AUDIO Look and Live!

By Rev Bill Woods

Last week I announced that I’d preach about Romans 7 and 8 this week.

We will eventually get there but first I want to look at some preliminary information to help us understand the truth presented by the Apostle Paul.

Romans 5:1-2  
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

What does it mean to be justified?

  • Theology definition:  “declared or made righteous in the sight of God.”

How can we claim to be justified or righteous in light of Romans 3:10-12?


“As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

We’re also told: Romans 3:23:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

If this is the case then how can we read in Romans 5 that we are justified by faith?

IT’S A GOD THING!

  • It’s impossible for us to ever do enough to merit righteousness, but it isn’t you or me that brings it about!  It was earned for us when Jesus, God’s Perfect and Sinless Son, shed His Blood on the Cross in our behalf.

Imagine I get a traffic ticket on I-40 for driving 110 miles per hour when the speed limit is 75 mph. 

  • There is no doubt that I’m guilty and in big trouble!

    –   I’m told by the arresting officer to appear in court in 30 days.

    –   I spend those days worrying about that court date.  Will I go to jail, pay a   huge fine, lose my driving privileges and my car insurance, or what?

Finally the dreaded day arrives.  I reluctantly go to court to meet my future!

  • I sit there in court waiting for my turn before the judge!
  • One after another people are called to face the judge and learn the consequences of their actions.

I sit there for hours (most of the afternoon) and never hear my name called.

  • Finally, after what seems like an agonizing eternity I approach the bailiff and ask when I will be called to face the judge.
  • He looks at his docket and says, you don’t have to appear before the judge, your fine has already been paid by another and you’re justified before the law.  The law is satisfied and you’re free to go!

This is rough picture of what happens when we put our faith in Jesus Christ!  He’s paid our fine and we are JUSTIFIED!  JUST AS IF I HADN’T SINNED!

Now I have a choice to make. 

  • I’m a “Free-moral Agent” meaning I have the power to choose if I want to accept what Jesus has done for me by dying in my place or if I want to pay my own penalty!
  • After all, accepting what Jesus has done for me can be restrictive!  I’ll have to change and give up the sinful living that I think I enjoy!
  • I’ll have to start living a life that will please God!

In Numbers 21 there’s a story of the Israelites getting discouraged in the wilderness and complaining to God and to Moses about the lack of water and the lack of food, and how tired they were of manna.  They accuse God and Moses of bringing them out of Egypt just to let them die in the wilderness!

This angered God and He sent poisonous serpents into the camp.

  • People were being bitten by these vipers and dying!
  • They cried to Moses how sorry they were for their sinful attitude.
  • They asked Moses to ask God for relief.

God told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole in the middle of the camp.

  • When someone was bitten if they looked at that bronze snake they’d be healed.
  • They had the choice: Look at the snake and be healed or don’t look and die.

That whole passage represented what Jesus was going to do for us!

  • John 12:32 — “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”  
  • He was lifted on the Cross to die for our sin. 
  • Just like the people in Moses’ time we can accept His sacrifice or pay our own debt for sin which will be an Eternity in Hell!

How do I receive the remedy Jesus provides for my pardon through His Atoning death on the Cross?

First, I must recognize I’m a sinner and an enemy in rebellion against God.

  • The Holy Spirit is working on me revealing my sinful condition.

It’s because of God’s Love that I’m invited to be cured of the penalty of sin.   

Romans 5:5-11 — Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
6  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
11  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Now that I’ve recognized I’m a sinner I must REPENT OF MY SINS!

  • Repentance is being sorry for my sins and confessing them to Jesus.
  • This is a sincere and thorough change of my mind in regard to sin.
  • Because I feel a personal guilt I voluntarily turn away from sin changing my life style and personal interests and begin living to please God.

When I do three things happen:  I’ve been JUSTIFIED.

  • I am REGENERATED:  I become a new Creation.
  •   – It’s like taking an old car and rebuilding the motor and adding new     
  •     upholstery, new paint and making it like new again. 
  •     That old wreck of a car is regenerated.  The car has new life!
  • Then, I am ADOPTED into the Family of God!  I’m no longer on the outside at odds with God, now I’m part of the Family — Joint Heir with Jesus Christ! 
  • I have a place in My Father’s House that Jesus has prepared for those who Love Him!  YOU WOULD BE A FOOL TO TURN DOWN THAT DEAL!

Paul sums it up for us:

Romans 5:12-21 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–
13  (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
15  But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
16  And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
17  For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18  Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
19  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
20  Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,
21  so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I found an article by CBMC INTERNATIONAL that I feel sums up what I want to express today:

Imagine being convicted of a crime you deeply regretted – intentional or unintentional – and being offered a pardon to absolve you of any penalty. Would you accept it? Let me tell you about a man who did not.

In 1829 two men, George Wilson and James Porter, robbed a United States mail carrier. Both were subsequently captured and tried in a court of law. In May 1830 both men were found guilty of six charges, including robbery of the mail “and putting the life of the driver in jeopardy.” Both Wilson and Porter received their sentences: Execution by hanging, to be carried out on July 2.

Porter was executed on schedule, but Wilson was not. Influential friends pleaded for mercy to the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, on his behalf. President Jackson issued a formal pardon, dropping all charges. Wilson would have to serve only a prison term of 20 years for his other crimes. Incredibly, George Wilson refused the pardon!

An official report stated Wilson chose to “waive and decline any advantage or protection which might be supposed to arise from the pardon….” Wilson also stated he “…had nothing to say, and did not wish in any manner to avail himself in order to avoid sentence….” The U.S. Supreme Court determined, “The court cannot give the prisoner the benefit of the pardon, unless he claims the benefit of it…. It is a grant to him: it is his property; and he may accept it or not as he pleases.” Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, “A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws…. (But) delivery is not completed without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, and…we have no power in a court to force it on him.”

George Wilson committed a crime, was tried and found guilty. He was sentenced for execution, but a presidential decree granted him a full pardon. When he chose to refuse that pardon, he chose to die. Reading this amazing story, we might wonder, “How could anyone refuse a pardon for the death sentence? The man was a fool!” But what if you also are refusing a pardon, one enabling you to spend eternity in the presence of God rather than eternal separation from Him in a place the Bible calls Hell?

GOD IS OFFERING YOU A PARDON TODAY THAT WILL ABSOLVE YOU FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN WHICH IS ETERNAL DEATH.  HE IS OFFERING YOU FORGIVENESS AND ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN AS PART OF HIS FAMIY!  DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO REFUSE HIS PARDON?

