A Great Illustration of Unity

 A Great Illustration of Unity

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12

Welcome to a new week of Freedom Fighter blogs. Our prayer is that this daily blog will encourage you to walk in victory in your daily Christian life.

5 Pianos

Last Tuesday and Wednesday was a highlight in my ministry. America’s Keswick is celebrating the 117th anniversary of the founding of the Colony of Mercy (which we will talk about on Thursday) and for our banquets on our campus we brought together 5 very gifted pianists to present an evening and afternoon of praise. (You can visit our website @ www.americaskeswick.org and watch the archived programs)

It was my privilege to play with four incredible musicians: Carolyn Hibbard, Michael Faircloth, Robert Hayes and Dick Tunney. Each of these musicians have their own unique keyboard styles. My 18 year-old son cracks me up because whenever he hears one of them on my Ipod, he can easily identify who is playing because of their unique style.

Each of the four have their own CD’s, have put together their own arrangements, and have their own concert ministries. But only God can take 50 fingers and blend them together so that they sound like one!

As we played together, there was a yielding of our own rights. We had to listen to each other carefully so that what we were playing blended with the other four so that there was rich harmony vs. discord. There was eye contact – no words were spoken – but with eye contact and body language there was a yielding to the brother or sister or on the right or left – allowing that musician to shine on a phrase that showcased his or her style.

Starting was easy when we all played because there was one or two designated to start the piece. Ending the piece was more tricky – so there had to be constant eye contact, ears tuned in to what was going on around us – so that we all ended the piece precisely at the same time.

Throughout the concert, I kept thinking – this is a great picture of what Christ wants his church to look like and how it is to function. It can’t be all feet or all mouths, or all hands. But put it all together – everyone doing what they are supposed to do – yielding, listening, encouraging – and wow – we get to experience the answer to Jesus’ High Priestly prayer – that we would be one and one in Christ. I am thankful for the picture He gave me in the midst of our anniversary celebration. Unity is important in the church. Lord, please make us one! – Dr. Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 24-25

Think About This: Prayer is the cry of faith to the ear of mercy. Hannah Moore

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;  The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”’ Numbers 6:24-26

Do You Want Get Be Well

Do You Want To Get Well?

When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5: 6)

Asking a man who has been sick for thirty-eight years if he wants to be well may seem a bit unusual to you and me. How-ever, Jesus wanted to hear the man’s answer. He wanted to hear the desire of his heart expressed.

Do You Want to Get Well

The crowd of sick people around the Pool of Bethesda is a picture of the spiritual condition of many people today. They have lost their health, they have no one to help them and they have lost hope. This is a sad picture. It may be a picture of your life.

Are you struggling with a spiritual health malady? Is there some chronic spiritual illness that just keeps on lingering, sapping vitality out of you?

Jesus is the great Physician; He can diagnose your sickness, and He can heal your sin sickness.

Jesus knows your spiritual sickness. He does not ask you if you want to be made well in order that He may know; He asks you if you want to be made well so you will have to face your malady and express your desire to be free of it.

The man at the Pool of Bethesda did not have health, help, or hope. He had no resource within himself to make himself better. He was totally dependent upon someone else helping him. Are you willing to admit that you do not have what it takes to cure yourself? You also need someone else. You need a Savior.

Jesus can deliver you from your spiritual sickness . Notice His authoritative word in verse 8, Rise, take up your bed and walk. Before us, we see a man who had been sick and helpless for thirty-eight years now taking up his bed and walking. In the miracle of a moment, he is free from his infirmity.

Is anything too hard for the Lord? No! Jesus can deliver you, too! Look beyond your circumstances to the One who has the power to set you free.

Jesus can give you an entire new life. In verse 14, Jesus said to the man who had been healed, See, you have been made well, sin no more… A glorious future lay before him. Do you want to be spiritually well? Then come to Jesus. Dr. Roger D. Willmore is an itinerant Bible teacher and conference speaker and speaks often at America’s Keswick

Keswick, America’s  (2012-12-13). Real Victory for Real Life Volume 2 (Kindle Locations 8899-8931).  . Kindle Edition.

