Read Wisely

iStock-485493214.jpg

“If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancé, don’t fall in love with the mailman” ~ Piper

When you ‘delight’ yourself in the Lord and love the One who has sent you His Words of hope, assurance, forgiveness, and grace… look in Psalm 37 at the ideas that begin to emerge. The first being trust, you can trust your very being to His care. Jesus knew this one when in the fiery crucible of the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.”

Next is to commit. When you trust someone with your very Spirit, you can ‘commit your way’ to them, and ‘dwell’ in their presence, like we do in a marriage. The rest of the ideas that follow are ‘resting in’, ‘waiting on’, and ‘not being anxious’. All of these become a part of our lives because of the ‘One’ we have come to know and love.

Many have missed out on the delight that God’s presence brings into our lives; this is because they have fallen in love with what He ‘provides’ and not ‘the One’ who provided it.  This lacks gratitude and anchors our faith back into what is temporary, as opposed to what is ‘eternally true.’

I pray you open a Bible today, and as you read, you will fall in love with ‘The One’ who has given Himself for your delight.

Read wisely….

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Psalms 37:23-24)

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 Kings 11-15| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “The more you read the Bible; and the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished with it.” – Charles Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8

 

Taking Every Thought Captive Prayer

 

Praying in the dark

Pray Without Ceasing –  1 Thessalonians 5:17


The second verse of our theme verses for 2017 is the exhortation of Paul, “Pray without ceasing.”

I am reading several books right now on prayer and what I have discovered is that one of the reasons people struggle to pray is that they do not know what to pray.
If you are honest, there are times when the enemy attempts to take us captive by filling our minds with all kinds of garbage. I recently read this helpful prayer again for “taking every thought captive.” I will have Graeme post this on the website so that you can download the prayer. I pray that it will be helpful to someone struggling.

Daily Commitment Prayer To Take Every Thought Captive – Alaine Pakkala

Father, I come to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I claim the blood of the Lord Jesus as my protection during this time of prayer. I address only the True and Living God. I refuse any involvement of Satan in my prayers.

In the name of Jesus Christ, I command Satan to leave my presence with all his wicked spirts and I bring the blood of the Lord Jesus between us.

Father, I ask that You help me during this time of prayer. I thank You that the weapons of my warfare are not carnal, human or fleshly but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge and experience of God and brings every thought into obedience to Christ.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I resist and cancel every plan, I smash and break every stronghold that has been formed against me and my priesthood. I bind Satan’s work in this area and loose his hold upon my priesthood. I submit my priesthood to You, dear Lord.

I take authority over all wicked spirits in and around the house that have been assigned to hinder me and my priesthood today. I bind you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I command all wicked spirits in the house to leave and I bind you outside the house. I submit those bonds to You, heavenly Father.

I resist and cancel every plan, I smash and break every stronghold against me for this day. I bind and destroy all the enemy’s work against my mind, my emotions, my will, my body, my nerves, my spirit and its functions, and against the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I resist all counterfeits, hindrances to my ministry and calling, my spiritual gifts, my prayers, and my authority in Christ.

Father, I thank and praise You for Your salvation and deliverance so rich and free. I praise God that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me and ransomed me from the fall. I now claim the blood and righteousness of Christ as my only hope for salvation. I thank You that I was justified, sanctified, given eternal life, and made an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ. I claim all the blessings that are mine because of it.

I claim my union in the crucifixion where I was placed in Christ and as He died for sin, I died to sin. I put off the dead old nature with all its deceitful lusts. I reckon myself now dead indeed to sin.

I claim my union in Christ in the resurrection where I was raised to new life and I put on the new man created in righteousness and true holiness and claim the resurrection power in my life.

I thank You for my union in Christ in the glorification where Jesus was seated at the right hand of God the Father. You have placed me there in Christ. I claim my place there where all principalities, powers, and wicked spirits are put under the feet of Jesus and thus under me. I therefore declare that all principalities, powers, and wicked spirits are subject to me because of this.

I thank You for my union in Christ in Pentecost where I was baptized by the Holy Spirit. I claim the filling of the Blessed Holy Spirit, all His ministry, and His fruit in my life for this day.

