Journey into Shadow

Abanindranath Tagore, Journey’s End, tempera on paper, 1913.

By Jill Carattini

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Frodo, the young hobbit, has been given the burden of bearing the one ring of power. It is a ring that has the potential to put all of Middle Earth under terror and shadow, and the darkness is already spreading. With a fellowship of friends, Frodo determines he must start the long, dark journey to destroy the ring by throwing it into the volcano from which it was forged. It is a journey that will take him on fearful paths through enemy territory and overwhelming temptation to the ends of himself. Seeing the road ahead of him, he laments to Gandalf the Wise that the burden of the ring should have come to him in the first place.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”(1)

A fan of Tolkien’s epic fantasy once wrote the author to say that he preferred to read The Lord of the Rings particularly during the season of Lent. Though I don’t know all this reader had in mind with such a statement, Tolkien’s portrayal of a journey into darkness with the weight of a great burden and a motley fellowship of companions certainly holds similarities to the journey of the church toward the cross. The forty-day period that leads to Easter is both an invitation and a quest for any who would be willing, albeit a difficult one. The deliberate and wearisome journey with Christ to the cross is a crushing burden, even with the jarring recognition that we are not the one carrying it. On the path to Holy Week, the fellowship of the church far and wide is given time to focus in detail on what it means that Jesus came into this world that he might go the fearful way of the Cross. It is time set apart for pilgrimage and preparation, forty days with which we decide what to do with the time that is given us.

In fact, Christian scriptures attach special meaning to the forty-day journey. Considered the number of days marking a devout encounter with God, we find the occurrence of forty-day journeys throughout the stories of the prophets and the people of God. For forty days Noah and his family waited on the arc as God washed away and revived the earth. Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai, where he received the Law of God to share with the Israelites. Later, he spent forty days on the mountain prostrate before the LORD after the sin of the golden calf. Elijah was given food in the wilderness, which gave him strength for the forty-day journey to Horeb, the Mount of God. Jonah reluctantly accepted forty days in Nineveh where the people, heeding his warning, repented before God with fasting, sackcloths, and ashes. For forty days the prophet Ezekiel laid on his right side to symbolize the forty years of Judah’s transgression. And finally, for forty days Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. As Mark reports: “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.”

It is with this same Spirit that any are invited to take the forty-day journey into the shadows and difficulties of Lent. In every forty-day (or forty year) journey described in Scripture, the temptations are real, the waiting is difficult, and the call to listen or to look, to obey or deny is wearying. But there is something about the journey itself to which God moves the journeyer. Jesus himself was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days, while Moses, Ezekiel, Noah, and even Jonah were each instructed to set out on the journeys that brought them closer to the heart of God, whether they were able to accept it or not.

Similarly today, the forty days that lead to Easter Sunday are not without burden or cost. “The Cross of Lent,” as Augustine referred to it, is one to bear year round, but one we learn to bear all the more intensely along the way to the cross during Lent. Here, the church invites the journeyer to remember that we are dust, that we follow Jesus to his death, that we recollect the acts of God to be near us, and we let go of the things that keep us from holding the Son who saves us. Of course, these are burdens that none will never bear alone. But each day we are given is one we decide what to do with. Jesus has given one option:

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”(2)

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), 51.
(2) Luke 9:23-24.

So Help Me God

JANUARY 15, 2020 BY CLARENCE SEXTON

George Washington has long been credited with instituting the tradition of concluding the oath of office with the phrase, “So help me God,” at his presidential inauguration in 1789. This profound event has helped shape and influence our nation. Washington’s love for God and country has served as an example for all American history. We have the most unique country in the world. We have the most blessed country in the world. God’s good hand is on it. With the great freedom we have been given, comes great responsibility. People who truly know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour are responsible for what no one else is responsible for in our country. Our religious liberty is a gift from God, not from the state; therefore, we answer to God for this liberty.

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and notice that it is God’s desire that “all men…come unto the knowledge of truth.” Like Timothy, we have been taught certain truths. We know that God is real. We know that heaven and hell are real. We know that there is a certain judgment. We know that Jesus Christ is coming again. We know that evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse. We know that men for money, power, or other reasons may soil their conscience. And we know that when men soil their conscience, it will surely cause their lives to shipwreck. What are we to do with the truth we have been given? How can we use the truth to impact our nation for Christ?

We Are to Speak to God About Our Country

The Bible says in I Timothy 2:1-2, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” All of us would like to live that quiet and peaceable life, but that quiet and peaceable life according to the Word of God does not begin by marching in the streets or protesting in some town square. It begins first of all with speaking to God about our nation.

The ultimate outcome of the struggle in our nation rests in the hands of God. Our first responsibility is to call on God. I want us to stop just for a moment, and ask ourselves, “How many times have we complained without praying? How many times have we griped about something we didn’t like but we didn’t pray about it?” We must speak to God first.

