How the pagan influences of Ephesus corrupted sound Biblical doctrine and led to the removal its lamp stand.Why Ephesus Lost A Lamp Stand to Paganism and Violence.
Preparing believers to endure through difficult times.
The Letter of first Thessalonians was written to the young church so that they would be encouraged in their faith; to patiently endure. Paul was concerned about the church because they had endured so much affliction in such a short time. Christians are always promised persecution and suffering.
Romans 5:3-5 ESV More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
What caused these believers to stand out
So what was it that they understood? What was the message they had received that caused them to become new believers?
Please check out the following study guide to assist you as we move through 1 Thessalonians. Join us live on Instagram @proof_of_your_faith
Monday -Friday at 10 P.M. Pacific Standard Time and on Saturdays at 9P.M. PST. Each Wednesday we will be going through the book of 1 Thessalonians.
Thessalonians Study Guide (Week 1)
Thessalonians Study Guide (Week 2)
Running Towards Wisdom
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 12:15 NASB
Like most teenagers, I had my rebellious moments with my parents. For some reason I earned a doctorate in pushing my dad’s buttons. It was not like I wanted to provoke my dad, I was just really good at it. One day after several months of tension and anxiety, my dad calmly sat me down and asked me if I wanted to be wise. “Of course, I want to be smart,” I blurted. My father smiled like a fox who was about to trap its prey.
He then replied, “I didn’t ask if you wanted to be smart, because I know you are. I asked, if you wanted to be wise. Do you want wisdom?”
“What is the difference,” I asked?
My dad then read this verse.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” James 3:17 NASB
He then asked, “Does this represent you?”
That wise fox! He got me. My dad loves wisdom. He knew how to cherish it wisely. His questions were piercing my heart, leaving me with no ground to argue.
“How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding.” Proverbs 3:13 NASB
Our behavior towards others needs to contain the attributes of seeking righteousness, seeking peace, being gentle, and being reasonable, Christians need to show mercy. We also need to be unwavering in truth, without hypocrisy. Our truth is bound in the knowledge of scripture. In that knowledge we must live out our lives without the hypocrisy of indulging in worldly behavior. We don’t run from Godly wisdom, we run towards it.
“When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2 NASB
So often in life we don’t want to be corrected, we accuse people of judging us, rather than seeking the wisdom of Godly correction. The Christian, who seeks God, must run towards correction and wisdom. The foolish person hates correction and wisdom. They falsely reject it as judgmental harshness.
“Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.” Proverbs 13:10 NASB
There is a difference between judging and correcting. Correction is wisdom based on experiences or knowledge. It is done in the hope that positive change will be made. Correction is encouraging a change in behavior that is sinful in the eyes of God. A wise person will take correction, reflect on the council they received and go to God with a humble and repentant heart.
“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21 NASB
As Christians we are not to judge the value of someone. We are never to judge someones salvation. For God values us all and He is the one who judges the heart. We judge behavior that goes against God, but we love the person. We do this in remembrance of our own sinful past. We are all sinners. It is only because of Jesus that a person is saved from their sins.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NASB
So what is our role? Our role is to be an ambassador. We are ambassadors of reconciliation. Since we have been reconciled to God through Jesus, we have a duty to bring the ministry of reconciliation to the world. We are to appeal to the hearts of the lost with love and gentleness, as Christ did for us. We make this appeal using wisdom, mercy, grace, and peace. There is no room for harshness, only love.
“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NASB
Be an ambassador, let the proof of your faith shine with Christ.
Murder, Church and Jesus
In life, the distractions we seek are the very ones that lead us away from Jesus. With our faith diminished by these distractions, we feel empty and angry at God, who in His love, is trying to get our attention. We need to pursue Jesus and leave everything else behind.
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 NASB
It was a cold and frosty fall Sunday evening in the small town of Big Bear, California. The year was 1967 and parishioners were gathered together in the local Baptist church to hear the pastor, my father, preach. Like most of my father’s sermons; it was scholarly, full of the Gospel and centered around God’s love for humanity. Unbeknownst to the congregation and my dad, a dramatic murder was about to take place.
