Praying for Our Persecuted Christian Brothers and Sisters

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11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. – 2 Cor.1:11 NLT
 
When we read these verses, we need to consider our brothers and sisters who live in places where persecution and imprisonment are still common practice today.  They need our prayers and our encouragement on a daily basis.  There are numerous testimonies from these Christians about being able to endure their harsh treatment because they received cards and/or knew that other Christians were praying for them daily.  They, as Paul, have learned to rely on God to deliver them from deadly perils.  Until recently we, in the free world, have not been subject to such unfair and brutal treatment.  That time has passed and we are being tested here in America, as well as other so called free countries. Christians are being ridiculed, beaten to death and imprisoned for refusing to deny their faith and their beliefs.  We need to pray and encourage each other daily.  Our hope is still in Jesus Christ.  He is our Redeemer, our Savior and our Lord. There is no other God that is capable of loving their followers and delivering them from every situation. We need to understand that some times that deliverance includes physical death. But we need to count it all joy and say along with Paul:

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. — Phil. 1:20, 21 NIV

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 05-29-2018

One Story – One Hope

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Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. – Romans 15:4 NLT
 
 
All of the Scriptures, both Old and New are a continuing story of hope. In the Old Testament, the Jews were constantly reminded of the hope they had that God was with them and would deliver them in His timing. The prophets also told of a time when the Messiah would come to deliver not only the Jews but also the Gentiles. The New Testament continues that story of hope with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We still look forward to the time when Jesus will come again to receive all of His children to be with Him in heaven. That is the hope we have that gives us encouragement to endure the time we spend as aliens here on earth.  While we are here, we are instructed to follow the example that Jesus set in His time here as a stranger and an alien. We are to accept one another as He accepted us, love each other as He loves us, edify and encourage each other.  We do this to bring glory, honor and praise to God, our Father. This is not possible in the flesh unless we mortify the flesh and submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, even unto death, if necessary.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? — Luke 9:23-25 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 04-27-2018

True, Eternal Wealth

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Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.
— 1 Timothy 6:6 NLT
As more people in our society are finding out, we can be materially rich today and in poverty tomorrow. We need to learn to be content with just the basics; food, clothing, shelter. C H Spurgeon says that 95% of Christians fail the prosperity test and only 5% fail the poverty test. That is another way of saying what Paul is telling Timothy here. Money is neither good nor evil, that is determined by the use we make of the resources we have. While the world pursues monetary gain, we should be pursuing spiritual wisdom. It is important for us to remember that no matter who signs the paycheck, God is the source of all our wealth. He is the source of all of our blessings and provides every thing we need.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 03-31-2017

Loss is Gain

even-smaller-bug-light11 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain. — 1 Thess. 3:1-5 NIV

Paul continues to show his love and concern for the new converts in all the places he has been preaching and teaching. He does this not only by sending letters to several of the churches with instructions to share them with others, but also, by sending Timothy and others back to encourage them and check on their welfare.  It seems to have become a tendency for us to only talk about the love of God for us.  Unlike Paul, we do not stress the fact that the road is not always smooth.  In our lives as Christians, we will experience difficulties of various sorts and we will be offended, We need to be sure that new converts understand this while assuring them of the love of Jesus.  We will be tempted over and over but God always provides a way out. Jesus promised us that we would have troubles, but at the same time, He reminded us that He had overcome the world.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33
Not only did Jesus overcome the world, but he made it possible for us to be conquerors and overcomers as well.  
4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. — 1 John 4:4
After we have taught new converts John 3:16, let us not forget to also teach them another verse, so when duty calls they will be ready to answer.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. — Luke 9:23, 24 NIV

Post 10-26-2015

True Love

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1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. — 1 Cor. 13:1-3 NIV

​Anyone can do good works and have good intentions. You can help people without getting involved in their lives. It seems that in today’s society, that is the preferred way to help. If we just throw some money at the issue, maybe it will go away. But, our example, Jesus, got involved. He knew and we are learning that money is not the cure for a sinful world. We can take vows of poverty and give away all we have, but if we don’t love, it is a useless endeavor. Our churches can exercise all the God-given gifts, but if we don’t show love, it will not bring others to Jesus. We tend to show others “love” when it is convenient and cost us very little in terms of investing time and touch. Before anyone can really show love, they must have the love of God in their hearts. True love comes only from God.

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.– 1 John 4:16 NIV

Post 07-20-2015

“No Pain, No Gain”

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2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.–James 1:2-5 NIV

​Why do Christians have to endure trials and persecutions?​ I suppose people have been asking this question since the first century. The disciples never quite understood why Jesus had to suffer and die until after the Resurrection. God does not allow us to go through suffering so that He will know where we are on our journey, He allows it so that we will know. He allows it so that our “I can” will turn into “No, I can’t but God can”. “No pain, no gain” applies to spiritual growth as well as physical. Would understanding the “why” really make the pain any less real or painful?  I am sure that since Jesus was in on the plan of redemption, He understood the why, but that didn’t keep Him from asking His Father if there might not be another way. As he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. 

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”–Matt. 26:42 NIV

​It is not a sin to wonder or to question “why?”. It is only a sin when we take it to the point of being disobedient. ​We need to pray for wisdom, but when we pray for wisdom, we need to understand that acquiring wisdom requires experiencing a lot of things and some of them will be painful.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.–Luke 9:23 NIV

Post 06-26-2015

To Die Is Gain

God is waiting to show you the Way.

God is waiting to show you the Way.

22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus.23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.—John 12:22-27 (NCV)
​Jesus​ responds to their request by saying that it was now time for Him to be glorified. They did not understand that He was referring to His death and resurrection. The grain of wheat that had to die was Jesus. Once a seed has sufficient moisture and temperature, it will split and a new plant starts to grow. The new plant takes everything from the seed to accomplish its growth. In other words, the seed gives itself up (dies) for the new plant. With proper care, the new plant will produce much fruit of its own kind. Jesus knew from before the foundation of the world, that His mission would be to give Himself up for us. When Jesus freely gives Himself up and is buried, the germination process has begun. Now all who accept Him are new creatures. Formed completely out of His body from His own nature. Now that the process of growth has started, we must continue that process by caring for the new creature. We do that by studying Scripture, meditating on His Word and communicating with God through the Holy Spirit. If we follow the example of Jesus, we become bond slaves to Him and servants to our fellow man. We keep this up until our physical body is used up or until Jesus returns, whichever comes first.
17 If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! –2 Cor. 15:17 (NCV)
​Then when Jesus returns, the transformation will be complete! We will have new bodies because our fleshly bodies cannot stand in the glory of God.
​46 The spiritual did not come first, but the physical and then the spiritual. 47 The first man came from the dust of the earth. The second man came from heaven. 48 People who belong to the earth are like the first man of earth. But those people who belong to heaven are like the man of heaven. 49 Just as we were made like the man of earth, so we will also be made like the man of heaven.—1 Cor 15:46-49 (NCV)
Post 01-16-2015