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Just sharing.

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“He that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.”

Ecclesiastes 10:9

Oppressors may get their will of poor and needy men as easily as they can split logs of wood, but they had better mind, for it is a dangerous business, and a splinter from a tree has often killed the woodman. Jesus is persecuted in every injured saint, and he is mighty to avenge his beloved ones. Success in treading down the poor and needy is a thing to be trembled at: if there be no danger to persecutors here there will be great danger hereafter.

To cleave wood is a common every-day business, and yet it has its dangers; so then, reader, there are dangers connected with your calling and daily life which it will be well for you to be aware of. We refer not to hazards by flood and field, or by disease and sudden death, but to perils of a spiritual sort. Your occupation may be as humble as log splitting, and yet the devil can tempt you in it. You may be a domestic servant, a farm labourer, or a mechanic, and you may be greatly screened from temptations to the grosser vices, and yet some secret sin may do you damage. Those who dwell at home, and mingle not with the rough world, may yet be endangered by their very seclusion.

Nowhere is he safe who thinks himself so. Pride may enter a poor man's heart; avarice may reign in a cottager's bosom; uncleanness may venture into the quietest home; and anger, and envy, and malice may insinuate themselves into the most rural abode. Even in speaking a few words to a servant we may sin; a little purchase at a shop may be the first link in a chain of temptations; the mere looking out of a window may be the beginning of evil. O Lord, how exposed we are! How shall we be secured! To keep ourselves is work too hard for us: only thou thyself art able to preserve us in such a world of evils. Spread thy wings over us, and we, like little chickens, will cower down beneath thee, and feel ourselves safe!
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Which Doctrines Must Be “Reasonable”?

“Lord God, anybody who can’t believe that Christ is in the bread [of Communion], in the grain of wheat, will believe the creation even less! That all of creation was made from nothing is a higher article of faith. Much less will he believe that God became man, and least of all that there are three persons in one substance. Reason lets this be.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk, AE 54: 471)
Pastor Moerbe shared this quote from Luther in our Bible study last Sunday. At the time, Luther was marveling that his opponents such as Zwingli were rejecting the doctrine of Christ’s real presence in the bread and wine of Holy Communion largely on the grounds that this teaching violates human reason. (“The finite is not capable of the infinite!”)

And yet, those who strain at the historic doctrine of the Sacrament have no problem believing that God created the universe from nothing. (What about the logical maxim “nothing comes from nothing”?) Or the Incarnation. (But what about “the finite is not capable of the infinite”?) Or the Trinity. (But how can three be one?)
If your authority is human reason, you would need to reject all of those things. If your authority is God’s Word, then you believe them all by faith and trust in the God who revealed them.
Our discussion took an interesting turn. Some of us know Lutherans who believe in the Real Presence, the Incarnation, and the Trinity. But they strain at the doctrine of Creation! They accept Darwin’s theory of evolution on the grounds of its alleged scientific rationality and reject–or interpret past all recognition–what the Word of God says on the subject.


I have also noticed some Christians who believe in Creation, the Incarnation, the Trinity, and maybe even the Real Presence (I’m thinking of some Anglicans) who are now questioning Christ’s Atonement. (How could one man bear the sins of the world? God punishing his own son for what other people have done is cosmic child abuse! [OK, those who say that are extremely weak on the Incarnation and the Trinity.]) But, again, what doctrines must you understand with your own limited intellect, and which ones are you willing to accept by God’s revelation?

There are also the liberal theologians who reject all of these doctrines and the other doctrines put forth by Scripture. They don’t believe Christ’s Incarnation, Atonement, Resurrection, Ascension, or Second Coming. They certainly don’t believe He is on the altar. They reject the doctrine of the Creation and believe the Trinity is only symbolic. Having rejected the authority of Scripture, they won’t accept anything unless they can understand it and unless they have historic evidence and scientific proof. Which means they are left with very little of Christianity, and none of its mysteries at all.

Then again, these same theologians typically believe in other things that go against reason, science, and evidence. Such as the perfectibility of human beings. The inevitable progress of history. The coming utopia. Etc., etc.
I don’t think reason is necessarily in conflict with faith. You can make a rational case for Christ’s resurrection, for the weaknesses of Darwinism, and for the truthfulness of the Bible.

