Asia Bibi is Free!!! Hallelujah!!!

Image result for asia bibiDear Friends, Rejoice with us. Asia Bibi is free!!! After 8 years in the solitary confinement of death row (more than 10 years in prison in Pakistan ), for refusing to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ, she has arrived in Canada; which is giving her asylum. She and her husband have been reunited with their daughters. Asia spent her years in deteriorating health and deplorable living conditions surviving by prayer and the presence of God, for refusing to deny Christ and convert to Islam. Several years ago, the governor of her province spoke out in support her and the injustice of her case and was then assassinated.

Millions of Pakistani Muslims wanted her hanged; our Father wanted her to live and testify of His love and faithfulness. He has humbled the mighty by His resurrection life and love in the weak and helpless.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, hat no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption–that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

To all our brothers and sisters who prayed with us for Asia, thank you for your faithfulness and prayers. To God be the Glory, He alone is worthy

2 Timothy 2:8-13 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.  If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
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Thanks to Asia who refused to quit on Jesus Christ our Lord. Your example inspires us to live abandoned to the cause of Christ. Praise God for His enduring faithfulness!!!

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We Need “Them BONES”… (II Timothy 4:3)

Related imageBones are not the most attractive thing to look at. Whether viewed as a single bone or in the entire collective of a skeleton, bones just are not pleasing to most eyes. They are rigid, plain in color-like parchment and generally not very appealing to look at. Let’s be honest, who would not rather look at well formed muscles or  talk about the artistic or athletic movements, attributed to a well developed physique. What usually gets lost is that an appealing physical form and ability is impossible without good, solid and functioning bones. Despite this being true, bones are so often over to make any ordinary skeleton sad.

Yet have a problem with “them bones”, even though they are hidden for the most part, and see the physical life and its actions effected adversely. Consider the strong coal minor, whose arms were thick and well muscled through working years lifting and working with coal. During a mine collapse his upper arm was injured requiring multiple surgeries. After many unsuccessful attempts to repair the humerus (large upper arm bone), they had to remove the bone. Being this occurred decades ago, there were not any available means of synthetic bone implants. As he tried to go back to work, he could pick nothing up, for movement needs strong muscle, but also a rigid lever to pull upon, in order to move. The rigid lever is BONE! It was not until the man was given a rigid iron sleeve (exo-skeleton), placed over the upper and lower arm, that he could use his arm at all.

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The point, without the rigidity of them bones, we would be useless blobs of skin and tissue, unable to speak, blink, move, react or respond. Bones are absolutely essential, even though we often forget about them entirely, until there is a problem. So why the foray into orthopedic territory? Because we Christians have had a spiritual bone issue from the beginning of the church that we often ignore. It is one of the reasons for our ineffective ministry in America. Let us read the word of God.

(II Timothy 4:1-5) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The time described above, is upon us. In America Churches which stick to preaching, teaching and living the implications of sound doctrine are few and far between. This is not to say that there are not ministers who teach good solid doctrine in church meetings and pod casts and on the internet; there are. The problem is that teaching sound doctrine, without convincing, rebuking, and exhorting in suffering (or patient and continual modeling), is pretty much useless. Sound doctrine takes scriptural leaders, which know the flock up close and personal.

This is impossible with the megachurch modalities most desire, because true discipleship, including repeated building of the faith through the presentation of sound doctrine, is too time consuming and labor intensive for most ministers. Therefore, the body of Christ is not built properly and is unable to move in submission, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Replacing sound doctrine are messages and teaching about being better people, building relationships with God and others and serving our communities.

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So what could be wrong about that? How about the fact that none of those particulars are clearly taught as sound doctrine, but are American Christian colloquialisms, which are more appealing to the lost around us. Again what can be wrong with that? How about we are not to starve the children of God of sound doctrine, so that the world around us thinks we are cool and just like them. We are not. When reading the New Testament we find that much of it is spent teaching…

