Fake News

This article may not seem to relate to the topic of Contentment, which we have been spotlighting this year, but as we look at what the world offers, we see how people are influenced to believe things that not true, and miss out on the things that are true.
We see this in how the “gospel” is presented in different forms that seem to come from God’s Word, but they either leave out a main ingredient, or give what is not relevant to the salvation of the soul. It is through the gospel, the “good news” of the love of God in giving His Son to die for our sins, that He is able to “deliver us from this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).
It is in the power of His Holy Spirit that He convicts us of our sin, and delivers us from the power and guilt of sin. His power is the greater power that within us, frees us and turns us in repentance and faith to a life in Christ that fulfills our every need.Because of a misunderstanding of the meaning of repentance, and whose work it is, many are “turning” to a different gospel which states that “the finished work of Christ” is all we need, and does not require confession of our sin, or turning from it.
An example of this “gospel” will clarify how it supposedly works.
A few years ago there was a fifteen-year-old boy in our church who was attentive to Jerry and me. At times in our conversation, I would ask him what he thought about the sermon he had heard that day relating to salvation. He told me that he could not accept Jesus because he was not ready to give up his sins. He enjoyed the things a young man enjoys in this world, including his thoughts about girls. I told him that I would pray for him. I continued to pray for him, and a few months later, I was surprised one morning when he and his brother were baptized. Afterward, I asked him what happened to change his mind.
He said that his dad told him that he did not have to give up anything, just believe that Jesus died for his sins and be baptized; then, you’re “good to go.” Soon afterward his parents, whose family had been members of our church for five years, sent this “gospel” in an email to all church members, with accusations that our ministers were preaching heresy.

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

My original document has more references. If needful I will do a Part 2. I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing about this controversy, but to go forward and upward in our quest for the kingdom that is ours in Christ.
The writer of Hebrews 6:1 spoke of this.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.”
A related article, Onward and Upward, was posted last week, which comments prompted this article.
Dear heavenly Father, it is easy to be swayed and deceived regarding our relationship with you. I pray that you would, by your Holy Spirit, give new hearts and spirits, birthing your children into your kingdom, so that there is true joy in Christ. Bring conviction of sin and the need for repentance to new life in your Spirit. We need your Almighty power to overcome the false teachings that we hear today. Enable us to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord. Let us speak truth by your word and Spirit to lead others in your truth.    In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
~FRAN
What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

Not Enough Time For Me

sand-clock_thumb[1]The original thought was, “There is not enough time for me to write all that I want to write about God’s love, His goodness, His mercy and His grace. Even if I lived to be a hundred, time would not be adequate.”

The words “not enough time for me” stood out, as a meaning beyond what I was originally thinking. And here’s the meaning. If I am to serve Him, and fulfill His purpose for my creation and redemption it will take all my time. There is no time left for me if He is to do all His will and complete His work in me.

Jesus, in response to Mary when she and Joseph found Him at the age of twelve, conversing with the religious leaders, said, “Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) He knew His purpose for being here, in word and deed ~ “to proclaim and bring to reality the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43).  He had only thirty-three years, yet every minute counted for our justification, sanctification and glorification.

Wasted Time
As I experience these last years and see how close I am to the end of this life there is a stark realization that a lot of my time has been wasted on me. But, the Lord has been gracious to fill my life with the needs of others, not leaving much time for me. Even in my weakness He is able to make life count for Him. Nothing is wasted, but He will bring all to His own glory, as we realize the true joy in service to Him and others.

He is continuing to teach me to be content with what He is doing in my life and the lives of others, though I wish I could do more. I am still learning what it means to lose my life and to have true life.   Anyone who has been born of His Spirit can witness that writing about Him, proclaiming His kingdom, praising Him and serving is never enough. We long to see Him, to serve Him, and worship Him without hindrance from anything in ourselves.  What a glorious day that will be.

“For whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Mark 8:35

Heavenly Father, thank you that you will complete the work you have begun in each of us.  In Jesus’ name I thank you and praise you.  Amen.

