Showing posts with label Christian articles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian articles. Show all posts

The End Of Your Rope



The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:8, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.”

Paul was one of the greatest men of faith who ever lived and yet he had problems wherever he went. He said he was “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I had been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils of false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - besides the other things that come upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:23b-28).

These scriptures tell us that throughout his ministry Paul often reached the end of his rope. All he could do is hang on and trust God. Yet not once do we hear him complain about his hardships nor did he sink in the quicksand of self-pity.

Elijah, on the other hand, was one of the greatest prophets of all time and in 1 Kings 19, he has a major pity party. He had just won a major victory on Mt. Carmel and this stirred up the wrath of the wicked Queen Jezebel. “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent messengers to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.’ And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life…” (1 Kings 1-3a).

Elijah had just seen the fire of God come down from heaven and consume a water-drenched sacrifice and here he is running away from a powerless threat from an evil queen. Verse 8 says, “So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.” Here God performs another miracle. Elijah eats one meal and it sustains him for forty days and still he runs away.

Verses 9 and 10, “And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the Word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” Why run when you’ve been empowered with the anointing of God? Here comes the pity party, “So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant; torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’”

He says the same thing in verse 14. It is interesting to note that when Elijah sank in the muck and mire of self-pity that his role as a prophet soon came to a close. God’s response to this pity party was he had Elijah anoint Jehu, who went on to put an end to the reign of Jezebel, and Elisha who replaced him as God’s prophet in the land. Not long after this a chariot of fire appeared and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:11). Indeed, the worst thing a person can do when tests and trials come is to fall into the destructive trap of self-pity.

Jeremiah 15 records another major pity party. Verse 17 and 18 says, “I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, for You have filled me with indignation. Why is my pain perpetual and my wound incurable, which refuses to be healed? Will you surely be to me like an unreliable stream, as waters that fail?”

Jeremiah did not have an easy life. He was one of Judah’s greatest prophets during its darkest days and because of his radical message of God’s judgment through the coming Babylon invasion he led a life of conflict.

Jeremiah faithfully proclaimed the divine condemnation of rebellious Judah for forty years and was rewarded with opposition, beatings, isolation, and imprisonment. His sympathy and sensitivity cause him to grieve over the rebelliousness and imminent doom of his nation. He often desires to resign from his prophetic office because of the harshness of his message and his reception, but he perseveres to Judah’s bitter end.

He is the weeping prophet (Jeremiah 9:1; 13:17) - lonely, rejected, and persecuted. More than once Jeremiah was at the end of his rope and his sufferings easily match those of the apostle Paul. Thankfully, the Lord had an answer for the self-pity the prophet felt in chapter 15.

"Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘If you return, then I will bring you back; You shall stand before Me; If you take out the precious from the vile, you shall be as My mouth. Let them return to you, but you must not return to them’” (Jeremiah 15:19). God gives the condition of what Jeremiah had to do if he was to receive help from the Lord. God said, “If you return…” When did Jeremiah leave? The moment he stopped talking by faith.

God also said to take out the precious from the vile. That which is precious to God is our faith (2 Peter 1:1) and that which is vile is unbelief. A special promise is given to all of us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with each temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Listen to how the Message Bible translates this special promise, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.” If you will refuse to panic when the tests and trials come, if we stay connected to Jesus through the fire, then ultimately spiritual growth will come and your call will be fulfilled.

God wanted Jeremiah to return to what the prophet said in Jeremiah 15:16, “Your Words were found, and I ate them, and Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your Name, O Lord God of hosts.” The Word of God is powerful. It is sharper than any two-edged sword and will turn you into the type of person who believes that whatever you do will prosper and succeed, The Bible says you can do all things through Christ, the anointed One and His anointing, but first you must adjust your thinking to line up with the thoughts of God.

