Cross found on all donkeys' backs?
There is legend that the crosses on these donkeys appeared after Jesus rode one into Jerusalem (read Matthew 21:1-11). There is no evidence that this is true. The dark stripe in the form of a cross was a trait in these donkeys long before Jesus lived. However, the fact that Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem is very important. It fulfilled a prophecy that was spoken 500 years before Jesus lived, and showed He was the Messiah (read Matthew 21:5 and Zechariah 9:9).
Dear Prayer Partners
1} President Obama and his advisors
2} the men & women serving in our armed forces and their families
3} Bobby- a missionary in Haiti who was flown back to the states with a broken back
4} Holly- recently gave birth to a son
5} Hailey- has Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is unable to work due to it
6} Margo- recovering from a stroke
7} Dan- has Leukemia & an inoperable brain tumor, the tumors in his stomach and lung have been removed successfully
8} Christine- recently gave birth by an emergency C-section and her new son is in critical condition
9} Living Waters A/G looking for a youth pastor with a vision to reach the youth
10} Dennis- having problems breathing
11} The Holm Family- death of a loved one from cancer
12} The DeRien Family- death of a loved one
13} The Fraley family- death of a loved one
14} Eugene- is battling cancer
15} Schimmica- husband is having an affair
16} Kevin- has some serious dental problems and is recovering from emergency oral surgery
17} Faith- is hospitalized after a heart attack and partial amputation of right foot, has a serious infection in heart, lungs and kidneys and is back on dialysis
18} Chantella- is expecting her 1st baby in the spring
19} Julianne- having difficulty with her pregnancy
20} Marc- family problems
21} Tom- problems with weight control
22} Achan- has HIV, an infection in her lungs and gall bladder is shutting down
23} Rick- has bulging disc in his back
24} Noah- a toddler having complications from heart surgery, has a very high fever
25} Frank- fighting depression
26} Gloria- hospitalized after passing out at work
27} Chaplain Sam- recovering from eye surgery
28} Chaplain Jay- preparing for a missionary trip to Uganda next year
29} For all the unspoken and personal requests that people have
30} For us at Highway Mission Outreach that we will continue have the doors opened to share the gospel and the needed finances to carry out the ministry of the mission and as we plant The Cross-Roads Chapel
31} For Michael Frankland, Gill Ainsworth, Mark Ainsworth, Tracy Ainsworth, Tony Wood, Eileen Walsh, and Elaine - break down strongholds in their lives
Opening Our Hearts to God
Psa. 19:14 - May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable before You, O Jehovah, my rock and my Redeemer.
Acts 13:22-23 - And when He had deposed him, He raised up David for them as king, to whom also He testified and said, I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to My heart, who will do all My will. (23) From this man's seed, God, according to promise, brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.
~~~~~ Words of Ministry ~~~~~
Both of the above passages are related to David. Psalm 19:14
is a prayer of David, while Acts 13:22-23 is a description of
David. In David's prayer, there are the “words of my mouth”
and the “meditation of my heart,” or the thoughts of the
heart. He prayed that he would not only be kept in his words
outwardly, but also be acceptable to God in his thoughts
inwardly. The words of the mouth are an expression of the
thoughts of the heart. The heart is the root problem.
Whether or not one outwardly says the right words is not the basic problem. Whether or not one has an outward attitude in his speaking that is right is also not the basic problem. The
thoughts of the heart are the basic problem. The thoughts of
the heart constitute the root problem and cannot be overlooked. David did not merely pray, “God, may the words of my mouth be acceptable before You.” He added to the prayer, “May the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You.”
David's prayer was for the thoughts of his heart to be
acceptable before God. This is why Paul could later testify
that David was a man according to the Lord's heart. A person
who is according to God's heart allows God to touch his heart. If you will not allow God to touch your heart, it will be hard for you to be one who is according to His heart.
Many Christians ask, “Why is it wrong for me to do this? Why
is it wrong for me to say this? Why is it wrong for me to
express myself this way?” Brothers and sisters, whether or
not you are doing the right thing, saying the right thing, or
expressing yourself the right way is not the real problem.
Rather, is your heart right when you are doing such a thing,
saying such a word, or expressing yourself in such a way?
What is the condition of your heart? What is the condition of
the root? Even if you are right in every outward thing, it is
still possible for your heart to be wrong. God is touching the condition of your heart and asking about it. He allows many winds and waves to beat upon His children for this very reason.
He uses these things to touch your heart and to expose the condition of your heart.