But the question remains, which do you trust more, God’s Word or your own understanding? In whom do you put your faith? In God or in yourself?
And the answer of faith by no means shuts off the life of the mind. As St. Anselm said, “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand.”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Our Comforter, Keeper, & Refuge
The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble,
And He knows those who take refuge in Him.

Nahum 1:7 NASB

__________________

The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.

And they that know thy name will put
their trust in thee: for thou, LORD,
hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

Psalm 9:9,10 KJV

__________________

If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23,24 NIV

__________________

He keeps the feet of His godly ones,
But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness;
For not by might shall a man prevail.

1 Samuel 2:9 NASB

__________________

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.

Psalm 40:1,2 NLT

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“O that I knew where I might find him!”

Job 23:3

In Job's uttermost extremity he cried after the Lord. The longing desire of an afflicted child of God is once more to see his Father's face. His first prayer is not “O that I might be healed of the disease which now festers in every part of my body!” nor even “O that I might see my children restored from the jaws of the grave, and my property once more brought from the hand of the spoiler!” but the first and uppermost cry is, “O that I knew where I might find Him , who is my God! that I might come even to his seat!”

God's children run home when the storm comes on. It is the heaven-born instinct of a gracious soul to seek shelter from all ills beneath the wings of Jehovah. “He that hath made his refuge God,” might serve as the title of a true believer. A hypocrite, when afflicted by God, resents the infliction, and, like a slave, would run from the Master who has scourged him; but not so the true heir of heaven, he kisses the hand which smote him, and seeks shelter from the rod in the bosom of the God who frowned upon him. Job's desire to commune with God was intensified by the failure of all other sources of consolation. The patriarch turned away from his sorry friends, and looked up to the celestial throne, just as a traveller turns from his empty skin bottle, and betakes himself with all speed to the well. He bids farewell to earth-born hopes, and cries, “O that I knew where I might find my God!”

Nothing teaches us so much the preciousness of the Creator, as when we learn the emptiness of all besides. Turning away with bitter scorn from earth's hives, where we find no honey, but many sharp stings, we rejoice in him whose faithful word is sweeter than honey or the honeycomb. In every trouble we should first seek to realize God's presence with us. Only let us enjoy his smile, and we can bear our daily cross with a willing heart for his dear sake.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Visiting Jesus In Prison


Jesus once said, “When I was in prison, you came to visit me,” so what does this mean and why does Jesus say that we are doing it unto Him (Matt 25:40)?
Unto Me
If we do things for someone, we are really doing them for their family members too. The other day, someone gave me a gift card, but it wasn’t just mine to keep. I gave it to my wife, partly, so I wouldn’t lose it, but I let her have it to use as she pleases, or we can go out together and spend it, but even if she spends it by herself, which is fine by me, she almost always spends it by buying something for someone else.

And, she knows the difference between wants and needs, and when she sees a legitimate need, she is usually the one that helps out. That’s her nature. The point is, what you do for her, you do for me, and what you do for me, you do for her. That’s because we’re married, and what affects her, affects me. That’s the same thing Jesus was trying to teach His disciples, as we’ll see later. We can extend that too. If I do something for my mother-in-law, it pleases my wife because that’s her mother, and what people do to or for her, they are really doing to her, because it directly impacts her feelings. There is a connectedness between a mother and daughter that is unlike anything on earth, and I still haven’t figured it out (probably never will), but I know this; what I do for her mother, I am also doing it for my wife’s pleasure. This is the same view that Jesus takes, even on persecution.


Persecuting Jesus
Just before Saul (later, Paul) had his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus Christ, he was “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2), when suddenly “a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him,“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3b-5). Saul, or Paul, hadn’t been persecuting only Christians….in fact, he had been persecuting Christ.

By persecuting believers, which is described as the Body of Christ, Saul had been persecuting Jesus Himself, because Jesus is the Head of the Church, and the Head feels the pain of the rest of the body! They are connected. What one member of the body experiences, the other members feel, and so in the same way, when we persecute believers, or when atheists, agnostics, and those of other religions persecute believers, they are persecuting Jesus! And they must expect it, since Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20). What is done to believers, is done to Him, and in a similar way, what we do for others, we do for Him. I’ve stubbed little toe before, and believe me, the whole body knows about it…and suddenly has sympathy for it! That’s because my little toe notified my brain, and then my brain told the rest of the members about it.

Unto Jesus
In Matthew 25, Jesus gives us an idea of what acts of love we are to do for others, but they’re not just those within the four walls of the church. Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne” (Matt 25:31), so who is He judging? The answer’s in the following verse, where He says there “will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:32), and then “he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matt 25:33-34), but what is it that makes the difference between being a goat and a sheep?