In the midst of the sermon a lowly church mouse began to stir from its nest in the warm kitchen and venture out into the sanctuary meeting, that was taking place. The mouse quietly scurried its way between the metal folding chairs of those listening to the sermon, until she reached the center aisle of the church. Expert eye witness testimony reveals, that the mouse was mesmerized by the fluid prose of the pastor’s preaching. The mouse moved up the aisle and stopped to the side of the communion table, listening to every word of the sermon.
Having concluded the sermon, my father gave his trademark Gospel invitation for redemption. No one in the church stirred, except for the church mouse, who according to witnesses, moved forward and bowed her lowly head. With no one else coming forward, my dad gave the closing prayer. No sooner had he uttered the word, “Amen,” when a deacon with a callous heart threw his shoe. The shoe flew through the air, slamming the repentant mouse into the hard floor. In a moment of horrific evil, the saintly, praying, church mouse was dead.
Shock and disbelief spread through the church. Questions quickly arose: Why didn’t the deacon have his eyes closed during the prayer? How could this happen in a church service? My grief stricken brother, turned to the hardhearted deacon and hissed with contempt, “Murderer!” Tears flowed from other young children as the bloodied corpse of the saintly church mouse was removed.
This event took place a few years before I was born and before my birth restored peace and joy into my family’s home. (Actually, I came in like a hurricane, according to my older brother and sister.) Although this story is tragic and true, it points out the ease in which we are distracted as Christians. Tragically the focus of that Sunday night service was not supposed to be a mouse, but rather Jesus. This story points to three areas in a Christian’s life that we can lose our focus. We are easily distracted in our relationship with Jesus, in our prayer life, and when we face tragic or life altering events.
“I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” 1 Corinthians 7:35 NLT
OUR RELATIONSHIP: Sadly, no one in my family actually remembers what my dads sermon was about and I am sure neither do any of those parishioners. The great thing about my dad is that every sermon he preached always pointed to Jesus. Everything in our lives, every action we take, should point to Jesus. We should love like Jesus and live for Jesus. Our lives should be saturated with the hope that Jesus brings. We need to draw closer to God to fall more in love with Him.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT
IN TRAGEDIES: In life we will always face tragedies; but those tragedies should never interfere with our relationship with Jesus. Every trial we face builds a play book on God’s faithfulness. We review that play book to build our faith and to remind ourselves of His love and goodness. When Satan throws a “shoe” into our lives, our response will be seen by those searching for hope. How will this response define their view on Christianity?
The true Christian follows Jesus when things are going well, but also when life goes wrong. The followers of Jesus need to always exemplify the characteristics of kindness, compassion, love and selflessness. We need to be a light in the darkness and a hope in a world of tragedies. When others are distracted by fear and anger, we can provide the hope, love, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. It is in this behavior that we emulate what Christ did for us.
“But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.” Lord, you have come to my defense; you have redeemed my life.” Lamentations 3:55-58 NLT
IN PRAYER: My sister once asked the question, “How could a deacon of a church, plot a murder of a sweet mouse during a time he was supposed to be praying?” It is not a childish question. Ask yourself, how is your prayer time, could it be better? One of my favorite quotes on prayer is from Abraham Lincoln. In the midst of war, chaos and the stress of a presidency, nothing could distract him from prayer.
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” – Abraham Lincoln
In a previous blog post, The Crazy Chaos of a Busy Life…, I mentioned some of my own struggles with making Jesus a priority. Chaos, change and distractions will always come; but so will the grace of God. Focusing on Jesus is the only choice for a Christian.
Let me hear from you,
Fatherhood: The Reflections of Wins & Losses.
Fatherhood is a reflection of wins and losses. It reflects the changes you made to become better or worse. How will God view the way you raised your kids.
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” Psalms 127:3-5 NLT
In the next few days, my family and I will be celebrating the birthday of my daughter, Rebecca. For my daughter, this is an exciting time. In a year, she will be going off to college, where she will be forging ahead on her big plans and even bigger dreams. For me, I will put on a brave smile, and hide the heartbreak of letting my baby girl go into such a violent and cruel world. With each passing day comes the constant questions tormenting my soul:
“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.” Proverbs 3:13 NLT
Is she ready? Have I done my best in preparing her? How do I keep her safe? Am I ready to let her go? Did I fail her as a father? Do I kill her college boyfriend before or after I meet him? (Ok, I’m kidding on the last one, it will definitely be the dog who “accidentally” eats him.)