  1. How we are not of this world, once born again, but new creations, in whom Christ lives and moves. Therefore the world around us hates us and our faith in sound doctrine, which begins with Christ and His execution of the plan of redemption.
  2. Sound doctrine is to teach on Christ repeatedly, that every Christian has the word of God, to be their solid foundation, when the enemy rages against them.
  3. This doctrine of Christ is to teach His eternity as God, His perfect humanity, His sinless life, miracles, substitutionary death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, His baptizing and filling believers with the Holy Spirit, His soon return and His delivering of the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness forever.
  4. This doctrine of Christ is not properly taught, if we neglect to define sin, its consequences and the price of forgiveness in Christ’s shed blood. Nor can we claim a convert who has repented from their life apart from Christ and their turning towards God and His commands, as enabled by the Holy Spirit.
  5. Along with these “bones” of sound doctrine, we also teach and model their implications, which are commanded by the Holy Spirit throughout the New Testament. These can be summarized in “Love the Lord your God with all your… and love your neighbor as yourself”–“Come out from among them and be separate”–perfecting holiness in the fear of God”–“love not the world…”–be holy, for I Am holy–“this is the will of God your sanctification…”
  6. Finally the “bones” of sound doctrine of the command and privilege of sharing the gospel, in Jesus Great Commission command to make disciples, must be taught and modeled; as well as the risks and necessity of self denial, following Jesus and cross bearing.

This sound doctrine is the spiritual bones necessary to move, as the body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit. The absence of majoring in teaching of sound doctrine is epic and especially seen in what passes for teaching today.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

“according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers”, simply refers to congregations desiring teaching that aligns with their preferences, rather than Holy Spirit anointed teaching and training, which grows them in the Christ life. Teaching in this state can be things like end-times or spiritual gifts or even love and forgiveness, but made a focus so much, it diminishes the most essential teaching and actions of the faith. Teaching in this state, can be overblown polled topics which are meant to prove Christians are fun or like everyone else.

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The point being, ministers need to stick to sound doctrine no matter the cost. We have heard far too often that “doctrine divided” in a negative connotation. It is true doctrine divides, just as the gospel does (Matthew 10:34-37), but it is necessary division: the wheat from the chaff.  Truth be told, sound doctrine will never divide the true church, but draw it together in unity. Without “them bones” of doctrine, with their rigidity, boundaries, strength and steadying, the church is unable to move by the leading and power of the Holy Spirit. With “them bones” we just might find Christ seated in the midst of our fellowship.

 

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The Look and Result of Noah’s Faith II (Not that Different than that of Noah)

Related imageAs we considered Noah’s faith in our last post, we learned he lived his faith out in setting himself apart from the world he lived in, as well as setting himself wholly apart to God and for his purpose (basic definition of sanctification.) The result of his obedience was to increase the disdain the world had against Noah and all that he loved and lived for. Today we will discover that the expression of our faith is seen in the same Noah’s was apparent: in our being be set apart from the world and set apart unto God. The Christian’s lived out experience of faith creates an environment and experience with the world, that is not that different than the experience of Noah.

*If you have not read part 1 of this series click this link The Look and result of Noah’s Faith I

CALLED TO BE SET APART FROM THE WORLD

When we first discussed Noah, in the last blog, we discovered that before the call to build the ark, for the purpose of being saved from the coming judgment, Noah was already separated from the world. From His great grandfather to his grandfather, and father (Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech), Noah’s family avoided worldly entanglements. Enoch’s vision of the coming judgment, as well as his vision of the judgment at Christ’s return, was the word of God they all held onto in faith. Therefore they obeyed God’s call to seek Him, and make atonement for their sins. They lived a life seeking to be obedient to the Creator and were justified by faith.

We, in Christ, are called to the same. When we believe that our sin was laid upon the Lamb of God Jesus Christ (when He was tortured and crucified), as our final all sufficient Atonement, we are called to repent. This repentance is seen in the continual action of our setting ourselves apart from the world. Once more this is not saving ourselves, but being saved by grace, through faith in who Jesus is and what He accomplished in His cross and resurrection. Yet, if our is faith is real, it is not passive but actively obeying Christ, as He leads us; first in setting ourselves apart from the world.

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For Noah, his decision caused him to stick out like a sore thumb. As the only man considered righteous by faith, in his generation, he must have looked as out of place as an Amish horse and buggy trotting down the middle of 5th Avenue in New York City. Noah’s standing out as different is not any different than what we are called too in Christ. Consider some scriptural truth.

