You Are Not Alone

I will not, I will not cease to uphold or sustain thee, I will not, I will not, I will not forsake someone in a state of defeat or helplessness in the midst of hostile circumstances.

This Greek amplification of what God said in Hebrew 13:5 tells us that Christians are not alone. He is with us in the midst of our trials and hard times.

IF we feel alone in the midst of our troubles, who moved? Are we like the first Adam who because of his sin ran and hid from God’s presence?

Yet, even when Lord Jesus corrected the Laodicea believers for their lukewarmness (Rev. 3:14-19), their delusion concerning their true condition as a result of kicking Jesus out of their rebellious hearts, He FAITHFULLY stands at their heart’s door knocking (Rev. 3:20) PROMISING if they will let Him back in their heart as Lord, He and the repentant believer can have fellowship again.

Oh, dear Reader we need to thank God for His faithfulness to us and His mercy toward us! Let us rejoice because our God is so GOOD to us!

Carl

The More We know

The more we know of God, the more unreservedly we will trust him; the greater our progress in theology, the simpler and more child-like will be our faith.

― J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937, New Testament scholar and educator in the early 20th century) – Berean Call

Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their willful ignorance that kept them from understanding the resurrection of our earthly bodies. Throughout the book of 1st Corinthians he uses the term “do you not know” nine times and he uses it twice in Romans 6 plus he uses other terms in his writings to ask or imply the same question.

What am I missing in my spiritual walk because I give large chunks of time to unprofitable things, interest that will not build me up spiritually? For example, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I need more faith, then I should be spending more time knowing God as revealed in His Book, the Bible.

God, please forgives us for our willful ignorance.

Man has made it complicated to understand and follow Jesus but it is not so. Paul warns us not to be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ (I Cor. 11:3).

Therefore, keep learning about your mighty God and amazing Savior Jesus. Keep growing. Get yourselves in order spiritually. Build yourselves up in Christ.

For He is coming back to get you or you are going to Him. Let us purify ourselves therefore.

Blessing on you,

Carl

Second Century Church Services

The following description of a second century church service was written by Justin Martyr (100 AD -167 AD), who was born in Old Testament Shechem about the time that the Apostle John died. He was one of the most able Christian men in that period of time. He wrote a Defense of Christianity that was addressed to the Roman Emperor and died a martyr’s death at Rome. To show how Christianity had spread in the second century he wrote, “there is no race of men where prayers are not offered up in the name of Jesus.”

“On Sunday a meeting is held of all who live in the cities and villages, and a section is read from the Memoirs of the Apostles and the writings of The Prophets, as long as time permits. When the reading is finished, the president, in a discourse, gives the admonition and exhortation to imitate these noble things. After this we all arise and offer a common prayer. At the close of the prayer, as we have before described, bread and wine and thanks for them according to his ability, and the congregation answers, “Amen.” Then the consecrated elements are distributed to each one and partaken of, and are carried by the deacons to the house of the absent. The wealthy and the willing then give contributions according to their freewill; and the collection is deposited with the president, who therewith supplies orphans, widows, prisoners, strangers, and all who are in want.”

Another ancient writer, Pliny The Younger* (61 AD – 112 AD), provides another description of an early Christian church service in his letter to the Roman Emperor Trajan (98 AD – 117 AD) concerning when to put Christians to death. Pliny, as governor of Bithynia (part of modern day Turkey) and an enemy of Christianity wrote the following in the early second century:

“But they affirmed that this was the sum of their fault or error, that they were accustomed, on a stated day, to meet together before day, to sing a hymn to Christ in concert, as to a god, and to bind themselves with a solemn oath not to commit any wickedness —but on the contrary, to abstain from theft, robbery, and adultery —also, never to violate their promise, nor deny a pledge committed to them. These things being performed, it was their custom to separate: and to meet again at a promiscuous [meaning composed of all sorts of persons], innocent meal….”

He also described in the same letter how wide the influence of Jesus was in that region and the effect persecution was having on idol and emperor worship:

“…I have recourse to you for advice; for it has appeared to me that the subject is highly deserving of consideration, especially on account of the great number of persons whose lives are put into jeopardy. Many persons of all ages, sexes, and conditions are accused, and many more will be in the same situation; for the contagion of this superstition has not merely pervaded the cities, but also all villages and country places; yet it seemed to me that it might be restrained and corrected. It is matter of fact, that the temples which were almost deserted begin again to be frequented**; and the sacred solemnities which had been long intermitted are again attended; and the victims for the altars are now readily sold, which, a while ago, were almost without purchasers. Whence it is easy to conjecture what a multitude of men might be reclaimed, if only the door to repentance was left open.”

Bless our Father in Heaven for His early servants who were faithful under persecution and passed down to us the words of the Apostles, Paul and the other New Testament writers so we could know Christ and be saved!

Rejoice and be glad, your Savior is coming again!

Carl

*Pliny, The Elder, his uncle, died attempting to rescue people in Pompeii after the Mount Vesuvius eruption in AD 79.

**Though some had denied Christ and returned to idol and Emperor worship, many chose martyrdom instead of denying Christ and others escaped persecution. In 200 years, Christianity would be a recognized and accepted religion in the Empire though persecution would return later under other Emperors.

