Sunday, October 28, 2018

Christ Through the Bible- Hebrews

Hebrews 1:1-3 - God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Hebrews 8:6 - But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
Hebrews 11:1-3 - Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
 The Book of Hebrews was written to those who understood the Old Testament but were confused about how it related to the New Covenant.  The Jews who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah had become outcasts, lost property and suffered persecution by those who rejected Jesus. Then there were those who were having second thoughts about following Jesus after weighing the costs.  Some were trying to compromise to appease the Jewish authorities, and others did not understand Jesus as applied to the Law of Moses.
The author of Hebrew answers the questions the Jewish believers struggled with during the first century of the new church.  The author shows how Jesus was superior to Moses.  Hebrews show how the death of Jesus eliminated the need for the Levitical system.
Where the First Century Christians struggled with the New Covenant today’s Christians struggled with the Old Covenant.
The book of Hebrews is the bridge that connects the Old Testament and the New. These covenants are entirely different and yet many Christians approach God based on Old Testament Law instead of New Testament faith. The entire book is about Jesus and how He is the guarantee of a new and better covenant.
Christ's sacrifice for our sins was perfect and complete. All the laws, rituals and animal sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed toward Jesus. When we accept him as Savior, our sins are forgiven.
The Old Testament was understood as the means of salvation by the Jews.  The had their high priest, temple, holy place, holy of holies, and sacrifices, these things they understood.  It was part of their religious life.  What they did not realize was how Jesus fit into all the rituals and worship.
The writer of Hebrews is trying to explain to them that Christ has already come to be the high priest. He is the high priest of the good things we now have. But Christ does not serve in a place like a tent or a temple that those other priests served in. He serves in a better place. Unlike the Tabernacle of the Old Testament, this one is perfect. It was not made by anyone here on earth. It does not belong to this world.  As the High Priest Christ entered the Most Holy Place only one time—enough for all time. He entered the Most Holy Place by using his own blood, not the blood of goats or young bulls. He entered there and made us free from sin forever.
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow were sprinkled on those who were no longer pure enough to enter the place of worship. The blood and ashes made them pure again—but only their bodies.  The blood sacrifice of Christ can do much more. Christ offered himself through the eternal Spirit as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will make us completely clean from the evil we have done. It will give us clear consciences so that we can worship the living God. Not by our own efforts can we find salvation, only through Jesus Christ can we be saved.
The whole point of the Christian faith is that we could never earn our salvation no matter how hard we worked, or how great a sacrifice we could make. Even if we gave our bodies to be burned for the love of Christ, it would not make us one bit worthier. If we could crawl to Jerusalem on broken glass, it would not make us one bit more deserving of heaven. There is only one way that our sins can be taken away — only one sacrifice that is enough to atone for our sins. It is the perfect sacrifice of Christ, and this sacrifice makes all other sacrifices unnecessary.
Jesus’ sacrifice was the perfect sacrifice, first, because: He was one of us. In Old Testament times God told the people to sacrifice animals as a temporary covering for their sins. It was an interim plan for the perfect sacrifice that was coming. As they confessed their sins and laid their hands on the head of the animal which was to be sacrificed, they understood that something was dying in their place. They deserved to die, but God was providing a substitute. This sacrificial lamb was to be a picture of the perfect Lamb of God who would come. After the lamb was sacrificed on the altar, the person who offered the lamb would take it home, and the whole family would eat the lamb in a sacrificial feast. The sacrifice would become a part of them. The sins of the people in Old Testament times were covered as they looked forward to the perfect sacrifice that was coming. Our sins are taken away as we look backward to the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