We Are to Speak to Our Country About God

The first thing is speaking to God for our country. The second thing is to speak to our country about God. The Bible says in I Timothy 2:3-6, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” We meet many people who have not come to “the knowledge of the truth.” How will they ever know the Creator God? It is our responsibility in our country to take advantage of every freedom we enjoy, to open our mouths and proclaim with our whole heart that our God is the true God, the Creator God, and all truth proceeds from Him because He is before all things.

Instead of sitting down, twiddling our thumbs, and having debates about every opportunity we do not have, we need to take advantage of every opportunity we do have. We need to begin speaking to our friends, neighbors, and co-workers about God. This is what our country needs.

We Are to Allow God to Speak to Us
and Obey Him

Thirdly, we are to always allow God to speak to us and obey Him. I Timothy 2:7-8 says, “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Notice the parenthetical phrase in verse seven, “I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not.” This is given to us by the Lord in the Word of God so that the reader better understands the author. When we write something in parentheses, that gives a little more earnestness or clarity.

The Word of God says in Psalm 134:1-2, “Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.” In other words, “God, see into my heart. This is all for the Lord. It is all for His glory. I am coming to God with a clean heart and giving it to Him.”

Our responsibility is to pray for individuals, for leaders, for authorities; to speak to God about our nation; to speak to our nation in humility and boldness about the truth; and to confront them about Christ. Do you know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour? There is only one way to heaven. Do not be fooled and die and go to hell forever. Do not just live on religion. You must know the true God. That is why we are here.

We have the greatest work in this world to do: being His witnesses and His intercessors, and He will enable us for this work if we keep our own hearts right with Him.

So Help Me God

Three Ways to Handle an Unhappy Marriage

By Corey Allan -August 12, 2020

Problems in marriage are inevitable. Even chronic. And so, at times, is unhappiness. There are three key ways to handle an unhappy marriage.

After studying 645 couples where one spouse rated their marriage as unhappy, a research study from a team of family scholars found that two-thirds of the couples who chose to stick it out together reported a significantly happier marriage five years later.

So what makes the difference if you choose not to divorce?

The marriages that got happier fell into three broad approaches: the marital work ethic, the marital endurance ethic and the personal happiness epic.

  1. In the marital work ethic, spouses actively work to solve problems, change behavior or improve communication. When the problem is solved, the marriage gets happier. Strategies for improving marriages range from arranging dates or other ways to spend more time together, to enlisting the help and advice of relatives or in-laws, consulting clergy or secular counselors, or even threatening divorce and consulting divorce attorneys.
  2. In the marital endurance ethic, by contrast, spouses don’t solve problems with concerted action on the part of either spouse. Stated another way, you don’t “work” on an unhappy marriage; instead, you endure it. “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other” because with the passage of time, things get better. Job situations improve, children get older or better, or chronic ongoing problems get put into new perspective.
  3. Finally, in the personal happiness epic, marriage problems don’t seem to change that much. Instead, you find alternative ways to improve your own happiness and build a good and happy life despite a mediocre marriage. This often contains elements of both the marital work ethic and the marital endurance ethic approaches as well.

Marriage as a Shared Story

Creating a happy marriage depends on more than just your interactions with your spouse; it also depends on how you view marriage in general.

Marriage is not just the sum of the personal interactions that you find either satisfying or distressing. Marriage is a social status and a shared ideal—a story you have about your own life, your family, your spouse and your love.

The attitudes and values that people and societies have about marriage and divorce affect how satisfying people find being married. In communities where marriage is highly valued, husbands and wives get more from marriage than they would in a community where marriage is seen as a merely private matter.

People who are deeply committed to marriage as a lifelong vow have happier marriages not only because of what they do in their relationships, but because of what they think about being married in general. Read that sentence again.

Stated another way: The happiness you get from any role in life—being a parent, holding a job, being married—depends in part on how satisfying you find the day-to-day interactions and tasks. But it also depends on whether you see the role itself as important and valuable.

In general, we have many goals for our own marriages, and those of others: We want marriage to last, we want children to enjoy living with their own two married parents, we want these marriages to be happy, and we don’t want unhappily married people trapped in miserable lives.

Over the past 40 years, these goals have seemed to be in conflict: If we discourage divorce we create lasting marriages at the high cost of individual misery—almost certainly for adults and often for the children. We need to find ways how to handle conflict.

Based on the findings of this study, this conventional wisdom is untrue.

Does divorce typically make unhappily married people happier than staying married? No.

Does a firm commitment to staying married, even though unhappy, typically condemn adults to lifelong misery? No.

So, is divorce always wrong and staying married always right? The answer’s not so simple.