Jesus Chosen Over Animistic Beliefs

Member of Animistic Indigenous Village in Mexico Embraces Christianity, Brings Family to Christ
A man from a tribal animistic village in Oaxaca, Mexico abandoned the traditions he grew up with and gave his life to Christ despite great persecution from other tribal members.   Reynaldo said he had followed the animistic rituals for years but did not really understand why he did them.  

“In many cases I didn’t even know why I was doing the animist rituals, except ‘to not anger the spirits,’ and a life full of doing that never fulfilled me,” he said, according to Christian Aid Mission, a nondenominational organization that helps plant churches indifferent parts of the world.

The village is one of the few communities in Mexico that have so far resisted Western influence. For 500 years, it has kept its traditions intact, and tribal members like Reynaldo who deviate from animistic practices were met with hostility. Yet it did not stop him from pursuing his new life in Christ.

“I’ve decided to follow the Lord whatever the cost,” he said.   His efforts were greatly rewarded: his wife, children and parents also gave their lives to Jesus, and they were all baptized together, along with four other members of the community.

An indigenous missionary named Mariano worked in the village for 11 years. After a long time of labor, the ministry has now turned the work over to a local believer named Pedro, the village’s first convert to Christianity, who has become the local pastor to lead the small congregation of about 20 believers.   “We told the local village authorities that Mariano now will only be three days a week in the community, and that going forward he will support the local leadership from outside so they can grow and get stronger,” the director said, adding that Mariano’s departure saddened the community leaders.

Oaxaca is considered as the world’s most ethnically diverse place. There are more than 200 languages and dialects spoken in the Mexican state, and about half of its indigenous inhabitants do not speak Spanish, which is why indigenous missionaries take a long time to study the dialects.    While the challenge in such places involves breaking through tribal traditions, in some parts of Mexico, evangelical Christians endure intense persecution from the Catholic church. About 80 percent of the country’s population is Catholic.

In April last year, Nate Lance of the International Christian Community said some Christians were being forced to convert to Catholicism.   “When they refuse to recant their faith, they are expelled from the community,” Lance told Fox News.   In many cases, Christians are beaten or imprisoned or punished in some other way, such as cutting off their utilities.

Lance condemned the Mexican government’s lack of inaction to address the issue,
particularly when the Constitution allows for freedom of religion in the country.  

https://www.gospelherald.com/articles/70234/20170426/member-animistic-indigenous-village-mexico-embraces-christianity-brings-family-christ.htm
Source: Berean Call

A Small Portion

If God has given you but a small portion of the world, yet if you are godly He has promised never to forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Providence has ordered that condition for you which is really best for your eternal good. If you had more of the world than you have, your heads and hearts might not be able to manage it to your advantage.

— John Flavel (1627-1691, English Presbyterian clergyman)

What Constrains Us?

For the love which Christ has [for me] presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive, having brought me to this conclusion, namely, that One died on behalf of all, therefore all died, and that He also died on behalf of all in order that those who are living no longer are living for themselves but for the One who died on their behalf….

(II Corinthians 5: 14-15 Wuest Expanded Greek Translation (Emphasis added))

“What such should do, for whom Christ died; namely, that they should live to Him. This is what Christ designed, that those who live, who are made alive unto God by means of His death, should live to Him that died for them, and rose again for their sakes also, and that they should not live to themselves, v15.

We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions: and it was one end of Christ death to cure us of this self-love, and to excite us always to act under the commanding influence of His love. A Christian’s life should be consecrated to Christ; and then do we live as we ought to live when we live to Christ, who died for us.”

(A Commentary of the Whole Bible – Matthew Henry, 1700s)

In Matthew 23:25, the Lord rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for being self-indulgence. Will He have to rebuke us, His children, for our excessive or unrestrained gratification of our appetites, desires or whims? Let us be diligent to examine ourselves and repent of this sin, if we find ourselves guilty of it.

Let us thank Him for His great love for us, which was revealed on the Cross, and rejoice in it.

May His mercy and grace be abundant to you in this New Year!!

Carl

India Pastor Shot and Killed in Street

Three unidentified men shot and killed a pastor in the east Indian state of Jharkhand while he was returning home with his wife after baptizing new believers, according to a report.

Pastor Salim Stephen Surin, a part-time evangelist in Rania village of Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district, was killed on Dec. 8, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported Friday.

“They killed my husband in front of my own eyes,” Tarsis, the wife of the slain pastor, was quoted as saying. “I was terrified seeing my husband collapse having been shot in the chest. I started to think about my children and loudly cried out to God to save me and take care of my [two] children.”

Tarsis said she pushed one of the three men who shot her husband, after which he pointed the gun toward her. “I ran into the thick bushes and the nearby forest. I probably walked for more than 10 hours to reach my home. I purposely did not take the road to avoid the attackers.”

At the time of the attack, the pastor and his wife were on the couple’s motorbike returning from Putikda village where the pastor baptized five people.

Later that evening, local travelers discovered Surin’s lifeless body lying on the road. 

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Dear Reader: Please pray for the Christians in India who are experiencing persecution. Thank you. Carl

When Thou Risest…..

(The following is an excerpt from a tract written by Reformer John Wycliffe (1324-1384); hence, the ole English vocabulary. Hope you are built up and encouraged by the words of this precious saint. Carl)

“First, when thou risest, or fully wakest, think upon the goodness of thy God; how for his own goodness, and not for any need, he made all things out of nothing, both angels and men, and all other creatures, good in their kind.