By C.H. Spurgeon
"For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called" (Isaiah 54:5).
JESUS, the Redeemer, is altogether ours and ours for ever. All the offices of Christ are held on our behalf. He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us. Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate Him as ours under that name as much as under any other. The shepherd's staff, the father's rod, the captain's sword, the priest's mitre, the prince's sceptre, the prophet's mantle, all are ours.
Jesus hath no dignity which He will not employ for our exaltation, and no prerogative which He will not exercise for our defence. His fulness of Godhead is our unfailing, inexhaustible treasure-house. His manhood also, which he took upon him for us, is ours in all its perfection. To us our gracious Lord communicates the spotless virtue of a stainless character; to us he gives the meritorious efficacy of a devoted life; on us he bestows the reward procured by obedient submission and incessant service. He makes the unsullied garment of his life our covering beauty; the glittering virtues of his character our ornaments and jewels; and the superhuman meekness of his death our boast and glory. He bequeaths us his manger, from which to learn how God came down to man; and his Cross to teach us how man may go up to God. All His thoughts, emotions, actions, utterances, miracles, and intercessions, were for us.
He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf, and hath made over to us as his heavenly legacy the full results of all the labours of his life. He is now as much ours as heretofore; and he blushes not to acknowledge himself "our Lord Jesus Christ," though he is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Christ everywhere and every way is our Christ, for ever and ever most richly to enjoy. O my soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, call him this morning, "thy Redeemer."
Thank you for your support and continued prayers for these new believers and this ministry!
In His vineyard,
We Shall Worship the Lord!
By John Piper
Do you delight more and more in the majesty and glory of God? Does your heart incline to worship God more consistently and intelligently and earnestly and intensely today than it did five years ago?
Is your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ abounding more and more so that you use your gifts more and more effectively to strengthen their faith and stir them up to love and good works?
And do you feel a greater burden for the lost? Are your prayers for unbelieving relatives and friends more consistent and earnest? Are your efforts to give a reason for the hope that is in you more bold, less ashamed? Are you becoming a world Christian with a zeal for the final mission thrust of the church to reach the hidden peoples?
If you can answer yes, we are making progress as a church. If not, we are failing in those areas. But at least we have goal and a definite Biblical theology behind it.
But it is not new. Listen to the way another pastor and teacher describes the meaning of membership in the church:
Membership, therefore, involves a personal obligation to promote the objects of the body as expressed in the covenant.
These objects are three:
1. The social, united worship of God...
2. The perpetuation and diffusion of the gospel...
3. The sanctification of its own members...
The church, thus comprehensive in its scope, looks upward to God, outward upon the needs of a lost world, and inward to the processes of sanctification in the souls of its own members; the neglect of any one of these grand objects of its organization imperils its whole design.
This is our philosophy of ministry. The quote is from Hezekiah Harvey, who was born in England in 1821 (The Church, 1879, reprint 1982, pp.35-36.). There is nothing modern or trendy about the priorities of our church. They have been around for two thousand years. They are tried and true, and it shouldn't bother us at all that they are not new.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:1-2 - NIV).
Bibles for America (BfA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to distribute free copies of the New Testament Recovery Version and Christian literature throughout the United States. Please visit www.biblesforamerica.org to order a free Bible or browse our free Bible-reading resources.
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;
of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:15).
John Newton lived to be eighty-two years old and continued to preach and have an active ministry until beset by fading health in the last two years of his life. Even then, Newton never ceased to be amazed by God's grace and told his friends:
My memory is nearly gone;
but I remember two things;
That I am a great sinner, and
that Christ is a great Saviour.