Once we start this journey with Christ, you will find that it is not an easy one. We will know the temptation. By depending on Jesus for help, however, we can grow stronger and bring glory to God with our life.
The example of this journey is found in the life of Abraham.  Abraham stepping out in faith to leave the land of his ancestors and go to a place chosen by God was a journey of faith. He did not know where he was going, but he knew who he would be traveling with – and that was good enough for him.
 The New Testament relates how the earliest term used to refer to Christians was ‘those who belong to the Way’ (Acts 9:2). They were travelers on their way to the New Jerusalem.
Thinking of the Christian life as a journey through the world offers a way of visualizing the life of faith. It reminds us that we are going somewhere. We are on our way to the New Jerusalem. It encourages us to think ahead and look forward with anticipation to the joy of arrival. One day we shall finally be with God and see our Lord face to face!
Yet traveling does more than lead us to our goal. The journey is itself a process, which enables us to grow and develop as we press on to our goal. To travel is indeed about finally achieving journey’s end, with all the joy and delight that this will bring - but it is also about experiencing and encouraging personal and spiritual growth within us as we travel. Journeying is a process which helps our development as people and as believers.
We start this journey by faith, and we complete this journey by faith.  Faith is pleasing to God. We express our faith through obedience to God. God's greatest promise to us is salvation, and that promise was fulfilled through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see.
Faith leads us to a holy life.  Holiness is an electrifying and dividing word in Christian circles. The reason is simple. God has implanted a passion for holiness deep in every born-again heart.
“Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
Although holiness has a certain intangible quality, Scripture presents holiness in a clear, concise manner. Holiness, as witnessed in the verses above, is twofold. It requires a separation from whatever is contrary to the mind of God; and separation or dedication unto God Himself. “…Come out from among them and be ye separate…” involves the primary separation from the word. “…And I will receive you…” involves the secondary separation or acceptance unto and by God.
The New Testament uses two words for holiness: hagiasmos, (hag-ee-ahs-mos) translated as sanctification; and hosiotes,( hos-ee-ot-ace) translated as holiness. The words are synonymous and are used interchangeably. Both imply a consecration for service on the human side and an acceptance for use on the Divine side.
Holiness can also be understood by noticing its antonyms in the New Testament. Paul contrasted holiness with immorality and impurity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). Peter contrasted holiness with the lusts of the former life (1 Peter 1:13-16). John contrasted the person who is holy to those who are evil and vile (Revelation 22:11).
Concerning God, holiness means absolute purity and moral perfection. For a man, holiness means conformity to God’s character, thinking as He thinks, loving what He loves, hating what He hates, and acting as Christ would act.
So, holiness is a distinctive quality of living that identifies a person to be a Christian or Christ-like. It is walking in the Spirit, such that the fruit of the Spirit is evident (Galatians 5:16-25) and the desires of the flesh are not being gratified (Romans 8:13).
Paul, in Romans 6, explains that through salvation, we become new creatures. We are crucified with Christ, thus, ending a life dominated by sin. We are then raised to walk in newness of life which was wrought through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Dethroned of sin, we are given a deep, sustaining desire to know God, to please God, and to draw near unto God. This is the new birth. This is the starting point for holiness.
To a spiritually risen man, holiness is a natural way of life, just as sin is natural to a spiritually dead man. As we pursue holiness through obedience to God, we are following the most profound urge of our own renewed being. We could rightfully call the pursuit of holiness the “Christ instinct:” (Romans 6:10,11).
In summary, holiness is God-taught, Spirit-wrought Christlikeness. In both sum and substance, it is seen as committed discipleship, consecration, and the responsive outflow of a grateful born-again heart.
We are called to persevere. Despite temptations, trials, discipline, and backsliding, we can endure. God is faithful and has prepared a heavenly home for us.
Christians are called to persevere in the faith.

