Christians and Christ’s Intention

“The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God: all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are his marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which he nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered!”

John Wycliffe (c. 1320s – 31 December 1384),

He was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, biblical translator, reformer, minister, and professor at the University of Oxford. He was an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood and is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism. Wycliffe attacked the privileged status of the clergy, which had bolstered their powerful role in England. He then attacked the luxury and pomp of local parishes and their ceremonies. Wycliffe also advocated translation of the Bible into the common language.

From The Berean Call

Little Children and The Kingdom of God

But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD BELONGS TO SUCH AS THESE. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

Lord Jesus to the parents of the little children- Luke 18: 16-17 (emphasis added)

This morning the pastor shared this Scripture in his sermon and it reminded me of the following statement by the commentariat Matthew Henry:

“The Holy Spirit is given to us to make us like little children.”

What a great truth to live by. May we become like little children in our relationship with our Heavenly Father; trusting, believing, receiving from and loving Him, as little children in relationship with their earthly fathers.

Carl

The Second Advent of Jesus, The Messiah

Part Two – The Second Advent of Jesus, The Messiah

Lord Jesus’ SECOND ADVENT is approaching. This is when He physically returns to the Earth.

When Lord Jesus read Isaiah 61 to announce that that He was the Messiah, He stopped half way through verse 2 where it says “to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” and did not read the second half of the verse which says,

“And the day of vengeance of our God…” Isaiah 61:2b

If He had read the second part He could not have said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Because the second part has to do with His return to Earth as a Warrior King-Priest to reveal Himself to Israel and save them from the armies of all the nations of the Earth who will try to destroy her.

In God The Father’s plan, this day of vengeance had not arrived when Jesus was speaking in His hometown synagogue. By reading verse 2 and 3 we see what His Second Advent involves:

“The SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, FOR HE ANOINTED ME…TO PROCLAIM..

“…the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:2b-3

This section of Scripture reveals a SECOND ADVENT and reveals the specialized task the Messiah, Jesus, will perform as Warrior King-Priest:

  • …to proclaim…the day of vengeance of our God
  • to comfort all who mourn… in Zion
  • …giving a garland instead of ashes
  • …giving the oil of gladness instead of mourning
  • …giving a mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting
  • He will make the people of Israel into oaks of righteousness
  • He will cause glory to rebound unto God, by the changes in the people of Israel.

The specialized task deal with two things: the day of vengeance and the salvation of Israel physically and spiritually. This is after the church as been raptured and almost at the end of the future Anti-Christ’s rule.

First, why the need to minister to the mourning?

The setting is the end of the seven years of tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon is ongoing. Armies from all the nations of the earth are besieging and close to overwhelming the defenders of Jerusalem. Some of Israel has fled to the wilderness (Petra), some have been killed by the invading armies and some are besieged in Jerusalem. Zechariah 13: 9 tell us that two-thirds of the people in Israel will die during this time but much of the Jewish population will have already fled to the safety of the wilderness. The one-third remaining in Israel will be refined or purified by the Lord.

It is my understanding that at that point in the battle, Jesus will physically set His feet on the Mount of Olives coming to help Israel and will reveal Himself to Israel. They will understand that He was their Messiah all along. This is why the Messiah’s specialized tasks mention mourning, ashes, and fainting. Listen:

Zechariah 12:9-14 NASBS

[9] And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. [10] “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. [11] In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. [12] The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; [13] the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; [14] all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves.

And again:

Ezekiel 20:43-44 NASBS

[43] There you will remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evil things that you have done. [44] Then you will know that I am the LORD when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel,” declares the Lord GOD.'”

Concerning those who have fled to the wilderness:

Ezekiel 20:33-38 NASBS

[33] “As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. [34] I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; [35] and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. [36] As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord GOD. [37] “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; [38] and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.

Think about what this will be like? For the Jewish people to realize that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah all along. To realize that all the judgements that they as a people had endured over 2000 years could have been avoided. Is it any wonder that Ezekiel 20:43 says speaking about the Jewish people who realize this, “you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evil things that you have done.” The shock of the realization and then the remembering of all they had done individually and nationally. It will be a time of “being stunned” by what is being revealed to each individual.

But…now we see the reason that the Messiah will comfort all who mourn in Zion, giving a garland instead of ashes and a mantle of praise for the spirit of fainting! Though this realization that Jesus is the Messiah will happen to the whole nation, it is through personal repentance and faith in Jesus The Messiah, that the Jewish remnant will be born again. That is what “…by themselves…” in Zechariah 12:12-14 means.

It will be a glorious transformation of Israel that will rebound to God’s glory!!!!!

Ezekiel 39:25-29 describes this time:

[25] Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. [26] They will forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid. [27] When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. [28] Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. [29] I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord GOD.

Isaiah 61: 4-9 describes what the Lord will do for Israel after they acknowledge Him and repent:

[4] Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations; And they will repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations. [5] Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. [6] But you will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And in their riches you will boast. [7] Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, Everlasting joy will be theirs. [8] For I, the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering; And I will faithfully give them their recompense And make an everlasting covenant with them. [9] Then their offspring will be known among the nations, And their descendants in the midst of the peoples. All who see them will recognize them Because they are the offspring whom the LORD has blessed.

The second task of Jesus during His second advent is to proclaim the day of vengeance. To understand this let us begin with Isaiah 63: 1-6 which is a picture of Lord Jesus on this day. Note what Lord Jesus says in verse 4.

Isaiah 63:1-6

[1] Who is this who comes from Edom (modern day Jordan)

With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah (Petra),

This One who is majestic in His apparel,

Marching in the greatness of His strength?

“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”

[2] Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?

[3] “I have trodden the wine trough alone,

And from the peoples there was no man with Me.

I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath;

And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments,

And I stained all My raiment.

[4] “For the day of vengeance was in My heart,

And My year of redemption has come.

[5] “I looked, and there was no one to help,

And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold;

So My own arm brought salvation to Me,

And My wrath upheld Me.