John Newton (1725-1807)
English minister and hymn writer
Please keep the following individuals in your prayers:
1) "My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for over 4 years now. . . Please pray that the Lord will bless us with a baby soon." -Katie
2) Beth asks for our prayers: "Please pray that I am on Mark's heart and that he will not let me go. Please pray that his heart will be convicted to me.";
3) "Hello, Today is my son Michael's 29th birthday. On Monday (Nov. 16th) he will go to court and expects to get 5 years in prison (3 years good time.) He is a Christian, but has already done about 3 years for his previous actions (resulting from meth use). Please pray with me for God's will in Michael's life, and for strength, peace, and even joy in the midst of his trials. Also please pray for God's guidance in using the time served (if he gets sentenced) to good use, for the glory of God. Thank you so much for praying!" -Michelle;
4) Sonya asks to be remembered in our prayers. She writes, "I am very depressed and emotionally drained. The past year has been the hardest time of my life. I lost my husband and best friend because he didn't trust me any longer due to the things that I have done. I let him down and he said he could never be sure that I wouldn't hurt him that way again. I was unfaithful and put my trust into one person more than I should have. I have put myself into debt by loaning that person money and I am writing those funds off as a loss because I know I will not get it back. My husband divorced me- I was layed off from work - and just recently my father inlaw passed away. At his funeral my ex-husband's new girl friend was there. - I had so much hope we could find our way back to each other. My choices and his choices cost us our marriage. God didn't do this and I know that he didn't we didn't have faith enough in God to make the right choices and now this is where we are at. I know that God has provided me with my health, family and friends. Please pray for me that I find a brighter tomorrow and to help me continue to keep my faith in God and even though I am hurting that things would turn around in my so called existence. That I will find employment, continue to work with my therapist on my depression, and to let go of my ex husband and find happiness. Thank you.";
5) "Lord thank for today and for the ability to come to you and ask that you bless me with meaningful employment. I pray for my wifes safety as she is out of town on work. I ask theses things in the name of Jesus. Amen." -Terry;
6) Sandra asks for our prayers. She writes, "Please pray for my daughter and grandaughter. Pray that my grandaughter's heart be filled with love and that she remember all the love that has existed between herself and her mother since she was a baby. Thank you.";
7) "All the power of god into Tom In the form of personal power..." -James;
8) "Pray for me that by disability benifits will be quickly restored." -Mr Brown;
9) Tom and Kate asks to be remembered in our prayers. They write: "All the power of god into Tom/Kate in the form of to get the job I am praying for I wanna work.";
10) "Bless Sacramento Delta, Bless our president Obama and his family, Bless those who fight for single payer health care, Kusinich -from Oregon, Jay R- Bless Rob who is so ill, Bless me and thank you for the gift yesterday, Bless guide posts. Thank you." -Eleanor;
11) Connie asks for our prayers. She writes, "Please pray for my husband who has struggled with ssa since he can remember and is living with another man. Both of them believe in God and He has been working in their hearts. I need wisdom as my husband and I continue communicating with each other.";
12) "I am really in need of prayer. My girlfriend and I broke up recently, and it is killing me. I still think she has feelings for me, but she is so afraid of commitment that I feel she thought it would be better to break it off now instead of down the road where her feelings could be stronger. I love her so much and don't want to lose her. I have prayed for restoration and a renewal of our relationship. I really do believe it is God's will for us, but I believe there are way too many negative influences in her life that are keeping her from giving us another chance. Please Please pray that God would give us another chance together, and open her heart, mind, and will to give me a chance with her. Please pray that I act in such a way when I am around her that she looks at me in a very positive light. Let me not get angry or jealous so that she gets turned off, but let me remain calm at all times. Pray that God would send positive people into her life that will help her find Jesus. Pray that she will accept me for who I am, and that the Holy Spirit speak to her heart mind and will to give me another chance. Thank you and God bless you all." -Joe;
13) Marie asks to be remembered in our prayers. She writes, "Please pray for my daughter, Karen and her husband Keith who are experiencing many financial problems right now. They have a son who requires many medical procedures since his birth 11 years ago. Both of them have full time jobs but cannot meet the demanding needs of the every day bills especially with all the medical bills they've had which has been in the million dollars. Their insurance covers most but they must pay a lot out of pocket. I ask God to help them with their financial problems before they lose their home which I am so afraid may happen because the taxes keep going higher which means their mortgage goes up too as do gas, oil, electric and food for a family of four. They do not spend money on foolish things. They buy only necessities. Pray for them to be able to meet their monthly payments and tend to the needs of their children.";
14) "Yes, Mindy and issues in her life that are to numerous to relate. May the Lords will be done and financial guidence. Judy in hospital , H1N1 complications." -Mindy;
