Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Getting into the Lifeboat

The calm seas and clear skies belied the approaching danger on that fateful night in April, 1912, when the great ship known as the Titanic went down in the icy waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Warning after warning had been received about the danger of icebergs and ice pack. Yet, in spite of the multiple warnings, the ship was flung nearly full speed ahead at 22 knots per hour. At 11:40 pm the ship struck an iceberg, tearing a fatal gash about 300 feet long in the hull. Only 706 people out of the 2,223 on board were able to get safely into the lifeboats provided. At 2:20 am the mighty Titanic went down, along with her remaining passengers and crew.
If only the warnings would have been heeded! If only there would have been more preparation for such a catastrophe! It all came down to the pride of man which was reflected in the self- assurance of the designers, the owners, and the captain who believed her to be unsinkable. No consideration was given to the invisible possibilities.
As I look at the world today and consider what Jesus said about the signs of the times preceding His return, I can’t help but hear the warning signals being sent to His people to get ready, to prepare for what is coming. Nevertheless, the world plunges forward, full speed ahead, unaware of the unseen, impending disaster. Jesus said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matt. 24:37-39)
Noah’s generation did not know judgment was coming until the flood came and took them all away. They were unaware of what was coming and so they hadn’t prepared. They shrugged off the warnings and continued with business as usual. And now, just as Jesus forewarned us, the scene is being repeated in our day.
Even more grievous, many of God’s people are in the same self-hypnotized stupor that the world is in. Too many are running around the deck of the ship with the rest of the world, caught up in the pleasure and cares of this world and not at all ready for what is coming. Like the Titanic, many Christians are charging through life “full speed ahead.” Jesus warned, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life and that Day come on you unexpectedly.” (Luke 21:34)
If we truly take heed to Jesus’ admonition, we’ll hear Him telling us that it’s time to come out of the busyness of our lives. It’s time to get at His feet and allow Him to prepare us for what is coming. It’s time to turn off the TV, put down the newspaper, and start redeeming our time. We need to make a choice every day to get into His word, to seek Him more diligently than ever, and commit to being about His business. Jesus instructed His disciples to “watch and pray.” That
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means being alert to what is going on around you and looking expectantly to your heavenly Father to give you what you need. It means praying for that greater measure of the Holy Spirit that is needed to persevere to the end.
The warning signals are clear; the Bridegroom is calling His bride to get ready. Listen to the call of your Beloved to come into His sheltering refuge now. Jesus is the only lifeboat that will get us through the coming storm. Are you seeing your need for Him, and Him alone, in this chaotic world we are living in? He wants to be an abiding place for you. He wants you in His lifeboat now; not just for yourself, but also to be a life preserver to those around you who will be drowning in the dark, icy waters of the last days.
Heaven has been sending out signal after signal. There are numerous reports of a great iceberg coming toward us quickly on the horizon. Now is the time to get ready!!

By Jeff Colón
Jeff Colón is a minister of the Assemblies of God. He has served as the Campus Pastor and Residential Program Director for over 10 years, and is now the Executive Director at Pure Life Ministries.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our God is a Consuming Fire

I saw a headline the other day that read, “Zoo Keeper Mauled by White Tigers.” The story reminded me of how many times in life we take things for granted. I imagine this zoo keeper, accustomed to entering the tigers’ domain, had gradually become careless in their presence.
Likewise, we as Christians can also become careless about God’s holiness and the need to reverence Him in our lives. We have examples in Scripture that teach us this very lesson.
“Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” (Leviticus 10:1-2)
This vivid account reminds us that we serve a holy God who is to be approached with reverential fear. Bringing God down to our level and assuming we can take His commands lightly can have terrifying consequences.
Quoting from Deuteronomy, the writer of Hebrews tells us that “our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28) This passage shows us that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament is the same: God still abhors sin and will not tolerate it. The man who presumes on God’s grace by neglecting God’s prescription for a holy and upright life will find that the fire that once would have consumed his sin, will instead consume him.
Personally, I don’t ever want to count the blood of my Savior as a common thing, thereby trampling underfoot the grace of God. Every time I come into His presence, I want to regard Him as holy. I want to come in sincerity of heart with my sins properly covered in the blood. Therefore, I must always come before Him in genuine repentance and I must strive to maintain a daily walk that increasingly reflects His holiness.
I wonder how many professing Christians today have considered the reality that God is an all-consuming fire. When I look at the sin that is rampant in the Church, I shudder at the lack of reverence for God. We have made sin something that God overlooks with “a wink and a nod” because of the precious blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is indeed precious, and that is precisely why its power should never be misinterpreted as a license to continue in a sinful lifestyle. Do we dare to treat the blood of Jesus as a common thing and insult the spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29) I pray it would never be so!
An overemphasis on God’s grace is the primary reason many lose sight of His Holiness. Over the years I have encountered many professing Christians who carelessly presume upon God’s grace. They seem to think that somehow, in the end, He will just ignore their continued sinful lifestyles.
They have forgotten the God of Nadab and Abihu, those priestly sons who were consumed by His holy fire; they ignore the account of Ananias and Sapphira who dropped dead because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11).
Much as we might like to try, in order to have things our way, we can’t make a God of our own choosing. God’s attributes haven’t changed and His principles remain the same. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). It would be a tragic miscalculation to ignore the clear admonition of Scripture that we worship a Holy God and that every aspect of our lives should be ordered accordingly.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

By Jeff Colón

Jeff Colón is a minister of the Assemblies of God. He has served as the campus pastor and residential program director since 1996, and is the Executive Director at Pure Life Ministries.
(http://www.purelifeministries.org/free-resources/media-center?ei_mr_TopicID=5095&ei_mr_ResourceID=0)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Built to the Master's Plan

John MacArthur
Back to the Blueprint: Bible Study, Fellowship, and Prayer
In many respects, the contemporary church in America looks more like a large corporation than like anything described in the New Testament. Even church leaders sometimes bear a closer resemblance to CEOs and corporate executives than to humble, tender shepherds. Sadly, the good news — that a sinner can find forgiveness for sins before a holy God by placing his trust in and committing his whole life to Jesus Christ — is often eclipsed by “success”-oriented programs and an interest in the bottom line.
As a result, many churches have become nothing more than entertainment centers, employing tactics that effectively draw people into the church, but are incapable of truly ministering to them once they come.
God never intended the church to be like that. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, "I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." Notice the Lord's one condition to that great promise: "I will build My church" (emphasis added). Christ's guarantee is valid only when He builds the church His way. When you follow His blueprint, you can be sure that He is doing the work through you and that nothing, not even the gates of hell, can stop Him.
So, what's the blueprint? A logical place to start is at the beginning with the first church-the church at Jerusalem. It began on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled 120 believers who had gathered for a prayer meeting. The Lord added 3,000 souls later that same day (Acts 2:41). Those fledgling believers didn't know anything about building a church. They had no precedent; they didn't have a book on the church; they didn't even have the New Testament. Yet it was built Jesus' way, and as such it's the model for the church today.

Back to the Blueprint: Bible Study, Fellowship, and Prayer
Acts 2:42 gives the blueprint they followed: "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Those are the vital elements that make up the actual function and life of the church-and all of that in just one verse!