[6] “I trod down the peoples in My anger

And made them drunk in My wrath,

And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

(Clarification added)

Did you notice in verse 4 that Jesus said the day of vengeance was in My heart? Remember in Isaiah 61:2b the Messiah would proclaim the day of vengeance? Here we have Jesus The Messiah proclaiming this when He physically comes to Earth to destroy all the armies intent on wiping out Israel and the Jewish people.

After the day of vengeance is finished, Lord Jesus will establish His earthly kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years. The new temple described in Zechariah will be built and from there He will rule all nations. Isaiah 61: 10-11 describes the Lord Jesus at this time:

Isaiah 61:10-11

[10] I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. [11] For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

After the thousand years, the end of time will come and the final judgement. Those who have rejected Lord Jesus will be sent to the place prepared for the devil and his angels forever, the ones they knowingly or unknowingly served/followed in their earthly existence.

The disciples of Jesus Christ will inherit a new heaven and earth where they will dwell forever.

Where will you be at this time?

So we have looked at the two advents of the Lord Jesus and the difference of each. We are in the first and the second advent is steadily approaching.

Even so, Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20)

Carl

  • The Two Advents of Jesus, The Messiah

    Part One – The First Advent of Jesus, The Messiah

    When Jesus returned from the wilderness and being tempted by Satan, the Scriptures say that He came to His hometown Nazareth, in the power of the Holy Spirit. He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath as was His custom and He stood up to read. The scroll of Isaiah was given to Him and He found what we know as Isaiah 61 and read the following:

    Luke 4:18-19

    [18] “The SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, [19] To PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”

    and then He said this:

    “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4: 21

    This caused quite a stir in His hometown synagogue. Why?

    The Hometown Guy, which is what His old neighbors considered Him to be, had just informed the congregation that He was the Anointed One or Messiah that Israel had been looking for for hundreds of years. At that time Israel was looking for the Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression.

    They could not receive this awesome revelation and ended up trying to kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff.

    Jesus had declared that He was the Messiah. The title Messiah refers to one who is anointed with oil, symbolizing the reception of the Holy Spirit, enabling them to do an assigned task (Vines). It refers to the consecration of someone or something to a specialized task (Moody).

    The Hebrew word for Messiah is masiah and in the Greek it is christos. In the English language it is christ. In English speaking cultures Jesus is known as Jesus Christ which means Jesus The Messiah or Jesus The Anointed One. The word “Christ”, emphasizes the special anointing of Jesus of Nazareth for His role as God’s Chosen One (Vines).

    Jesus fulfilled the two qualifications to be the Messiah: 1) the anointing of the Holy Spirit and 2) He was able to fulfill the specialized task.

    Please note that after defeating Satan’s in the wilderness, it is said that:

    “And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit…”

    He was “anointed with oil” so to speak; the Holy Spirit.

    Secondly, note that in verse 18 above that Jesus said “…because He [God The Father] anointed me to…” and then He read the specialized task that He was “anointed” to do:

    • to preach the gospel to the poor
    • …proclaim release to the captives
    • …recovery of sight to the blind
    • …to set free those who are oppressed
    • …to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord

    There is a spiritual and physical component to these task. He preached the good news of God’s mercy to those who realized they were spiritually bankrupt (poor) regardless of their financial status. He physically healed the eyes of the blind but He also opened the eyes of the heart (the understanding) of the spiritually blind. He set free people who were held captive and oppressed by sickness and disease. He also set free those who were enslaved and oppressed by the demons, held captive to do Satan’s will.

    So we see He had the qualifications of the Messiah: He was anointed because of the Holy Spirit and there were specialized tasks that only He could perform. All through the New Testament we see Him fulfilling these tasks thereby proving that He is the Messiah.

    He was the Servant Messiah who died for our sins and was raised from the dead and is seated at God’s right hand as I write this. The favorable year of the Lord has brought eternal salvation from the guilt and penalty of sin. By God’s grace we can be saved from our sins through simple faith in what Christ did on the Cross. During this “year” God remembered us Gentiles and made a Way for us to be reconciled to Him through the Cross of Christ. The Gentiles were welcomed into the kingdom of God.

    These are the days we are living in. Next time we will look at the yet-to-come second advent of the Lord Jesus. Hope you will join us for it. You will find it very interesting.

    Thank you for your time. I pray you were blessed by the Word of God.

    Carl

    When It’s Not Safe to Die

    The following is an excerpt from One Heartbeat Away by author Mark Cahill. His book is designed to help us think about the inevitable: our death. It is a great witnessing tool to promote discussion with anyone not sure of their eternal destiny.

    “I talked to a young man one day who mentioned that he had been injured and ended up on an emergency room operating table. He said his heart had stopped beating and as his soul rose out of his body, immediately the sense of an evil presence began to come over him and he could hear an evil, hissing laughter. He told me he was so glad to get back into his body and be alive. He now knows how real evil is.

    A respiratory nurse who works in an emergency room told me about a patient who had gone “code red,” —he flatlined. She and some other medical personnel rushed over with the defibrillator to try to bring him back to life. They applied the paddles and revived him. She said that he started screaming and shouting, “The heat! the heat!” Then his heart stopped again.

    They brought him back to the second time. He shouted, “The flames, the flames!” They lost him again.

    Four times the man flatlined and was brought back, each time shouting about the heat or the flames. After the last time, he died, and they couldn’t bring him back. She said all the doctors and nurses just stood there for a few minutes and stared at the body. They all knew that man went to hell. He was screaming it to them before he even got out of here.

    I have met several people (all in a non-drug and non-alcohol-induced state) who experienced a burning hell rather than being with Jesus, or the typical tunnel- and white-lights scenario. So, don’t believe that sweetness-and-light neardeath stories are the only kind people report.

