Friday, July 30, 2010

Would You?

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: Job 13:15a  But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 1 Peter 3:14 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:1 Peter 3:17-18
What would you do if your friends were being killed because of their faith in God? Would you try to help them? What if you didn't even know the people being persecuted? Would you be willing to risk your own life and the lives of your family to save them?
That is exactly what Corrie ten Boom's family did in Holland in 1943. Germany had invaded their country as the Nazis took control of most of Europe. Corrie and her family could have been a help to the Nazis and then been rewarded, but they didn't. Instead, they put their family in jeopardy to help the Jewish people and paid dearly for it.
Corrie had been sick for several days with a bad case of the flu. The high fever made her lethargic and drowsy, so she stayed in bed hoping to feel better in the morning. She was awakened by screams and the sound of feet running toward her room. At first she thought it was one of the many drills they had practiced to hide the Jews who now lived with her family. But this time it was not a drill. German soldiers were invading their home, looking for the Jewish people that they had heard were hiding there.
Can you imagine the fear and panic that overcame them? Questions were emerging from their minds, such as: “What will happen to us now?” “Will we be killed or imprisoned for life?” “Will my family survive, will I survive”? 
That frightful night after their home was invaded, proved to be only the beginning of the many horrible events that would take place in prison. They slept in beds filled with fleas, and ate stale bread and thin soup. They were not called by their names but by the numbers that were given to them. Corrie’s number was 66730. It was tattooed on her arm.
One day a guard took Corrie to a doctor to get some medicine for the high fever and cough she had. How surprised she was when the nurse asked if there was anything she could get for her. She asked for a Bible and received only a portion of the New Testament, the four Gospels. It would have been a serious thing if she had been caught with them, but having a Bible was worth any possible punishment.
The night that they were all taken to jail was the last night that all of them would be together again in this life. Corrie’s father died 10 days after being put in prison from pneumonia and her sister, Betsie, died 3 days before Corrie’s scheduled release. The Lord was gracious to Corrie and allowed her to survive all the horrible conditions and circumstances surrounding her while imprisoned. After spending ten long months in the forced labor camp, the day came when Corrie would be released. Some say she was let out because of an error, but we know that God had a plan for Corrie’s life and her release was no mistake.
Thought: Would you be able to survive a prison labor camp knowing you were only trying to help people who were being exterminated every day? Would you be able to survive the horrible living conditions and then the death of loved ones? Would you be able to survive on only a portion of the Word of God to comfort you and encourage your heart through these horrifying times?
If you have asked yourself these questions, be assured that the Bible teaches us that we are not to worry about these things or “if” we will survive them. His grace is sufficient for all those that will trust in Him even when we may be required to suffer for Him.
I Peter 2:19-21 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

1 Peter 2:23  Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

1 Peter 3:14  But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

1 Peter 3:17-18  For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
Corrie ten Boom spent the last years of her life sharing the love of God she had experienced while in prison and the freedom she understood in forgiving her captures. Betsie, who was with Corrie in prison, encouraged her to keep trusting in God and reminded her that, "there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper." 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Satan's Target

And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; John 12:2

The study of the mind has baffled philosophers and scientists for centuries. They have asked questions like: What are thoughts? Can thoughts take up space in our brains? In the spiritual realm, our minds enter a different world altogether. Satan cannot read the human mind but he does have access to the mind.  Where did Judas get the idea to betray Christ? 
The heart or mind is the target of satanic attack. Satan will use the areas of your life that you are weakest in. We know the Word of God calls Satan, the devil, describing him as a “roaring lion,” seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8.) Be sure he is involved in your besetting sin and will use his power, Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Ephesians 2:2 to frighten you and keep you from obeying God. One of Satan’s most successful tools is fear, which to a Christian is crippling.

We as Christians, need to realize that Satan has no rights in our lives. Christ’s death on the cross and His ascension to heaven won the victory over satanic forces. We can say, “No” to Satan! We can look at him as a dethroned king who keeps giving out orders and says you are his but you are not. All power and authority belong to Jesus and in His name is that power. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father Philippians 2:10-11.

Sometimes we may feel weak and helpless, but don’t let this discourage you. Your position of authority is in Christ and not in how you feel. The power of the Word of God is released when you bring yourself under its authority. Satan and his forces must flee when confronted by an obedient child of God who makes bold use of biblical truth. “...greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4)

Knowing the names of the enemy is important to the Christian in his walk with God. The devil means “accuser,” because he accuses God’s people day and night before the throne of God (Revelation 12:7-11). Satan means “adversary,” because he is the enemy of God. In Matthew 4:3, he is called the “tempter,” and in John 8:44, he is called a “murderer” and the “father of lies.” He is compared to a “lion,” a “serpent,” and “an angel of light.” In all of his names, none can compare to the name above all names, JESUS.
Thought: We cannot fight the battle in our minds and heart through our own power, no matter how strong we may think we are. God has given to us His armor to put on to assure us that our victories can outnumber our defeats. We may loose a few battles along the way, but we are promised we will win the war. We will wrestle against the kingdoms of darkness, but Scripture will be proved which says, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). Take courage in this great truth by putting on the armor of God and praying against Satan and his forces.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Free Indeed