Romans 12:2a says, “And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” The way you think can either cause you to press forward in the midst of a trial or it can become a roadblock that prevents your advancement in life. Thomas Edison once performed ten thousand experiments in his quest to invent the light bulb and none produced the results he wanted. “I have not failed,” he said. “I have successfully found ten thousand ways that will not work.” When you think like that there is no way the enemy can stop you from accomplishing what you set out to do.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard pressed on every side yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.” A winner is not a person who has never suffered a setback. A winner is someone who knows that when the setback comes he or she must rise to the occasion and continue forward. The thoughts, words, and actions of a winner will always be in agreement with the Word of God. This, in turn, will determine whether you will be a success or failure because what happens “in” you is more important than what happens “to” you.

You can have the attitude that God is bigger than any obstacle you face or you can believe that He’s not. The former will allow you to release the power of God into your situation through faith whereas the latter will confine you to a life of fear and failure. This truth is illustrated in Numbers 13 which records the story of when Moses sent twelve people to spy out the Promised Land.

After being gone for several weeks the spies came back and told of seeing huge fortified cities there and strong giants dwelling in the land. Everything the spies said about the land was true, the difference being Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report while the remaining ten returned bearing a bad report.

Numbers 13:30-31 says, “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it.’ But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people for they are stronger than we are.’”


Goliath was bigger and stronger than David but that didn’t stop him from facing down and killing the giant. We need to understand that faith is not a denial of the circumstances. Joshua and Caleb saw the same giants as the other spies but they knew God had given them the land and refused to allow the circumstances to dictate to them how things were going to be. This is called faith and faith always has a good report. Caleb said they were well able to take the land.

To walk victoriously we need to feed on the Word of God continually and maintain a good report on the evil day when circumstantial giants block our path. Numbers 14:36-38 tells us that because the ten spies brought back a bad report they immediately died by the plague before the Lord whereas Joshua and Caleb were the only members of their evil generation who entered into the Promised Land. This reward was given to them because they believed God in spite of the circumstances and as a result brought back to the people a good report.

There is another story in the Bible where under grave circumstances a woman overlooked a tragic event in her life and won a major victory by confessing a good report. Her story is found in 2 Kings 4:8-37. One day Elisha traveled to the city of Shunem where he met a woman who constrained him to come into her home and eat some food. This happened regularly and this same woman persuaded her husband to build an upper bedroom onto their house so that the prophet of God could have a comfortable dwelling place whenever he traveled to that region.

During one of his visits, Elisha decided to bless the family for their kindness and upon hearing that the woman and her elderly husband had no children he foretold that in about a year’s time they would have and embrace a baby son. In time the child grew and one day he ran out into the field to be with his father and immediately complained of a pain in his head. The boy was taken to his mother where he sat on her lap and eventually died. Now was the moment of truth for this woman who so longed to be in the presence of the man of God. Would she have a pity party or run toward her giant like David did?

A person’s faith is most tested when all they have is taken away and oftentimes a person is required to use their faith when they are drained emotionally, mentally and physically. The young boy’s mother did this by not preparing her son for burial but instead went and laid him on the bed of the prophet. She immediately got ready to run to the man of God and when asked why she was going all she said was “It is well.” She made a good report in spite of the loss a mother is sure to feel at the death of one of her children.

For this mother there was no turning back and without delay she departed and went to Mt. Carmel to see the man of God. Elisha instructed his servant when he saw her approaching, “Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’ And she answered, ‘It is well.’” For the second time this woman gave a good report and confessed, “It is well.”

It is interesting to compare what this mother said to Elisha to what Martha said to Jesus at the death of her brother Lazarus. Jesus was not present when Lazarus passed away and the first thing Martha said was, “Lord, if You had been here my brother would not have died.” When Jesus responded that her brother would rise again Martha said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Martha had faith for the past and for the future whereas the dead boy’s mother displayed a “now” faith by twice saying “It is well.”

