God’s Jewels.

Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord and who thought on His name.

And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure). And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.

Malachi 3: 16-17 Amplified Bible

“This was not a fear based on feelings but was the result of hearing, learning and responding to who God is from His word. Those who feared God would keep his commandments, walk in righteousness, and put aside anything that would hinder worship and service to Him.

Those who feared the Lord received wisdom from God, which brought blessing and favor.”

Messenger of Rebuke and Renewal – David M. Levy, p. 93

Communist China Church Update

As you are probably aware, the communist government is ravaging the Christian church in China. Many pastors have been beaten and imprisoned, church buildings destroyed or converted to secular use, church members beaten and some imprisoned, a rewrite of the Holy Bible to make it “pro-communist”, youth forbidden to attend church, and other suppressing tactics.

Yesterday at church I spoke with a sister-in-Christ who had done much gospel work in Communist China over the years. I asked her what her contacts were saying about the current outbreak of persecution. She said that some are saying it is really bad.

Others said they had been praying for persecution to return because the Christian church in Communist China was becoming too much like the church in America and it needed persecution to purify it.

Think about that for a moment.

Please pray that the Chinese Church will go “on in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts: 9:31). That the true believers would be “…all filled with the Holy Spirit and ” begin “to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31)”.

“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. “. Hebrew 13:3

Carl

Should Christians Read The Old Testament?

“Nothing in Scripture is written in vain. God had wise and gracious purposes towards us in leaving the Jewish history upon record; and it is our wisdom and duty to receive instruction from it.”

Matthew Henry

Some Christian pastors believe that Christians should “unhitch” their faith from the Old Testament. I strongly, strongly disagree with them. The following is one reason why.

In I Corinthians 9:27 Paul said “…but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified”. Paul did not want to be disqualified from serving God in the gospel cause but he knew it was a possibility, if he did not control his body. He had received instructions from the Old Testament examples of people not controlling their body and being disqualified from serving God. In the original letter to the Corinthians there were no chapter divisions, therefore chapter 9:27, is followed immediately by chapter 10: 1-11, where he warns us about being disqualified:


[1] … For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;

[2] and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

[3] and all ate the same spiritual food;

[4] and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

[5] Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

[6] Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.

[7] Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO play.”

[8] Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.

[9] Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.

[10] Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

[11] Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

[12] Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (Emphasis added)

As you can plainly see in verses six and eleven, Paul tells these New Testament Christians that Old Testament events “happened as examples for us” and “they were written for our instruction…”.

Why?

“…so that we” (New Testament believers) “would not crave evil things as they“ (Old Testament Israel) “also craved.” (V6) And suffer punishment from God (v 5).

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Now these things are examples (warnings and admonitions) for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did. [Num. 11:4, 34.] (Verse 6)

And

Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction…” (verse 11)

You do not need a theological degree to understand that. Paul cites four Old Testament events to warn these New Testament Christians that craving or lusting after evil things will bring the chastisement of the Lord:

1. The idolatry with the golden calf in Exodus 32: 4-6 (verse 7);

2. immorality with Moabite women in Numbers 25:1-9 (verse 8);

3. testing the Lord when the serpents attached in Numbers 21:4-9 (verse 9); and

4. grumbling in response to God’s severe treatment of Koran in Numbers 16:1-50 (verse 10).

God’s character did not change from the Old Testament period to the New Testament period and He is the SAME today as He was back then, therefore, He can warn His New Testament children not to be involved in idolatry, immorality, testing the Lord or grumbling using Old Testament Israel as an example. Because HE remains the same. What was an abomination to Him in the Old is still an abomination now in the New. What He highly esteemed then, He highly esteems now. God has not changed.

In closing, first read the Old and New Testaments and receive wisdom and instruction from both. Secondly, Paul summed up this discourse with a warning (verse 12) which Matthew Henry addresses:

“…let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” Note: The harms sustained by others should be cautions to us. He that thinks he stands should not be confident and secure, but upon his guard. Others have fallen, and so may we. And then we are most likely to fall when we are most confident of our own strength, and thereupon most apt to be secure, and off our guard. Distrust of himself, putting him at once upon vigilance and dependence on God, is the Christian’s best security against all sin.”

Thank you for your time. God bless you. Carl

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

He Is Able

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory BLAMELESS and with GREAT JOY, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Emphasis added)

If that does not bless you, the Amplified Bible says:

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]–

To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity). Amen (so be it).

May God’s word lift you from the earthly to the eternal, heavenly today, fixing your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (I Peter 1:13)

May Great Joy in-Christ be yours no matter what the world and the devil throw at you. Blessings to our brothers and sisters over-seas who are in the thick of the fight. God has not forsaken you but is pouring forth grace upon grace and the comfort of the Holy Spirit for you.

Carl

Surprise Divine Encounter

Last week we had the pleasure of visiting with good friends who took us to a wonderful museum and arboretum. After walking through the gardens we entered the museum and were greeted by an elderly, stately gentleman who gave us a brief orientation.

As we finished viewing the first wing, I encountered the gentleman again. I took the opportunity to ask if they had any toothache trees in the garden. I wanted to show our friends this tree that was used to treat toothache pain prior to modern medicine. He said he did not know.

As we continued to talk it became apparent that we were Christian brothers. Then to my surprise he said he wanted to show me something. He reached into his coat pocket and brought out a folded piece of paper. On it was written I Corinthian 13 from the King James Version. He was memorizing this Scripture while he was guarding the collection. He began to share what the Holy Spirit had shown him about “charity” or love through his memorization work.

It was one those unique moments when you encounter someone you have never met before yet, you seem to have known them forever and the conversation flows without reservation or uneasiness. All because Jesus is Lord and because of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

This surprise meeting was so encouraging and edifying to me. To find a total stranger, who seemed like a long-time close friend, that believed that God IS, that He exists, and therefore, he treasures what God has said so much that it was important to hide it in his heart that he might not offend Him.

Though he has never seen God the Father or Lord Jesus in the physical, his memorization work is an expression of his love for Them. The following scripture describes this faith and it’s result:

“….though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls…” (I Peter 1:8-9)

May you have great rejoicing with joy inexpressible and full of glory as you walk by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, believing in the Father and the Son! May you have many divine encounters that strengthen and encourage you.

Carl

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman At The Well

The following poem was written by my precious wife after hearing our son preach on John 4: 1-43, Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. May it minister to you. Carl

A Woman in a Far Away Town

She came to the well at midday

When the women of town were at home,

No judgement, no stares, no whispers were there,

Just the Samaritan woman alone.

No friends to walk with her to Jacob’s well,

No kindness to come alongside,

Always alone to finish her chore,

Five husbands, yet still not a bride.

She had never wed the man in her home.

She lived with him outside the law.

With her head hung in shame, she stood at the well,

Bucket in hand, with water to withdraw.

Standing near her, she saw a man at the well.

A Jew who could not look or dare speak.

She sought to ignore Him and finish her work,

Until he asked, “Will you give me a drink?”

A Jew asked a favor? This surely can’t be,

Yet with kindness He continued to say,

“If only you knew the Gift of God,

Living water I could give you today.”

Jesus had compassion and revealed who He was.

Told of her history and present day sin.

Never shamed her or judged her in any harsh way,

Because of this, she led many to Him.

Oh, that we could look past the stains others wear

And the shame of bad choices in life,

And offer God’s grace and an encouraging word,

Not judgement and stares filled with strife.

Let’s put on compassion and walk in His love,

Let’s build up and never tear down.

Let’s remember His love He so freely shared

In that long ago, far away town.

Nelda Johnson