We know Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and Jesus has sheep under His own care (John 10:11-18), and these sheep hear His voice and do what He commands, and they hear Him when He says, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt 25:35-36). Of course, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the father, so how could we ever give Him a drink, visit him in prison or while sick? The answer to that is given by Jesus, Who says, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40).

Prison Ministries
Our church has a prison ministry, and we send Bible studies, but we also send birthday cards, and when we can, commissary money, but why? It’s because these are our brothers and sisters who have put their trust in Christ. They are now paying for their crimes, but they have become new creations in Christ while incarcerated (2 Cor 5:17), and we want to help them by visiting them and helping them grow in the faith, but even though it appears that we’re doing these things for them, in actuality, it is doing it unto Jesus (Matt 25:40). Of course, some may take advantage of this and be a false convert, but Jesus knows, and He’ll sort all that out when He returns, but for now, we are to give people the benefit of the doubt in love (1 Cor 13:7).

Besides, Jesus does say that many will think they’re saved, but tragically, He says He doesn’t even know them (Matt 7:21-23). What is not done for others is not done for Christ, so if nothing is done for others, then nothing is done for Christ. Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me’” (Matt 25:35-40).

Conclusion
If you have never thought of these things before, maybe what Jesus said has stirred your heart to action. There are many ways we can help the least of these our brothers and sister, but not to recruit or make converts. We never make our help conditional, like, “We’ll help you, but you first must believe.” God alone decides that (John 6:44). We are doing it for Jesus but to Jesus. God does expect us to do for others, which is the same as doing it to Him. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re saved by doing these works, but the saved will naturally do works…works God has placed before us (Eph 2:10). The question is, will we walk in them, and walk with Christ, doing unto Christ, as we do unto others…or is our faith dead because we have no works (James 2:14-26)? The time to figure this out is right now…while we can still call it today (2 Cor 6:2).
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Eternal Thanksgiving!
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twentyfour elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever.

Revelation 4:8-10 NIV

__________________

We give thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

Revelation 11:17-18 KJV

__________________

And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

Revelation 7:11-12 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.”

John 12:2

He is to be envied. It was well to be Martha and serve, but better to be Lazarus and commune. There are times for each purpose, and each is comely in its season, but none of the trees of the garden yield such clusters as the vine of fellowship. To sit with Jesus, to hear his words, to mark his acts, and receive his smiles, was such a favour as must have made Lazarus as happy as the angels. When it has been our happy lot to feast with our Beloved in his banqueting-hall, we would not have given half a sigh for all the kingdoms of the world, if so much breath could have bought them.

He is to be imitated. It would have been a strange thing if Lazarus had not been at the table where Jesus was, for he had been dead, and Jesus had raised him. For the risen one to be absent when the Lord who gave him life was at his house, would have been ungrateful indeed. We too were once dead, yea, and like Lazarus stinking in the grave of sin; Jesus raised us, and by his life we live — can we be content to live at a distance from him? Do we omit to remember him at his table, where he deigns to feast with his brethren? Oh, this is cruel! It behoves us to repent, and do as he has bidden us, for his least wish should be law to us.

To have lived without constant intercourse with one of whom the Jews said, “Behold how he loved him,” would have been disgraceful to Lazarus, is it excusable in us whom Jesus has loved with an everlasting love? To have been cold to him who wept over his lifeless corpse, would have argued great brutishness in Lazarus. What does it argue in us over whom the Saviour has not only wept, but bled? Come, brethren, who read this portion, let us return unto our heavenly Bridegroom, and ask for his Spirit that we may be on terms of closer intimacy with him, and henceforth sit at the table with him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Is there Enough Money?


*Main Scripture:*
...for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether itis with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need." (Philippians 4:11-13, NLT)

*Other Scriptures:*
Matthew 6:24-34; Luke 12:15-21; 1 Timothy 6:6-10


What Might Jesus Say to You?:

How much money do you need to be happy? Most people tell me it's just a little more than they have right now. The world you live in is filled with pressure to buy, buy, buy. Advertisers try to keep you feeling dissatisfied with what you have and hungry to purchase more of the stuff they push at you. So you continue buying to keep up with what everyone else has. It's a clever trap. The more you get, the less satisfied you are with what you own.

