Sunday, May 31, 2009

Don't Surrender

My Dad served under General Patton during the Second World War. I remember hearing some of the stories about "blood and guts" Patton. Patton was a successful combat general because, in part, of his tenacity. The following story reveals a part of his character. Christian, "do you have the same fortitude not to surrender? Are you willing to fight to the end?"

General George Patton was a man who believed strongly that a well disciplined soldier would not only win the war, but would reach new heights of achievement. He said that to be a good soldier, a man must have discipline, self respect, pride in his unit and in his country, a high sense of duty and obligation to his comrades and his superiors, and self confidence born of demonstrated ability.

When the great day of battle comes, remember your training, and remember above all that speed and vigor of attack are the sure roads to success. And you must succeed, for to retreat is as cowardly as it is fatal. Americans do not "surrender!" It was the only time throughout World War II that Patton used the word, "surrender" in any of his orders to his troops.

The Value of Suffering Part 2

The following quote comes from Reformed theologian J.I. Packer. Being Reformed in his theology, Packer would stress the Sovereignty of God. While we are to accept God's Sovereign choices in our lives, we are to pray according to the Scriptures for relief and deliverance. If you are sick, pray for healing. If you have lack, pray for abundance. If you are lost, pray for God to forgive your sins. If you need purity of heart, pray for cleansing. Packer's statement is true, but that does not dissolve our privilege to pray for deliverance.

"God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives. Felt weakness deepens dependence on Christ for strength each day. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away. To live with your 'thorn' uncomplainingly -- that is, sweet, patient, and free in heart to love and help others, even though every day you feel weak -- is true sanctification. It is true healing for the spirit. It is a supreme victory of grace. -- J. I. Packer

The Value of Suffering

Even though we may not want to hear it, sometimes suffering brings value to our walk with God. The following illustration, which I understand to be true, exemplifies the benefit that can sometimes come from difficult times. St. John of the Cross called the experience the "dark night of the soul." To summarize, the "dark night of the soul" may cause you to feel like God has deserted you; however, He has not. In the midst of the suffering, you are not alone. Never forget His promise to never leave you nor forsake you. Read the below and know that God will deliver you in a greater way than you entered into the suffering:

J. I. Wookey was searching for scrap metal in a pile of rubbish in Lancashire, England when he spotted a leather-bound book. The binding was scorched and smoking, but the pages were in good shape. Wookey grabbed the book and threw it in the back of his car -- where it remained for seven years until Wookey found it as he packed for a move to Canada. A librarian in Toronto told Wookey the book might be valuable, so he sent it to a prestigious New York art dealer. The book proved to be a 300-year-old work by British author Thomas Traherne, which later sold at auction for $110,000!

When we're in a fiery trial, it's easy for us to be deceived by smoldering circumstances. At such times we may not only fail to see any value in our suffering, we may even be tempted to blame God for it.

If you are walking in obedience, never blame God for your circumstances. Instead, rejoice in that He is with you and will not let you go.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Do Not Seek the Easy Path

God does not want His children to take the easy way out. He never did and we as His children should follow His example. God will take you through not necessarily out of danger. Ease can be a danger to your soul. The following story makes the point of the post:

A distinguished botanist, being exiled from his native land, obtained employment as an under-gardener in the service of a nobleman. While he was in this situation, his master received a valuable plant, the nature and habits of which were unknown to him. It was given to the gardener to be taken care of, and he, fancying it to be a tropical plant, put it into the hothouse (for it was winter), and dealt with it as with the others under the glass. But it began to decay. When the strange under-gardener asked permission to examine it, as soon as he looked at it, he said: "This is an Arctic plant, you are killing it by the tropical heat into which you have introduced it." So, he took it outside, and exposed it to the frost, and, to the dismay of the upper-gardener, heaped pieces of ice around the flowerpot; but the result vindicated his wisdom, for straightway it began to recover, and was soon as strong as ever.