Any father will confess, that fatherhood is a series of successes, failures, and guilt ridden contemplations. The joys come in between the guilt and the perceived failures. The insanity of being responsible for the life of your child is enough to drive anyone to the brink of a mental break down. Being the parent of nine kids, it would be a miracle if I didn’t suffer from depression! (How my wife makes this look easy is beyond any rational understanding.)
When you bring your baby home from the hospital, there is no owners manual, to help you navigate through the pitfalls of being a parent. A good father does not rely on his own instincts, but looks to his Heavenly Father for guidance. Many times I have cried out to God for help, in small things, like how to snap a baby into one of those sleepers. No one thought of a man when they designed that complicated piece of clothing.
I have also gone to Jesus in the big things. When frustration sets in, and you just don’t know how to calmly approach a situation with your kids. Thank God, that He answers prayer and provides wisdom.
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” James 3:17 NLT
When I first held her in my arms, I wept. It was a particular hard time in my life. Rebecca was a joyful distraction and a healing to my soul. God knew that I needed her. From the moment she was born, she was a great kid, rarely a problem. (There was the one time that she traumatized her classmates in kindergarten by announcing, “Santa does not exist! He is a fat old fraud.” The tears that flowed from that class, could have solved a water shortage.) She sought the truth and questioned the ridiculous. God gave her a built in owners manual on how to deal with us, which surprised us with a few uncomfortable conversations about life, politics and faith.
During the early days of her life, we all endured some hard times. I was clueless or in denial about my depression and it was making everyone miserable. She suffered through the loss of her uncle and grandfather; while dealing with grieving and emotional parents. During that time I was a typical, obnoxious, casual “Christian”. It was a religion that I abused and twisted to my benefit. It is in those early days of her life, that I have my biggest regrets. I was selfish, arrogant, and oblivious to the way I treated people. I was a religious Pharisee. (See my poem: The Hypocrite)
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB
In spite of that, Rebecca drew very close to God, she became a Christian at a young age. She developed a keen understanding of moral behavior; blooming with compassion, forgiveness and kindness. It was through her devout love of Jesus, that I began to change. I slowly began to move from being a fan of Jesus to a committed follower. I would see this amazing girl beam with Jesus, praying, reading her Bible and influencing her friends to be positive role models. This convicted me, and brought me to truly surrender my life to Jesus.
God does not judge you on your wrong doings, He judges you on the ones that you arrogantly refuse to repent over. Humility before God, opens the hearts of your children to a loving and forgiving God.
In her older years, I have been a much better father. I have let her see what a repentant life looks like. I’ve owned my mistakes, apologized for wrongdoing, and humbled my self before God. I have strengthened her value system, encouraged a closer relationship with Jesus, and taught her the beauty of God’s grace and goodness.
“Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it. Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:5-6 NLT
As I release Rebecca into God’s hands, she will enter a world, knowing that she is loved and prayed for every day. She confidently knows that any mistakes I made as a parent; are mitigated by her relationship with Jesus Christ. She learned first hand from me to trust in the Lord Jesus and to lean on Him. Trusting in God will give her the peace of mind to know that Gods grace will be with her when she messes up, as long as she is humble and repentant. Living that way will also help me, as I lessen the mistakes I make with her brothers and sisters.
“God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NLT
Thank you all for the wonderful emails I have received. Your likes, comments and emails are much appreciated. God Bless you all.
You Have A Purpose!
God has a plan for your life. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” God imprinted His image on our DNA, so that we would know how much He loves us. The encoding information points to an Intelligent Design.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Atheists often ask the question of Theists, “Where did God come from?” The better question to ask is, “Where did spontaneous generation come from?” Spontaneous generation is the belief that the universe came from nothing. Where in science has this theory ever been duplicated? It hasn’t. Something cannot come from nothing. The Big Bang theory is flawed for this reasoning, as well as the fact that no explosion has ever produced any kind of life, rather explosions produce death, destruction, and chaos.
Dr. Harold Morowitz, a world renown physicist from Yale University and author of Origin of Cellular Life (1993), stated, ‘The odds for any kind of spontaneous generation of life from a combination of the standard life building blocks are one chance in 10E100000000000.”(That is a 1 followed by 100,000,000,000 ZEROS.) Morowitz, Harold J. Energy Flow in Biology. Academic Press, 1968.