I'm sure you want a job if you don't have one already. You want power and independence so you don't have to feel like you're begging money from your parents. But you can get so wrapped up in earning and spending money that you forget about me. Your work hours may leave you so tired that you can't find time to spend with me--to worship, read my Word, or pray anything beyond quick cries for help.

Break out of the money trap. Put me first. Find your happiness and fulfillment in relationships, not possessions.

People have always been worried about money and stuff. Don't be like the people who ignore God. They take pride in superficial things. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well what you need, and he will give it to you as you give him first place in your life. Don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of you.

Your fulfillment,
Jesus

*Summary Challenge:*
"No one can serve two masters...You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24)
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Be ye thankful
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6,7 NIV

__________________

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:14-16 KJV

__________________

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:28,29 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Thou art from everlasting.?

Psalm 93:2

Christ is Everlasting . Of him we may sing with David, ?Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.? Rejoice, believer, in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Jesus always was. The Babe born in Bethlehem was united to the Word, which was in the beginning, by whom all things were made. The title by which Christ revealed himself to John in Patmos was, ?Him which is, and which was, and which is to come.? If he were not God from everlasting, we could not so devoutly love him; we could not feel that he had any share in the eternal love which is the fountain of all covenant blessings; but since he was from all eternity with the Father, we trace the stream of divine love to himself equally with his Father and the blessed Spirit.

As our Lord always was, so also he is for evermore. Jesus is not dead; ?He ever liveth to make intercession for us.? Resort to him in all your times of need, for he is waiting to bless you still. Moreover, Jesus our Lord ever shall be. If God should spare your life to fulfil your full day of threescore years and ten, you will find that his cleansing fountain is still opened, and his precious blood has not lost its power; you shall find that the Priest who filled the healing fount with his own blood, lives to purge you from all iniquity.

When only your last battle remains to be fought, you shall find that the hand of your conquering Captain has not grown feeble ? the living Saviour shall cheer the dying saint. When you enter heaven you shall find him there bearing the dew of his youth; and through eternity the Lord Jesus shall still remain the perennial spring of joy, and life, and glory to his people. Living waters may you draw from this sacred well! Jesus always was, he always is, he always shall be. He is eternal in all his attributes, in all his offices, in all his might, and willingness to bless, comfort, guard, and crown his chosen people.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Underdog

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. Deuteronomy 15:11

If there's one thing you need to know about God, it's that he has a soft spot in his heart for the underdog. The needy. Those who're often overlooked in our society.
What's more, God has a special place in his heart for people who side with the underdog. People who reach out to the needy. People who refuse to overlook the less fortunate.
We're not talking about simply having a social conscience. Or feeling sorry for people in need. Take another look at the verse for this entry. Notice the word openhanded? That's for people who argue that it's enough just to care about or pray for people in need. You see, being openhanded requires personal interaction. It involves reaching out. Offering something of value--whether it's money, clothing, food, or time. Making a real difference in a person's life.

The good news is that anyone can do it. You don't have to be rich. You don't have to be outgoing. You don't have to live in a big city with homeless people or in a poor country. You can obey God's command to be openhanded to the needy regardless of your situation. Whether you realize it or not, you have something to give.
If you made up your mind to get involved in the life of someone in need, what could you do? Could you change the life of a younger kid (maybe even a sibling) in need of a mentor? Could you be an answer to prayer for a mentally challenged or wheelchair-bound student at your school? Could you supply enough money to buy a month's worth of food and medicine for an AIDS orphan in Africa?

The possibilities are endless! Look around, take the plunge, and find out how cool it is to help others.
For the scoop on God's commands concerning the needy, turn to Deuteronomy 15:1-11.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Give thanks to the LORD
Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

Psalm 105:1,2 NIV

__________________

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of gods:
for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 136:1,2 KJV

__________________

"Now consider this, you who forget God,
Or I will tear you in pieces, and there
will be none to deliver.

"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me;
And to him who orders his way aright I shall show
the salvation of God."

Psalm 50:22,23 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.”