Both divorce and marriage initiate complex chains of events whose outcomes cannot be predicted with certainty at the outset.

But know this…marriages are not happy or unhappy—spouses are.

And with the passage of time, the feelings of people about their marriages can and do change.

A bad marriage and a good marriage is not always a fixed opposite, but the same marriage at two different points in time (or in the eyes of two different spouses).

Divorce may make an unhappy spouse happier, but there is no guarantee (and much doubt) that it will.

Marriage is no panacea, but neither is divorce.

To sum all this up: People and marriages are going to be happier in communities with a strong commitment to marital permanence. While some marriages are so destructive that divorce or separation maybe an outcome, marriages are more likely to be both happy and stable when marriage is highly valued.

So,

Surround yourself with other married couples who value marriage as well.

Stick it out through the tough times.

And live life together with others.

It makes the ride so much more enjoyable along the way.

####

Pick up a copy of Naked Marriage…available now.  

This article about how to handle an unhappy marriage originally appeared here.

Three Ways to Handle an Unhappy Marriage

The deadliest hoax in America exposed

Exclusive: Terry Beatley takes what she learned from the ‘Abortion King’ to battle for the unborn

Feb 22, 2021

By Terry Beatley

It’s one the greatest love stories of all time, and if made widely known, it might cut the abortion industry’s political umbilical cord and stop politicians’ exploitation of young women and the brutal death of children. It might even lead more souls to Heaven.

Yes, it’s a story of God’s divine mercy for Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D. who died on Feb. 21, 2011. This doctor regretfully cofounded NARAL Pro-Choice America and was once known as America’s “Abortion King.”

In an unplanned turn of events, I made this doctor a promise to teach America how he deceived our nation with the lie that abortion is “women’s health care” and to deliver his personal parting message across our country. In an age where science is worshiped and God is rejected by far too many, the legacy of Dr. Nathanson is for such a time as this – 2021. Science led him to the truth, and the truth led him to Jesus Christ.

Every American on both sides of the abortion issue should know this unknown piece of American history. That’s why every Tuesday evening on a Zoom conference call at 7 p.m. Eastern and Central until the end of June 2021, I’ll be equipping participants with the relevancy of Dr. Nathanson’s pro-life conversion, along with the eight points of propaganda he used in executing the deadliest American hoax.

I’ll also delve into related topics such as how Dr. Nathanson’s deception led to 1) the evisceration of parental rights, 2) a dramatic increase in breast cancer, 3) increased participation in a racist population-control plan called the “Negro Project,” and 4) the execution of a political ploy called the “Catholic Strategy” to persuade Catholics to vote for pro-abortion candidates.

God had everything to do with my life intersecting with Dr. Nathanson’s. At a prayer vigil in November 2009, I fervently asked the Lord for direction regarding what I was supposed to do with my research about Planned Parenthood, its racist agenda and how it endangers American youth.

His answer came: “Go and interview Dr. Nathanson. …” I was surprised and troubled by this idea. I knew the doctor’s history as the cofounder of pro-choice politics who had become 100% pro-life, but I couldn’t imagine why God would direct me to interview him or why the doctor would agree.

I called his home in Manhattan. His wife answered and informed me her husband was 83 years old and very frail with terminal cancer. For over a year he had denied all interview requests. Instructing me to put my request in writing and fax it to her, she promised to present it to him but warned not to get my hopes up.

To my surprise, and hers too, Dr. Nathanson agreed. I flew to New York on Dec. 1, 2009 – a day that changed the rest of my life.

I sat with him for one hour asking questions. Listening to him lament about his crimes against humanity, I sensed his remorse as incredibly authentic. It was nearly tangible.

My heart filled with compassion for this old dying man who had turned his life over to Jesus Christ 13 years earlier, on Dec. 8, 1996. He had been carrying his cross ever since, and he knew he was leaving behind a culture of death.

I felt compelled to make him an offer.

Dr. Nathanson, … if you have something to tell America, I promise I will carry it across our nation for you.

He seriously contemplated his answer.

Yes, yes I do. Continue teaching the strategy of how I deceived America, but also deliver this special message. Tell America that the cofounder of NARAL says to ‘Love one another.’ Abortion is not love. Stop the killing. The world needs more love. I’m all about love now.

Then his eyes slightly lit up with what I deemed as hope. Hope that Americans would one day be liberated by the truth he was leaving behind. I reached over and shook Dr. Nathanson’s hand. I knew not how or when, but I promised him I’d get the job done.

As part of fulfilling the promise, I worked toward defeating Virginia’s most pro-abortion, anti-parental rights state senator who had sold out to the abortion lobby years earlier. It worked.

