The Rules for Life

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The rules for life:

The first and of most important is to place your trust in Jesus’ finished work of salvation, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom10:13). This act of faith, in response to God’s invitation to be adopted into His family, puts your name in The Book of Life. To willfully reject this invitation is to willfully choose Hell as your destination in the next chapter of life. For “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).

All the rules that follow are anchored in the growing faith in Christ that His Spirit is working out within you. It’s very cool we don’t have to do this on our own! Check these out…

– Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you.]

– Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

– In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

– Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil.

– Honor the LORD with your wealth And with the first fruits of all your income;

– Do not reject or take lightly the discipline of the LORD [learn from your mistakes and the testing that comes from His correction through discipline]; Nor despise His rebuke, For those whom the LORD loves He corrects, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”

(Proverbs 3:3, 5-7, 9, 11-12)

If you want to see how these play out, read Romans 12:9-18.

Solomon identifies ‘playing by the rules’ as the wisdom of God. He indicates, “The Lord’s wisdom founded the earth; his understanding established all the universe and space. The deep fountains of the earth were broken open by his knowledge, and the skies poured down rain.” (Prov 3:19-20) So… if you are operating by these rules, you are living by the same wisdom that established all that exists. Therefore your life will be in line with the mind and will of the Creator and you then will know rest. To do otherwise then would be to experience frustration, pain, and discontent ‘for no purpose at all.’ One who puts their faith in Jesus will experience similar suffering, but it will have the purpose of building our faith and refining the character and nature of Jesus in us. This will produce peace, patience, kindness, and contentment in our lives, as well as enable us to walk boldly into the presence of God.

The sum of it all Solomon says is to, “Have two goals: wisdom—that is, knowing and doing right—and common sense.” And He warns to not “let them slip away, for they fill you with living energy and bring you honor and respect. They keep you safe from defeat and disaster and from stumbling off the trail. With them on guard you can sleep without fear; you need not be afraid of disaster or the plots of wicked men,” And the best part of all… “The Lord is with you; he protects you!”

The rules are not hard, their simply guides for common sense and discernment. The rules will take courage on your part to implement by trusting in His Spirit who is at work in those who have called on the name of Jesus; BUT the result is a just life that manifests a Love for our Creator and Heavenly Father.

The choice is yours…

Choose wisely…

Praying 4 U

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: 2 Chronicles 1-5| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “The law, by which God rules us, is as dear to Him as the gospel by which He saves us.” – William Secker

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

 

Adoption Into God’s Forever Family

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I really didn’t like cats even though our first pet when we first married was a cat.

I was on the same page as Dr. Charles Zimmerman when his daughter asked him, “Dad do dogs go to heaven?” Charles: “Yes, Megan. All dogs go to heaven.” Megan: “Do cats go to heaven?” Charles: “No, Megan, they have been assigned to the other place!”

Everything changed when our son Zach’s fiancée moved in with us, and she brought her cat, Zeus! It was going to be a stretch, but the guy warmed his way into our hearts.

When Zach and Elizabeth were married this month, we decided to check into adopting a cat. I can’t believe it. We went to our local humane society. You’ve seen those pathetic commercials on the television about pets that need adoption.

Well, I learned something. It is easier to get an abortion in the state of New Jersey than it is to adopt a cat. There is a two room “cat room” that is fully furnished with sofas, chairs, plants, bay windows for about 30 cats who have been “willed” to the humane society to live out their days in luxury.

But go ahead and try and adopt a cat that is going to be put down if someone doesn’t take pity on it and take it home with them. I filled out a five-page application, and the bottom line is they wouldn’t approve my application. In fact, four of my staff members have tried to adopt pets from that same facility, and they have all be turned down.

I laughed to myself as this was unfolding. Well, truthfully, it wasn’t funny. I was ticked off. And thankfully they finally did allow us to adopt “Smitten” and we are glad he is part of our family.

I am so thankful that being adopted into God’s forever family isn’t like adopting a pet in New Jersey:

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may be also glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:16-18)

“But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the curse of the Lord, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God!” Galatians 4:4-7

“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He FREELY bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:5-6

Praise God that HE adopted you and me. The cost? The blood of His Son Jesus Christ. And when we were adopted into His family, we are no longer slaves but SONS AND DAUGHTERS of the King!!! We are no longer paupers and orphans – we are HIS kids!!!