Proverbs 30:26

Conscious of their own natural defencelessness, the conies resort to burrows in the rocks, and are secure from their enemies. My heart, be willing to gather a lesson from these feeble folk. Thou art as weak and as exposed to peril as the timid cony, be as wise to seek a shelter. My best security is within the munitions of an immutable Jehovah, where his unalterable promises stand like giant walls of rock. It will be well with thee, my heart, if thou canst always hide thyself in the bulwarks of his glorious attributes, all of which are guarantees of safety for those who put their trust in him.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, I have so done, and have found myself like David in Adullam, safe from the cruelty of my enemy; I have not now to find out the blessedness of the man who puts his trust in the Lord, for long ago, when Satan and my sins pursued me, I fled to the cleft of the rock Christ Jesus, and in his riven side I found a delightful resting-place. My heart, run to him anew tonight, whatever thy present grief may be; Jesus feels for thee; Jesus consoles thee; Jesus will help thee. No monarch in his impregnable fortress is more secure than the cony in his rocky burrow. The master of ten thousand chariots is not one whit better protected than the little dweller in the mountain's cleft.

In Jesus the weak are strong, and the defenceless safe; they could not be more strong if they were giants, or more safe if they were in heaven. Faith gives to men on earth the protection of the God of heaven. More they cannot need, and need not wish. The conies cannot build a castle, but they avail themselves of what is there already: I cannot make myself a refuge, but Jesus has provided it, his Father has given it, his Spirit has revealed it, and lo, again to-night I enter it, and am safe from every foe.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
What Is Apostasy? Bible Verses Describing Apostasy


The Bible says a lot about apostasy, even in the Old Testament, so what Bible verses give us the best definition of apostasy?

Secret Infiltrators
One sign or evidence of apostasy is that it comes in under cover. It is sometimes cloaked within a biblical doctrine, but subtle differences can have huge implications. The Apostle Paul wrote that apostate teachings were already entering the church, “because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (Gal 2:4-5). Of course, this “slavery” is referring to the Jews who were trying to convince believers that they must keep the law.

Even though we shouldn’t be lawbreakers, keeping the law is not how we’re saved. We must uphold the law, but this was not the law that the Jews were insisting on. Rather than referring to the Ten Commandments, the Jews were insisting that the Gentile believers must be circumcised, and be put under the Mosaic Law, so Paul asks them, “how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years” (Gal 4:9-10). Apparently the Jews insisted they keep the Jewish feast days and Sabbaths, which were only shadows of the fulfillment in Christ, so they wanted to make the Mosaic Law part of the requirement of being saved, however God is concerned with the circumcision that takes place in the heart (Deut 30:6; Jer 4:4), and not on the outside.

Unsound Doctrine
The Apostle Paul was already dealing with false teachers in his day, and near the time of his departure from this life, he warned Timothy that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). I believe that time has come, but it was still a problem, even when Jude wrote his epistle. He wrote, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:3-4).

First of all, the faith that Jude refers to, has already been delivered, meaning it’s completed, and just as this is in the past tense, so it what the author of Hebrews writes; “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb 1:1-2). God has already spoken, and most clearly through Jesus Christ, and the faith has already been delivered, once and for all, and the reason that Jude had to contend for the faith is because others were still delivering it, but these “deliveries” were not the faith that was once delivered. It was another, but false, gospel.

There’s no need for more truth, is there? Is the Bible sufficient for us and efficient for all? If we believe we are still receiving new revelations from God, or that we need new revelation from God, we’re saying, “Sorry God…your Word is good, but it’s just not enough.” By proclaiming new revelation from God, there is a danger of adding too or taking away from God’s Word. The implications of receiving new revelation from God is that they presume to speak for God, but that’s clearly adding to what God may not have said at all, or been just the opposite of God’s will, and therein lies danger (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:6; Rev 22:18-19).

Evil for Good
Just a few decades ago, what society considered acceptable on TV, is now almost called evil, and what was then called evil (like public nudity on TV), is now considered acceptable, and for some, even called “good,” however, God’s ways are not our ways. King Solomon wrote, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD” (Prov 17:15), including those things done by those who will not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 6:9; Rev 21:8), but now even, “both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the Lord” (Jer 23:11), but the day of His judgment is coming.

Isaiah the Prophet wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter”(Isaiah 5:20)! This shouldn’t surprise as, as Paul had written that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim 4:1-2), and how that has come true. Jesus saw this coming too when he said “false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (Matt 24:24-25).

