Make It Stick

Make It Stick

And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Mark 4:9

There are times when I am at work and there is a need for a repair, to restore something that has been broken or even just a fresh coat of paint. There aren’t too many things that you would apply to a surface that wouldn’t strongly recommend that you first prepare the area. You might read, “Be sure that the surface is clean and dry, that there are no foreign objects or loose materials that would hinder the application”.

make it stick!

The same thing with us, I believe the Bible teaches us to be prepared ourselves when we come before the Lord. Too many times I’ve missed a message or have struggled through an event because the surface of my heart was not prepared. I’m either preoccupied or I’m not hearing because there is something that’s speaking loader in my head that’s got my attention.

Have you ever spoke to someone who’s not listening? You can tell that everything you say is not being received. It’s usually because there is something else on their mind. Do you see yourself in communion with God when you’re reading His word or at a service or Bible study? I believe God wants our full attention when we are coming before Him.

The Parable of the sower and the seed is a good illustration of preparing our hearts. I love the picture of “the good soil”, It’s been tilled and weeded and can now receive the Word. Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that  “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”, but previously he tells us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. Fear and trembling? I know if God were to ask me in a “Dad” kind of voice, “Are you listening to Me?” I’d be trembling.

Paul goes on to say, “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life”.

For a list of preparation instructions go to Colossians chapter 3 for the “put-offs and put-ons”. Don’t be like a process that, although looks good on the outside, will shortly come apart because the surface of your heart was not prepared. – Rob Russomano loves God and loves ministering to the men of the Colony of Mercy. He serves full-time at America’s Keswick and is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 22-24

Think About This: God never sent a messenger with an empty envelope. Joel Horne

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:16-17 NKJV

 

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Who Or What Do You Love?

Who or What Do You Love?

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 1:15-17

What Do you Love

I love the above passage because John helps us to identify three idols of the heart that we need to do something about.  Before we jump into the text above, let us consider a few things about idolatry.  Addiction is a worship disorder that comes from worshipping a false god or an idol.  Look at Ezekiel 14:1-8 and notice what God says to the prophet about the leaders of Israel. They wanted to know when their time of captivity was up, when can we go back home to those things that make us comfortable.  They were not concerned about their relationship with the LORD, they were concerned about their comfort.  Keep this in mind as we go forward.

Idols can be false beliefs, rebellious attitudes, and unwholesome desires.  Now notice that I did not say beliefs, attitudes and desires only.  The real issue is the falseness, the rebelliousness and the unwholesomeness of those things.  We get into real trouble when our beliefs are false (not based on truth), when our attitudes are rebellious, and our desires are not wholesome or godly.  The reason that many of us choose to hold onto these things is because they help us cope with the world around us.  They make life more bearable (or so we think).

So, if we are going to identify these idols we need to call them what God calls them.  This is what I teach the guys here at the mission as thinking biblically about our lives.  If we do not think biblically, then we tend to lean towards the worlds way of thinking, and come to an incorrect conclusion that God doesn’t have answers to our problems.  Using the world’s terms causes confusion and they keep changing the meaning of the terms they use.  Also, when we think about idolatry, many of us focus on the surface problems and not the root problems.

So, what does John identify for us as idols of the heart. He gives three to look at and even though there are many more idols that the Bible reveals, these are three that keep showing up in the lives of those in the Bible and those of us who are living now.  Passion, Pleasure and Pride are the three that we are going to be looking at.  There are others like control, fear, acceptance that we all have struggled with in the past.

Passion – What is it anyway?  John states it as “the lust of the flesh”.  These are what we called desires that are screaming out to be satisfied.  We tend to call these things needs but they really are wants or desires.  The difference between a need and a desire is that one you can live without and the other you can not.  So, we man say we NEED sex, when in reality, we WANT sex.  No one ever died who did not have sex.  Now listen, I am not saying that the desire for sex is wrong, that is a God given desire, but when we raise that desire to the need level, it has become an idol.  What about air-conditioning?  I grew up with a air-conditioner in my home but my dad would not let us turn it on.  On those real hot days, we would say, “we need air-conditioning” and dad would say “no”.  None of us died.  We were uncomfortable for sure but we did not die.

