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TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER

two red and green leavesPraise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. Psalm 117, NIV

Lord our God, we thank you that we may come to you and that our spirits can reach out for your help and your comfort. May we draw strength from communion with you, our Father. May we realize more fully that we are your children, truly your children, who throughout our pilgrimage are allowed to know you as our refuge and our help. Remember our world, and grant that many hearts awaken and turn to you, looking to you in all the fear and need which sweep over many people in our time. Let your Spirit be revealed to our hearts in quiet, bringing many experiences from you, O Lord our God, and from your kingdom. Protect us every day in the many lands throughout the earth. For the nations are yours; they shall receive life and blessing from you, and at last your kingdom will be revealed in all the world, to the eternal glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Dig

Caffeine for your conscience

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

loaf6What the world expects of Christians is that they should speak out, loud and clear; that they should voice their convictions in such a way that not even the slightest doubt could arise in the heart of the simplest person. And more: that they should get away from words and abstractions and confront in their deeds the bloodstained face of history.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Psalm 32:7

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Out of the attacks of evil come the victories of God and the victory chants of God’s people. Let’s find our strength and protection in our holy God! Let’s make God our hiding place, our source of security, and our hope in times of trouble.

My Prayer…

Father, thank you for the confidence I have in your power and your might to deliver me from every attack of the evil one. You are worthy of all glory, honor, power, and praise. In the name of your Son and my Lord, Jesus Christ, I thank you for deliverance and praise you for you might. Amen.

 

 

BIBLE STUDY BUDDY

Read Ephesians 2:1-10…As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2. in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5. made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved. 6. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7. in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9. not by works, so that no one can boast. 10. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
Ephesians 2:10

v1-10 Sin is the death of the soul. A man dead in trespasses and sins has no desire for spiritual pleasures. When we look upon a corpse, it gives an awful feeling. A never-dying spirit is now fled, and has left nothing but the ruins of a man. But if we viewed things aright, we should be far more affected by the thought of a dead soul, a lost, fallen spirit. A state of sin is a state of conformity to this world. Wicked men are slaves to Satan. Satan is the author of that proud, carnal disposition which there is in ungodly men; he rules in the hearts of men. From Scripture it is clear, that whether men have been most prone to sensual or to spiritual wickedness, all men, being naturally children of disobedience, are also by nature children of wrath. What reason have sinners, then, to seek earnestly for that grace which will make them, of children of wrath, children of God and heirs of glory! God’s eternal love or good-will toward his creatures, is the fountain whence all his mercies flow to us; and that love of God is great love, and that mercy is rich mercy. And every converted sinner is a saved sinner; delivered from sin and wrath. The grace that saves is the free, undeserved goodness and favour of God; and he saves, not by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus. Grace in the soul is a new life in the soul. A regenerated sinner becomes a living soul; he lives a life of holiness, being born of God: he lives, being delivered from the guilt of sin, by pardoning and justifying grace. Sinners roll themselves in the dust; sanctified souls sit in heavenly places, are raised above this world, by Christ’s grace. The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners heretofore, encourages others in after-time, to hope in his grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out. All is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by his power. It was his purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of his will, and his Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our good conversation, and perseverance in holiness. None can from Scripture abuse this doctrine, or accuse it of any tendency to evil. All who do so, are without excuse.

 

A Remarkable Life…

This is the story of a man with whom I worked. David was a remarkable man. Remarkable in his steady demeanor through 33 years of service with the same ministry. Remarkable in his gentle, caring love for his wife of 30 years. Remarkable in his unwavering dedication to his children- through triumph and trouble. Remarkable in the respect he earned from co-workers and acquaintances. Remarkable in that when he died too suddenly and too soon at age 56, no one had anything bad to say about him. Remarkable!

 

Yet as friends and family sat in solemn silence at the funeral, David’s pastor put his life in perspective. Family members had extolled David’s character and comforted everyone with the assurance that he was in heaven. Then the pastor said, ”None of the good things David did earned him one second in heaven. He is there because he accepted God’s salvation through Christ.”

 

It’s true. No matter how remarkable our lives are, we cannot earn heaven. It’s a gift.

 

Examine your life. As religious and well-loved as you may be, you won’t go to heaven unless you accept God’s gift of eternal life. Ask Jesus Christ to forgive your sins. That will make your life truly remarkable.

 

-Dave Brannon

 

 

OUR SPIRITS BLOSSOM WHEN WE SING

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68:6

An Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I need to encounter the Persecuted Church.”

Chinese evangelist, Mrs. Yang, was visited by another full time preacher who was very downcast. The preacher wanted to buy a tape player, but had no money. Mrs Yang sat down and just began to sing to him. Her voice was deep and scratchy, the tune barely discernable, the words simple:

I am a wanderer, my home is in heaven/ Life is fleeting/ Our home is in heaven/ In this world we have many trials/ And sadness and sickness/ True happiness is not in this world/ But in heaven.

Mrs. Yang sang as if before the Lord himself. Every word poured out from her core with total conviction. Tears rolled down her cheeks, her hands clenched the air, and she beat time on her hip. Soon the visiting preacher had joined in, and I watched them, roaring out the hymn together, smiles over both their faces. The preacher left, still with no money for his longed for tape player, but refreshed and encouraged.

Then again, I watched one morning as Mrs. Yang went out into the hills to pray. I followed her at a discreet distance. First she prayed for twenty minutes, then she sang, walking around, for another twenty minutes. For the next hour she read her Bible, making notes, planning the day’s sermons. After that she sang again, for another half hour.

I confessed I had been spying on her, and asked “Why do you sing so much when there is no one to hear?” She said, “My father once told me, ‘One of the sweet things about the Christian life is that you will do things because they are commanded, and then you will spend the rest of your life gaining deeper insight into why God’s commands are so good.’ So singing is a command. In the Psalms we are constantly exhorted to sing praises to our God. But as for why, I confess it is one of those wonderful mysteries my father told me about. You see, while in prison, I could pray and read scripture, but nothing raised my spirits like singing. Maybe it’s because singing somehow concentrates all of the body on the praise of God, but I have found it essential to the maintenance of a positive spirit.”

Then she looked embarrassed. I said, “What is it? You were about to say something, but you have gone all reticent.” She replied, “Well, it’s just that an old lady told me something that really sums up the main reason I sing.