 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear the fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me, John 15:4. Believers are called to abide in Christ; to walk in Him Col 2:6, as followers of Jesus we turn from our sinful ways and follow Jesus; this takes perseverance, endurance, and discipline as the word or God and the Holy Spirit lead us in holiness.
We are to persevere in our prayers 
1 Thess 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing, Luke gives us two parable examples for persevering in our prayers, the widow in Luke 18:1-8 and the neighbor in Luke 11:5-13.
We are told to persevere in our suffering which brings about endurance.
Perseverance builds character and hope Rom 5:4 The apostle Paul encourages Christians “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Biblical change requires the putting off sinful behavior (habits) and putting on righteous behavior (habits), this is at the heart of the Christians walk with Christ (Eph 4:22-24). We are saved from sin so that we may turn from our sin and serve our Lord in righteousness. It is the process of sanctification as we grow to be more like Jesus.
Scripture anticipates change; we change as the word of God, and the Holy Spirit transform our thinking, and therefore a change in our behavior is the result. This process, however, takes effort on the believer to be in the word, reading, studying and meditating on its truths. This takes discipline and perseverance on the believer’s part.  God disciplines in love to correct, to purify, to train, and to structure his children’s lives according to His wishes.
Perseverance, endurance in the faith and disciplining ourselves for Godliness is what every believer is called to do--die to self and live for Jesus. We are called to put off the old self, put on the new self and renew our minds with the truth of God (Eph 4:22-24). True Christians do persevere overall. True Christians will put their trust and hope in Jesus and persevere in their trials, they will trust and obey Jesus as Lord of their lives and fix their hope on Jesus and lay aside every encumbrance and sin that entangles them so they can run the race which takes endurance and perseverance that is set before them (Heb 12:1-3).
If you have not accepted the transforming power of salvation through Jesus Christ, I encourage you to seek and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Salvation of America Is By Repentance