Pleasure – Again, God is a God who knows how to enjoy the pleasures of life.  But what we are talking about again are those things that we get fixated on either by their appearance or the possession of it.  I remember when I got out of the rehab, the first thing that I wanted to do was get me a 1987 (this was in 1987) red hot, Chevy Camero, with the 305 engine in it.  Wow, people will look at me now.  The possession of this car was idol to me.  Listen to what the Psalmist says, in Psalm 16:11; “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

See, what the Lord desire from us and what John and the Psalmist are getting at is that God desires that we find our pleasures and contentment in Him.  We are to and we can trust him to meet our every need.  Paul the apostle stated, that he learned contentment.  It is a process and as we understand that God is working in every area of our lives, we can trust Him more and more.

PRIDE – Pride shows up in many ways in our lives.  You know the whole self-esteem movement is nothing more than a movement motivated by pride.  Pride is thinking too highly of oneself.  When we have low self esteem we are still focused on the self.  It puts us in the center of life and not the One who belongs there.  I do not know about you, but there are many who tend to overlook their faults and accentuate their good qualities.  I at times still struggle with this.  Just ask my wife when we are discussing something and I am wrong in the situation.  I automatically want to defend myself and talk about the good things that are happening and not the issue at hand.  One of the reasons we used substances is to make us look good, give us confidence, to be assertive or accepted.  Pride always goes before destruction says the writer of Proverbs.

So, here is the challenge: Who do you love?  Who is at the center of your life?  What are you giving your time and attention to?  Which one of these three things do you see operating in your life at this time?  Next time we will discuss what we do with them.  Hey, if anyone hasn’t told you today, I love you and so does Jesus.  Keep looking up for your redemption is nearer today that it was yesterday.  – Doug Barger is the Director of Men’s Ministry at Bethesda Mission. He is a friend of the ministry of America’s Keswick and served as the Administrator of the Colony of Mercy

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 19-21

Think About This: Some folk, if they knew themselves better, would not brag as loudly as they now do. —C.H. Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:16-17 NKJV

 

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No Sin

No Sin

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 1 John 3:6

Welcome to a new week of Freedom Fighter blogs. I trust you had a good weekend and that you are ready for the week that is before you. Today’s blog is from the pens of Henry and Richard Blackaby. It is a good reminder, brothers, of God’s position on sin:

No Sin

The Bible makes two things clear about sin. First, living a lifestyle of sin indicates that you are not walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, regardless of what you say about your spiritual condition. You cannot regularly spend time studying and meditating on God’s Word, praying and walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and persist in sin.

Second, if you do not hate sin the way God does, then you do not truly know Him. There are those who continue in their sin yet insist that they love God and belong to Him. John makes it clear: If you have a lifestyle of sin, you have not seen Him and do not know Him. You may have prayed a “sinner’s prayer,” or made a commitment in your church, or been baptized, but the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life is that you are defeating sin.

This does not mean that you will never sin, but it does mean that you refuse to make sin a lifestyle and you immediately seek forgiveness when you sin (1 John 1:10). It means that you are opposed to sin, as God is, and you allow the Holy Spirit to eradicate every trace of sin in your life. It means that when you sin, you immediately confess it and repent of it and do whatever is necessary to avoid repeating your sin.

If you find yourself falling into sinful habits or not grieving over your sin as you once did, this indicates that you are not abiding in Christ. Return to Him in repentance; restore your fellowship with Him; and you will once again experience victory over your sin.

Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (Kindle Locations 4686-4701). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I needed this reminder today. How about you? It is a good application of this week’s memory verse at the bottom of today’s blog. What sin is keeping you from experiencing victory in your life today?

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 15-18

Think About This: “Avalanches of evil begin with a single pebble of sin.” John Piper

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:16-17 NKJV

Warrior Diet — Avoiding Junk Food

Warrior Diet – Avoiding Junk Food

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the Bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this Bread will live forever.”
~Jesus, King of The Universe, in John 6

Warrior Diet

Oh beloved, it is true. There is an enigma to the Gospel. We are saved by Grace through faith. But it is not our faith that saves us – it is the G_d Himself.  And in coming to an understanding of this mystery, we come to find that “Jesus saves” is not a motto – He is a real Person.

And as time goes on, the slaughtering He has done of our flesh, and the re-creation HE has done of our being, shows these things to have been real events. Everything we wanted before seems a bit silly in the light of what He has done for us. He becomes real, and changes the very profile of our desires.

