A-HA moments!

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“For she thought, ‘If I just touch His garments, I will get well.'” Mark 5:28

Most of our lives we find ourselves searching for answers to our problems, and sometimes the answers are worse than the original problems. For instance, we have emotional hurts and pain and believe that we can drink or drug them away. Or instead of dealing with our sexual desires in a healthy way, we watch porn and/or get into unhealthy relationships.

We desire things beyond our budgets, so we get another job and begin to slack on our family responsibilities or infringe upon God’s time. Or maybe even worse, we began to compromise our integrity an indulge in other activities to bring in money in ungodly ways.

The young lady was an outcast because of her condition and she was looking for answers, and like most, she went to the professionals in that particular field for healing. The frustration, the embarrassment, the overwhelming issue seemed to have overtaken every means she had. She was left with no answers and in a worse condition. A-HA! “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”

Are you like this young lady when we run into issues, do you look everywhere else for answers whether the answers are good or bad? Are you relying on your own thinking or ability for the help you need?

In my addiction alone, I tried AA, NA, AAA, behavior modification, anger management, and everything else to live soberly. And I got worse. Then I had an A-HA moment, Christ!

“Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” Mark 5:29

The root word Jesus uses for healing in this text is sṓzō (from sōs, “safe, rescued”) – properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety).

She asked for physical healing, but Jesus gives her so much more. He goes beyond what we think we need, and gives us what we really need.

Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full-time staff member at America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 22-23| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think about this: “One great power of sin is that it blinds men so that they do not recognize its true character.”

– Andrew Murray

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, Just as we hope in You. Psalm 33:22

 

 

 

 

My Highest Praise

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Good morning brothers on this new week of Freedom Fighter blogs. I am so thankful that you are on this journey with us, and thank you for being a part of our lives.

I am in the process of reading through Psalms and Proverbs using the You Version app. I love Psalms and Proverbs.
One of the things that continues to bless me is reading King David’s writings and gaining wisdom on how to praise God. It’s just really good stuff to meditate on each day.

My friend and Pastor, John Strain, who serves as Chaplain at The Pines of Whiting, recently sent me this poem which expressed his praise to God. I asked permission to share it with you:

Lord of heaven, my Redeemer,

My highest praise to You I raise.

O God of love, Friend of sinners,

To You I raise my highest praise.

You have sought me; You have bought me.

You have saved me; You have cleansed me.

You have loved me; You have helped me.

To You I raise my highest praise.

 

My highest praise to You belongs,

Because Your love has filled my days.

No other one deserves my song;

To You I raise my highest praise!

 

You have sought me; You have bought me.

You have saved me; You have cleansed me. 

You have loved me; You have helped me. 

To You I raise my highest praise.

 

One day I’ll stand on heaven’s shore

Of You I’ll sing for all my days. 

Before Your throne my thanks I’ll pour;

To You I’ll raise my highest praise!

 

You have sought me; You have bought me.

You have saved me; You have cleansed me.

You have loved me; You have helped me.

To You, I raise my highest praise.

 

By John D. Strain

19 January, 2018

Praise be to God!

Amen? I love this and would encourage you to sit down and journal your own words of praise to the Lord. Thanks, Pastor John for sharing this with us.

Overflowing and abounding in Hope,
Bill Welte, President/CEO
America’s Keswick

Written by Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years and has four married kids and 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 19-21| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think about this: Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He’s going to be up all night anyway. —Mary Crowley

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, Just as we hope in You. Psalm 33:22

 

 

 

 

Question: Is Christ enough?

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“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service.” (1 Timothy 1:12)

One of the most confusing things for me is that when a person needs salvation, we point them to Christ, but that same person can later develop struggles beyond our comprehension and the church suggests many secular treatment methods. The church refers people to A.A, the church quickly justifies mind-altering medication, children are on more medication than ever, we are anxious, we are depressed, we are stressed and the like…

Paul lived in some of the most extreme circumstances and he knew where his help rested. He understood that if he were to prosper in ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ had to be enough. Not just enough for his Salvation, not just enough for struggles, not just enough for justification, to sanctify, to redeem… But enough in all areas.