The timing of faith is vitally important to those who desire to live a victorious life that is pleasing to God. To walk by faith you must forget about yesterday and look beyond tomorrow in order to focus on today. Faith is a present tense reality and the first three words of Heb. 11:1 say, “Now faith is…”

When Moses asked God what His Name was He said, “I Am Who I Am.” Our God is a “now” God and so also is His faith which He gives to us when we confess and believe His Word. Knowing this is what compelled the young boy’s mother to confess “It is well” and as a result of her “now” faith the prophet went and ministered the miracle working power of God into the body of her lifeless son.

The lad was raised up and went on to live a rich full life and it all began when his mother gave a good report in the face of adversity. She did not panic nor did she sink in the muck and mire of self pity. No, she trusted God and spoke out that which she believed in her heart. She personified what Jesus said in Matthew 5:3-4 (Message), “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”

*** Written by Randall J. Brewer ***


THE TRUTH MEDIA
...building the body of Christ

Why People Find The Bible Difficult



That many persons find the bible hard to understand will not be denied by those acquainted with the facts. Testimony to the difficulties encountered in Bible reading is too full and too widespread to be dismissed lightly.

In human experience there is usually a complex of causes rather than but one cause for everything, and so it is with the difficulty we run into with the Bible. To the question, Why is the Bible hard to understand? No snap answer can be given; the pert answer is sure to be the wrong one. The problem is multiple instead of singular, and for this reason the effort to find a single solution to it will be disappointing.

In spite of this I venture to give a short answer to the question, and while it is not the whole answer it is a major one and probably contains within itself most of the answers to what must be an involved and highly complex question. I believe that we find the Bible difficult because we try to read it as we would read any other book, and it is not the same as any other book.

The Bible is not addressed to just anybody. Its message is directed to a chosen few. Whether these few are chosen by God in a sovereign act of election or are chosen because they meet certain qualifying conditions I leave to each one to decide as he may, knowing full well that his decision will be determined by his basic beliefs about such matters as predestination, free will, the eternal decrees and other related doctrines.

But whatever may have taken place in eternity, it is obvious what happens in time: Some believe and some do not; some are morally receptive and some are not; some have spiritual capacity and some have not. It is to those who do and are and have that the Bible is addressed. Those who do not and are not and have not will read it in vain.

Right here I expect some readers to enter strenuous objections, and for reasons not hard to find. Christianity today is man-centred, not God-centred. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men.

The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Saviour of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable.

This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show.

The notion that the Bible is addressed to everybody has wrought confusion within and without the church. The effort to apply the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount to the unregenerate nations of the world is one example of this. Courts of law and the military powers of the earth are urged to follow the teachings of Christ, an obviously impossible thing for them to do. To quote the words of Christ as guides for policemen, judges and generals is to misunderstand those words completely and to reveal a total lack of understanding of the purposes of divine revelation. The gracious words of Christ are for the sons and daughters of grace, not for the Gentile nations whose chosen symbols are the lion, the eagle, the dragon and the bear.

Not only does God address His words of truth to those who are able to receive them, He actually conceals their meaning from those who are not. The preacher uses stories to make truth clear; our Lord often used them to obscure it.

The parables of Christ were the exact opposite of the modern “illustration,” which is meant to give light; the parables were “dark sayings” and Christ asserted that He sometimes used them so that His disciples could understand and His enemies could not (see Matthew 13:10-17). As the pillar of fire gave light to Israel but was cloud and darkness to the Egyptians, so our Lord’s words shine in the hearts of His people but leave the self-confident unbeliever in the obscurity of moral night.

The saving power of the Word is reserved for those for whom it is intended. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him. The impenitent heart will find the Bible but a skeleton of facts without flesh or life or breath. Shakespeare may be enjoyed without penitence; we may understand Plato without believing a word he says; but penitence and humility along with faith and obedience are necessary to a right understanding of the Scriptures.

