Friday, May 30, 2014

Do Not Fear Their Intimidation

Do Not Fear Their Intimidation

1 Peter 3:14-18
But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: (you are blessed, privileged, honored) and be not afraid of their terror, (intimidation) neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 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:

A True Story
I remember the day she walked into church pushing a baby stroller and looking a bit intimidated. I went to introduce myself and realized she was there because of a troubled past and an unsettled future. Alcohol and drugs had taken their toll on her and she was trying desperately to put her life back together. She appeared anxious and withdrawn not wanting anyone to really get to know her. She was finding it difficult to start over after so many dark years of substance abuse stealing her joy. The guilt on her face was plain to see, but her determination to go forward, out of the bondage of alcohol, superseded any distress she was anticipating.

Soon a friendship developed between us and she began to grow in the sight of God, we thought. Regularly she would give praise for her sobriety and she cheerfully celebrated three years of being clean. Shortly after her three year mark, she began to change and seemed troubled, agitated and upset. Before we knew it, she relapsed and began to blame others, and of course, God, for her fall. There were times when she would question God’s existence and deny that His Word was true. The dreadful thought of suicide threatened her emotions and she became unpredictable and extremely unpleasant.

She agreed to go to an out-of-state rehab center for help, but unfortunately, her little boy would have to stay behind. The church rallied around her and cared for her little boy while she was away. I had the privilege of caring for this little boy as did others and we all grew to love him. After six months, she returned home from the rehab center and once more, became troubled and anxious about her life. Again, she relapsed, but this time with a vengeance to pay back all that others had done to her in their efforts to help her in her substance abuse. 

Our only thought was to love and HELP her, knowing, it’s not unusual for people to mistreat those who are zealous to do good. Even this hostile world is slow to hurt people who have shown acts of kindness towards them, but it does happen. Why should we be surprised when someone we have called, “Friend,” has risen up against us in our attempts to share the love of Christ with them? We shouldn’t be shocked or taken back when people attack those sharing the Gospel in love. Scripture tells us we may suffer for righteousness sake and in doing so, we are blessed, honored and privileged to suffer for His cause. 

James says, “Count or consider it all joy when we encounter various trials.” The testing of our faith is the proving of our salvation. During a trial, we will learn to withstand with tenacity and endure the pressure and intimidation people may cause–––until God removes it. We are to sanctify the Lord in our hearts and through the suffering, greatly rejoice, bringing praise and glory and honor due His name.

Thought: If you’re endeavoring to help someone out of substance abuse, realize they could turn against you and blame you for their failures. They are ignoring the responsibility of their own sins, and widening the gap they feel towards God. Their selfish pleasures and self-absorbed desires cause them emotional turmoil and consequently, they forget or deny Christ. Remember to pray for this person who has slandered you and others and has publicly tried to damage your good reputation. The Bible says to keep a good conscience so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ, may be put to shame. 

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ (I Peter 3:16.)

Do not let the fear of man keep you from helping others out of this dreadful bondage or from sharing the love of Christ, the Gospel, with them. Proverbs 29:25, The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Is There Power in the Name of Jesus?

Is There Power in the Name of Jesus?

Philippians 2:9-11
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  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.

Song Story

Reverend E. P. Scott was a missionary, living in India during the 1800s. At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but against advice of his fellow missionaries, Scott set out alone to visit a remote village. He was determined to share the Gospel with a dangerous savage tribe.

Several days into his journey. Scott was met by a large group of warriors who quickly surrounded him, each one pointing a spear towards his heart. Expecting to die, Scott made a decision to use his last few breaths to glorify God, and to hopefully stir something within the hearts of his captors. He took out his violin (which he always carried on him), closed his eyes, and began to play and sing All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, in the native language of the warriors.

After singing the first verse, the second, the third, and then beginning the fourth, Rev. Scott realized he was still standing, and that all around him was a peaceful quiet. Opening his eyes he saw every spear lowered. There stood those mighty warriors, with tears in their eyes. Throughout the remainder of his life, Scott spent much time with this tribe, sharing the love of God.