John Murray said, “Adoption, as the term clearly implies, is an act of transfer from an alien family into the family of God himself. This surely the apex of grace and privilege.”

  1. I. Packer said, “Adoption is the highest privilege of that the gospel offers: higher even than justification.”

Bill Gaither wrote: “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood! Joint-heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.”

I am so thankful today that I have been adopted into God’s forever family! How about you? Cats will never experience the real richness of this word: FOREVER!

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!

Bill Welte, D.D.
President/CEO America’s Keswick

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

The Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 21-24| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: “Adoption is a greater mercy than Adam had in paradise.” – Thomas Watson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

More Than Just Survive?

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“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37

It’s always a risk to sit next to a child on an airplane. It can be a nightmare if they are fidgety or in some kind of distress, or it can be great as they experience the wonder of flying. On one occasion a little girl asked her Dad, “Daddy, how high in the air are we?” Her Dad responded “55 thousand feet”, in which she exclaimed, “Wow!” He then turned to me and said, “I could have said 10 feet, she doesn’t know the difference”.

As I ponder some of the distresses that most Christians go through or the anxiety levels that affect us as believers, I sometimes wonder if we are reading the same Bible. Romans 8:37 is a popular verse that most people can quote but few understand. If we’re honest, we are for the most part barely surviving, our daily routines consist of “getting to the end of the day” limping. At best, most of us get a day or two off a week and maybe a vacation here or there but in between days off and time away are we “More than conquerors?”

One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is Joshua 10 when Joshua, during a fierce battle, commands the sun and moon to stand still. He actually wanted the day of battle to last twice as long (I’ve wanted my leisurely days to last longer, but a battle?) Joshua never read Romans 8:37 but he did know Joshua 10:8, And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Sounds like “More than conquerors” to me.

What does “More than conquerors” mean to you? Paul finishes Romans 8 with:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

He directly relates being “more than a conqueror” with “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” So maybe today if you’re “feeling” defeated, let me be the first to remind you, Jesus loves you! If we truly understand that and are walking in victory no matter where we are we might even wish that this day never end.

Let me leave you with another promise from Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Amen!

Written by Rob Russomano: Rob Russomano is married to Terri, he is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full time staff member. He is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org.

The Daily Bible Reading: Joel| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “The only true conqueror who shall be crowned in the end is he who continues until war’s trumpet is blown no more…. Christian, wear your shield close to your armor and cry earnestly to God, that by His Spirit you may endure to the end.” – Alistair Begg

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.” Revelation 11:17

 

 

I’m Not Superman

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“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:5 (NKJV) 

I have those days where I say to myself, “When I get into heaven I’m gonna find Adam and kick him the tail and ask him how could he let it happen!!” Of course, what I am referring to is letting Eve have that little debate in The Garden with The Serpent. We all know she lost, but in actuality did she really stand a chance? The chapter does start with “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (Genesis 3:1a). So that would pretty much do it, but I do pause to scratch my head for a moment and wonder “Does Satan think we were just “beasts of the field?” Adam was created from dirt. Hmmm…

Anyway, what I can say is he doesn’t have a healthy viewpoint of us, that’s for sure. At one moment, he tells us we can be like God, but he himself has already placed a claim on that position. In the Book of Isaiah, we hear him say, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Now that doesn’t sound like we’re getting joint custody anytime soon, but what it has lead us to believe is that we’re gonna evolve into a godhood state. After all, if he could do it why can’t we and we do play it out every day as a people. We either force or persuade our wills upon others as if they have no will of their own and expect them to just fall into line because we said so. Yeah Right!!

It’s like we’ve tapped into some cosmic consciousness and our thoughts are higher than of those who are around us…and maybe even YHVH, Himself. I kinda thought this was a funny statement made by W.L. Wilmhurst, “The evolution of man into superman was always the purpose of the ancient mysteries [that is, the secret power trips, the occultisms]. Man who has sprung from the earth and developed through the lower kingdoms of nature to his present rational state has yet to complete his evolution by becoming a god-like being and unifying his conscious with omniscient.” My guess this dude hasn’t seen the 21st century and its stuff like this that says to me “Does Satan think we’re just ‘beasts of the field?’ Adam was created from dirt. Hmmm…”