In natural matters faith follows evidence and is impossible without it, but in the realm of the spirit faith precedes understanding; it does not follow it. The natural man must know in order to believe; the spiritual man must believe in order to know. The faith that saves is not a conclusion drawn from evidence; it is a moral thing, a thing of the spirit, a supernatural infusion of confidence in Jesus Christ, a very gift of God.

The faith that saves reposes in the Person of Christ; it leads at once to a committal of the total being to Christ, an act impossible to the natural man. To believe rightly is as much a miracle as was the coming forth of dead Lazarus at the command of Christ.

The Bible is a supernatural book and can be understood only by supernatural aid.

** Written by Aiden Wilson Tozer (A.W. Tozer) **
*** From the Book - "Man: The Dwelling Place of God" ***


THE TRUTH MEDIA
...building the body of Christ

The Once-Born And The Twice-Born



Classification is one of the most difficult of all tasks. Even in the realm of religion there are enough lights and shades to make it injudicious to draw too fine a line between men and men. If the religious world were composed of squares of solid black and solid white classification would be easy; but unfortunately it is not.

It is a grave error for us evangelicals to assume that the children of God are all in our communion and that all who are not associated with us are ipso facto enemies of the Lord. The Pharisees made that mistake and crucified Christ as a consequence.

With all this in mind, and leaning over backwards to be fair and charitable, there is yet one distinction which we dare make, which indeed we must make if we are to think the thoughts of God after Him and bring our beliefs into harmony with the Holy Scriptures. That distinction is the one which exists between two classes of human beings, the once-born and the twice-born.

That such a distinction does, in fact, exist was taught by our Lord with great plainness of speech, in contexts which preclude the possibility that He was merely speaking figuratively. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," (John 3:3). He said, and the whole chapter where these words are found confirms that He was speaking precisely, setting forth meanings as blunt and downright as it is possible for language to convey.

"Ye must be born again," (John 3:5-7) said Christ. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). This clear line of demarcation runs through the entire New Testament, quite literally dividing one human being from another and making a distinction as sharp as that which exists between different genera of the animal kingdom.

Just who belongs to one class and who to the other it is not always possible to judge, though the two kinds of life ordinarily separate from each other. Those who are twice-born crystallize around the Person of Christ and cluster together in companies, while the once-born are held together only by the ties of nature, aided by the ties of race or by common political and social interests.

Our Lord warned His disciples that they would be persecuted. "In the world ye shall have tribulation," (John 16:33) He said, and "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:10-11).

These are only two of many passages of the New Testament warning of persecution or recording the fact of harassment and attack suffered by the followers of the Lord. This same idea runs through the entire Bible from the once-born Cain who slew the twice-born Abel to the Book of the Revelation where the end of human history comes in a burst of blood and fire.

That hostility exists between the once-born and the twice-born is known to every student of the Bible; the reason for it was stated by Christ when He said, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19). The rule was laid down by the apostle Paul when he wrote, "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now" (Galatians 4:29).

Difference of moral standards between the once-born and the twice-born, and their opposite ways of life, may be contributing causes of this hostility; but the real cause lies deeper. There are two spirits abroad in the earth: the spirit that works in the children of disobedience and the Spirit of God. These two can never be reconciled in time or in eternity.

The spirit that dwells in the once-born is forever opposed to the Spirit that inhabits the heart of the twice-born. This hostility began somewhere in the remote past before the creation of man and continues to this day. The modern effort to bring peace between these two spirits is not only futile but contrary to the moral laws of the universe.

To teach that the spirit of the once-born is at enmity with the Spirit of the twice-born is to bring down upon one’s head every kind of violent abuse. No language is too bitter to hurl against the conceited bigot who would dare to draw such a line of distinction between men. Such malignant ideas are at odds with the brotherhood of man, says the once-born, and are held only by the apostles of disunity and hate. This mighty rage against the twice-born only serves to confirm the truth they teach. But this no one seems to notice.

