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The Almighty’s Prize: You

 

 

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Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”  ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.”
~ Him, in Isaiah 43

Oh beloved, it is true.

But we don’t believe it. Not. One. Tiny. Little. Bit. Because, if we did, everything would be different.

Our fear would be Laughter.

Our sadness would be Giddiness.

Our Faith would be adamite.

Our Strength would wax unabated.

Our Freedom would know no bounds.

Our Hope would be sight.

Our doubts would be infinitesimal.

Our disease would be Healed.

Our Sense would be sharp.

Our blindness would be Sight.

It is so hard to see it, because we are often running throughout our lives in some sort of a panic. Or, we are jacked in to some sort electronic gadget. Or, we are looking at anything, but the truth. Because, if we stopped just long enough, this truth would change everything. Absolutely. Everything. About. How. We. Live.

Can we actually see it?

Don’t miss it. Let us not miss it in our false humility…

You are the very prize of G_d. You, beloved brothers, are the only thing that could make the fullest of the Greatest of Hearts – even more full. The very Triune Maker of eternity; The King who has absolutely everything, and Whose creation is but a sparkle of a glint of everything He already was, is and will be – is made even more joyous, by simply knowing: YOU.

Oh, don’t think that this is just some sort of something to make you feel good (though it may do just this). No, knowing you are loved by Love Himself, does something much more than this. Love like this sets guys like us free from our slavery to the lies that we used to listen to. Now, the whining of the world, and the screeching of demons in their temptations, and even the screaming of our flesh, is something we no longer even need listen to.

We are the prize of The Almighty. And He is intent upon showering us with the very fullness of Himself; all the glory, all the joy, all the fellowship, all the Life – forever.

So, are you feeling like you are nothing? Are you constantly cutting yourself down, thinking that this is showing humility? It isn’t. Pride like this is the worst affront to a Lover. Tonight is your night, beloved. Time to let Him Love you as He already does.

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: Isaiah 29-33| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Silent solitude makes true speech possible and personal. If I am not in touch with my own belovedness, then I cannot touch the sacredness of others. If I am estranged from myself, I am likewise a stranger to others.” ~ Brennan Manning

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. Psalm 63:7

 

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Sometimes Obedience Can Be Wrong

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“Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!” – Luke 15:30 (NLT)

I’ll bet your eyebrows raised a bit when you saw todays Freedom Fighter title, but there is a lot of truth in it. Now, out there in Secularland, the rules are different when it comes to obedience. It seems that obedience takes on a whole different truth, as to say what was true yesterday has now become today’s lie. So even in the world of public opinion, what ‘once was’ is now a ‘should have never been.’ Displaying obedience in Secularland is constantly changing, but for the Christian it should be a one-way street…but is it really?

When we look at Luke 1:26-38, a young woman in an insignificant part of Palestine had been chosen by a mighty God to bear His Son. An Archangel is sent to deliver the message, and there isn’t much of an argument on her part as she tells the Archangel Gabriel, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) In this case, Mary’s obedience is so instant that it makes Jell-O instant pudding look like a slow poke. But we have other times in the Bible where the practice of obedience took on that of a performance rather than the putting on of humility. Actually, we can say that performance of obedience was a more of a shunned humility rather than the instant kind that Mary chose to exhibit. Let’s go to Luke 15:25-32…

This is the passage about the elder brother coming in from the fields, who heard a party and got angry. Being an eldest myself (though I surrendered that position when I fell into a world of addiction), I guess I could see the reckoning of it. After all, you’ve been doing as you are expected (or, as some translations say, “commanded”), and you see a younger sibling getting loved on just because he makes it back from the hell he puts himself through…all at the expense of your father, and it just ain’t right. But the kicker here is your father, in whom you’ve obeyed, has made yet another concession to someone who you feel deserves a party held at the back of wood shed, not in the family living room. It all starts with a fattened calf and then the heart condition unravels.

Entitlement. This is a word that has been used a lot these days, but in this sense the elder brother has been doing what he should and therefore should get what he, actually, rightfully deserves. Well, the thing here is that you can follow the rules to the letter and still be in sin just like the rest of us prodigals. Why? Because your performance of obedience is perverted by your heart’s desire for reward for doing so, meaning you’re only in it for yourself – the whole reason I think I’ve fared better as a prodigal. What makes me say that?