Then, I started the nonprofit educational organization called Hosea Initiative, in 2011. In 2016, my book, “What If We’ve Been Wrong? Keeping my promise to America’s ‘Abortion King,'” was published which sent me on a speaking circuit in over 20 states, including the Walk for Life in San Francisco. Then, I signed a movie deal for a feature film based on my book and Dr. Nathanson’s life from childhood to conversion.

Later, the Hosea team developed two educational tools: 1) high school curriculum named “Becoming a Witness for Life,” which draws young people into the life and legacy of Dr. Nathanson and teaches the impact of competing worldviews, and 2) the FACT-CHECK booklet, “Who was America’s ‘Abortion King’?” which teaches the pro-life conversion story of Dr. Nathanson and his stealthy eight-point strategy of deception.

Now that everything is in place, I’m eager to provide weekly live training to equip the 75,000,000 people who voted pro-life in November 2020 with the knowledge of how to use the FACT-CHECK booklet. Why? Because we have to show God we desire a pro-life America. This requires winning more hearts and minds to support a culture of life. There is no better way to do this than learning how and why Dr. Nathanson lied, and then, boldly, confidently share it with others.

We have learned at Hosea Initiative that when pro-choice minded people are presented with these irrefutable historical facts, they begin to question their pro-abortion position.

America is in need of a true love story of God’s divine mercy and redemption. Join me on Tuesday nights, and invite your friends.

Below are the Zoom links to the call beginning Tuesday, Feb. 23:

7 p.m. Eastern meeting
Meeting ID: 861 5944 8605
Passcode: 642730

7 p.m. Central meeting
Meeting ID: 899 8233 1439
Passcode: 449602


Terry Beatley is the author of “What If We’ve Been Wrong? Keeping my promise to America’s ‘Abortion King'” and founder and president of the Hosea Initiative.


How To Stay Awake In This World?

Awake

October 14, 2020  Nehemiah Zion

Are you awake? Or, are you still asleep as a Christian? If you know the value of time, you will be up-to-date on what’s required to reach your goals. We have learnt to keep time, predict outcomes from an earthly standpoint.

Can we discern the signs of the times?

The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matthew 16:1-3)

As believers, we need to stay awake and be found actively doing God’s will. Sadly, many Christians are found wasting their life away in worldliness and even picking on other Christians.

3 Qualities of Those Who Are Awake

  1. Walking In Righteousness: (1 Corinthians 15:34) a lifestyle of victory over sin as a loving child found in obedience to the Heavenly Father. A believer who hungers and thirsts for the righteousness of God. Consistently growing in the knowledge of Christ.
  2. Knows The World Is Evil: (Ephesians 5:14-16) living a life with a burden for the lost, redeeming the time by walking wisely and staying the course.
  3. Ready For The Rapture: (Romans13:11) keeps themselves sanctified and ready, encouraging others for the coming of the Lord.

There are several other qualities of those who stay awake. They are not intoxicated with the world, but putting on the garments of God, living each day by the power of resurrection.

The need of the hour is for every believer to dive deeper in prayer and personal study of the word over and above fellowship.

Maranatha, praise God.

3 Critical Qualities Of The Christian Ambassador

ambassador

October 15, 2020 : Nehemiah Zion

Are you walking as an Ambassador of Christ, or do you represent your workplace, career, interests wherever you go?

The world is judging you by your company and interests of this world. Every company is looking at your social media.

A separation is happening as we speak and clear lines of difference is being made evident as everyone is vocalising their beliefs today.

What will be most critical for believers is the fruit of their lips and actions. Fruit will reveal the roots, the state of your heart.

Are you ashamed to be a believer first? Then God will be ashamed of you (Mark 8:38).

Is representing Christ a duty of pastors only? Of-course not! It is for every believer.

Three qualities expected from a believer are;

Speak Boldly as an Ambassador

“For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:20 

Our boldness to speak the gospel comes from the Holy Spirit. As Ambassadors of Christ when we preserve our Christian walk, keeping ourselves pure (spirit, soul and body), God strengthens our spirit man to speak out without fear.

Reconciliation

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20 

We are peace-makers, as believers, focused on uniting people on the basis of the Word of God. To be reconciled with God, we need to walk as children of God, in love and faith in Christ.

Willing

“They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;” Joshua 9:4 

How people brag about their organisations and achievements on this earth! It doesn’t take any coaxing when it comes to glorifying self. It’s only natural for the sinful man. As believers, born again, born of God, how willingly are we giving to God as ambassadors? In our words and actions, are you carrying out the message of love and hope eternal?

What separates us from the rest is the precious blood of Jesus. Not for us to live exclusively and avoid people, but to glorify God and bring people to Christ without compromising on His word. Being willing to let go of the best (or what you love) in the world for the sake of Christ.

The time is here,
Make sure Jesus is near,
Our lives are dear, don’t fear,
He accounts for every tear.

Maranatha, Praise God and amen.