He can:

Do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine… (Ephesians 3:20)

Make all grace abound to you… (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Supply all your needs… (Philippians 4:19)

“but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.” (1 John 2:5)

The word perfected here has the meaning of completeness, accomplishment, made perfect, working through the entire process. Our job is to trust in God and His Work and watch Him at work around us and reckon that He is enough.

Homework: think about a time or situation where God showed up in an amazing way in your life. Write about and share with someone else. He is enough.

Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full-time staff member at America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 11-13| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Nothing can separate you from God’s love, absolutely nothing. God is enough for time, God is enough for eternity. God is enough!” – Hannah Whitall Smith

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, Psalm 33:18

 

 

 

 

 

Hearing God Speak

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“If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible out loud.” ~ Piper

I was asked this week to provide a ‘prayer service’ for a family who was mourning the loss of a father. It is one thing to encourage those I teach to seek answers to their questions in what is anchored in truth… but something entirely different to stand among a group of hurting people who do not know that The Truth they need is found in the person of Jesus Christ. I spoke about walking with The Shepherd who desires to guide you through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ and in whose presence we can ‘fear no evil’ and ‘have no want.’  I encouraged them to seek comfort for their wounded hurt in His presence where ‘He makes us lie down in green pastures and drink from still waters.’ I offered them the comfort of His Words that “restore our soul and would guide them through their pain along ‘paths of righteousness for His names sake.'” But still seeing the emptiness in their eyes, I left feeling I had failed them, yet hopeful knowing that God’s Word does not return void, being able to pierce through the darkest places. Having prayed with them… asking our God to light the way to Himself so they might find hope, I am confident that all that can found in Christ is made available to those who seek Him.

Paul writes, “I once thought these things (that is position, wealth, birthright, knowledge, respect, religious tradition and rituals employment, and self righteousness) were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the ‘infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

Does your heart beat like Paul’s, desiring Christ above all else? When you do finally read the Bible, is it to gain some trinket of knowledge… or is it to intimately ‘know’ the One who gave His life for you? Paul desired to ‘know’ Christ above all else, not for position, knowledge, or wealth, but because Jesus loves Him with His life, and desires to bring Paul into the presence of God. It did not matter the cost, because Jesus is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to The Father but through Him.’ (John 14:6)

That is the truth those who are hurting need to find, and you to intently know. Thank God His Word does not return void and that He is at work in our lives today.

Choose wisely…

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Praying U choose Christ today

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 8-10| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Do you think the devil is impressed by anyone’s Bible knowledge or degree-certificates? Not at all. Satan fears only holy, humble men and women who know God.” – Zac Poonen

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, Psalm 33:18

 

The Place N.T.

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“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” — John 14:2-3 (NKJV)

The last time I was with you, I was talking about meeting God at a place where He directs you. Abram starts off with being told to leave his country and eventually his story gets filled up with places where he met with Elohim and the worship of Him that took place at each of those locations. If we look further down the timeline, we see that the time between the nation of Israel settling in Egypt and it’s exodus from there makes no mention of how they worshiped the God of Abraham. However, the perceived space between the Old Testament and the New is filled up with worship gone awry. You can find Malachi rebuking the Kingdom of Judah for its abuse of worship in his prophetic book, and if you look up the Maccabean Revolt you’ll read about how “Zealots Gone Wild” fought for their right to worship.

But then, in the midst of all the chaos, there is Jesus Christ.

For about 3.5 years, Jesus goes from place to place, on foot, to meet with people. The Father’s only Son performs miracles for the many, and only the few can seem to notice that He dares do this on The Sabbath, the Jewish day to worship YHVH, the great I AM…and He is standing right front of them, where if the eyes of their hearts were only opened, they could worship freely in His presence. But like I’ve said before, worship has changed over the centuries and in this time period, Rome has got its statues all over the place. It’s a struggle to keep the Jewish worship in line and all the new rules from the Talmud aren’t helping any, so who else is there but EGO EIMI (I AM) to bring order back into His House.