This past week I read a sign that said, Let's put Christ back in Christmas is good, but I just wish we would put Christ back in Christian.  It is true much of Christianity has lost Christ.  There are so many "types" of Christians today making one wonder what it truly means to be a Christian.  However, there is a concern for the spiritual health of America among some Christians who have been praying for revival.  The problem is most have never experienced a revival and think evangelism and revival are the same.  This could not be further from the truth.  The prophet Hosea gives us an indication of what revival is all about.
 Hosea 10:12 says: “Sow to yourself in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord till He comes and reign righteousness upon you.”
 The Psalmist speaks about revival when he says, “Would Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee.” Psalm 85:

When we speak about revival we think of spring and fall revivals.  Revivals are planned by the church board, a date is established, an evangelist and song evangelist are called, and advertising is designed to bring in the "lost".   Revival has become purely mechanical and "willed" by man and not by God.  Revival cannot be organized, subsidized and advertised.  If we are really going to get a concept of revival we must get a vision of God’s sorrow over sin. We must get a vision of how, day by day, we offend God.  As a nation, we daily offend the LORD and as a church, we offend the LORD with our weakened message of salvation.
If America is to have a change of heart it must start in the pulpit.

 Joel 1:13, “Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl ye ministers of the altar, come to lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God.”2:12, 17 “Turn ye now even to Me with all your heart and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments.”, “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach.”
Some will say not to worry about the condition of the church and country that "this too shall pass".  The problem is we have fooled ourselves about the evil that exists in our country and the church; the evil today is such we have never seen before.  The only thing that will change this condition is a cleansing fire from the LORD.  Many talks about revival but are not willing to have the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit refine and purify them.  Jesus came to bring a fire on the earth that is a consuming fire baptizing us with the Holy Ghost.
The need for revival is definite, the church is in such turmoil that there is very little difference between those in the world and those who call themselves Christians.   Ministers have changed the message from the pulpit.  Preachers have heeded the cry from the pew of a feel-good message.  The scriptural doctrine has been forsaken and the message of Christ's plan of salvation has been ignored and many are ignorant of true repentance.  If there is to be a revival in American churches, there must be a change in the message of salvation and true biblical salvation preached.
The problem we have in American churches is we have many people who are associated with the Christian faith without accepting biblical salvation.  They came into the Christian faith under false pretense by making an intellectual decision to become a Christian without first being convinced they were sinners.  It was during the early 1800's that the church shifted the message of repentance.  We no longer preach about conviction, confession, repentance, and restitution.  The message of true repentance is a negative message and does not appeal to a carnal nature.  There are many in the church today professing to be Christians while living defeated lives and living with a false sense of spiritual security.  They have come to an intellectual decision to become a Christian without being drawn by the Holy Spirit.  The process of salvation starts with the conviction of sin.  The sinner must first be convinced he is a sinner.  Once convinced he must confess he is a sinner.  Confession is followed by repentance and restitution for a life of sin. The elements of conviction, confession, repentance, and restitution are necessary for true biblical salvation.
Today, men are not experiencing conviction of sin, they are becoming "followers" of Christ without having their conscience roused or a sorrow for their separation from God.  Men today are more concerned about their relationship with one another than a relationship with God.
The bottom line is none can come to Christ as their Savior until they are thoroughly convinced they need a Savior.  No one can come to Jesus as a Savior until he realizes that he is a lost sinner and convinced he is doom without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for his sins.
Today, the world has poor concept of sin.  Most individuals are morally dyslexic and cannot tell the difference between right and wrong.  We have come to accept within the church the concept that sin is more on the order of error than a disregard for the commandments of God.  We have taken away the shame of sin.  If we are ignorant of the power of sin in our lives, we will think of it as a disorder or syndrome and never find deliverance from sin. 
Paul did not want the Galatians ignorant of what the fruits of sin were, Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying’s, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 
Many experience embarrassments when they are caught in the act.  A guilty conscience is not conviction or remorse over sin.  The philosophy of the day is to commit the act and ask forgiveness when caught-- after all Christians are required to forgive one another.  This is not conviction this is "I'm sorry I got caught."  True repentance is what Paul explain to the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death." 
When the Holy Spirit convicts us there is a deep sense of guilt, remorse, uncleanness, and ungodliness within our spirit.   This feeling of guilt of sin cannot be manufactured.  It is here that I will no doubt be considered a heretic by many Evangelicals and Fundamentalist.  The evangelist approach to revival has contributed to the weakening of the message of Salvation by focusing on numbers rather than true conversions.   Most Evangelical, Fundamentalist and Holiness Churches have an invitation system to bring men, women, and children to Christ.  The congregation will sing a hymn while the preacher calls men and women to come to the front to make a public confession to "accept Christ".  Salvation is offered with the decision to allow Jesus into their hearts.  This custom has no foundation in biblical practice and circumvents the work of the Holy Spirit.
The "old fashion altar call" was unheard of until Charles Finney used it around 1830.  Finney developed the modern evangelistic methods of forcing a decision to get results.  The process was later used by Dwight L. Moody, Peter Cartwright, Sam Jones, R. A. Torrey, Billy Sunday, Bob Jones, Gipsy Smith, Mordecai Ham, John R. Rice, Billy Graham, and many evangelists today all used the method with impressive success. The invitation system had come to stay.
Today, the "old fashion altar call" has replaced the Holy Spirit as the first step to salvation to a forced decision.  Jesus told his disciples, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" John 16:7   We are not called to save people or force them to make a decision, but rather to be a witness of what Jesus Christ has done in our life.  Our pleading, begging and singing sinners to kneel at an altar may not bring salvation to the lost sinner but it will bring a weakness to the church.  They must first be convinced by the HOLY SPIRIT they are sinners, not by the fear of hell, the imminent return of Jesus Christ, or the emotional appeal of Almost Persuaded sung for a one-half hour, but by a godly sorrow for their actions against a holy God. 
It is conviction that causes one to realize that he or she is separated from being in a right relationship with God. Unless a sinner repents, he will stand condemned before God and lost forever. Luke 13:5 "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."  Before there can be true repentance, a sinner must have an understanding and acknowledgment that he is guilty of sin accompanied by a godly sorrow.  Conviction of sin brings a man to an awareness of this hopeless, helpless condition. The guilt of sin was laid upon the sinner by the Holy Spirit-conviction, to the point he sought forgiveness of his sins so that he could find peace within his soul.
If America is to have a revival with true repentance and turning from our wicked ways, the message from the pulpits must be a message of biblical salvation.  The message must speak to the lost condition of man and his separation from God.  The sinner must be convinced and convicted of his lost and sinful condition by the call of the Holy Spirit and the church must be convicted of her wickedness and repent and turn again to the LORD.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Christ Through the Bible-Titus