Humility and Death to Self ~ Chapter 10

In this Year of Humility we have been learning from Andrew Murray’s Humility (PDF) the meaning, the means, and the working of humility in the Christian life. In this tenth chapter we come to the aim of humility, the end goal, and that is, death. Let us remember where humility originated, and follow its course to the effect it has in our own lives.

Humility began in heaven with God. In Jesus He condescended to the human level, so that He might save us from our sinful state. Christ, in humility and obedience to the Father’s will, with no plans of His own, gave up His position of glory to live a life here on earth, a life that He would share with us. For Him to accomplish this act for our salvation He had to humble Himself in order to die.

climber_offering_help_h_27770948_stdWhat if, in a very strategic situation, you need help? Someone offers, but you refuse, because the terms of the one who is able to help you are not to your liking. You die because you refused what could have saved your life.

What if, in a life-threatening position, you have the opportunity to live, but you cannot let go of something that you are holding on to.

These are both cases that are analogous to refusal of the salvation that is offered in Christ.

Again, think of life that is promised if we not only let go of things that we hold dear in this life, but to give up our own life. Death to self is the only means of true life. And humility is the only means of coming to the end of self. Without humility there is no promise for life.  True humility leads us to die to self. In all this we see that the true life is the humble life that is ours in Christ; now and for eternity.

“Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
Matthew 16:25

Revelation, Desire, Prayer, Reality
I speak from experience, as I say that humility is not a human trait, but that gift from heaven, through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, given to men for the abundant life that He promised those who come to Him. As much as I desire to live the humble life it seems still a supernatural life that I look forward to and pray for. As soon as I think I have a little humility, the oppressive spirit of the enemy assaults, and pride rears its ugly head.
(Oppression is a subject that I am studying and hope to write about.)

In Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Galatians he teaches us that the flesh and the Spirit are at war against each other. The hope (another gift) that we are given keeps us in prayer and more watchfulness against the wiles of the devil. He wants us dead, but not to self.

These truths are revealed to us by the Spirit, regenerating us with a new heart and a new spirit; so that we, seeing our ignorance and pride come to repentance and faith, our first step of humility toward growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. One step leads to another as we desire this humility, pray for it, and by His working, humble ourselves, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.


God Uses All Things for Our Humbling
Every time I read this book I come away with the same impressive statement Murray makes in this chapter. It is similar to Romans 8:28-29. It has made a difference in my life to see everything under God’s sovereignty working through everything whatever He wants to do in my life.

“Accept every humiliation, look upon every fellow-man who tries or vexes you, as a means of grace to humble you. Use every opportunity of humbling yourself before your fellow-man as a help to remain humble before God. It is by the mighty strengthening of His Holy Spirit that God reveals Christ fully in you.”

“But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
Romans 8:25

Dear Father, you knew when you started all this, that we would need everything from you to make it work to your glory. All that you expect from us is supernatural and beyond our doing; but you have put it into our hearts and promised us, that you are exceedingly abundantly able to do more than we can ask for or imagine, by the power of your Spirit working in us. Thank you for coming down to us that you might bring us up to yourself. Enable us to die to self; to raise up by your divine power to live in praise unto you.
“Of your great goodness make known to me and take from my heart every kind and form and degree of pride; and awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make me capable of your light and your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Image

“But, I Thought……”

Oh, how often our thoughts get us intothought-bubble-border-preview
trouble; how we lack in the most important things of life because our thought patterns are wrong. It is good to have light cast on our own thinking so that we can say, but , I thought.

“But, I thought I was okay.” My opinion was based on the lives of others. My standard was my own and not of one higher than myself.

Romans 2 of Paul’s letter is one of those lights from God’s word that brings conviction against my own standard. In light of God’s law the Jew nor the Gentile is okay. I cannot look at others I consider more sinful than I am to determine my status before Him. Without full obedience to His commands I stand condemned under His law. Even those who do what is right without knowing the law are in the same boat.

Paul is emphasizing again the need of faith in the gospel that is provided for our salvation.