She said, ‘Our spirits are like flowers, and song is the sun. Just as flowers only truly open when the sun shines, so our spirits only blossom when we sing.’ I believe that. I don’t know how, but it’s true. Since my prison cell, I cannot do without song, and I am very frightened that as China gets more open, and the churches get more organized, we are going to leave the singing to the professionals. This would be terrible. The only way you can have a full blossoming spirit is to sing to it.”

RESPONSE: Today I will make my spirit blossom positively by singing to the Lord in the Spirit.

PRAYER: Ask God to impact all Christians with this valuable insight of singing praises to Him.

 

Quote of the Day

“You’ve probably never thought of a refusal to serve God as idolatry, but that’s what it is—bowing down to self instead of submitting to Him.”

– Charles Stanley (from Tripped up by Excuses?)

Today’s Answer

Peter’s Letters: Evidence of a Radical Change?

Stephen Davey

Did Peter ever radically change? Did he learn self-control? He later wrote, in I Peter, chapter 3, verses 8 through 10,

To sum it up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, …

(I seem to remember Peter swinging a sword at the high priest, missing him, and hitting his servant on the ear – Peter was a bad shot),

… or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile.”

Did Peter ever learn the importance of humility? Oh, was Peter ever proud; so filled with egotistical self-confidence. In Matthew, chapter 26, verse 33, he had said, in effect, “Lord, everybody will fall away from You, but not me; I’m made out of better stuff.”

Later, he would write, in I Peter, chapter 5, verses 5b through 6,

… and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time

Peter’s failures were not fatal – he did indeed learn the fruit of the Spirit.

You say that you want to be a disciple of Jesus, and that you are walking with Him – then understand that He will place you in the process of radical change.

Taken from “The Test (John 1:35-51)” by Wisdom for the Heart Ministries (used by permission).

 

October 30

That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.–2 TIM. i. 14.

Oh that the Comforter would come!
Nor visit as a transient guest,
But fix in me His constant home,
And keep possession of my breast:
And make my soul His loved abode,
The temple of indwelling God!
C. WESLEY.

Thy spirit should become, while yet on earth, the peaceful throne of the Divine Being; think, then, how quiet, how gentle and pure, how reverent, thou shouldst be.
GERHARD TERSTEEGEN.

I cannot tell you how much I love you. But that which of all things I have most at heart, with regard to you, is the real progress of your soul in the divine life. Heaven seems to be awakened in you. It is a tender plant. It requires stillness, meekness, and the unity of the heart, totally given up to the unknown workings of the Spirit of God, which will do all its work in the calm soul, that has no hunger or desire but to escape out of the mire of its earthly life into its lost union and life in God. I mention this, out of a fear of your giving in to an eagerness about many things, which, though seemingly innocent, yet divide and weaken the workings of the divine life within you.
WM. LAW.

 

Any Halloweeners?

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” refers to a (mostly idle) threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.

Not where I come from!

Back in Scranton, Pennsylvania, children go “Halloweening”. We knock on a neighbor’s door, or ring the bell, and shout in unison to the person who answers, “Any Halloweeners?” If they are accepting spooky guests, we are invited into their home.

We work for our treats. We perform a poem or a song or tell a joke before receiving nuts, apples, candy or, preferably, cold hard cash. After performing and before unmasking, the host family giddily tries to guess who we are.

No particular hours, nor, indeed, particular nights are set aside for Halloweening. Often, we spread our visits over two nights. In grade school, we have been taught the little ditties that we recite or sing. Here is an example

Black and Gold

Everything is black and gold
Black and gold, tonight;
Yellow pumpkins, yellow moon,
Yellow candlelight;

Jet-black cat with golden eyes,
Shadows black as ink,
Firelight blinking in the dark
With a yellow blink.

Black and gold, black and gold,
Nothing in between –
When the world turns black and gold,
Then it’s Halloween!

We are part of a neighborhood tradition that cloaks us in warmth and love and community. It is great.

In the Line of Fire, by Michael Brown
Of course, I knew that readers would point to Luke 22:35-38, which is why I also cited it in my article, suggesting that it was the wrong passage to use in support of gun ownership.
Of course, I knew that readers would point to Luke 22:35-38, which is why I also cited it in my article, suggesting that it was the wrong passage to use in support of gun ownership. (gayulo/Public Domain)

As expected, the response to my article “Since When Did Jesus Get Connected to Guns?”” was fast and furious, especially from those who failed to read the article.

Many adamantly defended their right as Christians to defend themselves, while others pointed to the Second Amendment, despite my stating explicitly that “I am not questioning our right to defend ourselves” and that my article was not “about the Second Amendment.”

Others pointed to Luke 22:35-38, where Jesus apparently told His disciples to go out and buy swords, telling them they had “enough” with the two they had on hand. For these readers, this was justification for carrying guns for self-defense (again, I never questioned someone’s right to own a gun for self-defense).

Some readers went even farther, suggesting this was the way to avoid persecution in the future. As Aaron H. posted on Facebook, “It’s because we value life and recognize God is a giver of life, we protect ourselves, and give warning to would be persecutors, we won’t stand for it, so we can have life. … Whenever we are disarmed, we are slaughtered.”

Yes, he explained, “Martyrdom is a romantic fantasy. History tells us, first is disarmament, next it’s our Bibles, next it’s our lives. It does not matter if it’s guns, or swords. If guns did not exist, we’d cling to our sword or spears, and our Bibles.”

Another wrote, “The issue Dr. Brown is you cannot split our freedom to worship and our freedom to bear arms they are interconnected and they are supposed to be. Some people do not like this idea because they believe Jesus is a pacifist, He is not.”

So much for Jesus calling us to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:38-42). So much for Him saying that it is the meek who will inherit the earth, the peacemakers who will be called children of God, and the ones who were persecuted for righteousness who are blessed (Matt 5:5, 9-12). So much for Him teaching that the world would treat us the same way it treated Him (Matt 10:25; John 15:18-20).

So much for Peter writing that we should follow our Savior’s example, noting that “when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten” (1 Pet. 2:23). And so much for Paul explaining that “it was granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29).

That was for the old days. Now we have guns! No one will persecute us.