    Dr. Maurice Rawlings, a cardiologist, has witnessed numerous patients during and after their near-death experiences and reported his findings in Omni magazine. After interviewing 300 patients immediately after resuscitation, Dr. Rawlings says that nearly half of them reported seeing a lake of fire, devil-like figures, and other sights reflecting the reality of hell. “There is a life after death,” Rawlings said, and if I don’t know where I’m going, it’s not safe to die. ” (Source: Chick Publication)

    Dear Reader: God created the lake of fire, what we call hell, for the devil and his angels, not for man. He is not willing that any should perish but that all would repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as the sacrifice for their sins. He sent Jesus to the Cross to pay the penalty of your and my sins so that we would not have to pay for them, for the wages of sin is death.

    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
    17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

    John 3:16-17

    Therefore, if you are without Christ in this evil world, call out to Him now and ask Him to save you from the guilt and penalty of your sins.

    But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” — that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,
    9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
    10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
    11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

    Romans 10: 8-11

    Jesus will save you from the wrath of God. You will be born again and become a new creation in Christ Jesus. Don’t let the devil fool you. This is the decision he wants you to put off so you will be with him in hell for eternity.

    Drop me a comment if I can help you get started in your Christian walk.

    God bless!

    Carl

    Is It Good Thursday or Good Friday?

    Have you ever wondered how Lord Jesus spent three days and three nights in the grave when He died on Good Friday and was resurrected Sunday morning. If I can count that is only two. During Easter I received the following that explains that He really died on Thursday and not Good Friday. I think you will find it interesting and well documented. The information is from the Berean Call. Enjoy and God bless you! Carl

    Question: I understand that you believe that Jesus died on the cross on Thursday, not Good Friday. Why do you say that, and does it matter?

    Response: Scripture reveals the answer. Through the writings of Jeremiah, Daniel learned that the Babylonian captivity would last 70 years (Dn 9:2). God had commanded that each seven years the Hebrew slaves should be set free, debtors forgiven, and the land given a one-year sabbath of rest (Ex 21:2;  Lv 25:2-4; Dt 15:1,2,12). For 490 years Israel had disobeyed this precept. In judgment, the Jews became slaves of Babylon while their land rested for 70 years of sabbaths.

    Daniel confessed this sin, pondering and praying, and was given the revelation that another period of 490 years (70 weeks of years) lay ahead for his people and for Jerusalem (9:24). Then all of Israel’s sins would be purged, all prophecy fulfilled and ended, and the Messiah would reign on David’s throne in Jerusalem. These 70 weeks of years were to be counted “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” (v. 25). That crucial date is given to us in Scripture.

    Nehemiah tells us: “in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king” (2:1), he received the authorization to rebuild Jerusalem. When the day of the month was not given, the first day was intended. There were several Artaxerxes, but only one, Longimanus, who ruled more than 20 years—from 465-425 BC. Thus we have the key date from which this incredible prophecy was to be calculated: Nisan 1, 445 BC.

    At the end of 69 of these “weeks” (7×69 = 483 years) “Messiah the Prince” would be made known to Israel (Dn 9:25) and then “be cut off [slain]” (v. 26). Counting 483 years of 360 days each (the Hebrew and Babylonian calendar), a total of 173,880 days from Nisan 1, 445 bc brings us to Sunday, April 6, ad 32. On that very day, now celebrated as Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey and was hailed as Messiah the Prince! (See also Zec:9:9

    There is, however, an even deeper meaning to the phrase, “In the fulness of time”: April 6, ad 32, on the Hebrew calendar was the tenth of Nisan. On that day, the Passover lamb was taken from the flock and placed under observation for four days to make certain that it was “without blemish.” During the same four days, Christ, whom John the Baptist had hailed as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn:1:29before“the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it [the passover lamb] in the evening [between 3:00 and 6:00 pm]” (Ex 12:6). It was during that precise time period that Jesus died on the cross!

    In fact, the rabbis had determined not to arrest Jesus during Passover, “lest there be an uproar of the people” (Mk 14:2). Yet that was when He had to die. Judas was not only Satan’s pawn but God’s. Even the “thirty pieces of silver” for which he so shrewdly bargained fulfilled prophecy (Zec:11:12-Paul wrote, “Christ our passover [lamb] is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor:5:7

    The fourteenth of Nisan began at sunset Wednesday evening. That night, Jesus and His disciples had the “last supper” in the upper room where they were preparing to eat the Passover the following night. At this meal “before the feast of the passover” (Jn:13:1), Jesus told His disciples, “One of you shall betray me” (Jn:13:21significantly, “I tell you before…that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he” (Jn:13:19 was declaring once again to His disciples that He was Yahweh, the I AM of Israel, who tells beforehand what will happen and makes certain that it comes to pass (Is 46:9-10).

    Arrested by the Judas-led troop in the Garden later that night, Christ was taken secretly to the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest. A sham trial with hastily called false witnesses convened sometime after midnight and condemned Christ to death as dawn broke. Pilate, the Roman governor, was notified of the emergency. Hurriedly taken down side streets, the prisoner was received into the citadel at “the third hour” (Mk 15:25), (about 9:00 am), Nisan 14. All over Israel preparations were underway to kill the Passover lamb, which was to be eaten that night.

    Pilate let his citizens decide the prisoner’s fate. The bloodthirsty rabble turned against the One who had miraculously healed and fed so many of them. “Crucify him, crucify him” (Lk 23:21). “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Mt 27:25).

    Shortly before noon, Jesus, scourged and beaten, was led out of the city to “the place of the skull.” By noon, the One whom Jerusalem, in fulfillment of prophecy, had hailed as its long-awaited Messiah, was hanging naked on the center cross between two thieves. Man had crucified his Creator!

    The next three hours of that Thursday afternoon the earth was darkened mysteriously (Mt 27:45) as God “laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:6). Thursday? Not “Good Friday”? Indeed not. Jesus himself had said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth [i.e., “Abraham’s bosom”]” (Mt 12:40; Lk 16:22). The gospel includes the declaration that Christ “rose again the third day” (1 Cor:15:4).

    Had Christ been crucified on Friday, He couldn’t possibly have spent three days and three nights in the grave by Sunday morning. We are distinctly told that the angel rolled away the stone “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week” (Mt 28:1). The tomb was already empty, so Christ must have risen from the dead sometime prior to dawn.

    Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—does it really matter? Yes! The day of our Lord’s crucifixion is of the utmost importance. If Christ was not three days and three nights in the grave, then He lied. His death, to fulfill prophecy, had to occur at the very time the Passover lambs were being slain throughout Israel. It is an astronomical fact that Nisan 14, AD 32, fell on Thursday.

    “And it was the preparation of the passover….The Jews therefore…that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day…besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (Jn:19:14 of the Passover lamb (Ex 12:46) or of the Messiah (Ps:34:20 knowing why he did it, “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side” (Jn:19:34), fulfilling yet another scripture: “they shall look upon me whom they pierced” (Zec:12:10

    John explains that the “Sabbath,” which began at sunset the Thursday Christ was crucified, “was an high day.” It was, in fact, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, of which the first and last days were special sabbaths. It ended Friday at sunset,  immediately followed by the weekly sabbath that ended at sunset on Saturday. Thus two sabbaths followed Christ’s death, preventing the women from coming to the grave until the third day, Sunday morning.

    The rabbis thought that having Jesus crucified proved He wasn’t the Messiah. In fact, it was one more proof that He was! The soldiers took His clothes for a souvenir and gambled for His robe (Ps:22:18 nails were driven into His hands and feet, and a spear pierced His side, drawing forth the blood of our redemption—all in fulfillment of prophecy!

    [Adapted from “The Cradle and the Cross,” Dave Hunt, 1992]

    God’s Time Table

    Time is not idle.

    God Almighty’s clock is ticking.

    Time is marching to the Second Coming

    The Day of Vengeance of our God is looming (1)

    The Year of Redemption will be in the Son of Man’s heart

    Man can not stop God’s timing or turn it back

    We can only worship the Lord with reverence

    And rejoice with trembling

    How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (2)

    The day cometh

    The Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night

    While they say “Peace and Safety” destruction will suddenly come

    The godless shall not escape

    No. Not one. (3)

    There is no fear of the Lord before their eyes (4)

    But those who trust in Jesus Christ will not be surprised

    The Day will not overtake them like a thief

    They all are Sons of Light

    They all are Sons of Day

    They are alert and sober

    Not asleep in the light

    For God has not destined them to wrath

    But for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ

    Therefore encourage one another

    As you see the Day approaching (5)

    For Time is not idle

    God Almighty’s clock is ticking

    The Day of Vengeance of our God is looming

    The Year of Redemption will be in Jesus’ heart (6)

    Even so, Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

    The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (7)

    1. Isaiah 63: 4, Isaiah 61: 2b

    2. Psalm 2: 11-12

    3. I Thessalonians 5:2-3

    4. Romans 3:18

    5. I Thessalonians 5:4-11

    6. Isaiah 63:4, Isaiah 61:2b

    7. Revelations 22: 20-21

    God Speaks To Mankind

    God has spoken to mankind over the centuries in many different ways, and in these last days He has given specific instructions.

    God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, [2] in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

    Heb. 1:1-2 (emphasis added)

    And then again,

    Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James a and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. [2] And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. [3] And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. [4] Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” [5] While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

    Matt 17:1-5 (emphasis added)

    That is pretty plain, is it not? God, the Father, has spoken to us through His Beloved Son, Jesus. By reading the Bible we can find out what He said. If someone claims to speak for Him, it will line up with what Jesus said. If it does not, the person is not speaking for God.

    Thank you, God, for making it so simple!

    No secret societies, no rituals, special prayer methods, magic words, secret oaths or mystic ceremonies. Just read what Jesus said in the Bible to know what God has said.

    Carl

    How religious is your state?

    By Michael Lipka and Benjamin Wormald

    Mississippi, Alabama and other Southern states are among the most highly religious states in the nation, while New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine in New England are among the least devout, according to some of the key measures used to determine levels of religiosity in the Pew Research Center’s most recent Religious Landscape Study.

    To begin, select a state to see where it ranks in terms of overall religiosity. In exploring the interactive it is important to keep in mind that differences between two states may not always be statistically significant due to the margins of error that are inherent in this survey data.

    To select a state click here.

    “I Know Every Bird of The Mountains”

    Cedar Waxwings

    “I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is mine.”

    The Lord – Psalms 50:11

    Every winter we look forward to the arrival of the goldfinches and cedar waxwings. The flock of goldfinches arrived this morning and swarmed the sunflower seed and thistle feeders. The ground seems alive with all the birds moving around, feeding on the spillage.

    The cedar waxwing flock will appear later in February or early March. They come for the red berries on the Holly tree. They do not come to the feeders. Sometimes the only way we know they are in the area, is we awake to find all of the berries gone. Occasionally you will see the flock in the trees but you have to wait for the Japanese plums to ripen to see the flock in action, diving, flying and fighting one another for the juicy plums.

    I believe Jesus rejoiced greatly when He created the birds. Someone has said that butterflies are “flying flowers”. I think the same is true of most songbirds, the painted bunting, cardinals, cedar wax wings, indigo bunting, and such.

    As I watch the birds feeding in the yard, I am always reminded of what the Lord told the disciples about the sparrows:

    “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food and the body than clothing?

    Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

    Jesus – Matthew 6:25-26

    May you remember His words the next time you see a sparrow or some other type of bird. Our Heavenly Father is just that, a Father, and He will take care of His children. And that is what biblically born again Christians are, His children.

    He meets our every need. From the air that we breathe to the bed we lie down in at night, to the food that we partake of and the clothes that we wear. He even gives us the faith to believe the gospel and the grace to walk it out. He protects us from unseen evil and opens our eyes to understand that their are just some things we need to flee from. He has even prepared a place in His heaven for us and will take us there one day.

    He truly is a father to us, His children.

    “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…

    John 1:12

    May each earthly need be met and rich, spiritual blessings be in your life!

    Carl

    Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.”

