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God at work through you

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God at work through you

We had one person who made negative attack comment on Stephanie’s post on Monday’s Facebook post about our financial crisis and need to…. ( click link to read online)

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Coconut gods

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Coconut gods

When you describe only one attribute of someone, are you actually describing that person, or are you creating a false image of them? Lets make an analogy.  A man became stranded on a tropical island with no fresh water and he was about to die, but he had a two-way radio with signal in which I could communicate with him, and let's assume I knew for a fact that that island had coconut trees with water filled coconuts and it was the right season for young coconuts, but that man knew very little about coconuts and the life-giving water found inside.

 

coconut shell

Say I talked to him and told him about how wonderful coconuts were.  That coconuts are brown on the outside and have this fibrous husk and wood-like shell, and maybe I talked about how the coconut can be made into nice little wooden bowls.  Would I be doing that poor thirsty person any good?  No, not unless it rained before he died! If I told him coconut is wood, and certainly they are wood all over; would I be giving that person a real and accurate view of what a coconut really was?   It's inaccurate to tell someone a coconut is wood only, it's a partial or a functionally incomplete description the thing called a coconut and its benefits. Actually quite a useless conversation to that person dying of thirst. Although it's really not inaccurate to say coconuts have fibrous hard shells; to say that only in describing a coconut to someone who does not know what a coconut is, would be a part-truth that is in reality a deception or a lie; a distortion of truth. A false image. The image I described above in reality is a false image of what a coconut really is.

In this story above, not only is it a twisting of truth, it's downright evil, because I have knowledge of the truth of how that coconut could save his life, but I did not inform and help him find the full useful truth of that coconut. Truth is vitally important to someone who does not know enough of it.  Coconuts are so much more than wood!  Wood is one of many attributes of a coconut. Coconuts are full of water and nutritious fleshy food also. Their husks make great firewood for cooking and warming . Later in their cycle they can be pressed into beneficial oils.  There are many attributes of coconuts.  Nothing at all what you would think if all you knew was what I said above.

What am I getting at?

Many well-meaning people today are giving a false reality of who God is and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has made it very clear. He hates falsehood! He hates false images being made of him, misrepresenting him as something lopsided or one dimensional emphasizing only the attributes of which we prefer for our own selfish reasons!  God spoke long ago and even coded it into the law given Moses .  "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth." (Ex 20:4).  Then Jesus Christ himself repeated this timeless truth when he spoke to the woman at the well in John 4:23-24 when he said,"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

Truth.  God wants us to know him in truth, through the empowerment of his Spirit  though our spirits. Truth is so important because if we misrepresent

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it in some important way as to leave someone with a twisted or one-sided view of God, then they like the man above in the fictional story, will likely perish.

We need to care about people enough to tell them the truth about God as graciously as possible. I recently watched the TV special of "The Passion" play, hoping in vain that truth about Jesus Christ might be brought out in such a way as to demonstrate what the love of God was all about some 2000 years ago when Jesus died for us. I turned off the TV feeling so incomplete and unfulfilled.  It really only spoke of Gods love in a confusing way and for us to love our fellow man and basically all get along.  They all sang familiar hit songs of modernity that wrought out human emotions and many were in tears watching and enjoying what they felt was the Love of God on display. But was it really?

What we saw on TV that day was a false image, an Idol. The very thing God hates! The Gospel of Christ and the passion of which it was conceived and brought forth in to living flesh was only done in response to the eternal holiness and justice of God Almighty! Yahweh, God I AM, cannot and will not let the guilty go unpunished. Listen to what God said about himself to Moses: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex 34:6-7)

This God of love, who is very much described as Love throughout the Bible, is also the God from which all mankind must learn to tremble...tremble...TREMBLE! He is high and lifted up in extreme searing holiness! Even the demons bow before Jesus and tremble in fear!  (James 2:19) But rarely does proud and arrogant man. No. We just want to add Jesus to our portfolio of niceties and love songs to make us feel happily deluded so we can go about our way living as we so please. But God, he is a perfect God in whom no darkness exists ( 1 John 1:5) and who requires each and every one of us to likewise be perfect as He is perfect (Matt 5:48) in order to not face judgement to a life in eternal fire punishment! (Matt 13:42)  The Word of God says, "Our God is a consuming fire!" (Heb 12:29)  The Gospel is good news of God!  But good news about what? It is in the Gospel we come to see the true love of God and what HE did to rescue us.  But what was Jesus really rescuing us from?  Was it from Satan and hell?  Sure..but what is hell and what is the power of Satan over us?  It's quite simply the justice of God being worked out in our lives for all our lawlessness and rebellion....for our sins. There was only one mention of the word sin on that Passion TV show that I heard when Perry said Christ came to save from our sins. But in this world, who knows what this means?  No one speaks of it anymore. We are all told we are basically good people who just need a little direction and love of God in our lives. Who doesn't want love?  Sure we all like that. But what we do not like is to be told we are sick and utterly ruined and depraved to the  core! But without this part of the Truth, we will not repent and we will accept a false vision of God, not God at all, but a coconut god, an Idol. Yet this is what we are and this is why Jesus came to die. He humbled himself and the majestic Son of God became like one of us to die and become the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God to atone for our evil doings.Without the shedding of pure blood there is no forgiveness of sin! (Heb 9:22) God alone could only do this because no person, no not one of us is good and thus are unable to save ourselves from the very righteous ANGER from God over sin (Rom 3:10); God the very One who created us in love  to know him intimately and be his children. God's love compelled him to do this for us, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!  (Rom 5:8) This is the real God of the Bible.  The God who hates sin, and the God who came and died for our sins, and then proved his power over sin and death and rose victoriously from the grave on that Resurrection Sunday! Do you really think God would go to all that extreme measure if He did not  both love His holiness and his people? Gods blood took place of our eternal punishment! Christ paid the price and took the blows from the justice of God the Father! This God demands holiness. You must likewise be holy in order to live. Come before him unclean and you perish forever in Gods burning wrath! So by God's grace and love he did for us what we could not ever do. He spilled his own atoning blood.