The second time, think on the great sufferings and willing death that Christ suffered for mankind. When no man might make satisfaction for the guilt of Adam and Eve, and others more, neither any angel might make satisfaction therefore, then Christ, of his endless charity, suffered such great passion and painful death, that no creature could suffer so much.

 Think the third time, how God hath saved thee from death and other mischief, and suffered many thousands to be lost that night, some in water, some in fire, and some by sudden death, and some to be damned without end. And for this goodness and mercy thank thy God with all thine heart, and pray him to give thee grace to spend in that day, and evermore, all the powers of thy soul, as mind, understanding, reason, and will; and all the powers of thy body, as strength, beauty, and thy five senses, in his service and worship, and in nothing against his commandments, but in ready performance of his works of mercy, and to give good example of holy life, both in word and deed, to all men about thee.

 Look afterward that thou be well occupied, and no time idle, for the danger of temptation. Take meat and drink in measure, not too costly, nor too lickerous, and be not too curious thereabout. But such as God sendeth thee with health, take it in such measure, that thou be fresher in mind and understanding to serve God. And always thank him for such gifts.

 Besides this, look thou do right and equity to all men, thy superiors, equals, and subjects, or servants; and stir all to love truth, and mercy, and true peace, and charity; and suffer no men to be at dissension, but accord, if thou canst, in any good manner.

Also, most of all, fear God and his wrath; and most of all, love God, and his law, and his worship: and ask not principally for worldly reward, but in all thine heart desire the bliss of heaven in mercy of God, and thine own good life and think much of the dreadful doom of pains of hell, to keep thee out of sin; and on the endless great joys of heaven, to keep thee in virtuous life; and according to thy skill teach others the same doing.

 In the end of the day, think wherein thou hast offended God, and how much, and how oft, and therefore have entire sorrow, and amend it while thou mayst. And think how many God has suffered to perish that day, many ways, and to be damned everlastingly, and how graciously he hath saved thee; not for thy desert, but for his own mercy, and goodness, and therefore thank him with all thine heart. And pray him for grace that thou mayest dwell and end in his true and holy service, and real love, and to teach other men the same doing.”

Excerpt from A SHORT RULE OF LIFE, FOR EACH MAN IN GENERAL, AND FOR PRIESTS, AND LORDS, AND LABOURIRS IN SPECIAL, HOW EACH SHALL BE SAVED IN HIS DEGREE Reformer John Wycliffe (1324-1384)  (paragraph structure added)               

Faith Under Fire: Are You Growing In It or Fleeing From It

By Cedric H. Fisher – From Lighthouse Trails

God’s Word gives us examples of faith in the fire, faith in the flood, faith when outnumbered by the enemy, faith when facing an indomitable foe, faith in prison, faith during torture, faith when destitute, hungry, and thirsty, faith on stormy seas, faith to lose everything and faith to receive it all back again, faith to procreate though infertile, and faith to die. Every instance of faith thus described is manifested in adversity or great need. To find examples in Scripture of faith operating in a peaceful and bountiful climate would be a difficult task. I’m not sure there are any at all.

The Bible likens God’s way of purifying the faith of a believer to the refining process of gold. Peter writes:

. . . that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:7)

The refining process of gold requires that it be heated to a molten condition whereby the impurities (dross) float to the top and are skimmed off. The prophet Malachi describes this process as an illustration of how God purifies the believer:

[A]nd he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)

Some might contend that the peaceful climate is the result of faith. That may be true, but it is not faith in operation. Good health is the result of exercise, but it is not exercise. If our comfortable status is faith, then the testings of faith would not require adversity. Further, there would be no biblical examples of godly men and women exercising faith to overcome adversity.

The obvious truth is that the appearance of faith tends to be relatively dormant in times of peace. We are sustained by the benefits of our relationship with God. However, when a true Christian believes he can go through life without any adversity, such a person is being set up to be “channeled.” Now, what I am referring to by “channeled” is this: when someone tries to avoid adversity, he is actually setting himself up to be manipulated and channeled by Satan who is always at work to make it difficult and painful for devoted believers to obey God’s will.

Let me elaborate on this line of thought. If a Christian believer intends to be a light that shines in darkness, he becomes a target of evil entities. If he stands up for and speaks the truth, he will suffer. If he accepts, assimilates, and defends the values of godliness, he will suffer. If he refuses to go with the flow of nominal Christianity or worse, apostasy, he will suffer. If he refuses to deviate from God’s Word in a time of great compromise, he will suffer. If he has a prophetic calling, he might even lose his life for Christ’s sake.

Consider this scenario: A professing Christian has witnessed the suffering of a fellow believer who is being a true witness for Jesus Christ. The professing Christian has tried to do the same and experiences similar sufferings and consequences. As a result, he decides to avoid manifesting any fruit of Christianity that causes contention, rejection, or persecution. He is considered one of the nicest, most gregarious, kindly, friendly, and positive people. Everyone loves him and speaks well of him. What’s more, he is flexible and capable of mingling with any belief system. Nearly everyone enjoys associating with him, and he has excellent rapport with all of them. Secular and religious people of all stripes laud him as an example of a true Christian. And he does not want to lose that status, so he makes every attempt to make sure he doesn’t end up suffering again.