Song History

All Hail the Power of Jesus Name has been hailed as the "National Anthem of Christendom." It was written in 1779 by Rev. Edward Perronet (1726-1792) The music was composed by Oliver Holden (1765-1844). The hymn has been translated into almost every existing language. Perronet worked closely with brothers John and Charles Wesley (cofounders of Methodism) for many years in their homeland of England during the 18th century revival. Eventually, after conflict of interest over denominational issues, they parted ways.

The hymn first appeared in the November 1779 issue of Gospel Magazine. It was titled On the Resurrection, the Lord is King, and its author was listed as being anonymous. It was several months before the editor revealed its authorship. 

The hymn is a tribute to Jesus' lordship.  It portrays Jesus as a king -- with angels at his feet -- with a crown on his head -- with "ev'ry kindred, ev'ry tribe" singing praise to his majesty.  And it celebrates our opportunity to be part of the celebration -- to "join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all."  It promises to be the grandest party ever, and we are all invited!

There is ultimate power in the Name of Jesus!  He is ever present to hear and answer us, even when things seem darkest.  I hope you will sing the words of this song in praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Ye chosen seed of Israel's race,
ye ransomed from the Fall,
hail Him who saves you by His grace,
and crown Him Lord of all.
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Sinners, whose love can ne'er forget
the wormwood and the gall,
go spread your trophies at His feet,
and crown Him Lord of all.
Go spread your trophies at His feet,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Let every kindred, every tribe
on this terrestrial ball,
to Him all majesty ascribe,
and crown Him Lord of all.
To Him all majesty ascribe,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Thought: The name of Jesus has the power to save and to change lives forever. The name Jesus, was given to Him at birth and the name LORD bestowed in His exaltation. The name of Jesus Christ is not a magical word, but the power is in understanding and believing all that the name of Jesus Christ signifies. His name represents all of His finished work on the cross, fulfilling God's plan of redemption and salvation, victory over sin, death, and over the devil's entire realm. The name of Jesus Christ carries all of the power and distinction God gave to it. God raised Jesus from the dead, elevated Him to His right hand, and gave Jesus a name above "every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come." (Ephesians 1:21)

Story written by: Connie Ruth Christiansen 
Excerpts taken from; “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.”
Other excerpts –– Copyright 2006, Richard Niell Donovan

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Christian Life, a Foot Race

The Christian Life, a Foot Race

Hebrews 12:1,2
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Christian life is a race and to run and run well, we must run light and rid ourselves of anything that may hinder us. Many things can hinder Christians today, but one thing that seriously interferes with a believers race, is substance abuse. We are commanded to “put off” or “throw off” anything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us. We are to run with perseverance the race that God has marked out or set before us. 

What things have hindered you from running the race and running to win? Do you need to get rid of things that tempt you to sin? Freedom does not come if alcohol is in the refrigerator or there are drugs in the home. Going to places that tempt you to use or drink must be seen as a potential pitfall and you must refuse to go there. Romans 13:14 says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” The above verse tells you to “make no provision for the flesh.” When you have access to alcohol and drugs you can resolve not to drink or use all day long, but when the flesh gives in, you will crumble. It is so vital to get rid of all temptation and not to have access to that which causes you to sin.

The Bible teaches that you need to be drinking “living water” because “living water” exposes your sin. Are you willing to part with the thing that could make you fall repeatedly? Are you willing to get rid of it now? Matthew 5:29-30 reads, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Jesus was not referring to a physical amputation of your hands or actually plucking out your eyes; because handicapped and blind men drink and lust too. He was telling you to deal with your sin in an extreme and radical way. Get rid of the things that are causing you to fall and be willing to do this before it destroys you.

There is a root cause to this sin and it is not found in a dysfunctional home life or in a persons biochemical make up. The root cause is in the making of an idol and then worshipping it. The idol becomes more important than God and the pursuit of it will seem worth any consequence they may endure during their quest. The addict is so entrenched in their own misunderstanding of Scripture that they don’t fully recognize what they are doing. Running the Christian race is the least of their desires and relief from their guilt is superficial and temporary. Who can they trust, who can they turn to? “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” Jesus is the One they should look to and the One they can trust. Fixing their eyes on Christ as the object of their faith and running the race with determination to keep going regardless of the temptation is a faith-filled life accompanied by joy.