I thank You for my union in Christ in the promises; that in Jesus they are all yea and amen. I claim my place as an adult son by the adoption of the Spirit where I now have all the inheritance and authority as an heir of God and co-heir with Jesus Christ. I claim _________ (any promises God has given you personally as well as Phil. 4:19; John 7:38; Eph. 1:3; etc.)

I reject and resist all the endeavors of Satan and his wicked spirits to rob me of the full will of God. I claim God’s full will for me. I surrender myself to You, Lord, as a living sacrifice. I choose not to be conformed to this world by the renewing of my mind so that I may know the full and complete will of God in experience. If the enemy has any ground or hold in my life that robs me of God’s will, I pray You will push it out and expose it that I may be totally Yours. I refuse to believe my feelings, but place my faith completely in You for victory.

I thank You for Your full provision for victory. I put on the full armor of God: the breastplate of righteousness, the girdle of truth, the sandals of peace on my feet, the helmet of salvation on my head, the sword of the Spirit in my hand, and I cover myself from head to foot with the shield of faith.

I claim all the victory the Lord Jesus Christ has provided for me where He made a show of principalities, powers and wicked spirits, leading them in a victory procession, triumphing over them by His cross. I reject them out of my life, all their insinuations, accusations, condemnations and temptations, hindering, lying, counterfeiting and distorting of the truth. Keep me aggressive in prayer mentally, physically, and spiritually to withstand the enemy in all things.

I choose to please You, Lord, in all things, to obey Your Word, and to live in harmony with You. I choose all the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in my life—His crucifixion, resurrection, and glorification, and all the work of Pentecost (the ministry, fruit and filling of the Holy Spirit). I refuse to be discouraged. You’re the God of all hope. I surrender myself to You completely.

I resist and reject every endeavor of Satan to rob me of the full will of God. I claim God’s will. I now resist and reject all the forces of Satan that are active in my life today. I do all this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks.

Dr. Bill Welte
President & CEO of 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: Leviticus 16-18| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Think About This: The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life. — Pastor Tim Keller

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8

 

 

 

 

Dead End?

iStock-517418691.jpg

“To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”

Isaiah 42:7

I think one of the most useful street signs is Dead End. It takes away any doubt about going down that street. I was always instructed when headed in the wrong direction in life that the path I was taking was a “Dead End.”

Recently, I was directing a truck driver into our maintenance yard, he followed me all the way until we reached the gate. What he saw must have seemed like a dead end, and it would take a long time for him to get out of this unknown yard. After my consistent waving and drawing him in, he finally creeped his way towards this seemingly unchartered way. What he didn’t know is that our yard is designed for a truck his size to easily make a circle and face the way out. I approached his open window and asked “were you worried?” He said, “I thought for sure this was a dead end.”

The portion of scripture in Isaiah 42 is prophesy of the coming Messiah. Among other descriptive attributes is His ability to “open blind eyes.” I shared with our relieved truck driver that he was at a place where we specialize in showing men and women in bondage a way of escape by introducing them to Jesus, and that we would not lead him down a dead end road.

I love moments like that, when out of nowhere God reminds me of the message I am to carry for Him. A moment of reflection of my own journey when I too was a prisoner who sat in darkness. I too was a man weary and lost but was also skeptical of this idea of being a follower of Christ. Where would it lead me, how do I know if I’ll ever get out and could this be a “Dead End?”

Where else can you find yourself worshiping God and praising Him in the midst of a simple delivery? What a boost of refreshment on a hot summer day that I could reflect on the greatness of God. At the same time, feeling a burden for the truck driver who seemed very anxious to get on his way when I started the “Jesus” talk.

The way I see it is, we all come to that crossroad, one sign says “Dead End” and the other “Jesus.” Although our truck driver friend seemed to pull off the property and back on the road without a hitch, without Jesus, he’s heading down a dead end street.