But... But not everyone has their sins atoned.  While the blood of Christ is enough to atone for all peoples sins, only those who choose to follow Jesus by surrendering their life to him and be his forever slave will find this great and eternal Salvation and be set free!  Jesus said it in many ways, but in a succinct manner in John 3:16 " God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."  But it is not enough to leave it at that one summary statement, we must hear the full counsel of Gods Word and the teachings of Jesus and see the bigger picture of truth so we do not end up with a crazy coconut belief about God.   Jesus explained what it means to believe and he demonstrated it. He said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."(Luke 14:26)  Belief means obeying and following Jesus as Master and owner, forsaking all else as of little importance compared to him. This is the Jesus of Calvary who died for us!  This is the God who calls us to "repent" and have obedient faith! When we fall on our knees before him willing to surrender it all to him, then we are given the new life of the Spirit, born-again into the eternal family of God with new power to overcome sin and live for Him. This is what the Gospel is about, humbling ourselves before God so that HE will then lift us up! This is love, not that we loved him, but that he loved us first and called us out from among sin and death to live no longer for ourselves, but for him who was crucified and rose from the grave, our Master... Jesus of Nazareth!

No more Coconut gods !  Please no more just talking about the love of God out of context of how and why that love was expressed on on the bloody Roman cross!  Go help people see the real God; the real Jesus living in you and preach in loving grace, knowing but by the grace of God, we too should have perished, but preaching the truth of the holiness of God and the wickedness of man. For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God...Every human needs to repent.

Jesus came to declare the Truth. His truth is this: We all are sinners, utterly wicked by comparison to Holy God. We all will perish by the very anger of God against us for our sins. God loves us so much he came and died for us in the person of Jesus Christ and rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven. Truth is we must repent and accept by humble faith God's free offer of salvation  in order to receive Christ's atoning blood as our payment and restoration. This faith means following and obeying Christ as Master of everything in your life.

Truth is... This is the Biblical faith that saves!

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. - 2 Cor 5:21

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Learning to lean

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Learning to lean

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Jesus said "...And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." I never worry anymore about clothing or food or basic needs for myself. I could stand here and say that is because I have fully learned to trust in God as my caretaker and provider, but that would be a lie. I don't worry about these things for myself because I am abundantly blessed with too much in this life. Sadly I have not learned this art of trust as well as some like those who About-Face Missions is called to support. I rarely get opportunities like the people and pastors that AFM help monthly with buying food, clothing, medicine and other basic needs so that they can live productive lives for the Lord. This is part of our calling. Yes;  we also help send them funds for Bibles, evangelistic outreaches, and discipleship needs. We feel both are critical to really love like Jesus loves. But I fail at times to trust in God like some more faithful ones do. So many we have chosen to partner with live on the edge and have learned to lean on Jesus like I never have. Men like Samson Walala, Kennedy Simiyu and John Tino in Kenya,  sister Norah Nakabugo or Buyinza Daniel in Uganda, pastor Daryl or Christopher Samonte in the Philippines, faithful humble men like Manikumar Gude and Nagavath Ganesh in India, or Ram Bahadur BK in Nepal or Munir in Pakistan. These people, their wives and co-workers are those who I see as men and women in God's hall of fame!  Men and women of faith and perseverance and trust in Christ. Kennedy Simiyu, for instance, hopes in God much better than I.  I wished I could say I was a spiritual giant for Jesus, but sometimes I feel I am so far away. God allowed one of our larger monthly donors for AFM Mercy School to have significant business slowdown, so we lost that $500 a month support for who knows how long. My heart was aching for weeks over how we can make up for this huge loss, and what to do. Were we to lay off a couple teachers and send some kids or workers home and cut way back? That loss is about 1/3 of our monthly school budget! I was praying for God to come to the rescue and send in some extra donors and funds to help make up for this, but frankly I was worried and getting heartsick over it all. I mentioned to Kennedy that we probably would not be able to continue our medical care preventative treatments for the kids, lay off the doctor and likely some other workers, and ration food by giving the kids less to eat. I was sad having to tell him all this as we came up on the last day of the month this past weekend. After all, for the past two months every couple days Kennedy has been telling me that they desperately need funds for buying cloth so the ladies can start sewing new uniforms for the kids.  It will take about $900 to buy enough material to create uniforms for all the kids just to have one new outfit for the entire year. He asked about us raising just $300 so we can get started with the most needy ones who are without a uniform or the most tattered... But I have had to say we cannot, because we don't have enough even for the basic food and medicine budgets.