Grace!! You can’t earn God’s grace, and I’ll go a step further and say that it isn’t a random thing He provides. God may have His reasons, and they may include what good you do, but you have to understand that grace doesn’t happen by earning it or meriting His favor. This way, you can’t take pride in what you are doing out of obedience, because the consequence for all that is this: God is going to just let you keep on thinking that it’s all true, and when that fattened calf is killed to celebrate someone else, all your performance of obedience has gotten you is a session of huffin’-n-puffin’ with whimpers of “it’s unfair”.

Now, we all need to be aware of shunned humility because the bottom line is that God opposes the proud. And we need to remember that we aren’t entitled to anything. You can have your inalienable rights all you want but are you, CHRISTIAN, really entitled to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness? Are you entitled to the next breath you take? Are you really entitled to YOUR stuff?

Jesus didn’t finish His parable on prodigal/elder brother but I think we are to walk away with this thought: we need drop our pride and be open to receive God’s grace. We need to understand that we can’t earn it but can grow into spiritual maturity because of it. And finally, we shouldn’t cheapen the grace of God by exploiting it or by keeping score and live as if we are begun to pave our own roadway into the Throne Room so we can join the angelic chorus by singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Sometimes it’s about standing there and saying, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” 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: Job 11-12 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “As long as you live by your old nature you will be open to all of the injustices of men. Your temper will get you into fights, your passions will clash with your neighbors, your desires will be like tender spots to your enemies’ arrows.” – Fenelon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. Psalm 63:7

 

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The Spirit of Oneness

 

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“Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” – Philippians 2:2

This ‘oneness’ concept has been a mystery to me since beginning my walk with Christ. First, I was wondering how three Gods could be one; we are only to worship One God but are obviously three entities.  Then, it was marriage; how can two people, who are extremely selfish, self-centered, and independent, become one flesh? And how can a body of believers be one if everyone has different views, opinions, perceptions – you name it?Reading through scripture, it seems, many of the Saints had the same issues.

One of Paul’s many assignments was to share the Gospel to a generation that were lovers of themselves, culturally driven, and who lacked unity. Husbands were leaving their wives and males and females were abandoning natural relationships for unnatural partners. Jews against Gentiles, believers against believer, bond servant against owner, children against their parents, law verses grace… sound familiar?

Here we are, 2000 years later, dealing with same issues of unity. The flesh, the World, and Satan have governed us so long that we cause divisions covertly and overtly. We understand truth and make doctrines, but there are times we don’t see the division we cause. Wikipedia defines it this way, “A schismatic is a person who creates or incites schism in an organization or who is a member of a splinter group.” This could be you, this could be me, this be could going on in your church body right now.

Jesus knew this would be, and he gave us his life, his testimony, His Word, His love and His Spirit to combat separateness and cling to one another in Love. Contrary to what we believe, believers were not created to survive on their own fruition. We were created for each other, to love each other, pursuing Jesus and doing His will together. Less of me, more of Him.

“…Like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Philippians 2:2

Prayer: Thank you Lord for giving us the perfect example of selflessness. Lord, give us unity that we may be of one accord. Bless our work, our actions, and help us to lay down our opinions. Help us to be a united front and as we grow stronger with you, we grow stronger with each other. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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 15-17| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “God’s family, which comes into being by regeneration, is more central and more lasting than the human family that comes into being by procreation.” – John Piper

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. Psalm 63:7

 

What ?

Can You Hear Me Now?

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“Listen, O coastlands, to Me, 

and take heed, you peoples from afar!”

Isaiah 49:1a

 

Hindsight is 20/20, there are so many things I wish I had listened to. Some of the most dreaded words you’ll hear is, “I told ya so.” That sting of a reminder that follows an action on our behalf that has taken place after being told beforehand. Now, there’s a difference between hearing something and listening to that same something. Or, some of us who have had teenagers or people we care about enough to give advice to, you know how frustrating it can be when people don’t listen. I too can remember a time when I was told something and I chose not to listen. I wonder how much heartache I could have saved myself if I would have simply listened.