What we need to restore power to the Christian testimony is not soft talk about brotherhood but an honest recognition that two human races occupy the earth simultaneously: a fallen race that sprang from the loins of Adam and a regenerate race that is born of the Spirit through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

To accept this truth requires a tough mindedness and a spiritual maturity that modern Christians simply do not possess. To face up to it hardly contributes to that “peace of mind” after which our religious weaklings bleat so plaintively.

For myself, I long ago decided that I would rather know the truth than be happy in ignorance. If I cannot have both truth and happiness, give me truth. We’ll have a long time to be happy in heaven.

** Written by Aiden Wilson Tozer (A.W. Tozer) **
*** From the Book - "Man: The Dwelling Place of God" ***


THE TRUTH MEDIA
...building the body of Christ

Character Of A Christian



Text: Matthew 5:1-6

Key Verse: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6)

John Hill Aughey, one of the notable gospel ministers, said: “Holiness consists of three things – separation from sin, dedication to God, transformation into Christ’s image. It is in vain that we talk about the last, unless we know something experimentally about the first.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the verse above, pointed out some salient issues about Christian conducts. When a great multitude followed Him, He went to the mountain where He taught them what they should know about true fellowship with God, which obviously would make them enjoy life on earth and in heaven.

Remarkably, Jesus pointed out that nobody would be able to make heaven without being poor in spirit. Heavenly-minded people should not be haughty, but be humble and lowly. They must acknowledge their spiritual wretchedness, bewail their guilt and thirst after God.

For those who mourn for their spiritual state, Jesus assured that they will be comforted and filled with happiness. Their godly sorrow will enable them have true repentance, become watchful of everything they do and continue to depend on God wholeheartedly.

Jesus equally taught of the benefit of meekness, pointing out that those who quietly submit to God and bear all insults patiently would inherit the kingdom of God. Those who are meek would always live peaceably with everybody.

These teachings of our Lord are still relevant to us today. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest. At every moment, we should be friendly with everyone, not being proud or feel that we know more than others.

“Nothing so clearly discovers a spiritual man as his treatment of an erring brother.”


THE TRUTH MEDIA
...building the body of Christ


The Dangers Of Hypocrisy



Text: Mark 7:5-15

Christians are a chosen generation and a peculiar people. Our lives should attract and draw out those in darkness into the marvelous light of the gospel. But when our lives contradict what we profess and preach, we become hypocrites and the hearts of sinners we are to win for the Lord become more hardened to the gospel.

It is not sufficient to cast out devils and do miracles in the Lord’s name and preach fiery sermons to sinners. Many who do these will be denied by the Lord on the last day because of the secret sins they indulge in and the evils they harbor in their hearts.

Our public and private lives when brought into examination at any time should receive the approval of God. We must not honour God with our lips and distant our hearts from Him. A double life is a life of hypocrisy and God disapproves it.

Hypocrites, no matter how much respect they command because of their eloquence or oratory, hospitality and charity and regular observance of Christian ordinances, will not receive any commendation from the Lord.

Some so called believers are hypocrites because they are ashamed to be identified with the Lord; they wrap their Bibles when going to church to avoid being ‘embarrassed’ by people around them.

Though they have received many blessings from the Lord, they cannot tell others about Christ with confidence and boldness. The Lord says, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him or her will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).


THE TRUTH MEDIA
...building the body of Christ

We Must Be Examples



Key Verse: “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7)

Now that we have become believers in Christ there are few things that are now required of us, one of those things is to be an example to others; those who believe and to those who do not believe.

We are under a microscope; people are trying to see if we live the life that we proclaim. They are looking to see if we ‘walk the walk’ as well as we ‘talk the talk’. Those in the world are looking at us waiting for us to make a mistake so that they can accuse us of being a hypocrite, but those in the church are looking to us to be an example that they can look up to.

As we begin to mature in Christ those who are babes look to us as an example of how they should live their lives. We must live our lives in holiness and teach those who are young in the faith to do the same. There are several ways in which we must show ourselves as an example to those who believe.