Are you thankful today that God has opened your eyes? Are you aware that even though things may seem difficult and you can’t see a way out of your trials, that Jesus has made a way of escape? Maybe a tour through Isaiah 42 to be reminded that God has made a way out for all who call upon His Name. 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: Ezekiel 25-30| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “Where sin has been removed death can only interrupt the earthly life and usher in the heavenly.” – John MacArthur

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“But to You I have cried out, O Lord, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.” Psalm 88:13

 

De Civitate Dei

 

Augustine.jpg“I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as We are One. I am in them and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.” – John 17:22-23 (NLT)

Once upon a time, in the crumbling Empire of Rome, there lived a young philosopher whose name was Augustine. Augustine would grow up to become one of the Churches earliest theologians, but he didn’t start his life in a very Christ-like manner. Apparently, it is his mother who was the Christian in the family as his father would claim the Name above all names on his deathbed. Augustine wouldn’t make his conversion until he was 31. He would hear a childlike voice that would tell him to “take up and read” and when he did, he would land in the Book of Roman, chapter 13, verses 13-14…

“Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

He would then go on to write about his transformation in a book titled “Confessions” which would go on to become a classic in Christian theology, but that is not where this is going today.

In Augustine’s time, a branch of Germanic people known as the Visigoths began an all out assault against the Roman Empire. In 410 A.D, the Visigoths plunged into the very heart of the Empire and left Rome in ruins. Romans were left in a deep state of shock and many of them saw this as punishment for abandoning “The Gods” for Jesus Christ. Augustine, however, saw this an opportunity to be able to separate church from state. I feel his point was quite simple…keep your focus heavenward, never mind Christianity beginning the official religion of the Roman Empire and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Back then, many critics came forward and pointed to Christian bigotry (sound familiar?) as being “the crack” in The Empire. It undermined people’s freedom to practice whatever they wanted to practice in order to worship whatever they wanted to worship because Christianity had become the official state religion and that displeased “The Gods.” But in all honesty, with hindsight being 20/20, it was really immorality and corruption, not Christianity, that led to Rome’s collapse. Like it does with all empires…there are no expectations. If we look at the way the tapestry of America is beginning to fray, I think you’ll agree that we are in very dangerous waters ourselves. Yes?

Augustine wrote a book titled “The City of God” and in it, he discusses there being two cities we deal with. One of course is the city of God, where people focus on a pursuit of knowing God and living in His ways. Then there is the city of Man, where “itself is ruled by its lust to rule.” The people in the city of God willingly bow their knees to Jesus while the people in the city of Man are forced to theirs. My question for you today is, how do you see it happening around you and which city do you see yourself being a citizen of?

So as I close for today, I leave you with two parting thought’s. The first is from Augustine himself, “These two cities were made by two loves: the earthly city by the love of self unto the contempt of God, and the heavenly city by the love of God unto the contempt of self.” And now from me, “keep your focus heavenward, never mind Christianity beginning the ‘official religion’ of America and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” 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 10| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “The city of God, a city on its knees, is a diverse city, stronger for the differences of its individual inhabitants, but united in its pursuit to establish God’s goodness upon the earth for all of humanity.” —- Toby Mac

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“But to You I have cried out, O Lord, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.” Psalm 88:13

 

 

 

Princes of The Kingdom: Living ἐν κηρύγματι

iStock-486237421.jpg

The deeper we grow in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the poorer we become – the more we realize that everything in life is a gift. The tenor of our lives becomes one of humble and joyful thanksgiving. Awareness of our poverty and ineptitude causes us to rejoice in the gift of being called out of darkness into wondrous light and translated into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. ~Brennan Manning

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
~ Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Romans 14

Oh beloved, it is true.

Each of us; those adopted into His family, have truly become more that we yet know. We are the ones who will inherit and reign in the Kingdom of G_d. And this is not a small thing. Actually, any reward, in comparison to this, is small. We could become masters of this universe, and it would pale in comparison to what we are going to inherit.

This is one of the problems with our christianity. Oh, it is not that it is not true. It is not that it does not give us the answers to a great number of things in this life. All of it is true. It is just that the truth of this aspect of our faith is so small as to be infinitesimal.

When we begin to understand just who we are… Everything begins to change within us.

Our failures disgust us.
Our King enthralls us.
Our joy sustains us.
Our righteousness flows from Him.
Our happiness is ongoing.
Our Love is real.
Our Hope is blessed.
Our view becomes eternal.
And all of this is because we have come to understand who we are becoming.

The Greek in the title of this entry is: “ἐν κηρύγματι,” or “in kerygmati.” It simply means: “In preaching.”  And the idea is Scripture is that we can (and surely should) live lives that proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The kerygmata of the New Testament is not the numerous pieces of good information and wisdom that we can gain from His Word. Rather, it is the core of the message. It is the message that Christ Himself spoke of 106 times in the Gospels.