To repeat: I respect the purpose of our Second Amendment and I do not oppose our right to self-defense. And I am not advocating new gun control laws. Despite the somewhat ferocious response to my article from some quarters, those were not my issues at all. I was simply questioning the cultural phenomenon here in America—in particular, in some geographical parts of the country—that associated the gospel with guns.

Of course, I knew that readers would point to Luke 22:35-38, which is why I also cited it in my article, suggesting that it was the wrong passage to use in support of gun ownership.

To review the context, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, about to be betrayed, when He had this dialogue with His disciples.

“When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.”

He said to them, “But now let him who has a purse take it and also a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his garment and buy one. For I tell you, what is written must yet be accomplished in Me, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” Indeed, what is written concerning Me has a fulfillment.

They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”

He said to them, “It is enough.”

A very small minority of scholars believe that the real agenda of Jesus was the violent overthrow of Rome and that this passage hints at His real strategy. But not only does this go against the entire testimony of the New Testament and early church, it also makes no sense contextually—unless you believe that Jesus was saying that eleven disciples armed with two swords were ready to take on the armies of Rome.

Others say that Jesus was simply telling them that the days ahead would be much more difficult than in the past, because of which they would need swords for self-defense. But if that was the case: 1) Why were two swords “enough”? 2) Why did Jesus rebuke Peter just a few minutes later for using his sword against the soldiers who came to take Him (Luke 22:49-51; Matt 26:51-52; John 18:10-11)? 3) Why didn’t the disciples use their swords to fight against their persecutors in the book of Acts?

Using the logic of some of those who believe that being armed is the key to avoiding persecution, why did the apostles merely pray together for boldness to preach and for miracles to be wrought through Jesus’ name when they were threatened (Acts 4:24-31)? Why didn’t they plot a strategy of fighting back with their swords? Wasn’t this what Jesus was telling them to do in Luke 22?

The fact is that the passage in Luke 22 says nothing about self-defense, other than noting that two of the disciples carried swords, something that was not uncommon for Galileans to do to protect themselves from thieves. That would be the equivalent of a Christian today having a gun at home in case of a home invasion. So if you want to use Luke 22 in that context, I wouldn’t argue with you. (In other words, some of the disciples had swords; some of us have guns.)

But, as many scholars recognize, Jesus was being ironic with His disciples, saying to them, “Look, the Scriptures teach that I will be numbered among the transgressors, the lawbreakers. So, we better make it look good. We need some swords!”

When they took him seriously and literally, saying, “Lord, we have two right here!” He replied by saying, “Enough with this!” As rendered in the HCSB: “‘Lord,’ they said, ‘look, here are two swords.’ ‘Enough of that!’ He told them” (Luke 22:38).

As Robert H. Stein explained in his Luke commentary, “The disciples misunderstood Jesus’ words in 22:36 by interpreting them literally, and their lack of understanding is most evident at this point. … Clearly two swords were not enough for any planned armed resistance. Jesus’ words are best understood as breaking off further conversation as in Deuteronomy 3:26, i.e., ‘Enough of this [foolish] conversation.'”

In sum, then: 1) For the umpteenth time, I’m not disputing the importance of the Second Amendment or our right to self-defense, nor do I have a problem with churches having good security; 2) I am disputing connecting the gospel with guns; 3) I am pointing out that Jesus’ words in Luke 22:35-38 should not be taken literally as a call for all of us to go out and buy guns.

That being said, if you made it this far and read the article in full, I’d love to hear your response.

Dr. Michael Brown(www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

The Pulse, by Joseph Mattera

Luther posting his 95 Theses in 1517 (Ferdinand Pauwels/Public Domain)

As a student of church history (I am not a church historian) and one who has tried to dig deep into my Christian roots so I am best able to position myself and the congregations I influence, I have a strong connection to both the ancient and future church—since the height of the tree is limited by the depth of the roots!

As part of my journey, I have often wondered if the Protestant Reformation was worth it. In other words, did the Reformation do more harm than good regarding the health of the church and the influence of the kingdom of God? I ask myself if the Reformation was something that could have been avoided since it dissolved Christendom into mere Christianity. This is something many on the Anabaptist, pietistic side welcome, while those working for a kingdom witness and reconstruction of the nations are working hard to recapture. Some of us fall between these polar-opposite positions.

One of the unsung heroes of church history was the Catholic theologian Erasmus. He represented a third option besides the positions of the Roman Catholics and Protestant pioneer provocateur Martin Luther. Erasmus wanted to reform the church, return the church to its biblical roots, and rid it of internal abuses; but was not willing to break the ecclesial unity of the church. Often I have wished that Erasmus won the day instead of Luther. But unfortunately, the popes of his day did not heed his warnings, resulting in a third schism.

Besides the first schism of East and West in the 11th century, this was the most devastating schism of the church. It wasn’t until Vatican II of the early 1960s, almost 450 years too late, that the Catholic Church finally started coming toward Erasmus! I have also wondered if there was biblical precedent for the Reformation. I have come to the conclusion that the Scriptures are clear: God honors His name above all else and He does not tolerate abuses in His name by any faith community, whether Israel of the past or the church of the past and present!

Our primary historic case study is the nation of Israel. As much as God values unity among His people (as prayed by Jesus in John 17:20-23), He judged the 12 tribes of Israel by dividing their kingdom because of the apostasy of King Solomon.

First Kings 11:9-11 says: “The Lord was angry with Solomon because he turned his heart away from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had warned him about this, that he should not follow other gods, but he was disobedient to the Lord’s command. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since you have done this and have not kept My covenant and statutes, which I commanded you, I will surely take the kingdom from you and give it to your servant.'”

Later, the writer of 1 Kings 11:29-34 says: “At that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him along the way, and he had dressed himself in a new garment, and the two of them were alone in the field. Ahijah took off the new garment that he wore and tore it into twelve pieces, and he said to Jeroboam: Take ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “See, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you (but he shall have one tribe for My servant David’s sake and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken Me and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molek the god of the children of Ammon and have not walked in My ways and have not done that which is right in My eyes, to keep My statutes and judgments, as his father David had done. ‘However, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David My servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept My commandments and My statutes.'”

In the very next chapter we see this prophecy fulfilled when the tribes of Israel broke away from Solomon’s son, King Rehoboam, which left him as the ruler of Judah only.