JESUS WAS LIFTED UP ON A CROSS FOR YOU!

LOOK AND LIVE!


PODCAST LOOK AND LIVE

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/8916387


The updated version of Rev Bill Woods’ book “There Is Still Power In The Blood” will be available soon.

AUDIO A Good Conscience

By Rev Bill Woods

Acts 23:1– Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

Have you ever been persecuted because you’re a Christian?

    – If you’re genuine, you can expect it:

2 Timothy 3:12 — Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Matthew 5:11 — “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”

Don’t confuse persecution with punishment.

    – Persecution is when bad people persecute you for doing good — punishment is when good people punish you for doing bad.

Even Christians make foolish decisions, use poor judgment and mess up — then when consequences come they try to sound holy saying,  “we’re being persecuted.”

We can expect some persecution for doing what’s right — if we’ll do what’s right.

    – The Apostle Paul knew about persecution:

2 Corinthians 11:23-27 —
23  Are they ministers of Christ?–I speak as a fool–I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.
24  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
25  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26  in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27  in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness–  

He was warned he’d be persecuted if he returned to Jerusalem.

      – When he arrived, a mob attacked him.

        – Acts 21 and 22 reads like an Indiana Jones movie.

The Roman authorities arrived just in time to rescue Paul from this mob…they were in such a frenzy; the soldiers had to actually lift Paul over their heads to get him out of there.

Now Paul stood before the Roman authorities, and they decided to interrogate him by torture.

    – They prepared to scourge him, but discovered he was a Roman citizen.

That scared them, and they backed off.

    – They turned him over to the Jewish council.

    – The Sanhedrin was their Supreme Court, made up of 71 leading Bible teachers (Chief Priests, scribes, and elders) — they had power to execute him.

        – They’d already executed Stephen…………..

Paul knew their power, but he stood before them at peace.

 – Acts 23:1Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

Note the word, “earnestly” means He looked them straight in the eyes, not ashamed, not afraid, and not about to back down.

Paul had been a member of the Sanhedrin — now they considered him a traitor.

      – There’s nothing they wanted more than to execute him.

        – Yet he stood before them cool, calm, and collected.

There’s no way to live the Christian life and not be criticized.

    – But we can have confidence in spite of the criticism.  

How? 

  • We have to be morally clean.  Look again at Acts 23:1 I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

What did he mean, “good conscience”

    – Conscience is that inner voice which accuses us when we do wrong.

    – The alarm that sounds inside us warning we’re about to do wrong.

A word of warning about your conscience.

    – The world says, “Let your conscience be your guide.”

      – That’s not always a good idea.

You can’t always do that…because conscience doesn’t set the standard of right and wrong, it only applies the standards you’ve been taught.

    – Conscience is like a thermostat…it can be set to operate at many different levels.

Criminals cop plea deals to get reduced sentences [Eric Holder:  Fast and Furious]

    – Surely their conscience tells them not to rat on others they know about.

Their conscience bothers them to turn others in…not because it’s wrong, because it’s right.

    – So, our conscience can lead us astray unless it’s based on a proper standard — The Word of God!

Acts 24:16 — This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”

       – Then we can be confident in spite of criticism, and have peace in the face of persecution.

When you know you’re doing right in God’s eyes, and your acting according to His Word, then unfounded criticism will roll off you like water off a duck’s back.  

    –“If God be for us, who can be against us!”

We need to be careful with our conscience.  It’s important, but…

1.  IT CAN BE DEFILED — Titus 1:15  To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.  

Conscience is like a sundial…you can shine a flashlight on a sundial and make it say anything you want it to, if you hold the flashlight from the right angle.

I’ve met Christians with sin issues — only to hear them say they don’t feel what they’re doing is wrong. “I’m ok with it…I don’t believe its sin.”

Truth isn’t based on feeling it’s based on fact.

    – Their conscience is still there, it’s just been dulled and defiled!

      – Stealing things from work

Conscience is like a window — the light coming thru the window is the Word of God.

    – The dirtier the window, the less light gets thru…it isn’t as pure…it browns    the light.

Some Christians sin so often they defile their conscience.  

  • The first time they “did that” it really bothered them…they confessed it, and tried to do better, but fell again, and felt guilty,

Eventually they didn’t want to confess anymore [negative feeling] so they just rationalized and swept it under the rug, and the glass darkened, and now they do it freely anytime…they’ve learned to accept something they shouldn’t!

I’m reminded of something that happened way back when I was pastoring the Nazarene Church in Grand Coulee, Washington.

  • We lived in a dump of a parsonage that I wouldn’t even put my dog in. 
  • It was full of mold, mice, termites, ants and spiders, the roof leaked profusely, and the floor was rotten and collapsing in a couple of the rooms. The house was so unhealthy for our baby, Tammy, that we eventually had to move, by doctor’s orders, if we wanted to keep her alive!

I had my mimeograph and a few other office items in the dank old basement.

I would go down the rickety stairs to do my work (those stairs eventually collapsed and I had to climb through a basement window to get to my “office.”)

There was a spider that lived on those stairs.

  • Every time I would go down the stairs (before they collapsed) I’d see that spider quickly dart to safety into a crack in the shadows under the step.
  • This happened every time I went downstairs, but I noticed the spider was getting used to me and didn’t dart away quite as fast when I used the stairs.

One day he’d become so accustomed to my passing that he didn’t dart at all.

  • That was his demise!

What a lesson!  We can become so used to this sinful world that we lose our fear of falling into Satan’s trap and that could bring our spiritual demise!

The conscience can be defiled…

2. It can be Seared — 1 Timothy 4:1-2Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

You see all those old Westerns where the cowboys grab a branding iron and burn the ranch symbol into the cow’s hide.  Searing a conscience is like branding animal flesh…the nerve endings die.

There’s an old Indian proverb that says conscience is an arrowhead inside the heart…when you sin, it turns, and the sharp edge pricks at your heart — over time, if you ignore it and let it keep turning, the sharp edge dulls to a rounded, smooth end, and you can’t even feel it anymore as it spins away.

An old prospector sleeping in his tent, tied his dog outside.

    – The dog started barking so he hollered at him to be quiet.

    – Again he barked and the old man cussed at the dog.

    – The dog barked again, and he kicked the dog.  Again and again, and he kicked it to death!  