Here's an obvious starting point: A church built to the Master's plan will begin with the right raw material-a saved congregation. Verse 41 identifies the church as being made up of "those who had received [Peter's] word," and "were continually devoting themselves." The church at Jerusalem was filled with true Christians-those who continually adhered to apostolic teaching.
If the church is to be built Christ's way, it will be redeemed and therefore empowered by the Holy Spirit. An unsaved membership, devoid of the Holy Spirit, has no capacity to overcome self will, personal agendas, and the love of sin. Only believers have divine power to put those things off and so manifest the Spirit of God.

While the early church didn't have a New Testament, they had God's Word in the form of the "apostles' teaching." The church at Jerusalem was committed to receiving that Word. Doctrine is the basis of the church-you can't live out what you don't know or understand. That's why Paul instructed Timothy to "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2-3). That time has come. If your church isn't teaching the truth straight from the Bible, how will you recognize error when it comes? How will you grow? Don't ever allow anyone to stand in the pulpit who isn't committed to leading the congregation through a deep, penetrating study of God's Word.

The central focus of the early church's fellowship was the breaking of bread-the Lord's Table. It was the most fitting symbol of their fellowship since it reminded them of the basis for their unity-salvation in Christ and adherence to apostolic doctrine. If you share those things as common ground with other believers, then the Lord's table-communion-is the most appropriate symbol of your fellowship too.

We eat and drink in remembrance of Christ's self-sacrificing love that took Him to the cross. In your fellowship, make it your habit to practice the same kind of love Christ demonstrated toward you. Practically speaking, you can always give your life to those God brings across your path. Do you habitually pray for fellow believers? Are you encouraging them, edifying them, meeting their physical needs? Do you love them enough to confront them when they are sinning? Those are the marks of true Christian fellowship.

Acts 2:42 says the believers continually devoted themselves to prayer. Sadly, the same devotion to prayer is often neglected today. Churches can pack pews by offering entertainment, but when a prayer meeting is held, only a faithful few trickle in. The early Christians remembered the Lord's promise: "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:14). As they demonstrated dependence on the Lord, the results (Acts 2:43-47) were astounding.


Built to Scale: Wonder, Love, and Joy
What happens when true believers remain under biblical teaching, in a spiritual fellowship, and in devotion to prayer? Acts 2:43 says, "Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe." "Awe," the Greek word for fear, speaks of a sense of reverence. It is reserved for special times when people are struck with wonder because of something divine or powerful that defies human explanation.

Your church ought to be able to instill awe in your community. That first church certainly did. Verse 43 says everyone was in awe of them because "many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles." Though the miracles and wonders of the apostolic times are no longer necessary now that God's Word is complete, God's power remains on display. What could be more miraculous than giving life to people who are dead in sin? He heals people of their hurts, puts broken homes back together, and brings people out of the bondage of sin to Christ. In short, He transforms lives. When the church follows God's design, He will do marvelous and powerful things in individual lives before a watching world.

The early church was full of love-they "had all things in common" (v. 44). There was ownership in the early church-believers didn't live in a commune-but no one owned anything to the exclusion of someone who had a need. The Greek verbs in verse 46 translated "began selling" and "were sharing" show that they were continually selling and sharing their resources as needed. That kind of sacrificial love is the result of the Lord's work in obedient believers who follow His blueprint.

The Lord blesses those who labor according to His plan. First, He fills the obedient church with gladness (v. 46) and praise (v. 47). How can you not be happy when you see God at work in your midst? How can you keep from rejoicing when you watch God use your church to make an eternal impact in the world? Second, He adds to their number. Acts 2:47 concludes by saying that "the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."
I want to see the church grow, and I know you share that desire. My prayer is that we will let God build the church His way as we await our Lord's return. If you want to make the most of your church, just follow the blueprint, and encourage your church leaders to do the same.

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/A119 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

THE BIBLE’S PROOF

In the final analysis, a man must accept that the Bible is the Word of God by faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

At the same time, Bible faith is not a blind leap into the dark. It is confidence in a believable Record that God has given, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The writers of the Bible explain to us that they were not delivering cunningly devised fables but an inspired record based on “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3; 2 Peter 1:16).

Following are some of the objective, time-proven reasons why we can have complete confidence in the Bible:
1. CHRIST’S RESURRECTION PROVES THAT THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD.
His resurrection was witnessed by hundreds of people (1 Cor. 15:5-7). Were they all lying? At times, the resurrected Christ was seen by many people at one time. They talked with him, touched him, walked with him, and ate with him (Luke 24:36-43). Before the resurrection, the apostles were fearful and were hiding from the authorities (John 20:19). After they saw the resurrected Christ with their own eyes, they became bold and fearless and were willing to lay down their lives for the Gospel. It took a powerful event to cause such a change in their lives.
2. THE BIBLE’S UNIQUE CONSTRUCTION PROVES THAT IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.
The Bible was written by 40 different authors representing some 19 different occupations (shepherd, farmer, fisherman, tax collector, medical doctor, king, etc.) who lived during a period of some 1,600 years. That is approximately 50 generations. The first 39 chapters of the Bible were written in the Hebrew language over a period of about 1,000 years. There was then a 400-year gap when no Scriptures were written. After that, the last 27 chapters of the Bible were written in the Greek language during a period covering roughly 50 years. The writers could not have collaborated, because they did not even live at the same time. The product is one book that fits together perfectly and contains no contradictions or errors. There is nothing else like this in all of man’s history.
3. THE CONFIDENCE AND SINCERITY OF THE BIBLE’S AUTHORS PROVE THAT IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.
The Bible testifies that “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21), and an examination of the lives of the Bible’s writers rings true to this testimony. These were serious men. They came from all walks of life. They were men of good reputation and sound mind. Many of them were viciously persecuted and killed for the testimony they held. They were not enriched by the prophecies they gave. Far from it; many were impoverished. Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible, chose to live a life of terrific hardship and struggle in the service of God as opposed to the millionaire’s life he could have lived as the adopted son of Pharaoh. Many Bible writers made similar choices. Their motivation certainly was not covetousness and worldly advantage. These were not perfect men, but they were holy men. They all claimed that God had put His hand upon them to speak His Word. The lives they lived, and the testimonies they held, and the deaths they died gave mighty evidence that they were telling the truth.
4. FULFILLED PROPHECY PROVES THE BIBLE TO BE THE WORD OF GOD.
The Bible contains a vast amount of prophecy, much of which has been fulfilled. The predictions are precise and detailed, and the fulfillment is exact.
Prophecies Pertaining to Jesus Christ
Jesus’ entire life was prophesied before he was born. These prophecies described his birthplace (Micah 5:2), virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), sinless life (Isaiah 53:9), miracles (Isa. 35:5), wonderful speech (Isaiah 50:4), rejection by the Jewish nation (Isaiah 53:2), crucifixion (Psalm 22:16), burial in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9), and resurrection (Psalm 16).
Prophecies about Israel
The continued existence of Israel is one of history’s most amazing stories, and it was prophesied in Scripture in great detail.

Israel’s history was prophesied by Moses and recorded in the book of Deuteronomy about 4,000 years ago. God warned that if Israel broke His law she would be “plucked from off the land” and scattered “among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deut. 28:63-64). There the Jews would “find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life” (Deut. 28:65-66). This is an accurate description of Israel’s history from the first century until now. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Roman armies under Titus and then in 135 A.D. Jerusalem was plowed under on the order of Emperor Hadrian in response to the Jewish rebellion led by Bar Kochbar. The Jewish people were scattered to the ends of the earth and found no rest. They were hated by the Muslims and hounded and persecuted by the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church for a thousand years. Hitler’s regime tried to destroy them. Giving preference to the Arabs, England tried to keep them from returning to their land after World War II. They are the object of hatred until this very day. Most of the world is opposed to Israel and the reporting in secular publications about the Middle East crisis is generally slanted against her.