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 16-17

Think About This: “The more eminently that any one excels in holiness, the farther he feels himself from perfect righteousness, and the more clearly he perceives that he can trust nothing but the mercy of God alone. Hence it appears, that those are grossly mistaken who conceive that the pardon of sin is necessary ONLY to the beginning of righteousness. As believers are every day involved in many faults, it will profit them nothing that they have once entered the way of righteousness, unless the same grace which brought them into it accompany them to the last step of life.”  – John Calvin

 

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3

House to House Spiritual Battle

House to House Spiritual Battle

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God… The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. ~ from 1 Peter 4

House to House Spiritual Battle

Oh beloved, it is true.  There is a brutal battleground within the confines of our mind.  The battle is not mental either, for we know for sure that the brain is prone to failure or disease.  No, the battle for the mind is within our soul – and its intellect – for access to the inner man.

And the battle is vicious, urban-terrorist type stuff that often feels like having a firefight in a phone booth.  And while the battle is absolutely real, there is an oddity to it all.  The conflict we often go through is part of a war that is already over.

There is among us, in the air we breathe, a prince of this place – a father of lies.  Anything he, or his minions say is – by definition – untrue.  And so, even in them attempting to launch an attack on our mind, they are doing it under false pretenses.  And the smoke of our past, and the mirrors showing us our own failures (read already paid for by the Blood of Christ Jesus) are the only basis upon which they can lob volleys against us.

However, this dynamic of spiritual battle is actually a wonderful proof of the accuracy of His Word, and its effectiveness as the true sword of the Spirit it is Designed and Spoken to be.  Jesus, in dying to His own righteous desire for worship and glorification, obeyed His Dad to the point of death on a cross.  This death actually killed the flesh of the G_d of all creation.  And in the slaughter of His flesh, He was able to declare the war against sin completely finished.

And deeper it goes, for the death He died included us.  We (our old man) was indeed crucified with Him.  Our flesh (as we reckon this truth true) has died a death similar to Christ’s.  And while His death was the actual payment for our sins, our death was (and is) a profound gift in the new Life we now live in Him.  He conquered sin with His death.  Our death is the proof that we are free from the same.

Can we see it?  The only way that the liar can gain ground in our mind is for us to believe another lie.  We are, to put it bluntly, already dead.  So we are free.  There is no flesh available to corrupt if we do not present it for use in unrighteousness.  Our mind is His, our body is His, our soul is His, and our spirit is one with Him.  We have but to change our mind about our willingness to be lied to, and simply steward the stunningly powerful weaponry we have already been given for the growth of the Body of Christ and the glory of her Head.

So, the liar may claim and hammer and claw and spit and scream and wretch all he wants.  he is just screaming because he knows his head is already crushed and he will soon become the laughingstock of the universe.  WHO IS THIS UNCIRCUMCISED DEMON THAT HE WOULD STAND AGAINST THE ARMIES OF THE LIVING G_D?

Be gone liar.  Your targets are already dead to themselves and alive in the One who has beaten both sin and death quite soundly.  Be gone in the Name of Jesus. –Makala Doulos is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and lives with his family in Jakarta, Indonesia as a pastor/teacher

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 13-15

Think About This: There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan. ~C.S. Lewis

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3

Why Does it Seem Harder and Harder

Why does it seem harder and harder?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7

Well I have been home from Keswick for a week after visiting for 3 days during the Young at Heart Conference.  For the past few months the LORD has been challenging me with trusting Him with all of my heart.  I must admit that the longer I walk with the LORD the more challenging this has become.  I have been a blessed man for the past 27 years after coming to know the LORD and for years have felt his leading in my life.

Doug and Ellen Barger

Well an opportunity presented itself to me a few months ago that I got pretty excited about.  I was trying my hardest to get all the things that needed to be lined up, lined up but I kept on running into a brick wall.  Have you ever been there?  Every time I would think of something to do, it seemed like the door was shutting on the opportunity.  The more I pushed the more I got frustrated.