If the improbability of spontaneous generation coming from a combination of standard life building blocks is unlikely; what are then the chances that this would happen from nothing? The reasoned explanation is to conclude what the Bible says:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” Genesis 1:1-3 NKJV
God created the universe, He brought it together with His Word. The disciple John gave us greater insight into creation, when he wrote:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4 NKJV
What John is telling us; is that the life force of the universe is Jesus, and that all life comes from Him. Since God created us then we can have can have the joyful understanding that we have a purpose. Compare this to the atheist philosophy.
When I see a quote like this, I am drawn to thoughts of my friend Jorri. No one I know is a more compassionate animal lover than her. She is particularly attuned to the suffering of animals. Her anger towards the indifference that others show to animals is only contrasted by her compassion and pity that she demonstrates to God’s creatures. Her disposition is not just another random act of the uncaring evolutionary process. Jorri’s purpose, design, emotions and characteristics were all carefully coded and imprinted into her DNA by a loving God. Jorri, as well as all of us were created with a purpose. This purpose was understood by The Psalmist David; he grasped the complexity in which he was created. David wrote these words:
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13-14 NASB
Our cell structures are literally woven by our DNA. Only God could have revealed this to David 4,000 years ago. What was once called the simple cell, by evolutionists, is now being called complex. The incredible complexity of our cells and DNA, demonstrates the thoughtful engineering of an Intelligent Designer. It is a deliberate, robust and unique pattern. Contrast this with the theory of random chance; that somehow miraculously happens again and again. The blind faith of atheists in their religion, evolution, is astonishing and misguided. Science through the understanding of our DNA is disproving Darwinian evolution. Darwin practically predicted its inevitable downfall.
“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down,” — Charles Darwin
Dr. Stephen Meyer argues this exact point. He believes that the encoding information of our DNA points to an Intelligent designer and not a random material process. It is too complex, too well organized and too intentional to be random.
“The DNA molecule is literally encoding information into alphabetic or digital form. And that’s a hugely significant discovery, because what we know from experience is that information always comes from an intelligence, whether we’re talking about hieroglyphic inscription or a paragraph in a book or a headline in a newspaper. If we trace information back to its source, we always come to a mind, not a material process. So the discovery that DNA codes information in a digital form points decisively back to a prior intelligence.”— Dr. Stephen C. Meyer (Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. HarperOne, 2010.)
In today’s world we are ignoring our need and purpose to engage in relationships. Society has become technology dependent, replacing human interaction, with texting. We have reduced relationships to social media comments. We delude ourselves with the lie calling this community. This is destructive and it is not our purpose!
The Apostle Paul, wrote this warning to us:
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10 NLT
Obviously, social media fails in this obligation. God made us to live together, in face to face relationships; to love, laugh, cry, and grieve with one another. This mirrors, how God desires to be in a relationship with us. God created us in His image, so our need to be relational must mean we received, this imprinted purpose, from Him by design in our very DNA.
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” Psalms 139:17-18 NLT
So, what does this all convey to us? It is simply, that each of us was meticulously thought out and intended to live with a purpose. It demonstrates that God is relational, and wants a relationship with us. God loves us and built our genetic code to be a representation of His Image. We have a purpose! We have a reason to live. It is because of God’s love that I choose life. I choose to live a life that is pleasing to the one who created me. It is God who divinely planned humankind to have a relationship with Him. When life becomes difficult, it is in God that I trust and not a process. I do this because because He understands me. He created me with a purpose.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NLT
Thanks for reading, please leave a comment I will respond. Please leave a like if you enjoyed the post and as always share this post with someone else, it may change a life.
Final Note: Many geneticists and chemical engineers are now moving to Intelligent Design as a rational explanation of the complexity of our biology. (See the links below)
Intelligent Design Wins Another Nobel Prize
This Book Changed My Mind On Intelligent Design
The Warning Bell is Sounding.
In small towns, bells were a way of gathering people together or of warning people of imminent danger. Today Jeremiah warns America of a danger reminiscent of 2500 years ago. The warning bell is sounding, but are we listening?