15) Jenni asks for our prayers. She writes: "I have had a little bad luck these days. I left a man who was very abusive. Because of this action I am left holding all of the responsibilities at home. We had a house together...my daughter and I still live in the house, but I am losing it. I have no job, but have been trying for months to find one. I am a smart capable woman who just cant seem to get a break. If I lose my home my daughter and I will have nowhere to go. Plus this is our home and because of the abusive relationship I dont want to move her and change her life even more. This is our home we have nothing else.I pray everyday that I find a job or find some help to keep our lives together. I also struggle everyday trying to deal with my past relationship and what it has done to me and my daughter. I am tired very tired of living like this...living day to day with no security. I know I am stronger than I realize....but I need some extra help right now. I am falling apart. So please pray for my daughter and myself that in a miracle...we can keep our lives together. And that the man in my past will leave us alone.";
16) "I would like to ask you to pray for Victor who was in a car accident on November 1 and was due to fly back to NY on the 17 of this November from to and then NY. He was taken to the airport and his body went into a deep stress that they did not allow him to fly. I have been calling his cell and got no answer I pray that God will bring him home safe and bless the doctors that are helping him, my name is Michelle but I ask you in the name of Jesus to pray for my husband." -Michelle;
17) "Please pray that God would grant me the judicial appointment for my community. Please pray that God would grant me the wisdom knowledge, strength and confidence to be a just and compassionate judge. To God be all the glory. Please pray in Jesus' name. Thanks." -Chris;
18) Dorcus asks for our prayers: "IM HAVING TO DEAL WITH ME AND MY HUSBAND NOT WORKING AND BILLS ARE DUE WERE TRYING TO PAY CAR AND INSURANCE AND RENT AND LIGHTS PLUS FOOD HHOW CAN WE GET THROUGH COLLECTORS KEEP CALLING INSURANCE CANCELLING ON CAR ITS CRAZY WE REALLY NEED SOME OTHER GUIDES TO HELP WE HAVE FIVE KIDS AND WERE TRYING TO MAINTAIN ALL OF THIS AND STILL SERVE GOD WEVE BEEN HOMELESS WITH NOTHING SLEEPING IN THE CAR WE JUST PRAY FOR A TURN AROUND PLEASE IN JESUS NAME.";
19) "Lord I ask you again for blessings and thank you for blessings. Let my heart be trouble free and my body healthy. Let my finances be like the fishes and loaves now for I know by faith God provides. And Lord please send the right companion to me now; let him be like Jesus and let me know when and who.In Jesus name amen." -Joan;
20) "Please pray for my grandson. He is sixteen and is very confused and is looking at gay pornography and books on the occult. I am trusting that God will deliver him. He is living with his dad who has never been there for him." -Doris; and lastly ...
21) "Please pray for my son. He knows the Lord & was baptized. He is living with a man who needs salvation. Ask God to send him Godly friends and that he will continue to come home and hear the truth in love. I need Godly wisdom as I talk with him." -Cindy
**God bless you for caring enough to pray!!!**
A real friend is always and under all circumstances a friend (Proverbs 17:17a).
By Bill Keller
I have to admit to you, that through all that I have seen and experienced in my life and during over a decade in ministry, VERY little shocks me any more. It is not that I am apathetic to what happens in this world, but I realize that sinful men and women who rebel against God are capable of doing ANYTHING. But the other afternoon was one of those rare times that I was both shocked and deeply saddened.
I was at the salon the other day getting my hair cut. As I was waiting, I saw the cover of the recent Cosmopolitan magazine and the BOLD PRINT featuring an article on "50 Sex Tricks ." Now my friend, I am 51 years old, I have been married over 25 years, and prior to fully surrendering to Christ 20 years ago lived in rebellion to God for many years. So I am fully aware of what goes on between men and women not committed to the Lord. But here was a well established, national publication, geared primarily to young women in a place ANYONE of ANY AGE could see, espousing the glory of having sex outside of marriage. Yes, I was shocked and saddened by the message that Cosmopolitan was sending out.
When I got home, I told my wife about the Cosmopolitan cover and she told me
that she was in the supermarket check-out line a few weeks ago and saw a past issue of Cosmopolitan. She told me that as she looked through it, she was appalled at the graphic detailed nature of what they were promoting to young women as perfectly acceptable sexual behavior. While I couldn't believe what the cover I saw had said, I assumed that it was just for shock value to get people to buy the magazine.
So my wife and I went out, bought the copy that I had seen, and I can only tell you that I became even MORE SHOCKED as I read through the contents of the entire magazine. It was pure pornography. The saddest thing to me was that this a very prominent national publication that has been around for years, and is responsible in shaping the views of the young women who read it. What they were promoting as acceptable behavior was not only 100% AGAINST God's plan, but does not "empower" women as they claim, it cheapens them!!!! IT DESTROYS THEM!!!!
I make this an issue today for 2 reasons. First, moms and dads, DO NOT let your daughters read this garbage. It is as bad as any pornography that is on the market, and worse since instead of being in a plastic cover behind the counter, it is on shelves where YOUR daughter can see it and can purchase it. Second, young women, I often talk about "garbage in, garbage out." What is on the pages of that magazine is GARBAGE. Stay away from it!
