Tuesday, July 28, 2020

THE TRUTH ABOUT HEAVEN

TEXT:

THE ENTIRE BIBLE (SELECTED PASSAGES)

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”


5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

HOW GREAT IS OUT GOD

TEXT:

PSALM 90

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

3 You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.

5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.

7 For we are brought to an end by your anger;
    by your wrath we are dismayed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
    or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
    and your wrath according to the fear of you?

12 So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
    Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Monday, July 13, 2020

POST-QUARANTINE CHRISTIANITY - WHAT NEXT?

TEXT:

1 Corinthians 16:13 

 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

TEN HABITS FOR CHRISTIAN PERSEVERANCE

TEXT: 

Psalm 37 English Standard Version*

 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[b]
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
    though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
    and delight themselves in abundant peace.
CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF PSALM 37:


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Saturday, June 27, 2020

DEDICATED TO THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

This is dedicated to all our brothers and sisters in Christ, who suffer for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. worldwide.

Here is how to pray for the Persecuted Church, courtesy Open Doors:

1. Pray that whatever their circumstances, God will give persecuted Christians the right words.

2. Pray that persecuted Christians will understand and find peace in the sufficiency of God’s grace, even in their weaknesses.
3. Pray that Christians facing hardship will draw from a source of power larger than themselves.
4. Pray God would be present with persecuted Christians in their hardship, protecting them according to His will.
5. Pray their witness would inspire those who seek to harm them.

PSALM 69*
Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.
Those who hate me without a cause
Are more than the hairs of my head;
They are mighty who would destroy me,
Being my enemies wrongfully;
Though I have stolen nothing,
still must restore it.
O God, You know my foolishness;
And my sins are not hidden from You.
Let not those who wait for You, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel.
Because for Your sake I have borne reproach;
Shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
And an alien to my mother’s children;
Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,
And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
10 When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting,
That became my reproach.
11 I also [e]made sackcloth my garment;
I became a byword to them.
12 Those who [f]sit in the gate speak against me,
And I am the song of the drunkards.
13 But as for me, my prayer is to You,
Lordin the acceptable time;
O God, in the multitude of Your mercy,
Hear me in the truth of Your salvation.
14 Deliver me out of the mire,
And let me not sink;
Let me be delivered from those who hate me,
And out of the deep waters.
15 Let not the floodwater overflow me,
Nor let the deep swallow me up;
And let not the pit shut its mouth on me.
16 Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good;
Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.
17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant,
For I am in trouble;
Hear me speedily.
18 Draw near to my soul, and redeem it;
Deliver me because of my enemies.



Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

IN THE PRESENCE OF THE GOD OF PEACE

TEXT:

PHILIPPIANS 4:9
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Friday, June 19, 2020

THE PRINCIPLES OF BIBLICAL POSITIVE THINKING

TEXT:

Philippians 4:8 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

CAST YOUR CARES UPON GOD, HE CARES FOR US

TEXT:

Philippians 4:6-7 

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS...SOME THOUGHTS


“…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:35 ESV).

In the beginning of the Quarantines/Lockdowns, which covered almost the entire world, the excitement to reach previously unreachable via all kinds of social media was sky high. It did work for a time. Sermons, prayers, worship music, daily live devotionals and more were flooding Facebook feeds, Twitter timelines and LIVE YouTube streams.

Somewhere along the way, as the lockdowns (or shelter in place or quarantines) dragged on, interest started waning.  As of now, the majority of some of the largest states in the United States and Canada are still under lockdown. On the west coast it seems it may drag on through the summer to September! From the first, when the quarantines and mandated church shutdowns started in March, it was sold as just for weeks only. Now over three months later, with many more to go, the sense of anxiety, depression and lack of interpersonal communication are taking heavy tolls on a lot of people, not just Christians.

There is a reason Scripture exhorts us to be very careful to assemble as a body of believers- REGULARLY. We now see the fruits of not doing this for months on end.

For every Elevation Church, which I discover can have 48,000-50,000 viewers watching the Elevation Worship Band and Pastor Steven Furtick LIVE on YouTube, there  are 1000 more churches in our immediate regions, who are just struggling to pay their electric or airconditioning bills, never mind have the capability to stream services. 

Some of them have managed to improvise by having church leaders record a video on his phone at home, and post it to YouTube of Facebook, but some of our more traditional and older churches are simply out in the cold, filled with loneliness and despair, having not being able to meet for going on half a year now, being technologically or financially unable to stream services.

Why did the Lord tell us to not “neglect to meet together” as is the “norm” now? The answer can be found in the verse above Hebrews 10:25…”encouraging one another, AND ALL THE MORE as you see the Day drawing near” (emphasis mine).

The key word here is ENCOURAGING”, which in the original New Testament language is the word “parakaleo”. We are to assemble together in worship for the purposes of “parakaleo”.

This means we meet at church to invite others (to come); to admonish (by the convicting preaching of the Word) another from the pulpit; to comfort one another (whether in grief or to come along side a fellow saint who is having a hard time) and to exhort each other, via words of enthusiastic encouragement or literal cheering on! These are just a few of the characteristics of this powerful word, “parakaleo”. It also means to instruct (Sunday School and bible study groups) and to plead or come along side someone else, to buffet their spiritual growth.

All of this is included in the meaning of this one Biblical word “PARAKALEO”! This is the sum total of the function of the church’s call to assemble regularly. When this is suddenly cut off, we are now in territory where most of our brothers and sisters in China, Asia, parts of Africa and the Middle East, North Korea, Russia etc. are experiencing due to persecution. Recently, over 250 churches in China were literally destroyed by the communist party.

Why do we do all of this “encouraging”? The verse tells us here: “as we see the Day drawing near”. Which Day? The Day of the Lord, which means Judgment Day, when the Lord Jesus comes to judge everyone who has ever lived. In many places, it is called the "terrible day of the Lord”, because Judgment Day is not going to go well. It is a time of approaching horror to the vast majority of mankind, which has unfortunately rejected both Jesus and His Plan of Salvation. At the same time, it will be a time of joy for the saints who will persevere throughout these long days of separation from brothers and sisters in Christ. The Day of the Lord will be a day for the Redeemed who have persevered, to stand before our Savior and be judged not for the purpose of getting into heaven, but for rewards (or lack thereof) for the kingdom work we did on this earth (or not).

So how do we continue to persevere throughout these times of isolation and quarantine, even as some churches, in many places slowly reopen? 

We reach out to as many as we can, by all means necessary to encourage them in their walk, to discern their prayer requests, to ask about their needs or if all is well okay with them, and to just drop by and be a friend. 

Let us continue to encourage each other, as the times are evil and the days are little flying towards an inevitable conclusion. Let us also continue to remind each other, that the Joy of the Lord is our strength and that Jesus is there fore us, now and until the End of the Age. Amen