Friday, July 26, 2013

Speaking For Those Without a Voice

Isaiah 59: 5-8: "They hatch adders' eggs; they weave the spider's web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched. Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not serve cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; and they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace."

Do we who have freedom realize what it would be like to be caught, as it were, in a spider's web? It is not pleasant to talk about, but brothers and sisters of ours in the Body of Christ are trapped in an ugly web of Christian persecution even as I write this blog. It has only intensified in recent years, as human history winds down. If it were not for an influential ministry called Voice of the Martyrs (or VOM), as its called (, I would not be as knowledgeable as I am. It occurred to me the other day while praying that not only were these real people with the same aches and pains that I have, but they were members "in particular" of Christ's Body.

In I Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul emphasizes that we all are the members of Christ's very own Body. There could be no higher association than to be included in His own flesh. But look particularly about what Paul says because
we all share in that privilege:

I Corinthians 12:24-27 says

"For our comely (well-formed, decorous, honorable*) parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to the part which lacked; That there should be no schism in the body but that the members should have the same care for one another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST and members in particular."

*definition of comely from Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, #2158

Our brothers and sisters in foreign lands are being slaughtered for their faith in Christ in many places, like in Nigeria. Families are being torn apart. Others are being burned out of their churches or having villages being bombed in the Nuba Mountain region of Sudan, while others are attacked with machetes. Some have to run and hide, not just in Africa but also in India and Pakistan, Iran and other countries. Another fine missionary organization that ministers to the Nuban believers in Sudan is the Persecution Project Foundation ( see or )In addition to providing relief from attacks, they also are committed to providing clean water wells across the region. Without these wells, many would die from disease.

In many places across Asia, believers come under attack when they convert to Christianity from their former religions, as is reported by the ministry Gospel for Asia ( But this comes with the possibility of persecution as well. These are only a handful of many who help those who also a PART OF CHRIST'S BODY, and just as important as we are.

In the book of Hebrews (chapter 13, verse 3) it commands us to:

"Remember the prisoners as if chained with them--those who are mistreated--since you yourselves are in the body also."

It all goes back to being in the Body. If your particular part was screaming out in agony, and no one even cared, how is that showing the tender mercy of Christ? There are many urgent needs in this world. I can't possibly meet all of them. Galatians 6: 10 can guide me, though:

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

We will discuss different ways of helping our brothers and sisters next time. Till then, God's grace and peace to all.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Can A Believer Know the Bible by Reading It?

1John 2:27 "But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him."

At the end of the Dark Ages, a monk named Martin Luther tried to be the best monk he could ever be. He did it in the desire that it would assuage the terrible feelings of guilt and fear that hounded him constantly. Martin Luther had a picture of Jesus in his mind as a "Frightening Avenger." He did not hear about the grace of God poured out upon us through the Son of God by means of dying for us upon the cross.(Galatians 2:20) He did not know that Christ had actually stood in the gap for him so that Martin didn't have to be apprehensive all his life of Him. (II Cor. 5: 21) Since Luther had been beaten regularly by his schoolmaster in order to learn Bible facts, he didn't associate the Bible with grace. No, not at all.

Even Martin's superiors realized his great anxiety and decided that Martin needed to be a professor instead of a monk. That is when Luther first got to read the Scriptures for himself and the things he feared about God were gradually addressed. He was convinced that he had to work for his salvation, for that is what he had been taught all of his life. One day, while studying in the book of Romans, Martin read Romans 1: 17:

1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek.

1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

What Luther read in Romans 1:17 was actually a repeat of Habakkuk 2: 4 in the Old Testament, so this fact was actually stated twice in the Bible. Martin Luther had been known to beat himself with ropes. He said prayers constantly and attended services seven times a day. He begged and took vows of poverty. But none of these things made the miserable monk mollified.

"You are Guilty!" were the words he could not overcome.

