A House Divided Against Itself…

c0a7d5e4c2b9cf045efbd5f62638ec01

Chances are pretty good that if you’ve attended a local fellowship for any significant amount of time, you’ve heard the grumbles of one of two contentions among the adherents:

1. There is either consistent attention on the fact that believers have compromised and adapted to the spirit of the age and therefore have become powerless to effect any real change in their communities.

Or the opposite:

2. That we need to stop the Christian-on-Christian bashing and recognize that the body is in need of healing just like anyone else and therefore needs to be nutured and not harshly criticized; admonished in love and not made to feel lesser.

——–

When you consider the diverse dynamics of any congregation you’ll quickly notice that the truth is – the body needs both! We need more ministers of the Gospel (by which I mean – you and I) who walk in the humility of recognizing our own weakness and need for a Savior; have experientially received and are filled with the love of God who – more than a mere act of obedience – can then recognize, empathize, and have compassion for the hurting and therefore are *compelled* to reach out and be used as a vessel that brings healing to a broken world.

——–

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.
Hebrews 4:15

——–

But we also must recognize that we are completely powerless to do so if we hope to do so on sheer emotional love alone with no knowledge or accurate understanding of the Word of God to minister to others with.

——–

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

———

For what separates the humanitarian, atheist, religious zealot, or monk – from doing good deeds like any Christian fellowship can do, except for the power and objective truth in the Gospel of our salvation?

The fact that we do good works ‘from’ having received salvation as a free gift from God, and not because we are trying like all the other religions of the world to ‘earn’ our salvation through our own efforts, should be central to our own understanding of the salvation found in the Gospel, our motivation, and then to what we preach to others.

Too often there’s a sense of Christian Pharisaicalism where we believe the grace of God was something earned by our flawless church attendance, or our ‘well mentioned’ giving to various causes/needs; by intellectual pride, or even by our church attire.

But even these examples are not mentioned to insult believers. Because at the heart of many shows of religious zeal I recognize that there is sometimes just an inner heart cry that’s screaming out ‘notice me,’ ‘validate me,’ ‘acknowledge me,’ and ‘love me.’

And we do love you!

For this reason every minister must continue to speak the truth, but their life and profession must be unified in step with the Holy Spirit so that it can clearly show forth that it is indeed sincerely driven by love.

And *that* is what *this* message is really a call for.

———

If I have the gift of prophecy

and can fathom all mysteries

and all knowledge,

and if I have a faith that can move mountains,

but do not have love,

I… am… nothing
1 Corinthians 13:2

———

Speak the Truth in Love
And Love, in Truth

Trust Jesus!

Advertisements

The Paradox of the Blessed

economics-paradoxes-3-638

 

THE PARADOX OF THE BLESSED

He (Jesus) said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:2-12

———

God want to release a blessing over us today; a scriptural blessing which gets its basis in the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ so that we all may be named among the blessed.

Today, I release this blessing over us!

———

I pray that we’d be blessed with a poor spirit, thinking nothing of ourself but wholly relying on Him.

I pray that we’d be blessed with eyes that see the state of this world and be moved to mourn and greive and wail over its condition and the lost souls aimlessly wandering it who shall be lost for all eternity if something doesn’t change.

I pray we’d be blessed to have a spirit of meekness, that leads us to heed wise words by quietly and deeply considering them and then being quick to obey them.

I pray that we’d be so blessed with an appetite for the eternal things of God that shall endure forever, namely, His righteousness/justice that our entire life’s hope would be set upon ushering in His coming Kingdom and nothing else.

I pray God would fill us with the blessing of a merciful heart; having empathy and compassion for others and a willingness to endure pains/loss to help them.

I pray God would bless us by purifying our hearts, searching out the deepest depths of all our moral filth and depravity bringing healing, restoration, and deliverance.

I pray that we would be blessed as people who bend over backwards without compromising our own walk to advocate and maintain peace everywhere we go. First with God, (through the Gospel) and then with our fellow man; loving as little children once again.