The Kingdom, and the path into it.

Can we see it?

Members of a family act differently than outsiders to a family. There is an ease and intimacy with the issues within a family. We no longer have to keep talking about what the family rules are. We no longer have to keep talking about how others are not acting like family members. We simply begin living them out.

We begin to just do the right thing (righteousness).
We begin to promote deep agreement on central truths (peace).
We begin to walk in a diamond-hard strength, born of living in His Presence (joy).
And all of this is empowered by The Spirit of our G_d, now indwelling us, and we Him.

So, are you trying to share your faith? Good. Do that. However, have you ever considered that you could also simply begin to share who you are? You are a prince (or princess) in a Kingdom which will have no end. There is no need to convince, or argue – there is only now a desire to proclaim.

Tonight is your night beloved. Time to understand that you are royalty, and your life is a message.

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: Psalms 81-83| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: I am much struck with the contrast between Christ’s mode of gathering people to himself and the way practiced by Alexander the Great, by Julius Caesar, and by myself. The people have been gathered to us by fear; they were gathered to Christ by love. Alexander, Caesar, and I have been men of war, but Christ was the Prince of Peace. The people have been driven to us; they were drawn to him. In our case there has been forced conscription; in his there was free obedience.
~Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“But to You I have cried out, O Lord, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.” Psalm 88:13

 

Delight Yourself in the Lord

iStock-636831346.jpg

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”              (Psalms 37:4)

To take delight in means to find ‘a high degree of pleasure, or satisfaction of mind; joy’; and there are many things provided to us we can delight in… Like competition, entertainment, achievements, food, sex, beauty, justice, or leisure. But the problem in just focusing on these is that they are all insatiable, meaning they do not completely satisfy and have to be endlessly sought. Ultimately they all produce boredom because they cannot provide what our heart desires the most… contentment.

When we understand that these ‘enjoyments’ are provided to us by our Creator and are to be participated in as ‘by-products’ of our relationship with Him, then each gift would take their rightful place as something we should show gratitude for. Jesus said our Heavenly Father knows all that our heart desires, and that if we sought after Him above all else, understanding that everything has its origin in Him as ‘Absolute Perfection’,   And therefore, we made Him and His righteousness our first priority; then, everything else would be added to us. (Matt 6:33)

This is the consistent message throughout the scripture. When we live by God’s perfect design, there will be joy for evermore, peace that passes all understanding, strength for the day and rest for tomorrow. David, the song writing shepherd, described it as ‘lying down in green pastures and near quiet waters that restores my soul.’ (Psalm 23)

The person who delights in the Lord is the one who understands the power of prayer and God’s Word and makes both a priority in his life… above all else. It is only these people who will truly know a ‘high degree of pleasure’ when content to find rest in God’s presence.

Choose Wisely….

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalms 1:1-3)

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 Kings 6-10| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “Our only business is to love and delight ourselves in God.” – Assorted Authors

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“But to You I have cried out, O Lord, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.” Psalm 88:13

Some Really Needed Encouragement

iStock-610969574 (1).jpg

Good morning to my Freedom Fighter family. When we birthed this ministry, our desire was that we would be able to offer you some encouragement on a daily basis. If you didn’t read our blog posts, well, it would just be an exercise in futility.

Often I have shared with you lessons the Lord has been teaching me. I really appreciate the ministry of Dr. Paul David Tripp and his daily devotional, NEW MORNING MERICES. The July 4th entry was so powerful that I just felt I needed to share it with you today:

Life in this fallen world is wearisome. Sometimes your marriage is just exhausting as you work to make a sinner married to a sinner coexist in love and peace. Sometimes it’s just plain tiring to be a parent, particularly on those days when it seems that your children have conspired together to be corporately rebellious.

Sometimes you don’t feel like being nice to that neighbor who seems to be able to look at everything and find a reason to complain. Sometimes you just get exhausted with dealing with your heart—you know, those desires you shouldn’t have and those thoughts you shouldn’t think.