The Blessed Hope
Text: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Tomorrow there will be people who will be going to jobs of every sort, some will be going to school, others will be just at home working.  These people will be fulfilling their duties and responsibility of daily life.  They will be faced with problems to solve, questions to answers and things that may challenge them.  Some people will be faced with burdens that will stagger them threaten to crush them to the ground.
What do you think will cause these people to go about their daily struggle of life, and some even wear a smile?  What is it that makes them keep on keeping on?  The answer is HOPE.  Hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
Take away hope and even the strongest and toughest of people will become discourage and fall into despair.  We are living in a time where the world is in chaos.  The uncertainty of what the next day will bring bears up on all of us.  There are wars being fought in our streets, terrorist threats, gang violence, the uncertainty of the economy, political unrest, families falling apart, our children are faced with all types of social problems—life is uncertain.
Some people cannot face the problems of life. They are utterly crushed, filled with darkness and fear. That person has no hope.  BUT let someone bend down and whisper in their ear the glad word of HOPE and watch the change!  Their eyes will begin to shine once again, their face will light up, they will leap to their feet and take hold of life.  Without hope it is impossible to face the daily struggles of life.
We have been studying the Book of Revelation and see the condition of the world as we are rapidly approaching the day when the LORD will come again. We are witnessing the judgments of God upon the wicked nations, but we are also seeing the persecution and tribulation that many Christians are going through around the world as Satan pours out his wrath of the children of God.  As Christians we cannot be without hope.  This blessed hope is what will sustain us when the whole world is falling around us.  This hope will sustain us when we are faced with persecution and even death.  We are engaged in a spiritual war and need the assurance of hope.
This is an invisible spiritual war a battle which involves all men and women. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph 6:12) It is not a visible war because spirits are involved, and we learn in Luke 24:39, that a spirit does not have flesh and bones.
Every person alive is engaged in this battle, whether they realize it or not. There is no neutral ground. Unbelievers are in bondage to evil and have been taken captive by enemy forces. Though believers have been freed from the enemy through Jesus Christ, they are still engaged in the war for two reasons. All believers wrestle against evil spiritual forces because of his relentless counterattacks as well as to free others from the bondage. "Wrestling" involves close personal contact. No one is exempt from this battle. No one can view it from a distance. The Christian warfare never ceases.
·        Spiritual warfare is "multidimensional,” which means it is fought in different dimensions.

·         It is a social battle between the believer and the world (John 15:18-27).
·        A personal battle between the flesh and the spirit (Gal 5:16-26).
·        A supernatural battle between believers and evil spiritual powers (Eph 6:10-27).

It is vital that the believer recognize that they are in a battle.  Not knowing the spiritual conflict that is raging around the believer is one reason there are so many defeated Christians.  This is the basic fact that allows one to prepare for battle and face an enemy that can only be seen with spiritual eyes.  Ignorance is a Christian’s greatest weakness.  Keep Christians ignorant and they will be no threat to Satan. One of the other most important things to know is that there are two kingdoms that are in conflict.  This is the source of all spiritual battles that we face.  There is the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.  These are the kingdoms of Satan and the LORD respectively.   Paul in his letter to the church at Rome admonishes the saints to put on the armor of light.  Christians are in a war against the kingdom of darkness and our weapons are spiritual.

This invisible war is being waged on earth. Satan fights to maintain control of the kingdoms of the world. He does not want them to come under God's authority. Satan blinds the spiritual eyes of the unbelievers and attacks believers in the areas of worship, the Word, their daily walk, and their work for God.
There will come a time when the battle will be so difficult that the only thing that will sustain us is that the LORD is coming back.
The Thessalonians watched and waited for Jesus Christ to return.  Some among them died and the living were troubled lest the dead in Christ should miss the great coming.  Paul wrote and told them that they were not to sorrow as others whose died did not die in Christ Jesus.  Paul told them that the Lord is coming down into the air and the dead in Christ will not miss that great event for they will be the FIRST to realize it.  The Lord will raise them first, then those Christians living will be changed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.  This is the hope that we have. This is the hope Paul wrote of.  This is the hope John wrote of.  This is the "BLESSED HOPE."
 You have noticed cemeteries and the memorials of the dead.  Lonely churchyards with family burial plots, the larger the town, the larger the "city of the dead."  Think of that day coming when those people who died in the LORD shall hear a voice and rise.  The day when death shall be defeated and a grave never more be dug nor filled with God's Children.  That hour of resurrection triumph will be at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is by the coming of the LORD, that the dead in Christ will be raise. This is the hope that we have that one day when the LORD of lords and KING of kings shall return we will be gathered together with HIM.  There is not the slightest warrant in the Word of God to hope for the resurrection of the Christian dead apart from the second personal coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Take away the blessed hope of the coming of the LORD and the grave cover the hopelessly dead.
Take away the Second Coming of the LORD and there is not one word of hope one can hold out that the Christian dead will be anything more than disembodied souls.