However, such a Christian does not match the examples of what the Bible describes as true Christianity, nor does he match the example of Christ Himself. In reality, such professing Christians, in their efforts to avoid the consequences and sufferings of true Christianity, are being “channeled” by Satan and his imps. Upon seeing this compromising attitude, these adversaries of our souls can re-circumvent lives (i.e., change the direction one is going) by causing situations that re-direct that person in his walk because he wants to avoid suffering, ridicule, and rejection for standing in and defending the faith.

These re-directed channeled Christians have, in effect, turned down their light to a non-offensive level. In fact, they are not actually lights at all, but shadows; they lie somewhere between light and darkness. The path they walk weaves around every uncomfortable and inconvenient situation; they walk in a state of delusion because deceit has become the norm for them. Christ warned about this type of fruitless follower.

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

The apostle Paul described what would befall the ones who truly desire to live godly in Christ. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Peter also wrote about the suffering of true followers of Christ. He mentioned the suffering of believers eighteen times in his first letter.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Isn’t it interesting (and tragic) that so many modern-day Christians believe it is strange to suffer and that it is not God’s will. They believe they are supposed to be constantly happy, blessed, healthy, wealthy, and peaceful, while enjoying life in this temporal realm. The terms “happy,” “blessed,” “peaceful,” etc, are relative. Those emotions are based on a life ordered by them, not by God. They avoid all negativity. They have no productivity because it is inconvenient.

Heretics find a willing audience in these individuals because they never resist darkness. To do so would be too uncomfortable and painful. Their lives are empty, swept, and ordered (Matthew 12:44).  They’ve maintained a shiny neon shell of godliness, but there is no substance inside. The will of God is not included in their order. Standing up for truth, being a true light that exposes evil, obeying God when the price is rejection, or worse, harsh persecution, are not in their order of things to do.

The focus of that type of professing Christian is on milking God’s Word and kingdom of all the benefits without incurring the costs of genuine relationship. They are “professors,” but not possessors. They never exercise faith because they avoid the situations where faith is needed. There is no sense of true victory in them. There must be constant stimulation from a source other than God and His Word. . . .

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he so eloquently describes the role and the results of our willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. (Philippians 3:7-10)

Christians who do not exercise their faith but rather run from it end up in a miserable and decrepit spiritual condition. And allowing such a thing to happen does not honor God at all. For one thing, it ignores and rejects all He has given us for victory, the “precious promises” He gives us for living godly lives consecrated to Him. To such people, the substance of faith is more a happy thought or luck charm than it is a supernatural infusion of iron will to fight the good fight and win:

[W]hereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:4-8)

The damage of the so-called “positive confession” aka “Word of Faith” heresy has been to strip out the heart of a warrior and replace it with the heart of entitlement-mindedness. Even committed followers of Jesus Christ can be affected by this fallacy if they are not watchful. When they suffer and feel alone and rejected, they wonder if God has abandoned them. That is actually an opportunity for faith to go from embers to blazing brilliance.
As long as we are humans and children of God, we need the trials. When distraction and disfocus dim our view of God’s glory or our humanity incrementally cools us to a temperature less than hot, we need the fiery trials. In essence, we must embrace them. Paul said he actually took pleasure in them (because he knew the benefits of them):

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

From my own experiences during fiery trials, I can testify that the pain, the angst, and other suffering are conquered the instant I surrender to the flames. It is like falling backwards off a steep cliff into the hands of God. There is no parachute and no stopping halfway. If He doesn’t catch you, then you will hit the bottom and die. That is literally the goal of faith—to trust God with your life and everything in it. All that is not put into His hands is unprotected and causes us angst and suffering. However, when all is surrendered, we receive a deep serenity that the fire will not burn anything except what needs to be consumed. That’s when the gold shines.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9; emphasis added)

Remember, the destiny of Christ was a cross. Our destiny is also a cross. Only when we accept that destiny, will we understand. Newness of life has its birth and growing pains. But the heart of a believer in Jesus Christ holds this proverb by its roots:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18; emphasis added)

In the meantime, let us not grow weary of the trials and tribulations of this life, knowing that God is doing His work within us for His glory:

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

How The Christian Life Works.

“I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking God to do His work through me.”

Hudson Taylor (21 May 1832 – 3 June 1905, British Christian missionary to China, founder of the China Inland Mission, now OMF International)

Source: Berean Call

As The Shining Moon and Glittering Stars

Even as the shining moon and the glittering stars give the most light and adorn the blue expanse of heaven the most gloriously, in the darkest nights, so it was also after A. D. 1000, as regards spiritual matters, which concern the honor of God and the salvation of the souls of men.

For, about the year 1000, as well as many years before and after but particularly then, the world lay sunken, as it were, in an arctic, six-month’s night, through the thick, and palpable darkness, which had arisen, with heavy vapors of superstitions, from the Roman pit. Yet, notwithstanding the state of the times, some undefiled persons, as bright heavenly signs, and stars, began to shine forth the more, and to let their light of evangelical truth illumine the dark nights of papal error. Yea, some, like the polar star, served as a sign to sail by; I mean, to accomplish safely and in a godly manner, through the turbulent waves of perverted worship and human inventions, the journey to the heavenly fatherland. Others, like the morningstar, or the lovely, blushing Aurora, announced the approaching day; we mean, they pointed to the true day of the Christian and evangelical worship of God, and revealed it, as much as they were able, to those who sat in the darkness of error.