Sometimes you have to drag yourself to your church service or your small group. Sometimes you’d just like to get off the Christianity treadmill and zone out, but you can’t. You wake up the next day and you have to do it all over again—another temptation, another marital misunderstanding, another conflict with another friend, another resistant child, or another moment when you feel the emotional temperature change.

When you’re weary and feeling weak, run to the Psalms; there’s grace to be found there:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121)

This psalm confronts you and me with two truths that we must always remember. First, we are not in this battle alone. We have a Keeper, and our safety is his commitment. Second, the One who is our Keeper never, ever takes a break. His keeping care is 24/7 forever and ever. The inexhaustible Keeper is your help and strength; when weary, run to him.

Did you need this today? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks, friend.

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!

Bill Welte, D.D.
President/CEO of 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: Leviticus 13-15| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Think About This:  “May it be said of us that we live like God’s promises are true because we know in the depths of our souls that they truly are.” — Susie Larson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“But to You I have cried out, O Lord, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.” Psalm 88:13

 

 

 

If They Came to Our Church (Part 2)

iStock-660195888 (1).jpg

“The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” – Acts 10:9-13 (NLT)

I’m not too sure how many of us out there really have said, “reading the Book of Leviticus made me a better Christian.” After all, there are way too many directions for way too many sacrifices found in its pages and once you get to chapter 20, you have lots of punishment for those things that get violated. And when you get to chapter 23, the appointed festivals are listed and are to be observed. The “Feast of First-fruits” and “Feast of Weeks” had their place in Jewish living, but as I have said in the past, when Jesus Christ shows up on the scene, He will flip the script on everything Jewish. So much so that his own people were ready to give him a good old-fashioned stoning.

We can’t assume that a lot of this tradition had disappeared as the 1st century church was being established. In the Book of Acts, we can see that Jewish believers still went to the Temple for worship and maintained observing the annual holy days. The Samaritans got drawn back into things and it won’t be too much after that when Paul will do the Lords will into grafting the Gentiles into “The Way.” And once Peter gets over his issue with eating with uncircumcised men, he tells the other Jewish men about how, by the Glory of God bestowed unto those Gentiles, the church is on its way to growth. HOWEVER….Let’s get back to the 21st century and re-ask the question…What if the Apostles came to our church today?

I think one of the most unfortunate things they would see is the lack of reverence for the gathering of God’s people. They would see the last-minute people walking the aisles looking for seats just as service was beginning. They would see folks carrying frozen coffee drinks and a breakfast sandwich instead of a Bible (yes, I am gonna have to dismiss your Bible app) as they slid across the pew bench. They would see folks still in the foyer catching up with each other while the worship music is being played. James, Peter, and John would most likely be caught in the cross talk of moms making lunch plans for right after service. They would see men just sitting there looking as if being in God’s presence is a chore instead of a joy. Oooops, there went someone’s cell phone (wonder if it was Jesus calling?)

Way back in the 1st century, it seems as if the hunger to be in His presence was all that mattered. Now it seems as if we pencil it in as part of our “to-do” list. There is a huge call for people to get to the things of God, and I am not too sure the state of the American church is ready for it. In some of the churches that I’ve been in the past few months, I have seen some of what I wrote about in this Freedom Fighter actually happen…but not in every church. It seems just as YHVH saved a remnant of Israel to maintain the lineage of His Son is how He is maintaining a remnant of the Church that Jesus built some 2,000 years ago.

I don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer” about this either, far from it. Rather, I wish to encourage you to get into the remnant. Be in that Church of (insert your hometown here), be united with El Elyon, The Most-High God and learn from The Master Himself, Jesus Christ. We can spend decades studying where the true church is at and yet still miss it because we spent too much time adding to it. We need to be radical about our church life so that it becomes contagious. We need to stop ourselves for a moment and take a look and see if what we are doing has an effect on the surroundings we live in; see if there is an impact and if it isn’t, we need to make adjustments. Because quite frankly, we can’t complain about the state of the world we live in if we can’t maintain the state of true worship we need to have in our churches. 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: Ezekiel 19-24| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “In the majority of our meetings there is scarcely a trace of reverent thought, no recognition of the unity of the body, little sense of the divine Presence, no moment of stillness, no solemnity, no wonder, no holy fear.” — A.W. Tozer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“Hear a just cause, O Lord, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.” Psalm 17:1

 

 

 

 

Parable that follows a Burden?

iStock-537442618 (2).jpg

Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, Which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” – Matthew 13:33

Does God give us burdens? Is there a burden that has drawn you to the heart of God that boarders on being considered judgmental or critical? Sometimes I think God allows us to see His heart for His church, and even if there is nothing you can do about it, there’s this connection with the Father that enhances our relationship and we can actually share in His grief. Of course this should also take place in our own lives as we should always be sensitive to the things that God disapproves of.