    Beth Moore Tempest (or How We Should Approach Bible Study)

    The following is an excellent short article on how we should approach Bible study. It is written by Wallace Henley, a former White House and Congressional aide, who is senior associate pastor at Houston’s Second Baptist Church.  The article was published in The Christian Post on January 7, 2019.  I hope this speaks to you. God bless. Carl

    Beth Moore Tempest

    Beth Moore, my fellow Houstonian, has stirred quite a tempest in the teapot of social (and often anti-social) media. “Spending time with God and spending time with the Bible is not the same thing,” she said.

    I had to settle the issue for myself in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when I was running from God’s core calling for my life—church-centered ministry. As a newspaper reporter, I interviewed Thomas Altizer, the prime celebrity of the “god-is-dead” movement, Episcopal Bishop James Pike, who was toying with the occult, and a famed Bible translator who himself was uncertain about the Bible’s inspiration.

    And that’s just a sampling.

    It was a period of intoxicating relativism, making even great theologians inebriated, some crazy-drunk, others merely tipsy.
    In 1973, after a decade in journalism and government, God dramatically renewed the call to church ministry He had given me when I was fifteen. Within months, still somewhat under the influence of theological liberalism, I was pastor of a small Alabama congregation.

    One Sunday, an elderly parishioner told me he loved my preaching. My head swelled until he told me the reason: My sermons were Bible-lite, short enough to get home for a nap and Sunday afternoon TV sports, and not long enough to put him to sleep in the pew.
    As for the church, there was little growth in those early months, especially in baptisms.
    Fresh from the Watergate White House when I entered the pastorate, I thought I was walking into a calm garden. Not so. People were desperately ill, families were in crisis, there were emergency pastoral calls in the wee hours.

    I needed to go into the pulpit every Sunday with an assuring, confident, “Thus saith the Lord!” — a proclamation that would feed and strengthen the people God gave me to serve. Churches in America and Europe were shriveling under the tenuous, hedge-all-bets preaching that said, “… maybe God might be saying…”

    Cal Thomas was and is a friend from our Washington days. One day Cal phoned, and told me of hearing a certain philosopher speak at a Houston church. “Have you ever read Francis Schaeffer?” he asked. I hadn’t, but soon plowed into Schaeffer’s writings.
    “The Bible is the weapon which enables us to join with our Lord on the offensive in defeating the spiritual hosts of wickedness,” Schaeffer wrote. “But,” he continued, “It must be the Bible as the Word of God in everything it teaches…”

    Jesus’ words were echoing all through this process, and even now reverberate in my spirit.

    At one point Jesus thanked the Father for having “hidden” His profound revelation “from the wise and intelligent” and “revealed them to infants.” (Matthew 11:25) The Lord said that “unless you are converted and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

    It hit me that I must be “converted” in my approach to Scripture, and become like a child.
    That led me to what I call the “Wow!” principle of biblical interpretation.

    So, if you want to meet God in the Bible and Him to meet you, approach it as a little child. Rather than noodling on “how” a virgin could get pregnant, a man could walk on water, heal the sick, cast out demons, atone for the sins of the world, rise from the dead, shout “Wow!”

    In other words, move from “How?” to “Wow!” in reading the Bible.

    As I write these words I look right across my desk and see a photo of Jim DeLoach. It’s on the cover of his funeral bulletin, dated December 4, 2018. The photograph shows Jim holding up a Bible in his left hand, and driving home a point with his right. I have never known a person who loved the Bible more than Jim.

    He was in his nineties when he died, and still teaching a Bible class.

    Jim was a “Wow!” guy with every reason in the world to get marooned on “How?” He was one of the few people who fought in both the Pacific and Atlantic in the Second World War. His best shipmate died agonizing from burns, in Jim’s arms. Later in life, Jim would spend long hours at the side of his beloved wife as she sank into illness, and died.

    Nevertheless, Jim stayed in “Wow!” mode.

    After leaving military service, Jim became a teaching assistant at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Among his students was a feisty young Mississippi boy full of “How?” questions. Jim recognized greatness in the young man, and nurtured in him a high view of Scripture midst a seminary that had gone far into the liberal theology camp.
    The young man was Ed Young, destined to become the pastor of America’s largest Baptist Church—Second Baptist of Houston, with, at this writing, more than eighty thousand members, and preacher on “Winning Walk”, a global broadcast into more than a hundred nations.

    Jim would spend more than forty years at Ed Young’s side as his friend, mentor and primary associate pastor.

    I doubt there was ever a day when Jim DeLoach did not meet God in the Bible every time he opened its pages.

    I know Ed Young, on whom Jim had so much influence, spends time with God when he spends time in the Bible because it is evident in his preaching and leadership.

    So Beth Moore is both right and wrong: Read the Bible with the “How?” approach, and you probably won’t be spending time with God there.

    Take the “Wow!” attitude of childlike wonder, and you will discover that you have indeed spent quality time with God.
    Wallace Henley, a former White House and Congressional aide, is senior associate pastor at Houston’s Second Baptist Church. He is founder of Belhaven University’s Master of Ministry Leadership degree. He is co-author of God and Churchill, with the late Jonathan Sandys, Winston Churchill’s great-grandson.

     

    Is The New Spirituality Correct About The Existence of Sin?

    New age gurus, spirit guides, higher selfs, Ascended Masters, Cosmic Christs, “Master Jesus”, and other spirit entities teach their adherents that there is no sin, the person controls their destiny, and, since the adherent is god himself (so they teach), there is no coming judgement for sin only evolving into a higher plane of being.

    This is a great deception like has never been seen in the western world before. Tens of millions, both religious and non-religious, are believing these doctrines of demons. Pew Research Center’s survey (December 2017) found that 60% of self-identified American Christians held at least one New Age belief. The evil spirits who masquerade as these entities know the truth. They are leading these people to the same destruction that awaits them.

    To counter the New Age lies about there being no “sin” and “future judgement”, please consider the following:

    • There is a Day of Reckoning
    • There are Books containing the record of our sins.
    • You can pay for your own sins.
    • There is a better way.

    THERE IS A DAY OF RECKONING

    The truth is that there is a judgement of the dead. The following biblical Scriptures give us a glimpse of this yet to come event:

    Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” Revelation 20:11-12

    And

    I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire.