Now, such a plant is the Christian's spiritual life in this world. It is not earthly difficulty that is dangerous to it, but ease. Put it into a hothouse; separate it from the wintry blasts of worldly hostility; surround it with luxury; hedge it in from every opposition, and you take the surest means of killing it." -- Rev. W. M. Taylor

What God Wants

The following explains what God wants from His children. Often the tendency, especially among the educated, is to make the Christian life far too complicated. It really is quite simple. Do you know what God wants?

There was a ripple of excitement all through the orphanage, for a great lady had come to take little Jane home with her. The girl herself was bewildered with the thought. "Do you want to go with me and be my child?" the lady asked in gentle tones. "I don't know," said Jane timidly. "But I'm going to give you beautiful clothes and a lot of things, a room of your own with beautiful bed and table and chairs." After a moment's silence, the little one said anxiously: "But what am I to do for all this?" The lady burst into tears. "Only to love me, and be my child," she said as she folded the little girl in her arms.

God adopts us, protects us, and give us an inheritance in glory. All He asks in return is that we should love Him, and be His children -- Children's Record

A Passion for Souls

The following story evidences the importance of having a passion for souls. The illustration comes from Dr. Chapman from the Church of the Nazarene.

"A man was making his way over the mountains through a terrible snowstorm. He gradually got weaker and weaker, until at last he stumbled and fell. He said to himself, "This is the end. I shall never be found." He was too weak to rise, but as he fell his hand struck the body of another man who had fallen in the same place. This first man was unconscious and the man who had just fallen rose to his knees and, bending over the prostrate form, began to chafe his hands and to rub his face until by and by the man's eyes opened. He had saved another life, but he had also saved himself, for the exercise had kept the life in his own body. And when you have a passion for souls, when you go seeking the lost, when you lift the burdens of others, your own vision of Jesus is clearer, your own hope of eternity is stronger, your own assurance of salvation is greater." -- J. Wilbur Chapman

Friday, May 29, 2009

Never Delay

The following story illustrates why one should never delay in bringing a sinner to a place of decision. Eternity will reveal the true cost of Moody's error in judgment. Let us not commit the same mistake.

Dwight L. Moody, by his own admission, made a mistake on the eighth of October 1871. It was a mistake which he determined never to repeat.

He had been preaching in the city of Chicago. That particular night drew his largest audience yet. His message was "What will you do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?" By the end of the service, he was tired. He concluded his message with a presentation of the gospel and a concluding statement: "Now I give you a week to think that over. And when we come together again, you will have opportunity to respond."

A soloist began to sing. But before the final note, the music was drowned out by clanging bells and wailing sirens screaming through the streets. The great Chicago Fire was blazing. In the ashen aftermath, hundreds were dead and over a hundred thousand were homeless.

Without a doubt, some who heard Moody's message had died in the fire. He reflected remorsefully that he would have given his right arm before he would ever give an audience another week to think over the message of the gospel.

Be Obedient to the Holy Spirit

As the following story illustrates, you should always be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If you don't have the fullness of the Holy Spirit operating in your life, you can because He is not a respecter of persons.

Evangelist Paul Rader has often urged a banker in New York State to receive Christ, but the man would not make the decision. One day the preacher sensed that God wanted him to go immediately and speak to him again. So he took a train to the town where the man worked, hurried to the bank, and found his friend standing in the doorway.

"Rader," he said, "I'm glad to see you! I wrote a telegram begging you to come, but later changed my mind and didn't send it." "That's all right," said the evangelist, "your message came through anyhow by way of heaven."

Under deep conviction of sin, the banker was impressed by Rader's earnestness and his special effort to reach him with the gospel, and within a few minutes he accepted the Lord. In his newfound joy he exclaimed, "Did you ever see the sky so blue or the grass so green!"

"Hallelujah, you're truly converted!" came Rader's response. "It's just like the song says, 'Heaven above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green, something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen."

Suddenly the banker gave a strange gasp and fell over dead! He had been saved at the very brink of eternity. What if Paul Rader had delayed or failed to stress the banker's urgent need of turning to the Lord immediately? That man may have been lost.