“This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ I posted watchmen over you who said, ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’ But you replied, ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’ “Therefore, listen to this, all you nations. Take note of my people’s situation. Listen, all the earth! I will bring disaster on my people. It is the fruit of their own schemes, because they refuse to listen to me. They have rejected my word.” Jeremiah 6:16-19 NLT
America is at a crossroad, we need to look around and pay attention. One of the false teachings commonly preached from the pulpit, is that the Old Testament is irrelevant. Many pastors will not even preach from it. They will tell their congregations that the New Testament did away with the Old Testament, that Jesus replaced it. This is a lie! The apostle Paul contradicts this heresy, when he wrote to Timothy these words:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
This means, that we are to pay attention to the Old Testament and heed its warnings. We need to study, meditate, contemplate, memorize and preach from the Old Testament. Today these passages are more relevant today, because of the warnings and prophecies they provide. One of the most ignored books of the Old Testament is the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was written approximately 2550-2600 years ago, few understand this books relevance and warnings that are current for today’s world. For the past several months I have been in a deep study of this book. It has left my soul distraught and in painful anguish. It has moved me to tears and indignation. Jeremiah was written to warn Judah of God’s coming wrath and judgments; but its prophetic warnings are applicable to America, which sits at the crossroad of God’s impending wrath. Please believe me, I do not like writing words this controversial. These words don’t come easily, my heart aches as I write them down. The warnings of Jeremiah are real and must be paid attention to.
“Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’?” Jeremiah 7:8-10 NKJV
Divorce, adultery and pornography are all to common in America. The entertainment industry loves to propagate filth and obscenities, and we love to soak it up. Why is it, that we think it is okay to watch sex scenes, but scream when a person is a “peeping tom”?There is no difference in the eyes of a just God.
We have become a nation of idol worshipers, putting everything and anything as more important than obedience to God and His word. Even our laws have become corrupted and politicized.
Our nation is in peril, because of our hypocrisy. We sing, “God Bless America” in one breath and without hesitation, we commit ourselves to every and all abominations that would grieve the heart of God.
Does the world we live in today reflect the prophetic message of Jeremiah’s time?
According to the commentary, “The Message of Jeremiah,” the author gives some examples of the similarities that exist in our world today. Here is an abbreviated summery:
- “Collapse of an old world order, fear over new threats to world stability.”
- “Religious confusion among God’s own people.”
- “Social evils abounded: inequality, cheating, injustice and immorality.”
- “Political abuse of power to stifle dissent: Prophets who spoke the truth were silenced; Jeremiah, for opposing the official position of the political and religious establishment.” (Jeremiah was met with hostility, ostracism, false accusations, physical abuse and even death threats.)
- “Abuse of religious power: False prophets and corrupt priests cushioned the government from the voice of God or conscience, and colluded in social evils and immorality.”
Wright, Christopher J. H. The Message of Jeremiah: against Wind and Tide. IVP Academic, 2014.
Today we speak of a “New World Order”. Globalism and Socialism are now in the mindset of many Americans. Many claim to be Christians, but have now understanding of what that means. Many churches are turning away from the scripture and abandoning the laws of God. Social evils abound everywhere; inequality, cheating, injustice and immorality are collapsing the moral compass of America. Political abuses are horrendous on both sides of the political isle and churches are full of false teachers and greed. The similarities are obvious!
“Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD.” Jeremiah 17:5 NKJV
In the end, God wiped out all of Israel. He had Jerusalem destroyed, The temple burned to the ground and the Jewish people carried off into slavery. God did this because His anger burned against their wickedness and disobedience. God gave His “chosen people” many chances to repent and turn from their ways, but they would not listen. The wrath of a just and loving God is coming to America. This conflicts with many, they have created God in their image by manipulating the Bible. This is called idol worship.
“But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Jeremiah 12:17 NLT
I know, many of you are rolling your eyes. You don’t believe in a God of wrath and you also don’t believe that a loving God has limits to His patience. As a parent their are times that I get angry with my kids and discipline them. I take no joy in grounding them or taking away privileges, but it does not change my love for my children. It is the same way for God. Many people say they love God, but few honor God with living obedient lives before Him. Their speech, conduct and lifestyles are in open rebellion to God. So what would a just God do?