But Bible prophecy foretold that Israel would be brought back into her land and that she would remain a nation even after all of this, and that is exactly what happened in 1948. Never before in the history of the world has a race of people been scattered throughout the world and persecuted for 2,000 years and then come back together as a nation with their ancient language intact.

Bible prophecy describes the restoration of Israel in two parts. First, she would return to the land in a position of unbelief. Then she would be converted. The amazing prophecy in Ezekiel 37:1-14 describes Israel’s restoration in these two stages. She is described as a valley of bones that are resurrected.

“Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you and ye shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4-6).

In verses 11-14, Ezekiel states that this vision pertains to the restoration of Israel to her land and to her repentance toward God. First the bones are given sinews and flesh, and next God breaths upon these dead bones and they live.

The first part of the prophecy has been fulfilled. Israel has been back in her land as a nation since 1948, but she is there in unbelief and spiritual death. She continues to reject her Messiah, Jesus Christ. She has no temple and priesthood and no true worship.

But she is back in the land just as the Bible prophesied. In 1800 there were only six thousand Jews in Palestine, but by 2000 there were over five million (John Ecob,
Amillennialism Weighed and Found Wanting, Herald of Hope, p. 44-45).

During the Great Tribulation God will grant repentance unto Israel and will breathe spiritual life into her and she will live.

The continued existence of Israel is a very great miracle and an irrefutable evidence of the divine inspiration of the Bible.
5. THE BIBLE’S FACTUALNESS PROVES THAT IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.
Everything the Bible says is true and factual. The Bible says man is a sinner, and that is not difficult to confirm. Just look at the world! The Bible is not a scientific manual, but it is scientifically accurate, even from its earliest pages. Following are some examples, beginning with statements from the pages of Job, probably the oldest book in the Bible and written at least 3,500 years ago. The late scientist Henry Morris said:

“These references are modern in perspective, with never a hint of the mythical exaggerations and errors characteristic of other ancient writings ... perhaps of even greater significance is the fact that in a 4000-year-old book filled with numerous references to natural phenomena, there are
no scientific mistakes or fallacies” (The Remarkable Record of Job).
Job says the earth is hung upon nothing (Job 26:7). This is obvious to our modern generation, as we have seen the actual pictures of the earth hanging in space, but to previous generations it was not obvious and there were many commonly-held myths about the earth riding on the back of Atlas or a turtle or elephant, etc.
Job says the air has weight (“the weight for the winds,” Job 28:25). It was not until the 17th century that Galileo discovered that atmosphere has weight, and the modern science of aerodynamics is based on this scientific fact. Further, the weight of air is important in the function of the earth’s weather. “The study of air flows and their relation to the weight of the air has been developed into the science of aerodynamics, eventually becoming the basis of all modern aerospace developments. ... The ‘weight of the winds’ controls the worldwide air mass movements that transport the waters evaporated from the oceans inland over the continents” (Morris, The Remarkable Record of Job).
Job describes the amazing balance of the atmosphere and hydrosphere (Job 28:24-25). “We now know that the global weights of air and water must be in critical relationship to each other, and to the earth as a whole, to maintain life on earth. ... Planet earth is uniquely designed for life, and its atmosphere and hydrosphere are the most important components of that design. If the weights of either air or water were much different than they are, life as we know it could not survive” (Morris).
Job describes the amazing process of cloud formation and rain making.

First, he describes how that water can be transported in the air when water weighs more than air (Job 36:27-28). “Water is converted by solar energy into the vapor state. Since water vapor is lighter than air, the winds can first elevate, then transport the water from the oceans to the lands where it is needed. There, under the right conditions, the vapor can condense around dust particles, salt particles, or other nuclei of condensation. When this happens, clouds are formed. Water vapor is invisible, whereas clouds are aggregations of liquid water droplets” (Morris).

Job also describes how the clouds can stay aloft, how they can be balanced in the sky (Job 37:16) and how water can be bound up in a cloud and not rent (Job 26:8). The answer is in Job 36:27, “
For he maketh small the drops of water....” “The water droplets are indeed very small, and their weight is sustained by the drag force of the uprushing winds, as the air is pushed skyward due to temperature decrease with elevation” (Morris).

Next, Job describes how the clouds are finally rent so that rain comes forth (“
by watering he wearieth the thick cloud,” Job 37:11). “That is, the water droplets coalesce to form larger and larger drops, which finally become so large that their weight is greater than the drag forces of the uprushing atmospheric turbulence, causing them to fall to the ground as rain or snow” (Morris).