  • He went back to sleep, only to be murdered by the intruders the dog was trying to warn him were coming!

Many Christians have kicked their conscience to death and now are headed headlong for disaster and don’t even know it…because they’ve disconnected the alarm.

     – The conscience can be defiled and seared…

That’s why there’s no difference between the moral standards of the Church and the world today……………….(pre-marital sex, co-habitation, homo-sexuality, divorce……..)

3. It can be Evil — Hebrews 10:22 — “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”   

This conscience actually approves of evil.

    – It’s become so warped, perverted, and twisted, that it calls good evil and evil good.

      – The Bible says, “woe unto them that” do that.

Even Christians can get so distorted through continually living in sin that they no longer know the difference between right and wrong.

    – Don’t say it can’t happen to you, or hasn’t happened.

There was a pastor in Texas who had child porn pop up on his PowerPoint Presentation…how can a man of God get to that point?

    – He allowed his conscience to be defiled, then seared [deadened], and it  became an evil conscience.

      – He probably felt justified in what he was doing right in his church office!

How is it in America that we’ve come to the place of allowing a woman to kill her unborn child? 

    – Same 3 answers — Conscience can be defiled, seared, and tolerate evil.

    – We explain Same sex marriage as just an alternate lifestyle.

    – Sex before marriage is now acceptable because everybody does it.

    – Drugs and alcohol are the norm to take our mind off the pressures we face.

Paul was being persecuted, but he had peace.  He stood with confidence in the face of criticism, because he had a good conscience, through confession and repentance.

My prayer is that we allow God to tenderize our consciences.

    – We get back to His standards and we get back to Holiness.

That only happens when we spend time with Him and surrender to His Will.

Next week I plan to speak on how to rid our “wretched selves” of the “body of death” before it destroys us.  Please read Romans 7 and 8 in preparation.


PODCAST A GOOD CONSCIENCE

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/8876929


The updated version of Rev Bill Woods’ book “There Is Still Power In The Blood” will be available soon.

Murder for the Rest of Us

How We Break the Sixth Commandment

Article by Afshin Ziafat Pastor, Frisco, Texas

You don’t need to grow up in church to know that murder is a wicked offense. Murder is treated nearly universally as a heinous crime. And it ought to be. God makes plain his hatred of murder the moment it appears in Cain’s slaying of his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8). God legislates death as the appropriate punishment for those who unlawfully put others to death (Genesis 9:6).

Yet for all of our hatred of the murder out there, we can fail to hate the murder in here. But Scripture, and the words of Jesus in particular, will not allow us to hate murder at a safe distance. The sixth commandment, “You shall not murder,” exposes a universal problem and a universal need for forgiveness.

Different Kinds of Killing

The word used for “murder” in Exodus 20:13, Hebrew rasah, denotes the unlawful, premeditated, or immoral killing of another human, while also covering the unintentional causing of human death through carelessness or negligence. Of its forty-seven uses in the Old Testament, this verb is never used to describe killing in war, nor is it thought to apply to slaughtering animals or defending one’s home from invasion.

God’s law differentiated between willful and involuntary killing. Exodus 21:12–14 clearly states that the premeditated murder of another person was deemed worthy of capital punishment (see also Numbers 35:17–21).

“Seek to reconcile quickly with others. Replace hate and anger with words that give life and bless others.”

The accidental or involuntary causing of another person’s death, however, carried a slightly lighter penalty. Though it was not grounds for the sentence of death, the guilty party was banished to an appointed place (which later God would reveal as cities of refuge, Deuteronomy 19:1–13). This place offered sanctuary from the vengeful relatives of the deceased, but it was also away from home. The banishment often lasted for life because the guilty party would not be released until the death of the high priest (Numbers 35:2528).

So while discerning between consequences for different killings can be difficult, we all know it is a great evil to unlawfully take another’s life.

Why God Hates Murder

God shows his hatred for murder the moment it appears in Cain (Genesis 4:8). But why does God hate the act of murder so much? Two reasons stand out in Scripture.

1. The act of murder is an assault on God himself.

After God made a covenant with Noah never to destroy mankind by a flood, he set up a system to protect human life. Any man who unlawfully took the life of another would have his own life taken, “for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6). Here we see how precious and valuable human life is to God. To murder another human being is to murder what is most like God in creation. It is tantamount to an attack on the Creator of all life. This is why abortion is so grievous to God and Christians.

The Bible is clear that human life begins in the womb and not at birth. David declares that we were fearfully and wonderfully made in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). God says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). All human life is precious in the sight of God, and it is evil to think of any human life as disposable — whether the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, or the sick.

2. Murder assumes the authority and right reserved for God alone.

Only God has the right to give life and to take away life (Deuteronomy 32:391 Samuel 2:6). Job declared that life belongs to the Lord to give and to take away (Job 1:21). Consequently, the one who murders another human being is guilty of assuming the right and privilege that is God’s alone. He is guilty of rebellion against God and attempting to put himself in the place of God. In this way, murder is the offspring of the very first sin and breaks the first commandment by having a god (self) before the Lord.

A Sin Not So Easily Escaped

Now, one may say, “Well, I have never — nor will I ever — commit murder!” But two considerations give strong reason to take heed to this command and see it as relevant to all of us.

Carelessness or Neglect

As stated earlier, the Hebrew word employed in the sixth commandment would include causing someone’s death from carelessness or neglect. This command would have instigated a holy fear in the community to strive for caution and prudence in the affairs of life so that no one would be guilty of unintentionally taking someone’s life through recklessness.

There is a reason harsh penalties are given to people who drive under the influence of alcohol. Or consider a carelessness closer to home: texting while driving. We may put others’ lives in danger more often than we assume.

And then there is the issue of negligence. The principle of the watchman of Ezekiel 33 comes to mind. The Lord painted a picture through the prophet Ezekiel of a watchman who was put in position to warn the city of the coming sword against it. If the watchman failed to blow the trumpet and was negligent in his duty, then the blood of the people would be on his hands (Ezekiel 33:7–9).

We can be negligent in failing to warn others of danger or to speak up on behalf of those who are vulnerable and powerless. It is easy to condemn the silence of so many in Germany who did not speak out against the murderous atrocities of the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. But are we equally vocal against the murdering of so many unborn here in our own country? Are we willing to speak up for the marginalized and the oppressed in our own culture?