Are You Ready to Repent and Change Your Ways?

Often, salvation is presented without the need to repent, i.e. abandon your sins. It is an easy cheap grace. This is one of the reasons that people can claim the title of "Christian" and keep habitually sinning. Even Luther understood the necessity of repentance as the following story reveals:

Luther was one day seated in the confessional at Wittenburg. Many of the townspeople came successively and confessed themselves guilty of great excesses: adultery, licentiousness usury, ill-gotten gains -- such were the crimes acknowledged. He reprimands, corrects, instructs. But what is his astonishment when these individuals reply that they will not abandon their sins! Greatly shocked the pious monk declares that, since they will not promise to change their lives, he cannot absolve them. The unhappy creatures then appeal to their letters of indulgence; they show them, and maintain their virtue. But Luther replies that he has nothing to do with these matters, and adds, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." They cry out and protest; but the doctor is immovable. They must "cease to do evil, and learn to do well, or else there is no absolution.

Are You Ready to Be Taken Down?

The following illustration comes from Rev. Duane Maxey.

Oliver Cromwell once visited Yorkminster Cathedral in England, and his attention was drawn to twelve silver statues of the apostles, which stood near the ceiling of one of the cathedral apartments. Looking upon them for a moment, he said, "Who are those fellows standing yonder?" After being informed, he exclaimed, "Take them down...and let them go about doing good." Accordingly, they were melted down and put into his treasury.

Before Oliver Cromwell could use those silver apostles, it was necessary that they be taken down. Likewise, it is sometimes necessary for Christ to take us down spiritually before He can use us. Thus, perhaps often, the essence of His prayer to the Father for His followers is: "Take them down."

How do you feel about being "taken down" for the Master's use? Or, do you prefer to live without sacrifice for the Kingdom of God? May we all be willing to be taken down for the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

No Regrets

I had planned on taking some time off, but as I have watched the events of recent days, I wanted to post some calls to live a holy sanctified life. The following should encourage you or bother you.

In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world's hurting people. Writing home, he said, "I'm going to give my life to prepare for the mission field."

When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: "No Reserves." Turning down high-paying job offers after graduating from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: "No Retreats."

Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month.

A waste, you say! Not in God's plan. In his Bible underneath the words "No Reserves" and "No Retreats," he had written the words "No Regrets."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Importance of Alms Giving

In this concluding message on the series Developing a Right Relationship with God, Pastor Jenkins demonstrates God's emphasis on giving to the poor. Four promises to those who give to the poor are clearly set forth. They are promises of happiness, safety, answered prayers, and abundance. If you give to the poor, listen to this message to learn about God's promises to you. If you don't give to the poor, listen to see what you may be missing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thanksgiving, Forgiving, and Hoping

Although this message was given on Mother's Day 2009, the principles apply every day of the year. Pastor Jenkins explains why to be thankful for the parents God has given you, even if they have made serious mistakes in raising you. Further, one should never give up hope. Rahab looked like a lost cause, but she made the genealogy in Matthew 1 and in the lineage of Jesus Christ. This word will encourage you to live in the freedom that forgiveness brings.

Do You Want Revival in Our Land?

The following excerpt is taken from When God Stepped Down From Heaven by Reverend Owen Murphy:

When men in the streets are afraid to open their mouths and utter godless words lest the judgments of God should fall; when sinners, overawed by the presence of God tremble in the streets and cry for mercy; when, without special meetings and sensational advertising, the Holy Ghost sweeps across cities and towns in supernatural power and holds men in the grip of terrifying conviction; when "every shop becomes a pulpit, every heart an altar, every home a sanctuary" and people walk softly before God--THIS IS REVIVAL!

How it Began
Preparation must precede revival! The Word of God, history, and the gracious visitation of God to the Hebrides emphasizes this fact. And that preparation must begin with God's people.

