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

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

Who Is Jesus?

Jesus died. He rose from the dead. And the world changed forever.

But what’s the significance of these events? Why did Jesus die, and what does His resurrection mean? How has the world changed?

When we think about someone’s death, we can’t really appreciate its significance unless we know who we’re talking about. The significance of Abraham Lincoln’s death can only be fully felt when we understand who Lincoln was—and the same goes for other historical figures. Their lives changed the world, and their death did too.

From a purely historical point of view, there’s no one in human history whose life changed the world more than Jesus. More biographies have been written about Him than any other person (Lincoln is second). Indeed, the original four biographies of Jesus, collected together in the New Testament gospels, are a large part of why the
Bible is the number-one-selling book every year. In fact, The New York Times Best Seller ignores the Bible; otherwise, it would top the list every week.

No one’s teaching has had a deeper impact on culture, politics, morality, justice, philosophy, and human character than Jesus Christ’s. Two thousand years later, He’s regularly quoted (consciously and unconsciously) even in our increasingly secular world. His moral teaching likewise forms the bedrock for billions around the world –such as the Golden Rule and the importance of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Indeed, Jesus continues to set a standard that our modern world fails to live up to.  How well do we love our enemies? Do we pray for those who persecute us?

And all of that is only taking into account the Jesus of history. What about when we consider who He was according to His own claims? According to Jesus and His first followers, He wasn’t an ordinary man. He was God’s appointed king who came in fulfillment of promises made centuries before. He came to reveal God to us through His own embodiment of the divine nature. He was, and is, God the Son, who by His own claim existed  from the very beginning. He’s the One through whom His Father created the entire cosmos – including the humanity of which Jesus Himself chose to partake. If these claims are believed, there can be no question that Jesus was the most significant man who ever walked the earth.

When we realize that the One through whom humanity was crafted died as a man, we begin to see the depths of this event. In fact, once we understand who Jesus is, we shouldn’t at all be surprised that He would rise again from the dead. The truly remarkable thing is that He died at all! How could the Author of life be put to death? How could the Creator be killed by His own creation?

The answer is love. As the Apostle John says, “God is love.” (I John 4:8) and the gift of His eternal Son is the ultimate demonstration of His love. Jesus chose to take up human life and to lay down His life so that we broken, rebellious, proud human beings might be brought into loving relationship with our heavenly Father –our Maker and our Judge. If Christmas celebrates God’s gift of Jesus into our world, Easter celebrates what that Gift came to do. He came to die that we might live. His death spells our life because of who He is. He’s God Himself come to us as one of us so that He might bring us home with Him.

If Christ’s death can only be appreciated by understanding who He is, so too His resurrection from the dead. Lazarus was raised from the dead (by Jesus), but his resurrection did not change the fate of humanity. So why did Christ’s change humanity? For starters, Lazarus had to die again one day. His resurrection didn’t permanently overcome death. It didn’t destroy death. But when Jesus was resurrected, He overpowered death. He conquered the last great enemy of humanity—death itself. That is why Jesus will never die again, unlike Lazarus. He rose victorious over death, and death no longer has any claim on Him. Death could literally not hold Him down.

While death still has its way with us, Jesus promised through Him death would not have the last word. No one who hopes in Jesus will stay dead. He promised that one day He’ll call each of us by name. He’ll call us out of our graves, and we’ll literally live again. Our bodies will be resurrected like His. Death will have no further claim on us. Death will die.

That is why that first Easter was the most important weekend in human history. God remade humanity in three days through the death and resurrection of one man. The ultimate man died the ultimate death so that our ultimate fate would be eternal life with Him.

This Easter let’s pursue Jesus, the One who first came in pursuit of us. 

Source: Con Campbell, vice-president of global content, Our Daily Bread

Dear Reader, this article was written for Easter but I encourage you to pursue Jesus today. If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, ask Him today to save you from your sins, to forgive you, and become your Lord and Savior. He will not fail you or reject you.  Enter His rest and cease from your works to be good enough or religious enough to earn His favor.  We all are sinners in need of His mercy. He will not reject you.  Turn to the Living Son of God today and be saved for eternity.

All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.    Quote from Jesus — John 6:37

Carl

The Reformation Born 503 Years Ago Today

In 1517 a Dominican Friar named Johann Tetzel had been selling indulgences near Wittenberg to raise money for constructing Saint Peter’s in Rome. According to Tetzel, those who purchased an indulgence would receive remission of purgatory. Indulgences could also be purchased on behalf of dead relatives and friends. The punchline of Tetzel’s sermon was, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”

The sale of these indulgences infuriated Martin Luther, the professor of biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg, and he decided to hold a disputation with other faculty members on the subject. A professor interested in holding a disputation would nail the theses to be discussed on the cathedral door. Luther posted his 95-Theses on the great wooden door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31st, 1517.

Some of Luther’s points for discussion were: (1) “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in saying, “Repent Ye”, intended that the whole life of believer should be penitence”. (32) “Those who believe that, through letters of pardon, they are made sure of their own salvation, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.” (37) “Every true Christian, whether living or dead has a share and all the benefits of Christ and of the Church, given by God, even without letters of pardon”.  (62) “The true treasure of the Church is the Holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God.”

Luther knew from his own repentance and conversion that paying an indulgence could not achieve forgiveness of sins. Shortly before posting the 95- Theses, Luther had begun studying the Greek New Testament, and his studies persuaded him that the Greek word for repentance, metanoia, meant a change of heart, not mere performance of outward works, as theologians of his day defined it.

Luther wrote the 95-Theses in Latin, intending them to be discussed by scholars, not circulated among the populace. But as Luther himself acknowledged, “A fortnight they flew all over Germany.” Translated into German and sold as far away as Rome, the 95-Theses became much more than a University exercise.