Then, to take it a step further, when both of the kings of Israel and Judah continued to turn away from the law of the Lord, God scattered all of His people among the nations. They didn’t return again as one nation until the post-exilic period during the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. We see this during the days of Jeremiah when God was already planning to divide and scatter His people because every facet of leadership representing the religious, social, judicial and political spheres committed apostasy by turning away from the word of God!

Jeremiah 2:8-9 says: “The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; the shepherds also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that do not profit. Therefore I will yet contend with you, says the Lord, and with your sons’ sons I will contend.”

Jeremiah also declared that God would scatter His people by using the pagan nation of Babylon (the nation from the north) to judge His people, which eventually led to them being taken captive to Babylon and disinherited.

Jeremiah 1:14-15 says: “Then the Lord said to me: Out of the north calamity will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord. And they will come and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah.”

Thus God bypassed His religious and political hierarchy—the entire institution of leadership—and chose Jeremiah as the only one to be His oracle!

Also, we see this principle during the days of Elijah several hundred years before they were scattered. At that time there was so much syncretism (King Ahab worshipped both Baal and Yahweh) that God used a remnant of 7,000 prophets preserved from the school of prophets set up by the prophet Samuel (many years before) as a sub-culture preserving the holy remnant who kept the word of the Lord and faith in Yahweh until a king arose who would restore the nation back to God (1 Kings 17-21)! But even godly kings like Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah were not enough to prevent the eventual disinheritance witnessed by Jeremiah.

Furthermore, we see God operating powerfully through the scattered remnant in Babylon. Daniel was used by God to transform the entire nation of Babylon (Dan. 1-6)! This shows us that God doesn’t need all the political, social and ecclesial accoutrements to transform culture and promote His kingdom! He will even bypass the unity of His church and faith community if necessary to accomplish His purposes if His people forsake His law and compromise their faith by worshipping and serving God and manmade traditions!

Finally, by the time of John the Baptist, we see God totally bypassing the religious hierarchy of the restored nation of Israel which was then under Roman rule, including the Scribes and Pharisees, by revealing the birth of Messiah to the lowly shepherds at night (marketplace leaders). God was making a statement by bypassing the priests and religious leaders with this sacred announcement!

Also, we see St. Luke accentuating this point by mentioning all the priestly and political leaders before announcing that the word of God had bypassed them and instead came to an unknown person named John the Baptist in the wilderness (wilderness in this context represents that he was outside their context and power base).

Luke 3:1-4: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Caesar Tiberius, Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip was tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Traconitis, and Lysanias was the tetrarch of Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He came into the region surrounding the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.”‘”

Of course, John was the forerunner of Jesus who, as a carpenter, was outside the priestly clan of Aaron and was not a member of the Sanhedrin nor a political leader. Yet He suddenly appeared on the scene as a herald of Good News (Luke 4:18).

John 7:15 says Jesus was not a man of letters (He wasn’t officially trained in the Scriptures by the accepted system of education run by the religious leadership) but was God the Son who came to bring the way, the truth and the life to the world (outside of the ecclesiastical or religious structure of His day). One of the most profound things Jesus ever said was that the religious traditions of men make the Word of God of no effect (Mark 7:13)!

Of course, I am still a proponent of church unity and understand it is something the Scriptures teach us to strive toward so we can function with the maximum amount of power and purpose! The body of Christ needs each part as shown in 1 Corinthians 12; Jesus prayed for His followers to be united in John 17:20-23; 1 Corinthians 1:10 teaches us not to be divided in the church; and Acts 2:44-47 and Acts 4:32-34 show that one of the primary reasons for the power of the early church was their love and unity. However, it is clear from the aforementioned narratives that God honors His name more than superficial and idolatrous unity.

Consequently, if the Protestant Reformation was a catalyst for the church to embrace the Scriptures as its highest standard of faith and life (2 Tim. 3:15,16); if the Reformation helped purge the church of religious idolatry (John 14:6, Acts 4:12); if the Reformation highlighted the gospel truth that salvation is through grace alone and not by individual works (Eph. 2:8,9); if the Reformation helped restore the biblical concept of the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:8, 9) and if the Reformation ultimately helps restore the body of Christ (including Roman Catholicism, Eastern orthodox, Anglican and beyond) back to the way of Christ and His apostles—then, in my opinion, it was worth it!

Next week I will deal with the advantages and disadvantages of the Protestant Reformation.

Dr. Joseph Matterais an internationally known author, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He is renowned for addressing current events through the lense of Scripture by applying biblical truths and offering cogent defenses to today’s postmodern culture. He leads several organizations, including The United Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma News called “The Pulse.” To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to josephmattera.org.

 

 

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A Prayer for Spiritual Freedom
By Pete Briscoe

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” – 2 Peter 1:2

Modern Christianity has done a poor job of presenting grace.

I hear this often: “Grace is fine, but don’t take it too far because then you’ll fall into sin.” This could also be spun, “Jesus is awesome, but don’t trust Him too much because then you’ll fall into sin.”

Really? Jesus will lead us into sin? Or is it that He will lead us among the sinners? Look deeper in Galatians 2:17-18:

But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

For the Jews – or church people – of Paul’s day to find themselves among the sinners meant sharing meals with them. This was law breaking. This was dancing. This was unheard of before freedom through Christ. When I am justified – or set free – in Jesus, I will start dancing in ways I always believed were… well, “too free.”

Perhaps then, if I am wondering whether or not I’m marching or dancing, I should take a look around me. Who are my fellow dancers? Do I find myself among the sinners? Are there freedoms around me causing me to lean deeper into the Spirit of God?

Or does everyone else on the dance floor dance just like I do?

One fear of freedom is that it will land us in a pit of sin. But Christ who is sinless and perfect has filled me with His Spirit. I live life through the Spirit. I dance in the Spirit. My freedom is surrendered to the Spirit. Thus, if I’m walking in the Spirit, I’m not walking in sin.

I can be sharing the dance floor with others whose freedom in Christ challenges my own.

Heavenly Father, we are saved by no works of our own, but by your sacrifice alone. Let us take joy in that, and glorify your name. Father, do not allow us to doubt your grace. You have taken every sin upon your shoulders, and washed away every blemish from our hearts. Amen.

 

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Why There Is No Remission Of Sin Without Sacrifice

The sacrificial system pointed to Jesus Christ Who would eventually be the once-and-for-all sacrifice for all those who would trust in Him.