History turned another page when the Free Church Presbytery of Lewis met in the town of Stornoway to discuss the appalling spiritual conditions existing in their communities. While the haunts of sin were crowded, churches were almost empty. In many places youth had almost disappeared from the House of God and it seemed only a matter of time before many churches would have to close their doors. No one, however, ever dreamed for a moment that this special meeting was destined to be the preliminary to the amazing spiritual awakening that was to come.

Amongst the many who were deeply concerned about the desperate spiritual condition of the churches, was a little group of men who lived at Barvas, the district that was to become the center of the outbreak of revival. As they met in a little wooden barn, greatly burdened for revival for their community, and began to pray, there suddenly dawned upon them, like a flash of light, the great fact of God as a COVENANT-KEEPING God who had made COVENANT PROMISES!

"If this is true," they reasoned, "we can enter into a covenant with Him, and, if we keep OUR part of it, then HE must keep His!" Has God given a "covenant promise" for revival" Immediately the words of God in 2 Chronicles 7:14 came to them:
"If My people which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and heal their land."
That night they entered into a solemn covenant with God, to take upon themselves the "burden" for revival for the community, to humble themselves, and to prevail in prayer UNTIL REVIVAL CAME!

The Hypocrisy of the Gay Rights Movement

The recent flap over the comments made by Miss California Carrie Prejean reveals the hypocrisy of the gay rights movement. Her stand was exactly the same as President Obama's as stated at the Saddleback Forum during the campaign. However, the gays still love Obama but want to persecute this lady. When will the liberal gays ever really understand the truth, "no heterosexuals, no homosexuals." The gays (I hate that term, I prefer the one I heard in the 1960')are becoming more and more militant. Truth needs to be told; their lifestyle is not natural. Their inability to reproduce establishes that it is against nature. God made marriage for one man one woman. That's the truth whether the hypocrites like it or not. Ms. Prejean is not perfect; however, she is entitled, at least for now, to have free speech. The liberal left may scream now, but not as much as they will when they depart this life.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rethinking Church

The following is a portion of a devotional I wrote. Just think about it:

I want you to think about something today. Remember Joshua and the story of Achan? Achan disobeyed God's command and as a result, many died. God cursed the community because of the sin of one. If God has not changed His method of operation, think about our churches. We invite everyone to come as you are, sin and all. Get involved, be a part, and find your destiny. We are hopeful that in the process, they will have a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ. But until then, their sin is part of your church. Maybe this is a reason why the church is powerless; God will not bless the group for the sins of those present. Maybe the way the church is supposed to work, is that the believers are to go out and evangelize, i.e. make disciples. Maybe the church is just for the disciples and not the unsaved. Maybe we have gotten off track by using the church as the means of evangelism. Maybe we are bringing sin into the church and God has left. Disagree if you wish, but ask yourself, "when is the last time we really saw the power of God move in our midst?" Just think about it.

Hope and Prayer

In this message, Pastor Jenkins will challenge you to reclaim the hope you have lost. The connection between hope and prayer is examined and a call to reclaim your lost hope is made. The 6 steps to hope are set forth to assist you get back on track with God's plan for your life.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Has not God's blessing been passed on to the Gentiles?

In the previous post, a dear brother who I love in the Lord asked the question that is the topic of this posting: Has not God's blessing been passed on to the Gentiles? Although it would be quite impossible to provide in this brief posting a complete answer to this question, I will attempt to point readers to where to find the answer. The essential difficulty is that the church since the time of Constantine in the 4Th Century has experienced much anti-Semitism. Constantine was able to separate the Christian church from its Jewish roots. The early church was a Messianic congregation with both Jews and Gentiles worshipping side by side. Do you think that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth? The word Paul used was ekklesia, which in classical Greek referred to a town council or called out ones to govern. The word had absolutely no religious connotation. However, in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament recognized as a legitimate version during the time of Jesus and Paul), ekklesia was the word used to translate the word synagogue in the Old Testament. When Paul, who also was a Jewish rabbi, used ekklesia, he would certainly have used the word with its religious overtones as opposed to the secular usage of the word. What is the point? The point is that Paul was writing to the synagogue at Corinth, not the church. It is the bias of Gentile translators that has corrupted the true meaning. If you question this, look at Acts 7:38: "This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us...." KJV The word "church" is ekklesia. In an effort to show that the church replaced Israel, the King James translators put the church in the wilderness instead of the nation of Israel.