He is now in ever-increasing measure:
our Life
our Passion
our Love
our Turn-on
our Strength
our Bread
our Hope
our Healer
our Drink
our King
our Friend
our Rest
our Buddy
our Lover
our Captain
our Counselor
our Everything
our All in all.
And all these things, and more, He will be forever.

Stop beloved… Let this sink in for a moment… Meditate… Worship.

Can we see it? Anything else we put into ourselves is now nothing more than junk food. There is no real nutritional value. And while we might feel a false burst of energy from the sin that so easily entangles us. There is no strength in it, and the aftertaste of such fake and foul stuff makes us sick to our spiritual stomachs.

So, just as a good man would drink water only from the well of his own bride, and always be intoxicated with her good love, so now we who are betrothed to our Husband, would be foolish in the extreme to try and find satisfaction anywhere other than Him.

Are you looking away over your shoulder friend? Stop. Look back in the direction you are going. Just look into His eyes. Just look. The Love and beauty and eternal depth of His gaze is all that is needed. For in His eyes you will find everything you ever desired.

Forever. – Makala Doulos graduated from the Colony of Mercy, is a Pastor-Teacher in Jakarta, Indonesia, and is a frequent Freedom Fighter blogger

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 5-7

Think About This: What then is God? Of the universe he is the final end; as to election, he is salvation; as to himself, he hath knowledge. What is God? Omnipotent will, virtue of highest benevolence, light eternal, reason unchangeable, highest blessedness; creator of minds to receive of his own fulness, imparting to them life to be conscious of him, prompting them to desire him, enlarging them to receive him, fitting them to be worthy of him, enkindling them with zeal, aiding them to yield fruit, directing them to equity, fashioning them to benevolence, tempering them for wisdom, strengthening them for virtue, visiting them for consolation, illuminating them for knowledge.  ~Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

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

The Ripple Effect of a Changed Life

THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF A CHANGED LIFE

September 25, 1897

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Someone once said to Dwight L. Moody “that the world has yet to see what God will do with and for, through and around the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.”  That statement is certainly true of the life of William Raws, founder of the Colony of Mercy.

william raws photo

William Raws’ life was radically changed on February 17, 1886 when he trusted Christ as his personal Savior in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. His bondage to alcohol was broken and Raws was gloriously saved. In his own words William Raws said, “One day, fairly dying from the effects of rum, unable even to keep hot rum brandy on my stomach, I staggered penniless too my room and fell against an old arm chair…Although under the influence of drink, a poor dying drunkard, a swearing, lustful, sinful man, I cried unto God. He heard my cry and save me. For days and nights thereafter I could neither eat nor sleep. I was on the verge of delirium tremens…But peace came at last and victory through our Lord and Savior.”

Raws went on to begin the Whosoever Gospel Rescue Mission in Philadelphia but was burdened years later to begin a work in the country for men to escape city life and get alone with God. On September 25, 1897, the family and some friends met around an old pump organ and sang ALL HAIL THE POWER OF JESUS’ NAME. The crowd pooled their resources of $1.87 and claimed the promise from Philippians 4:19 — But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” God birthed the ministry of THE COLONY OF MERCY. And the rest is history.

Thousands of lives have been transformed by the power of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ because of the transformed life of William Raws. The ministry continues over a hundred years later with the good news that Christ can set men and women in bondage to sinful addictions and through Christ, can live victoriously.

God used the ordinary life of William Raws to impact thousands. He wants to take your ordinary life and doing extraordinary things. Are you willing to allow your life to have a ripple effect on others? Surrender you ALL to Him today. – Today is the 117th anniversary of the Colony of Mercy and the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Women of Character program. – Bill Welte is President and CEO of America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 1-4

Think About This: Holiness is the beauty of the Lord God of hosts. Thou canst not separate the one from the other. To have it, thou must have Him. Nor will it be hard to obtain either; for He longs to enter into thy being. Thy longing is the faint response of thy heart to His call. F. B. Meyer

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

I’m Just A Complaining Monk

I’m Just A Complaining Monk

“Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the LORD blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased.” Numbers 11:10 (ESV)

One of the monks does not like gluten

Back in the 11th century there was a man who felt compelled to leave his rich life behind and join a monastery. As this man became a monk he was required to take a vow of silence and was allowed to speak two words every 10 years.  At the end of his first 10 yrs the Superior of the monastery ask this monk, “What do you have to say” to which the monk replied “Food Bad”. After the end of 20 yrs the Superior asked the monk the same question to which he replied, “Bed Hard”. At the end of 30 yrs the monk was again asked the same question to which his reply was “I Quit”. And with that the Superior retorted, “Good, all you’ve done since you have been here is complain.”