Reasons for Offerings

There is such difficulty in determining a central theme of the Pentateuch but I believe that the five major offerings are of such great importance for the following reasons. First of all, the fall of mankind had severed the personal fellowship that Adam and Eve had enjoyed and had been blessed by in the Garden, and when sin entered in, God naturally could not dwell where sin is present for he is too holy to abide in the proximity of uncleanness. Therefore, the centrality of the purpose of the offerings reveals how sin required a blood sacrifice showing just how offensive and grotesque sin is. Although these offerings could not take away sin but simply covered them (Heb 10:11), they clearly show that sin is costly and that restorative measures are necessary to atone for such offenses. These offerings are a shadow of the redemptive plan of God which was fulfilled in Christ at Calvary (Heb 10:22). The burnt offering symbolizes the totality of Christ’s offering to make us at one with God as it satisfied the wrath of God through Jesus Christ. Leviticus 16:17 reveals that until an atonement is made, one cannot even enter into the “holy place” until he has made “an atonement for himself, and his household, and for all the congregation of Israel,” and atonement required the shedding of blood (Lev 16:18). The Hebrew word for atonement is “kaphar” is the same word used for “to coat” or “cover with pitch,” and even the secondary meaning is to “cover over”, “pacify,” or “propitiate” and was the same word used for the pitch that the Noah’s ark was to be covered with.1 As the flood waters symbolize God’s judgment, the “kaphar” (pitch) was used to keep the waters (God’s judgment on sin) out while covering those inside from death.

Cleansing Sacrifice

This theme is continued into the Old Testament since the offerings of Leviticus are shown to be fulfilled in Christ by the author of Hebrews but is also systemic throughout the Old Testament, perhaps no more clearly revealed than in Isaiah 52:13-15 and 53:1-11. We see His bearing our sins (53:11), and the Lamb slaughtered in our place (53:7, 12), thereby having His righteousness imputed to us (2nd Cor 5:21; Isaiah 53:11) so that we could enter into God’s presence (53:12). Here is why David blessed the Lord’s name because he (and we) can be redeemed from the pit (Psalm 103:4) by the forgiveness of sins (Psalm 103:3; 130:4) which in Christ can blot out our sins (Psalm 51:1) and cleanse us (Psalm 51:2) and make whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7), but it is not by our effort but by an effectual work of God Himself who cleanses the heart (Psalm 51:10) after repentance and confession (Psalm 51:1, 3), knowing that sacrificial offerings really couldn’t take away sins (Psalm 51:16-17). Since God has forbidden the drinking/eating of the blood because the life is in the blood, we see the importance of blood in relation to its need for life because sin is mentioned 17 times alone in Leviticus 15 and 9 times in chapter 16.

Offerings Symbolism

There are five major offerings mentioned in the Bible, but I want to go outside of the Book of Hebrews to apply how the offerings are revealed in Christ that reflects the offerings in commanded in the Book of Leviticus. For example, the “sprinkling of blood” is mentioned (1st Pet 1:2), which must have been a familiar term to Peter because blood was thrown at the altar (Lev 17:6), then sprinkled on the mercy seat (Lev 16:14) and intended for the people (Lev 16:15), which was representative of Christ’s blood (1st Pet 1:19) with the purpose of putting our own flesh to death (1st Peter 3:18), and cleansing every one of our sins (1st John 1:8), and by His blood being justified and thus, spared from the wrath of God (Rom 5:9). The propitiation by Christ’s blood that’s taken by faith was spoken of by the Apostle Paul (Rom 3:25) and is strikingly similar to that mentioned in the Hebrew word “kaphar” for covering, pacify, or to propitiate for, and the Greek word “hilastērion” relates to an “appeasing” or “expiation” and is also, very interestingly, used for the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies “which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement” like Noah’s ark was covered with pitch. [2]

Paid in Full

Even the peace offerings (Lev 3) required blood, and by the offering of Christ, this allows us to have peace with God (Rom 5:1) and having no more condemnation (Rom 8:). Outside of these books and chapters mentioned, no single chapter of any book in all of the New Testament mentions the necessity of the shed blood more than Hebrews 9: The priest could enter into the Holy of Holies only by means of the blood (7), but today it is not by the blood of animals but by Christ’s own shed blood that we can enter into the Holy of Holies (12) which means being in the presence of God, and since animal’s sacrificial blood (13) didn’t really cleanse but covered, we needed perfect sacrificial blood which was supplied by Jesus Christ (14). This was the sacrificial blood of the original covenant that God commanded (20) that was required to be sprinkled on the tabernacle, altar, and the vessels (21), which was a lesson that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (22). The high priest had to repeat what Jesus would do once and for all time, and with His own blood (25). Since the priests work was never done there were no chairs to sit on, but Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father since this requirement is completed, paid in full, or as Jesus said, “It is finished” or literally “paid in full.” The Greek meaning of the word is “teleō” which means to “bring to a close,” “to finish,” or “to end,” or as some translations have it, “paid in full.” The shadow is overtaken by the Real Substance, the Lamb of God. The shadow was inferior but the Light that caused the shadow in the first place is now hear (John 1:4-9).

Conclusion

The Old Testament sacrifices were a bloody reminder of how costly sin is and how difficult it was to atone for. The tremendous amounts of shed blood were to help remind the nation of Israel that sin is costly….it requires a life, and today it reminds us of just how costly it was for God to save us. God grants life through repentance and faith, just what Jesus said was necessary (Mark 1:14-15), but it also required the shed blood of Jesus Christ, so if the sacrifices teach us anything, it’s that sin costs us…and for those who have trusted in Christ, it cost Jesus His own life, but since He was sinless, the grave couldn’t hold Him (Acts 2:24), and neither can it hold us if we’ve trusted in Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)? That’s a very good question isn’t it? How will you answer it? Do you believe this?

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

 

 

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10 Biblical Truths to Overcome Sinful Anger

Association of Biblical Counselors

by Biblical Soul Care Harvest Bible Chapel

It doesn’t take long to figure out that we live in an angry world. Read the headlines on any given day and you see anger on display in politics, movies, TV shows, and sports. Spend any amount of time in any family and you’ll see anger expressed almost daily. When a day goes by without conflict, it’s a miracle of God.