I pray that we would acknowledge our blessing and be honored when called to suffer for His sake, and honor others who we know are doing the same all over the world.

I pray we would be so blessed that we’d be hated for returning compliment when spoken evil of for living for the Truth; for extending kindness to our persecutors, and for forgiving and loving those who speak falsely against us.

Everyday I pray you’d be bless beyond measure by our loving God!

———

God doesn’t want to just bless you, but everyone you know as well! Pass this blessing on to all your friends/family and may God begin to answer this prayer over every life, even here this very day!

Trust Jesus!

Living Stones

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.(4) As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— (5) you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ
1 Peter 2:1-5

The term “living stones” in 1 Peter 2:5 is used as a metaphor to illustrate the secure and intimate relationship believers have with Jesus who, in turn, is described in the previous verse as the “living Stone” (1 Peter 2:4). Together, verse four and five vividly picture how Christ and His followers are a building being built by God Himself:

The foundation of God’s building is His Son, Jesus Christ, the “living Stone.”

The “living stones,” in turn, are believers who come to Jesus and place their lives upon this foundation. One of the striking things we learn in this passage is that God not only chose this Stone who is eternal, but there were men who rejected the Stone because they wanted to build the building of their lives the way they wanted, not God’s way.

The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
Psalm 118:22

As a result, these men cast this living Stone aside, not caring that Jesus is the only true foundation upon which man can build his eternal life.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11

Elsewhere, Jesus is also described as the chief cornerstone upon which is built the Church, a unified body of believers, both Jew and Gentile (non-Jew)

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22

Peter referenced Jesus as the cornerstone in Acts 4:11-12, stating that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” God accepts no one who refuses to become a part of His building. And God is just like all builders—He has a foundation upon which all workers must lay the stones of their lives

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
Matthew 7:24-27

Believers, then, are the “living stones” of the church. As such, we must remember that God is eternal, which means His building is eternal. The foundation Stone laid by God shall never decay nor waste away. Christ lives forever and ever. In placing our lives upon the living Stone of God, we find that He supports and holds us up eternally. We, in turn, become living stones, stones that will live on forever and ever. A physical house is not permanent; it ages, deteriorates, and wastes away. But being the spiritual house of God, we do not age, deteriorate, or decay. We live on in God’s eternal spiritual house.

Peter goes on to describe the relationship of living stones to the Chief Cornerstone:

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,

”and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:7-9

Peter is saying that, as living stones, we have certain functions. As a “royal priesthood,” we are a “kingdom of priests,” a term that was used of Israel in Exodus 19:6.

You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites
Exodus 19:6

Also, in Revelation 1:6, we are called kings and priests, referring to the exalted rank and dignity which we will have in the future kingdom of heaven. Believers, in common with our Savior, will reign triumphantly over all enemies and, having gained a victory over sin and death and hell, we will be reigning together with our King.

In the meantime, the function of the living stones is to “declare the praises” of Him who called us out of the darkness of sin into the light of life and glory. This is the “job description” of a living stone: a declarer of truth and love and light, both by our words and the life we live before others in the world.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realm with every spiritual blessing in Christ
Ephesians 1:3

Trust JESUS!

Special thanks to gotquestions.org

Biblical Womanhood in the 21st Century

Older women likewise are to be
reverent in their behavior,
not malicious gossips
nor enslaved to much wine,
teaching what is good,

so that they may encourage the young women to
love their husbands,
to love their children,
to be sensible, pure,
workers at home, kind,
being subject to their own husbands,

so that the Word of God will not be dishonored
Titus 2:3-5

 

What does the biblical godly woman look like in the 21st century?

Today I would like to honor my sister in Christ,

 

Joni Eareckson Tada

speaking at the 2013 NRB Convention
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrO5fGSIyM8

 

Trust JESUS!