Anger as Murder

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges his disciples to live according to the standards of the kingdom of God and not the standards of the world or even of the religious establishment around them. He tells them that their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20), who sought merely outward conformity to the law instead of inward transformation of the heart.

Jesus displays this exceeding righteousness by using the refrain, “You have heard that it was said, but I say to you . . .” He is not saying that what was written in the Old Testament is not true. Rather, he is correcting what they heard the Old Testament saying and giving them the correct interpretation of the Scriptures, especially in the light of his coming.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21–22)

The world understands that murder is a crime. The religious establishment focused on this outward nature of not murdering anyone. But the standard of the kingdom of God is not merely to avoid the shedding of blood. To be focused on the mere act of murder is to miss the heart of the command.

“It is not enough to not murder; you must eradicate hatred from your heart.”

Jesus insists that it is not enough to not murder someone; we must eradicate hatred from our hearts. Murder is not merely an action without any reference to the character of the murderer. Something more fundamental is at stake here. The sinful anger and wrath that lurked behind the deed itself is blameworthy and will be subject to judgment. John writes, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). The stakes could not be higher.

Repenting of Heart Murder

Do you feel the weight of this? Jesus is saying you are not safe from punishment just because you have not shed blood. If you have harbored anger, contempt, or malice toward someone else, you are guilty. Have you ever wished someone harm or, even worse, wished they were dead? Have you ever rejoiced over someone’s misfortune? Have you ever put someone down in your heart? Then your heart has known murder.

Again, the radical righteousness that Jesus demands is not merely a refraining from outward sin but a transformation of the heart by his love and grace. Our only hope is Christ, who fulfilled all righteousness and offers it to us as a free gift to be received by faith. So what must we do?

1. Confess.

Turn to God and confess the sin of anger. Make no excuses for it. The story of Jonah is instructive.

In Jonah 4, Jonah is angry with God because God didn’t destroy Nineveh. The Lord asks him, “Do you do well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4). In other words, God is calling Jonah to look at his own life and his own heart. Is his anger justified? Does he not depend on the same mercy from God that God has given to the Ninevites? Does he have the right to decide who receives mercy and who doesn’t?

We too rarely look at our own hearts to see the root of the problem. But it starts here with a confession: I am sinfully angry.

2. Receive the gift of God’s grace in Jesus.

Abel’s blood cried out to God for justice. But Hebrews 12:24 tells us that Jesus’s blood speaks a better word. The blood of Abel speaks a word of condemnation: the murderer deserves death. And we are guilty as charged. We break the sixth commandment with the anger in our heart.

This is why Jesus came. He lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose so that we could have life in him, now and after death. For those who believe in him, the blood of Christ speaks a word of forgiveness and acceptance. By faith, receive this gift of grace!

3. Reconcile specifically.

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23–24)

Jesus calls for a specific action here toward a specific brother. And notice that it isn’t someone that you are angry with. No, this is someone who is offended by you. You have done something to offend him, and God brings it to your mind. The first act of worship is for you to make it right with him.

God calls us to sensitivity in our relationships with others — not a vague sensitivity to imagined offenses, but rather dealing with real offenses that the Holy Spirit brings to mind against specific people. Seek to reconcile quickly with others. Replace hate and anger with words that give life and bless others.

And when we reconcile, we can go forth and resolve, God helping us, to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).

Afshin Ziafat (@afshinziafat) is lead pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas. His passion is to teach the word of God as the authority and guide for life, to preach Jesus Christ as the only Savior and Redeemer of mankind, and to proclaim the love of Christ as the greatest treasure and hope in life. He and his wife, Meredith, currently reside in Frisco with their three children.

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/murder-for-the-rest-of-us

AUDIO Courtesy Calls

By Rev Bill Woods

2 Corinthians 2:11: “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

I’ve been getting plenty of these pushy telephone solicitors who don’t want to take “NO” for an answer. – In fact, one just now called me while I was working on this sermon.

Wow, was he a smooth talker!

“Mr. Woods, this is a courtesy call on behalf of Blah, Blah, Blah Credit Card Company and we’d like to tell you about a limited time offer…”  – “Medicare supplements,” or a “free vacation”…….

Sometimes when they’re extra persistent I tell them, “I’m going to hang up now, but you can keep talking to my phone line if you like.”   Or maybe, “I’m busy and not really interested, but my dog’s right here and he may be interested in what you’re selling, let me put him on.”

“I’m not interested.” Click. The receiver went quickly back into its position. You see, I wasn’t about to listen to this guy’s “offer.”

Why? Because I’ve learned one thing about telemarketers…
    – …if you don’t hang up on them quickly, you might buy something you don’t really want.
                                                                                                                                                                
Telemarketers are clever. They try to convince you that they’re doing you a favor, thus the “courtesy” call.

They want you to believe what they’re about to share is really in your best interest and they’re trying to be a help…
   – …yeah, they want to help you right into making a decision that you don’t really want to make!

I’ve got to credit telemarketers with one thing, though. When you quickly hang up on them, they usually don’t call you back again that day.

The guy that called me didn’t. Oh, he may call me again tomorrow or some other day, but for now he’s leaving me alone.
                                                                                                                                                                 When we lived in Seattle, I had a couple of unique experiences.

We needed a car because the one we had was nickeling and dimeing us something terrible.  – Everything that could go wrong was going wrong!

I went to one car dealership and the salesman said, “Let me take the keys to your car so our appraiser can see what we can offer you for a trade-in.” – I handed him the keys and he would not give them back until I bought one of their cars.  – I literally had to steal my car keys back when I saw them laying in his cubical. 

I went to another dealership and told the salesman I liked the car he offered me, but would have to pray about our decision whether to buy it or not. 
    – The car dealer said, “I’ll help you pray about it.”  I asked, “Pray, or Prey?”

I especially love the presentations for time-shares…………………

The last one Marty and I suckered into was trying to sell us vacations.  – I told the lady that we didn’t take many vacations and really were just curious. – She asked me if we were there just to receive the gift they were giving out for listening to their spiel admitted that we wanted something to do that afternoon and we really weren’t that interested in buying into their program.

She said, “Please follow me.”

We had no idea where she was taking us.  She led us to a door, opened it, and we stepped through to find ourselves in the alley.  She slammed the door shut and we had to walk clear around the building to find our car.