Enter the Upper Room. God’s only Son is having the Passover Seder with a bunch of guys who have followed Him from place to place and now they are all gathered at this place to hear what The Savior has to say. “Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?'” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward” (John 13:36). Now those guys must be thinking, “What? I don’t get it” but Jesus will say unto them, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” Jesus then tells them that He is going to place that He will prepare for those guys when they there. Pretty cool promise, but what’s the take away?

Jehovah-Jireh (“the LORD will provide”)

Ya see, for Abraham and the Disciples, a call was going to have to be answered by them and that call was going to take them through some pretty tough extremes, but in both cases, comfort was going to be provided at the end of the task ahead. For Abraham, a ram was provided to take Isaac’s place as a burnt offering, for the Disciples, there will be a place for them in the LORD’s house and the constant in it all is an only son, the only Son. I think that if these men remained at the places they were in life; their worship of a God unseen would have been a going through the motions kinda worship. Having no intestinal fortitude, therefore bringing God no glory. Might as well go worship a statue…. hmmm….

So, to answer the question from my last Freedom Fighter as to why did I venture outta my comfort zone and go against the grain of going to my usual places to be to get with God? Well, to be honest about the whole thing, I needed comfort and I found that by with being with people I haven’t gotten to know yet brought a change of step in my walk with the LORD. As with Abraham and the Disciples, my faith needed a bit of stretching and tweaking because my worship of El Elyon became mechanical. I kinda feel that if I did what was familiar to me the end results would have brought me compliance. My walk on the beach at Harvey Cedars, NJ was one where the sand was deep, the wind was at my face and the distance for it to end was waaayyyy out there.

But the whole experience of worshiping with men I just met, at a place I have never been to, listening to sermons that stretched my knowledge of El Elyon and praying in a different setting brought me back to what I feel was the right heart to worship El Elyon with again. I don’t doubt that God can meet us right where we are and minister to us but every so often, when we’re called, ya just gotta leave the country you’re in, go to the mountain He’ll show, enter into The Upper Room and come back to heart of worship. Amen?

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

The Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 5-7| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Did you ever stop to think that God is going to be as pleased to have you with Him in Heaven as you are to be there?” — A.W. Tozer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, Psalm 33:18

 

Him Alone: Is He Really Enough?

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No soul can be really at rest until it has given up all dependence on everything else and has been forced to depend on the Lord alone. As long as our expectation is from other things, nothing but disappointment awaits us. Feelings may change, and will change with our changing circumstances; doctrines and dogmas may be upset; Christian work may come to naught; prayers may seem to lose their fervency; promises may seem to fail; everything that we have believed in or depended upon may seem to be swept away, and only God is left, just God, the bare God, if I may be allowed the expression; simply and only God.
~Hannah Whitall Smith

The LORD alone is my portion and my cup; You hold My lot. The lines have fallen for Me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives Me counsel; in the night also My heart instructs Me. I have set the LORD always before Me; because He is at My right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore My heart is glad, and My whole being rejoices; My flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon My soul to Sheol, or let Your Holy One see corruption. You make known to Me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
~ Jesus, in the prayer of the resurrection, from Psalm 16

Oh beloved, it is true.

Most of us have come to a place where we know that we absolutely need G_d. We have come to the end of ourselves, and we have come to realize that we are going to miss heaven unless Jesus saves us. We have come to faith in Him. And we know, that we know that we know: Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

But, just today, this fool of a writer had a lesson to re-learn. The Holy Spirit is so kind though, to allow us to see the things that were obvious to us only a few weeks or months before, but have become blurred by the waves and circumstances that churn about in our lives.

See, some years ago, He called me to work in Asia. For nearly 6 years, my entire being has been thrown into battle after battle to save souls, and preach to the oceans of lost people in this part of the world. And, to a great extent, the battle has been effective. Thousands have heard the message, and some hundreds have sensed His fragrance in the message of the Great News we have been given the privilege to share.

However, about a month and a half ago, the place we thought might be our final posting informed us of some unsolvable problems with my wife’s visa, and changes in the staffing plan for the school where we work in Tianjin, China. It was devastating. It felt like getting punched in the stomach. … Jobless soon in China.