Todays AFM Mercy school photo2-1-16

....But Kennedy kept telling me not to worry, trust in God and he will provide! It's easier said than done by one as so used to being self-sufficient and spoiled as I. My energy and hope was fading and I was growing less and less willing to even tell people of the needs anymore, because of the little to no responses. My own personal debts have been rising too fast lately due to last year's weddings and expenses and I felt too financially squeezed to give any more personally without digging myself deeper into a financial hole... I was sinking in my hope, thinking maybe God wants us to change course and abandon what we are doing in Kenya. Also on my mind was how do I pay for another trip to Kenya this April to encourage our brothers and sisters as planned to help build them up, when I am feeling so low myself and under too much worry and stress. Then on top of this,  my Ugandan adopted son Ronald Mutebi sent me a message that the group of College students he leads on Evangelism missions are heading off to western Uganda on a Church planting mission where his friend Joseph wants to pastor a mission Church to an unreached group. He said they are short about $400, but really need $250 to buy local language Bibles for this mission next week! Oh this is so much where my heart is and I wanted so badly to say yes we will send you all that money, but my heart sank knowing all the other shortages we have in personal and AFM financial means. We didn't even make up for our overdrawn funds from last year and started in a deficit because December giving was down a bit.... **Sigh**   So I told Ronald I would pray about and and seek the Lord's will. I lifted it to God, somewhat halfhearted not thinking He was really going to provide. See? See what little faith I have sometimes....SMH.

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I don't tell my wife about every need and thing that comes along in AFM business because I have to "regulate" how much time I devote to AFM so she won't feel deprived of my love and affections for her. I do tend to get consumed in my projects and passions. But I decided to tell her last night that our finances were tight and that Ronald was really needing at least $250 for Bibles to help reach these tribal people in Western Uganda on  his Makerere University BCOM mission trip he was helping lead. I told her I wanted us to seek the Lord if there was any way we could cut back on something else and help this immediate need. I told her this while we were sitting around watching TV Sunday night. During some commercial break she disappeared upstairs and came back down and handed me 2 one hundred dollar bills with this goofy look on her face and said, "Here! I tucked this away for a rainy day when I had extra knowing that one of our kids would come asking for help with something. So our kid in Uganda needs it, send it to him!" HA HA! Wow, I was thinking we could squeak out another $150 or so by me emptying out my change jar of coins I had saved up, but now we could more than meet Ronald's minimum need! Hallelujah!! Then Monday morning Kennedy sent me some photos of the teachers working and the kids at our school to encourage us (above is one of them taken this Monday), and yet I was still cautioning him that the food and medicine money would likely be very short this month... But he kept faith and said God will provide! Amen. Yes I love my brothers faith, it too encourages me when I am weak. So I had to say, "We will trust in God to provide!" What else could I do. Then today I came home from work. I opened the mailbox and found an unusually large donation from one of God's children of guess how much! $500! The exact amount we were short from the other person who had to suspend their giving! Whoohoo! Praise God! All I can say is THANK YOU JESUS! Our God is good!

I sit here typing with tears hearing Jesus say to me "O ye of little faith, trust in God, Don't you know how I dress the lilies of the field, how they grow? They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if I so clothe the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will I not much more clothe you and those you love?"

Yes Lord. I am listening. I believe. Help me with my unbelief!

AFM friends and family. We still have many needs. We don't have all the days ahead of us all figured out. We still must trust in God daily, monthly and yearly; but there is no better place to be, than fully standing in his grace, leaning on Jesus! God is working and will continue to work with or without us, but the cool thing is He will bless others through us, if we just hold on to faith and keep doing our parts... blessings untold will be ours! We have the privilege to enter into God's glorious works...and rejoice full of hope and life!

God bless each one of you! Let us rejoice and press on for His glory and love!

PS... Thank you to all who have been involved in helping us love all 130 or so little ones at our AFM Mercy Foundation Schoolkids in class2016 and helping make Jesus Christ real to so many impoverished little ones and families in Western Kenya. We are saving lives both physically and eternally! If you want to help us meet our future needs through monthly or one time gifts please visit our website for ways to give.  http://www.aboutfacemissions.com/donate  to to learn more about our school ministry visit this link http://www.aboutfacemissions.com/ourministries/mercy-school    There is a lot of need in the world, endless really...but we together can make a real difference in some lives and see the smile of God in our own hearts and lives.