I DIDN’T EVEN GET ONE OF THE DOUGHNUTS THEY WERE SERVING!
You know, Satan’s a master telemarketer. His skills are razor sharp. His technique is flawless, precise and well rehearsed. He knows his stuff. And, wow, is HE a smooth talker.

“Brother Christian, this is a courtesy call on behalf of SSI” (Satan’s Systems International…but he doesn’t tell you what it stands for!)

“We’d like to inform you about a limited-time offer.  If you act fast you can avoid giving your tithe by…(use your money to get something  you want) We’ve got a really great deal on unforgiveness and ill will, you can develop a lifelong grudge in just seconds, it’s so easy. Oh, let me tell you about the special of the day…little white lies, why you can get a whole case of them for all kinds of occasions. 

What about these handy little devices…excuses. Why we’ve got plenty of them for you to choose from. There’s one to keep you from reading your Bible each day, here’s one to help you avoid prayer time, this one will allow you to sleep in on Sunday mornings, there’s one for…”

You see what I’m saying? Satan’s a master telemarketer.

He’s smooth and silky. Let him keep talking and you’re asking for trouble! If you don’t hang up on him quickly, you might just buy something you don’t really want!

There’s good news, though. There’s a way to get him to shut up, at least for a little while…

The Bible says in James 4:7, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”In other words, hang up!

Oh, he most definitely will call again, but at least for now he’ll leave you alone.

Make no mistake about it, Christian. Sometime this week that spiritual telephone is going to ring. Satan will call, you can count on it. When He does……tell him you’re not interested and hang up the phone!

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

PAY ATTENTION TO THIS WARNING:  The strength of a temptation lies in how long you play with the thoughts of yielding to it.  The longer you play with the temptation the stronger it gets and the more apt you are to yield to it.

As a small boy, my Grandma used to read to me every evening.  One of the selections she read to me was Laura Wilder’s, “LITTLE HOUSE” series which I enjoyed thoroughly! – One incident from the books that I remember was when Laura and Mary’s Pa and Ma had to go to town for supplies.  Pa had just harvested the hay for the animals for the winter  and piled it into a haystack.

– He specifically told the girls not to jump on the hay because they would knock down and scatter the hay. –  It looked like it would be so much fun that Laura decided just one jump wouldn’t hurt the  haystack. – That was fun!  One jump led to another and etc.

When Pa got home the stack was scattered all over and Laura and Mary were in trouble!

The problem came when the girls didn’t walk away, but stayed there thinking about how much fun jumping in the hay would be.

Satan knows if he can get you thinking about the temptation long enough that he can defeat you and cause you to yield.  THE POWER IN THE TEMPTATION IS IN HOW LONG YOU WILL THINK ABOUT IT!

The way to defeat Satan’s enticements is to get away and quit thinking about it.   

There are radio towers all over our country.  Each is putting out a signal on a certain frequency.  If you don’t like what they’re offering you can switch the station and find something more suitable to your taste.

When Satan is bombarding you with a temptation you can switch the station!

Mark Twain said, ‘YOU CAN’T STOP BIRDS FROM FLYING OVER YOUR HEAD, BUT YOU DON’T NEED TO LET THEM NEST IN YOUR HAIR!”

How do I change the station when the Devil is tempting me?

Memorize scripture: Psalm 119:11  “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”

Learn hymns and choruses to remind yourself how good God is to you.  By the way, Satan doesn’t enjoy you singing them to him.

Testify to Satan.  Tell him what Christ has blest your life.  Ask what he has done for you.

When he knocks at the door send Christ to answer.

You don’t have to fall if you don’t give him a foothold. – The comedian, Flip Wilson used to get a laugh every time he said, “The Devil made me do it.”

Listen, as funny as that line seemed to be it was totally inaccurate.  The Devil can’t make you do anything.  He can present the temptation, but you are the one who makes the decision.

James 4:7-8: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

There is something I need to clarify.  Some people think if they are tempted that they have sinned.  TEMPTATION IS NOT SIN!

TEMPTATION IS WHEN THE DEVIL SAYS, “WILL YOU?”

SIN COMES WHEN YOU SAY, “I WILL!”

Every Christian faces temptation, but every one of us has the ability to say “NO!”

Remember:  1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

 Put God first in your life and He will show you the way to be victorious!

Remember: When Satan solicits you it is not a Courteous call!  You don’t have to be courteous to Satan.  What he’s trying to sell you will destroy you if you buy into it!

Keep in mind that the pleasures of sin are only temporary.  The guilt and consequences of sin are long lasting and far outweigh the pleasure sin brought for you.

If sin persists it will lead you to an Eternity in Hell!  YOU DON’T WANT THAT!

There is a courtesy call that you ought to take.

The best courtesy call you will ever get comes from God.  There are no hidden clauses, no small print that you will regret later. – He is just offering you straight forward the opportunity to find forgiveness from sin and guilt, He wants to make you part of His Family, a joint heir with His Son, Jesus, and He wants to provide to you Eternal Life in His home in Heaven!

John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.                                                                            

The benefits and joy of obeying God last forever.  GOD’S WAYS ARE BEST!


PODCAST COURTESY CALLS

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/8437130


Christ and the Churches: Part 3 (Revelation 3:1-6)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

Churches are people and human nature has not changed. As we continue our study, we must not look on these letters as ancient relics. On the contrary, they are mirrors in which we see ourselves!

Sardis, the Feeble Church (Rev. 3:1–6)

Sad to say the city at that time was but a shadow of its former splendor and the church, unfortunately, had become like the city—it was alive in name only. The message to Sardis is a warning to all “great churches” that are living on past glory. Dr. Vance Havner has frequently reminded us that spiritual ministries often go through four stages: a man, a movement, a machine, and then a monument. Sardis was at the “monument” stage.

But there was still hope! There was hope because Christ was the Head of the church and He was able to bring new life. He described Himself as the one possessing the seven Spirits and the seven stars. There is only one Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:4), but the number seven demonstrates fullness and completeness. The Holy Spirit gives life to the church and life is exactly what the people at Sardis needed. The sevenfold Spirit of God is pictured as seven burning lamps (Rev. 4:5) and as seven all-seeing eyes (Rev. 5:6).

All of the church’s man-made programs can never bring life, any more than a circus can resurrect a corpse. The church was born when the Spirit of God descended on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and its life comes from the Spirit. When the Spirit is grieved the church begins to lose life and power. When sin is confessed and church members get right with God and with each other, then the Spirit infuses new life—revival!