Finally, Job describes the role that lightning plays in the creation of rain (“
he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder,” Job 28:26; “a way for the lightning of thunder; to cause it to rain on the earth,” Job 38:25-26). “These violent electrical currents, in some complex energy exchange not yet fully understood, cause the small water droplets to bind together with others to form larger drops. Finally, this remarkable series of events delivers the rain to the thirsty ground” (Morris).
Job describes the rotation of the earth that produces the night and day sequences (Job 38:12-14). “Job suggests not only that the earth was suspended in space but also that it rotates about its north-projecting axis. Though figurative language, this reflects a true physical process. God is pictured as taking hold of the two ends of the earth’s axis and turning it as if it were a clay cylinder receiving an impression from a seal. The seal toward which the earth is turned, however, is not a metallic pattern. Rather, it is the ‘dayspring,’ evidently the sun fixed in its place. The welcome light of the morning dispels the formlessness of the earth’s surface when shrouded in darkness and unveils the beauties of the earth’s structure and verdure” (Morris).
Job describes the springs of the sea (Job 38:16). Man had no way to know about the fresh-water springs on the ocean floor by firsthand observation until recent times. Modern science has discovered that there are thousands of underwater springs that add millions of metric tons of water into the oceans each year.
Job understands that light has a way and that darkness has a place (Job 38:19). “That is, light is not to be located in a certain place or situation. Neither does it simply appear, or disappear, instantaneously. Light is traveling! It dwells in a ‘way,’ always on the way to someplace else. Though usually traveling in waves, sometimes it seems to move as a stream of particles, but it is always moving. When light stops, there is darkness. Thus, darkness is static, staying in place; but light is dynamic, dwelling in a way” (Morris).
The Bible describes the parting of light (Job 38:24). It was not until the 17th century that it was discovered that light passing through a prism is separated into seven colors. Further, “This may refer not only to the visible light spectrum (red to violet) but also to all the physical systems developed around the basic entity of light” (Henry Morris).
The Bible says that the light creates wind (Job 38:24), but it is only in recent times that modern weather science has discovered that wind is created as the sun heats up the surface of the earth, causing the hot air to rise and cooler air to fall, creating weather systems.
Job describes the amazing hydrological cycle (evaporation, atmospheric circulation, condensation, precipitation, run-off) (Job 38:25-30). The process of evaporation and condensation was not discovered until the 17th century and not well understood until the 20th.
The Bible says plants and animals reproduce after their kind (Genesis 1). This is in perfect harmony with everything that can be observed and tested by modern science. There is great variety within kinds, all sorts of different roses and trees and frogs and dogs, but there is no reproduction between kinds, between roses and trees or frogs and dogs.
The Bible says the heavens cannot be measured and the stars are without number (Genesis 22:17; Jeremiah 31:37). Before the invention of the telescope, man could see only a few hundred stars at the most with the naked eye. Yet today we know that the stars are innumerable and that space is seemingly infinite. There are 300 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone. In 1999, observations by NASA astronomers, using the Hubble Space Telescope, suggested that there are 125 billion galaxies in the universe. The most up-to-date star count was announced in July 2003 as 70 sextillion observable stars (70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). This was the conclusion of the world’s largest galaxy study, the Two-Degree Field Galaxy Redshift Survey, which is considered 10 times more accurate than previous ones. The team of scientists did not physically count the stars. Instead they used some of the world’s most powerful telescopes to count all of the galaxies in one region of the universe and then to estimate how many stars each galaxy contained by measuring its brightness. They then extrapolated these figures out to the whole universe visible through telescopes. This massive figure, of course, probably covers only a tiny percentage of the actual stars.
The Bible says the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). This was not understood until very recent times. Even in the 19th century, doctors were using “blood letting” as a healing method. George Washington, America’s first president, probably died because of this bogus practice. Modern medicine has learned what the Bible has taught all along, that the life of the flesh is in the blood.
The Bible describes the circuit of the winds (Ecclesiastes 1:6), but this was not discovered until modern times. “As the land in the equator heats up, it causes the hot air to rise. In the upper atmosphere, the air flows away from the equator. Cooler air will move along to replace it. This produces six major wind belts around the world” (Y.T. Wee, The Soul-Winner’s Handy Guide).
The Bible says the earth is a circle (Isaiah 40:22). In past centuries many have believed that the earth is flat, but the Scriptures have always been scientifically accurate in this matter.
The Bible says there are paths in the sea (Isaiah 43:16). Since the 19th century the ocean currents or paths have been charted and ships travel these paths just as trucks travel on roads. Writing in the mid-1800s, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Superintendent of the U.S. Navy’s Depot of Charts and Instruments in Washington, D.C., observed, “There is a river in the ocean: in the severest droughts it never fails, and in the mightiest floods it never overflows; its banks and its bottom are of cold water, while its current is of warm; the Gulf of Mexico is its fountain, and its mouth is in the Arctic Seas. It is the Gulf Stream” (Maury, The Physical Geography of the Sea, 6th ed., 1856, p. 25).
The Bible says the stars differ in glory (1 Corinthians 15:41). “J. Bayer, in 1603, devised a method or system to indicate their brightness or magnitude. No astronomer today will deny this fact. Stars are now known to differ in size, color, light emitted, density, and heat. Our sun, which is a star, is over 1,000,000 times the size of our earth, yet there are some stars at least a million times as large as our sun, and some smaller than the planet Mercury” (World’s Bible Handbook).
6. THE BIBLE’S CANDOR PROVES THAT IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.
When men write biographies of their heroes, they commonly omit or whitewash their faults; but the Bible exhibits its divine quality by showing man as he is. Not only is the Bible true; it is candid. Even the best of men in the Bible are described with all their faults. We are told plainly of Adam’s rebellion, Noah’s drunkenness, David’s adultery, Solomon’s apostasy, Jonah’s pity party, Peter’s disavowal of his Master, Paul and Barnabas’ strife, and the disciples’ unbelief in the face of Christ’s resurrection. The Bible was written by Jews, yet it candidly describes the faults of the Jewish people: their stubbornness and unbelief that caused them to have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, their idolatry during the period of the judges, their rebellion that caused them to be rejected from the land and scattered throughout the earth for two millennia.
7. THE BIBLE’S INDESTRUCTIBILITY PROVES THAT IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.
The following is from the
Christian Home Bible Course:

The Greek writer, Porphyry, tried to destroy the credibility of the Bible back in 304 A.D. In the process he wrote fifteen books against the Bible and Christianity in general. Did he succeed? Apparently not. The Bible is still around. And as for Porphyry, well, let’s put it this way; can you name his fifteen books? Can anybody name just one?

Porphyry is just one of the many people who, throughout history, have tried to ban, burn, destroy, outlaw, restrict, ridicule or discredit the Bible.

Another example is a Greek writer of satire by the name of Lucian, who wrote two books in the second century to ridicule the Bible. These books were named
The Dialogue of the Gods and The Dialogue of the Dead. There’s an extremely good chance that you don’t have a copy of either of these two books in your personal library. Yet you probably have a Bible somewhere around the house, which is a testimony to the Bible’s ability to “out survive” its attackers.

If Porphyry and Lucian would have just read the Bible instead of attacking it they could have saved a lot of time, because the Bible says: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:6-7).

In A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict to stop Christians from worshipping Jesus Christ and to destroy their Scriptures. Twenty-five years later his successor, Constantine, issued another edict ordering fifty Bibles to be published at government expense. Too bad Diocletian didn’t believe the Bible’s promise. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8).

Atheist Robert Ingersoll once boasted, “Within 15 years I’ll have the Bible lodged in a morgue.” Well, within 15 years, Robert Ingersoll was lodged within a morgue, but the Bible lives on!

Down through the centuries many attacks have been made against the Bible, but there have been some, who after examining the facts have changed their opinion. Here are two examples:

General Lew Wallace was a Territorial Governor following the days of the U.S. Civil War. He had been a Senator in Indiana at the age of 29 and was considered a very scholarly man. He had no confidence in Christianity or the Bible, so he set out to write a skeptical book to disprove both. In his study he instead found the Bible and Christ to be true, and became himself a devout Christian. General Wallace never wrote his book against the Bible. He wrote instead the classic Christian novel
Ben Hur.

William Ramsey, the English scholar went to Asia Minor with the expressed purpose of proving the Bible was historically inaccurate. As he painstakingly poured over the ancient artifacts and details, to his amazement he found that the Bible was accurate down to the tiniest detail. The evidence was so convincing that Sir Ramsey himself became a Christian and a biblical scholar.

Down through the years, the Bible has been a mighty anvil that has worn out many of the puny hammers of the scoffers. (Point #7 is from the
Christian Home Bible Course; used by permission.)
8. THE BIBLE’S DOCTRINE OF SALVATION PROVES IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.
The Bible is the only religious scripture that teaches the doctrine of salvation by grace. Every other one teaches salvation by works. The Roman Catholic Church says salvation is through participating in its sacraments, beginning with baptism. Hinduism says salvation is through practicing dharma and working out one’s karma. Islam says salvation is by surrender to Allah and obedience to his commands. Buddhism says salvation is by reaching nirvana through life works and meditation and ascetism. If you visit the Buddhist monastery at Boudha in Kathmandu any time of the day you will find Buddhists walking clockwise, fingering their prayer beads and twirling their prayer wheels. They do this every day because they are trying to find salvation.

The Bible, on the other hand, says that salvation is God’s free gift to sinners. This gift was very costly for the Giver. It was purchased with a great price, which was the atoning sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross. But for the sinner it is free.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The Bible says there is nothing that the sinner could offer God in order to atone for his sins. What could we offer? Righteous works and almsdeeds? The Bible says our very righteousnesses are as filthy rags before God’s great holiness (Isaiah 64:6). Money? What would the God of creation do with our pathetic currency? A pure heart? The Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). How, then, could we purchase our own salvation?

“But we are all as an unclean
thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

No, salvation is the wonderful gift of a loving and deeply compassionate God. As the Christian hymn says, “We owed a debt we could not pay; He paid a debt He did not owe.”