So when the Scripture's declaration "the just shall live by faith" popped off Scripture's page that day, Martin Luther was incredulous. This truth had not been revealed by a Pope but to a perplexed and troubled man, studying for the priesthood, who just happened to be reading the Bible.

This one verse did more than light the Protestant Reformation. It revealed that one seeking the Truth could find it in the Scriptures by merely reading them with a heart that is positive to Jesus Christ and want He wants to reveal to him/her.

But some may say that only if the words are properly exegeted can we properly understand them. That argument sounds like we are going back to the days before the Reformation, when only the Pope or the priest read the Bible to the masses.

Here are some verses that encourage us to seek the Lord. How do we seek Him? Do we do some mystical ceremony? No! We seek Him through His Word! The Psalmist says:

Psalm 14:2 "The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God."

Psalm 119:18 "Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law."

Psalm 138:2 "I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name."

Jeremiah says:

Jeremiah 15:16 "Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts."

Jeremiah 6:19 "Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people--The fruit of their thoughts, Because they have not heeded My words Nor My law, but rejected it."

Jeremiah 22:29 "O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD!"

A few of the Lord's statements on the Word:

Matthew 7:24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock (v. 25) "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock."

Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."

Do you think that if you sat down with your Bible and wanted to understand it, God would refuse you? If you had a clean conscience before Him, do you think He would deny your request, "I want to know you Father?"

Luke says:

"If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" Luke 11: 13

Jesus showed us the Father. We learn of the Living Word in the Written Word. In the times of the Old Testament Jews, the Jews did not even have the whole Pentateuch in some cases. We now have the whole Bible, plus all the free online Bible resources too numerous to be counted like the In a country such as America, for us to be ignorant or led astray is really our own fault. If you ask Him, He will lead you to a place where you can be taught accurately, too. But you have the written Word, and according to the book of Hebrews, today is the day of salvation! (Hebrews 3: 15)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Another Day of Grace along God's Path..

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16: 11

This is absolutely one of my favorite Bible verses. Let's face it, I walk to the beat of a different drummer. At the time of my engagement and marriage nearly 29 years ago, I had in my desk drawers not address labels, but labels imprinted with this very verse. I decided to stick this label, carrying this verse, to the back of our wedding invitations.

I believed that God would show me the path to joy, if only I could get to know Him somehow...

I struggled with believing that He was a good God. Why did I have to take that anthropology class in class in college and listen to a sneering, sinister laugh from my professor while my belief in Christianity was nearly snuffed out in a single lecture? I sat in tears in the University library while my fiancé tried to put his Humpty Dumpty wife-to-be back together again. If it was like that back in the 80's, it is probably ten times worse now. Pray for college-age kids, they are under assault like never before. (Watch the movie Expelled with Ben Stein for a real eye-opener at what is being taught these days.)

I wondered about all those people who had never heard the gospel. Like the Native Americans for instance. But my worries and (the creases in my forehead) were due to my own ignorance of the Scripture. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for this same thing,

"But Jesus answered them, 'You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.'" Matthew 22: 29

I didn't need to worry about those who had not heard the gospel. For it implied that I did not trust that God loved all mankind, that if He was so kind and gracious to send His own beloved Son for every single one of them, would He not make a way for them to believe on Him if they were positively inclined in their hearts? I was living in unbelief, as a believer! Ouch! No wonder I was miserable.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this in Romans chapter 1. But again, I was ignorant of the Scripture.

"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and Divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Romans 1: 19-20

and David, in the Psalms:

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge." Psalm 19: 1-2

But God knew that in spite of the fact that I wanted to know Him, He also knew that there was no way I could find that path to life on my own. Well, those little old invitations were sent, and shortly after that God used that man I married to point me to the way of grace, to point me to what Hebrews 10: 20-23 says is:

a "new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water...