Christ also controls the seven stars, the messengers of the churches (Rev. 1:20), referring most likely to the pastors. Sometimes, it is a pastor’s fault that a church is dying and the Lord of the church must remove the star and put another in his place.

The problem in the Sardis church was not heresy, but spiritual death. The church was infested with sin. Its deeds were evil and its clothes soiled. The Lord has no words of commendation for this church, which looked so good on the outside, but was so corrupt on the inside. Nor is there any mention of opposition or persecution. The church would have been better off had there been some suffering because it had grown comfortable and content, and was living on its past reputation. There was reputation without reality, form without force. Like the city itself the church at Sardis gloried in past splendor, but ignored present decay.

In fact, even what they did have was about to die! Why? Because the believers had gone to sleep. It is when the church’s leaders and members get accustomed to their blessings and complacent about their ministry that the enemy finds his way in.

The assembly in Sardis was not aggressive in its witness to the city. There was no persecution because there was no invasion of the enemy’s territory. No friction usually means no motion! The unsaved in Sardis saw the church as a respectable group of people who were neither dangerous nor desirable. They were decent people with a dying witness and a decaying ministry.

Our Lord’s counsel to the church began with, “Be watchful! Wake up!” (Rom. 13:11) The people were asleep! The first step toward renewal in a dying church is honest awareness that something is wrong. When an organism is alive, there is growth, repair, reproduction, and power; if these elements are lacking in a church, then that church is either dying or already dead.

The Lord warned the Ephesian saints He would come and remove their lampstand if they did not repent (Rev. 2:5). He warned the church at Pergamos He would come and make war with the sword of the Spirit (Rev. 2:16). If the believers at Sardis did not follow His orders, He would come as a thief, when they least expected Him; and this would mean judgment.

However, a remnant of dedicated people often exists in even a dying church. The Christians at Sardis had life, even though it was feeble. They were working, even though their works were not all they could have been. The Lord admonished them to strengthen what remained and not to give up because the church was weak. Where there is life, there is hope!

What was different about this dedicated remnant? They had not defiled their garments (Rev. 3:4). The remnant in the church at Sardis had not compromised with the pagan society around them, nor had they grown comfortable and complacent. It was this devoted spiritual remnant that held the future of the church’s ministry.

“Wake up! Be watchful! Repent! Remember the Word you have received and obey it!” This is the formula for revival. It is good to guard our spiritual heritage, but we must not embalm it. It is not enough to be true to the faith and have a great history. That faith must produce life and works.

Is there a warning here that a true believer might lose his salvation? I don’t think so. Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 suggest the names of the saved are written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world—that is, before they had done anything good or bad. By God’s grace, they have been chosen in Christ before the beginning of time (Eph. 1:4; Matt. 25:34). They are enrolled in heaven because they have been born again (Heb. 12:23) and no matter how disobedient a child may be, he or she cannot be “unborn.”

The warning here is that we not grow comfortable in our churches, lest we find ourselves slowly dying. The encouragement is that no church is beyond hope as long as there is a remnant in it, willing to strengthen the things that remain.

In Part 4, we will look at Christ’s message to the church at Philadelphia, the faithful church.

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/christ-and-the-churches-part-3-revelation-31-6/

AUDIO Why Revival is America’s Only Hope!

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

 March 22, 2021  by Shane Idleman

The results are in: America’s stage four cancer has metastasized to the family and the church as well as to the government and the schools. We are more depraved than ever before. Animals are guarded but innocent children are slaughtered. Porn is protected and sex-trafficking is on the rise. Cardi B’s lyrics get a pass but Scriptures are banned on social media.

Words cannot express this outright lunacy. Like the bungee jumper who plunged to her death because she thought she heard “now jump,” when, in reality, her instructor said, “No jump!” America thinks that she is hearing from God, but she is not. We are drowning in a cesspool of moral filth: “The wicked freely parade and prance about while evil is praised throughout the land” (Psalm 12:8).

Recently, a father was arrested for referring to his biological 14-year-old daughter as “she” after she transitioned to a male gender (more here). “But that’s in Canada,” you say. Trust me, we are not far behind. Most on the liberal left would have no problem imprisoning anyone who disagreed with them, and that’s exactly where the Equality Act is going—unless you accept, rejoice in, and validate sin they are coming after you. Revival is our only hope. 

THERE IS ONLY ONE REMEDY

We see throughout the Bible that there is only one remedy—one solution—one cure to reverse the judgment of God: Revival. During times of crisis, the cure for judgment was to return back to God: “Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord” (Joel 1:14).

Revival changes a nation from the inside out. Benjamin Franklin, commenting on George Whitefield’s preaching, said this about the revival sweeping the land, “It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious.” Revival must begin in the pulpits as well as the pews.

“The greatest tragedy is a sick church in a dying world” Leonard Ravenhill

WHAT REVIVAL IS AND IS NOT

Revival is not adding more church services to the calendar. Revival is not having a guest speaker host an event. And revival most certainly is not acting weird and loud. Revival is a sovereign act of God: “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm 85:6).

In the same way that we cannot produce a bumper crop by making it rain, revival cannot be planned, organized, or scheduled, but you can till the soil of your heart: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15).

Revival is when we till the soil through brokenness, humility, and surrender via fasting and prayer. God responds by rending the heavens with a downpour: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you” (Isaiah 64:1)!

REVIVAL HAS A COST

The cold hard truth is that many are not willing to pay the price. Gone are the days of John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards who would fast and pray as if America’s future depended upon it (because it did and still does). It’s no surprise that Edwards’ famous sermon, Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God, was preached at the tail end of his three-day fast. Today that title would be labeled offensive and many pastors would be too ashamed to preach it—too ashamed because they lack the fire of the Spirit.

Gone are the days of David Brainard who spent nights in agonizing prayer, as well as “praying” John Hyde, William Bramwell, and countless others who prayed fervently for our nation. Instead of carrying the baton and running the race, we are captivated by American Idol, love our porn, and over-indulge. King Stomach is clearly on the throne.

“It’s too hard to fast,” we say. The problem isn’t fasting; it’s addiction. We can’t fast because we’re withdrawing from our favorite addictions: coffee, sugar, alcohol, processed food, and so on. Let that sink in. And we wonder why we aren’t experiencing a massive move of God in our nation. We abort revival before it’s even been conceived.