1 John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:2 For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”   17 Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” ​1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

What does perfecting holiness in the fear of God look? It looks like a person whose desire and choices lead growing more separated from the world system and its influence daily–and not being led by your flesh (old man) or being knocked over in temptation, being fooled by the devil. Remember that last one is not necessarily a temptation to be overtly perverse, commit a murder or inject heroine. Big falls come because of a series of little compromises with what may be lawful, but is not expedient to grow in holiness or in faith (I Corinthians 6:12).

Let’s massage this a bit further with another often overlooked passage of scripture.

1 Peter 4:1-51 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

In light of this let us consider the general status of affairs for a person who will not waffle on the issue of life, when it comes to abortion or euthanasia–or the person who refuses to make adjustments to God’s view of human sexuality–or speaking that Jesus is their Savior, even if they don’t know fully what that means. Consider these dear folks won’t be party to lewd conduct, or drunkenness, or the working to live their life to their own design of pleasure and comfort. Even though all these things can be done in relative silence, without open testimony, the world still sees those choosing God’s moral path as weirdo’s and irritants. That being said don’t be a silent witness to Christ. Even if you say nothing, if we don’t partake in the world, even our silence infuriates them. Yet, the meaning of our being set apart from the world goes deeper.

Consider the person, who does not get riled up or involved in any political anxiety or arguing–a person who is not waiting to run to the theater for the next blockbuster that is not rated R–a person who does not care nor orders his life around sports or entertainment–a believer in Christ who cares nothing for Facebook or media platforms–a person who does not have a smart phone because of the risk of time wasting, distractions or falling into sin (Ephesians 5:15-17)–a person who’s only connection to the world is to see it through the word of God, treating it as an infectious disease, he does not want to contract, but desires others to be healed from.

You show me a person like that and I’ll show you one, who like Noah, is set apart from the world. I’ll also show you one who is even ostracized in the church in these United States, as being one to avoid as legalistic, when nothing could be further from the truth. When we, like Noah, make the choice to live for Christ setting ourselves apart from the world, we do not get to decide what we want to commune, fellowship or link with. Because in addition to being set apart from the world, we are called to be set apart unto God and His purpose alone.

CALLED TO BE SET APART TO GOD AND HIS PURPOSE COMPLETELY

Hebrews 11:7 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

For well over one hundred years, Noah not only preached of judgment to come, but built an ark, as a visible sign that those who chose to live apart from God would meet His wrath, in the flood. For many of us, being totally set apart to God for 10 minutes is a major impossibility, but can you imagine the self-discipline Noah exercised, for over 100 years, doing God’s without one convert to your cause? This means that every day, he did what God commanded, as a 24/7 over a loud speaker message of condemnation.

In Christianity in America we go out of our way to convince people of God’s love, with out the bloody cross, without speaking about sin and without speaking of the coming judgment. Some would declare, “we preach God’s love” and I would say Amen, but that must be seen through the blood stained cross of Christ. One of the chief means to understand that love, is to know what we are being saved from: an eternal flood of God’s wrath rightly executed against those who reject God’s totally sufficient and true ark; the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:18-22 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves usbaptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

Simply put, Noah’s ark, points to God’s true ark: the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is an anti-type or an action that sufficiently illustrates the redeemed person has come through God’s wrath (signified by water of baptism); by repentance and placing their life and eternity in Christ, by faith. We could spend hours discussing the significance of this truth, but for our purpose it is enough to say, that every truly redeemed person is also to be set apart to God and for His purposes completely. Simply being in Christ, like Noah’s actions to build and get into the ark, pronounces the world around us as condemned.

Therefore, being in Christ is not a mere profession that I have been saved, but a life in which its actions reveal the full message of the gospel. This begins for most with baptism. Consider that in Iran, if one begins to look for information of Christ Jesus or even attend a bible study, they are generally left alone. The moment one gets baptized, they literally have potential for imprisonment, torture or death. Why? Their lives, now seen by the world as being in Christ, brings condemnation on Islam’s satanic message of death. With hatred they respond, as Jesus told us the world responds to any who follow Him in truth.