“But, I thought my works were good enough.” The gospel shows me that works cannot save me from the friendship of the world of which we all are condemned.
All the good stuff that I do is but vanity; a mark of my own standard.

Paul is laying the foundation in this chapter, and building on it a means of our receiving the power of the gospel in our lives; so that his purpose for his letter is fulfilled in bringing about the obedience of faith.

7102751_staRepentance
“But, I thought that my faith was good enough.” When we turn from the preaching of God’s word; when I fail to see that it is meant for me, not just for other sinners, I miss the means and the power of God’s word to make me what He created and wants me to be.

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

The power of the gospel is not a one-time introduction into the hall of righteousness, but a lifetime guide for the heart, proving and improving on what God gives us in the salvation of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My standard every day is a conviction of all my sin. I see in the gospel His kindness, forbearance and patience that leads me to repentance at every turn. Faith and repentance are the twin proofs of the beginning of salvation.

Circumcision
“But, I thought circumcision was enough,” the Jew would say.  Like all others ~ all the human race ~ we all need a Savior. The good news is that the power of Christ in the heart displaces my thinking with His. My life is not compared to what others are, or doing, but with what God is, and doing in me. I don’t need to look at others, to condemn or covet; but to see myself in light of Christ, who “knew what was in man.” John 2:25

Seeing myself condemned by the law; in repentance I look forward to the promise and power of the gospel working in my own heart and life through the remainder of our series in Romans.

 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free
from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2

Dear gracious heavenly Father, thank you for your goodness and patience toward us, as by the power of your word and your Spirit you win our hearts to Christ, your Son, the one and sufficient hope for our salvation.  “I am foolish and ignorant and as a beast before you.”  Nevertheless, you are able to save, by the power of the Spirit of life that is in Christ.  Thank you for making Christ our standard.  In His name I pray.  Amen

Related Articles:
The Purpose of Paul’s Letter to the Romans
Impressions and Expressions of the Gospel
Obligated and Eager

Impressions and Expressions of the Gospel (Romans 1:16-32)

As our pastor is preaching through this most images powerful of Paul’s letters (to the Roman Christians) my desire is to make note of the impressions that the Lord is leaving on my own heart and life; with the prayer that the gospel to which Paul was called and set apart, and was not ashamed, would be revealed in me, so powerful and impressive; so as to be the expression of my own life.

In the middle of the first chapter of Romans (vs. 16-17) he speaks of “the power of God,” a reference of the same “power” in verse 4 ~ “the Son of God in power.” It is the same power and the same “gospel of His Son.” (vs. 9)  In these verses he also is setting the stage for the whole of the letter, as it refers to “salvation,” “righteousness” and “faith.”

Before he goes on to encourage with the main elements of the gospel for salvation he inserts the reason for this salvation, the knowledge and need of the gospel, using the backdrop of God’s wrath. Why can we not look over the wrath of God when we speak of the gospel? Why can’t the gospel be preached simply from the center of God’s mercy and love?

Before we can know where we need to be we must know where we are. Without understanding the power and depths of our depravity we cannot fully understand the need for the gospel and its power.

Oppression and Suppression of the Truth
“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.”   In Romans 1: 18-32 we have a description of humanity in its lowest state of sin and misery. Since the antithesis began in the garden oppression has a grip on the hearts and minds of the creatures that God created to be His image-bearers. Instead of obedience to God man has rebelled, and stirred the wrath of God upon us all.

Instead of accepting all that God has created as evidence of His rule and reign over us, man continues to suppress the truth. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God, but became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

Even as God proved the weakness of our thinking and living on our own, with Adam and Eve, so in giving man up to their own lusts, He reveals how deep into our own depravity we come without Him. Under the power of oppression and sin man suppresses the truth and love of God; and becomes as the lowest creatures, following their own lusts as they have no power of righteousness within them.

Having read and studied Paul’s letter to the Romans, meditating on the truths that are written there, I was not prepared for the tears that came during this sermon. Knowing the mercy and love of God that comes through the power of the gospel of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and how Paul was not ashamed to live and proclaim this salvation for righteousness, I am amazed at how the ungodly are not ashamed of their sin, and of those who “give approval to those who practice them.”