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
9. THE BIBLE’S INVITATIONS PROVE IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.
The Bible invites the hearer to partake of its spiritual realities and thus prove for himself its genuineness: “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8); “come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden” (Mat. 11:28); “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17); “ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters ... come ye, buy and eat” (Isa. 55:1); “look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22).

The Bible promises that “he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself...” (1 John 5:10).

God will prove Himself to the sincere seeker.

What a Book is the Bible!
Taken from: http://wayoflife.org/database/bibleproof.html



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let's Talk About: Jesus!

  There is much to talk about in life with people. The common discussion usually starts with something neutral like the weather, family, or your job. Almost anyone can discuss these things with one another. But one of the things that matters most to me seems so hard to bring up with people, and it shouldn't be.
That something is Jesus Christ! Why would it be so hard to talk to people about the most important thing that we should be talking about?
   The craziest thing, is that the people you should be able to talk to about Jesus (church goers), you cannot without an uncomfortable look or moment of awkwardness. I've wondered why that may be the case with so many people, including professed Christians and church members. I have a few thoughts on that, that I want to share.
  First, why is it so important to have a conversation about Jesus Christ? Well, he is God and God created us to fellowship with him. Jesus is God's Son who came to this earth to become man, to represent man on the cross. He is the most important person in the history of the world!! Without Christ, we are absolutely stuck in our sins and remain hopeless.  Our penalty that we deserve for violating God's law would hang over our heads, and there would be no chance of spending eternity with a holy God! But Christ has come that we may have life!! "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
  Jesus Christ gives us a way to be restored back to fellowship with God by having our sins forgiven and having the Spirit of God indwell us forever! " In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14)
 So why is it so hard to strike up a conversation with others about Jesus our Savior and hope? I have a few ideas:
  1.  Fear: We fear what people will think. We are natural people pleasers and we do not want to feel uncomfortable about a topic that makes so many uneasy. We would rather talk about things that we know will make for an easier discussion - the weather, job or family.
  2. Rejection:  In today's world, there are so many "ideas" out there about who Jesus is. We live in a relative, "all is true" society. We may feel rejection if we start to talk about Christ for who He really is and why people really need him in their lives!
  3. Church Goers may be unconverted: It is easy to talk about church activities, people within the church, the priest, or how wonderful the service happened to be. But a true test if someone truly 'knows' Jesus (has a daily relationship with Him) is whether they have something to say about Jesus. If there is a lack of any evidence of personal encounters, thoughts, inspirations, or things Jesus has been doing in them, it may be a sign they are not Christ-followers at all. They may just be Church members who have never trusted in Christ alone for salvation.
That brings me to my conclusion: Why is it so hard to talk about Jesus with others? Fear and Rejection may have something to do with it. But I think the main reason is that many profess to know Jesus but in their hearts have never been changed by him. I like the analogy Paul Washer uses - A man comes to a meeting extremely late, and his clothes are nicely ironed and his hair is well combed.  They ask him, "Why are you so late for the meeting?' He replies. "You wouldn't believe it, but on the way here my car was hit by a train!" There is no way you would believe this man with his clothes nicely pressed and his composure intact! The same is true for those who claim to have had an encounter with the Living God and have no evidence of having been changed by him in their lives!! If you truly KNOW Jesus, your life will be changed in some way or another. For me it was my desires, thoughts, purposes, and outlook on life!!
   It's hard to talk about Jesus with others, because they have nothing to say about him! The looks of uneasiness and moments of awkwardness are due to the separation they are still experiencing by being out of fellowship with God due to their sin. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be." (Romans 8:7)  They have never experienced what it says in Ephesians 2:16-17- " and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near."
 My fear is that many who think they are okay with Jesus today, will be present in this scene in the future: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’(Gone to church, worked at Church functions, gave money, etc) And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’That word knew in Greek is ginosko, and it means to "know" in the sense of intimacy with. For example, many people know about movie stars, but they don't know them in the sense of knowing their own mother or husband or wife. So the question arises: Do you know Jesus Christ?
  If you don't, you need to be made right with Him. If that is your desire, read here: http://rippster4christ.blogspot.com/2011/06/gospel-good-news-and-how-to-be-saved.html

Sincerely,
     -Dustin

Friday, November 25, 2011

Keeping Christ In Christmas


It irritates me when I see Christ being taken out of Christmas. That is not limited to only non-Christians--even Christians have adjusted to the commercialism of the holiday season. Obviously, not all of it is bad--in fact the holiday season provides the opportunity for families to reunite and also provides a pleasant break from our routines. I personally look forward to these days as an opportunity to visit with friends who are much too busy at other times in the year to just stop and relax.

But we have become terribly imbalanced. We give a myriad of useless gifts at Christmas because it's expected of us and we feel guilty if we don't. The commercialized world now makes a $100.00 toy seem perfectly normal. It's easy to observe the stress that our imbalanced society places on family members. Christian parents who cannot provide the latest indulgences to their children are often depressed and distraught. Obviously, no one purposely makes them feel unworthy or insignificant, but the overwhelming emphasis we place on giving at Christmas certainly does.

So great is this social pressure that the closer we get toward Christmas Day, the more depressed and unworthy those who can't indulge feel. Unfortunately the pressures don't end once Christmas is past either. Those who can't afford to compete in their gift-giving often dread congregating with their friends immediately after the holidays, because at "show and tell" time they don't have much to show. It is not a conscious act on the part of most people to openly display their pride. Rather, because we are in a competitive society we often determine a person's worth by his ability to buy things. "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).

BALANCE

One extreme is not balanced by going to the opposite extreme. The distortion of Christmas won't be corrected by eliminating all gift-giving and observing Christmas as a "religious" holiday. The fact is, we do live in this world, and our families are greatly influenced by others. What we need to do is swing back toward the middle and eliminate the need to compete with others. Then we will have the freedom to develop God's plan for our families without the pressure from the commercial world.

In order to do so, I believe that as Christians, we must first believe that God's plan is different from the world's, and is more--not less--fulfilling. It is a deception to think that by adopting a more disciplined lifestyle we are somehow denied the "good life." It's like saying that by avoiding , we deny our children the euphoria that would make them feel "good." But to decide that any and all are evil and absolutely refuse to use them makes for a painful experience if you have to have a broken leg set. The key, as always in God's plan, is balance. That always comes from following God's wisdom.

SHIFT OF ATTITUDES

Gift-giving at Christmas is a relatively new idea. Until a couple of centuries ago, Christmas was reserved as a religious holiday on a noncommercial basis. Many of our forefathers would have believed that trading presents on the day set aside to observe Christ's birthday was near blasphemy. However, gift giving became a generally accepted practice and was used primarily to show appreciation to loved ones. Gifts were usually simple, regardless of the means of the giver so as to not embarrass those who couldn't afford to give very much. For a long while in most countries, gifts were exchanged on New Year's Day (not a bad idea today--think of the great buys you could get!). Christmas gifts were limited to food for the poor or special gifts to pastors and missionaries.

As with most things that start out right, somewhere along the way the direction shifted. By the early twentieth century, families were exchanging simple gifts, usually handmade, on Christmas Day. Certainly there was really nothing wrong with that, except that under the growing influence of secularism it was a golden opportunity for Satan to divert our attention from Christ to Santa Claus. By post-World War II, Santa was the te figure at Christmas and December was the calendar month for retail sales of all kinds.