Since then, I have had two choices, two pathways. One is the old pathway of looking back with un-forgiveness toward others, regrets, anger at my own bad choices etc. ad-nauseum. The other path is to Seek First the Kingdom of God.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6: 33

I want to keep choosing the latter. The Grace Path that Leads to Life, provided freely to me, but highly expensive to the One who offered it.

For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

II Corinthians 5: 21

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Change is Coming... Let's Wake Up for the Warning!

Today, flash flooding overwhelmed some parts of our city. Cars were submerged suddenly on their way into town without warning. Railways flooded with muddy debris and were knocked out of commission, at least temporarily. Tornado warnings were issued for parts of our viewing area. In fact one was scheduled to go right over my parents home, which thankfully broke up before reaching them. It could have been much, much worse.

Yesterday I watched a fifteen minute You tube video of the disasters that had occurred in just this past month of June alone around the world and it was really eye opening, to say the least. It also was heart breaking, thinking of all the people who had lost either their life or their home in the wake of up-stepped natural disasters. You can find it on the first of two video links posted at this blog link:

I saw a microcosm of suffering in my hometown today. Now multiply by what has been happening all over the world, not just in 2013, but in the last decade or so, although each year it seems to be getting incrementally worse. I would love to just ignore it and say life will go on as usual. The Bible doesn't have good news for those who are just trying to be good people and are hoping for the best, somehow thinking that this world will get better and better. No, He does not, but God made an easier and better way, completely devoid of any human good works. Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 4: 4-5.

In the face of natural disasters, there are tough questions that deserve an honest answer. But before you raise a fist in anger at God for what's happened, did you ever think that somehow God may have allowed these things to wake people out of slumber, maybe even you, so that they could possibly seek after Him now, before things get even worse? I love what Paul proclaimed as part of his speech to the Greeks in Acts 17: 26- 27 when he found their tomb to the Unknown God:

"And He (God) has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." {emphasis mine}

Jesus talked about terrible events in the last days being the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24: 8)Sorrows over what, you ask? The evil in this world will not be permitted to go on like this forever. Sin was already paid for and judged at the cross of Calvary around 30 A. D. But the problem of evil has not been dealt with in finality. Evil is what caused the plague of sin in the first place. It was found in God's enemy, Lucifer, when God replied to his proud look in Isaiah 14: 12-14 and his five "I will's."

"How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!

For you have said in your heart;
I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mound of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the clouds,
I will be like the Most High."

Isaiah 14: 12-14

Lucifer had not only sinned, but now had introduced evil into the world.

In the Chronological Study Bible put out by Thomas Nelson I have learned much this past year. As I read through its clear arrangement of Israel and Judah's history, I have reached the part where the prophet Jeremiah had to preach a most unpopular message: His beloved country was going down. Other prophets told people the things they liked to hear, that certainly they would not be destroyed. Jeremiah was God's man, though, and he could not prophesy lies. He was the "weeping prophet" because he knew that King Zedekiah would be carried away captive with his eyes taken out by the Babylonians. Israel's capital, Jerusalem, would go under siege for all her years of rebellion and idolatry against her God.

Jeremiah wrote of terrible times coming as the siege by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon neared. But his writing could also foretell of the times that are coming now. For we cannot undo the prophetic clock. It started ticking when Israel became "reborn" as a nation on May 14, 1948, which also was prophesied clearly in Scripture, after 2,000 years of dispersion to the four corners of the earth. (See Isaiah 66:8)

Jeremiah declared in Jer. 30: 23-24:

"Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD
Goes forth with fury,
A continuing whirlwind;
It will fall violently on the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the LORD
will not return until He has done it,
And until He has performed the intents of His heart.

