremist and ostracize them from the norm of society.

On a deeper look we can see in new versions of the bible that where the KJV refers to He (God the Father), or the Holy One the newer versions simply say “The One”.  This is the same term used by Universalist and Luciferians to refer to the unknown power that binds the universe, and is seen as a part of the universe.  In the New World religion, you will become “one” with the power of the universe when you leave this earth, you trade your mortality for immortality, no sin to worry about. No punishment from God, because we are all a part of “The One” energy of the universe. Thus God cannot judge anyone.  He accepts us all, no repentance is needed. This is a lie from Satan, and it is leading billions to damnation and the lake of fire.

In the meantime, the One Word Religion has separated the name of Jesus from the identity of the Christ or Messiah.  One step removed.  Then someone can easily say that they believe in Jesus.  But this does not mean that one believes in Jesus as the Son of God, or the Messiah who was prophesied to come. Instead, Jesus becomes a good man, or a great teacher, maybe even a prophet of great importance.  His message becomes a philosophy of love and universal acceptance from god.  Since he is no longer the Son of God, then he does not necessarily represent the God of Moses, who calls himself the “I AM”.  Instead God becomes a universal principle and not a true persona. If God then is not God, then Jesus Christ is not the only way to him, or to eternal life.  In fact, God has nothing to do with real eternal life, if Jesus is not the Son of God.  What a complex lie has been weaved to entrap the world.

Once this is done then we need only refer to Jesus in impersonal pronouns instead of his name Jesus of Nazareth, or his title Jesus Christ.  We have effectively removed all deity, identity, and relevance to the name of Jesus.  Yet for those who still need his acknowledgement we can say that we believe in him, we of course mean that we believe in his ideas.  This is the way of the New World, One World Religion (Luciferians). We have not even discussed how to change the meaning of the word “Christ”, but you can see the potentially dangerous slope that we venture on.  While Christians argue about which Bible version is the true word of God and confusing the masses, we expose the flock of Jesus Christ to these evil minded antichrists.  I want to call your attention back up to the quote from Mr. Foster, notice that they are not talking about just taking the “oldest and best” manuscripts and making sure that they are given a word for word translation.  Now I know some of you are saying, you can never have a word for word translation from one language to the next.  This is a truth I will not argue, however; you can have an honest Spirit led, God fearing, best effort in translating an accurate reading of the text.  What this guy is talking about in this Luciferian scandal is to ignore the text, and change the meaning to fit what they want it to say.  This is a transliteration, not a translation.

When a preacher opens up the King James Bible on Sunday morning and begins to read and to preach, he is taking a trusted translation of the Bible and sharing in confidence that this Word has been tested with over 400 years of blood, sweat, and tears.  This version of the Bible had been a grand influence in bringing hundreds of thousands to believe on Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  This version is what most people heard around the English speaking world who have led people under the direction of the Holy Spirit into a personal, loving relationship with the God the Father.  This version is what tells us that those who are saved are done so by the grace of God alone, and that we are adopted children of the God of all Creation.  God is not a part of creation, or a universal principle.  God the Creator, exists, and for over 400 years, this has been the Bible that has told us the truth.

Now suddenly we are told all of the translators were untrustworthy, uneducated, and charlatans.  We are told how the King of England forced them to change the meanings of the text to suit his needs.  We are told that it is too difficult for the average believer to read and understand. I think we have listened to too much Catholic influence.  The text on most new bibles comes from the very source text that the Catholic church uses for it’s Bible, which is not the one used by the King James Version.  These lies and hiding of the text, twisting the word, and only  letting the “ordained” read the text and give interpretation are all hallmarks of a cult mentality.

This preacher we mentioned earlier who opens the Authorized Version (AV) and reads and expands upon the scriptures.  This God fearing man who brings a message after careful study, heavy prayer and who is relying on the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach him, is now given the weighty task of teaching others.  But he is reading the translation to them, then, and only then does he attempt his explanation.  He does not just tell them, this is what the Lord says.  No, he reads to them what the Lord has said, then he explains to them what the Lord has given him concerning the text.  The individual believer is then responsible to search the scriptures themselves to determine in the Holy Spirit whether what the preacher has said is true.  This is not the case with a bible that has been transliterated instead of translated.  A transliterated Bible is one that the interpreter has stepped out of interpretation and started deciding what the text is meaning, instead of what it says. Often this is done to support the agenda of a particular cult.  Jehovah Witness have admittedly done this with the New World Bible Translation.