In 1 Timothy 4:12, the Bible teaches us, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” These were the instructions Paul gave to Timothy because he was a young man. Paul instructed Timothy to be an example to those in the church.

We must be as Paul and begin to teach those who are young in the faith how they should live Christ-like. It is during this time we are best able to teach them how to live and to instruct them in the ways of holiness. We must teach them to be an example in word: the things we say will very often show what is in the content of our heart.

We must teach those who are young in Christ that they must allow the Holy Spirit to change their hearts so that their conversation will begin to change. Jesus tells us in Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

Paul then tells Timothy that he must be an example in charity or love. This is important because Jesus said this is the first commandment. In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus tells us, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

We must show them love! We must show that we love the Lord, and we do this by obeying His commandments. We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves; we show this by giving to those who are in need and not being selfish. When God blesses us, we must in turn bless others.

The story of the Good Samaritan is an example of loving thy neighbor (Luke 10:26-37). We must be an example in spirit; this is to say we must be of a humble spirit and to be forgiving. We must also exhibit a spiritual walk with God. Romans 8:14 tells us, “Those who are led by God's Spirit are God's children.” We don’t have to walk around speaking in tongues all the time to show them this; we must show them that we have the faith that God is in control and that we are doing things according to His will.

We must also be an example in faith. People are looking for us to show them that we have the faith to believe God for everything that we need. It is by our actions that they will know that we have faith. If we are looking to get a job, then we should go out and put in applications to get a job and not expect God to give us a job while we just sit around and eat Twinkies all day. God is able to do that if He wishes, but we have to do something to show God that we trust Him to provide for us.

We must show them our faith through our works. James tells us “Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions” (James 2:18b). How will those around us know that we have faith unless they see us do something? And we must be an example in purity of heart and in living a holy life.

They will see what we do when we are not at church. Are we just a Sunday morning saint or is that how we live our lives daily? Those who are young in the faith are looking to us to be an example. They are like our children who do what we do so therefore we must take on Christ so that they will know how to live a life in holiness.

Let’s be an example of righteousness and holiness for all to see so that God will be glorified through us! May the God of peace, and the peace and love of Christ be with you always! Amen.

*** Written by Edwin D. Kerns ***


THE TRUTH MEDIA
...building the body of Christ

Randall Brewer On 'Taking Control'



Text: Proverbs 16:32; 25:28; James 1:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-9

Control is a big deal to me. I love being a Christian and the freedom it gives me to take control of my own life and destiny. I believe that life is what you make it and the road on which I have chosen to travel was determined by a surrender of my will to that of the Heavenly Father.

I struggle when things beyond my control close in around me in an effort to shape and form my life. It seems like a roadblock has been put in front of me on my journey down the highway of like and I don’t like it. So often this is what happens in this arena called “life” and circumstances which we have no control over bombard us from every direction on a daily basis.

Cars break down, layoffs happen at work, the children get sick, taxes go up, the dreaded in-laws call and say they’re coming for a summer visit. The list of things we have to deal with that are beyond our control is endless. There is, however, one thing in life that the Bible says we are to always have control of. Jesus said in Luke 21:19, “In your patience, possess your soul.”

Who we are and what we become in life is determined by us and us alone. We cannot control our neighbours or the boss at work but we are instructed to take control of the way we respond to the everyday circumstances of life. This, of course, is a lot easier said than done. To do this will take a lifetime of determination, endurance, and oftentimes intense struggle and hardship.

You see, our emotions are real. So often in the Christian camp we are told to ignore our feelings and live “in the realm of the spirit.” It is true, in the makeup of every believer our feelings and emotions can rightfully be called “the weakest link” but how can you ignore something that is so real and relevant in our lives? After all, Jesus Himself was a very emotional man. He wept, He got angry, at times He got very frustrated, and in the Garden of Gethsemane He struggled so fiercely with His emotions that His sweat became as drops of blood.