When revivals spread across our landscape, Christians spent countless hours praying and fasting. They paid the price! When pastors stood at the pulpit they preached boldly about the cross, sin, judgment, and repentance. They could say, “Thus saith the Lord,” because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, not Hollywood. They didn’t work revival up, God brought it down because His Word was honored.

PROPHETS CAN’T BE POPULAR

Today, most pastors want to be popular and most Christians want their ears tickled. If you doubt this, just look at the top sermons on social media today and their attire. The messages are soothing rather than convicting. As in Israel’s day, the people still say, “You must not prophesy to us what is right! Speak to us pleasant things and smooth words, prophesy [deceitful] illusions [that we will enjoy]” (Isaiah 30:10 AMP).

Granted, we need to hear uplifting messages, but we have a huge problem when pastors don’t want to ruffle feathers and Christians don’t want to hear controversial topics. America’s stage four cancer was caused by a bad diet of frivolous preaching. The cure will require a complete diet change back to whole life-giving food from the Word of God.

I don’t say this in arrogance; my heart breaks for the church. This article is more of a plea than a rebuke, but the truth is, “We have too many puppets in our pulpits and not enough prophets” (Leonard Ravenhill). Pastors and Christians must lead the way, but the way won’t be popular and wide, it will be narrow and difficult. We must fast like it matters, pray like we mean it, and seek God as if everything depends upon it, because it does.

YOU DON’T WANT REVIVAL, DO YOU?

Nearly a decade ago, I prayed, “Lord, bring revival to the churches,” but I was not ready for the response that followed. I share the response and the sermon below as often as possible to reach as many people as possible.

After I prayed, it was almost as if God was saying: “You don’t want revival—it will ruin your schedule, your dignity, your image, and your reputation as a person who is ‘well balanced.’ Men will weep throughout the congregation. Women will wail because of the travail of their own souls. Young adults will cry like children at the magnitude of their sin. With the strength of My presence, the worship team will cease playing. Time will seem to stand still. You won’t be able to preach because of the emotions flooding your own soul. You’ll struggle to find words, but only find tears. Even the most dignified and reserved among you will be broken and humbled as little children. The proud and self-righteous will not be able to stand in My presence. The doubter and unbeliever will either run for fear or fall on their knees and worship Me—there can be no middle ground. The church will never be the same again.”

Do you truly want revival? It will cost you. National revival begins with personal revival when we look in the mirror, repent, and turn toward God. He is our only hope. 

https://shaneidleman.com/2021/03/22/why-revival-is-americas-only-hope/

Christian leaders call for repentance, overhaul following Ravi Zacharias sexual abuse report

By Brandon Showalter, Christian Post Reporter

Christian leaders and a former associate of Ravi Zacharias’ ministry are calling for repentance and an overhaul of organizational practices after a report released Thursday detailed the late apologist’s pattern of sexual abuse.

In an email to The Christian Post on Friday, Carson Weitnauer, who previously led RZIM’s U.S. speaking team, said he now believes that Zacharias was not only a fraud, as he articulated in an earlier op-ed published by CP, but that the organization bearing his name is as well. He further asserted that the ministry’s apology is unacceptable in light of the revelations released in the report. 

“The organization’s apologetic-sounding statement was released by an anonymous board, is incomplete in its scope, avoids calling on the Zacharias Estate to release the Thompson’s from the NDA, and announces no resignations or removals of those most responsible for this tragedy. 1 John 3:18 instructs us, ‘Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth,'” said Weitnauer to CP. 

“I pray that many churches and nonprofits will decide to learn from this catastrophe and take immediate action to mitigate the risk of personally repeating it,” he added. 

RZIM issued an apology Thursday with the announcement of the results of an extensive independent investigation in which victims claimed that Zacharias had engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape” over the course of many years. 

The ministry hired the Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin to conduct the independent investigation. In the apology statement published as the report was released, RZIM said it was “shocked and grieved” by the actions of the late apologist and that “corporate repentance” was needed. 

Weitnauer said it’s crucial that churches and ministry organizations appoint senior leaders who bear responsibility and that they establish or strengthen policies against abuse of every kind — provide training on toxic cultural dynamics, and ensure board members and community leaders are informed and watchful advocates for survivors and other vulnerable members of their communities. 

“The continued prevalence of sexual abuse within the church, and the weak response to it by church leaders, is a great discredit to our witness,” Weitnauer said. “For the sake of the Gospel and the honor of God, and our commitment to the wellbeing of victims, may we instead courageously resolve to build communities that are full of truth and goodness.” 

Other Christian voices and thought leaders have expressed a variety of emotions. Many said they are disgusted and shaken, but noted that news of respected evangelical leaders falling has become common. 

“I’ve thought about this a lot since it all came out and I guess it sucks to say that I’m not surprised when this happens anymore. Because it just keeps happening. God, have mercy,” said author Jackie Hill Perry, tweeted Thursday.  

She added in a subsequent tweet-thread Friday that she had attended the funeral for the late apologist last year and that the news of his misconduct left her feeling “thrown.” 

“Not because I’m surprised per se’ but because it’s disorienting. I’m reminded that giftedness will never translate to godliness. Neither is orthodox teaching the proof of righteous living…Ravi’s ministry was a gift to most of us but his fall is a warning to all of us. Take heed lest we fall too.”

Teacher and popular speaker Beth Moore said in response to the report that, at base, “in every situation where a Christian leader has lived in gross hypocrisy, carrying on a double life, for years on end: They are out of fellowship with Jesus. Period. YOU CANNOT SUSTAIN THAT IN FELLOWSHIP.”

“The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. Every believer has and will fall into strongholds of various kinds of sin but, in fellowship with Christ, we cannot bear to remain in it. We will repent. We can implement all the accountability systems & MUST. But what we’ve got on our hands are people using piety and outward appearances of righteousness to hide the fact that they have little to no intimacy with the Father and Son through the Holy Spirit,” she added. 

The board of the Zacharias Trust, the U.K. branch of the ministry, also put out a statement announcing that they had made the unanimous decision to separate from RZIM. Although the organization has always been a separate entity in terms of governance with its own trustees, the Trust said that current circumstances have led them to conclude they must operate without any link to the organization. 

“The UK entity will also choose a new name. This process will take time to complete but the UK Board is convinced that this is the best and only way to ensure that the ministry can continue to serve the UK church with integrity. This will also give us the opportunity to review the lessons to be learned from these awful events,” the Trust added. 