It must be remembered that God's covenant was with Abraham to create a great nation to bless the world with salvation. The covenant with Israel is with the nation of Israel, not individuals. Individuals are personally born from above when they become a disciple of Jesus Christ through faith in His sacrifice. One is not saved because they are born Jewish. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. That is a distinct issue from the covenant with a nation. Where do you find the first reference to the New Covenant? If you guessed anywhere from Matthew to Revelation, you don't know where it is. The "New Covenant" is found in Jeremiah 31:31: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah...." Who is the new covenant with? It is with the house of Israel and the House of Judah, not with the Gentiles. That is why, when a Gentile becomes a member of the body of Christ, he or she becomes a part of the covenant with Israel. The covenant that leads to salvation is the covenant God made with Israel and Judah. As a side note and far beyond what can be addressed in this brief post, the word translated "new" is the Hebrew word hadash and it means to renew or repair. A derivative of the word means a new moon. Every 30 days or so when we get a new moon, is it new or is it the same moon being renewed by making a reappearance?

Right before he died, Martin Luther made horrific statements concerning the Jewish people. He died shortly thereafter. You can draw your own theological conclusions. However, the point is, that God has not abandoned Israel. We, as Gentile believers, have been grafted into the olive tree. That olive tree represents Israel. Are we spiritual Israel? No, we are righteous Gentiles who have found salvation in Yeshua (He was never called Jesus while He walked the earth; His name is Yeshua). God has not passed over the nation of Israel; He has made an everlasting covenant with them and God never breaks His covenants.

There is so much that could be said on this subject. I want to point you in the right direction. Gentile believers would be well served by learning about their Jewish roots. Yeshua was a Jewish rabbi, most all the Bible was written by Jews to Jews, and we must fight our indoctrination to think that somehow the plan of God is centered around the Gentiles. That is simply put, the result of 1700 years of bad teaching.

Check out these sources: Skip is a PhD. from Oxford and has put together much information on his web site about developing a Hebraic worldview to better follow the Messiah. Skip is my mentor and I have learned much from him over the years. This site promotes the teachings of Messianic Rabbi Bob Gorelik. It is excellent. I have several of his teachings. This is a very good site that explores the Jewish background of the life and teachings of Jesus. I am a paid member on this site. It is well worth the money.

There are many others, but these will provide a good foundation to see the truth about our faith that has been hidden from the Gentile church. Walk in the dust of these teachings (old rabbinic saying) and you will be amazed at what you didn't know that you thought you did.

American Patriot Bible?

As if we needed another study Bible with a targeted audience, now the American Patriot Bible makes its appearance. Here is the description:

THE ONE BIBLE THAT SHOWS HOW 'A LIGHT FROM ABOVE' SHAPED OUR NATION. Never has a version of the Bible targeted the spiritual needs of those who love our country more than The American Patriot's Bible. This extremely unique Bible shows how the history of the United States connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives in a modern world. The story of the United States is wonderfully woven into the teachings of the Bible and includes a beautiful full-color family record section, memorable images from our nation's history and hundreds of enlightening articles which complement the New King James Version Bible text.

God's covenant is with the nation of Israel, not the United States of America. When we become disciples of Jesus Christ and are born from above, we are grafted into the commonwealth of Israel. We don't become Jews because being Jewish is a matter of blood line. It is an ethnic designation, like being Irish. I have not seen this Bible, but the description indicates that the emphasis is on our nation as opposed to Israel. We need to be very careful to remember what God's covenants are and who they are with. I will probably purchase the Bible, however, because I do enjoy American history. A follow up will occur at a later time after I have actually looked at the Bible.