The Apostle Paul said this:
“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” Romans 2:5 NASB
This is scary to know that there is a boiling point to God’s anger. We must turn from our ways and cry out to God to change our nation, our states, our cities and homes. Individually, we need to stop pointing fingers at others and look at our own lives and ask God if we are right with Him; for God is not just a God of wrath, but one of love and compassion and forgiveness. He desires that we live justly before Him.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 NASB
The greatest attribute of God is His love for us. Yes, God is full of grace. His goodness leads us to humility and repentance. Jesus paid our penalty; for our rebellion, with His blood.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:8-10 NASB
God provided His Son as a ransom for the sins of all humanity.
So why do we think it is acceptable to push the limits of God’s grace?
Shouldn’t our rebellion against Him be punished?
We need to be a Holy people before God. We need to honor God’s love and grace with a lifestyle of Holiness. We need to go from being a fan of Jesus, to a committed follower.
So what can we do?
- Get rid of everything that God would not want in your life. Don’t lie to your self.
- Pray ask God to forgive you and turn away from your old life.
- Get back to reading your Bible. Stop the excuses. Just do it!
- Share this message of Jeremiah with others. Pray for our Nation! Share the Gospel, time is running out.
- Go to a church that preaches the word of God. Not words that make you feel good. Be convicted! The fear of the Lord is a good thing. It keeps you repentant and blameless before God.
- Show more love to others than you receive. Let people see Jesus in you.
- Make your Christianity a lifestyle, not just an affiliation.
Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or email me.
Jesus, The Personal Savior.
Intimacy is important in relationships & in our prayer life. Do you know Jesus? Is your Christianity defined by the tattoo inked on your body? God wants more. He wants to engage us in a deeper relationship.
Have you ever been asked the question, “Are you a Christian?” This is a common question; that is asked to determine religious affiliation. Many Americans casually call themselves Christians, as if they are fans of the religion. The question that should be asked is, “Do you know Jesus?” or “Are you a follower of Christ?”.
“Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.”
Mark 1:29-31 NKJV
As we look at the beginning of this story we are reminded that there was an intimacy in the relationship between the disciples and Jesus. The disciples knew Jesus, followed Jesus and spent time with Jesus. They had just finished visiting the synagogue and were heading to the home of Simon Peter and Andrew, where they planned to fellowship and eat. Here is where the story begins to develop into an intimate portrait of what having a relationship with Jesus can be like.
According to Luke, a doctor, Simon’s Mother in law was with high fever. (Luke 4:38) In those days a fever was deadly. There was no Tylenol or Advil to help with the reduction of fever. In fact the rituals of the time were quite barbaric in dealing with a high fever. She needed a miracle.
What separates the fans of Christianity from the followers of Jesus Christ, is spiritual intimacy. We should know our Savior beyond “Just Faith”. There are two lessons on intimacy that we can learn from this passage of scripture.
1. The disciples knew Jesus well enough to know that He would hear their petition and that He would respond to their needs.
Do you know Jesus like this?
2. We need to go immediately to Jesus with everything.
Most people go to God only when they need something. The scripture tells us that the disciples immediately went to Jesus and told him about Simon’s mother in law. Notice that they did not go to others and ask them to talk to Jesus, they went to Jesus directly. I am not saying that you shouldn’t ask others to pray for you. What I am saying is that you need to go to Jesus first and immediately. The relationship with Christ is a personal one. One that is not hung on a banner or wrapped around a cross on your neck. It is a daily communication between you and your savior. It is one of intimacy. The Disciples knew Jesus, because they spent time with Him and listened to His teachings. This is why we must spend time in Gods word, the Bible. Everything we need is in the love letter that God has given us. Read His love letter!
Another example of prayer is from Daniel:
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
When communication is constant and direct it leaves little room for wondering if that person is real, and what they want. The same is with Jesus. Relationships that fail usually do so because of a lack of communication. When we purposely draw near to God, He draws near to us. A transformation comes when we move from faith to believing and from believing to knowing. When we know God, we will be filled with understanding and peace. We will know His will because we are constantly dwelling in His presence. Do not be afraid to go to God with your pain, your grief, your sins and your needs. Let God know your suffering. King David did this better than anyone, The Psalmist often shocks me, in how he confronts God. It is reverent but very direct; yet David with all of his sins and crimes was called a man after God’s own heart.
Once we go to God in prayer we learn from Mark that Jesus is there to comfort us. Notice in verse 31, it says that Jesus took her hand. The taking of the hand is a sign of comfort. When we go to Jesus immediately with our daily concerns and needs, He comforts us through the Holy Spirit and guides us. Jesus gives us the ability to endure any situation.