One of the things that I noticed during this time was that the frustration that I was feeling was with the LORD.  The more I spoke to Ellen about the situation, the more frustrated she seemed to get as well.  It took me approximately 4 weeks to figure out that I was not trusting the LORD with all of my heart and that I was leaning on a past track record in how God worked in our lives. It took some frustration on my part but I am truly glad that I have friends and a wife who know me well enough to speak the truth to me.

So, how about you?  Are you trying to make God’s will fit into your will?  Are you running your life according to your own understanding of things?  Well, the good news is, that God allows us to do that for a while and then He speaks truth to us.  What are your friends and family saying to you?  How about the LORD?  Doug Barger is the Director of Men’s Ministries at Bethesda Mission outside of Harrisburg, PA. We welcome Doug to the Freedom Fighter writing team. Doug served at the Colony of Mercy for a number of years and has a huge heart for men in addiction.

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 11-12

Think About This: The Holy Spirit leads the man’s spirit, not [merely] the man’s mind. Guidance is not discovered in relation to the problem, but guidance is discovered in relation to Jesus Christ… We want to stand up for ourselves and have our own way; but it is the MEEK whom God guides in judgment [Psalm 25:8,9]. The condition of an enlightened mind is a surrendered heart… If a man in his heart is right with God, God will deal with the problem. We often start the question of guidance at the wrong end. We are TRYING all the time; we are worrying our way through; we are panicky. What shall we do next? What is the next step in life? We are concerned about our mind. God is concerned about our spirit – the humble. the Contrite, and the brokenhearted – that man God will always guide. Alan Redpath

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: God is our refuge and strength, a very presenthelp in trouble.Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 

Selah Psalm

46:1-3

The Fruit and the Vine — Agape II

The Fruit and The Vine — AGAPE II

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV)

Life in the Vine

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Hmm…I guess this is a command NOT meant for those who tend to be somewhat narcissistic. When I looked at the word love as a fruit of the Spirit and not as an emotion to be felt the idea of self-love seemed to have no place, after all, “Love” as described in the Bible is quite different from love as supported by a secular worldview. To borrow this Biblical phrase, “You must love one another out of obedience to God, which cannot be done outside of experiencing God’s love yourself in the first place and accepting what that love reveals about yourself.”

It is natural and normal to love yourself. The fact that a vast majority of people in the world care for themselves first is testament to the fact that love for self is not lacking. The Garden is a good place to see this get its beginning. The adversary stirred up a strong realization of self-love in Eve because “surely” you wanna be like God, knowing good from evil, don’t you? Not being open to understanding what the will of God is in our lives ALWAYS leads us to applying our own will to it and therefore the love of self will “surely” manifest itself into a form of bondage to sin. In this case a simple act of disobedience leads to separation from God, for all of us.

We should love ourselves based on God’s abiding love for us and our response to this love is that we share it with all whom we come in contact with—our “neighbors.” In fact, it could be argued that were someone to NOT love himself it would be an act of sin, as it would, in essence, be rejecting God’s love. So what does the Word of God say about self-love or loving self? Well to get this right out there, the idea of loving yourself being a command from The Bible ain’t so…period. We already love ourselves too much and YHVH knows this but on the flip side it is equally unbiblical to practice self-hatred. So no self-mortification, got that?

I mention the word abiding again and to be honest fruit bearing cannot be possible without abiding in the True Vine. The first 10 verses of the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel has Jesus telling His disciples the importance of abiding in Him so they all can abide in The Father and by the 17th chapter Jesus is bringing this to vertical connection with His Father through His priestly prayer. But the most important of all these verse to understand, for me, was…“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Finding our identity in the AGAPE of Jesus Christ is a major key for the world to see so that they will know we are Christians…by our love.