 

 

 

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Time to wake up and live.

Time and again when people died in this life Jesus has made it known that they are not really dead.   We can either take great comfort in this or take great fear depending in your standing with God,  because life is much greater than we know or imagine. We live currently at the tip of the iceberg of life only seeing just a small fragment of what life is and will be. When Jesus went to resurrect the rulers little girl in the text below, was Jesus lying when he told the mourners to go away because the little girl was not dead, but only asleep? Do you think these people back then were so ignorant to not be able to detect lack of heart-beat or breath? No..They were all too familiar with death of the body. More so than most of us today. Yet Jesus referred to her as sleeping. Much like his conversation with Mary at the bodily death of Lazarus where he said we never really die, he is revealing to us that he created us all as eternal souls to live forever and our all too familiar bodies dying is not the end of our lives, but rather just the beginning. Yet as he and the Father have ordained, this small segment of our life will determine all of eternity for us. When he could speak in this way about the little girl because he being God in flesh, knew well the temporal-ness of this current body and phase if life and God sees things much differently than we. It behooves us to look more at life though the eyes of Christ, and look way beyond the grave and death of this body. For the redeemed in Christ who love him and know his love, we have great hope in seeing a new creation and a gloriously resurrected new body to come, yet for those living for self and sin, they have great despair, because this is as close as they get to come to heaven and the blessings of God. And obliteration is not an option no matter how badly they hope it to be.  The will face eternal wrath of God in the lake of fire. If you believe and care for anyone, then we must do our part to help them come to Jesus while there still is time. For it is appointed unto man once to die, but after that judgment. 

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And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. -Matthew 9:23-25 ESV

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O God my exceeding joy!

Singing your praises uplifts my heart, for you are a fountain of delight, and do bless the soul that joys in you.image

But because of my hearts rebellion, I cannot always praise you as I should; yet I will at all times rest myself in your excellencies, your goodness, and loving-kindness.

In Jesus, you are the object of inexpressible joy, and I take exceeding pleasure in the thought of you.

But Lord, I am sometimes as though your enemy; my nature revolts and wanders from you.

Help me to extol you with my entire heart-submission, to be diligent in self-examination, to ask myself whether I live as one born-again, whether my spirit is as that of your child, whether my griefs are those that bring repenting hearts, whether my joys are the joys of faith, whether my confidence in Christ works in love and purifies the soul.

Give me the sweet results of faith, in my secret character, and in my public life.

Cast cords of love around my heart, then hold me and never let me go!

May the Saviors wounds sway me more than the scepter of princes.

Let me love you in a love that covers and swallows up all, that I may not violate the pure union with all of your beloved!

There is much unconquered territory in my nature, so scourge out the buyers and sellers of my souls temple, and give me in return pure desires and longings after perfect holiness with you my dear Lord. 

This is my prayer, my Father;  My God, my Savior!

Amen.

My prayer today adapted from "A ministers praises, Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers "

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Man a Nothing

O Lord, I am a shell full of dust,But animated with an invisible rational soul And made anew by an unseen power of grace; Yet I am no rare object of valuable price, But one who has nothing and is nothing, Although chosen by you from eternity! Given to Christ and born again!

I am deeply convinced of the evil and misery of my sinful state, Of the vanity of creatures, But also of the sufficiency of Christ. When you would try to guide me, I control myself. When you would be sovereign, I rule myself. When you would take care of me, I do it myself. When I should depend on your provisions, I supply myself. When I should submit on your providence, I follow my will. When I should study, live, honor, trust you, I serve myself. I fault and correct your laws to suit myself. Instead of you, I look to man's approbation, his approval. I am by nature an idolater!

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to you! Convince me that I cannot be my own God! Or make myself happy, Nor be my own Christ to restore my joy; Nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, and rule me.

Help me to see that grace does this by the will of your afflictions, For when my credit is good, you cast me lower, When riches are my idol, you make them grow wings, When pleasure is my all, you do turn it into bitterness. You are the good God who does what it takes to transform my corrupted heart! Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart; Show me Jesus that none of these things can heal a wounded conscience, Or support this tottering frame, or uphold a departing spirit. Then O God, I implore you, take me to the cross, And leave me there! Yes...leave me there where your blood flows down and washes me clean..... This I pray. 

Amen

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My prayer for today, adapted and inspired by 'Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers"

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Pray for God's justice.

It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them. - Deut 32:35 I have heard it said by god hater atheists/agnostics that they cannot believe in a egocentric genocidal God of the Bible who kills men, women and children. But then again if you asked them if there was a group of people capturing, torturing and murdering their own children and family members and other innocent people they did not like, would they not deem it just to bring those bloodthirsty people to justice? And give them what they deserved, equal punishment for equal crime?