COMMENT:

Part of our mission is to “… help the abused, the abuser and those affected by abuse to heal…just not all in the same setting.” Please contact us if you need assistance. If it is an emergency dial 911.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-leaders-call-for-overhaul-after-ravi-zacharias-report.html

10 Things It’s Tough to Confess (and, in Fact, to Recognize in Some Cases)

By Chuck Lawless -November 12, 2020

confess

We are to confess our sin to God and trust Him to forgive us (1 John 4:9). My experience as a pastor and professor, though, has shown that some sins are tougher to recognize and confess. In fact, my personal experience suggests the same. Here are some of those things:

  1. Idolatry. We know how strongly the Bible condemns idolatry, and we don’t want any part of that problem. It’s just that we still sometimes put people, things, choices, and actions above God.
  2. Ego. I’ve met very few egotistical people who admit their ego. I have met some who “brag” about their humility, however—which is just another sign of their pride. Many of us don’t quickly recognize our ego.
  3. Selfishness. The natural inclination of selfishness is to “bow up” and defend our choices—to protect our turf, to claim our “rightness” and our privilege. Whenever you put yourself on top, it’s tough to confess that issue.
  4. Lukewarmness. Few of us want to admit that we’re not as on fire for God as we once were. In fact, lukewarmness is so much the norm now that we think it’s okay.
  5. Apathy. I’m thinking particularly about our overall commitment to walk with God. Sometimes we’re just not committed to ongoing, continual, intentional spiritual growth.
  6. Greed. After all, it’s the American dream to get as much stuff as we can—and then compare what we have to what others have. We’re hard-working and blessed, we assume—not greedy.
  7. Laziness. Again, I don’t think I’ve ever met a lazy person who admitted it or who didn’t quickly run to an excuse for his or her inactivity. Other people are lazy; not us.
  8. Gluttony. We might see habitual overeating as not good for us, but we don’t always see it from a spiritual perspective. Recognizing there might be other issues involved, apparent gluttony is often idolatry.
  9. Ingratitude. We’re coming up on a week of thanksgiving, but we do that because November comes around again. Too often, we’re like the healed lepers who received God’s blessing but never returned to thank Jesus (Luke 17:12-19).
  10. Unconcern. We have neighbors, co-workers, family members, friends, classmates, etc., who don’t know Jesus. Billions have never heard His name. Our lack to attention to getting the gospel to them is a sign of our unconcern—and it’s tough to admit.

Please pray for me – and let me know how we might pray for you.

This article originally appeared here.

AUDIO The Ant and the Grasshopper, Modern Version

Romans 13:1 (NKJV)
1  Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

Dan 2:20-21 “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs. He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding.” (NASB)

God gives us good government when we deserve it, and He gives us bad government when we deserve that. Ultimately, He gives us what we demand. He gives us what we think we want, as seen in the story about Israel demanding a king in 1 Samuel 8:4-22.

I found a classic illustration that was written over 25 years ago using Aesop’s story of the Ant and the Grasshopper.  I have updated it for our current times and thought it appropriate to use during this election period.  The only thing I claim credit for is adding up-to-date names.  

The Ant and the Grasshopper – Modern Version.

THE CLASSIC VERSION

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

THE MODERN VERSION

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.  The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. CBS, CNN, NBC and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

America and the world is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can it be that, in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Then a representative of the NAAGB (National Association of Green Bugs) shows up on Nightline and charges the ant with “green bias”, and makes the case that the grasshopper is the victim of 30 million years of “Greenism.”

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when he sings “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”  Joe Biden and Kamala Harris make a special guest appearance on the CBS Evening News to tell a concerned David Muir that they will do everything they can for the grasshopper who has been denied the prosperity he deserves by those who benefited unfairly during the Trump summers, or as Biden refers to it, the “Temperatures of the 2020’s.”

Chuck Schumer exclaims in an interview with Norah O’Donnell that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his “fair share.”  Finally, the EEOC drafts the “Economic Equity and Anti-Greenism Act”. Retroactive to the beginning of the summer, the ant was fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he’s in, which just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around him since he doesn’t know how to maintain it. The ant has disappeared in the snow. And on the TV, which the grasshopper bought by selling most of the ant’s food, they are showing Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez standing before a wildly applauding group of compatriots announcing that a new era of “fairness” has dawned in America.

We who are voting about our Nation’s future need to spend time in prayer seeking God’s Guidance as to how to vote.  A lot is riding on the outcome of this election.  You need to take seriously how you think God would have you vote. Some have called this the most important election of our lifetime.

Voting is a privilege that we Americans have and we shouldn’t take it for granted.  We thank God and all the heroes that have sacrificed and shed their blood and laid down their lives to insure our freedom to vote and express our opinions at the polls.  Don’t let what has been handed to us through the price our Patriots have paid be wasted!  Exercise your right to vote while you still have that right.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

WE WILL EITHER HAVE THE GOVERNMENT WE WANT OR THE GOVERNMENT WE DESERVE! 

THE ONLY WAY WE CAN ASSURE THAT GOD WILL BLESS AMERICA IS IF AMERICA TURNS BACK TO GOD!

I’m not telling you how to vote, but I am asking you to seek God’s guidance in exercising that right and vote accordingly! 

2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)
14  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

There is certainly a need for God to heal our land today and bring us back to being THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!


PODCAST: THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER, MODERN VERSION

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/6043966


VIDEO The Whole of the Christian Life Is Repentance

 Nathan W. Bingham Oct 24, 2019

We don’t just repent once. In this brief clip, Sinclair Ferguson explains that the Christian life requires daily repentance and submission to the authority of Jesus Christ.

This Reformation Month, watch a short video every day on the history and insights of the Protestant Reformation. And don’t forget that for this month only, you can request your free digital download of R.C. Sproul’s video teaching series Luther and the Reformation plus the ebook edition of The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols at ligm.in/Reformation. Offer ends October 31, 2019.

Transcript

Most of you know the story of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. The first of these theses was this: When our Lord Jesus said “repent.” He meant that the whole of the Christian life should be repentance. You ever heard somebody say, well I repented twenty years ago, thirty years ago, ten years ago, it’s done and dusted. No it’s not done and dusted for Jesus. It is the whole of the Christian life. This transformation, this newness, this difference that is the Christian life, takes place only when we find ourselves bowing down to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

https://www.ligonier.org/blog/whole-christian-life-repentance/