And even in that statement there is no room for everyone. SOMEBODY has got to be a lesser than, but in this present prideful society that we are living in those somebodies are getting to be fewer and fewer. They are being replaced by a people whose mindset says they should actually think themselves higher then they ought to but even in this thought pattern we all can’t be sharing the Most High’s throne. So, we’ve reverted to condescending speech and we hurl insults towards each other as if we are actually able to put SOMEBODY, ANY BODY in their place to assure our seat above all others. Sad, but true. Once again, I pause for a moment to scratch my head and wonder, “Does Satan think we’re just ‘beasts of the field?’ Adam was created from dirt. Hmmm…”

Here’s where I am going with this rant today… “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). You may not behave like it, but if you are thinking as this present society finds acceptable ,then you’ve played right into your adversary’s hands. You don’t have to be breaking the basic 10 to be doing the wrong thing. Wiping your brow and saying to yourself “Thank God I’m a Christian” may not too advisable if you don’t understand this basic principle, “God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).

If I were to go thinking that the deception in The Garden went unnoticed by The Creator, then I just might have a leg to stand on when I go to kick Adam in the tail… but that is the big lie. There isn’t anything that goes unnoticed and there isn’t anything too big for my God to handle. It, more than likely, was already in the mix that Jesus Christ was coming to save all of us as soon as that crafty old Serpent thought to himself, “They ain’t no better than the beasts of the field. Adam was made from dirt.”

Our problem in this is the wearing of Superman’s cape. We may look good in it, it may be comfortable, but it isn’t Jesus Christ. Besides, The Creator isn’t looking for what you created for yourself when you stand before the Bema Seat, He’s looking for Jesus. The One who pulls you out of the dirt and sets you along the narrow road. So don’t take yourself too seriously, like you, I’m not Superman either. 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: Proverbs 22| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “They who follow a merely human Savior follow no Savior at all, but an ideal only, and one furthermore that can do no more than mock their weakness and sins.” — Aiden Wilson Tozer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.” Revelation 11:17

 

 

Biblical Integrity

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“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalms 19:14)

A book definition of Integrity would include honesty, morality, principles, and uprightness. Some of the synonyms; honor, good character, principles, ethics, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness. James would say be doers of the Word. It’s who you are when no one is around, and what you will stand for when everyone is around. It is not just saying the right things, but doing them.

When I think about the concept of integrity, my dear friend and brother in Christ, Dave Maxwell, was an example of integrity and his favorite verse, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

This level of integrity is impossible without the supernatural influence and the Psalmist and Dave knew this. They knew what they wanted, and he knew Whom to ask. They wanted lives that honored and pleased God. They desired a life that wasn’t consumed by sin or any other concerns of the World. Asking for an act of grace to reveal the wickedness in they’re hearts so that they could persevere with uprightness to our Lord.

Is this your prayer, is this your goal?

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: Psalm 105-107| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Integrity is keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed.” – David Jeremiah

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned. Revelation 11:17

Every Choice is a Judgment of Right and Wrong

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“Chess helps you to concentrate, improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment.”  ~ Kasparov

One of the most absurd things I hear often is that ‘truth is relative and there is no right or wrong.” The statement is absurd because it is a judgment of right and wrong. To say something ‘is’ subjective as opposed to objective is to distinguish a right from a wrong. The simple truth is we need objective rules in order to make correct judgments about anything.

Imagine playing chess, or for that fact, any game you wish to choose, imagine playing by the ‘subjective truth’ position. Each player gets to decide at any moment how each piece is to be used…? Would you enjoy the game? Chess is extremely precise and mimics life to a tee. Each piece has its own rules on how it can be moved. Sure, you can choose to move or not move a piece, and yes you have options in which direction you want to move the piece, but the pawn, like the King, can only move one space at a time and the knight must move in a series of 1 lateral and 3 horizontal spaces.

Life is the same way… our environment operates by several precisely designed and objective rules, I.e. Law of Thermodynamics, Law of Gravity; the oxygen content in our atmosphere, the distance earth rotates from the sun. All of these we have discovered and participate in, and since we are not the origin of these rules, we must operate by them, just like we must play by the rules of any game we participate in, because we are not the creator of the game.