Conclusion
Apostasy can be defined as abandonment or defiance of what was previously held to be true and practiced, and choosing to rebel against those same beliefs and practices, but also, renouncing or disassociating oneself from a particular religion or certain religious beliefs. Those who do such things are considered apostate, however, this should not make them our enemy. We should pray for them, but also expose their false teachings if they’re contrary to the gospel that Jesus Christ brought (Mark 1:14-15), so a last bit of advice from the Apostle Paul in recognizing apostasy is, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed”(Gal 1:8-9). If someone claims Jesus is not God, Mary was not a virgin at Jesus’ birth, or that we are not saved by grace alone but also by works (Eph 2:8-9), then you’ve got another gospel, which is no gospel at all. The Apostle Peter warned us that “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet2:1-2). Yes, many, not a few.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Thanks be to God!
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Romans 7:24-26 NIV

__________________

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?

Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 NIV

__________________

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:56-58 KJV

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“The power of his resurrection.”

Philippians 3:10

The doctrine of a risen Saviour is exceedingly precious. The resurrection is the corner-stone of the entire building of Christianity. It is the key-stone of the arch of our salvation. It would take a volume to set forth all the streams of living water which flow from this one sacred source, the resurrection of our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; but to know that he has risen, and to have fellowship with him as such — communing with the risen Saviour by possessing a risen life — seeing him leave the tomb by leaving the tomb of worldliness ourselves, this is even still more precious.

The doctrine is the basis of the experience, but as the flower is more lovely than the root, so is the experience of fellowship with the risen Saviour more lovely than the doctrine itself. I would have you believe that Christ rose from the dead so as to sing of it, and derive all the consolation which it is possible for you to extract from this well-ascertained and well-witnessed fact; but I beseech you, rest not contented even there. Though you cannot, like the disciples, see him visibly, yet I bid you aspire to see Christ Jesus by the eye of faith; and though, like Mary Magdalene, you may not “touch” him, yet may you be privileged to converse with him, and to know that he is risen, you yourselves being risen in him to newness of life.

To know a crucified Saviour as having crucified all my sins, is a high degree of knowledge; but to know a risen Saviour as having justified me, and to realize that he has bestowed upon me new life, having given me to be a new creature through his own newness of life, this is a noble style of experience: short of it, none ought to rest satisfied. May you both “know him, and the power of his resurrection.” Why should souls who are quickened with Jesus, wear the grave-clothes of worldliness and unbelief? Rise, for the Lord is risen.
 

beensetfree

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Generous Asset
Today I’m Thankful For God’s Affliction


The Almighty has closed me in to a very small space, probably to limit the damage I can do to myself and others, by completely plugging up my left ear during the course of the night. I mean, I think I have no one to thank but him. This cold must have come to me from his divine and provident hand. That and from the tender affections of the children who so lovingly climbed all over me and coughed in my face. I feel now that I am living in a world apart, floating in a silent and blissful and otherworldly cloud. It’s always very nice to lose one’s voice and not be able to talk (a gentle and restful reprieve from yelling) but I think it will be even nicer not to be able to hear for several days.

This is one of the distinguishing marks of Christianity, and why Christians are such strange people. Whereas the world, when admonished to be thankful, lists many of the obvious blessings of common grace–health, wealth, prosperity, absence from suffering, glittering gold and all manner of temporal, happy peace–you will occasionally hear a Christian express gratitude over affliction.

I found myself doing this several years ago, engrossed one evening in the lurid internet details of a famous pastor’s fall into depraved and notorious sexual adultery. First of all, the pastor and his wife were both, I thought, remarkably beautiful. All the pictures of them were shiny and sparkly. Second of all, they had the dream life of rich elite American evangelicalism–a church much much bigger than 40 people straggling in on a Sunday morning. Third, they had the social media platform we’ve all been told we must surely long for and desire, the one that will make us famous and therefore happy. And all for the glory of God.

I read pages and pages of the devastating decline and fall of this pastor. The misuse and abandonment of his wife. His misuse of other women and the breaking up of their marriages. His propensity to conflate his high pastoral calling with his feelings of lust and then his abuse of his spiritual authority to manipulate and distort the word of God. I read and read and shook my head and then cast my eye over my own life.


And believe me, all I could see was one divine affliction after another. Six children in and I have turned into a shorter, more shriveled and less glorious version of my younger self. And years of ministry have truly not brought the glory of fame. And truly, church is solid and healthy but, well, the way we get people to come on Sunday morning is to lie prostrate on the floor on Saturday night and beg God with tears to bring some of them, to make it rain so that no one can go hiking or in any other way enjoy the weather. Over the years we’ve found that, by suffering, everything falls away except the singular vision of bible exposition. Want people to be spiritually healthy and know God? Preach the Bible. Want to see amendment of life and strong Christians who can weather the impossible storms with which life constantly bashes them? Preach the Bible. No program. No ministry. No clever idea replaces the singular strength born in the hearts of believers when they keep reading the scripture.