The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures does not follow this common practice. It uses the name Jehovah a total of 237 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. In deciding to do this, the translators took into consideration two important factors: (1) The Greek manuscripts we possess today are not the originals. Of the thousands of copies in existence today, most were made at least two centuries after the originals were composed. (2) By that time, those copying the manuscripts either replaced the Tetragrammaton with Kyʹri·os, the Greek word for “Lord,” or they copied from manuscripts where this had already been done. (Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania)

You need to get busy in your own research, stop being bullied into submission.  I think that it is funny that we hear preachers say that you cannot understand the King James, or the 1911 bible.  I also want to make note that this is the same excuse the Roman Catholic Church used to gain control of the entire Roman world.  They told everyone that they could not properly understand they text of the Bible, (which by the way is the same one your using in a new version), and that it needed to be explained to you by those who were closest to God. I think that preposterous.

The Authorized, 1911, KJVs  are still written in what is considered modern English, and were written at what we consider a 6-8 grade reading level, depending upon the study.  I want to also remind you that it was written so that the common people could read the text themselves.  These common people did not go to school.  So what you are saying, is that, even though you went to 12 years of school under the modern “enlightenment” we live in, you cannot read a bible that the common people with no formal education could read.   I don’t think that the problem is with the reading level of the version, it is somewhere else.  A little bit more, most new versions of the Bible start at an 8th grade reading level.

Now we see the confusion of the text, and the confusion of the words in the text, and then we have the influx of the New World terminology.  Remember the difference that the purposely separating the name of Jesus from his title Christ did in changing doctrine.  This is what Mr. Foster was speaking of in the above quote.  As a part of this changing of meanings of words and making them irrelevant we can then just drop some of them.  Words proper references like Lucifer, the Dragon, Diana, devils, and Satan can then be omitted or changed to more generic terms that still allow the Luciferian to tell the Christian that “we all believe in the same God”.  Even though, when you look at the meaning of their terminology, it is painfully clear that we do not! Now that we are all questioning the authority of the “original” texts, the literacy of the language, and the meaning of the words use, we can edit, or delete portions of the scriptures that are no longer valid, or could be misleading to our cause.  No one would be any smarter, and no one would even care.  If anyone did raise a fuss, we can just tell them that they are ignorant, and do not know as much as we do.  We can even train their pastors and teachers coming out of seminary, confusing them right out of the gate.  Progressive liberalism, comes from the changing of the text.

Finally, here are some examples for you to consider.

REFERENCE AUTHORISED VERSION (KJV) NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV) NEW AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION (NASV) NEW WORLD TRANSALTION (NTW)
Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. Omitted Subjective foot note Omitted
Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him: “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If, though, you want to enter into life, observe the commandments continually.”
Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. Omitted Satan Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Omitted Satan In reply Jesus said to him: “It is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’ Omitted Satan
Acts 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Subjective foot note Subjective foot note omitted

 

These are only a small sampling of hundreds of scriptures.  I might add also that different versions of the NIV, NASB, and NWT treat the verses differently.  Some versions will include omitted verses or phrases, some do not. This should also be a testimony of the lack of reliability of the text in those versions. The acceptance of these translations in the church has weekend the church and kept believers in a shroud of darkness and insecurity.  The bold passion that believers in Jesus Christ had is non-existent in the church today.  Church pews sit empty while supposed believers are out exploring New Age religions and philosophies.  Pagan religions are practiced in many “Christian” homes.  Christians seek out their fortune with palm readers and astrological charts in the newspapers or online fortune tellers.  This is the very sin that God allow Saul to be killed over.

Instead of reading their Bibles to get wisdom from God and his word, they seek out philosophies, and eastern mysticisms to guide their way.  Instead of seeking to live sanctified lives and becoming more like Jesus Christ and God their Father, they are trying to become one with the FORCE.  Shame is brought upon the church.  They wonder why they cannot win someone to Christ.  I will tell you why, a lot of people who “profess to believe” actually do not.  They themselves are still searching for God.  This is in large part because they are not being taught the whole counsel of God.  This discussion we are having here is a major reason.  The enemy has done what he always does.  He perverts the truth.  Mixes lies with truth and causes doubt.

This is what Satan, that old serpent, did to Eve in the Garden of Eden at the very beginning.  That devil caused Eve to doubt what God had said, and why he said it.  He gave her his transliteration of the word of God.  The devil has always caused us to question – what God said, and so do his children. Peter warns us that these days would come.  “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:1-2) Wow! Peter says that even then there were false teachers among them.  While the Apostles were still alive, false teachers were already twisting their words, and changing doctrines. We must take this seriously.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and told him that he should refrain from being in the presence of false teachers. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)  We should not fellowship with those who spread these false doctrines.  They cannot be referred to as Christian if they deny the deity of Jesus Christ.  I will leave you this last scripture to meditate on.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

References

Foster, Lewis. Selecting a Translation of the Bible. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Co., 1983.

Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. The Divine Name in the Christian Greek Scriptures. 2020. Jehovah’s Witness. 28 04 2020. <https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/appendix-a/divine-name-christian-greek-scriptures/&gt;.