 

 

 

 

 

The Sin of False Pretense

I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every false way
Psalm 119:104

 

For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for those who are mature, who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:13-14

 

 

 

Today I want to speak in regards to the topic of False Pretenses

First of all, just so we can begin on the same page, let me define what false pretenses are according to the Bible:

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments.
Proverbs 23:7-8

In this context, we learn of a man who encourages his company to enjoy the abundance of food he has, all the while despising him in his heart. It also teaches us, that because we have ingested this man’s delicacies that he begrudgingly shared with us, we will not be able to keep it down anyway.

We can sometimes sense that hesitation in others such as family, friends, and yes, even other believers while still growing in grace and a knowledge of the truth.

A parallel context could just as easily be applied to someone who offers their service to some ministry halfheartedly.

Or even to a person who promises to contribute financially to an endeavor but does so begrudgingly.

 

Scripture tells us in various places:

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
2 Corinthians 9:7

 

 

The Holy Spirit searches out the deep things and knows as well as makes known the truth of our hearts to us.

If you walk closely with the Spirit, you will also be able to discern whether someone’s heart is truly with you and for you, or if they harbor hatred and malice towards you, but also, he will reveal your true intentions and motives and feelings towards others as well.

 

 

There are those who rejoice at the failure and shortcomings of others.

But Scripture tells us that we all have faults and failures of our own and are in need of the Savior just as much as anyone else.

Therefore:

Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them
Proverbs 24:18

This isn’t saying to avoid harboring hatred so the Lord can punish another. That would be a perverse way that some have actually interpreted what this verse means. But, the true heart of this verse is instead speaking to keep you from becoming like your enemies who harbor hatred in their hearts and rejoice when others stumble.

 

This is why it goes on to tell us:

Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, for there will be no future for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
Proverbs 24:19-20

The wicked man who rejects the Savior and the Word of truth will surely be cut off for all eternity. There is no question about it. But if we are filled with the Spirit of God and the love of God as we profess, then that should cause us to be very concern for the eternal salvation of all including even those who despise us and despitefully use us, which is why our Lord Jesus corrected and admonished His followers saying:

You have heard that it was said, “you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

If you only greet your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even pagans do the same?
Matthew 5:43-47

 

 

 Since the Lord has paid the punishment that we all deserved for every wicked motive, thought, word, and deed we’ve done, and has perfected us in the sight of God by His grace through what He alone has accomplished, He then calls us to walk into that new identity as newly created people worthy of such grace in the last verse where he instructs his followers:

Therefore you are to be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

Perfection in this context is not sinless or without fault, but it means someone who has committed to the sanctification process who is continually recognizing their shortcomings and willing to both address them and repent from those ways.

In our own strength, surely this would be an impossible task, but if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then His indwelling Spirit will give you the strength and wisdom necessary to carry out the righteous life that is pleasing to God. And He will place different people around you in every season of your life who are willing to walk with you and help you to grow in this these areas more and more each day.

 

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners,” to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of his visitation.
1 Peter 2:11-12

 

 

Trust JESUS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Islamic Dilemma

The Quran affirms the inspiration, preservation and authority of the Christian Scriptures (including the Torah and the Gospel)

Yet the Quran contradicts the Christian Scriptures on fundamental doctrines (e.g. Jesus’s death, resurrection, and deity)

By affirming Christian Scriptures that contradict Islam, the Quran self destructs

 

 

Check out this short video to expand your knowledge and understanding to better equipped yourselves in dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters about the truthfulness of the Gospel

 

 

The Quran, the Bible, and the Islamic Dilemma
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNAS0aaViM4

 

Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the Gospel to get their living from the Gospel. But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. For if I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion.

Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!
1 Corinthians 9:16

 

 

Trust JESUS!

 

 

 

Also check out:

What is the Gospel?

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to Acts17Apologetics

 

Herodias – The Woman Responsible for the Murder of a Preacher

Name Meaning—As a member of the Herodian dynasty, perhaps the most despicable dynasty history has known, the name Herodias is but the female form of Herod, the royal name for the political rulers during the time of Christ and the apostles. It was under the vile and cruel orders of the Herods that Jesus and His followers were often persecuted and punished. Herod means “heroic”—not very applicable to the Herodian family, the majority of whom, particularly Herodias, were more hellish than heroic.