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed
John 8:32,36
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 
Isaiah 61:1

Harriet Tubman was a black slave during the 1800’s. One day while working at the far end of the field, a Quaker woman slowed down her buggy and told Harriet if she ever needed help, she would be a true friend. Years later, after the Master of the plantation died, Harriet felt God telling her it was time to go. She’d heard a rumor that she was going to be sold the next day. Late that night Harriet slipped out into the darkness and began to run. Her father had told her, “If there’s no moon shining, feel for the moss on the trees, moss always grows on the north side.” Following her father’s instructions, Harriet made her way to the state of Pennsylvania were she was, “free.” Harriet was helped by the “Underground Railroad” which was not a railroad at all but a chain of people wanting to help those in slavery to be set free. Harriet made 19 trips back into dangerous situations to help free over 300 people from slavery. During this very difficult time in her life and in the lives of her family, a $40,000 reward was posted for her capture. She knew God was in charge and she continued to help all those she could until she died at the age of 93. In these many years of turmoil in her life, she was called, “Lady Moses” because of all the people she lead out of slavery.
Slaves were brought to America not by choice but by force. They were made to live in conditions beyond human comprehension and compelled by strong-arming them to work seemingly endless hours. (There were some slaves that were treated as family members but they were not the majority.) Food, clothing, and shelter were scarce, while beatings, verbal abuse and sexual assaults loomed over them continuously. They wanted to be free from their despair but most who tried were caught and punished severely, or even hanged. Life for the black slave was unbearable.
We know that there is One who came to set the captives free, to give life eternal, His name is Jesus. He came that we might have life, a life abundant and free. We need no longer live in bondage, despair, or in the depths of sin because He is our Way, our Truth, and our Life. He makes us free. 
Being enslaved to another human is unthinkable but being a slave to our own sin is damning. Life without Christ is meaningless and ends in eternal death. Jesus has come to set the captives free and in Him we are free indeed.  Have you truly repented of your sins? Have you the freedom Christ speaks about in John 8:32 and 36? My dear friend, if you do not know Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I invite you to acknowledge your sin before an Almighty God, repent of your sin before Him, and accept His free gift of grace, eternal salvation.
If you know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, but you have experienced bondage again  in your life, Christ is still the answer to your oppression and slavery. Experiencing repentance in our lives to the bondage of sin is crucial. To repent means to burn your house and salt your fields. Hebrew farmers knew that if they burned their houses and salted their fields they would have nothing to return to. True repentance is having nothing to return to.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (oppressed), Luke 4:18

Thought: May you know the gift of truly being free and realize that repentance, true repentance, is having nothing to return to.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Have You Failed?"

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.  And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
 I Samuel 15:3,9,10,11,24

Benjamin Franklin once stated, “How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them!” An illustration of that truth is reported in the first book of Samuel. Saul, the first king of Israel, had been given a divine command but had failed to obey (I Samuel 15:3,9). When he was confronted by the prophet of God, Samuel with his failure to obey, Saul refused to admit his guilt. After continued reproof, the king finally confessed, “I have sinned,” but with his confession he gave an excuse of empty words (I Samuel 15:24). Because of his improper response concerning his sin, Saul’s kingdom was ultimately destroyed. What a fool Saul was to indulge in his own lust and try to make a futile attempt to conceal his guilt.
The most miserable people in the world are those that have experienced failure (sinned) and have not risen above it. Another example of one of God’s men failing in his duty as king was David. In Psalm 32:3-4, David reflected on his own guilt and afflicted state. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah

David was affected physically as a result of not confessing his sins. Sleep escaped him, his energy was sapped by emotional despair and he was feeling the chastisement of the Lord upon him.  David’s problem was that he regarded the words of the Lord with little value and treated them lightly. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.(II Samuel 12:9) Undoubtedly this meant that his view of God’s Word was an improper view of God Himself.
What is your view of God? Do you fear Him? Have you expressed your guilt before Him and repented of your sin? Have you experienced God’s grace not only in salvation but in repentance and restoration? The exposure of David’s sin did not destroy him instead, it motivated him to renew his relationship with God and begin a new. What great conviction and strength is given in Psalm 51 where we find David’s confession of sin and restoration of his spirit to the Lord. David could have easily thought that God had given up on him but in His great mercy and grace placed blessing upon David in his succeeding child and victory over his enemies.
Thought: Have you met with failure in your life? Has your guilt been exposed? What is your response, anger, bitterness or pride? Have you felt at times that there is no hope for you? Take courage from David, a man who failed but was not a failure, because he repented, forsook his sin and renewed a right spirit within.