Now we humans live in an imperfect world and we cannot see or know all the intents of the heart. So when humans administer justice we tend to either do it unjustly or err on the side of leniency because of our fear of being wrong or inability to know a persons future actions of either continuation in evil or reformation. We are not all knowing.

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But not so with God. You see it's not egocentric as in a bad thing, when the center and foundation of all that exists demands that we recognize him for who he is. If I buy a pet dog and love it and care for it, it is not egocentric to demand that the dog love me and respect me as its master and owner. If it constantly runs off and seeks the affections of others or its own pleasures I would naturally go try to fetch it and discipline it to teach it proper honor. If the dog refuses my affections and love and hates me and bites me, I will take it and have it put to death, because what worth is there in a possession that brings me misery and pain and has proven it is reprobate beyond repair? Even more so with the just and true God. God created every living thing and for a purpose. If we who are given free will, to choose or reject God and choose to hate him, "bite" at him, run from him, and never submit to his corrections to reform and love him what good are we to him? After all we are a creature created by him and FOR him. The very living cells in us function and are alive because of the power of Jesus Christ who sustains all things! At any moment all he needs to do is say "enough" and withhold his providential giving of life and breath to you or me and we die. These ignorant agnostics think too much of themselves; and their own pride to be the ruler of their own lives has blinded them. Yet for us who are submitted to God in Christ, we are to love them and teach them the truths of God as kindly as we can, that he created them for himself in love not hate, and if we hate and disobey him we will suffer justice at some point.

If God ends someone's life here it is never unjust. Does not a Potter who is molding clay have the right to smash his creation and start over if it does not reflect what he is creating it to be? For man to say that God is unjust in wiping out even the entire earth and all that is in it, including every man, woman and child, the potter has to right to rework his creations. It's not wrong nor unjust. It's only wrong for one of his creations to object to anything he is doing. This goes for all his creatures... Whether in submission or not. He is true to his word, so those who are submitted to him can rest assured that all that God is doing in their lives, even painful things, are for our ultimate good according to his will.

In my reading in Revelation 8 I once again see this word picture of our prayers wafting before God. It says in vs 4-5, " And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake."

God relates to us the sweet incense of our prayers to him....and in context here we are seeing Gods Judgment being dealt out in response to the prayers of his saints. You see, while we are to love our enemies and pray for them, we also are called to value and love justice and goodness and pray for just vengeance from God to all who continue to do evil.

In Rev 6:10-11 we see the prayers of the slain Saints being heard. " And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also." God says vengeance is his...and he will avenge all injustice among his creatures. He is Holy and True.

Yet the word pictures given us here is that God is breathing deeply of the prayers of his people to avenge the injustices among us. Notice what happens immediately after breathing our prayers in Rev 8:5. In our prayers for us to better love our enemies and serve them, we must not shy away from praying for the justice of God to come upon all who continue in sin. It is okay to pray for evil ones to be vanquished by God's mighty hand, but just not our role to take that vengeance into our own hands. God has created for mankind the institution of Government to deal with evil and gave them the power of the "sword", which means death if so needed. So for us now we must pray for evil ones to come to repentance and faith, or justice to be dealt out on them, and serve them in love hoping that even they will come to know the life changing love in Christ Dfaith Jesus we have found. But by the grace of God there we all would be. God hears and will respond in due time. In the end God will make all things right.

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God- Micah 6:8 Justice is fully interwoven along with Mercy in God't nature. Live justly and mercifully and pray for it likewise to come to all people.

So be it.

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Living like a slave to a perfect Master

When your natural flesh is pulling and tempting you to do what you know is wrong and that which goes against the Holiness of the Spirit of Christ living in you, how do you react?  The easy and broad road that leads to destruction is our natural path. We must look for the hard way; the narrow way; the way that brings life. We must bring our minds and bodies under submission to Christ and the Holy Spirit who will help us if we only try.   Praise be to God who will make us continuous overcomers if we just try! Go and make every moment dedicated to Jesus! He saved you and will continue to do so! It's not by your own power you overcome anyhow...It's by the Spirit alone. So let's stop taking "rest breaks" in this race for the holiness of Christ and buffet our bodies into submission to Jesus as our Lord and King!  In Christ we shall overcome! Press on soldiers... The victories are ours!

You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. So run to win! All those who compete in the games use self-control so they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time, but our crown will never be destroyed. So I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air. I treat my body hard and make it my slave so that I myself will not be disqualified after I have preached to others. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NCV

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Kept by God

Yahweh, Almighty God,You are the  Creator, Upholder, Owner of all things, I cannot escape your presence or control,    nor do I desire to do so. My privilege is to be under the rule of omnipotence, righteousness, wisdom, patience, mercy, grace. You are love with more than parental affection; I adore your heart,    admire your wisdom,    stand in awe if your power,    lower myself before your purity. It is the discover of your goodness alone that can    banish my fear,    allure me into your presence,    help me to cry over and confess my sins. When I review my past guilt     and am conscience of my present unworthiness, I tremble to come to you, I whose foundation is dust, I who have condemned your goodness,     defied your power,     trampled upon your love,     rendered myself worthy of eternal death.