Thought: Maybe you are not suffering from substance abuse but there’s something that keeps you from running God’s race and running it attentively. I believe that Scripture tells you what you must do, “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” When running a literal race, you need to take off the bulky clothing that keeps you from running your best and fastest. In your heart, you know what it is that you need to rid yourself of to accomplish the goal God has put before you. What is the sin that obstructs you from running and finishing the race? What tempts you to sin more than any other thing? Is it the sin of not trusting God? When you don’t trust God you lack faith, and what does the Bible say about faith? Above all, (in addition to all) taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench (extinguish) all the fiery darts of the wicked. Sin comes when you fail to hear and see Satan’s lies. The temptations are likened to the flaming arrows the enemy shoots at you on a continual basis.

God’s love for us should motive us to live beyond our temptations and rest in the grace of God. Knowing that God gave His Son for us while we were yet sinners, should encourage our hearts to love Him, because He first loved us. While in our sin He loved us, while in our repulsive state He had compassion on us, while in our wickedness, He bled and died on the cross removing our hideous sin. Oh, what love is this!

 In running the Christian race, remember that Christ, who is our very life, always runs with us. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Glance at an Exceptional Mother

A Glance at an Exceptional Mother

Acts 12:1-12 Mary, the mother of John Mark

A remarkable mother quietly appears in the middle of one of the most dramatic stories about the emerging church. The story has been read many times and most likely been brushed aside without taking notice of this woman’s extraordinary life.

The Story Background: Herod Agrippa I was the grandson of Herod the Great and reigned from A.D. 37-44 . It was said that he ran up numerous debt in Rome and fled to Palestine. After some careless statements made by King Agrippa, he was imprisoned by Emperor Tiberius and then released following Tiberius’ death. Later he was made ruler of northern Palestine, to which Judea and Samaria were added. His relationship with Rome was very shaky at this time, so, he cultivated favor with the Jews by persecuting Christians. 

Mark, the son of Mary, was an evangelist, an early Christian church leader, and the author of the book of Mark, one of the four gospels written in the Bible. Like a number of other apostles and disciples, “John Mark” was known by two names. Mark (Marcus) was his Roman name, and John was his Jewish name. He is called John in Acts 13:5,13, and Mark in Acts 15:39 and 2 Timothy 4:11. His Roman name was used as the title of the Gospel of Mark to avoid the confusion of having 2 Gospel books named John.

Mary, the mother of Mark, was known as a distinguished Christian woman from Jerusalem. Mark may have been born in or near Jerusalem where his mother lived during the New Testament time. There is no record of his father, but Mark is reported to be a cousin of Barnabas.(Colossians 4:10). Mary’s house was apparently a popular place for Christians, where "many people gathered and prayed" (Acts 12:12). The apostle Peter went to Mary’s house first, after an angel freed him from Herod's prison (Acts 12:6-12).

The apostle Peter refers to Mark as "his son" in 1 Peter 5:13. It is likely that Peter was involved in Mark's conversion and could have been seen as a father-figure to Mark. At the time of Mark’s conversion, Peter would have been about 35 years old, and Mark, substantially younger. Mark, himself, is first mentioned by name in Acts 12:25 and accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. For some reason, Mark, returned home to Jerusalem after they had travelled as far as Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 12:25; 13:13). It was this incident that later caused a severe disagreement between Paul and Barnabas. Paul refused to take Mark with him on another missionary journey, while Barnabas defended his young cousin (Acts 15:36-40). They did reconcile later because Mark was with Paul in his first imprisonment at Rome (Colossians 4:10, Philemon 1:24). Mark was thereafter with Peter (1 Peter 5:13), and then with Timothy in Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:11). Then he disappears from the record.

Mark witnessed the birth and growth of the Christian church, and personally knew most of the great early Christians before becoming one himself. He was most fortunate to hear and see Jesus teach during His human lifetime.