How did it happen? It would seem apparent that Christians aren't as wise in the things of the Lord as non-Christians are in the things of the world. The secular world is always looking for ways to shift attention from God to material things, and we're naive enough to go along. By the time we realize that our whole direction has been diverted, as it has been at Christmas, we believe it's too late to change, so we give up. "For all that is in the world, the of the flesh and the of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world" (1 John 2:16).

WHAT TO DO?

By anyone's standard, the way Christmas is celebrated today is a gross commercialism of the most important birth in history. But we don't need to preach to the unsaved world to put Christ back into Christmas. They shouldn't; we should. One thing I learned a long time ago in counseling is not to try to overcorrect too quickly. Not only are past habits, such as overindulging at Christmas, difficult to change, but quite often others around us don't see things just the way we do. If you attempt to stamp out all Christmas gifts suddenly, you'll end up with a revolt on your hands. The correct way to is make some positive steps to establish a better balance.

Step 1: Stamp out Santa Claus. Christian parents should let their children know that Santa is a fraud. Santa's harmless you say? Not so, when parents knowingly deceive their children about an apparently omnipotent being who travels the world in the wink of an eye and disburses presents on the basis of good or bad. It may be a small matter, but it is a place to start.
Step 2: Husband and wife should pray together and agree on a reasonable amount of gift-giving. Once you have reached a decision that you feel is God's plan for your family, don't get caught by Satan's condemnation as Christmas approaches. The pressure to buy when everybody else is buying will be difficult to resist unless you absolutely agree. And again, I repeat, don't overcorrect. Develop a balanced attitude that will accomplish your goals over the next few years.

One method that has proved successful to many families is to commit an equal amount spent on gifts to feeding the truly needy. In many areas of the world, an amount equal to most of our gift purchases would feed and clothe a family for several months. By giving to a specific family through a Christian organization, your children can see the purpose and value of your sacrifice and theirs. "And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward" (Matthew 10:42).

Step 3: Stamp out credit. As bad as commercialized Christmas is, commercialized Christmas on credit cards is even worse. Many families literally indenture themselves to creditors for a whole year just to buy some useless junk at Christmas. As Christians, we need to decide if we really serve the God of the universe. If so, then He knows our needs and will meet them through His people without indebtedness.

I know that some of the people reading this have desperate needs. I also know that others sincerely want to help but don't know who has needs. The use of credit allows those who have needs to temporarily buffer themselves from God's real source. "As it is written, 'He who gathered much did not have too much and he who gathered little had no lack'" (2 Corinthians 8:15). I believe Satan has used credit cards to cheat God's people out of blessings and to keep them in .

WHY BOTHER?

With all the other important issues to deal with, such as crime, abortion, and , a logical question would be, "Why bother with such a minor issue as gifts at Christmas?" Because gift-giving is one area totally under our control, and like the Easter bunny, it is leaven that Satan sprinkles in the church. The practice of giving gifts is not the problem, just as the use of credit is not the problem. It is the misuse of these things that entangles us and diverts attention from Jesus Christ to material things.

We have enlisted in God's army and now we can't identify the real enemy. "No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier" (2 Timothy 2:4).

Our problem is that we keep trying to negotiate a compromise with an enemy who is totally dedicated to destroying us. It's time that, as Christians, we decide to draw a battle line again. When it comes to commercializing Christ's birth or resurrection, we need to establish a balance.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving: Doing the Right Thing

For the Christian, every day should be Thanksgiving Day. We should even be thankful in the midst of problems. The Apostle Paul said, "I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation" (2 Corinthians 7:4). He knew that God was working all things together for his good, even though he was going through trials (Romans 8:28).
Problems will come your way. God will see to it personally that you grow as a Christian. He will allow the storms, to send your roots deep into the soil of His Word. We pray more in the midst of problems, but it's been well said that you will see more from your knees, than you will on your tip toes.
A man once watched a butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon. In an effort to help it, he took a razor blade, and carefully slit the edge of the cocoon. The butterfly escaped from its problem ... and immediately died.
 It is God's way to have the butterfly struggle. It is the struggle that causes its tiny heart to beat fast, and send the life's blood into its wings.
Trials have their purpose. They make us struggle—they bring us to our knees. They are the cocoon in which we often find ourselves. It is there that the life's blood of faith in God helps us spread our wings.
Faith and thanksgiving are close friends. If you have faith in God, you will be thankful because you know His loving hand is upon you, even though you are in a lion's den. That will give you a deep sense of joy, and joy is the barometer of the depth of faith you have in God. Let me give you an example.
Imagine if I said I would give you one million dollars if you ripped out the last page of today's newspaper, and mailed it to me. Of course, you don't believe that I would do that. But imagine if you did. Imagine if you had knowledge of more than 1,000 people who had sent in the page, and every one received their million dollars—no strings attached. More than that. You had actually called me, and I had assured you personally that I would keep my word. If you believed me, wouldn't you have joy? If you didn't believe me—no joy.
The amount of joy you have would be a barometer as to how much you believed my promise.
We have so much to be thankful for. God has given us "exceeding great and precious promises" that are "more to be desired than gold." Do yourself a big favor—believe those promises, thank God continually for them, and "let your joy be full."
An old farmer once had an ungodly relative visit him. After the farmer had bowed his head and thanked God for the food they were about to eat, the relative rudely said, "What did you do that for? There's no God. We live in an age of enlightenment." The old farmer smiled and said, "There is one on the farm who doesn't thank God before he eats." The relative sat up and said, "Who is this enlightened one?" To which the farmer quietly replied, “My pig.”

(http://www.christiananswers.net/q-comfort/growing-thanksgiving.html)

Biblical Roots of Thanksgivinghttp://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=23508

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

College Conspiracy


At least watch first 3 minutes! If you have time, watch the whole thing. Interesting take on college! Whether you agree or disagree, it would make for some interesting discussion!