We will no longer speak by simile; what we mean is this: That there were men in those dark times, who maintained God’s truth, in various points, according to the needs of that time, and bore witness to and sealed it not only with the mouth, but with the deed, yea, with their blood and death.

Martyrs Mirror – from chapter: AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY: SUMMARY OF THE MARTYRS IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY – page 265 -266, compiler T.J. Van Braght, 1660

May we, like the martyrs of the 1100s, stand for God’s truth as found in the Holy Scriptures; not only with the words of our mouth but with our actions, for the commandments and teachings of men continue today to produce a spiritual darkness that blinds the souls of men to eternal destruction. Let us be light in the darkness and guide others to the only safe harbor of Jesus, the Savior and Lord of Lords.

Carl

Rebellion Speaks To The Heart

Transgression [like an Oracle] speaks to the wicked deep in his heart.

There is no fear or dread of God before his eyes.

For he flatters and deceives himself in his own eyes,

That his iniquity will not be found out and be hated.

…he does not reject or despise evil.

Psalms 36: 1-2,4b Amplified

I believe King David wrote this Psalms out of his own personal experience with sin. The person in the psalm is called “the ungodly” (NASB) or “the wicked” (Amplified). The main fundamental characteristic of this person is there is no fear or dread of God before his eyes. He does not reject or despise evil.

Transgression signifies “willful deviation from, and therefore rebellion against, the path of godly living (Vines). You can not rebel against something unless it has been applied to you as a restraint. This is one reason I believe King David is speaking from his personal battle with sin. We will use the Bathsheba and Uriah scandal (II Samuel 11) to illustrate our point.

Transgression speaks pure rebellion against God’s revealed will in the heart of the ungodly or wicked person. In Scripture the heart is described as the hidden man, the “real me”, who I really am when the exterior facade that people see is stripped off. As the heart is hidden within the body of man, so the “real me” is hidden from the view of others…but not from God’s view. It is here, the heart, where this person has rejected  God’s lordship.

Rebellion speaks “like an Oracle”. This means man’s heart hears transgression or rebellion as an authoritative voice, it sounds true and correct in what it says because man’s heart is exceedingly wicked, who can know it. In ancient times an oracle was someone who heard from the pagan gods (demons) and was sought out by the powerful and the not so powerful who needed to know “the will of the gods”. Whatever the oracle said settled the matter. For example, Alexander The Great sought out the Temple of Apollo oracle at Delphi in Ancient Greece for “godly” advice.

This spirit of rebellion speaks with authority deep in the heart of this person. The common characteristic of the ungodly or wicked is that there is no fear or dread of God before their eyes. Fear” is obedient, reverential respect or awe for God. They do not have it. “…no …dread” means he does feel extreme reluctance to face God if he offends Him (Vines). In the midst of his willful rebellion toward God, he does not think about having to give an account before a Holy God. Because this measuring stick, the fear and dread of the Lord is not before the eyes of his understanding, he does not realize that he is deceiving himself. He is blinded with his own cravings or lusts and the desire to please man, or himself, instead of pleasing God.

Oh, there is a way that seems right to man but the ends thereof are death.

The reason he does not think about God in these matters is because rebellion flatters the heart to soothe his conscience, that organ that convicts of right and wrong. The flattery “sears the conscience” so it ceases to work, therefore, they have no moral compass. They are morally blind, i.e. if it feels good do it. The deception is necessary to prevent the inner man, especially in a Christian, from discovering his own iniquity and, consequently, hating his iniquity. Instead he, the Christian, goes on in his rebellion against God’s revealed will.

In David’s case, he went nine months being deceived by his transgression concerning his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, her husband and David’s loyal soldier. It was only when Nathan, God’s prophet, rebuked David did he awaken from transgression’s deceiving flattery and the fear or dread of the Lord returned to his understanding. Transgression flattered him with things like: “Your the king, do what you wish”; “You work hard and deserve this;” or “Your a strong warrior and smart leader, it is unfortunate that good men (i.e. Uriah) have to die”.

As born again Christians, if we discover our iniquity in the light of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we will hate it, for our true born again nature is to be Christ-like and not devil-like. If we can only repent of our sin in “words” but not in “practice”, then we will get on our knees and beg God to deliver us from the sin because we know He hates it; therefore, we hate it. By true repentance and the mercy of God, we can escape the bondage that our sin has delivered us into. Paul said:

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, YOU BECAME OBEDIENT FROM THE HEART to that form of teaching to which you were committed….

(Romans 6: 16-17 emphasis added)

The fear of the Lord includes the hatred of evil but a person in this condition, does not reject or despise evil (verse 4). Instead they embrace it and hold it close to their heart. They deceive themselves and others about what they are doing or so they think. David describes this person’s conduct:

The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;

He has ceased to be wise and to do good.

He plans wickedness upon his bed;

He sets himself on a path that is not good;

He does not despise evil.