And on top of all of that, in poverty (relatively, compared to the glitz of celebrity pastordom) and distress (relatively in a first world sort of way) Matt and I had been too stretched and exhausted to any of the fancy things that could have drawn us away from each other. No gym memberships. No evenings out. No speaking tours. Just each other, day after day, with all of our children.

I sat there, scrolling and scrolling on the internet and found myself overcome with gratitude of relief. I was thankful, deeply so, for the afflictions and easily born deprivations that opened the way to such a rich life. I couldn’t have known before on my own what a mercy God had wrought, and does constantly work out, for those he loves. The stripping away, the sorrow, the temporal lack all continually and mercifully applied so that the riches of heaven can be tasted in abundance and grace even now.

So today, since I guess I’m blogging this week about what I’m thankful for, I’m thankful for my plugged ear, and for all the afflictions of God over the last decade or so, and for a husband and children who I have come to know and behold through the afflicting mercy of God.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Always giving thanks!
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 NIV

__________________

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Ephesians 5:3-5 KJV

__________________

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Ephesians 5:19-21 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
''Get thee up into the high mountain.”

Isaiah 40:9

Each believer should be thirsting for God, for the living God, and longing to climb the hill of the Lord, and see him face to face. We ought not to rest content in the mists of the valley when the summit of Tabor awaits us. My soul thirsteth to drink deep of the cup which is reserved for those who reach the mountain's brow, and bathe their brows in heaven. How pure are the dews of the hills, how fresh is the mountain air, how rich the fare of the dwellers aloft, whose windows look into the New Jerusalem!

Many saints are content to live like men in coal mines, who see not the sun; they eat dust like the serpent when they might taste the ambrosial meat of angels; they are content to wear the miner's garb when they might put on king's robes; tears mar their faces when they might anoint them with celestial oil. Satisfied I am that many a believer pines in a dungeon when he might walk on the palace roof, and view the goodly land and Lebanon.

Rouse thee, O believer, from thy low condition! Cast away thy sloth, thy lethargy, thy coldness, or whatever interferes with thy chaste and pure love to Christ, thy soul's Husband. Make him the source, the centre, and the circumference of all thy soul's range of delight. What enchants thee into such folly as to remain in a pit when thou mayst sit on a throne? Live not in the lowlands of bondage now that mountain liberty is conferred upon thee. Rest no longer satisfied with thy dwarfish attainments, but press forward to things more sublime and heavenly. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!

“When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?
Oh come, my Lord most dear!
Come near, come nearer, nearer still,
I'm blest when thou art near.”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayer?


Why God even said “No” to Moses, Hannah, and Paul many others in their prayer requests.
Praying in Vain
Have you ever felt like your prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling? Does it feel like they just leave your mind void and return empty? In truth, God said no to several biblical heroes and heroines in the Bible. These include Moses, Hannah, Paul and even Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, so if you can overcome these three major barriers to prayer, then your prayers will not only be heard by God, but they will be answered, however we must accept God’s answer if it is no, not yet, or there’s something better for you, so here are three reasons our prayers might fail.

Sin
Prayers, including our prayers of thanksgiving, go directly to heaven and are heard by the Father because of our access into the Holy of Holies made possible by Jesus Christ. Our prayers are described to God as a sweet savor, like incense, but more important than giving thanks is living in obedience because obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22), so sin may cause us from being heard by God, so even a ton of good works is useless when there is willful, unrepentant sin in our life. Sin can also make us feel unworthy to prayer, so ongoing, unconfessed sin inhibits prayers.

If my children ask me for something and I know they are being disobedient during the time they’re asking, then I first address the issue of their disobedience before answering their request. Unless this is taken care of, their requests aren’t going to be fulfilled, and in a similar fashion, why would God reward us with answered prayer when we are sinning knowingly, and without repentance? The fact is, He won’t. Psalm 66:18 states that “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” First, go to God and take care of that sin and confess it (1 John 1:9), and then, and only then, begin your prayer requests.