The Setting: Peter was imprisoned by Herod, and his execution was seemingly imminent. The author, Luke, records Peter's miraculous escape (by an angel) in Acts 12:1-12, and in verse 12 we read this: “And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” 

This is the only time that the Bible mentions Mary the mother of John Mark, but we can glean quite a bit of information about her.

The Saint, Mark’s Mother:

*Mary, Barnabas’s aunt, was a prominent supporter of the early church. 

*Obviously, she did not talk down the church but lifted up the early body of believers and showed tremendous bravery in supporting the distinctive doctrines. The church at this time, was going through great persecution and James, the brother of John had already been martyred. Through all of this, Mary still welcomed the church into her home at great personal risk. 

*Mary was a praying woman (mom) and raised a believing son who loved the work of God. He was known to be useful to both the apostles, Paul and Peter (cf. 2 Timothy 4:11; I Peter 5:13). Without question, his life (Mark) reflects the faith-filled influence of his extraordinary mother.

Thought: What is meant by the phrase, “Exceptional women?” The exceptional woman supports the pastor and leadership of the church, and lifts them up in prayer. The exceptional woman encourages other women to stand strong for Christ and share their faith even when others strongly disagree. The exceptional woman is faithful in teaching and instructing her children in the things of God openly and in private. The exceptional women fights against the worlds philosophy that bombards the minds of her children and strives to protect them from the perilous days they live in. Children are being influenced to doubt the validity of God’s Word, and the power of God’s Word to live out the abundant life Jesus has promised. The exceptional woman is a mom that is mindful of her children’s needs and has a heart filled with unconditional love. I pray we all will be exceptional women reflecting the gospel of Christ until He comes.

                                  Happy Mother's Day!

Resources: GTY Ministries;

Friday, May 2, 2014

Do We Try to Appease God?

Do We Try to Appease Christ?

Mark 10:17-22
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.  Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.  And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.  Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.  And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

The rich young ruler came running to Jesus and knelt before Him, asking this question, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” We see Jesus feeling compassion for this sincere truth-seeker whom was hopelessly lost and loving his possessions more than his neighbors. This made his question a bit self-righteous. The question was steeped in the legalism of his day and the rich young ruler thought some religious deed would guarantee him eternal life. He didn’t understand the true nature of salvation; the gift of grace.

The answer the rich young ruler gave to Jesus was a clear sign that he was an appeaser. He claimed that he had kept all the commandments from his youth, a picture of living life according to the Law. Did the rich young ruler try to pacify Christ by saying something he thought Jesus wanted to hear? Do we try to appease God by trying to live out the Law knowing, “no one is good, no, not one?” The Law exposes man’s sinful state, but cannot bring obedience. History has revealed to us that trying to live the Law brings out rebellion. Grace leads us to repentance, whereas, the Law only, leads to disobedience and death. 

The rich young ruler gave up so quickly when asked to sell all and give it to the poor. His legalist background caused him to give in motive and not go forward with Christ. The Law reveals our sin but gives no power to remove it. It is the power of the Gospel that takes away sin and with no condemnation. The Law reveals our helplessness and shows us that self-salvation is impossible. God’s amazing grace gives hope and freedom to those who are in Christ. We need to be told over and over again that nothing can separate us from the love of God and we will never suffer condemnation, if we are in Him.

The Law accuses us of sin and causes us to feel we must do something or be something to merit the approval of another. We, of course, need the Law for God gave it to us to accuse us of sin. But only God’s grace will redeem us from sin’s grip. Nothing the rich young ruler did could satisfy the sin debt; only the blood of Christ could pay that debt in full. Trusting in our good works, trying to keep the Law, or giving large amounts of money will in no way deliver us from our iniquity. It is the marvelous grace of God, His matchless gift, that redeems us and is greater than all our sin.

Thought: We must have the Law and we must have Grace–––together they are truth and life. The rich young ruler went away unwilling to submit to Christ, without acknowledging his sin, or repenting. He refused to obey Christ’s direct command, choosing to serve riches rather than God.

 I pray you are willing to “follow Christ” whatever He wills for you. Following Jesus brings reward in this present time as it will when His glorious kingdom comes.