We are the message of condemnation against them, because they love darkness rather than light (John 3:17-20). As we consider this, during Resurrection Sunday weekend, let us grasp the weight of the life and words of the One, who more than Noah, was set apart; our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 15:18-22 18If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

We are not of the world. Let all who would claim to be children of God in Christ Jesus, commit to live like Jesus, submitting the outcome our master prophesied and in joy rejoicing that we are counted to stand out and suffer if need be for His sake (Acts 5:41). Jesus alone is worthy and the world still needs the good news our message brings: That God’s wrath is near and upon all who live apart from Christ, but His mercy is found in Christ Jesus, the TRUE and LIVING ARK.

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The Look and Result of Noah’s Faith (Last Look at the Best Pattern of our Best Life)

Related image(Hebrews 11:7) 7By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Although Hebrews 11 is a record of the faith and actions of well known saints from the Old Testament, the chapter is much more than a faith hall of fame. This chapter, perhaps, shows better than any in the New Testament, how these O.T. saints possessed their “own vessel in sanctification and honor” (I Thessalonians 4:2-4). In Noah we find a familiar story, which as we dig deeper, will exhibit not only faith, but the result of all true faith, which is to be set apart.

In this we must be careful, for in America the church would rather prove out the dimensions of the ark itself, or the viability of a world-wide flood account, than learn of the radical faith and action of a servant of God. This we have done, at times to the detriment of the Gospel itself. One need not look far to find that even secular scientists are beginning to accept that the flood is a fact. One need not be an anthropologist to discover that most cultures world over, aside from science, have accounts of the flood that appear similar to the biblical account.

Despite these facts, it should not matter to us what the world believes or uses in error to attempt to overturn the truth. Even if no one else believes the truth, we ought to because God’s Word declares it! Faith like that is very much like the faith of Noah, for no one believed him either, as all were against God’s word, will and servant.

The Great Flood is more important for what it reveals to us concerning faith and how one is to respond in any age, by setting themselves apart from the world and unto God and His will alone. This is also not forgetting what the ark and Noah and his family reveal to us, concerning Christ and those who follow Him (more on that later).

NOAH’S FAITH

Our passage begins with the phrase “By faith Noah”.  Everything we will discuss arises from  Noah’s real justifying and saving faith. From this same chapter we know that “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen”. The substance of hope, was the word God spoke concerning the flood and His instruction to Noah to build the ark. This was his hope being that it was 120 years away (Romans 8:24) and that like His God his own heart was grieved over the wickedness of the world.

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Now faith is not only the substance of things hoped for (and yes Noah hoped for the promise of the flood to come to pass) but also the evidence of things not yet seen. This evidence is not only the witness of God’s Holy Spirit, but a legacy of God fulfilling His promises among Noah’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather Enoch. Great-grandfather Enoch not only received revelation concerning the flood judgment soon coming, but also of the second coming of the One who would destroy ungodliness for ever (Jude 14-15). This man walked so carefully and closely with God, in a wicked generation, that God translated him to heaven, without dying (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5).

Having seen Noah’s faith in what he believed concerning God and His word, we must consider that his faith was not a passive declaration, but an active obedience. True biblical and saving faith is not just believing a set of truths promised, but living that faith out in actions reflective of what is believed. Vines Expository Dictionary of N.T. words defines the Greek word for faith in our passage as “conviction producing full acknowledgement of God’s revelation, leading to personal surrender to Him, with conduct inspired by such surrender”. In layman’s terms this means biblical faith produces biblical obedience and actions. Without the corresponding actions, the faith is either dead or not real faith at all.

Noah’s life shines with this faith…

(Genesis 6:5-9) 5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

Genesis 7:11 Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.

Three words must be considered in dealing with Noah’s faith: just (justified or not guilty), perfect (blameless) and righteous (just or vindicated by God). Remembering that all men, including Noah, have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, we understand that Noah’s being described as “perfect” was not moral perfection. When read in the context of the other two words (just and righteous), just Noah’s descendant Abraham would later believe God and God would credit him with being righteous and just (not guilty based on his faith); so Noah was also blameless in the same way as his ancestor. Noah did not practice sin as his disposition, but when he did sin, he would make atonement, which pointed to the One who is the final and all sufficient Atonement, Jesus Christ.

Despite this truth, we are once more reminded that Noah’s faith was not a passive belief, where he waited for the promise to come to pass; he had to move according to his faith. In fact this is why he was chosen by God. Noah would have to live as the only godly man, steering his family in the God’s direction, when the entire world and all the fallen were against him and his God.