Life has a rule book whether we like it or not. The cool and scary thing is we get to choose if we want to live by those rules or try to live by our own subjective standards. The fact that we have this choice or what we call ‘free will’, is an amazing testimony to the perfection of life’s fundamental truths. They can withstand any choice we make and remain unaltered in all time, in all places, for all people, and in all circumstances. All of the frustration, pain, and suffering we know are in result of mankind’s choice to reject the Rule Book, God’s perfect Word.

Why the ‘free will’ choice then if it has the potential to cause such harm? Because Even though it has the potential for such a great a harm as man has yet to know, it has a greater potential for allowing us to participate in a magnificently perfect ‘love.’

Love has no potential without a freely made choice to participate in it. We all know this from experience, we never love anything that we are forced into or determined to experience. Just as Christ displayed His love for God by willingly choosing to obey His Father and willingly participated in His plan of Salvation; when we willing choice to obey His Word and rest in His works, we too display ‘love’ for Him.

The rules are built in by the creator, just like the rule book of any game you play. How much you will be content and enjoy participating in life will depend on how your choices ‘line up’ with the objective rules.

But there is even more at stake here than just how you live now, our choice to obey and therefore Love God, or to willfully reject His Word will determine our position in the next chapter called eternity. We will either, by love and grace reside in the light of God’s presence… Or, we will forever live in the darkness of our own willfulness.

There is a right and wrong and every choice you make reveals it, both in this life and the one to come.

Choose wisely…

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

(Revelation 20:11-12, 14-15)

Praying 4 U

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: 1 Chronicles 25-29| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “How true it is that without the guidance of the Holy Spirit intellect not only is undependable but also extremely dangerous, because it often confuses the issue of right and wrong.” – Watchman Nee

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned. Revelation 11:17

Racism and America’s Keswick

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I had an interesting text message several months ago, and then a phone call asking me the question ‘why is America’s Keswick not addressing the race issues from the pulpit?’

My response today is what it was several months ago when I responded to the brother who questioned me. It’s one thing to TALK about it; it’s another thing to LIVE it out.

20 years ago the Board of Trustees mapped out our Core Value, and Value #5 is that we will be a ministry that will be “cross-cultural and multi-generational” in our conferences and retreats.

Come on our campus on most weekends, and you will quickly discover that we are living out that value. On any given weekend you will see Black, Asian and Hispanic Christians utilizing our retreat facilities.

Each summer we have seen an increase in the ethnic diversity of at our conferences. In fact, this summer I shared with our guests that we are becoming a ministry of “color.” Our guests have embraced our diversity and differences, and we see brother and sisters fellowshipping, worshipping, praying, studying God’s Word, and playing together.

In our addiction recovery ministry, the Colony of Mercy, we have for years served every ethnic group. What I love about the residents who are in the program is that they can put their differences aside and live in unity because they are fighting from level ground at the foot of the cross.

We have had several Black speakers for our conferences, and now are working with a group of Asian pastors to provide an Asian pastor to our summer conferences.

I do get frustrated that the rhetoric fueled by recent events tends to build walls that have been in the process of being torn down. I know so many Christian leaders and ministries that have worked very hard at tearing down racial walls not to be politically correct, but because that is what God would want from us.

Social media posting fans the flame of sarcasm and cruel humor that unfortunately adds fuel to the fire. Yes, there is freedom of speech, but I am concerned that sometimes to be funny, we only make matters worse. I have to set tough parameters on myself not to enter the fray.

America is concerned about what happens in North Korean attacks our shores. I don’t think that is our greatest threat. If we continue to follow the current trajectory of hate speech and unrest, my concern is that we will destroy ourselves from within without having to worry about a nuclear warhead taking us out.

The Apostle Paul addresses this head-on in several passages:

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13

There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 3:28

I want America’s Keswick to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We want to tear down the walls that divide us, and yet at the same time, build walls that will help us protect and guard our unity.

I encourage believers everywhere to pray for our country. As my friend Pastor Manny Mill would say it, “We need radical praying for our country.”

May God help us.

Rejoice! Pray! Give Thanks!

Bill Welte
President & CEO America’s Keswick

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

The Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 17-20 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: “We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord, And we pray that all unity may one day be restored. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love! – Peter Scholets

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.” Revelation 11:17

 

 

 

Be a Water Boy

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“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” — John 7:38

There is something to be said about a person who doesn’t withhold their refreshment when they know you’re thirsty. Some of my closest bonds to people are the ones made when they will look at you, wipe their germs off the lid and with outstretched arm ask, “Are ya thirsty?” At that moment not only did my buddy quench my thirst, he also comforted my soul.