Although it was being tried in The Garden isn’t it ironic to see how love is the first fruit of the Spirit?  I can’t be sure if Adam and Eve understood YHVH’s perfect love even though they were receiving it but I walk away from the moment realizing that being obedient to God’s will in my life is my display of love for The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. My problem is with its application is my own free will. I have my moments where I have said to myself “surely” this will be okay even when it wasn’t and, yes, there were consequences. But I am not falling back on the excuse that God is still working on me to justify my lack of agape. Instead I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. How about you? Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 9-10

Think About This: “We are all responsible to Jesus first, and then, under Him, to various other persons and offices. Discerning the path of love and obedience when two or more of these submissive relationships collide is a call to humble, Bible-saturated, spiritual wisdom.”—John Piper

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3

 

 

 

God is For You (Part 2)

God is For You (Part 2)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

Last Monday I shared Part 1 of an amazing truth – God is for you! Welcome to a new week of Freedom Fighter blogs. I trust that our daily encouragement to you is that – encouraging you to walk in victory through Christ.

God Is For You

If we are really honest with ourselves there are times when we feel like we have blown it to the point where God is just done with us – like He has written us off.

Well my friend, if you have blown it and you are His child, He is still there. He longs to have fellowship you. He loves you with an everlasting love. God is for you.

In the daily devotional, Meet Me in the Meadow, Roy Lessin reminds us that:

  • God give you strength and power. God is for you. (Psalm 68:35)
  • God is your deliverer. God is for you. (Psalm 68:20)
  • God daily bears your burden. God is for you. (Psalm 68:19)
  • God makes a home for the lonely. God is for you. (Psalm 68:6)
  • God will not turn away your prayer. God is for you. (Psalm 66:20)
  • God will not turn away His lovingkindness toward you. God is for you. (Psalm 66:20)
  • God shelters you under His wings. God is for you. (Psalm 61:4)
  • God redeems your soul from the battle against you. God is for you.
    (Psalm 55:18)
  • God will deliver you from all trouble. God is for you. (Psalm 54:7)
  • God will guide your life. God is for you. (Psalm 48:14)

Yes, we sin. But 1 John 1:9 tells us how to deal with that sin. An old preacher friend reminded me of this – God never tires of new beginnings.

So don’t listen to the wrong voices going off in your head. Remind yourself daily – GOD IS FOR YOU. – Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 7-8

Think About This: Life is not primarily about what we avoid, but what we pursue. —Brad Hambrick

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3

The Plumb Line

The Plumb Line

The LORD changed His mind about this. “This too shall not be,” said the Lord GOD. Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. The LORD said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold I am about to put a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer.” (Amos 7:7-9)

This passage has strong language and reveals judgment against the disobedient Jewish nation. There are many lessons and rich principles that we can grasp from their mistakes.

However, I want to focus on the plumb line. The Plumb line is a tool that is used to help determine whether something is lined perfectly vertical.

The Plumb Line

We have all a built-in plumb lines or values shaped by our families, influences, past, and the like. It becomes the mechanism that governs our standards and the way we conduct life. In addition, if were not careful this also becomes the tool we believe others should live by.

In construction, when the plumb line is off, it could have grave repercussions that might require deconstruction, causing you to rework from scratch or simply readjust certain angles to straighten out the work.

What if your personal plumb line is off, what if you woke up one day and realized that you have approached life with a line that wasn’t straight? At that moment, there is a decision to be made. Either live in denial, and continue living a warped life. Alternatively, recognize the beautiful gift of being in Christ the moment you realize you missed the mark, grace is infused into your circumstances. Moreover, the grace was already there patiently waiting.

And the LORD, he it is that does go before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you, neither forsake you: fear not, neither be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8) – Juan Mendez is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves full-time at America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 1-2

Think About This: Once as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly had been to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God. As near as I can judge, this continued about an hour; and kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated; to love Him with a pure and holy love; to serve and follow Him; to be perfectly sanctified and made pure with a divine and heavenly purity. Jonathan Edwards

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.” 1 John 3:2 (NLT)