Immediately, my beloved spouse and I have dived into a job search around the globe. We have been seeking His guidance and a word on where we are supposed to go next. And, there is nothing wrong with a person seeking employment in the world. But, it was in the middle of this frenetic search, that He stopped me in my tracks.

I sensed Him say, “Am I enough for you, Mak?”

Can we see it?

Notice even how Jesus was praying in Psalm 16. He was not praying that The Father would help Him get out of the grave, and give Him His strength back. Not that any of those things would even be wrong… But, notice how He prays.

It is The Father Who is what Jesus wants. Jesus does not want anything but to be in the the Presence of His Father. Don’t miss this. Jesus had just laid waste to death, to time, to enemies that had sought to kill Him, and destroy Him. Jesus had just been through a terrible ordeal and would rightly be seeking the comfort of anything He could get His hands on.

But no. He only wanted One Thing. Jesus wanted His Dad; and to be with Him. This was enough.

And I guess, if we think about it, why would we want anything else? Do a test. What if you could get to heaven, and have everything you ever wanted. All the riches, and even all the friends you knew in this life…. But, you would not ever get to meet The Maker of the place. How would you feel?

Can you feel it? That tug? That emptiness?

Most of you can, and it is telling you something. It is the Triunity of G_d, the very basis of Love and relationship that we all long for. We have just been thinking that it is the other stuff we wanted. We thought we needed a job – but really we wanted the feeling of security.

He is our Security
He is our Hope
He is our Fullness
He is our Safety
He is our Belonging
He is what we have been wanting…

So, yeah, it is has been a week of reawakening to something… The question of “Am I enough for you, Mak?” is actually easily answered. Is anything enough for us, but Him? Or course not.

He is enough. More than enough. I want Him alone. Nothing else will do.

Tonight is your night too. Is He enough for you?

Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 1-4| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when my fear is gone I will turn and face fear’s path, and only I will remain.
~ From Frank Herbert’s, Dune and the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, Psalm 33:18

 

Are You Gentle?

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By the time you read today’s Freedom Fighter blog, the 2018 Super Bowl will be history, and my prediction was that the Philadelphia Flyers will have defeated the Yankees.

My house was very divided over this year’s games. My grandson Tanner is a Minnesota Vikings fan, Josh is an Eagles fan, and Zach is a Patriots fan. Talk about tension!!!

I sorta feel about the Super Bowl like I do congregational meetings. I don’t like them. 🙂

Growing up, I dreaded congregational meetings!!! They made me sick at my stomach because we would watch people who were normally really cool people turn into vicious, unkind, mean people. And quite frankly, not much has changed. One of the last church business meetings we attended at a local church we were attending, I was so appalled and embarrassed at how the saints behaved, that Jan and I said ‘we can’t do this anymore.’

And I am sure that some of you saw the media comments of social media that probably fit the same description of the congregational meetings I’m talking about.

It would appear that for some reason when it comes to sporting events or congregational meetings, reason is tossed to the wind. Not only is reason tossed to the wind, but our ability to get along God’s way seems to be tossed aside.

Viciousness. Unkindness. Rudeness. Sarcasm. Meanness. Well, they are just a few of the words that I would use to describe the behavior that I observe when it comes to sporting events and congregational meetings.

I often think about what new believers or visitors must think when they attend most business meetings. What does this do for our testimony and the cause of Christ?

What is it about situations like these that we feel like we can toss aside biblical principles to justify bad behavior? These would most likely be the same people who mouth off about something that was undoctrinal about another church or a speaker/preacher/author they didn’t like, or point out issues with another brother or sister that was off base. But for some reason – situations like this become acceptable behavior?

Paul wrote to the church at Philippi: “Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”

Ah – maybe that is the disconnect. Maybe, just maybe we forget that God knows, weighs and sees every one of our thoughts deeds words and actions?
If the Lord were physically in the room during a congregational meeting, would we be apt to say the things that we do? Or would we consider more carefully our words and attitudes?