I think one of the main reasons I choose to go my own way was because I believed my way was better and ultimately I’d do what I wanted to do. It’s not until I came to the conclusion that God’s ways are higher than my ways, that I could trust God at His word. In Romans 15:4 we read, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” When I meditate on verses and can see what happens when others have chosen not to take heed, I’m walking with the assurance that I will be kept safe. Though’safe’ is not always comfortable, the discomfort that comes with obedience always produces the fruit of the Spirit in us.

God is always calling us to listen – not just to listen, but to take heed. God uses Isaiah to communicate to His people that He has a plan, and like any instruction, it only benefits those who listen and take heed.

This proclamation in Isaiah maybe what Jesus built His hope on, all the promises of the Father concerning His Son were written and foretold for Jesus’ glory and our benefit. Maybe we have an insight to the answer to the prayers Jesus prayed to His Father, I encourage you to go and read Isaiah 49 where we see verses like verse 8,

“Thus says the LORD:
‘In an acceptable time I have heard You,
And in the day of salvation I have helped You;
I will preserve You and give You
As a covenant to the people,
To restore the earth,
To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages
.’”

I wonder what our days would look like if we would only listen and take heed?

Here’s one example, Luke 6:47,48:

Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like, he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built”.

Sounds like a plan, God is calling and asking, “Can you hear me now?”

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: Judges 1-6 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Beware of reasoning about God’s Word – obey it.” – Oswald Chambers

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. Psalm 63:7

 

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A Prayer for Peace

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Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6

Good morning, brothers. I am so very thankful for this new week, and want to once again thank you for being a part of the Freedom Fighter blog family.

I have shared a number of prayers with the past few weeks, and I sometimes wonder if people think I am just being lazy in not sharing my own stuff.

Sometimes a fresh perspective helps you and I am reading through this little book called Fret Busters (Dayspring) by Roy Lessin. His prayers have been such an encouragement to me and so refreshing.

My guess is that someone needs this one today as well. We live in a world that is crying for peace. We have seen a number of our Colony grads pass away in recent days and it has been discouraging. One guy right now is using and “missing in action.” Some of our staff are going through physical battles that are wearing them down. I know a bunch of folks looking for employment, having trouble with their kids, and facing HUGE financial struggles.

So today, this prayer is right on. How about for you?

A Prayer of Peace Lord Jesus, I thank You that You are the Prince of peace, and that You’ve promised to give me Your peace. I receive Your peace—the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that assures me of Your presence, the peace that confirms Your love, the peace that guards my every thought and every emotion.

Thank You that You came not to trouble me, but to give me rest; not to confuse me, but to give me clarity; not to bind me, but to free me; not to stress me, but to quiet me. Thank You for Your peace that endures the trials, overcomes in battles, conquers foes, and keeps me steady through storms.

Thank You, Lord, for Your complete peace, for Your perfect peace, for Your peace that keeps my heart from being troubled. Come now and fill me with Your presence. Thank You for the perfect peace that flows when I put my trust in You. Let it wash over me and flood my innermost being. Show me the ways of peace, keep me on the paths of peace, guide me in the decisions that lead to peace. Jesus, be my peace today.

Amen? I’d love to be praying for you. Let me know your request. Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!

Written by Dr. Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: He has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 10 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Gen 20-23 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: Every prayer request (and every scenario that triggers a prayer request) is actually another opportunity for us to witness God’s glory firsthand. – from Living the Battle Plan

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. Psalm 63:7

Clasped hands of prayer. Low key photo.

Courage in the Presence of G_d.

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Oh, If only once we could be convinced of God’s goodness towards His children and of His desire to reveal Himself to them! We would no longer seek out own selfish desires. We would not be so quickly discouraged from pursuing what He is so long to give us: Romans 8:32 – “He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not, with Him, also freely give us all things?” We only need a little courage and perseverance. Actually, we have enough of both in our earthly affairs, but none at all in the only thing that really matters (Luke 10:42). ~Jeanne Guyon

So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ The LORD your God Himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the LORD has spoken. And the LORD will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. And the LORD will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God Who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the LORD Who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
~ Moses, a man of The Presence, in Deuteronomy 31

Oh beloved, it is true.