No, we cannot ignore our feelings and, in truth, we’re not supposed to. The Bible does not teach us to ignore our feelings but rather to control them. It was this same Jesus Who at times displayed His emotions so openly said, “In your patience, possess your soul.” Why did He say that? Because He knew that if you do not take control of your emotions, for sure they will take control of you.

How important is self-control? In Galatians 5:22-23, it is listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit and John the apostle writes, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2:1). Financial success and physical health is in direct proportion to how well one takes control of wayward emotions.

In Acts 24 Paul had an audience with Felix the governor and verse 25 says “he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.” A person becomes righteous in the sight of God when they get born-again and in the end when all is said and done, we must all stand before the throne of God where we will all be held accountable for what we’ve done with the life we’ve been given. Paul tells us that between conversion and the judgment to come, one’s life should be lived with the trademark of self-control and the diligence that goes with it.

The word “self-control” is a translation of the Greek word ‘egkrateia’. This word is derived from ‘kratos’ which means “strength and power”. The fruit of self-control brings with it the same strength and power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20).

A believer must have so much control over his emotions that his feelings become his slave. Since a slave has no legal rights of his own and is bound by law to his master, all emotions that are brought into subjection must be obedient to its owner. Do not ask yourself how you feel, tell yourself how you feel. When you take control of your emotions you take control of your life.

According to Paul, the result of not having self-control is to become a “castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27) and in Greek this word is defined as “unapproved, rejected, worthless…” Because of a lack of self-control many believers have become worthless castaways and have dropped out of the race for the incorruptible crown. Clearly, living a life of self-control should be a top priority for every believer.

Let’s look again at what Jesus said and see the time frame for when the best opportunity is for us to take control of our feelings and emotions. He said, “In your patience, possess your soul.” Having patience indicates that you are standing in faith as you wait for some prayer request to be manifested.

Something in your life is not right. You are in a struggle and feelings of doubt and frustration are knocking on the door of your soul. You have feelings that are real and they’re causing you much pain. Your emotions are under constant attack as days go by and your struggle is still there and no relief seems in sight. You obey the Word to the best of your ability but still, the situation gets worse and worse. You are ready to pull every hair out of your head as you continually try to do something about that which you can do nothing about.

A feeling of helplessness swarms over you and at times you feel like a puppet on a string being controlled by some diabolical force. You cry out, “God, where are You?” and it takes every ounce of spiritual energy you’ve got just to keep from giving up. It is in times like this, when you are on the brink of what seems like a hopeless situation that God says to “possess your soul.” He does not say to do this when all is going well. No, we are told to take control of our emotions when they are most under attack.

Just how does one take possession of their soul? By following the example of Jesus, of course. He surrendered His will to the Heavenly Father and said in 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.”

Words are the most powerful force in the entire universe. What you say can make you or break you. Proverbs 21:23 says, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Do not give birth to negative feelings by speaking them out of your mouth. Heed the words of James 1:19b which tells us to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Proverbs 17:27 says, “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”

It is a sure thing that the trial that plagues you the most will almost never go away until you get your emotions under control. Molehill problems turn into mountains when like a runaway train your emotions go unrestrained. Silence is the key to gaining self-control. After all, “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips he is considered perceptive” (Proverbs 17:28).

*** Written by Randall J. Brewer ***


THE TRUTH MEDIA
...building the body of Christ

The Benefits Of Christian Fellowship



Text: Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:23-25

In every generation, God always have a faithful remnant among His children tasked with evangelizing the world with the gospel so that people can be converted to Christ and be brought into a living fellowship with Him and with one another. These responsible believers, in time, become fruitful and reproductive Christians.

As born again Christians, we are part of the body of Christ, but we must be members of a local assembly where there are opportunities for personal growth, carrying on the Great Commission, strengthening our faith and fellowshipping with one another.

Christian fellowship is an absolute necessity in the life of every believer. Whenever and wherever a Christian is isolated from others who have similar relationship with Jesus Christ, something would be missing from his or her life.