10 Things You Should Know About Anglicanism

By Gerald R McDermott -April 2, 2020

10 Things You Should Know About Anglicanism

1. It didn’t start with the divorce of Henry VIII.

Actually, it started in the very first centuries of Christianity when Romans settled Britain and Christians came as soldiers, administrators and traders. The first mention we have of English Christianity comes from Tertullian who wrote in 200 AD that “parts of England were conquered by Christ.”

Very soon, Christians in Britain developed their own way of worshiping the triune God, involving attention to the beauty of the created world and missions. The Celtic church in England differed with Rome over many points of worship, and in the fourteenth century Oxford priest, John Wycliffe, called the pope “a poisonous weed” and denied transubstantiation. All of these differences with the Roman church were centuries before Henry VIII.

2. By the fourteenth Century, England had developed a distinctive spirituality.

It was rooted in the synthesis of doctrine and prayer taught by two Christian greats: Augustine of Hippo—the great theologian whose Confessions are an extended prayer—and Benedict of Nursia, whose monasteries modeled the Christian life as work amidst liturgical prayer. By the fourteenth century, English Christianity had long been influenced by both Augustine’s “pessimistic” emphasis on sin and Benedict’s “optimistic” stress on joy in common life.

3. Anglicanism is not just for the English or for Americans.

Today the majority of Anglicans are in Africa and other regions of the Global South. Each province uses its own culture to worship God with the Book of Common Prayer and the orthodoxy of the Thirty-Nine Articles.

4. There are more Anglicans in church on Sunday morning in Nigeria than in all the British Isles and North America combined.

5. With a membership of about 85 million, Anglicanism is the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

6. Anglicans consider their way to be a via media.

This means the “middle way” between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. They think they have the best of both—the worship of the catholic tradition of the undivided Church of the first millennium, plus the emphasis on preaching and justification by faith from the Reformation.

7. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer is widely regarded as the most beautiful worship in the English language.

The “sombrely magnificent prose” (Eamon Duffy) of the Book of Common Prayer has attracted legions of admirers all around the world. It reflects the liturgical genius of Thomas Cranmer, but it also provides moderns access to the worship of the early church. Cranmer, and the many other hands that produced the Book of Common Prayer, were adapting a basic catholic pattern of worship derived from the first few centuries of the Church that then developed over the course of the Middle Ages.

8. Anglicans worship not only with liturgy (ordered prayer that changes every Sunday of the seasons of the church year), but also with sacraments.

These are the two Dominical (commanded by the Dominus, or Lord, of the Church, Jesus) sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, and the five “sacraments of the church”—confirmation, Holy Orders, marriage, absolution, and healing of the sick.

9. Anglicans believe that in the Eucharist, they receive the real body and blood of the risen Christ.

This differs with the Catholic view of transubstantiation, which holds that the substance of the bread and wine are changed so that they are no longer bread and wine. Anglicans believe the bread and wine remain as bread and wine, but that in a mysterious way, the body and blood of Christ are also conveyed through the sacrament.

10. While Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) was the English Reformation’s greatest liturgist, Richard Hooker (1554-1600) is widely regarded as its greatest theologian.

His Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity are a comprehensive treatment of life and worship on the via media.

Content adapted from The Future of Orthodox Anglicanism by Gerald R. McDermott. This article first appeared on Crossway.org; used with permission.

Original here

How To Love One Another?

September 29, 2020 Nehemiah Zion

Can I ever understand you? Knowing a person is one thing; truly understanding a person takes years to never.

Did God ask us to understand each other? Nope.

He’s called us to love one another. How to love one another?

Here are 15 ways to reach out to your brother or sister in Christ;

  1. Be kind and affectionate (Romans 12:10)
  2. In honour prefer another (Romans 12:10)
  3. Forgiving (Ephesians 4:32)
  4. Forbearing (Colossians 3:13)
  5. Bear burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  6. Edify (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  7. Confess faults (James 5:16)
  8. Provoke to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
  9. Hospitality without grudging (1 Peter 4:9)
  10. Wash feet (John 13:14)
  11. Comfort (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  12. Correct (Romans 15:14)
  13. Submit (Ephesians 5:21)
  14. Serve (Galatians 5:13)
  15. Encourage (Hebrews 3:13)

Pray that all these qualities and much more be found in our lives until Jesus returns in His eternal glory. Praise God and Amen!

 

How To Love One Another?

AUDIO Justified Freely By The Blood Of The Lamb

By Rev Bill Woods

Imagine you were arrested and had to go to court to face charges.

    – The day came for your trial and you were a nervous wreck.

    – The Bailiff called for one case after another, but your case never came up.

Finally, you ask the Bailiff why you haven’t been called.