    A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened. Daniel 7:9-10

    This is the Great White Throne Judgement at the end of time. Holy God is the Judge and “thousands upon thousands” holy angels are attending Him. The others are the physically dead who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior.

    There are several books present. One is the book of Life which contains the names of the redeemed. These are the saved who have trusted in the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.  His death on the cross paid for their sins. This book will be opened to see if the person’s name is listed as “redeemed”.

    THERE ARE OTHER BOOKS CONTAINING RECORDS OF OUR SINS

    The scripture also says “and books were opened”. What are these books? Well, these books contain our sins, more specifically our ungodly deeds. Not only our ungodly deeds though but our ungodly words also. Listen to Jesus’ half-brother Jude and Jesus Himself:

     “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,
    to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”   Jude 14-15

    Concerning our “words” Jesus Himself said:

    “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”      Matthew 12:36

    So God has a record of not only a person’s ungodly deeds but his ungodly words also. Not only does “sin” exist, but there is a Holy God who is keeping track of each person’s “sin”. That is very sobering. Every ungodly thing you or I have ever done or said is written down in heaven.

    Just think about standing alone before the Holy God of all creation and His Holy Host and being judged. All of our sinful deeds and words being revealed in such an pure and holy company and we’re having to answer for our actions!

    THERE ARE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES IF YOU PAY FOR YOUR OWN SINS

    This judgement will be a horrible for the person who has rejected Christ’s atoning sacrifice for their sins.  There is no way of escape. The person is already physically dead and the “second death” now looms before him. Payday has come.

    “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23

    Since the person has rejected God’s payment for their sins, now they have to pay. He rejected God’s Love Gift to the world that paid for the world’s sins.

    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
    “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”   John 3: 16-17

    “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
    For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:8-10

    This very Judge the person is standing before is the very One who was in-Christ on the cross reconciling the world to Himself. In other words, the Judge has already paid for the person’s sins but they rejected this free gift of salvation.

    “… that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…”  II Cor. 5:20

    All hope will now flee away.  Despair. Terror. No ONE will escape.

    The consequence of choosing to pay for your own sins, is to experience the “second death”. At the end of the person’s judgement and his guilt has been proven before a Holy God and the host of heaven, an angel will come forth and cast the person into the lake of fire where they will spend eternity.

    This is how people will pay for their sins if they reject Christ.

    This lake of fire was created by God for the devil and his angels, not man. God never intended for man to go there. This is what the new age spirit guides, Ascended Masters, higher selfs, false prophets and other spirit entities do not want you to know.

    BUT IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son in to the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. John 3:16-17

    Lord Jesus paid for our sins on the cross and God sent Him into the world for this purpose.

    …but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

    Therefore, repent (change your mind) of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today and be saved from the wrath of God that is coming. When I did this earlier in my life, God had an angel write in my sin account, PAID IN FULL BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.

    Listen to what a murderer who repented and was saved, said about this:

    And when you were dead in your transgressions…He made you alive together with Him, having FORGIVEN US ALL OUR TRANSGRESSIONS, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

    Do you want your “certificate of debt” to be cancelled? Or do you want to stand before a Holy God and pay the “certificate of debt” yourself with your eternal well-being?

    Flee to the cross of Jesus Christ. The proof that God accepted His sacrifice for your and my sins is that He raised Jesus from the dead.  He is now interceding for the believers in heaven.

    Put your trust in what He did for you. Ask Him to save you and forgive you for all of your sins. And to come into your life and be your Lord.

    The evil spirits that are deceiving millions in the New Spirituality or New Age movement know all of this. That is why they are working such deception and taking millions of souls captive through their lies. They know what awaits them, they can not repent and be saved.

    But you can. Seize the opportunity before it is too late.

    “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered.
    “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”  Romans 4:7-8

    May your sins be covered by the precious blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God.

    Carl

    Adam and Eve or DNA “Bottleneck”?

    Some media outlets announced evidence of the creation account, or at least the great Flood, after a study published in Human Evolution found that mitochondrial diversity in almost all species points to a common starting point about as early as 100,000 years ago.

    In an effort to prove that mitochondrial DNA, found in organelles in each cell and which is distinct from the DNA in the nucleus of cells, is a reliable tool for identifying distinct lines with species or organisms, researchers Mark Stoeckle and David Thaler discovered that the 7.6 billion humans living on earth likely emerged from “a small population in which a sequence from one mother became the ancestor for all modern human mitochondrial sequences”.

    Based on similar low genetic variation that they found among five million specimens of 100,000 animal species, they deduced that more than 90 percent of animal genetic lines emerged at the same time; and, they related the genetic bottlenecks in both humans and animals to “near extinction events.”

    Although they used specific language to suggest that a worldwide catastrophe caused a reboot of sorts for all humans from a single ancestor, in response to the firestorm about their findings, Stoeckle and Thaler have since told at least one media outlet, “Our study follows mainstream views of human evolution. We do not propose there was a single ‘Adam’ or ‘Eve’. We do not propose any catastrophic events.”

    Others have interpreted their research to claim that the human species has to “revamp” itself in the evolutionary process., and that through some unknown mechanism it occurs “in unison” with all animals.

    Although the scientist reject the notion of an Adam and Eve creation, and presumably a Noah and Naamah reboot of creation, their work does provide some support for a number of points about creation that are made in Scripture.

    For instance, their conclusions point to a sudden appearance of modern man and animals, which is consistent with both the creation and flood accounts.

    Likewise, they did not find any “in-between” species.

    This would appear to frustrate Darwin’s theory of evolution which is founded in part on the premise of “intermediate gradations, whereas species were formerly connected”. On the other hand, this finding is enterly consistent with the language of creation which uses language such as “after its kind” to describe the process for populating the earth.

    (Cultural News – Baptist Message December 13, 2018)

    The Bible says:

    Genesis 1:26-28 NASBS

    Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

    In the New Testament we discover the following about Jesus:

    Colossians 1:15-16 NASBS

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him. …

    What a mighty God we serve. And He wants to have a relationship with us! Amazing.

    May He bless you today as you follow Him.