Too Many Hypocrites

There are hypocrites in all walks of life. Probably the greatest counterfeits of all are those who claim to be Christians, go through the rituals, but have never met Christ on the cross or experienced His Power exhibited in the empty tomb. They know not the cleansing Power of the precious Blood of the Saviour.
A STRANGE RELATIONSHIP
The wedding is now history. How can one forget the rice thrown, the cake smeared on the face of the bride and groom, and the ooh’s and aah’s from the congregation as the couple embraced at the front of the church. Their traditional vows were heard by all present as they promised to love one another until parted by death. They were declared not only before their parents and friends, but also in Divine presence.
It’s all over now. With Betty’s new outfit and Bill’s new car, they drive away from the church, “Bill, I want you to take me home.” “Home, Betty? We are leaving on our honeymoon. After the trip we will go to our new home.” “Oh, no, you do not understand. I don’t want to go to our home, I want you to take me back to mother right now.”
Bill looked at his new bride in absolute amazement. He knew with one glance that she was serious. His shock increased as she continued, “Now, Bill, I am glad for our beautiful wedding. It was such a lovely affair. I will remember you, take your name, and remember that we are married; but I want to go back to my mother and daddy. I’ll try to see you every so often, but living with you, no deal! Yes, I know we belong to one another, and I intend to use your name, but I want my old home, that I have known from my childhood. Share my money with you? No way! I want to stay with my old friends, back to my old job, and have fun with the girl’s, flirting in the shopping mall.”
“Of course, I love you. I have accepted you as my husband, haven’t I? Oh, yes, I will belong to you forever, but I do not want you interfering with my life. I am sure I can continue to be happy without you, so please take me home. Now wait a minute, Bill. I do not want you to have the wrong impression. If I get sick I will call for you, especially if I need some money. I have accepted you as my husband, and I really do believe you love me. I shall be grateful forever for your love and asking me to be yours. I am proud to be your wife. Now Bill, please take me home!”
How would you like these arrangements? Betty’s attitude is not new and different from many who call themselves “Christians.” They say the same words as Betty did to her husband. Thank you for saving me. Now leave me alone so I can go back to my old paths, friends, pleasures, and ways of life. Don’t give me any responsibility or interfere with my plans. I will expect your help if I get in trouble. If it gets serious, I might even call on you for assistance. I am not concerned with any responsibility to you in our relationship; so don’t give me any pressure such as directions, authority or responsibility. As far as living with or for you, I intend to do my own thing, go my own way and accomplish my personal standards of success. Oh, I almost forgot, when I die, I do want to come and share the home you are preparing. But I hope it will not be for a long, long time.
In the seventh chapter of Romans the possession and relationship between husband and wife is used as example of our relationship with Christ. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (Rom. 7:4). What a change in the life resulting from this relationship. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). The Bible reveals hypocrisy and the counterfeit. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whosoever keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; by this know we that we are in him” (I John 2:4, 5).
REMEMBER THESE THINGS
1. Your sin has separated you from God. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2).
2. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision to take away your sin. “For He (God) made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Christ).” (II Cor. 5:21).
3. God loves you through His Son and gave Him to die for your sin. “But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us “(Rom. 5:8).
4. Turn (Repent) from your sin to the Saviour. “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
5. Believe and receive THE LORD JESUS CHRIST as your own personal Saviour. “But as many as RECEIVED him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to
them that BELIEVE on his name” (John 1:12).
Right this moment, if you are sick of your sin, playing the Bill and Betty routine, find a place of prayer and name your sins to God. Trust in the work of Christ, Who alone is satisfactory to a Holy God. Get busy serving the One Who died in your deserved place. Maintain a person intimacy with Him till ushered into His presence when He returns for you.
Please let me know of your believing the promises of God as revealed to you in His Word.

Radio Message by Dwight Porter (http://thehourofgraceandpower.org/Docs%20and%20Literature/Gospel%20Messages/Too%20Many%20Hypocrites.pdf)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Satan’s Lie to Youth

The devil is a liar! Everything he says to us is a lie! “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, ~because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
His first actual communication with mortal man indicated his pattern of activity. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1).
The inference is that God is being a bit unreasonable. Here is the suggestion that God might be expecting too much from her. Eve, you might be in a position where God is sort of taking advantage of you. He places doubt in her mind as to the authenticity of God’s plain statement of command. Notice how he dwells on the prohibition. This is a common presentation of Satan in his lying, especially to young people.
Since when can we get away from absolutes? Who wants to? God says absolutely NO to adultery, fornication, stealing, coveting, etc. This declaration is in both the Old and New Testaments. Stretching morals to suit the situation is what is meant by the new morality. Every young person should know in advance when and where he or she is going to say, “no,” or be at the mercy of subjective momentary emotion that will scar him or her permanently. Without the absolutes that are rooted and grounded in the heart, being guided in advance by God’s commandments, conscience itself is footloose and free in the heat of the battle. The pressures of the moment will overpower us unless we have prior commitments and standards. No young person will be an exception to this fact!
SELF CONTROL
While still being young, are you entertaining the lies of Satan? Somewhere there is a lie that has a great deal of attraction for you. Will you recognize it if I mention it? Honesty in your appraisal is vital to understanding Satan’s avenue of attack. His lie will always come through your own fleshly appetites. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14,15).
Satan always presents his lies through one of three mediums and he can use more than one at a time. Pick out the three in I John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
YOUNG ONLY ONCE. Right! And now is the time when your greatest mistake can be made. Don’t allow a happy life to be ruined with dreadful guilt because of a few moments of pleasure during youth. If doing wrong is a pleasure to you, that should be alarm sufficient for you to flee youthful lusts. While you are young determine to have a clean mind and body. This is no time to allow the devil to contaminate you. “Flee also youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Timothy 2:22).
EVERYBODY DOES IT. What a lie! You must be the only one out of step. This lie demands a choice between the crowd and your conscience. Better listen to the right voice! Everybody is not doing
it. The three Hebrew children saw everybody else doing it. They obeyed God anyway. Read about them in the third chapter of Daniel. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).
YOU’RE CHICKEN. Calling me a name does not make me the thing! What do you mean a chicken? Suppose I say “no” to your proposition? A chicken because I refuse to harm my health and reputation? It takes more courage to say “no” than to allow injured pride to lead me astray. Moses said, “No!” (Hebrews 11:24)
NOBODY WILL KNOW. Don’t you dare believe that lie. The expression on your face will tell. Your doctor bill will show it to you. If a young man or young lady gets into trouble, everyone will know. Any habit will become evident both physically and mentally. You know! That should be one too many. “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH. Stop and think! This is another way of urging you not to listen to your conscience, your parents or your church. If this lie appeals to you, it should awaken within a question: Are you are old enough emotionally, socially, and intellectually, to consider the price you pay for such evil privileges. I would remind you that the price is too high. You are never old enough to commit sin. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Notice this verse starts with training as a child.
NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME. Poor little me! I am a misfit; and of course, it is not my fault. You see my psychologist pointed out that my parents loved my sister more than me. Now I am so alone. If you are a young lady, and this lie comes your way from a young man, don’t give in to his desires. He is playing on your sympathy to seduce what you would not normally give him. God understands and informs us of the real problem and solution. All of this is in His Word, the Bible. “For he knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Psalms 103:14).
YOU WILL IF YOU LOVE ME. Here is the oldest lie in the book. “Prove your love.” Drinking and petting (and many other sins) are not signs of love or friendship. All you are doing is satisfying the passions of uncontrolled youth or giving in to the foolish thrill of the moment. If he really loved you or wanted you to be a true friend, he would not ask you to do anything that would harm your health or lower your moral principles. Being happy ever after in your marriage is based on your behavior before marriage. It will take more than a big church wedding to break up established patterns of misconduct.
Never forget that the young man has a way of finding and falling for the kind of girl he deserves. The question comes so often, “How far should I go?” How far did you want your wife to go with someone else before marrying you? How would you feel about your father and mother going that far with someone besides each other? How far do you want your little sister to go?
Love does not get nervous, but knows how to sit still and wait its turn. It has all the time in the world, and when its time comes, it is gentle and tender. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
Love does not insist on its own way and never hurts or contaminates another. Love never generates a situation that later produces shame.
YOU’LL BE POPULAR. Popular with whom? It will be only with the less desirable crowd. Who wants to be popular with the crowd that demands wrong doing? What do we see in this world that attracts us to secure their approval? “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
YOU LIVE ONLY ONCE. Stop at this flashing light! Is pleasure your only goal in life? One wrong act today will assure you of tomorrows that are perfectly miserable. You do not live only once. You have years ahead of you. You will be alive in all of them! Turning down wrong things leads to happiness found in the right things. “.. .It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but-byevery word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt.4:4).
YOU WON’T GET HURT. Who says so? Look up the statistics. Cancer is no longer debatable for the smoker! Social drinking is measured in terms of highway deaths, unwed mothers, unstable homes, and many acts of violence. If there is a question of your getting hurt by wrong doing, mark it down, for you will get hurt. Sin always takes a dreadful toll. “Vengeance is
Satan’s Lie to Youth - continued
mine...saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Only repentance and absolute assurance of the forgiveness of sins will set us free from the horrible consequences of doing that which is wrong in the sight of a Holy God.
YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL. This is a real line that most girls fall for. Today’s sophisticated look, without natural eyes, hair, etc., one can hardly tell whether the girl is beautiful or not. It is difficult these days to determine which sex is walking by because of the long hair and sloppy clothes. If you are so easily swayed by this lie, you had better measure up to his expectations. If the young man really cares, you will not need green eyes, tight and short dresses and a wild hair do to draw his compliments. This lie should grant no special privileges. “Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompense” (Job 15:31).
YOU WILL BE RELAXED AND HAPPY. For how long? When you begin to feel this way because of liquor, other people are already laughing at you, not with you. Relax with the foul smell of weeds and sour grapes on your breath? Relax with the slurred speech, sloppy posture and squinty eyes? What a lie. Always remember! The enjoyment of sin is short-lived. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).
ONLY HARMLESS FUN. Here is the line of false security. Just a “friendly get together at a friend’s house.” Who is going to be there? What is this fun that is classified “harmless?” Why is such an adjective used? Better be careful! You might end up with a big surprise you will never forget instead of harmless fun. God tells you who to keep company with and who to depart from. You better obey Him. “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).
SO AND SO DOES IT, WHY NOT YOU? Just because others do, it is no valid reason for your doing it. Turn this question around. Since you do not do it, why do they? Are you going to be an imitator? A follower? Sin will always make you less attractive and healthy. The mental institutions are filled with guilt-ridden people. Do you think for one moment that the intoxication of the moment will not rob you of devastating consequences during the rest of your life? Young man, you will be no exception!
WE’LL SHOW THEM. Who are you trying to get even with? Do you think by hurting yourself that you will get back at your parents, a boy or girl friend? Revenge is a poor motive for doing anything. This lie is such poor reasoning, that it is childish. Don’t play the fool! You will have to live with the consequences for your display of wrong motives. No one else will be responsible for your action. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
JUST ONCE. It is not easy to stop on the slide half way down. Before realizing, you have gone too far and now must live with the memory. Just a little bit! The pleasure of impulse has a real impact. Better keep your guard up. “Once” places you in just as much guilt
in God’s sight as if it were a hundred times. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilt of all” (James 2:10).
THINK YOU’RE TOO GOOD FOR US? In other words, “Who do you think you are?” This lie comes from a guilty person. By your evident standard of conduct, you place him in a position of feeling guilty and jealous of your high ideals. In his frustration, he tries to strike back by challenging your position. It’s true! You are too good to stoop to his level. Don’t be concerned about a little name-calling. God’s records are accurate. “For his eyes are upon the way of men, and he seeth all his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. Therefore, he knoweth their works, and he overthroweth them in the night, so they are destroyed” (Job 34:21,22, 25).
NOBODY’S PERFECT. Well, so what! Does this give you any right to disregard the plain direction of God’s Word? Are you to be measured by any one else? Jesus Christ is your judge! You will answer as an individual in His Holy Presence. Don’t allow this pack philosophy to produce a feeble excuse for your own wrong doing. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
IT WON’T WORK FOR ME. Who says so? It is not a matter of “can’t do,” but it is “won’t do.” God’s direction is always accomplished by Divine enablement. You can and must obey. Any lie to the contrary is motivated by Satan, who is a liar. “I can do all things through Christ which stengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
I WILL SOMEDAY. This line keeps us from confession, Repentance, restitution, and faith in Christ to change our heart. Procrastination is our worst enemy. How many times have we decided to stop? How many times have we planned at some distant future to get right with God? Until our transgressions and commitments are, by the volition of our own will, moved into the “NOW,” we will continue in our same deplorable condition. This moment let’s call upon the Lord! “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2).
FORGIVENESS. Have a mentioned a lie that the devil is using on you? Don’t be a victim of improper values and wrong logic. If one of these lies has penetrated your heart and life, as a Christian you can have forgiveness and cleansing. Find a place of prayer and tell on yourself to the Lord. Remember His direction and promise. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
If you do not make Heaven, then you can rest assured that you will be in Hell for all eternity. God’s direction in His Word is very plain. You must acknowledge your sin and turn to Him in Repentance. “I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
Trust Christ on His Cross as your own deserved place and His death as the one that is rightfully yours. Believe Him to take away your sin and place you in His family. “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house” (Acts 16:31). “But as many as received him (Christ), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