 Because Christ is surely coming a second time, that coming means the redemption of the body.   It means the Christians complete redemption from the power of death. Not only are those who died in Christ will be raised, but Christians living in that moment are to be changed, transfigured, made deathless, incorruptible and immortal. In a moment, at the coming of the Lord, the wrinkles will disappear from the brow of age, the sick will be cured, health will leap through every vein and youth immortal shall clothe each changed, transfigured and translated saint.
 This is the hope of every Christian.  This is the hope we have and believe.  But this hope is not experienced by everyone.  There are going to be those who the Day of the LORD will not be a time of hope and deliverance, but a time of fear.
The Apostle John saw into the future what the Day of the LORD return would bring to those who do not have the blessed hope.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Rev. 6:15-17
While the great men, rich men and all who serve Satan are fearful there will be those who have fought the fight of faith and with joy welcome the coming of the LORD.  They have had their hope in the ONE who brings them their final salvation.  They have longed for the day when the battle would be over.
 The hope is one day the clang of the swords will one day die away, the shouting of the slaughter will be hushed; silence will lay on the red-stained ground. Swords and Shields will cover the field, broken blades lay where the dead were placed in heaps. The nerveless hand still gripped the broken hilt: helmeted heads, look upward, when facing the benediction of life. The battlefield of fear, doubt, depression, physical problems, condemnation, obsessions, worry, despair or hopelessness is faced by every Warrior, but we have this Blessed Hope.  The Captain of our Salvation will be returning soon.
 All through the history of mankind there has been a group of individuals, in a scared and unbroken succession, who have confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers upon this earth.  They can be found wandering the deserts and, in the mountains, dwelling in the dens and caves of the earth, to which they have been driven by those who would wage war against them.  They can be found in the marketplace and homes of men, distinguished only by their simpler dress, their girded loins; their restrained appetites of worldly pleasures; their loose hold on gold; their independence of the opinions and applause of the world around them.  There is in their eyes the far-away look which now and then glows from a certain affection centered not on the transitory things of time and earth, but on those eternal realities which, lying beneath the veil of the visible, and are only revealed in faith.  These are the Warriors of the Cross who have the Blessed Hope of knowing that they will soon be done with all the troubles and trials of this life

It will be a blessing when we meet the LORD at his return.  What overshadows our joy right now is knowing that we have family and friends who will not be part of this blessed hope.  Our hearts are filled with sorrow to think they will not hear the words enter in but the words of depart from me. It should break our hearts to think that someone we love would be left behind when the LORD returns.
No one needs to be without this blessed hope.  Salvation is free to all who will accept the gift of God’s sacrifice of HIS SON Jesus Christ.  You too, can be filled with the great hope of HIS second coming and hurry to tell your family and friends about this great hope.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Christ Through the Bible- 1&2 Timothy

Text:   I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim. 2:1-4

One of the concerns that I have is that we are seeing an increase in evil around the world.  There seems to be a significant push by satanic forces to attack anything that is good, righteous, pure, holy and faithful to the cause of Jesus Christ.  We have been warned by the prophets and apostles that in the last days perilous times would come.  Those days are here now.