Sadly, the church hasn’t exactly been the poster child for pursuing peace and reconciling conflict in a God-glorifying way over the course of church history. Even though Jesus “broke down the dividing wall of hostility… so that we could have peace” (Ephesians 2:14–16), we still quarrel and fight

It’s inevitable—wherever there are relationships, sinful anger will be expressed. By nature, we’re all selfish. I’m no exception. Cut me off in traffic, I might have some words for you (with my window up, of course). Do something I perceive as disrespectful, watch out! I may get a little passive aggressive and withdraw from interacting with you because I have a heart of fear. If you “reject me,” I get insecure, defensive, and may punish you by holding back.

See, that’s how deceptive sin can be. It affects our ability to think reasonably and rationally. While I am not immune, I am also certain I’m not alone in my struggle (1 Corinthians 10:13). BUT GOD, in his grace, mercy, kindness, patience, and love has made us alive through the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:4–9). It’s only because of Him that I’m pursuing humility and meekness as a way of life. Know this though, humility and meekness are not weakness! They are strength under control, like a well trained war horse (Matthew 5:5).

As God’s children, we can all make this journey of change together. Here are some things I have learned over the years in my fight against sinful anger. Understanding and applying these truths to your own life will help you overcome sinful anger and see sustained fruit.

1. Anger Has Three Faces: It is expressed primarily in three different ways: 1) explosive and blowing up; 2) stewing, brewing, or silent indignation; and 3) irritability, exasperation or embitterment. Silent anger is just as offensive to God as explosive anger. How are you prone to express your anger?

2. Anger Hurts Relationships: You choose who is on the receiving end of your anger because anger is a perceived threat to something you hold valuable. The problem is we can go a whole day at work being “nice” to our co-workers only to lose it at home with those closest to us! We tend to take it out on those we are called to love the most. Who has been on the receiving end of your anger the most?

3. Anger is in the Bible: The Bible has a lot to say about anger. From the beginning in the garden all the way to the end; man’s anger is expressed by rejecting God and pursuing his own way (Romans 3:10–18). Yet man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteous purposes (James 1:19–20). While God too can be angry, it is never sinful (Psalm 7:11John 3:36Romans 1:18). Actually, compared to the offenses He must suffer, He is very “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6;Psalm 103:8). Does your anger accomplish God’s purposes?

4. Anger Put Jesus on the Cross: Did you know that the anger of man and God’s wrath for all our sins culminated onto Jesus when he went to the cross to pay the penalty for sin (Acts 2:22–24)? He satisfied God’s wrath and allowed man to express their anger towards him at the same time—man rejecting God and God loving man in the very same event in history. How often do you reject God in your anger by not doing what He calls you to do?

5. Anger Is Covered by Christ’s Blood: The blood of Christ is sufficient to cover your sinful anger. No matter what wrath has protruded from your mouth or what you’ve done physically to harm others or yourself, you can be forgiven and walk in newness of life. Anger is a sin, but the death of Christ is payment enough to cover it. If you have died with Christ, you can become a different person (Romans 6:5–11). Do you believe and live as if your anger is covered by the blood of Christ or do you act like His blood isn’t sufficient? Why or why not?

6. Anger is a Life-dominating Sin: Just like any other “addiction,” we become enslaved to anger. It temporarily satisfies our sinful desire and flesh, yet we feel guilty and ashamed when we give full vent to it. It’s a vicious cycle of self-destruction. Are you stuck in a vicious cycle of anger? If so, you can be set free (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).

7. Anger is an Expression of False Worship: Like all other “addictions,” anger has false worship at its core. When you express your anger sinfully, ask yourself, “What am I not getting that I really want or that I’m willing to sin to get?” Your answer will reveal what you’re living for in that moment. Something else has captured your heart more than God, and you’re seeking a false refuge; that is idolatry. What’s captured your heart more than God?

8. Anger is Often Just a Fruit: It usually has fear at the root and more specifically, it is the fear of man. While anger may be all we can see at times, at the heart of it is a fearful, insecure, unsafe, untrusting heart looking for something from man that only God can satisfy. Learn to love God more with reverent awe and fear because then you’ll learn to need people less. Remember that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) and that you are perfectly loved by your heavenly Father. What are you really afraid of deep down in the innermost being of your heart?

9. Anger Can Be Righteous: Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and do not sin.” You express righteous anger by becoming angry about what angers God. Jesus died not only to free you from sinful anger but to enable you to be angry with God not at God. Is your anger expressed righteously or sinfully? How can you tell? Would others say the same?

10. Anger Must Be Surrendered: The only way out is to surrender your anger to God. Do not control or manage it in your flesh. Let the Spirit move you to action or bring you to brokenness. God is the judge, not you or me (James 4:11–12). Are you ready to step down from the throne of your mini judgment seat and allow God to be God? Remember, “vengeance is mine,” says the Lord (Romans 12:18–21).

Are you ready to humble yourself in your broken state and surrender your sinful anger to God? Know that He will give you grace in your time of need (Isaiah 66:2b2 Chronicles 16:9James 4:6). So, if you are ready, repent, ask God and those you have offended to forgive you, and walk in victory over the sinful anger that’s held you captive for so long.

 

October 30

Today‘s ReadingJeremiah 202 Timothy 4

Today‘s Thoughts: Do Not be Unequally Yoked

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? – 2 Corinthinas 6:14

This morning, I was thinking about being “unequally yoked.” (2 Corinthians 6:14) What does that really mean? To what extent does it apply? Like: if you are a doctor, are you not to be in partnership with other doctors? If you are a teacher, are you not to consult with other teachers? If you are a student, are you to not sit in a study group with other students who do not share your convictions, your perspectives, your faith?

Then I was thinking about all the marriages where the two do not agree. It is clear that a believer is not to leave the unbeliever if the unbeliever is willing to stay in the marriage (1 Corinthians 7:12-14), so how do you remain separate or unyoked when your spouse does not share your faith? The Answer: It’s a Spirit-led thing.

We have all heard sermons that have given a black and white/right and wrong message on this passage. I have seen well-intended believers make drastic life-changing decisions because of a SundayMorning message before seeking the individual counsel of the Lord. Sometimes the Sunday sermon does a disservice to the Spirit-led nature of the Word of God. When a pastor or teacher is sharing, he/she is giving a message that should have touched their heart first. The message is also given for the group as a whole so it will be more generic in nature. As a result, the listener needs to be able to take away what the Spirit of God is saying individually to them, not necessarily with the bent the teacher preached it.