What I am NOT saying is that there isn’t a time to speak out or speak up. What I am saying that we can’t check our gentleness at the door and decide that we get to choose when we are gentle.

Grab your concordance and look up the word and check out the context. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. James addresses how gentleness plays into using wisdom.

Whether you are an Eagles or Patriots fan doesn’t mean you get a free pass on gentleness. Hopefully, your team won. Hopefully, you were a good representative of your spiritual team. May it be said of you and me, we demonstrate a spirit of gentleness to everyone – “the Lord is near.”

Overflowing and abounding with hope,

Bill Welte, President/CEO
America’s Keswick

Written by Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years and has four married kids and 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 39-40| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think about this: Treating a person with gentleness makes him or her want to move near you. Responding with gentleness teaches another person that he or she is safe in your care. It is an essential relational bond.

— Tripp, Paul David. New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional (Kindle Locations 3987-3988). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, Psalm 33:18

 

 

Position Changes Your Condition

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“That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith…” (Ephesians 3:17a)

Years ago, my wife and I were in an agreement that we would not move in together or move any of our stuff until we got married. We didn’t want to position ourselves as a married couple until we were actually married. After our big day, we merged our stuff and began to make reasonable decisions on living arrangements; we made a home for ourselves.

Our position went from single to married and things were different. Life as we knew it changed.

Alike, Christ is making (or I should say has made), His home in our hearts. Literally, not figuratively, I believe with a strong conviction that he is dwelling in the believer’s heart. He came to rest in our Spirits, the most intimate part of our being. We might be experiencing defeat in particular areas, which is our condition, but it doesn’t change our position.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

By faith, embrace your new position in Christ. And watch how it changes your condition. The second part of the verse, “that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” (Ephesians 3:17b)

Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full-time staff member at America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 30-32| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “I believe that the Holy Spirit is indispensable for an interpreter’s reaching a correct interpretation of the text. The Spirit must work in the interpreter’s heart so that he or she welcomes the biblical message that one’s egotistic, sinful heart otherwise hates with a vengeance.” – Daniel Fuller

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Psalm 33:17

The Truth is What Matters

Men’s Fellowship Night is TONIGHT February 8 at 6:15PM. Call us at 800.453.7942 for tickets!

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What matters is the truth and not what you think you’re firmly standing on.

When the Israelite spies showed up in Jericho to survey the city, they ended up at the home of Rahab the harlot. It was this unlikely woman who protected these men from those who would kill them in the city. Why she do it? It was because of what they had heard, and knew to be true about Israel’s God. She testified, “We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (Joshua 2:10-11) So… if those inside the walls of Jericho knew ‘nothing’ could stand before Israel’s God, why did they willfully reject this truth and stand against Him? Was it not because they trusted the wall they stood on more than the truth that they knew?

It is true that you can live according to a lie for some time. ‘Ideas’ can be maintained until they must contend with reality. Those who stood on the walls of Jericho were quite confident for the first 5 days of Israel marching around the city and leaving. Probably by day 3 they could be found tossing down insults and garbage upon those who were acting in obedience to God’s Word. But on the 7th day things began to change… Israel didn’t go home after the first trip around the city… they continued for a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th… can you imagine the uncertainty that crept into their hearts as Israel turned the corner on the 7th trip and the trumpets blew and the people shouted! And then… all that they had placed their faith and trust in began to crumble under their feet…?

What do you trust in? What are you basing your choices on? If it is not the Truth of God’s Word, which has consistently corresponded with reality, for all time and in all circumstances, what you are ‘standing on’ will come crumbling down around you. If not in this lifetime, then when you stand before God and must account for your choice to willfully and knowingly reject Jesus and His gracious offer of salvation.

The truth is powerful because it is what corresponds with reality. The lies that you believe are like the sand under your feet; unstable in every measure, causing everything built on it to come crumbling down.

Choose wisely….