Throughout our lives, we find people to look up to. And no, this is not wrong. It is wonderful for us to have examples in our lives. It is wonderful for us to have people in our lives, that show us how to live better, love better, and be better.

The problem, though, is that whoever we look up to, it will never be enough.

Good people fail. Also, there are plenty of bad people, who try to look good, but take us through the the wringer. They look good on the outside, but they aren’t. This problem is relatively easy to comprehend, because many of us guys from the Colony were like this. We really tried to present like everything was OK, when truly we were coming apart on the inside. And in our coming apart, we pulled people down and wrung them dry as well.

Joshua, The Captain of The Hosts of Israel, really did have someone to look up to. He had served with and under Moses for decades. He watched this powerfully humble man lead a stubborn and stiffnecked people through the wilderness. And Moses did not just gain experience through His second forty years in the wilderness, he had the best of education from the finest schools of Egypt – then integrated into his soul through an earlier forty years of desert meditation in the rolling hills of Midian.

Joshua was well trained by Moses. He was an able leader who had observed and served in some very difficult circumstances. But now, he was coming up on a situation that not even his mentor could have handled alone. But, both of these men had a secret…

Moses had learned it first. First, at the burning bush, where the ground was so holy that the very fabric of space within the plant was alight with the Presence of G_d. Later, in a forty day gauntlet of experiencing the very near Presence of G_d, which he only survived by YHWH putting Moses into the cleft of a rock, and placing His hand over him, whilst All His Goodness passed by. And finally, in an ongoing, face-to-face conversation with The L_RD of Hosts, in the tent of meeting. The Presence of G_d is everything. It assures victory, and healing and the courage needed to do what we need to do.

Joshua was a disciple of Moses, and a close one at that. And so, we find in Scripture that Joshua was an attendant in the meeting tent where Moses and YHWH spoke to each other. Most of his training in how to actually do things was learned in observing the conversations between The Very Maker of The Universe, and Moses, the man of powerful humility – in the Presence.

Can we see it?

But, when they went out of the tent, Joshua watched how Moses dealt directly with the people. And he had probably come to a place where he had thought that Moses was a vital aspect of how G_d was dealing with His chosen people. Oh, to be sure, Moses was important. But, Moses was not the key factor in the success of Israel as it came up on her entrance into the promised land.

Time had caught up with Moses. His first forty years in Egypt, his second forty years in Midian, and his final forty years in the wilderness had brought his physical frame to an end. However, he did have one final and truly vital piece of learning to give to Joshua: It was not Moses’ strength, it was G_d’s all the time. And now Joshua was going to receive the message Moses had just received directly from Him.

G_d fights our battles. He is with us. He goes before us. He never leaves us. In Him, we always win. And, Joshua took this to heart. His valor and courage is legend, even to today in military writings. This guy could not lose, as long as he dwelt in the place where G_d was.

So, are you feeling your courage (the fullness of your heart) waning? Maybe it is because you honestly do not know the truth that Moses learned over 80 years, and has passed onto the next leader of the team. You are never alone. G_d is always with you. You cannot lose.

Tonight is your night, beloved. Time to understand that He is with you, and He has some victory to bring about in your (and this fool of a writer’s) life.

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: Isaiah 23-28 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Never, never, never give up.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, “The Lord be magnified!” Psalm 40:16

 

 

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Teach All Nations

 

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“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)

Yes, I went King James, and I love the phrase here: ‘teach all nations.’ The reality is that we all have been involved in teaching, even in our early informative years. We’ve just not always been  teaching for Jesus. In that, teaching derives from many avenues. Who are you following? How are you influencing the people watching you?

Here three ways we teach, or in this case, make disciples.

 

The Word

The most basic understanding of teaching is to communicate the truth. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31,32) Communicating the Word is one the most powerful weapons we can use to teach people the things of God. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes from the Word of God. Right handling God’s Word, has the ability to change hearts, conform lives, transform mind etc…

A Living Apostle

Are we living in such a way that people are seeing Christ? How are we using our Words, is our service reflecting a life indwelled by Holy Spirit? Right now, I’m being convicted writing this thought. After Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, he commanded them to do likewise. Furthermore, he even washed the feet of Judas, knowing who he was and what he was about to do. “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)

Dealing with Sin/issues

I know with hyper-grace movement, we don’t think we can talk about sin… but the realty of our sin, our issues, will in fact hinder the disciple-making process. “The night is nearly over; the day has drawn near. So let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12) Sin affects our ability see God clearly, to hear truth, be an effective minister and the like…

These are three of the many ways we can teach people the things of God and for ourselves stay teachable. Remember: We are disciples and we are making-disciples.