Just so that I am clear, I am NOT for censorship. I believe in and support the first amendment of our Constitution. There are MANY out there who would love to censor what I say each day. The publishers of Cosmopolitan have EVERY RIGHT to print that garbage, just as Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner have every right to print the garbage they do. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN WE HAVE TO CONSUME THEIR GARBAGE!!!! Sadly, what I saw in that issue of Cosmopolitan was just that, pure garbage since it was 100% in opposition to God's Word.
Young women, listen to me. I am saying this because I love you and care about you so much. Sex is a WONDERFUL thing. God created it so it HAS to be
wonderful. But God created sex to be enjoyed between a man and a woman in the bonds of marriage. Period! The Bible talks over and over about fornication. That is literally, ANY sex outside of the bonds of marriage. It includes ALL sexual acts, NOT just sexual intercourse! The line was clearly set by Jesus when He said that if you "lust in your heart" you have sinned.
God created you in His own image. He loves you. You are special!!! Sex does
not make you special, you are special because God made you. If you have made
the choice to accept Jesus Christ into your heart, YOU are a daughter of the King! Don't ever let Cosmopolitan, or any other magazine, or any TV program, or other person make you forget that you are special! You have a ROYAL bloodline if you know Jesus!!!
The sad thing about what Cosmopolitan, TV, the movies, and our culture do is
glamorize sin. They make sex seem SO WONDERFUL, which it is IF...IF..IF...it
is the way God designed it to be enjoyed....IN THE CONTEXT OF MARRIAGE!!!!
NOT OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE!!! Well, I have news for you. I receive thousands of
emails daily from young women and young men who fell for satan's (Cosmopolitan's) lie. Their problems range from unwanted pregnancies, to STD's that they will have always have to deal with, deep emotional issues, and a full range of other problems.
These are permanent scars that they will carry with them for the REST OF THEIR LIVES!!! Many have had their world shattered at such a young age. So many are wonderful, good young people who simply fell for the lie of the enemy. LISTEN TO ME. YOU ONLY HAVE ONE LIFE TO LIVE.....DON'T MESS IT UP!!!!
The enemy is here for what? TO KILL, STEAL , AND DESTROY! Jesus promised
what? LIFE, AND LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY!!!!
I have broken one of my rules about length today. But I have SO MUCH passion
about this issue since I see daily thousands who have bought into the
"Cosmopolitan view of life." I will go so far today, without any hesitation and say that Cosmopolitan is just as much a tool of satan to destroy the lives of God's precious young women, as Playboy and Penthouse are in the destruction of men!
I pray this day, that this Devotional gets to the publishers of Cosmopolitan. I pray for their souls because of the damage that they are doing to young women all over the world with their magazine. I say to them that you are simply a tool of satan and you are as guilty as he is in the lives you are destroying. For those who read my Devotionals each day, you know that I don't say these things lightly. But I SEE THE DESTROYED LIVES EVERY DAY. I KNOW WHAT SATAN IS DOING THROUGH INSTRUMENTS LIKE COSMOPOLITAN IN DESTROYING THE LIVES OF YOUNG WOMEN!
I do love you and care about you so much. In closing, let me just say this. God loves you, never forget that! Follow Him daily and your life will be blessed. He gave us His Word so that we didn't have to get lost on our journey. He gave us the roadmap. If we follow it, we will know the joy, the peace, the abundance of this life. If we take a detour, we are on our own and there is a very real enemy out there just waiting for us to get off the path to destroy us! To those young women who are reading this today, forget Cosmopolitan and use that time reading God's Word. IT IS NO ACCIDENT THAT GOD IS LETTING YOU READ THIS TODAY! God, NOT Cosmopolitan will make you a REAL WOMAN, ALL THE WOMAN GOD RAISED YOU UP TO BE!!!
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit..." (1 Peter 3: 15,18)
Saint Matthew's Churches is ecumenical in our scope and nature. We reach out with love, compassion, and understanding to people of all backgrounds regardless of their ethnic group, creed or gender. One of the ways in which Saint Matthew's Churches reaches out to the community is to hungry people. St. Matthew's food pantry feeds poor and underprivileged people every month.
Called to Suffer and Rejoice: That We Might Gain Christ (Part 1of 2)
By John Piper
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The Bible Promises Suffering for God's People
We are focusing in these weeks on the need to prepare for suffering. The reason for this is not just my sense that the days are evil and the path of righteousness costly, but the promise of the Bible that God's people will suffer.