In the latter days you will consider it. {emphasis mine}

I propose, along with many others who know much more than I do, that we are in those latter times now. The birth pangs, which signal Christ's return for His Church and His ultimate judgment on evil are at any moment ready to come to fruition. There is no time to be on the fence. Whose side will you be on? Christ has already made a way for you by His Finished Work on the cross. If you listen to the world, Christ could come for His church and you will be left behind to suffer the wrath of God on this unbelieving planet. While you may still believe on Him at that point, you will have to undergo trouble then like never seen in this world before, which is called the time of Great Tribulation. You can skip all that though by believing in Christ now and being a part of His Church today.

God spoke to Israel also through the prophet Amos, but He also speaks to us now:

"Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!" Amos 4: 12a

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Only God's Love will Make a Way, Comes to Stay

Proverbs 14:12: "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death."

I was convinced I was "right." I had a good reason to be angry this time. Hadn't I put up with a lot, taken it patiently? But this instance was just "going too far." I was seething.

But deep down, I was more angry at myself. For I wanted to not be angry with this person, near and dear to my heart. And all my attempts with others, in the past, came hauntingly to mind.

I felt resentment, and like I said, most of it was self-directed. How many times had I tried in vain to get rid of these feelings?

The words of I Corinthians 13 are read at weddings as if the bride and groom can live them on their own. When I read I Corinthians 13, I know that I could never in a million years accomplish these mandates. No, and as a Christian it is not a matter of "gritting your teeth" either. It has to be Christ doing it in you, or it won't get done, period.

"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all that I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own
way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

But in my moment of weakness, I knew one thing, somehow, Christ lives in this train-wreck of a person, and He demands nothing less than this from me. All of my excuses will mean nothing one day if I have not lived this. This is the ultimate reality and it hit me like a ton of bricks the other night when I was reading Andrew Murray, in his book, Absolute Surrender.

Murray writes:

"There is a brother, a most unlovable man. He worries you every time you meet him. He is the very opposite disposition to yours. You are a careful businessman, and you have to do with him in your business. He is most untidy, unbusiness-like. You say:

'I cannot love him.'

Oh friend, you have not learned the lesson that Christ wanted to teach above everything. Let a man be what he will, you are to love him {emphasis mine} Love is to be the fruit of the Spirit all the day and every day. Yes, listen! if a man loves not his brother whom he hath seen-if you don't love that unlovable man whom whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you have not seen? You can deceive yourself with beautiful thoughts about loving God. You must prove your love to God by your love to your brother; that is the one standard by which God will judge your love to Him. If the love of God is in your heart you will love your brother. The fruit of the Spirit is love."

The words of Andrew Murray, speaking for My Savior, hit me just when I needed to be reminded. How can I say I love God if I am filled with vindictiveness toward one of His blood bought ones? But I knew, that even as I simply could not love the way I am supposed to love, there is one little key that can turn this whole thing around. Turning from unbelief (in my own inability to produce anything pleasing to God) to faith in the Word of God.

Instead of groaning in depression for a couple of weeks, which I could easily do, I find that I have a better choice. I can collect Promises within the recesses of my soul.(II Peter 1: 4) These precious promises tell me that Jesus Christ lives within me.(Colossians 1: 27) I can choose to believe that as I walk through my day. When I slip up, I can quickly confess it (I John 1: 9) instead of berating myself, for Christ foreknew that sin from eternity past, even if He didn't make me choose to do it.(Romans 8: 28)I can pray for the Holy Spirit to fill me with His love for that person.(Luke 11:13) Why not, He told us if we asked us anything in His name He would hear us! (John 14: 13-14)

Jesus gave us just one new commandment in John 13: 34-5:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Notice He didn't say pick one another's doctrine's apart, criticize one another, nitpick about the length of one's skirt or the length of the men's hair. No, love is to cover a multitude of sins.(James 5:20) I look to myself first. If we are to judge other people, there is really only two ways of looking at them. Judge either that, if a person is "in Christ," they are a brand new creation (II Cor. 5:17) or if not, they are a candidate to be one. For Christ died for all men, without exception. (II Cor. 5: 19)

Mark 10: 21a "And Jesus, looking at him, loved him..."