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: Job 9-10 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Live as a credible witness. If our actions don’t line up with the message we’re proclaiming, we risk losing our credibility.”

– David Jeremiah

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, “The Lord be magnified!” Psalm 40:16

 

2-sons

The Second Son

 

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“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” – Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT)

So, it’s probably a Tuesday morning, a fig tree gets withered, the disciples are told about having the faith to throw a mountain into the sea, and Jesus had just returned to THE temple to teach. Then, a question arises… “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”. Now the guys asking this are those wacky Pharisees, Sadducees, (and let’s throw in the Scribes for good measure.) Now, if I were Jesus, I would have something really ‘out of the box’ for them, but I am not He (though still strive to be.) What He is going to ask is really gonna butter their biscuits. It starts with this question, “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?” (Matt 21:25a)

Well, apparently they didn’t see that coming, so “They talked it over among themselves. ‘If we say it was from heaven, He will ask us why we didn’t believe John. But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.'” (Matt 21:25b-26) They go to Jesus and give Him the “play it safe” answer, “I don’t know” and since they couldn’t figure out how to choose one answer over the other, Jesus pretty much tells them He doesn’t owe them an answer either but He does tell a parable. So open your Bible and turn to Matthew 21:28-32…

It’s always about choice. The verse I opened with today from Deuteronomy clearly defines the way God gives us a choice – they will always come in 2’s. For the Old Testament folks, it was pretty clear it was either life or death, but as time went along, religious leaders found a way to blur the lines and made choice a burden. Jesus came to lift that burden from people and get them back into the choice of 2’s. Build your house on sand or Rock, travel a wide road or a narrow one, and if you have a vineyard ask your two sons to go out and work the fields.

Now, you construction guys understand that putting a foundation on sand ain’t a good idea, and for those who drive those superhighways all the time, you understand the chaos that happens when you travel on them. However, when these two sons are asked to work the vineyard we see something a bit more dangerous…the selfishness of religion. Go ahead, you can say “HUH?” So, let’s take this a step further…

The first son is asked, by the father, to go work in the vineyard. His reply is positive but his action is negative. If we take the position that the vineyard is the nation of Israel and the first son is a representation of those wacky Pharisees, we can see that Jesus is pointing out that the Pharisees and their gang of not-so-merry men aren’t doing what they were called to do and that is the will of YHVH. When the second son is asked the same thing, his reply is negative but his action is positive. If you take the position that you’re the second son, hopefully you see that the repented heart did the will of The Father and went out into the vineyard. This brings me to The Book of James.

In the 2nd chapter of James (verses 1-7) we see James pointing out the sin of partiality. Now Jesus needed to point out to the Pharisees that they were showing the Nation of Israel partiality when it came to Kingdom principles, “At least I am not like this sinner” and that mentality kept them from extending grace to their own people. But after the church age gets it start, church leaders themselves forgot that they were “the second son” and that mentality kept them from extending grace to their own people.

The selfishness of religion can do a dangerous thing in us if we’re not careful with what God has given us. We’re not allowed, and we were never allowed for that matter, to selfishly hold on to grace. Jesus came to all those second sons, showed them grace, and then told the Pharisees they those they looked down on will see heaven before they do. James had to remind people that just because they think themselves fancy enough doesn’t mean they’re good enough for a front row seat. We weren’t saved just so we could show it off, far from it. We’ve been saved because He first loved us and His desire is for us to be with Him. I don’t see it written anywhere that we get to choose who gets in or who stays out. Remember this…. “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’ you are doing well” (James 2:8) 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: Psalm 12-14| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “I may have got over the problems of sin and the flesh, and yet still be a confirmed individualist. I want holiness and victory and fruitfulness for myself personally and apart, albeit from the purest motives. But such an attitude ignores the Body, and so cannot provide God with satisfaction.” —Watchman Nee

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, “The Lord be magnified!” Psalm 40:16

 

 

Funny vintage detective looking through a magnifier

Keep Looking

Vintage detective looking through a magnifier

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” – Romans 8:25

One of my favorite movie lines is from the movie Arthur. His lifelong butler Hobson was ill and Arthur was reminiscing about when he was a child.“Hobson, do you remember when I was a child and we played hide and seek? Remember, you could never find me?”