(Psalms 36: 3-4 Amplified emphasis added)

If we have rebellion flattering us in our hearts concerning something WE KNOW is sin, displeasing to God, we need to get into God’s word and let Him teach us the fear or reverence of the Lord so we can truly hate our sin. We all like the song Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin but the apostle Peter says if we call God “Father” we need to live in the fear or reverence of the Lord:

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, CONDUCT YOURSELVES IN FEAR during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

(I Peter 1:17-19 emphasis added)

I know to some Christians, maybe most, fearing or reverencing the Lord is a foreign concept due to the emphasis on “love” in the New Testament church and the sugar coated preaching many hear today.  In future post we will look at how the early Christian church conducted itself in the fear of the Lord  and that Lord Jesus, the Messiah, delighted in the fear of the Lord.

Think on these things. Examine yourself. If need be, learn to walk in the wholesome, healthy, profound, adoring, awed respect (i.e. the fear of the Lord) of the Ancient of Days, our Heavenly Father, and Lord Jesus.

Oh by the way, did you see your self in what David said?

Carl

Thou art Coming

“Thou art coming, O our Saviour!
  Coming, God’s anointed King!
Every tongue Thy Name confessing,
  Well may we rejoice and sing.
Thou art coming! Rays of glory
  Through the veil Thy death has rent,
Gladden now our pilgrim pathway,
  Glory from Thy presence sent.
”Thou art coming! Thou art coming!
  We shall meet Thee on Thy way;
Thou art coming! We shall see Thee,
  And be like Thee on that day.
Thou art coming! Thou art coming!
  Jesus, our beloved Lord; 
Oh, the joy to see Thee reigning,
  Worshipped, glorified, adored!
”Thou art coming! Not a shadow,
  Not a mist, and not a tear,
Not a sin, and not a sorrow,
  On that sunrise grand and clear,
Thou are coming! Blessed Saviour,
  Nothing else seems worth a thought:
Oh, how marvelous the glory,
  And the bliss Thy pain hath bought.
”Thou are coming! We are waiting 
  With a ‘hope’ that cannot fail,
Asking not the day or hour,
  Anchored safe within the veil.
”Thou are coming! At Thy table
  We are witnesses of this,
As we meet Thee in communion,
  Earnest of our coming bliss.”

Frances Havergal

In The Heavenlies [Ephesians Bible Study] --H.A. Ironside, LITT.D

Awake Up

“Awake up righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame.” 1st Corinthian 15:34 (KJV)

Paul is writing to the Corinthian believers about the Corinthian believers. The “some” are not the unbelievers on the streets of Corinth who do not know God and run to idols but Paul is addressing those in the church who were teaching the error of no resurrection of the believer’s physical body.

Amid the assembly of believers there were those who had “no knowledge of God”.  Sounds like an oxymoron, a Christian believer with no knowledge of God.  In the Greek “no knowledge” does not mean “mere ignorance” (agnoia) but “reprehensible ignorance” (Vines).  They were not just lacking facts, but they were guilty before God for their own sloth (spiritual apathy and inactivity) and slight of God.

How do we slight God? They were guilty of treating God with indifference, treating His revealed will and ways as something of truly little importance, and pursuing their spiritual growth and relationship with Him in a careless manner.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

“…for some of you have not the knowledge of God [ you are utterly and willfully and disgracefully ignorant, and continue to be so, lacking the sense of God’s presence and all true knowledge of Him]. I say this to your shame.”  (emphasis added)

Denying the resurrection was giving evidence of this type of ignorance in some of the people.

Are we guilty of slighting God?  Are we living our lives in a manner that displays indifference to God’s will and ways, considers them of little importance and pursuing our spiritual growth and our Kingdom of God responsibilities in a careless manner?  Are we “gathering” with the Lord Jesus or “scattering”?

Not everyone in the Corinth Church believed this error. The “you “ in the latter part of the Scripture refers to the whole body of believers in Corinth. Paul is saying that because they pride themselves on their wisdom and intelligence, the spread of this error in their midst “displayed their culpable inability to recognize the character and power of God” (Henry). For this, the whole body should be ashamed, experience grief or inward pain because they now realized that they did not measure up to what they thought they were, in God’s eyes.

And herein is the danger of our walking in pride.

 In the first half of the Scripture Paul tells them “Awake up righteously, and sin not…”.

Their pride, rooted in their perceived wisdom and intelligence, had put them in a state of spiritual stupefaction. A state where the saint experiences a profound spiritual drowsiness or stupor. They had drunk deeply of the poison, their delusional pride, by comparing themselves among themselves and measuring themselves by themselves and not measuring themselves against God’s standard. Oh, how we need to heed Paul’s admonition in 1st Corinthians 10: 12 “…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”.

This produced in the church a state of spiritual lethargy where they were devoid of spiritual energy and interest. They had grieved (Ephesians 4:30) and quenched (1st Thessalonians 5:19) the Holy Spirit with their pride.  He is the Giver of the desire and will “to work for His good pleasure”.  (Philippians 2:13) His ministry was stopped by the pride in their lives. Now the Church was not a place of spiritual edification but a place of danger for the saints.  God now opposed them (James 4:6)!!!

Therefore, Paul commands them “Awake up righteously and stop sinning…”. The NASB says “Become sober minded as you ought and stop sinning,”. The Amplified Bible says “Awake [from your drunken stupor and return] to sober sense and your right minds, and sin no more.”