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Imagine being the only Christian in your city. The ONLY ONE, which means: you have no church to attend, no bible store to get materials for your growth or encouragement, no other Christians to pray for you or with you. Imagine all your neighbors, not only being cynical about your activities, but looking to catch you reading your Bible, sharing your faith or simply teaching your children about Jesus Christ. Imagine, that your neighbors investigations are not for the purpose of mockery, but to be able to rat you out to the government. Imagine going to the local market and being told your money is not good there, because you’re a Christian. You say impossible, but this is the lot for tens of millions of Christians worldwide in our day, as well as the life for all who would follow Almighty God and His Christ.

(Hebrews 11:35-38) 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

This was also the lot of Noah. Remember that in his day every intent of the thought of man’s collective heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). The world of Noah, was contrary to every fiber of His God given faith. In order for him to live that faith, he needed total separation from depending on provision, security, and comfort from the world, its system and culture, while, living in the midst of it. In addition to this, Noah’s faith demanded he be set apart to God and His purposes.  He needed to deny even his own desires. This he did, before God spoke to him personally. After God’s word came, concerning the flood, his being set apart took on a new dimension.

(Hebrews 11:7) 7By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household

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If we thought Noah was ostracized for his faith in God before he commenced construction on the ark, imagine the onslaught afterward. Consider that Noah was told to build a floating fortress to save his family from a flood, in the middle of a landlocked region. Consider that this flood was to come about largely because of rain (yes and the breaking of the fountains of the great deep), when it had either never rained or rained very little, before they got into the ark (Genesis 2:5; Genesis 7:4).

To Noah’s generation the ark must have seemed completely laughable as well as an unnecessary judgment on their lifestyle from a raving madman, who thought he heard from God. Their ridicule and persecution must have been amplified beyond our comprehension, but Noah was dedicated to God no matter what. Therefore his righteous actions, not only made him the heir of righteousness according to faith, but also a herald of the lost world’s condemnation.

Hebrews 11:7 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Here we can now see why the world of Noah’s time hated him. His actions of faith, which included a life seeking to please God, where he disconnected from the wickedness of the world culture, system, and people and built an ark–where only those who get in are saved from judgment; was a message of condemnation to them all. Every hammer of a nail, cutting of a tree, hoist of a pulley, or pitching of a section of the structure was a loud speaker declaring, “You’ve rejected the Creator. Now He will judge you!”

Noah’s faith and actions are no less relevant for us today. We are called to set ourselves apart from the world completely–set ourselves apart for God and His purposes in Christ alone– and the very obedience we walk in, will condemn the lost world around us, who reject Christ’s call to repentance. In the next article, we will explore how our life for Christ parallels that of Noah. You’ll not want to miss it.

(John 15:18-21) 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

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Posted in Genesis 6:5-8, 9; 7:1, Hebrews 11:7, Noah's Ark, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Best Pattern of the Best Life II

 

Related imageJohn 17:14-19 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

In my last post, we discussed the meaning of holiness and how we begin to walk in character consistently growing in the holiness of Christ. This progressive action, being more and more holy, is what we call sanctification. 

Our passage above reveals a little known truth about Jesus our Savior. Although He was, is and always will be the epitome of the word holy (being the fullness of God in bodily form), He still sanctified Himself so that His disciples (and we through their lives and ministries) would know how we are to sanctify ourselves.

Remembering that we are vessels, for God’s purpose alone, we must keep ourselves in the process God ordained to make us more and more holy. From the passage above, a good beginning in defining sanctification, is revealed in  Jesus praying, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world“.

In this we understand, that the follower of Christ, by faith and the power of the Spirit, are born into the kingdom of heaven and no longer fit within the world system. Therefore, sanctification is to separate ourselves from that which is evil and worldly; the world, the flesh and the devil.

Secondly Jesus says, “Sanctify them by Your truth“. This is not just reading the word of God, but the word of God being illuminated and assimilated into our souls by the Holy Spirit. This is the second part of the meaning of sanctification, which is to be separated unto God and dedicated to His purpose, as revealed by the word of God (as illuminated by the Holy Spirit).

In Jesus life we see five practices, which detail how He sanctified Himself, even though He was and is the definition of holiness. He shows us how to be and stay separate from the world, the flesh and the devil. He also shows us how to be set apart for the Father’s will.