“Therefore, since we ‘have awesome examples of lives lived by faith and in obedience to God’s Word’, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him (not trusting in anything but the Word of God) He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners (from those trusting in the own wall), so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” — Hebrews 12:1-3

Praying U choose Christ today

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 28-29| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Trials should not surprise us, or cause us to doubt God’s faithfulness. Rather, we should actually be glad for them. God sends trials to strengthen our trust in him so that our faith will not fail. Our trials keep us trusting; they burn away our self confidence and drive us to our Savior.” – Edmund Clowney

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, Psalm 33:18

 

 

Hunger for Righteousness: Born from Death to Self

Men’s Fellowship Night is THIS Thursday, February 8 at 6:15PM. Call us at 800.453.7942 for tickets!

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When in the Holy Spirit the soul becomes kin to the Apostles, the Prophets, and all the Saints and Righteous Ones, then she is irresistibly drawn to that world, and cannot remain, but is bothered, and thirsts, and cannot cease from prayer, and although the body becomes exhausted and wants to lie down on a bed, even while lying in bed the soul longs for the Lord and the Kingdom of the Saints.
~St. Silouan the Athonite

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
~ from Romans 6

Oh beloved, it is true.

Each of us has a moral compass. As C.S. Lewis has said, this is one of the best arguments for a Supreme Being. The problem for us, though, is not that we have a moral compass. The problem is our inability to get the settings right on the dial, and for us to follow said compass when we do.

There is, though, truly a way. It is driven by our hunger.

Some of what makes us hungry is what we eat. If we keep stuffing ourselves full of the junk from the world, we know that we will crave it more and more. This we understand. For each of us has come under the sway of a habit or issue that doesn’t help us, but we get stuck in the rut of doing the things we don’t want to do, over and over (Read the end of Romans 7 for Paul’s lament on this).

And still, Jesus, The King of The Universe said it this way: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

So, how can we get hungry for the things that will truly satisfy?

There is a part of us that will never be satisfied with anything. It is immature. It is temporary. It is fallen, and can never be redeemed. Paul called this part of us our old man, or the flesh. And NO, he was not saying that our physical bodies were evil. He was talking about that part of us that takes its cues from the body, to the exclusion of every other voice within us.

And, even though it is the most temporary part of us, it does have (sometimes and often) the loudest voice. It will wail and demand our attention. But, as each of us formerly lost boys at the Colony know, listening to our flesh will never (not ever) give us what we want.

Can we see it?

The passage above gives us some very important insights into what happened to us when we trusted Christ and followed Him. He says that we were actually baptized (immersed, drawn down into an overwhelming flood) in Christ Jesus. And this same Jesus, in His death on the cross, drew us even further down under into His very death. This is profound. It is not a theological nicety. It really is the core of how we develop a new appetite for good.

Because, if we keep reading the passage above, we find that while the death He died drew us down in His death, it also launched us up into a whole new Life altogether. The dead part of us stayed dead, but the alive part of us is alive in a whole new, and eternal sense. This life joins us into the very family of G_d, and makes us teammates with the apostles, and prophets, and great believers across the ages.

When we understand this, we see that we are no longer part of some temporary, tiny little life, where we are trying to just get a few thrills and kudos before we kick the bucket. We have no need for bucket lists. We have no need to listen to the tiny little, lying voice within us.

We find, instead, that we have been joined to a very large, and very ancient family. We find that our activities can matter, forever, if we will let them. We learn that the believing and joyful obedience of other in the past have worked together to save our lives.  And then we see it…. Our lives can do exactly the same thing. We are eternal beings who can make an eternal difference in the lives of others. When we see this, we truly begin to have deep motivation and even ravenous hunger to do the right thing.

So, are you struggling with trying to do the right thing? This fool of a writer does, and too often. Maybe it is time for both of us to remember what happened to us in our conversion, and how truly big the family we are a part of really is. Knowing we are different, and knowing we can make a difference truly changes what we are hungry for!

Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 25-27| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: It is impossible to draw near to God without sorrows, without which human righteousness cannot remain unchanged… If you desire virtue, than give yourself to every affliction, for afflictions produce humility. If someone abides in virtue without afflictions, the door of pride is opened to him.
~St. Isaac the Syrian

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, Psalm 33:18