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But my recovery cannot spring from any cause in me, I can destroy but cannot save myself. Yet you, O God, have laid help on One that is mighty,    for there is mercy with you,    and exceeding riches in your kindness through Jesus, your Son. May I always feel my need of him. Let your restored joy be my strength; May it      keep me from lusting after the world,      bear up my heart and mind in loss of comforts,      make me alive in the valley of death,      work in me the image of the heavenly,      and give me to enjoy the first fruits of your Spirit,          such as angels and departed saints know so well. May I dwell in your house forever my God. Amen.

My adaptation of 'Kept By God', The Valley Of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers.   May you be blessed as you humbly come before the majesty of King Jesus. He is the source of living water to all who thirst after God. 'Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.' - Matthew 23:12 ESV

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Tale of two men

Man-1 said he believed in Jesus Christ. Attended church regularly, and took his family there, gave money to offerings, raised his family teaching them the Bible is God's Word and to be known and followed. Yet this man rarely read his Bible, nor engaged his family directly in biblical teaching nor really spent time praying  much for them or with them other than simple meal prayers. Man-1 really didn't like other people too much, especially who would not be of some benefit to himself and only befriended those who were like him or could make his life fun.Man-1 encountered a needy looking man at Church who seemed to like  him and want to hang around with Man-1. But Needy-man was a mess and needed lots of time consuming mentoring to get his life in some order and this was obvious to Man-1 and so Man-1 avoided Needy-man every time  he was at Church, so he didn't have to feel obligated to help Needy-man. And whenever Needy-man found Man-1, Man-1 would politely shake his hand and give quick polite greetings and try to quickly find some reason to depart Needy-man's company, before he asked something of Man-1. Man-1 who said he loved Jesus and followed him never made any benefit in the life of Needy-man although he had time and means to do so even seeing no one else was helping Needy-man.

Few years later Man-2 shows up.  He too claimed to believe in Jesus and follow him also. He too raises his family in the Church and does his best to lead them in Biblical truth of following God. But Man-2 is different. He doesn't avoid convicting Bible reading at home, but does so regularly and works on making life changes to really follow what he hears God saying through scripture. He tries to encourage his family to do likewise and he can be seen reading and studying his Bible and other books challenging his spiritual walk. He even goes out of his way to meet with other men to do Bible study and application to be held more accountable. Man-2 denies himself some worldly pleasures and lusts that Man-1 took much great pleasure in secretly and he fights against temptations and surrounds himself with wise protections to help guard his heart. Man-2 attends a new local church and meets Needy-man who moved from attending his old Church where little love was shown him. Man-2 talks with Needy-man and listens to his situation and difficulty he is having in life, including lack of transportation to make it to Church on any regular basis relying on occasional rides from inconsistent friends. Rather than walk away and saying God bless and hope all goes well, Man-2 considers deeply the cost of helping Needy-man, because he too can see he is going to be a major effort if he starts helping him out. Man-2 is truly grateful to God for all the abundant blessings He has been undeservedly given by God; knowing he too was rescued from his own mess and insufficiencies.  Man-2 realizes he has means to help to some degree Needy-man, and so offers to pick him up and take him to Church each Sunday, realizing that was going to be potentially a life long needy man project that would require many more hours of his life and resources. Needy-man gladly accepted the offer. Starting the next week, Man-2 began driving Needy-man to Church which led to later helping in many ways, like caring for physical needs, meeting many financial needs, helping provide a car, helping job hunt, taking him into his home for many months and giving much social and spiritual guidance to Needy-man. Man-2 now has a life long friend in Needy-man, who loves him... even though, Needy-man could never begin to repay Man-2. Man-2 invested much in Needy-man over 8 years and stood by him encouraging Needy-man even though he frustrated Man-2  at times with his slowness to grow in maturity as he had hoped over the years; yet Man-2 won't ever give up on Needy-man because he knows God won't give up on him and he has come to treasure the deepening brotherhood in Needy-man.

Of these two men. Which one has faith? Both said they believed in Christ?  Jesus said in Matthew 7:24 ,“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock" .  Also in Luke 6:43-44 Jesus said, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,  for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush." And James 2:14-16 says, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

Real Godly faith is marked by actions that live it. If there is no fruit, your words; your "faith" is meaningless.  Faith has feet. May you have fearless faith also just like God supernaturally gave to Man-2 because he really trusted in his God and knew all would be well in him.

I know this story well about Man-1 and Man-2 because it is a true story.  I was Man-1, and now I am Man-2. To God be the glory, great things he has done !

- DC Shelton

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5 important truths

Here is the message we have heard from Christ and now announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. So if we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue living in darkness, we are liars and do not follow the truth. But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done. If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and we do not accept God’s teaching.-1 John 1:5-10 NCV

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Truth #1 God is perfect in every way. High and holy. He is compared here to pure light, with no speck of darkness. He is the standard of good; of righteousness; of justice; of perfection in every way.