Hobson replied, “Because I never looked.” You’ll never find what you don’t look for.

In our walk with the Lord, there is a call for perseverance and determination. With all that comes against us and with all the daily battles we face, we need to have Hope. Paul is instructing his readers in Rome to not lose hope just because they can’t see it. It doesn’t mean it’s not there, just that we need to “keep looking.” Let’s face it, even with the “still small voice” I can sometimes find myself fighting off anxieties and battling doubt. When I am confronted with a choice to panic or trust, it can be a fine line to determine my next step. What’s the answer? “Keep Looking!”

The opening verses of Colossians 3 tells us “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” There is this idea of lifting our heads above the circumstances and focusing on the things above. When I choose to do this, it helps me stand and effectively deal with my issues at hand with a Biblical solution that should ultimately give God glory.

There’s nothing like an outcome that has Divine intervention. I’m sometimes amazed at the response I have when I wait on the Lord for His solution. It’s as if my mouth is speaking but I’m not sure where what I’m saying came from.

If I “look” into the word of God and patiently wait until He returns, I can continue to build my God given faith which brings hope and I can persevere till the end when faith and hope are no longer needed, and all that’s left is Love. So, if today you find yourself with your head down and the weight of this world bringing confusion, lift up your head, get into God’s word, and be strengthened and “Keep Looking!” 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: Joshua 16-20 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Trust to God to weave your thread into the great web, though the pattern shows it not yet.” – George Macdonald

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, “The Lord be magnified!” Psalm 40:16

 

 

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Habit of Holiness

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“Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.” ~ J.C. Ryle

Imagine it being a hot day and you purchased an ice cold refreshing drink. Imagine opening the cap and seeing that clear liquid that’s about to cool your thirst … but then you notice ‘pieces’ floating in the liquid… they look like something that dead!

Do you drink it? It’s not pure… so has the drink lost its effectiveness to quench your thirst? Oh, your still thirsty, but the drink, because it’s ‘impure’, has become diminished in its appeal to assist you… and is tossed in the trash.

This is John’s argument for personal holiness. It is a mistaken belief that ‘the freedom found in Christ allows us to indulge in pleasures’ because we are saved. That’s like dropping ‘pieces’ into a refreshing beverage. John writes that, ‘the one who practices sin (drops the pieces in the drink) is of the ‘deceiver’; for the devil has sinned (operated against God’s design) from the beginning.’ He goes on to point out that, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil’ (1 Jn 3:8)

To put it another way, Jesus came to destroy all efforts that would corrupt you, keeping you from living at the level God created you for.

The one who understands the achievement and cost Christ paid for this purpose, also desires to be like Him in His Holiness. (vs. 3) The lifestyle of the Believer is of obedience to God’s Word or, as John says, ‘abiding in Him.’ This lifestyle will not be defined by ‘habitually sinning’ but in a reliance on God’s Spirit to assist in becoming holy as God is Holy. And if the Believer does sin, he knows he has an advocate with the Father (Jesus), and turns in repentance to seek forgiveness. (1 Jan 2:1-2)

Personal holiness is important to the effective life of the Believer, for it determines their ability to ‘abide’ or rest in a relationship with Christ. You know what having any kind of corruption (pieces) does to your relationships.. it makes them useless. It is no different when abiding in Christ… practicing sin weakens the relationship, making it ineffectual.

Jesus came and paved the way for your redemption and the giving of His Spirit so you could effectively ‘abide’ in Him. You have only to humble yourself and give up your willful pride, allowing Him to lead and guide you home to where you were always intended to be … abiding in Our Heavenly Fathers presence forever.

Choose wisely…

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life… Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

(John 3:16, 18)

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: Genesis 16-19 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “A true Christian desires to be free from sin, not to sin freely.” – PureFlix

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, “The Lord be magnified!” Psalm 40:16