  – He checks the record and says, “Someone else has paid your fine.  You’re free to go just as if you were never guilty!”

JUSTIFICATION! — GOD’S ACT OF REMOVING THE GUILT AND PENALTY OF SIN WHILE AT THE SAME TIME DECLARING A SINNER RIGHTEOUS THROUGH CHRIST’S ATONING SACRIFICE.

    – RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM GOD IS VIEWED AS BEING CREDITED TO THE

      SINNER’S ACCOUNT THROUGH FAITH ALONE, WITHOUT WORKS.

Ephesians 2:8-9–For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 5:1-11
1  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
2  Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
3  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
4  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
5  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
6  When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
7  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.
8  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
9  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.
10  For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.
11  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

A New York Divorce Lawyer died and arrived at the Pearly Gates.  

 – Peter asked him “What have you done to deserve entrance into Heaven?”

The Lawyer thought a moment, then said, “A week ago, I gave a quarter to a homeless person on the street.”

    – Peter asked Gabriel to check the record — after a moment Gabriel affirmed this was true. 

Peter said, “Well, that’s fine, but it’s not really quite enough to get you into Heaven.”

The Lawyer said, “Wait, Wait! There’s more! 3 years ago I gave a homeless person a quarter.”

    – Peter nodded to Gabriel, who after a moment nodded back, affirming this was verified. 

Peter whispered to Gabriel, “Well, what do you suggest we do with this fellow?” Gabriel said to Peter, “Let’s give him back his 50 cents and tell him to go to Hell.” 


Many people think they can argue their way into Heaven.

    – An old lady I used to work with in Seattle, Lee, said she was going to set God straight when she saw Him.  She didn’t like how He ran the world.  I doubt she got the opportunity to air her complaints.

Once a person dies and passes into the next life, there won’t be any pride, arrogance or arguing.

    – It’ll be done a deal. A person’s eternal destiny will be sealed.

Hebrews 9:27And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,

We want to justify ourselves — we know what we’re talking about, we’re right!

    – It doesn’t make any difference who you are or what you’ve done for a living. 

It doesn’t make any difference what it is, or who it is, we all want to justify ourselves as being right or justify ourselves in what we’re doing.

    – When it comes to being justified before God, there’s only one Person who’s right and knows the way to justification.

Our text is clear about justification before God. He knows best.

    – We play by His rules only.

Paul defines how we are justified.
1- Justified through faith
2- Justified at the right time 

3- Justified by His Blood

1. JUSTIFIED THROUGH FAITH

Romans 5:1-2
1  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
2  Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.


Jack was walking along a steep cliff one day, and accidentally got too close to the edge and fell.   

    – He grabbed a branch, which temporarily stopped his fall.

He looked down and to his horror saw the canyon fell straight down for more than 1000 feet. 

He couldn’t hang onto the branch forever, and there was no way for him to climb up the steep wall of the cliff.

    – Jack began yelling for help, hoping someone passing by would hear him and lower a rope or  something. “HELP! HELP! Is anyone up there? HELP!”

He yelled for a long time, but no one heard him.

    – He was about to give up when he heard a voice.

    – “Jack, Jack. Can you hear me?”

    – “Yes, yes! I can hear you. I’m down here!”

    – “I see you, Jack. Are you all right?” 

“Yes, but who are you, and where are you?

    – “I’m the Lord, Jack. I’m everywhere.”

    – “The Lord? You mean, GOD?”

    – “That’s Me.” 

“God, please help me! I promise if, You’ll get me down from here, I’ll stop sinning. I’ll be a really good person. I’ll serve You for the rest of my life.” 

“Easy on the promises, Jack. Let’s get you off from there; then we can talk.”

    – “Now, here’s what I want you to do. Listen carefully.” 

“I’ll do anything, Lord. Just tell me what to do.”

    – “Okay. Let go of the branch.”

    – “What?”

    –  “I said, let go of the branch. Just trust Me. Let go.”

There was a long silence. Finally Jack yelled, “HELP! HELP! IS ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?” 

Our salvation or justification is still a matter of faith.

  • Some people say, “I’m just too sinful!  I don’t think God can forgive me.”
  • Let go of that argument and cast yourself on God’s mercy God said He will forgive you if you call upon Him.
  • Satan can’t put anything in your life so deep that the Blood of Jesus Christ can’t go deeper and cleanse!
  • Have faith in God’s promises.

Hebrews 11:6
6  And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.


Faith is how we’re justified before God. Salvation or justification starts and ends with faith.

It’s faith that led you to believe God existed if you’re a Christian.

The starry universe, the panoramic beauty of Creation, plants and animals, newborn babies, and so many other things led to believe in our Creator God.

Faith in God led you to believe the Bible.

    – Faith that the Bible is God’s Word led you to believe in Jesus.