THE BEST EXAMPLE OF THE BEST LIFE

1) (JESUS REFUSED TO EXERCISE ANY SELF-WILL) In John 5:30 Jesus declared that He did not seek His own will, but that of His Father only. This is very important to understand right from the start, for it dictates every and all decisions. We see the Lord’s absolute commitment to His Father’s will in Philippians 2:5-8.

Philippians 2:5-8 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Make no mistake about it, to be a bond servant means one has no will of their own, but lives a life in servitude to another. So great was Jesus’ commitment, He who is God the Living and eternal Word, emptied Himself of reputation, will and prerogative (for a time), in order to accomplish his Father’s plan. This means Jesus exercised self denial as a character trait. Therefore, we must learn to do the same in order to live our best life now.

Luke 9:23-24 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

In prayer ask the Lord to lead you to begin a practice of self-denial when it comes to your will. The next two points will give you some hints.

2) (JESUS SPOKE ONLY WHEN THE FATHER DIRECTED HIM) Controlling our tongues may be one of the most impossible tasks on the planet (James 3). Yet in Jesus we see how a person, who is filled with the Spirit, does control their tongue.

John 12:49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.

Jesus only spoke what He was commanded to speak. No wasted words, no idle talk, no course jesting, every word seasoned with grace (even the necessary harsh ones), all spoken with intentional purpose. To be set apart for God’s purpose, we, like our Master, must learn to speak only for the purpose of God. In the family, in which I grew up, everyone believed they were entitled to an opinion. This is also the way  of the world, but the Christian understands that only speaking as led by the Spirit, is necessary and good. Ministers are especially responsible for this.

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Here we see that speaking the word of God, without the unction of the Spirit, can be detrimental. By this account many of us should really consider whether or not we are ministering under the unction of the Spirit–whether we are preaching the truth, or our option of it.

3) (JESUS DID ONLY WHAT HE  WAS COMMANDED TO DO) In line with Jesus only speaking what He was commanded too, we also know that He only did the things he was commanded to do; once more never moving to express what He thought was the right thing to do.

John 5:19 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

This is a most remarkable statement, but plainly seen. Recall some of the miracles Jesus performed. Now consider one He did not. In Acts chapter three we meet a man who was lame from His mother’s womb, who had been daily laid at the Temple Gate called Beautiful. We know, due to the age of this man, that Jesus would have passed Him many times on His treks through the temple, over His ministry years.

Why would He not heal this man? Because He was not commanded to do so. We know God’s day of visitation for healing would come thoroughfare faithfulness ministry of the apostles.

There is an old adage that we like to repeat in dealing with the evil of this world “The only thing necessary for evil to win, is for good men to do nothing”. I like this statement, but it is not biblical. There are no good men born into the world, but sinners; and sinners and the redeemed have done lots of good things, yet it still looks like evil is winning. This is also a fallacy for we know that God is the VICTOR and He will set all things right at Christ’s return.

The point is we need to stop doing good things and do what the Holy Spirit commands. This is what it means to be set apart for His purpose. We ought to rather do the one thing He commands and provides power for, than five or five-thousand good things, which will never make an eternal impact upon humanity, nor further God’s will.

4) (JESUS’ JOY AND EMPOWERMENT CAME FROM DOING ONLY GOD’S WILL) As is often the case when we get hooked into a conveyor of good things we ought to do, we begin to lose the vitality of the Spirit, for we are not ministering or living under His leadership. We ought to challenge ourselves often to endeavor to apply Proverbs 3:5-, literally. The reason for this need, is that true ministry for Christ, beyond our human capcity and strength. It will wear is down, for sure, when not led by the Spirit. 

For Jesus, being tired or hungry was never a hindrance to ministry, for His being set apart perfectly for his Father’s purpose (Sanctify Myself), was what gave him sustenance.

John 4:34 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

Jesus sanctified Himself, by being concerned with intentionally finding His joy and sustaining power, in completing the work God sent Him into the world to do. This jibes well with what we know of the power of God’s Spirit in us.

The work of God is beyond our human ability to accomplish, for it is supernatural. This work will tax our physical, emotional and spiritual frame (I Thessalonians 5:23). Yet in this, so long as we rejoice in our infirmities, the power of Christ will rest upon us (II Corinthians 12:9).