We, as a congregation, were reminded that we, though believers are part of this fallen humanity, still subject to the oppression and temptation to sin.  It is only through the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ that we have any hope of righteousness and of escaping God’s wrath.

I praise the Lord for such power of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit that works faith by His grace, (Ephesians 2:8-10) to make known to us and overcome the ungodliness and unrighteousness in us who believe.  This power is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  (Ephesians 1:19-20; Ephesians 2:1-6) a power greater than the oppression of this world and our sin.

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for this letter to the Romans. Please open our hearts to hear, and obey the gospel wherein your righteousness is revealed from faith for faith to us. Keep us aware of our own nature; keep us close to you. Search us and know our hearts; try us and know our thoughts; see if there be any wicked way in us; and lead us the way everlasting. Fill us with the power of your Spirit to speak the truth of Christ ~ not ashamed but eager to share the gospel of Christ wherever you lead us.

Related articles:
The Purpose of Paul’s Letter to the Romans
Obligated and Eager
The Father’s Glory and Mother Nature

SELF-DESTRUCTION ~ The Wrong Choice

I started this article last month after imageshearing about a neighbor’s twenty-three year old son who had taken his own life.  I pick this up again after hearing the same thing last week from our daughter Lee, of a friend and former neighbor whom she had known since middle school.

Self-destruction has always been a way out of this world.  But why is this an option?  If you have ever been depressed, confused, or simply not comprehending what life is about, the thought of escape through death may have come to mind.  For some it may have never been contemplated.  But, I have been there  ~ in my thinking during a difficult time in my life. (The Light of God’s Grace) With a heart of gratitude I thank the Lord, my God, that He brought me through that time and past those thoughts to see what I naturally would have never understood about His purpose for our creation.

Whenever I hear of a successful self-annihilation I am not surprised, even if I never knew the person; though I am disheartened and affected for days after.  To have the best life that we can think of in this world does not guarantee a safe passage through it. This world is no less than a pit  — in John 5:19 he describes it  — “the whole world lies in wickedness.”  Even in our strongest faith, at best it is still a wilderness.  We may at times fear the worst without realizing that the worst we should fear is within us.

I have intentionally avoided using the word “suicide” because the word itself does not carry as much weight as the words “self-destruction.”  It has become old-hat in a culture that does not think much about the true meaning of life.  Rather, death is appealing to some, even Job and Jonah; and for others it is provocative, and alluring to the actual point of planning and execution at their own hands.

Self-Murder
Thomas Watson in his writing on The Lord’s Prayer terms it “self-murder,” which puts even more emphasis on one of the greatest tragedies that this world knows.

I was reading the section on the sixth petition, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” only a few months ago, when I heard of the brutal suicide of the mother of one of the members of our church.  Following here is the excerpt.

“Use 3.  Let us labour that we be not overcome by temptation.

What means should be used, that Satan’s temptations may not prevail against us?

(1)  Avoid solitariness.  It is no wisdom, in fighting with an enemy, to give him the advantage of the ground.  We give Satan advantage of the ground when we are alone.  Eve was foiled in the absence of her husband. A virgin is not so soon set upon in company.  “Two are better than one.”  Eccl. 5:9.  Get into the communion of saints, for that is a good remedy against temptation.

(2)  If you would not be overcome by temptation, beware of the predominance of melancholy, which is atra biliis, a black humour seated chiefly in the brain.  Melancholy disturbs reason and exposes to temptation.  One calls melancholy balneum diaboli, the devil’s bath; he bathes himself with delight in such a person.  Melancholy clothes the mind in sable; it fills it with such dismal apprehensions as often end in self-murder.”

There are fourteen other means that he suggests, but these two can describe the nature of those who see no other option.  This second one was etched in my mind, and is a reminder for me in those times when I might again wallow in self-pity.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just as the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who comes to repentance, so, Satan and his angels must rejoice whenever one person destroys himself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Options
What are the options?  I write this, as every person writes, from my own knowledge and experience.  I write this section, as John wrote his letter, to believers.  (I will speak to unbelievers later.) An unbeliever cannot understand the true meaning of life.  As I understand from God’s word there are only two options in this world  —  LIFE and death.  I capitalize the word LIFE to make it distinct from what the world knows as life.  Simply breathing is not real life.