Truth # 2 To know God and share in his glory, we must be willing to allow his light to penetrate every corner of our life. Only then can the blood of Jesus wash away all our dirt.

Truth # 3 To enjoy the joy of living in brotherly love with others who walk with God, we must walk with God in his exposing light. Those who live in sin; in darkness, not confessing them remain disconnected from God and his Body. Life is a dark evil deceptive lie for them, resulting in ultimate decay and death.

Truth # 4 The blood of Christ will continue to wash us clean as we confess our wrongs; every time... not because we are pure ourselves, but because God is faithful and keeps his word.

Truth #  5 Jesus makes us pure, even though we sin at times, but humbly fight to walk in the Light and believe God, that he always speaks absolute trustworthy truth.

application: Keep walking in the light. Every time you fail God, humbly confess, repent and accept his provision (you not accepting and allowing his forgiveness to wash over you is not of faith, but continued sin). Then  carry on and serve God and others in love. No dirt you have is too filthy for the everlasting blood payment of Christ to clean. It was the blood of God spilled for you!

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The Milk of God

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. - 1 Peter 2:2-3 Peter just cited Isaiah 40:6 that speaks of the Word of God remaining forever and so in this context he urges us to put away any evil living and to long for the nourishment of knowing God through his Word just like a baby craves his mommies milk. In craving and actually feeding in God's Word, we mature and grown up in our salvation....this is the natural progression of what the Holy Spirit does in us. Then he qualifies it saying if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good...quoting from Psalm 34:8. image

God is not telling us to remain as spiritual babies, but to desire him like a baby desires its mother's milk. This is a deep basic instinctive desire.  Is this how you desire God and crave his Word? Have you really 'tasted' of the goodness of God in your own life? Often tears come to my eyes as I meditate upon the magnificent grace of God and his loving kindness to me in spite of my own sins.  How can such a holy God love me so much? I deserve none of him, yet he gave me all of him.

For this the 'taste buds' of my soul relish and soak in his goodness. Yes, I want to drink in this God; this Jesus Christ who came to us to redeem us; this Holy Spirit who makes his home inside me.  He did this! God alone made me what I am today. I who was once his enemy, not his own, have been made an object of his affection and loved, and adopted into his forever family! I have been made his!    Come with me and drink in the this milk of God.... This living water of Christ and enjoy the Shalom of God. The Peace of Christ that surpasses all comprehension and explanation. He is the reason for my existence and for yours.

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Why the massive suffering?

Are people who suffer catastrophes worse sinners than you or I who have it easy? Jesus answered this saying..  "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” -Luke 13:5 ESV

You see but by the grace of God, there go we. No one is good. There is no one who continually does good and never sins as holy God had revealed to us. He has numbered our days and has sworn his Spirit will not strive with corrupted flesh forever. (Gen 6:3)

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Would you have answered this Question like Jesus did? He sees life from an entirely different perspective than most humans do; from the eternality of our souls, not from a narrow few earthly  years view.

Pastor John Piper put it this way. "Now ponder for a moment what you would have answered at this point. What does your theology of suffering and sin call for in the face of this kind of tragedy? What Jesus said was this. He said, "No, their sin was not extraordinarily horrible. It was ordinarily horrible, just like yours. And if you don't repent, you too will experience a horrible end, all of you." In other words instead of saying that they are no more sinful than we are and being amazed at their death, he says that we are just as sinful as they are and should get ready to die like they did. What Jesus teaches, then, is that all of us are extremely sinful. We are so sinful that calamities and disasters should not shock us as though something unwarranted were coming upon innocent human beings. There are no innocent human beings. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). "There is none righteous, no not one" (Romans 3:10). And what should amaze us in our sin is "not" that some are taken in calamity, but that we are spared and given another day to repent. The really amazing thing in this universe is not that guilty sinners perish, but that God is so slow to anger that you and I can sit here this morning and have one more chance to repent."

I agree what is amazing is not that people die in disasters, but that we all do not. We we see such horrific things let us have compassion on our fellow man and do what we can to help and demonstrate love, because but by the graceful patience of God for us, we too should face calamity, and someday will. You will die in this body.  But more importantly, let this put a sense of urgency in our hearts to reach more people with the Gospel message of peace with God through repentance and faith in Christ. Because all human souls are immortal and will either have true life in Christ and resurrection, or perish in hell forever once our time here comes to an end.     Do you really believe this? Then do something about it. Change everything and make this your passion. Follow Jesus Christ and lead others to faith in him. He was dead serious.