 Matthew Henry (1700s) says:

“Rouse yourselves, break off your sins by repentance: renounce and forsake every evil way, correct whatever is amiss, and do not by sloth and stupidity, be led away into such conversation and principles that will sap your Christian hopes, and corrupt your practice.”

This is what the Holy Spirit is telling the Corinthians through the pen of Paul.

What saith we? Do we see ourselves in Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthian believers? Oh, Father God remove the blinders of pride from our understanding that keeps us in darkness.

Do we need to wake up, to rouse ourselves, to become sober minded about our spiritual state?  Have we quenched and grieved the Holy Spirit in our life?  Have we stopped the rivers of living water (John 7:38) that are supposed to flow out of our innermost being and replaced it with a muddy slough of arrogance, self-indulgence, and worldly ways from our carnal nature.

Are we slighting God?

If the rapture of the believers happened today and we, in the twinkling of an eye, went from earth to His presence, what would be in our hand, in our mind and in our heart?  Would we be ashamed of what He caught us doing, thinking about, and craving for?

 It is going to happen one day. Let us be sober minded. Get right (with God) and ready (to stand in His Presence).

Believer, the Judgement Seat of Christ is also drawing closer. Are you ready to stand before your Savior and give an account of what you have done in this earthly life? Are we ready to receive our rewards or will we suffer loss ….for eternity?

Will He have to “wake us up” for the momentous occasion?

May Paul’s words to Timothy move us to self-examination in the light of His Word:

“Pay close attention to yourself…” (1st Timothy 4:16)

With repentance, love, and concern for the Church,

Carl

Chinese Proverbs

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. –I CORINTHIANS 15:58

Chinese proverbs are common and often have stories behind them. The proverb “pulling up a crop to help it grow” is about an impatient man in the Song Dynasty.  He was eager to see his rice seedlings grow quickly, so he would pull up each plant a few inches. After a day of tedious work, the man surveyed his paddy field.  He was happy that his crop seemed to have “grown “ taller.  But his joy was short-lived.  The next day, the plants had begun to wither because their roots were no longer deep.

In 2 Timothy 2:6, the apostle Paul compares the work of being a minister to the gospel to that of a farmer.  He wrote to encourage Timothy that, like farming, making disciples can be continuous, hard labor. You plow, you sow, you wait, you pray. You desire to see the fruits of your labor quickly, but growth takes time. And as the Chinese proverb so aptly illustrates, any effort to hurry the process won’t be helpful. 

As we labor faithfully, we wait patiently on the Lord, who makes all things grow (I Corinthian 3:7).

Source: – Poh Fang – author

Heavenly Minded

“Those who are the most heavenly minded are also of most earthly use.”

William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833, British politician, philanthropist, and one of the leaders of the movement to ban the slave trade).

Source: Berean Call

Fellowshipping With Your First Love

“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Lord Jesus in Revelation 2:4

I have a book, Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, that has a story about Billy Bray, one of God’s quaint vessels. He would offend some Christians today, but he had a real experience of salvation and he did not know what to do except express himself. They made fun of Billy Bray and laughed at him. “Why, Billy Bray, you are so happy, so joyous, all the time. Suppose you discovered you are not saved at all, you are really not a child of God, and suppose when you die you go to hell?” Billy Bray said, “Well, I suppose if I die and I discovered I am not a Christian and I go to hell, Jesus has been so real and wonderful and precious to me in life I will just have to shout all the way to hell. When I get down to hell I will have to run up and down the streets of hell shouting ‘Hallelujah, praise the Lord.’ The devil will come over to me and say, ‘Billy Bray, we cannot stand that down here; we cannot put up with that. We will just have to send you to heaven.” That is the joy of salvation.

Exploring 1.2.3 John – Jerry Vines (1989)

Dear born again Christian, how is your joy level right now?

 Is it full and overflowing? Maybe it has been a while since you had fellowship with the Joy-Givers, our Heavenly Father and His Mighty Son Jesus, your First Love. There is real, deep joy around their throne and, as His child, He wants our joy to be made complete. Why not “wash your feet” in the precious blood of Jesus (John 13:3-10) and get rid of that unconfessed sin in your life which prevents your fellowship with the Joy-Givers. After that, spend some time in prayer and Bible readings in His presence. Read I John 1: 4-10 for example and think on the awesome privilege you have in being called into fellowship with the Creator and Sustainer of all things, including you.

 In your First Love’s presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Return to your First Love today! Do not be a carnal Christian who is running around on his First Love, loving the devil’s world and their old, stinking, fleshly, sinful ways.

Instead, may rivers of living water, the Holy Spirit (John 7:38), flow out of you today and every day and may the people around you be watered by this spiritual, life-giving, river of God.