Our common humanity lines up more with the world, which wants to bank and add more strength, skill, ability, degrees, and any other thing to call upon, in accomplishing what we want, rather than learn to be led by the Spirit. Will we wait on the Lord until we know He is leading and empowering?

5) (REMEMBER LIKE JESUS OUR LIFE IS NOT OUR OWN, WE’RE BOUGHT) When looking once more at Philippians 2:5-8, we will see one more aspect of how He “sanctified” Himself. 

Jesus “made Himself of no reputation“, “took upon himself the form of a bond-servant“, and “became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross“. Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, in human flesh, loved a life that was not His own; He lived a as will-less bond servant.

In this, let us be reminded, OUR LIVES ARE NOT OUR OWN! 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Wow! Did you read that? Your life does not belong to you, nor does mine belong to me. If we are in Christ, we are His bond-slaves! For some this may seem too high a price to pay, but remember the price with which you were bought… HIS Blood was the purchase price (Colossians 1:13).

Re-read Philippians 2:5-8 and understand that His death on the cross was 20 hours of a blood letting that began the prior night, when He prayed in agony, concerning the price He would pay.

His suffering would culminate in the excruciating agony of the cross as detailed in Isaiah 53:5... “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed“.

When reading this passage it is easy to forget, that each of the above words, “wounded’, “bruised”, “chastisement” and “wounds” (more correct rendering is”stripes”), came from blows which makes blood flow, either beneath the surface of the skin or through open wounds. The cost of our redemption of every drop of life, which poured, forth from wounds we deserved, yet He willingly suffered.

This He did to complete the Father’s eternal plan, so we could be forgiven, transformed now and guaranteed eternal life with Him. When considering the high cost of our lives not being our own, think of the cost the King of glory paid for us.

In response, then sanctify yourself, as Jesus did, the BEST LIFE ever, living a pattern that should we follow it, will give us our best life now.

Posted in John 17:14-19, sanctification, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EXTREME PRAYER NEED!

Dear Friends in Christ,

Please read the short communique concerning our persecuted brethren in China. these dear and steadfast saints are only a small group in a nation that is attempting to wipe out our faith across their nation. Please pray for these and all our Chinese brethren who face tribulation we do not yet know- Brother Mike

Mar. 28, 2019 | ChinaHouse Church Members Face Ongoing Persecution

Xu Miaozhuang comforts two of her children after they were evicted.Beleaguered members of the Early Rain Covenant Church have continued to experience persecution since their church was closed and more than 100 members arrested in December 2018. While most of those arrested have been released, several key leaders remain in prison, including Pastor Wang Yi. And now the persecution has expanded to church members’ workplaces and homes. Xu Miaozhuang, wife of one of the church’s imprisoned elders, was evicted from her home in February along with her four children. Another church member, Pan Fei, was fired from his job and forced to sign a resignation form. On the letter of resignation, Fei wrote, “For believing in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God and Savior of mankind, my employment with Yonghui Superstore has been terminated.” Pray for Pastor Wang Yi, Miaozhuang, Fei and the other Early Rain members affected by ongoing persecution.

Posted in China, enduring for the faith, Luke 9:23-26, persecution, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Best Pattern of the Best Life

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In recent years many books have been written concerning how a Christian can live their best life now. Some of these books have some marginally good things to say, but they miss the core of what is the best life for the Christian. What is the best life for the Christian? To live in the center of the will of God, of course!

Before you begin to panic over the insertion of the phrase (the will of God), which too often causes unnecessary panic for far too many Christians, let’s look at the scriptures for a moment to see, that knowing God’s will is not nebulous and mysterious…

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

When we zero in on the underlined phrase “not willing” we can clearly see, that God’s will is for all men to be saved (although only those who repent and live by faith in Christ are saved). Simply put, a large portion of the will of God, concerning those who follow Christ, is to speak the truth about Jesus in ways that offer an opportunity for the lost to repent and be saved. Closely related to God’s will, in this endeavor, is the quality of character we are to have while walking in the afore mentioned area of His will…

1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;  that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor

The above passage of scripture is obvious in the way it reveals the will of God for the Christian…

  1. that we be sanctified
  2. that means we are not sexually immoral
  3. that we command ourselves as a vessel for God’s purpose alone

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Simply put, the word sanctification and it’s various forms (sanctify, sanctified) means to be set apart from evil and unto God for His purposes alone. In the context of I Thessalonians 4:3-4, our being called to possess our vessels in sanctification and honor, is a reference with a picture; that picture is the holy vessels of the temple.