My burden? The fellowships of the Church.

Now the parable. I recently saw a picture of some friends spending time together with their extended families at a reunion. It brought a smile to my face as all were gathered together, big smiles, the making of life long memories and sharing of the past. But the last set of pictures caught my attention, it was a whole group of family members posing for a group picture, the setting was a boat dock over a lake. The first picture was everyone smiling and saying cheese, the next set of pictures was half the party in the lake because the dock collapsed. Fortunately no one was hurt, so after a gasp, I admit, I did chuckle and gave kudos to the photographer for snapping the after pictures. I perceived that the idea of taking a picture over the water sounded harmless, and even though some may have been skeptical the encouraging words of loved ones and family members were convincing enough to persuade them to join in. Maybe words like, “it’ll be fun”, “It’s different” and “everyone else is doing it, don’t be old fashioned.”

In my recent quiet time with the Lord, I believe He used that snapshot to confirm a burden I carry for the church. There are a lot of “new and different” fellowships springing up that are very disturbing to me, like a bunch of loved ones on an unstable dock. As I shared with some who are excited about this endeavor, I’m usually accused of being judgmental or critical. When the weight of disapproval from fellow believers gets heavy, God always has a way of speaking to me and lifting the burden and placing it back on Himself with a type of parable. At that point I feel a connection with God and am able to direct my prayers toward those who need the truth of the Gospel. I can also rest in the fact that as long as I share my convictions to those in authority and to anyone who asks my opinion, I’m no longer need to do anything but pray.

In Matthew 13:13, Jesus gives one of the most powerful parables that pertain to today. The NLT version says, Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.” If the word of God is the flour (bread) then the yeast (pride) that is added to seem to misrepresent the true meaning by adding it.

So, what is your burden, and has God given you a parable to comfort you? If so, share it with those affected and then commit it to prayer.

I realize this post is out of character for me and I would have preferred not to write it, but I did it out of obedience from the leading of the Holy Spirit, thanks for listening.

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: Proverbs 8-9| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “A spiritual Christian should welcome any burden which the Lord brings his way.” – Watchman Nee

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“Hear a just cause, O Lord, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.” Psalm 17:1

 

 

What’s Your Response to an Encounter with Christ?

iStock-509719722.jpg

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:41)

In my small time as Christian, I’ve noticed that believers have various perception of worship and it occasionally causes division. Some dress very formal and love traditional hymns, others Christians enjoy more comfortable settings and lean towards contemporary music, and there is a unique group that love both; I like to believe I fall there. In addition, there are different methods in how people express their worship to our heavenly father. For a long time, I used judge individuals who were a little more expressive then me in their worship experience.

In the womb, John the Baptist responds with a leap for joy in the presence of God, then His mom Elizabeth immediately praised God, as she was filled the Holy Spirit. She saw it an honor to be in the presence of the mother of the Messiah, moreover the Messiah Himself. Few passages later, Mary declares, ““My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:46-49).

We have an audience of one, and that’s one we need to Worship. On Sunday morning, believers in Hawaii will have sandals and laid back attire. In Africa, some will display elaborate praise dances. In the orthodox churches in America, you might see suits, ties, and hymns. Newer generation churches might have jeans and a more contemporary sound. Culture and scriptures play a huge part in the way believers worship their God. Hands waving, hands down, crying, laughter, it all can be your response to your encounter with Christ. And after our encounter; How then shall we live?

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: Psalms 78-80| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-8-38-30-pm

Daily Quote: “God as we ought to worship Him. God is Spirit, so we must worship Him in spirit and truth, that is, by a humble and true adoration of spirit in the depth and centre of our souls.” – Brother Lawrence

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

“Hear a just cause, O Lord, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.” Psalm 17:1