I am not a prophet nor am I the son of a prophet, but I can see the signs of the time all around us and feel in the next five years we will see more evil days than we could ever imagine would take place.  We are more concerned today about pleasure than the salvation of souls.  It dumbfounds me how Christians have so little concern about spiritual things.  There are very few who will take the time to do the business of the LORD.  Jesus said, But, seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Even if Christians fail to see that time is running out, Satan is aware his time is short.  John tells us in the Book of Revelation that Satan will pour out his wrath on those who are faithful to the LORD because he knows his time is short.  If Satan knows this, shouldn’t we know as well?  Paul in writing to the Thessalonians Christians said,

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.   For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.   For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.   But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

There are Christians around the world who are daily dying for the cause of Jesus Christ.  John, in the Book of Revelation, tells of those who opposed Satan, and overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

There is no longer an attempt to hide the agenda of those who want to destroy everything the LORD holds dear.  As it was in the days of Noah, it is happening today.  Don’t think for one minute that faithful Christians will escape the wrath of the devil.  He is out to destroy those who oppose him.  If you are not feeling his wrath, could it be you are not fighting him?  In American Christians have convinced themselves that God will not allow tribulation and persecution to come upon them, that the LORD will “rapture” them out of the coming trouble.  In the same chapter that Paul tells of perilous times coming he also writes, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  What concerns me about the attitude of the American Christian is that we have very little concern for those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior. 

We have lost sight of the mission of the Church.  I realize this was being applied to Israel, but the message of Ezekiel 34 could apply to the American church today.

The LORD told Ezekiel to speak against the spiritual leaders who were taking care of themselves and not taking care of the spiritual needs of the people.  The leaders were living off the people, profiting from what should have been used to heal the sick, strengthen the weak, bind up the hurts.  Some of the people wandered away, and no one went to bring them back. No one even took the time to go to look for the lost. Some ministers are cruel and severe—in the way, they lead the people in their church!  There was more emphasis placed on the traditions of a man than the love of God. It is harder to join some churches than it is to get into heaven.  And now the people are scattered because there was no real shepherd. They became food for every wild animal, so they were scattered. The LORD was disappointed He said, my flock wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My flock was scattered over all the face of the earth. There was no one to search or to look for them.

Listen to what the LORD had to said would happen.  The LORD said, “I swear that wild animals will catch my sheep, and my people will become food for all those animals because they did not have any real shepherds. My shepherds did not look out for my flock. They did not feed my flock. No, they only killed the sheep and fed themselves!”

The LORD is against the spiritual leaders.  He has fired them, and they are no longer His shepherds.  American ministers have forgotten the mission of the Church- seek the lost, feed the sheep and warn them of the evil that is out to destroy them.  I have tried to be faithful to the message and responsibility of the ministry of Jesus Christ.  There have been those who wandered off and have become food for the wild animals and lost their love of God.  Some of those who have wandered away from the fold of Christ, I do not know how to reach them.  They have been mistreated by those in the church, they have lost faith and become discouraged because they never had the transforming power of salvation.  They failed to surrender their life to the LORD and never knew the power of the surrendered life.  The never reached the level of commitment for the LORD that gave them the power to say, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 I ran across a statement that I found interesting. It was talking about the how humans respond to a crisis.

If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train is derailed, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is how humans respond to crisis without exception.

This reminded me of the story told by Jesus of the lady who lost a coin, the shepherd who lost a sheep, and the father who lost a son.  The lady searched for the coin and found it.  The shepherd searched for the sheep and found it.  In both cases there was rejoicing.  What is sad about this story is no one went searching for the lost son.

There is no real effort on the part of the Church today to reach those who are lost, even within our own families.  We have allowed the cares of this world to choke out our spiritual life to the point we have no time to search for the lost.  David said, I looked on my right hand and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. How are we preparing our friends and family for the war we are now engaged in?  Time is short, and the devil knows this, do you?

Every Christian has a responsibility to carry out the mission of the Church.

 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim. 2:1-4

We are living in time spoken of by Paul.  We must be on guard for our own spiritual life, and we should be carrying out the message of the Gospel.  It is time that we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.  If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior today is the day, now is the accepted time.