God does not lead us as a group like in Exodus with the moving cloud. He changed the rules and said that now all will know Him(Jeremiah 31:34). I love the freedom of the Word of God and I love how the Spirit moves us at different times with different verses. If the Lord brings to mind the verse “do not be unequally yoked,” it is the believer’s responsibility to say back to the Lord, “What are You impressing on my heart to change? And Lord, please give me the wisdom to know how to apply this change to my life.”

When this verse first came to mind this morning, my mind started jumping to conclusions of all the possibilities the Lord might want me to change. But when I slowed down and asked the Lord those questions today, I realized it was about a social gathering that I am planning to attend. No big changes, no large convictions, just a warning to be wise in my conversations. “Do not yoke in thought with someone because your ears enjoyed hearing the words.”

God is patient and kind. When He tells us to flee and to not be unequally yoked, He will also give us the wisdom to change, move, leave as we trust Him. He will not lead us too quickly or too emotionally or too rashly. The Lord is on an eternal clock and we are called to align with Him, not Him with us.

Our mission is to evangelize the lost and awaken the saved to live empowered lives by the Work of God and His Holy Spirit. Daily Disciples Ministries makes a difference for the kingdom of God by teaching and training believers how to be in God’s Word, how to pray and how to walk with Jesus every day, as His daily disciple.
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Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

From Building Family Ties by Dave Stone

THE “ME” MESSAGE

It’s all too easy for parents to communicate the wrong messages to their children. When we try to keep up with the Joneses rather than rejoicing over their blessings, we send the message that material possessions are more important than spiritual riches. When we act as if joy is dependent on what we have, where we live, and how we feel, we model self-centeredness for our children. When we hang on to what we have rather than sharing it with others, we shout, loud and clear, that it’s all about me.

If you want your family to experience true joy, you have to shift the spotlight from yourselves to others. One of the most damaging things you can do as a parent is to give your children the best of everything. Instead, teach them the value of working, saving, and giving. Show them, by your own example, the blessings that come with sharing what they have with others. Let them see that joy isn’t dependent upon what you acquire, but who you are in Christ.

Don’t indulge your children and don’t allow anyone else to spoil them either. Sit down with the grandparents and have a come to Jesusmeeting with them.

Grandparents usually don’t intend to undermine the training of your children, but they can do it in a heartbeat if you let them give your kids whatever they want. Encourage grandparents to offer the kids love and support rather than video games and material stuff. Those intangible gifts are much more valuable than spoiling or spending, and they will help to reinforce your priorities with your kids.

©2012 by Dave Stone

 

The Key to Success

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God – Psalm 42:1

Looking for an edge in life?  Consider this: God is the key to any success you may have in learning to control your desires.  He must be your strength, your counselor, and your sure foundation.

Why is God so important?  Because He’s the source and fulfillment of all human life, including yours.  In other words, you were created by God as well as for God.  We often forget the latter.

St. Augustine made this beautiful confession nearly seventeen centuries ago: “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in You, O Lord.”  It was true for him then, and it’s true for you now.

“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:2)

“Whoever drinks the water I give Him,” said Jesus, “will never thirst…[it] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

“I am the bread of life,” said Jesus, “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” >John 6:35

Behind all your cravings is a craving for God.  And this craving can only be filled through a relationship with Jesus Christ–your true food and drink.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo 

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

Bible Fun Fact: The book of James is probably the oldest book in the new testament. (about 45 A.D.)

Outnumbered

Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel brag against me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’ ‘ So twenty two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained. Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘There are still too many people.’ Judges 7:2 WEB

Gideon started out with an army of thirty-two thousand men, but ended up with three hundred at the start of the actual battle. God Himself took them away and separated them from Gideon, intentionally. Gideon was not abandoned, and it was completely God’s will for this to happen. In fact, it was God’s plan all along.

We like to bring as big an army as possible, but God likes to be outnumbered. He prefers it this way. In His army, quality is better than quantity. When the enemy comes in like a flood, God will cause His person to stand through it and everyone looking on will have to say that this is the work of God. When God saves you from an impossible situation, you will remember that well, but when it is all easy and effortless, where is the challenge in that?

So you may set out to do something with a terrific group of people, and then find that it is just you and a handful left. This is probably not an accident. God has plans to make you shine and He has placed the ones around you that need to be there, and removed the rest. You will come through this and everyone will know that the Lord is truly with you. All you have to do is keep pressing forward into what He has given you to do and you will succeed.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You so much for all that You do for me. I am so glad that You accept me just as I am, but will also help me become the best version of myself. Put those around me that need to be there, and remove the ones that should not be, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

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DAILY DEVOTIONAL OCTOBER 30, 2017

The Importance of Thanksgiving

I will give thanks to the Lord.
Psalms 9:1

Thanksgiving should always follow answered prayer, just as the mist of earth’s gratitude rises when the sun of heaven’s love warms the ground.

Has the Lord been gracious to you and inclined His ear to the voice of your prayer? Then thank Him as long as you live. Let the ripe fruit fall upon the fertile soil from which it drew its life. Do not fail to sing in praise of Him who has answered your prayer and has given you the desire of your heart. To be silent about God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is to act as poorly as the nine lepers who after they had been cured of their leprosy did not return to give thanks to the healing Lord. To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of our spiritual lives. It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith. It is a healthy and invigorating exercise that quickens the pulse of the believer and prepares him for new enterprises in his Master’s service.

To bless God for mercies received is also the way to benefit our fellowmen; “let the humble hear and be glad.”1 Others who have been in similar circumstances will take comfort if we can say, “Magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. . . . This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him.”2 Weak hearts will be strengthened, and sagging spirits will be revived as the saints listen to our “shouts of deliverance.”3 Their doubts and fears will be rebuked as we teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They will also “sing of the ways of the LORD”4 when they hear us magnify His holy name.

Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels do not pray, but they do not cease to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, are never tired of singing the new song, “Worthy is the Lamb.”5

1) Psalm 34:2
2) Psalm 34:3, 6
3) Psalm 32:7
4) Psalm 138:5
5) Revelation 5:12

 

Today‘s Scripture

“So here is what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–‘your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life’–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t be so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-informed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2 MSG

Thoughts for Today

A life-controlling problem is anything that masters our life and draws us away from God. Often things start out innocently, but even a normal activity like eating can master our lives.