Selfishness
If you pray and the first and foremost words that come out of your mouth are “me,” and “I,” then this is obviously a prayer that is only concerned about self and not about others. If I only pray for my needs, my desires, my wants and my wishes, then I am the central focus of that pray, and God is under no obligation to answer it. In the Lord’s Prayer, which is really Jesus’ model prayer, He starts off with adoration and praise of God, by giving Him thanks, but Jesus also prays for God’s will to be done, so I must ask myself, “Are my prayers more about glorifying Jesus or about getting glory for myself…or getting things only for me?” What is my real intent? Am I more interest in what I want than in what God’s wants? For example, God wants us to share the Gospel, but if I am witnessing by slamming unbelievers, my motives are not sincere and in their best interests.


Un-Forgiveness
I have caught myself praying as a hypocrite. What I mean is, I was praying but had not yet forgiven another person who I had an issue with. There I was, asking for God’s forgiveness, yet still holding on a grudge against someone else, but how can I ask God to forgive me when I am not forgiving others? It’s like me asking for your forgiveness, but I refuse to forgive you. A spirit of un-forgiveness can exist in many forms: jealousy, anger, revenge, grudges, gossiping, and avoidance. Jesus tells us what to do in a situation like this. He says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt 5:23-24). Imagine what this looks like to God: we want to be forgiven, yet refuse to forgive others. No wonder our prayers are blocked in such cases.

Moses
Moses wanted to go into the Promised Land with Israel, but Moses was disobedient when God asked him to speak to the rock to provide water for Israel. Instead of speaking to the rock, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff (Num 20:11). The water still came out, but he directly disobeyed God, so Moses’ request to cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land was denied. Disobedience prevents prayers from being answers or it produces a no answer.

Hannah
Hannah desired more than anything to have a child. Her womb was barren. In fact the Lord was said to have closed Hannah’s womb (1 Sam 1:6). This occurred during the time of the judges when Israel had no king, and a time that the Bible describes as “every man did what was right in their own eyes, (Judges 21:25), so God’s answer to Hannah’s prayer for a child was delayed because God wanted so much more for Hannah and her soon-to-be-born son. She prayed so desperately and passionately that she even told God that He could use her child in His service, and maybe this was what God had been waiting for. Hannah would later have a child that would change the history of Israel and the world with the birth of Samuel.

Samuel would later become a mighty prophet of God and he would anoint Israel’s first king, Saul, and later David, the greatest earthly King that Israel ever had. It would be through David’s seed that the Messiah would come, which is Jesus Christ. God delayed answering Hannah’s prayer, perhaps because God wanted to do more than Hannah was asking for. If God delays answering our prayer, perhaps it’s because He wants much more for us than we are even asking for.

Paul
Paul desperately wanted the thorn in his side to be removed, praying three times to God, however, God’s answer to Paul’s prayer was no. God knew that Paul might become prideful because of all the revelations he had seen, so God allowed that thorn to remain. Apparently Paul knew this was the reason, as he wrote, “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited” (2 Cor 12:7). God intended that this thorn in the flesh would keep Paul humble and in need of God’s grace; and it did! Paul’s prayer for healing was answered with a decisive “No,” even though Paul prayed three times over it. God knew His greater plan must override that of Paul’s.

Jesus
I think part of the reason Jesus prayed for this cup to pass is because it represented every heinous, wicked sin that humanity has ever sinned, and since Jesus is completely holy and without sin, it is contrary to His nature to take upon Himself the sins of the world, so I don’t believe it was the suffering of Calvary that Jesus dreaded…but bearing the sins of humanity, so he prayed three times saying, “Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39). Jesus repeated this prayer request three times, the other two in verse 42 and 44, however, Jesus’ request was secondary to His desire to follow the Father’s will. That’s how we should pray too.

Conclusion
When we have sin, this blocks our access to the Father’s throne. If we have not sinned but ask only for our own selves, and not for the will of God, then the answer may be no as well. When we still have un-forgiveness in our heart, this hinders our prayers, however, sometimes our prayers are delayed for a very good reason. What we ask for in prayer may not be what God wants for us. He knows better than we do and won’t answer a prayer with something He knows will hurt us. Besides, He may want something much, much greater than what we are asking for.

For example, if we ask for a new job and don’t get it, He might have a job that is closer to our hearts desires. God knows best, so delayed pray might be “No,” “not yet,” or “wait for the best timing my child,” but it could also be, “I have something better for you.” God may have bigger plans for you than what you’re praying for. In fact, to glorify Jesus’ name, He may even give you something far greater…something that greatly surpasses even your own imagination.
 
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