For example, Acts 14:22 says that Paul told all his young churches, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom." And Jesus said, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you" (John 15:20). And Peter said, "Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12). In other words it is not strange; it is to be expected. And Paul said (in 2 Timothy 3:12), "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
So I take it to be a biblical truth that the more earnest we become about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and reaching the unreached peoples of the world, and exposing the works of darkness, and loosing the bonds of sin and Satan, the more we will suffer. That's why we should prepare. And that's why I am preaching in these weeks from texts that will help us prepare.
The messages deal with four purposes that God has in our suffering in his service. One is the moral or spiritual purpose: in suffering we come to hope more fully in God and put less confidence in the things of the world. Second, there is the intimacy purpose: we come to know Christ better when we share his sufferings. That is our focus today.
The Purpose of Greater Intimacy with Christ
God helps us prepare for suffering by teaching us and showing us that through suffering we are meant to go deeper in our relationship with Christ. You get to know him better when you share his pain. The people who write most deeply and sweetly about the preciousness of Christ are people who have suffered with him deeply.
Suffering in the Life of Jerry Bridges
For example, Jerry Bridges' book, Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, is a deep and helpful book about suffering and going deep with God through affliction. And so it's not surprising to learn that when he was 14 years old, he heard his mother call out in the next room, totally unexpectedly, and arrived to see her take her last breath. He also has physical conditions that keep him from normal sports. And just a few years ago his wife died of cancer. Serving God with the Navigators has not spared him pain. He writes with depth about suffering because he has gone deep with Christ in suffering.
Suffering in the Life of Horatius Bonar
Over a hundred years ago Horatius Bonar, the Scottish pastor and hymn-writer, wrote a little book called Night of Weeping, or, "When God's Children Suffer." In it he said his goal was, "to minister to the saints . . . to seek to bear their burdens, to bind up their wounds, and to dry up at least some of their many tears." It is a tender and deep and wise book. So it's not surprising to hear him say,
It is written by one who is seeking himself to profit by trial, and trembles lest it should pass by as the wind over the rock, leaving it as hard as ever; by one who would in every sorrow draw near to God that he may know Him more, and who is not unwilling to confess that as yet he knows but little.
Bridges and Bonar show us that suffering is a path deep into the heart of God. God has special revelations of his glory for his suffering children.
The Words of Job, Stephen, and Peter
After months of suffering, Job finally says to God, "I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee" (Job 42:5). Job had been a godly and upright man, pleasing to God, but the difference between what he knew of God in prosperity and what he knew of him through adversity was the difference between hearing about and seeing.
When Stephen was arrested and put on trial for his faith and given a chance to preach, the upshot was that the religious leaders were enraged and ground their teeth at him. They were just about to drag him out of the city and kill him. At just that moment, Luke tells us, "Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55). There is a special revelation, a special intimacy, prepared for those who suffer with Christ.
Peter put it this way, "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" (1 Peter 4:14). In other words God reserves a special coming and resting of his Spirit and his glory on his children who suffer for his name.
Arise 2 Write chronicles the journey of 1 human (me) hand in hand with the 1 and only God.
Everyday unfolds a new step in my journey. Follow along as I stumble, crawl, and run into the arms of my Heavenly Father.
Dawdling home from Sunday School
He was just a little boy, on a week's first day.
He was wandering home from Sunday School, and dawdling on the way.
He scuffed his shoes into the grass; he found a caterpillar.
He found a fluffy milkweed pod, and blew out all the "filler".
A bird's nest in a tree overhead, so wisely placed on high,
Was just another wonder that caught his eager eye.
A neighbor watched his zig zag course, and hailed him from the lawn,
Asked him where he'd been that day and what was going on.
"I've been to Bible School," he said and turned a piece of sod.
He picked up a wiggly worm replying, "I've learned a lot of God."
"Hmmm very fine way," the neighbor said, "for a boy to spend his time."
"If you'll tell me where God is, I'll give you a brand new dime."
Quick as a flash the answer came! Nor were his accents faint.
"I'll give you a dollar, Mister, if you can tell me where God ain't."
Called to Suffer and Rejoice: That We Might Gain Christ (Part 2of 2)
By John Piper
Three Observations from the Text
So the focus of today's message is on this intimacy factor in suffering. One of the purposes of the suffering of the saints is that their relationship with God might become less formal and less artificial and less distant, and become more personal and more real and more intimate and close and deep.