Consider this … 

Do you find yourself in this trap? Is there something in your life that is beginning to invade your thoughts too often, to unduly influence your actions? Perhaps you are involved in a relationship that is causing you to make poor choices. Maybe you are so involved in your career that your marriage is suffering and you just can’t seem to find time for church. Maybe it’s drinking or taking drugs or pursuing pornography. Or it might be a hobby that is becoming all-consuming.

Be honest with yourself–and with Jesus. He wants to help you, no matter what the problem is. Talk to him. Ask him to forgive you and help you. He loves you unconditionally. He may abhor what you are doing, but his love for you is as strong as ever.

If you sense a life-controlling problem building in your life–or one that has already taken control–take a moment to be honest with yourself. Do you want to be set free? If your answer is yes, then find a private place right now to talk to God. Tell him what you are feeling. Ask for his forgiveness … and his help. This will be your first giant step toward freedom. Fix your attention on God. Now find an accountability partner to help you as you move along the path of healing.

Prayer

Father, I know what I’m doing is wrong, and yet I don’t seem to be able to help myself. I need your help. Please forgive me and help me get my life turned around. I really do want to do things your way. Help me to fix my attention on you. In Jesus’ name …

 

Charisma Media

Rock and roll icon little Richard performs during a 75th birthday celebration concert for [Chuck Berry] at The Pageant theatre in St. Louis, Oct. 18, 2001. (Reuters)

Join us on the new C-Pop podcast where Taylor and Jessilyn discuss, debate and sometimes deride pop culture with a strong sense of humor and a focus on Christ. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.


Iconic musician Little Richard is renouncing his past life of sexual immorality, saying he believes same-sex relationships are “unnatural affections.”

In previous interviews, the famous singer referred to himself as “omnisexual,” revealing in an interview with GQ five years ago that he lived a life of perversion, including orgies.

But in an extensive interview with Three Angels Broadcasting Network, an Illinois-based Christian and health-oriented television and radio network, Little Richard says he has repented and turned to Jesus Christ for salvation.

“When I first came in show business, they wanted you to look like everybody but yourself,” he recalled.

“And anybody [who] comes in show business, they gonna say you gay or straight,” he said. “God made men, men and women, women. You’ve got to live the way God wants you to live … He can save you,” the 84-year-old singer told the Christian broadcaster.

The singer admits he fell to the temptations of the entertainment industry.

In Charles White’s biography, The Life and Times of Little Richard, Richard, who’s given name is Richard Wayne Penniman, revealed that his marriage to Ernestine Campbell fell apart due to his sexuality and being neglectful.

“You know, all these things. So much unnatural affection,” the singer told the network. “So much of people just doing everything and don’t think about God. Don’t want no parts of Him.”

“I was talking to Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, and she said she believed in the Resurrection. I said I believed in the Resurrection too. But I believe you’ve got to live right now in Jesus. He’s a real Savior and the Prince of Life,” he added.

“Regardless of whatever you are, He loves you. I don’t care what you are. He loves you and He can save you. All you’ve got to do is say, ‘Lord, take me as I am. I’m a sinner.’ But we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The only holy, righteous person is Jesus and He wants us to be just like Him because, in order to go to Heaven, we’ve got to look like Him,” Richard continued.

Richard said he asked God to save him and the Lord spoke to him saying, “Richard, you’re singing ‘Tutti Fruity.’ You’re singing ‘Good Golly Miss Molly.’ You’re singing ‘Long Tall Sally.’ You’re singing ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ and ‘She’s Got It’ and all of these things.”

And Richard asked, “Lord, can I do this and still be saved?” And according to the singer, the Lord replied, “Richard, no man can serve two masters.”

Richard said he had to release everything after that, so he retired from performing and recording.

He related a recent incident where a producer came to him, offering millions of dollars for a new television series titled “Little Richard.”

The producer told him if he would allow the series to go forward, he would be the hottest thing on the planet.

“And I said, ‘I don’t want to be hot in the fire. I don’t want to be hot in the flames,” he told the producer. “I want to do what God wants me to do.”

Richard confessed the offer was tempting.

“I don’t want to sing rock and roll no more. … I want to be holy like Jesus,” he said. 

 

 

Fear Not!
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
October 30, 2017

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

God calls each of us to engage in spiritual warfare at times. Whenever satan wants to come against one of God’s children, he does so by trying to intimidate through fear. Goliath’s formidable size and arrogant boasting intimidated Saul and Israel’s army. And because God’s anointing had fallen from Saul, he was unable to respond with courage to Goliath’s charge. Fear paralyzes and torments. That is why Saul could not respond.

The anointing had fallen on David, who was just a young boy, but mighty in spirit. David did not cower at the size or shouts of the giant Goliath. He saw Goliath through the eyes of God, who saw him as a mere speck. David had righteous indignation for an affront to the armies of the living God.

David did not weigh the risk of failure because his faith was resting totally in God. That is another important factor in overcoming fear-complete trust in God. When the Lord began training me to confront fear, the training grounds were a groundless lawsuit, intimidations, and calamity that confronted my very existence. Learning that these were merely tactics of the enemy, designed to instill fear, allowed me to stand firm in God’s power to overcome.

Do not fear sudden calamity if you are walking uprightly before God. It may be setting the stage for a great victory that will bring praise and honor to your heavenly Father. These battles are training grounds for greater victories to come.

 

Passion for Praise: ‘Watch Over You’

Monday, October 30, 2017

The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

Talk1
Hello again!  I hope that you are feeling well on this Monday and that you remembered to spend time with Jesus FIRST!
EmbraceTheDay1
Jesus helps ME to cope!!  I have been going through a tough time lately and, as usual, I have tried to handle it MY way, which also as usual was the WRONG WAY!  So, I have now handed it all over to Jesus!  Let HIM do the driving from now on….
Accepted1
Yup, that’s right……I have to learn to accept how things are……..everyone doesn’t have to share MY beliefs……..MY lifestyle…….heck, I don’t even need to seek approval from anyone but Jesus!!
GodBrings1
Yes, He will!!!  I am learning this more each day!!
Messages1
Have I been doing THIS, too?  Yes, I know I have!  And I’ve accused everyone else of it……Lord, I need Your guidance!!!!!
God bless you all!!!!
EmojiUp1

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