When my daughter Hannah was younger, she loved to sit in the front seat of my car and hold my hand. I once asked her, why she did this and she told me it was because it made her feel safe and good. When you pray, ask Jesus to take your hand and walk you through your prayer life.
Jesus is always with us. The Holy Spirit is our comforter. God is the Father that we need. So reach out to Him and pray. A prayer life is a #proofofyourfaith.
What lies do we tell ourselves? Are we judging others, mocking them, do we see our own failures and hate what we have become?
In life, we love to point the finger at others. We love to judge others, but maybe we need to look at ourselves. Jesus spoke against hypocrites, He said:
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
We live in a world full of hypocrites, myself included. God loves us and will forgive us if we seek forgiveness and turn away from judging, name calling and hypocrisy. We must learn to love one another, as Christ loves us.
Hear is another of my poems to go along with these two:
I Need to Know the Cost
Old Weary Me
Oh what a hypocrite that I be,
To live in the sin that pleasures me.
It’s not on the outside that you see,
It’s the hypocrite inside of me.
I go to church and sing the songs,
Knowing that I don’t belong.
You might catch a tear in my eye,
But it’s sin where I choose to lie.
Oh what a hypocrite that I be,
To live in the sin that pleasures me.
Maybe I should, maybe I would,
To live a life that might look good.
Narrow and hard is the way;
But pleasure is the road I stray.
One night I had a frightening dream,
That I stood before our God Supreme.
Oh the hypocrite that I be, in my heart God could see.
The lies that I lived so burdened me.
The God I mocked began to scold,
To hell I would go, for the sins I sow.
Just as the flames began to heat;
Awaken I did, my death to beat.
Oh the hypocrite that I be,
No longer a desire found in me.
I fell to the ground on bended knee
That Jesus would set me free.
My heart He did change inside of me,
No longer the hypocrite for God to see.
Oh the hypocrite I used to be,
Washed in the blood that set me free!
© 2018 Stephan Caraway. All Rights Reserved
Thank you for visiting this blog. I am grateful to all those who provide comments and feedback. Once again I am not a poet; with that said, I was inspired to write this poem. Please provide feed back, I will respond to your comments. Thank you for visiting proofofyourfaith.com
The God We Should Worship
What separates Islam from Christianity is the core belief that Jesus is God and that salvation can only come through Him.
How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. –Psalm 40:4
There has been much discussion about whether Muslims worship the same God as Christians. The most peculiar part of the discussion has been the lack of scripture used by those in support of the claim that Muslims do in deed worship the same God. Most have even failed to support the very basic tenants of Christianity. These prideful, well-meaning individuals have lapsed into falsehood. So let us begin with the very core of Christian doctrine, Jesus. For the Christian everything begins and ends with Jesus. Jesus said this in the the Gospel of John, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
Jesus was stating that eternal life comes through him. He later claimed in John 10 that He and God are one. (John 10:30) Muslims do not believe this, they believe that Jesus was a prophet and therefore could not grant the forgiveness of sins. It is this unbelief in the incarnate Christ that separates Muslims from Christians. Jesus argued against this unbelief when he said, “He who rejects me rejects the One who sent me.”(Luke 10:16) This means that if you reject that Jesus is God then you are rejecting God and his love for you and you are rejecting the purpose of why Jesus came.
Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)
The Muslim rejects Christ as the Savior of the world and is repulsed by what the cross represents. They do not even believe that Jesus died on the cross. (Surah 4:157-158 Qur’an) They “worship” a God made in their own image, this is what God refers to as an idol. Muslims deny the Holy Trinity of God and they deny the Deity of Jesus. The scripture says,
And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9)
The follower of Christ is drawn to the cross of Jesus with tear filled repentance and worships God for what he has done. (John 3:16) We recognize that it is nothing we could do but it is all about what Jesus did on the cross. This is why Paul said in 1Corinthians that we are to preach Christ crucified. In the end it is all about love, the love God has for us and the love Christ showed for us on the cross. It is about a love that we can’t repay, it is a love that binds the broken hearted and saves the lost. It is the love for what Jesus did on the cross that causes us to surrender to God and with a deep gratitude we worship Him, as our God. It is this love that heals our soul. Let me leave you with these words from the mouth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world…