In our text (Philippians 3:5–11) I want us to see at least three things:
First, Paul's preparation to suffer by reversing his values; Second, Paul's experience of suffering and loss as the cost of his obedience to Christ; Third, Paul's aim in all of this, namely, to gain Christ: to know him and be in him and fellowship with more intimacy and reality than he knew with his best friends Barnabas and Silas.
1. Paul's Preparation to Suffer
In verses 5 and 6 Paul lists the distinctives he enjoyed before he became a Christian. He gives his ethnic pedigree as a thoroughbred child of Abraham, a Hebrew of Hebrews. This brought him great gain, a great sense of significance and assurance. He was an Israelite. Then he mentions three things that go right to the heart of Paul's life before he was a Christian (at the end of verse 5): "as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless."
Paul's Values Before He Met Christ
This was Paul's life. This was what gave him meaning and significance. This was his gain, his fortune, his joy. Different strokes for different folks—and Paul's was that he belonged to the upper-echelon of law-keepers, the Pharisees, and that among them he was so zealous that he led the way in persecuting the enemies of God, the church of Jesus, and that he kept the law meticulously. He got strokes from belonging, he got strokes from excelling, he got strokes from God—or so he thought—for his blameless law-keeping.
And then he met Christ, the Son of the living God, on the Damascus road. Christ told him how much he would have to suffer (Acts 9:16). And Paul prepared himself.
Paul Counted His Prior Values as Loss
The way he prepared himself is described in verse 7. "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ." Paul looks at his standing in the upper-echelons of religious society, the Pharisees; he looks at the glory of being at the very top of that group with all its strokes and applause; he looks at the rigor of his law-keeping and the sense of moral pride he enjoyed; and he prepares to suffer by taking his whole world and turning it upside down, by reversing his values: "Whatever things were gain to me [that's verses 5–6], those things I have counted as loss."
Before he was a Christian he had a ledger with two columns: one that said, gains, and another that said, losses. On the gain side was the human glory of verses 5–6. On the loss side was the terrible prospect that this Jesus movement might get out of hand and Jesus prove real and win the day. When he met the living Christ on the Damascus road, Paul took a big red pencil and wrote "LOSS" in big red letters across his gains column. And he wrote "GAIN" in big letters over the loss column that only had one name in it: Christ.
And not only that, the more Paul thought about the relative values of life in the world and the greatness of Christ, he moved beyond the few things mentioned in verses 5–6 and put everything but Christ in that first column: Verse 8: "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." He started by counting his most precious accomplishments as loss, and he ended by counting everything as loss, except Christ.
That's what it meant for Paul to become a Christian. And lest anyone of us think he was unique or peculiar, notice that in verse 17 he says with his full apostolic authority, "Brethren, join in following my example." This is normal Christianity.
What Paul is doing here is showing how the teaching of Jesus is to be lived out. For example, Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field" (Matthew 13:44). Becoming a Christian means discovering that Christ (the King) is a Treasure Chest of holy joy and writing "LOSS" over everything else in the world in order to gain him. "He sold all that he had to buy that field."
Or again in Luke 14:33 Jesus said, "No one of you can be my disciple who does not take leave of all his own possessions." In other words, becoming a disciple of Jesus means writing "LOSS" in big red letters over all your possessions—and everything else this world offers.
What This Means Practically
Now what does that mean practically? I think it means four things:
It means that whenever I am called upon to choose between anything in this world and Christ, I choose Christ. It means that I will deal with the things of this world in ways that draw me nearer to Christ so that I gain more of Christ and enjoy more of him by the way I use the world. It means that I will always deal with the things of this world in ways that show that they are not my treasure, but rather show that Christ is my treasure. It means that if I lose any or all the things this world can offer, I will not lose my joy or my treasure or my life, because Christ is all.
Now that was the reckoning that Paul reckoned in his soul (v. 8): "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Christ is all and all else is loss.
Why Is This a Way of Preparing to Suffer?
Now let's stand back a minute and get our bearings. I am still dealing with the first point: namely, that this is Paul's way of preparing to suffer. Why do I say that? Why is becoming a Christian, and writing "LOSS" across everything in your life but Christ a way of preparing to suffer?
The answer is that suffering is nothing more than the taking away of bad things or good things that the world offers for our enjoyment—reputation, esteem among peers, job, money, spouse, sexual life, children, friends, health, strength, sight, hearing, success, etc. When these things are taken away (by force or by circumstance or by choice), we suffer. But if we have followed Paul and the teaching of Jesus and have already counted them as loss for the surpassing value of gaining Christ, then we are prepared to suffer.