Our thought-life is what we know of life, and if our thoughts are not changed we are simply moving in a death pattern until we all die naturally.  We all are born into this worldly life with a death sentence over our heads.  We may as well be given a death certificate when we take our first breath — except that some will be saved for eternal life.

God has provided the means for this salvation, a pardon from Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Anyone who has this hope looks to the author and finisher of our faith —who leads us in triumph against the enemy.  He is faithful to keep us and lead us through this wilderness and all of Satan’s obstacles, to His own glory.

crosses_3

LIFE Through a New Birth

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”   1 John 5:4-5

Our nature since the Fall is prone to self-destruction; even by the way we live. It is the mode in which we all exist.  Death is not only part of this world; it is the main part of this world.  God teaches us in His word that this world must be overcome.  The world of death reigns within us until the “life of Christ” rules our being.  If Christ is not our LIFE then Satan has the stronghold in our hearts and minds.
But the apostle Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 10:4-5

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) – one translation uses the term “divine power
 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

This is the power over death in our thinking and living by the Spirit of Christ.

What I am saying here is not to judge anyone who succumbs to his or her own thoughts and means of death, but generally from the point that God speaks in His word on the subject of life and death.  What I am writing here is to encourage the believer, the children of the heavenly Father.  We never know the temptations we may face.  We may say that we have never thought of taking our own life; and that we never would, but this is pride within us; the very thing that Satan loves about us, part of his own nature.  Even the strongest believer needs the continual shoring up of faith through prayer and His word; and the company and close relationship with other believers.  All of true LIFE is described in The Holy Bible with the companion of God’s Holy Spirit.  It is a love letter to His children leading us and preparing us for the eternal LIFE in a new world. I praise Him that death is sandwiched between His work of creation and His work of redemption in Christ.  Though it is a hard read I like John Owen’s book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.  In Christ’s death death is overcome for those who believe and know Him.  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15:54

LIFE in Christ is a new world in which believers lives daily, with their focus on God.

(Tomorrow: Part 2  ~ LIFE for Those Who May be Desperate
Next day: Part 3 ~  LIFE for Those Who Are Left Behind)

Saved from Abortion

There are Pro-Life rallies today in cities across our nation.
As I was in prayer for these this morning, I was reminded imagesthat all who are able to attend such rallies might think of their own escape from abortion.
The great abortion that was attempted at the beginning of time by Satan was foiled.
God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from Satan’s ploy of destruction.

I write with appreciation for those who are able to be out on such a cold day for such a time as this.  My greatest appreciation and praise go to our heavenly Father who sees and knows, and hears the cries; cries that do not go unheeded.
Such cries are recorded in God’s word.

From Abel:
“And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”   Genesis 4:9-10

From Sodom:
“And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” Genesis 18:21

From the Israelites:
“Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.”  Exodus 3:9

“And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea;”  Neh. 9:9

From Mordecai:
“If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.
And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy.”  Esther 3: 9,10
When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;”  Esther 4:1

From Isaiah:
“For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.”  Isaiah 30:19

From Jeremiah: 
“Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name;
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”  Jeremiah 33:2-3

Just as the physically unborn cannot cry for themselves, so the generation of the lost cannot cry for themselves unless they can see their destiny without Christ.
We must be diligent and fervent in prayer for both as we live in praise and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to give His life for our salvation.

What will we give?  If we cannot march in a rally, we must at least acknowledge the Lord of all life, we must give ourselves to live and witness to His “great salvation.”
Those who are against life will be against Christ.  But this does not stop us from trusting, praying and expecting “great and mighty things” which only He can do.

 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not;

but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself,
and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
1 John 4:18

If He has saved you, you can live ~ truly live ~ to tell about it.

And for those who have not already signed the petition for the Life at Conception Act you can do that today from your computer.

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