What is it that causes a person to be reach out to another and fulfill their needs? I think one reason is first of all, we have to be aware that there is a need. I believe one of the greatest attributes of Jesus was His ability to see that we need a Savior. “Lost sheep without a Shepard” is one of His conclusions when reaching out to the nation of Israel.

Jesus also had this picture of us being thirsty, His observation of us is that we are thirsty people and He has the perfect thing to fulfill our thirst. In John 7:37, Jesus asks a question, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Of course we all become thirsty, so the division comes when the hearer questions the ability to quench their thirst. The answer comes in the next verse, “he who believes in Me.” A picture of the Holy Spirit satisfying our longing souls, quenching our longing hearts and giving us a life of being content.

But here lies the problem, I’m not always in this state of spirituality. I believe I have the Holy Spirit of God, but if I’m honest, I still thirst. Why? Well, I have come to believe that unless this Living water is flowing out, I have not properly engaged in the work of God. If I’m not like my buddy who after drinking is willing to reach out to those who thirst, I’ve become balloted and am more like the Dead Sea then an aqueduct. I’ve missed the point of being a flowing brook, I’m not seeing the purpose of the Gospel being used as a healing ointment both to the saved and the unsaved.

I want to be like a water boy, the guy who is able to bring refreshment to those who are thirsty. The issue I have is recognizing thirst, it can sometimes come in the form of ridicule, resentment and even anger from others, which if I misdiagnose, I fall into the trap of refusing to give a drink. Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

If your heart is not overflowing with Living Water find someone who is thirsty and give them a drink, Amen!

Written by Rob Russomano: Rob Russomano is married to Terri, he is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full time staff member. He is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org.

The Daily Bible Reading: Hosea 8-14| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “The revelation of Christ, for which our souls thirst, thrills us increasingly as we more clearly understand who He is in all His fullness and what He accomplished to reconcile us to Himself.” – Dave Hunt

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12

 

 

Under Grace’s Thumb

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“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”  Hebrews 12:15 (NLT)

“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). I think that if we were to drop off the part that says, “In those days Israel had no king” and plugged in something that sounds more like today, it may go like this: “In these days ‘Murica don’t need no king” we still could pull off the “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” and it would be just as relevant. When we read into The Book of Judges we can see that social order breaks down constantly and YHVH must step in constantly to bring order. Everyone, for the most part, is flat out violating the basic ten laws that were given to them.

I mean, can you really find anything wrong with YHVH’s Ten Commandments? If you have time, you can turn to Exodus 20 and reread them for yourself, but for today I would just like to point out that if ‘Murica actually did obey them, there would be no crime throughout the entire nation. I guess the police, judges, and criminal lawyers may have to find a new line of work, but for the most part stuff like vanity, jealousy, fear, greed, and hatred would be non-existent. And since Jesus equated all these things with murder when He gave the Sermon on the Mount, that too gets eradicated. Anyway, why do we find ourselves in such a state of disorder these days? Why is it the everyday norm to misbehave? Well I guess it’s because no one wants to stand in the mirror of the Ten Commandments and feel uncomfortable…just a guess.

Furthermore, what is it that would keep a mighty God, the author of these commandments, from enacting punishment on a bunch of disobedient knuckleheads? That would be a one-word answer…grace. Okay that sounds nice, kind, good, and gentle… but what is this grace? Well what it may not totally be is “the state of a Christian who is living for God.” This means they are living a good life but if that life is constrained by the guidelines of their own particular part of society then it’s just living a good life and anyone can that if they so choose. God’s grace is a divine mercy we get beyond forgiveness. It seems to go one step further to blessing. Check this out…

In Max Lucado’s book simply titled “Grace” he puts it like this, “Grace goes beyond mercy. Mercy gave Ruth some food. Grace gave her a husband and a home. Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace threw him a party. Mercy prompted the Samaritan to bandage the wounds of the victim. Grace prompted him to leave his credit card as a payment for the victim’s care. Mercy forgave the thief on the Cross. Grace escorted him into paradise. Mercy pardons us. Grace woos and weds us.”