If when you become a Christian you write a big red "LOSS" across all the things in the world except Christ, then when Christ calls you to forfeit some of those things, it is not strange or unexpected. The pain and the sorrow may be great. The tears may be many, as they were for Jesus in Gethsemane. But we will be prepared. We will know that the value of Christ surpasses all the things the world can offer and that in losing them we gain more of Christ.
2. Paul's Experience of Suffering
So in the second half of verse 8 Paul moves from preparing for suffering to actual suffering. He moves from counting all things as loss in the first half of verse 8 to actually suffering the loss of all things in the second half of the verse. " . . . for whom [that is, Christ] I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish in order that I might gain Christ." We are going to see this next week: Paul had experienced so much actual loss of the normal benefits and comforts of the world that he could say that he was not merely counting things loss; he was suffering loss. He had prepared by turning his values upside down, and now he was being tested. Did he value Christ above all?
3. Paul's Goal (and God's Purpose) in Suffering
So let me close by riveting our attention on Paul's goal and God's purpose in this suffering. Why did God ordain and Paul accept the losses that it meant for him to be a Christian?
Paul gives the answer again and again in these verses so that we cannot miss the point. He is not passive in this suffering loss. He is purposive. And his purpose is to gain Christ.
Verse 7: "I counted them loss for the sake of Christ."
Verse 8a: "I count all things to be loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."
Verse 8b: "For him I have suffered the loss of all things."
Verse 8c: "And I count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ . . . "
Verse 9: " . . . and that I may be found in him [so as to have God's righteousness, not my own] . . . "
Verse 10a: (still giving his aim in accepting the loss of all things) " . . . that I may know him"
Verses 10b–11: (followed by four specifics of what it means to know Christ)
" . . . [to know] the power of his resurrection"; and
"the fellowship of his sufferings";
"being conformed to his death";
"in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
In other words, what sustains Paul in suffering the loss of all things is the confidence that in his losing precious things in the world he is gaining something more precious—Christ.
And two times that gaining is called a knowing—verse 8a: " . . . in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Verse 10: "That I might know him." This is the intimacy factor in suffering. Do we want to know him? Do we want to be more personal with him and deep with him and real with him and intimate with him—so much so that we count everything as loss to gain this greatest of all treasures?
If we do, we will be ready to suffer. If we don't, it will take us by surprise and we will rebel. May the Lord open our eyes to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ!
How do you get into Heaven?
You can't fool the kids in Sunday school; they are way too smart...
"If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale, and gave all my money to the church, would I get into heaven?" I asked the children in my Sunday school class.
"NO!" all the children answered.
"If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into heaven?"
Again the answer was, "NO!"
"Well then," I continued, "how can I get to heaven?"
A five-year-old boy shouted, "You gotta be dead!"
"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares
about you" (1 Peter 5:7 – NLT).
Be sure to send in your prayer request for the next
You are in my thoughts and prayers! May the Lord
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In Christ's Love,
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"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man
who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His saints,
for those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow
weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no
good thing" (Psalm 34:8-10 - NIV).
He Tasted Death For Me
"Jesus ... by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Hebrews 2:9
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:10
"The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20
God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
The Son of God a ransom came
Down from His throne on high,
Into this world of sin and shame
For us to bleed and die.
We read the Father sent the Son
To die, on Calv'ry's tree;
"He tasted death for every man",
He tasted death for me.
The wrath that was my portion, Lord,
Was suffered all by Thee,
When tasting death for every man,—
When tasting death for me.
"'Tis finished", all on Calv'ry's cross,
Redemption's work is done;
"No condemnation" evermore,
Through God's beloved Son.
O wondrous love and matchless grace
That sets the sinner free;
"The Son of God who loved me so,—
He gave Himself for me."
May love like this unto Thine own
Our hearts and voices raise,
Unto the Father and the Son
Our everlasting praise.
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." 1 Peter 3:18
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21
"For the wages of sin is death; but THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23
We hope you have found today's newsletter encouraging to your
walk with Jesus Christ. Please send all prayer requests and
praise reports to us by using the "comments" hyperlink, which
can be found at the end of each blog/article. God is Good!!!
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I'm just a nobody
trying to tell everybody
that there is somebody
who can save anybody!!
Never get so busy doing the work of the kingdom
- that you forget who the King is.