Your faith in Jesus, led you to trust Him for your Salvation. 

Faith in God’s Word led you to confess your faith in Christ.

Faith in what God said about sin led to repent of your sin (along with the conviction of the Holy Spirit).

Faith in God and His Word leads you to daily prayer, Bible reading, wanting to live a clean life, to witness, to give, and leads you to church on Sunday.

    – It’s faith in the Lord that leads to live for Him as best you can.

As you age, it’s faith in God that keeps you going when you don’t feel like it.

And as you near death it’ll be faith that’ll cause you to trust Christ for your Salvation and say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

It’ll be faith that may cause you to pray, “Lord, you can take me home any time you want me.”

IT’S ALL A MATTER OF FAITH. A faith that will cause you to trust and obey Him.

2. JUSTIFIED AT THE RIGHT TIME

Romans 5:6-9 – When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
7  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.
8  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
9  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.


God is “just at the right time”. There are times when it doesn’t seem like it, but He is! 

Our daughter, Tammy, was born, March 5, on an undisclosed year quite a while back.

    – We brought her home from the hospital and she started vomiting after every feeding.

    – In fact, she started projectile vomiting every time Marty fed her.

It was like clockwork. You could almost count the seconds after feeding her that it’d all forcefully come gushing out and you’d better be ready.

That went on for several days every time Marty fed her — Tammy was losing weight (she soon was below her birth weight).

Because we knew this wasn’t normal we called for an appointment with a well-respected pediatrician in Spokane 100 miles away.

On April 12 we saw the doctor — he said, “Take your baby to the Holy Family Hospital in Spokane to have tests run.”

    – It was Easter weekend!  

We loaded Tammy back into our old 1958 Ford with bald tires, not much gas, and a huge variety of mechanical issues and started for the Hospital.

    – Marty didn’t even have a change of clothes with her.

At the hospital, our tiny Tammy was put in a room with a very sick baby boy in an incubator.  He had tubes fastened all over his head, and his chest.

    – His breathing was very shallow

    – He looked like pictures of Holocaust victims from Nazi prison camps.

We asked what was wrong with him — the nurse said, “He has what your daughter has.”

    – Talk about throwing fuel on the panic that 2 very young frightened parents already felt!

I had to leave Marty with no change of clothes, no toothbrush and no money.

It was Easter weekend — I had to get back to my church at Grand Coulee for Sunday’s services.

    – I left my young, frightened wife, and my precious baby at the hospital not knowing what was  happening or how we’d even pay for it!

    – A Spokane Nazarene pastor and his wife let Marty clean-up and stay at their home.

On my way home to Grand Coulee, I had a blow-out, one of my bald tires gave out!

    – I put the even worse looking spare on the car and crippled back to Grand Coulee.

I got to the parsonage late Saturday afternoon.

    – I had to work on my Easter sermons and make a bulletin even as exhausted as I felt.

    –  I climbed through the front basement window down into my office and tried to go to work. 

    – The basement stairs had collapsed and the only way to my office was through that window.

The mimeograph decided to add stress to my life and kept jamming the paper.

    – I finally picked it up and slammed it to the floor.  (It worked after that!)

Next morning, I dragged myself to the Sunrise Service and later struggled through the Morning Worship Service.

    – After service the Church Treasure told me there wasn’t money to pay me my $40 salary.

    – I said, “Find the money or you won’t have a pastor next week…………………!)

Monday, I begged a well-worn tire from the neighborhood service station and started back to Spokane apprehensive about my family.

By this time the doctors had done a regiment of X-rays and tests and found Tammy had a mal-functioning esophagus that wasn’t closing to hold her food down like it was supposed to.

    – She’d eat and she’d immediately vomit it right back up.

    – They called it projectile vomiting.

Oh my goodness! What to do? What next? The doctor said, “She might need surgery, but we’d try something else first.”

He recommended a heavy formula that might force the food to stay down long enough to nourish her.

    – Marty was to add Cream of Rice cereal to her formula and see what happens.

After feeding Tammy, Marty was to hold her for half an hour before burping her.

    – Tammy would still expel much of her formula, but enough stayed down to nourish her.

    – When Marty would lift her to her shoulder out would come a gusher of her formula.

Actually, Marty got pretty good at aiming that projectile vomiting towards people who annoyed her………….

Was that doctor correct in what he said and what he did? Apparently so because, PRAISE GOD, our daughter has another birthday in just a couple weeks, on March 5.

    – Marty advised me not to tell Tammy’s age, but I will say all this happened years ago and Tammy hasn’t had any abdominal problems since other than the normal stuff.

I’d say our Pediatrician and the medical staff stepped in at just the right time to save Tammy!

    – AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME!

Isn’t it wonderful when someone/anyone steps in at just the right time to save us, to help us, to guide us, to protect us, to provide for us?