    Carl

    Evidence of Sodom’s Destruction? A Cosmic Airburst in Middle East.

    Archaeologist excavating the Bronze Age city of Tall el-Hammam reported in November at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, their discovery of evidence of a “cosmic airburst event that obliterated civilization,” wiping out Middle Bronze Age cities and towns of the plains in Middle Ghor, north of the Dead Sea, about 3700 years ago.

    Some researchers identify Tall el-Hammam as the former Sodom.

    Genesis 19 describes how God “rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah destroying all the plain…and what grew on the ground.”

    Meanwhile, the scientific team, which includes experts from the Comet Research Group, an international society of comet impact scientists, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world, said evidence points to an instantaneous devastation of an area “approximately 500 km2” that left only the “stone foundations” of mud brick walls, and destroyed the soil with “a super-heated brine of Dead Sea” salts.

    The researchers estimated 40,000 to 65,000 people were killed instantly by the catastrophe.

    (From Cultural News, Baptist Message December 13, 2018)

    When Jesus Christ comes the second time to earth, everyone is going to believe the Bible is true ….but it will be too late then.

    Blessed are those who order their lives according to the Holy Scriptures now.

    “God is not a man, that He should lie…” Numbers 23:19

    “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.

    The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

    The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.

    The commandments of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

    The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

    The judgement of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

    They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;

    Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

    Moreover, by them, Thy servant is warned; in keeping them is great reward.

    Psalms 19: 7-11

    God Bless,

    Carl

    Red China Rewriting Bible, Churches Must Sing Communist Anthems

    (Please pray for our brothers and sisters in communist China. Carl)

    China Aid Founder Rev. Bob Fu – who led a house church in China before immigrating to the United States in 1997 to form his watchdog organization of China’s persecuted Church – warned U.S. Congress of the Chinese government’s aggressive move during a House hearing Thursday, divulging details about the plan administered by leading state-sanctioned Chinese denominations geared to “Sincize” Christianity nationwide.

    “Religious freedom in China has really reached to the worst level that has not been seen since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution by Chairman Mao [Zedong] in the 1960s,” Fu explained….

    He said the state-sanctioned Protestant bodies are “retranslating” the Old Testament in their plan to Sinicize Christianity, while crafting new commentary for the New Testament to give socialist ideals and Chinese culture a more divine feel.

    “The plan made it clear that ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ means to change ‘Christianity in China’ into ‘Chinese Christianity,'” Fu made clear. “[The plan] emphasized that ‘the heart and soul of Christianity’s Sinicization is to Sincize the Christian theology,’ – and even proposing to ‘re-translate the Bible or re-write biblical commentaries.'”

    Giving an example of the latest outline of the plan, Fu explained that the summary consists of the Old Testament mixed with some Buddhist scripture and Confucian teachings – along with the newly devised New Testament commentary.

    “Authorities in China have tightened their grip on the country’s churches by ordering that children are to be banned from joining religious groups,” the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail report. “The ban also prohibits children from attending religious sermons and other activities in several provinces across the country.”

    An all-out ban on youth attending services at more than 100 churches was reported this month in just one province alone.

    “Earlier this month, over one hundred churches in Wenzhou – China’s Zhejiang province – reportedly received a notice from government officials informing them that young people will be banned from entering churches, according to a report,” the Daily Mail’s Sophie Williams recounted. “Minors are also reportedly banned from participating in religious activities. Members of the church were told not to participate in religious activities, and churches were not allowed to organize a youth summer camp.”

    (Haverluck, “China rewriting Bible, churches must sing communist anthems,” OneNewsNow Online, 9/29/18).

    Berean Call

    Prospects Appear Dim For Religious Freedom in Cuba

    The Rev. Carlos Lamelas knows first-hand the diabolical nature of attempts by Cuban authorities to cripple Christianity on the Communist isle.

    Refusing to allow government interference in the internal affairs of his congregation, Lamelas was charged with “human trafficking” (allegedly helping Christians to flee the island). He spent four months in jail and endured years of unjust treatment before leaving Cuba as a political refugee in 2011.

    Like many pastors, Lamelas initially ran afoul of the government simply for effectively proclaiming Christ.

    “When a religious leader attracts a popular following, the G-2 [State Security] mobilizes a team of psychologists to do a psychiatric evaluation and determine if he can be coerced,” Lamelas said. “They will launch a campaign to gather incriminating evidence against him, dispatch young women who try to seduce him or peddlers to offer him black market goods In other words, they are going to entice him to commit some legal or moral offense.”

    If a leader is impervious to such duplicity, he said, then arrest on false charges awaits him.

    “The only step a church leader can take is simply to be faultless,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are very few who have managed to stand firm and maintain purity against so much pressure.”

    Pressure from the international Christian community persuaded Cuban authorities to release Lamelas and eventually drop the false charges against him, but many Christians have not fared so well. One Christian aid and advocacy group found a sharp increase in violations of religious freedom by the administration of Raul Castro in 2012.

    U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) counted 120 religious rights violations on the island last year, compared with 30 in 2011. Hundreds of people were affected, with some cases involving entire churches and denominations.

    https://morningstarnews.org/2013/01/prospects-appear-dim-for-religious-freedom-in-cuba/

    Berean Call

    Harvard Study – Benefits of Church Attendance and Prayer

    “A study by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that kids and teens who attend church at least once a week were happier as “20-somethings” than people who did not attend services.

    Youth who prayed every day experienced similar benefits, according to the study, with both groups having lower risks of substance abuse and depression as adults, and being more likely to volunteer.

    More than 5,000 subjects were followed from eight to 14 years.

    “These findings are important for both our understanding of health and understanding of parenting practices,” said study author Ying Chen. “Many children are raised religiously, and our study shows that this can powerfully affect their health behaviors, mental health, and overall happiness and well-being.”

    Baptist Message

    As a parent of four grown children, I whole heartily agree with the findings of this study. Keep them in Church under good Bible teaching. It will prove to be a great blessing to them ALL their lives.

    God bless you!