One of the things that Dr. Richard Allen Farmer made clear to me, over the past Labor Day weekend, was that when the burden of self-reliance becomes too heavy (which it always does anyway) we complain. I got a clearer picture of this when he preached from Numbers 11. I had always looked at this chapter as the chapter where mass complaining lead to a darkening cloud of quail falling upon the Nation of Israel and unlike the manna they complained about, which had to be finished in one day, YHVH says “You will eat it until it comes outta your nostrils and that’s all you get for a month.” Personally it may have been wise to ask for quail to go with the manna, perhaps making BBQ’ed quail with a side of French fried manna, but eh, what do I know?

A very self-reflective statement that Moses’ made comes in Numbers 11:12, “Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that You swore to give their fathers?” Sounds so much like, “The woman whom You gave to be with me”. I wonder how many times I have gone to God and made my complaint right along those lines. It doesn’t always have to be a people to have charge over or my wife of twenty some-odd years but it seems to carry the same tone…YHVH, this is your fault! Yeah I may have come to You in prayer over this but this is not how I would have done it!!

“I am not able to carry all these people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.” (Num 11:14) This was the first right thing Moses’ says during his dialogue with YHVH in this chapter and it usually is the last thing I’ll say myself. “The burden is too heavy for me.” BUT I’ll forget to acknowledge that I’ve been carrying the burden all alone and, like Moses’, wait until my frustration gets the best of me before I’ll seek YHVH’s help or dare I say His understanding and comfort. So often I’ll convince myself that things are always an automatic within God’s promises that I’ll forget it is God who promised and therefore gets done when God says it gets done. Sometimes I’m just a complaining monk who forgets who saved him from himself…but Jesus didn’t!!

Once again I am confronted by what The Master said, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ) When we read the rest of Numbers 11 we see how YHVH dealt with complaining and as much as they finally got what they wanted it came with punishment. Let that not be us today. Whether it be two words or two thousand, complaining against the promises of God will not profit your life anything. Let this day be the first of many days that what fills ours mouths be that of thanksgiving and praise…not quail. Amen?  Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger.

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 28-29

Think About This: “Sometimes I go to God and say, “God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what Thou hast done already.” God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.”—A.W. Tozer

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

There Is No Fear In Love

There is no fear in love

If you have a daughter at home, I’m sure you are familiar with Disney’s Frozen. The story is about two sisters on an interesting journey in life. Queen Elsa is plagued with a mysterious power with snow, while Princess Anna is full of fun and courage. After watching it about five times, the Lord showed me once again that He can speak through any vessel.

In short, in a string of situations, out of fear, Queen Elsa freezes the whole town of Arendelle. In addition, she freezes the heart of her sister Anna. Hans is an enemy that tries to capitalize on the sisters’ misfortune.

There is no fear in love

Somewhere in the storyline, they realize that it will take a true act of love to counteract the issues with the snow and to unfreeze the heart of Princess Anna. Through a string of circumstances, in a twist, Anna ironically rescues her sister, sacrificing her life. However, the sacrifice was the act of true love that they were looking for. It saves Arendelle and reverses her frozen heart.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)

This love is the love that keeps a couple at the altar, when they are fearful about the future. The same love that fights through danger to save a drowning child. The same love that prays for a family member through hard times, when they do not want prayer.

This love allows us to approach life with a sense of boldness, the love we inherit from Christ, which kept him on the cross. There is a fear that is productive in our lives, it’s the healthy reverence for our God.

In reality, God has provided us with the source that helps rule over our emotions The Bible encourages, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT) – Juan Mendez is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy, serves full-time at America’s Keswick, and is a student at Lancaster Bible College

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 26-27

Think About This: When we truly worship the Lord, we absorb His person. We drink in His attributes. When we do, He realigns our reality. He rearranges our perspective. Rolland Jones

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