Remember these vessels were set a apart for one purpose, no matter if it was the menorah, candlestick, cup, pitcher or basin (among hundreds of others). These vessels were to be used for the only purpose they were created for and when not used they had to be cleaned and prepared to be used. Concerning our sanctification, this means that we are set apart for god’s purposes alone, not to be used for anything other than His will–we are also to be being cleansed from the influence of the world, our flesh and the devil.

The word sanctification and its various forms is intimately connected with a word that also too often causes adverse emotional reactions in American Christians.; the word holy and all its forms. I Peter 1:15-16 gives us further clarity.

1 Peter 1:15-16 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

When examining the Greek words used for both “sanctify” and “holy” we find they are actually of the same root word. The word holy speaks to our position in Christ, based on our being justified by the blood of Christ, as well as our calling to live a life of holiness daily. Two passages of scripture reveal this monumental truth.

2 Corinthians 5:21 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Romans 5:8-11 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.

In the shedding of Christ’s blood on our behalf, our sins were washed away, and we for all time and eternity are counted justified or “not guilty” for our sin, so long as we continue in the faith. In this we are holy, as if we have never sinned. This does not mean we will never sin again, but that the basis for our once for all forgiveness has been met in Christ’s once for all sacrifice (I Peter 3:18). We are glad that when we fail in the Christ life, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and so long as we confess our sins, He is just and faithful to forgive them and cleanse us from the unrighteousness. This is the first aspect of our being holy.

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The second aspect of our being holy is the truth communicated in the statement “be holy, for I am holy“. When looking at the words being used, it conveys that the person is not only holy in God’s sight, but is to be practically, progressively more clean and Christ-like with each passing moment. This is where the word sanctification comes into view. As “holy” is to be our positional character, “sanctification” is the process by which holiness becomes our practical character and life expression. God of course has the largest and most supernatural part, for Christ is the Sanctifier (I Thessalonians 5:23), but our part is to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor.

Our best life now is to be holy in character, submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading us into greater and more consistent love, joy, moral purity, peace, power in the Spirit, righteousness and grace. This sounds wonderful, but too often, we want in error to see holiness as a behavior list, only. In this manner many get frustrated and quit.

In the first place this error often degenerates into religious self effort, where we accept “doing the list”, as being righteous. This error is the reason Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write Romans 6-8 (especially chapter 7). Let’s always remember, no matter how high the quality of ones moral character, apart from Christ, it means nothing. Our righteousness is not our own, but Christ’s imputed to us by faith. According to Galatians 2:20, the righteous life and actions that come from our lives, are not even ours, but Christ living them in and through us, as we submit to the Holy Spirit.

Secondly this error can degenerate into defeated Christians, who feel they are second class citizens, not being able to overcome. In both cases it leaves out the Holy Spirit as the one who brings our best life now.

This is where we will settle to explore a bit further; finding how to live this best life: one of holiness without which none will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).  In this let us remember that the best example of our best life now, is the life of our Savior Jesus Christ, who shows us how we are to live in complete dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit.

JESUS CHRIST, THE MIGHTIEST LEADER AND BEST MODEL TO FOLLOW

To say that our Lord Jesus Christ is holy is to admit the obvious. He is the Holy Anointed One, the Alpha and Omega, the expressed image Person of and brightness of the glory of  God, who is a consuming fire. In the days of His first incarnation, He was the epitome of holiness, which was surprisingly down to earth and drawing to the most vile of sinners. It might surprise you to know that Jesus shows us what it means to be sanctified. This seems contradictory to His holiness but is not at all.

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John 17:15-19 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

In our next post, we will explore the ways Jesus Christ our Lord sanctified Himself in being practically powerfully holy, as a model for us to be able to live obeying His command, “be ye holy, for I am holy”, which is the pathway to living our best life now.

Posted in holiness, John 17:15-19, sanctification, Uncategorized, Your Best Life Now | Leave a comment