For the next two decades, Luther enjoyed seeing the Reformation grow. Many regions in Germany accepted the evangelical doctrines that Luther and other reformers discovered in the Scriptures. Luther lived to see a second generation of evangelicals sing the hymns he had written, read his German translation of the Bible, and learn his catechism from their early childhood.

Throughout his life he preached and taught God’s promise of redemption to the repentant sinner. On his deathbed he prayed, “O Lord Jesus Christ, I commend my poor soul to Thee. O Heavenly Father, I know that, although I shall be taken from this life, I shall live forever with thee. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life. Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

Luther died on February 18, 1546, at the age of sixty-two in Eisleben, the city where he was born. As word of his death spread to Wittenberg, bells tolled, and people crowded the streets, wanting to pay their last respects to their leader.

On Monday, February 22, 1546, accompanied by caravan that included his wife, Katie, his four children, and a throng of his followers, Luther’s casket was born through the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, on which, more than twenty-eight years before, the young monk had nailed his theses.

Reflection

Little did Martin Luther realize the forces that would-be set-in motion by the posting of his 95-Thesis. He merely felt it necessary to speak out against the error of his day. He was willing to stand up and be counted for truth and God used him to change the world. Do you ever feel that you should speak out against error? There is no predicting how God will honor your faithfulness.

They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth.     II Timothy 2:25

Source: The One Year Christian History – E. Michael and Sharon Rusten

Hypocrite vs True Christian

“The hypocrite is like the waterman*, that looks one way and rows another; the true Christian like the traveller, that has his journey end in his eye. The hypocrite soars like the kite**, with his eye upon the prey below, which he is ready to come down to when he has a fair opportunity; the true Christian soars like the lark, higher and higher, forgetting the things that are beneath.” A Commentary On The Whole Bible – Matthew Henry (1721)- Vol. 5, page 81

“If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul in Colossians 3: 1-3

Carl

*The person rowing a boat ** Eagle-like bird of prey feeding predominately on fish

Have A Desire For God?

Desire is not merely a simple wish; it is a deep seated craving; an intense longing, for attainment. In the realm of spiritual affairs, it is an important adjunct to prayer. So important is it, that one might say, almost, that desire is an absolute essential of prayer.

A sense of need creates or should create, earnest desire. The stronger the sense of need, the greater should be the desire, the more earnest the praying. The “poor in spirit” are eminently competent to pray.

Hunger is an active sense of physical need. It prompts the request for bread. In like manner, the inward consciousness of spiritual need created desire, and desire breaks forth in prayer. Desire is an inward longing for something of which we are not possessed, of which we stand in need –something which God has promised, and which may be secured by an earnest supplication of His throne of grace.

Desire is the will in action; a strong, conscious longing, excited in the inner nature, for some great good. Desire exalts the object of its longing, and fixes the mind on it. It has choice, and fixedness, and flame in it, and prayer, based thereon, is explicit and specific. It knows its need, feels and sees the thing that will meet it, and hastens to acquire it.

Spiritual desire, carried to a higher degree, is the evidence of the new birth. It is born in the renewed soul:

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

The absence of this holy desire in the heart is presumptive proof, either of a decline in spiritual ecstasy, or, that the new birth has never taken place.”

Bless are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

These heaven-given appetites are the proof of a renewed heart, the evidence of a stirring spiritual life…spiritual desires belong to a soul made alive to God. And as the renewed soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness, these holy inward desires break out into earnest, supplicating prayer.

One might well ask, whether the feebleness of our desires for God, the Holy Spirit, and for all the fulness of Christ, is not the cause of our so little praying, and languishing in the exercise of prayer? Do we really feel these inward pantings of desire after heavenly treasure? Do the inbred groanings of desire stir our souls to mighty wrestlings? Alas for us! The fire burns altogether too low. The flaming heat of soul has been tempered down to a tepid lukewarmness. This, it should be remembered, was the central cause of the sad and desperate condition of the Laodicean Christians, of whom the awful condemnation is written that they were “rich, and increased in goods and had need of nothing,” and knew not that they “were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind.”

Again: we might inquire–have we that desire which presses us to close communion with God, which is filled with unutterable burnings, and hold us there through the agony of an intense ands soul-stirred supplication? Our hearts need much to be worked over, not only to get the evil out of them, but to get the good into them. And the foundation and inspiration to the incoming good , is strong, propelling desire. This holy and fervid [i.e. very hot] flame in the soul awakens the interest of heaven, attracts the attention of God, and places at the disposal of those who exercise it, the exhaustless riches of Divine grace.

The dampening of the flame of holy desire, is destructive of the vital and aggressive forces in church life. God requires to be represented by a fiery Church, or He is not in any proper sense, represented at all. God, Himself, is all on fire, and His Church, if it is to be like Him, must also be at white heat. The great and eternal interests of heaven-born, God-given religion are the only things about which His Church can afford to be on fire. Yet, holy zeal need not to be fussy in order to be consuming. Our Lord was the incarnate antithesis of nervous excitability, the absolute opposite of intolerant or clamorous declamation, yet the zeal of God’s house consumed Him; and the world is still feeling the glow of His fierce, consuming flame and responding to it, with an ever-increasing readiness and an ever-enlarging response. ” Source: The Necessity of Prayer – Edward M. Bounds, p. 44-48

Father, we praise your name. Please increase our desire for You. Set our souls aflame for You and Christ. Forgive us for our coldness and lukewarmness. Forgive us where we have let the “worry of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things” choke out your word in our lives and make us unfruitful. Cause us to be consumed with your zeal so that we may be pleasing to you and effective in witnessing to this lost and adulterous generation. We ask this in the precious Name of Jesus. Amen.

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