Radio Message by Dwight Porter, D.D. (http://thehourofgraceandpower.org/Docs%20and%20Literature/Youth/Satans%20Lie%20to%20Youth.pdf)

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Brief Look at False Conversion


"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." Matthew 7:21


False Conversion? This is not a term that you would hear in the contemporary church in the 21st century, however it is exactly what is going on in most "evangelical" churches today. This is an issue that is polluting the very heart of the American church. First, let's define false conversion. The idea that a person is saved simply because they have been led into the "sinner's prayer" or that they have been baptized or even affirmed by someone, does not mean that they are in fact saved. More common terms that people use to declare their salvation are as follows," I've accepted Jesus into my heart", "I walked the aisle", "I grew up in church", and the all famous classic…."I'm a good person, so I know that I'm going to heaven."



There is not a one of these terms that can be found anywhere in Scripture, but this gives you a good idea of how the majority of "Christians" talk and the lingo that is used to define their spirituality. This is where the danger of false conversion comes into play. Many church-going people are duped into this belief that they are saved, when in essence so many have been falsely confirmed into this thought.



A major movement in the church today is the Seeker Sensitive Movement. It is easily associated with Bill Hybels as one of the unofficial founders, but others have followed his pattern blindly. The Seeker Movement basically designs church around the "seeker" or the "sinner" so that church is now comfortable for them. They want to create an environment that makes a sinner feel welcome and does not confront the sin head on and give them the true saving Gospel. They want to sugar coat and falsely affirm people into believing that if they just pray the prayer, then they will be saved, completely avoiding the hell and sin topic most times altogether. When we get away from preaching the Scriptures and doing church for the world, we are conforming to their standards and not those of God. Be very careful of this movement with all of its flash and rock star appeal, it can lead a sinner right to hell all the while feeling comfortable going there. It is not the sinner's fault if they are going to this type of feel good atmosphere, but it is the pastor's fault for not taking advantage of preaching the Gospel to them while they are there. Doing church for the goats is not what we are called to do.


Simply believing in Jesus does not save someone. We are all bad people. God gets nothing good when He saves anyone. For example, look at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). When looking in the mirror of the Ten Commandments, it is clear that every person has broken each of the commandments. We are born guilty before a Holy God. It is repentance (a turning from sins) and putting your complete faith and trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross for salvation that saves you. The sinner needs to realize that he must beg Christ to accept Him! We don't need to approve Him, we need Him to approve us! Repentance from sins and faith in Jesus Christ alone is the ONLY way to salvation. Repentance involves a deliberate change of direction. You were going one way, now you decide to do a 180 and go a completely different direction. When you follow Christ this means your life as you know it is over and you give Christ absolute authority to run your life. It's not about you anymore. You are finished. Christ is now your Master, and you are His grateful slave because of what He did for you in His death and resurrection. There is no alternative.  There is no other way.

By Vince and Lori Williams