Though a person may have fellowship with Christ through prayer and study of the Word, mutual encouragement and strengthening that come from association with other believers will be absent.

Christian fellowship challenges us to grow in grace, pray for one another and reach those outside the fold of Christ. Through fellowship, we receive needed encouragement in time of weariness, failure and discouragement. Fellowship provides correction necessary for our spiritual growth.

We cannot become the men and women God wants us to be if we are out of fellowship of the brethren. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).

When we are in the company of others who know the Saviour and are committed to Him, we will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord.


THE TRUTH MEDIA
...building the body of Christ

Turning The Other Cheek



Text: Matthew 5:38-39, 18:21-35; Ephesians 4:20-32; Philippians 4:8

Key Verse: “…And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

If for every time someone offends us we retaliate, the world would be in utter chaos by now. Forgiveness, as difficult as it is to yield to, is a significant virtue that must never leave our hearts.

Humans have a tendency to do evil and hence, we err. We step on others’ toes, speak ill of our neighbors, betray our friends, disappoint our siblings, dishonor our parents, embarrass our families, and the list goes on. But as Christians, our disposition ought to be different.

Psalms 130:3 says, “If thou, Lord shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” For a fact, the answer is none. “For all have sinned and come short the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).

However, the Bible records something wonderful for everyone to rejoice in. Next to John 3:16; and John 1:12, among other verses, Romans 5:6-8 remains one of my favorites that give me so much joy whenever I meditate on it:

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

“But God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

If God Almighty, the Righteous King of glory could look pass our debasement, filth and faults, and chose to forgive us all our sins by sending His only begotten Son to redeem us through His blood (Ephesians 1:7), why can’t we do same to others? It’s difficult, right? This is the very reason we must forgive because the world’s peaceful coexistence depends on it.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Matthew 5:38). Ye must also understand that an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind, and a tooth for a tooth leaves everyone with toothache and deprives of the full satisfaction of eating meat.

Hence, our Lord Jesus Christ, himself being an embodiment of love and forgiveness, commands us to forgive. He says in Matthew 5:39 that, “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

How easy has it been in turning the other cheek? Turning the other cheek implies bearing and overlooking whatever wrong others might have done to us. It implies forgetting faults and giving others the benefit of a new start, a new relationship opportunity.

Moreover, turning the other cheek, I don’t believe, means you mustn’t get angry when someone hurts you (unless you have the grace not to). Let’s be honest with ourselves, who wouldn’t be angry? I get angry and feel bad when someone hurts and insults me but I am careful not to sin and allow the ill feelings linger in my heart.

Ever since I came to know the Lord my heart has been weak in harboring grudges. In fact, it detests them that is why I always do my best by God’s grace not to offend anyone (follow peace with all men – Hebrews 12:14; Romans 12:18) and wouldn’t do or say anything to make others be inclined to act badly towards me.

We all should know the place of forgiveness in our Christian life and how it affects our prayers. “Therefore if thou bring thy gift (prayers, petition, sacrifice or praise, tithes, offerings, etc) to the altar, and rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Whenever our thoughts, feelings and interactions aren’t right toward others, we are hindered from boldly approaching the throne of grace to obtain mercy and finding grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

God is as much concerned about our relationship with one another as He is our relationship with Him. This is why we see in Matthew 6:14-15 that, “if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

The bottom line is this: forgive and keep on forgiving. Forgive today, forgive tomorrow, forgive always, even more than seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22).

Finally brethren, if anyone at all has wronged you so badly that it hurts to your marrow, go and tell him or her his or her faults between you and him or her alone: “if he or she shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother or sister or friend…” (Matthew 18:15-17).

Everyone deserves forgiveness, even you and even me. Turn the other cheek today; let love thrive, let peace reign. And in all, ‘my beloved brethren, do not err.’

*** Written by Michael Olajubu aka Jacobs Adewale (Admin) ***


THE TRUTH MEDIA
...building the body of Christ