Another thing I could say that grace is not is permission. “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace?” (Romans 6:1). Ya know, if this wasn’t a rhetorical question, I almost wanna say this is the stupidest question ever to ask but it had to be examined. Why? Well if you look at what the false teachers were urging new believers to do at the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29), you would agree. They were basically being told that they could practice their age-old customs in the temples and that God would bless those activities. CERTAINLY NOT…DUH!

For me, to say, we are not under the law but under grace, which means I serve a God that is gonna go beyond just the answering of my most desperate prayers. I just gotta do my part and not think it’s okay to do some of that old stuff I use to do…I shouldn’t even entertain the thought of it. Why? “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” (Romans 6:14) It’s the living under the freedom of God’s grace that should make me not wanna be holding on to vanity, jealousy, fear, greed and hatred. If they aren’t in my hands to hold then those hands are available to the will of The Most-High God and that makes receiving the grace of God all the more valuable than what this world has to offer for just living a good life. Amen?

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

The Daily Bible Reading: Proverbs 20-21| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” — Anne Lamott

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12

 

 

Dying to Know We are Loved by G_d

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“The Christian Life is a continual struggle against the old self. Not just a struggle in the sense of a BATTLE, but a real putting in the tomb… All authentic Christian lives… know these long ‘tunnels’ where one does not see anything anymore, where one understands nothing, or one is disgusted. Jesus makes us descend with him in the tomb, in the weakness, in the darkness, in everything that seems dead in our heart, but always to rectify us, to purify us, to liberate.” ~Thomas Philipe, Reflection on the last station of the cross

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people 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 righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
~ Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Philippians 3

Oh beloved, it is true.

Though, we have not yet even begun – beyond a smattering – to believe it.

Somewhere though, it begins. It scratches at the edge of our consciousness. Oh, we have heard it since our earliest years in Sunday School, but the battering rams of our “religious” upbringing, push our sense of Who He really Is, so far away.

And, those of us who have grown up in the West, and especially in America, have been fed copious doses of the idea that god is somewhere “up there,” and that he is none-too-pleased with us in our disobedience. We take our pictures of the evil earthly fathers we have had (and the ones we have been) and we try to wedge the Eternal One into this very small, and very inaccurate mold.

Really, our pride is astounding. We make the very G_d of the universe so small.

We make Him distant, though He is omnipresent.
We downgrade His power, though He is omnipotent.
We cast Him as fickle, though He is omniscient.
We refuse to see Him as He is – Though He Himself defines Himself as Steadfast, Eternal, and Unchanging Love.

Can we see it?

Paul did. Something had to die within him though, before he could truly grasp it. And even Paul, an Hebrew scholar of great renown (who would have seen the mega theme of G_d’s steadfast Love in the Old Testament), had to go through nearly two decades of having himself reprogrammed by the Holy Spirit to begin to see it.

Jesus Loved Paul… And as Paul came to know Him, nothing else, absolutely nothing else, mattered.

Now beloved, don’t downgrade the word. Love is not a little thing. Love is the profound concern for the wellbeing of another, without regard as to whether we love the Lover back. Love never changes, and Love changes us if we let it. Love makes us whole and real and true and free. Love is what we have all been wanting, though we sometimes did not know the word. Love makes us powerful, and gives us the desire to give the very same Love away to others…

Said simply: G_d’s Love changes everything.

So yes, this is a life and death struggle. And, we will not succeed in the struggle unless we actually die. We must die to our false belief that G_d has anything other than purposing our very best within His Infinite Heart. We must die to the idea that we could ever perform our way into being good enough to deserve this avalanche of goodness moving towards us.

But something happens when do… Just when we begin to accept it. Just when we begin to think we understand it. The Love we think we can handle blows us away. We climb what we think is the mountain peak of His Love towards us, and just as we get to the top, we realize that it was nothing than a foothill at the base of a mountain range that extends to infinite heights – with range upon range, and peak upon peak bursting upwards into heavens higher than we ever used to be able to even comprehend.

So, are you struggling to sense the Love that He has for you? Perhaps that is the problem. You are still thinking He is far away, and that you are trying to attain something. Stop. Die to that way of thinking, even now – right now.

Tonight is your night beloved. Time to start at the beginning: “Jesus Loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

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: Psalm 102-104| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “The secret to loving, he says, is living loved.” ~ Max Lucado

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12