    Carl

    Our Priceless Treasure

    “The Bible is the most priceless possession of the human race.”

    Halley’s Bible Handbook (1965)

    For the most part, prior to the time of the Reformation, lay people were not allowed to read the Bible and, in most cases, were not even allowed to have a Bible. The Popes of the Roman Catholic Church of that day decided who could read and have the Bible.

    For example:

    Pope “Hildebrand ordered Bohemians not to read the Bible. Innocent III forbade the people reading the Bible in their own language. Gregory IX forbade laymen possessing the Bible and suppressed translations. Paul IV prohibited the possession of translations without permission of the Inquisition. The Jesuits induced Clement XI to condemn the reading of the Bible by the laity. Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, and Pius IX all condemned Bible Societies.” Halley’s Bible Handbook

    Some groups, such as the Albigenses (1208 AD) and Waldenses, who were fortunate enough to have the Bible, believed it, lived it, and preached it. For this, the Albigenses people group was murdered by the order of Pope Innocent III and the Waldenses were murdered and severely persecuted by the Catholic Inquisition, surviving only in the alpine valleys southwest of Turin, Italy. The authorities burned their Bibles and the people who had them.

    With the advent of the printing press, it was impossible for the Popes and civil authorities to suppress the Bible. Men read it and their eyes were opened.

    “There was study of the Scriptures in their original languages. Renewed knowledge of the sources of Christian doctrine revealed the vast difference between the native simplicity of the Gospel and the ecclesiastical fabric that professed to be founded on it. The Reformation owed its being to the direct contact of the mind with the Scriptures, and it resulted in the emancipation of the human mind from priestly and Papal authority. ” (Halley’s Bible Handbook)

    Out of this revelation of Biblical Truth, men like Luther, a Catholic priest, and millions more threw off the traditions and commandments of men that had kept them enslaved and, for the first time in probably 1100 years, a multitude of people begin to walk in biblical truth as the Savior intended. As a result, the Western nations were changed forever.

    Some may say “Why are you writing about something that happened 500 years ago?” It is because I find among the Protestant Church today, especially among the young, an almost total ignorance about the Reformation. If the Protestant Church is to remain free, it must understand the issues that brought about the Reformation. Issues that made millions of people endure being tortured and burned at the stake or drowned instead of expressing loyalty to the Pope and his church.

    May you find your Priceless Possession today and begin to let its Light overcome any darkness in your life. May its Truth set you free from the enslaving teachings and commandments of men.

    May God richly bless you,

    Carl

    God’s “Abundant Lovingkindness”

    Recently while studying Psalms, I became acquainted with the beautiful Hebrew word “chesed“. David used it in Psalm 5:7 where he is saying that the only way he can enter the Lord’s house is by His abundant lovingkindness, not by any merit of his own.

    But as for me, by Thine abundant lovingkindness [chesed] I will enter Thy house, at thy holy temple I will bow in reverence for Thee.”

    The Moody Bible Commentary says the following about chesed in this scripture:

    “The term “lovingkindness” is chesed which specifically indicates God’s covenant love, His faithful and continual expression of what is best for those who are His own under the promise of Abrahamic covenant.

    The Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12 included three components: land, a nation, and, most importantly to us Gentiles, an expansive blessing. The blessing is to Abraham (a Gentile), his descendants and then to all the families of the earth.

    God promised Abraham in Genesis 12: 3

    “….and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

    Note that

    God’s love is seeking to ‘push’ His blessing as far as His justice will allow.”

    Moody Bible Commentary

    We Gentiles should say a big thank you to God for including us in His wonderful covenant.

    The Messianic Prophecy Bible Project says the following about “chesed” :

    “This other Hebrew word for love is more difficult to translate into English. Chesed is a love that cannot be sentimentalize; it has the attributes of strength, steadfastness, loyalty, and devotion that stem from a covenant between God and Israel or between people.

    It has been translated as loving-kindness, mercy, steadfast love, compassion, loyalty, goodness, great kindness, favor and loyal-or leal-love.” (Leal is a old Scottish word that means “loyal and honest”.)

    They go on to say:

    Chesed does not dismiss the need for holiness and righteousness but, mercifully, despite failings on the part of the Jewish People, makes a way through unmerited kindness toward love for His covenant.

    In fact, chesed is quite often paired with the Hebrew word translated mercy and compassion: rachum.  (see Isaiah 54:8; 63:7; Lamentations 3:22)

    “And I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness and with justice and with loving-kindness [chesed] and with mercy [rachum].  And I will betroth you to Me with faith, and you shall know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19–20 [21–22])

    “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my loving-kindness [chesed] will not be removed from you, and my covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the LORD who has compassion [rachum] on you.”  (Isaiah 54:10)

    The Hebrew word chesed also appears in Leviticus 20:17 where the Law states that a man who uncovers the nakedness of his sister has committed a chesed: here it is translated as “a disgrace”.

    In writing “chesed,” it suggests that the man has crossed a Divine line, giving chesed the added sense of being “characterized by overflowing and lack of boundaries.”  (Aish)

    In this case, chesed is given a negative connotation.  But when holiness is the connotation, the intent is that the one who loves does so without boundaries — an act of love characterized by overflowing grace, mercy and giving.

    To summarize, chesed is a love characterized by strength, steadfastness, loyalty, and devotion which is not limited in quantity to its recipient, but overflowing, abundant to meet the needs of His people.

    We see this same characteristic of “overflowing” in Romans 5: 17 where Paul writes:

    “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Emphasis added)

    Here the word “abundance” means “superabundance”. Grace enough to save me with even more grace poured out on top of that! A superabundance of God’s grace poured out for my sins establishing me in His covenant as His child forever. God’s wonderful mercy toward His children!

    King David was saved the same way we are. He was looking forward to Calvary by faith and we are looking backwards to Calvary by faith. It truly is by His abundant lovingkindness that anyone, OT or NT, is saved from the guilty and penalty of their sins and enter into His kingdom. He made a Way when there was no way.

    Let us give thanks for His loving kindness and the superabundance of His grace in our lives today.

    Carl