    – God stepped in at just the right time in history sending Jesus into this world to save us.

Galatians 4:4-5 
4  But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.
5  God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.

I like to read this text this way: AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME, GOD SENT JESUS INTO THE WORLD TO REDEEM US.

    – He did! God’s timing is perfect. 

We might not always think God’s timing’s perfect, but when we look back, we see He was working and He stepped into our lives at just the right time.

    – Aren’t you glad that God knows what time it is?

3. JUSTIFIED BY HIS BLOOD
Romans 5:9-11And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.
10  For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.
11  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.


I read about Joe Kerkofsky, America’s champion blood-donor.

    – The American Association of Blood Banks honored the 62-year-old retired security guard at  .      a special presentation in Chicago in 2013. 

Mr. Kerkofsky lost an arm in an accident when he was six.

    – Because of that he was rejected for military service in World War 2.

Since then he’s donated nearly 31 gallons of blood.

    – The human body contains 10 or 12 pints of blood.

  – Joe’s donated more than 20 times that amount. “Giving blood makes you feel like your contributing life itself,” he said. “There’s no more precious a gift than life.  Money can’t but the joy of giving blood to help someone who needs it.”

Kerkofsky may have given more blood than most, but Jesus gave the best!

Hebrews 9:12-14
12  With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
13  Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity.
14  Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Hebrews 9:22
22  In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.


Why did God make the shedding of blood a law for the forgiveness of sin?

    – I don’t know but He did.

   – I think it was an object lesson for us to understand how serious sin is.

I’m just thankful that it was Christ’s blood and not my own. And there isn’t enough animals in the world for their blood to take away the sin of mankind.

    – It’s only through the blood of Christ than man can be saved!

1 Peter 1:18-21
18  For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver.
19  It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
20  God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.
21  Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

A Calcutta paper reported a young Hindu came to the house of a missionary for an interview.       

  – During the conversation, he said: “Many things which Christianity contains are found in Hinduism, but there’s one thing which Christianity has and Hinduism has not.”

    – “What’s that?” the missionary asked.

    – His reply was striking: “A Savior.”

Thank God He sent Jesus into the world to save us by His Blood, by His perfect sacrifice on the cross! There’s no one better and no sacrifice better than Jesus.

A man in England put his Rolls-Royce on a boat and went across to the continent to go on a vacation trip.

    – While he was driving around Europe, something happened to the motor of his car.

He called the Rolls-Royce people back in England and asked, “I’m having trouble with my car; what do you suggest I do?”

The Rolls-Royce people flew a mechanic over!

    – The mechanic repaired the car and flew back to England — the man continued his vacation.                


The fellow wondered, “How much is this going to cost me?”

    – When he got back to England, he wrote a letter asking how much he owed them.

He received a letter from the office that read: “Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls-Royce.” 

This is what we have in Christ.

  • In Christ it’s as if there was never anything wrong with us.

It’s called Justification.

It’s called Salvation.

YOU CAN BE JUSTIFIED AND IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF HIM!


PODCAST JUSTIFIED FREELY THROUGH THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB

https://www.buzzsprout.com/8243/7837183


#PrayatNoon

MARCH 31, 2020 BY CLARENCE SEXTON

God is always at work. By looking at revivals in the past, we can learn how He desires to make Himself known during desperate times. In recent days, my attention has been captured by the events leading up to the Third Great Awakening, and the New York businessman, Jeremiah Lanphier, who was used of God to remind our nation to pray.

As Jeremiah Lanphier sought the Lord for revival in his land, he became convinced that if the men and women of his city would join him in prayer, God would open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing. Lanphier passed out thousands of flyers inviting people to pray with him at noon each day. On September 23, 1857, only a handful of businessmen trickled into the little room he had rented on Fulton Street. Not one of them could have imagined how God would multiply their efforts in the coming days.

They continued to meet for prayer at noon each day, and their group grew to a few dozen. But when financial disaster struck on October 10, 1857, everything changed. People lost jobs, money, and investments. Hopelessness filled the hearts of those who had days before felt no need of spiritual things. God used this dark period to turn the hearts of people to Himself. Thousands of desperate people rushed to churches to pray and seek God. A prayer revival broke out and many churches across America began hosting noon prayer meetings like the one started by Lanphier.

Can it be that God will use this moment, this time of fear, uncertainty, and questions, to draw His people unto Himself? Could a great prayer revival happen in our day amidst the turmoil brought about by the Coronavirus?

God is trying to speak to His people through this crisis. We must prepare our hearts to hear from Him by setting aside a special time of earnest prayer. My church family is joining with me by praying in their homes at noon. We are not interested in a movement or a fad. We truly desire to see what God may do in this time. Will you join me in praying at noon?

#PrayatNoon