Carl

Matthew Maury’s Paths of the Sea

  Today’s oceanography and meteorology owe a great debt to Matthew Maury. He exemplified the biblical principle that whatever we do, we should do it “to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Maury’s scientific research revered God’s Creatorship while benefiting hisfellowman.1

  On a monument erected by the state of Virginia to his memory is found a plaque that reads as follows: “Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas, the genius who first snatched from the oceans and atmosphere the secret of their laws. His inspiration, Holy Writ, Psalm 8:8; Ecclesiastes 1:6.”2  

Genius indeed! Maury epitomizes the godly investigator whose creation science begins with the Creator’s written revelation—the Bible.3

  “I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible IS authority for everything it touches.”1

  As a child, Maury was taught the Psalms at home, and that divine book of praises imprinted upon his intelligent, investigative mind. Decades later Maury would live out his lifelong commitment to doxological creation science.4 Maury recognized the Holy Bible as perfect in whatever it taught, including being authoritatively relevant and accurate in scientific matters.1,4 Among the insights he gleaned are:  

1. The Gulf Stream washes nutrients from the Gulf of Mexico into the North Atlantic, benefiting whales, seabirds, and other oceanic creatures. This illustrates the scriptural principle of God’s providential care for animals (Job 38:41; Psalm147:9; Matthew 10:29; Luke 12:6).

  2. The general system of atmospherical circulation is referred to in Ecclesiastes 1:6.

  3. The water cycle matches Ecclesiastes 1:7.

  4. Atmospheric pressure is a geophysical reality mentioned in Job 28:25 as the “weight for the wind.”

  5. Maury’s most famous Scripture-based insight is that the oceans have subsurface currents with regular circulation patterns—the “paths of the seas” in Psalm 8:8.5

  Maury trembled at the privilege of uncovering the logic God carefully built into His creation, noting that scientific discovery is discovering God’s own mind.

  As a student of physical geography, I regard earth, sea, air, and water as parts of a machine, pieces of mechanism, not made with hands….And when, after patient research, I am led to the discovery of one of these [mechanisms], I feel, with the astronomer of old [Johannes Kepler],“as though I had thought one of God’s thoughts,” and tremble. Thus, as we progress with our science, we are permitted now and then to point out here and there in the physical machinery of the earth a design of the Great Architect when He planned it all.6

  Virginia’s monument to Matthew Maury reminds us of his historic testimony and scientific achievements. The more important “monument” to his godly work is the ongoing impact of Maury’s life of reverent research in God’s service, which has secured for him “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-21).  

  References  
1. Major, T. J. 1995. Honor to Whom Honor…Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873). Creation Research Society Quarterly. 32 (2): 82-87, quote from page 83.

2. Gish, D. Paths of the Seas. Days of Praise, October 6, 1993. “One day, while reading Psalm 8, [Maury] was struck by an important truth in the 8th verse…‘the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.’ He immediately saw the great practical significance of that verse, recognizing that there must be currents of water in the oceans, just like vast rivers, as well as in the atmosphere (Ecclesiastes 1:6).”

3. Maury, M. F. 1855. The Physical Geography of the Sea and Its Meteorology. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc

4. Johnson, J. J. S. An Oceanographer’s Insight, for Researching and Analyzing Oceanic and Littoral Ecosystem Dynamics, Guided by ‘High-Definition’ Biblical Philology, presented at the Creation Research Society Conference, Dallas, Texas, July 31, 2015, especially pages 3-13 and 17

5. Adapted from Major, Honor to Whom Honor, 85.

6. Meyer, J. R. 1982. The Life and Philosophy of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Sea. Creation Research Society Quarterly. 19 (2): 91-100, quoting from page 95 (from Maury’s keynote address “at the laying of the corner-stone for the University of the South in the Sewanee Mountains in East Tennessee on Nov. 30, 1860”). https://www.icr.org/article/matthew-maury-paths-of-the-sea/

Credulity Or Berean?

…We must be very careful to examine the words and fruits of those who speak in the name of God. Credulity is dangerous.  We can be led astray and lose our souls.

It is said that when Alexander the Great went to war against Darius, King of the Persians, he took a bath and caught cold. His friend, Philip, a physician, cared for him. Just at that time, Alexander received a letter from his most faithful commander advising him to be suspicious of Philip and not to take his medicine because the physician was in collusion with King Darius to poison him. Philip had allegedly received money and the promise of Darius’ sister for his wife. When the physician entered the room with his medicine, Alexander took the glass in one hand and with the other drank while Philip read. Then Alexander said to him, “I have confidence in your medicine and in your friendship.” He regained his health.

This example is often quoted in sermons to suggest that if we can have such confidence in man, then we can have even more in God –our greatest Friend.

It is my firm conviction that, assuming Alexander really responded in this manner and the story is not legend, he was misguided. Many kings and rulers have been poisoned by their physicians. Many of Stalin’s comrades were killed in this manner.

Jesus taught, “Beware of men” (Mt. 10:17). We must beware of men in material things, financial matters, and everyday affairs. Even more, we must not easily give our confidence when the eternal destiny of the soul is at stake.

If anyone desires salvation and sanctification, he might find a religious teacher who is trusted with speaking the oracles of God but be very choosy. 

The Oracles of God – Richard Wurmbrand, p.68-70

Brother Richard warns us that “credulity” is dangerous.  Credulity is the state of being credulous which is being gullible; ready to believe without proof.  Don’t be credulous.

 Be a Berean. Acts 17:10-11 tells us the brethren “sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

They were checking what Paul said about the Messiah against what the Old Testament Scriptures said.  They were not gullible. They wanted to see it in the Scriptures for themselves.

It is prudent for us to read our Bible daily asking the Holy Spirit to teach us the truth. He was sent to lead us into all truth. We need to let Him.

Read your Bible. Be a Berean!

God bless you and be wise!

Carl