Family Connections—Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, daughter of Hyrcanus. Her first husband was Philip I, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, so she married her own uncle, by whom she had a daughter, Salome, whom her mother used to destroy John the Baptist. When Herod Antipas visited Rome, he was entertained by Philip and Herodias. Herod abducted his royal brother’s wife. His own wife, an Arabian princess, was an obstacle to an illicit marriage, so he divorced her, and Herodias became queen in her stead, and with her daughter was installed in the palace. “The corroding immorality of Herod’s race shows itself in his marriage with Herodias his brother’s wife and the wanton offense thereby given to Jewish sensibilities.”

Among the female characters in God’s portrait gallery there are many wicked women as we are discovering, but surely Herodias stands out among them as one of the most vile and vicious. Amid the putrefying influence of the palace, however, there was one man who knew no fear, John the Baptist. Herod “feared” him and regarded him as “a just man” and whom “he heard gladly.” Herod found music in the preacher’s message until he sternly rebuked the king by saying of Herodias, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” But such a warning bell was to toll the Baptist’s doom. For his faithful rebuke of Herod’s sin, John was cast into prison, and the evil, scheming mind of Herodias began to work. She was stung by the arrow from the preacher’s quiver and hated him for exposing her shame. “For Herodias’ sake,” he was imprisoned and thus the greatest of the prophets was sacrificed for this lewd and vicious woman.

When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.
Matthew 10:23

Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Luke 6:26

Herodias, with her conscience in turmoil because of her accuser, planned to silence him. She did not want Herod to listen too closely and constantly to John’s forceful preaching. She feared her illegal husband—for her first husband was still alive—might repent, and her position as queen, imperiled.

Herodias knew Herod only too well. He easily succumbed to sensual excitement, and as his birthday drew near her foul design was hatched. On the day when drink freely flowed, Herodias used her own daughter to inflame Herod’s passions. She was willing to sacrifice her child’s modesty in order to bend Herod to her will. Herod was overcome by Salome’s form seen through the flowing flimsy garment she wore, and influenced by the act of the dancing girl took a rash and foolish oath to give her whatever she asked, even to half of his kingdom. Approaching her mother, Salome said, “What shall I ask?” Without hesitation Herodias, the female hyena, replied, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist.” Returning to Herod she presented her demand, and Herod was extremely sorry at such a request. Yet, because of his oath’s sake, he sacrificed the preacher whom he regarded as just and holy, and all because of his guilty love for a vile woman. No wonder he was smitten with fear when he heard of the fame of Jesus, thinking it was John the Baptist risen from the dead to torment his conscience further. One wonders how Salome felt when the gory dish of the preacher’s head was handed to her?

Herodias’ Old Testament counterpart was Jezebel. What Herodias was to Herod, Jezebel was to Ahab. Both Ahab and Herod were wicked, and in both cases the woman was more wicked. Both Jezebel and Herodias fostered hate that became deadly against a prophet of God. Jezebel hated Elijah and sought to kill him—Herodias hated John the Baptist, the New Testament Elijah, and succeeded in his murder. What was the end of Herodias? Since she was the source of Herod’s sin, Herodias also became the source of his shame. According to Josephus, Herodias’ ambition was the ruin of Herod. Jealous of the power of Agrippa her brother, she prodded Herod to demand of Caligula, the emperor, the title of king. Agrippa saw to it that this demand was refused, and Herod was banished and ended his days in shame and exile. The pride of Herodias forced her to be faithful to her husband in the disgrace and misfortune she herself had caused.

 

Even at the time of the writing of the book of Revelation (Approx. 81-96 A.D.), we still see this spirit of Jezebel at work in the church in Thyatira. It is named to describe another woman who’s erroneous teachings and self appointed position of authority in the church was used to mislead the servants of the Lord:

 

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
Revelation 2:20-23

 

Do not put your trust in a friend!

 

Trust JESUS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to:
Alphabetical Exposition of Named Women in the Bible