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Temptation to do wrong

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.  Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. -James 1:13-15 NET This thing of temptation, unfortunately I am an expert in, as is everyone who has lived for any time in this life. Unfortunately most of us are also professional "spcapegoaters". Do you know where the term scapegoats came from? In the law given through Moses, a symbolic thing the Jews had to do ritually each year when it came time for a sin offering during the Day or Atonement. They would kill a goat and take it's blood into the Holy of Holies to symbolically pay for the nation's sin and they also had to set a goat loose into the wilderness whose head was put some of the blood of the slain goat. That second goat symbolically carried the sins of the people away. Their blame was laid on it and it took the blame for what they did wrong.  It was the scapegoat. It was a foreshadowing of what the Messiah was to do in taking away our blame before God. This wasn't hard for people to picture because we naturally don't want to face our consequences for our wrongs even today. We want to divert attention off ourselves when we do wrong and blame someone or something rather than humbly take ownership, repentance, and seek godly change.   Some accuse  God of making them sin even if indirectly, by saying it's just to hard to resist some temptations and God should make it easier for them. God does allow temptations to test us, yes, but it's not him tempting us. He equips us with His Spirit and wants us to learn to notice the signs of temptation and immediately turn to Jesus for power to overcome. It is hard to break old habits, but in Christ we can do all things! Now we know Satan and the demons tempt us also at times, but notice their absence in this scripture. What is it that tempts us according to this passage? Our own human desires.  We don't need to blame anyone other than ourselves for failing to live holy, in our own flesh really is no good thing. Thus the war we must daily fight, by drawing near our source of righteousness and power to overcome.  Jesus. 

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  Christ in me is all that really is good.    Thank you Lord for promising to never leave me, nor forsake me, because daily I need you. Thank you also for your shed blood that washes me whiter than snow, the times I do fail you. Because it is against you alone O God who ultimately I sin and must come to for cleansing. May I always confess my sins before you LORD Jesus, and hold nothing back,  since you have promised me you are faithful and just to forgive me my sins and to purify me from all unrighteousness...Always .   Amen.

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Little green men and God.

Now this may sound odd or random, but it's how things work in my mind at times. Due to things going on in a persons life, God uses scripture to teach us what may seem like random truths, but truth nonetheless, because it somehow applies to the world around you. In my meditation and study on James 1 today, I see an application of truth I've never really noticed or thought about in this way.

James 1:17-18 says this. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures." It's the last sentence that strikes me with this truth. You see God is informing us as he has before in many ways that we are the pinnacle of his creation. The most important. The center of the universe as it were,  not as in physically the center, but as in everything in the vast cosmos is all aligned  the way it is for a reason, for one most glorious creation of God; Mankind. We are created to bring God great pleasure and glory unlike any other of his creation. We are as this verse says the first fruits of his creation, not the first thing he created, but the reason he created everything that is. As you read through scripture, and the law of Moses, you see how God used the term first fruits to mean the very best and most choice and highly prized of something. It is the most important and most celebrated. Jewish first fruit celebrations as well as in many other cultures, are times of celebration and joy over long expected choice harvests that bring us pleasure. With God, we who are people redeemed by faith in Christ, are the choice first fruits among humanity the children of promise, offspring of Abraham. But even in greater context we come from among humanity to whom all are offered this sweet call of fellowship with our Creator to be united in loving oneness with him as a beautiful adorned Bride of God. The implications of this truth are great. This means there is no greater more highly created beings in the universe. We are the "it" of all creation. Could God have created life on other planets and created other advanced life forms and human-like civilizations? Sure. But did he? Scripture seems to say no, even right here. Everything created in this cosmos was all designed for a purpose.  To support and provide for the creation and development of God's first fruit. You.   That's how important you are to God. You have eternal worth.

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So are there intelligent aliens out there that humanity will discover some day. Scripture seems to say no. The pursuit of them leads to demonic driven idolatry in a desire not be satisfied with God. Every super nova, every black hole, or quasar and every planet, moon, star or galaxy, is all where it is to maintain for a time the fine tuning of the universe to support life on earth; and most importantly Gods greatest creation, you and me. This should encourage you as you study the vastness and complexities and size of the cosmos, and see God made it all for you.

For more on this topic, I highly suggest reading some of the more advanced discussions between science and faith and how all truth is God's truth at www.reasons.org or visiting this link for more on extraterrestrial life.  http://www.reasons.org/Search?q=extraterestial+life

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Mosque of Isa al Masih (The Mosque of Jesus Christ )

Read and be blessed! This excerpt story of one of the many told about what Christ is doing in the Muslim world to bring forth his Church. Many powerful Holy Spirit miracles are happening, from healings, to rescuing from the flames, to angelic protections, to visions of Christ, to raising of the dead!  While most of the time God is bringing an outside Christ followers into a town to begin these movements, here is one amazing account as recorded in the book "Miraculous Movements" by Jerry Trousdale, that is so sweet, I just wanted to encourage you all with it. God bless you are you read and ponder how God wants you to change your world for Jesus! http://isaalmasih.net/isa/dreamsofisa.html

http://isaalmasih.net/isa/dreamsofisa.html

THE CHURCH THAT WAS SUDDENLY THERE

At about the time that Sa'id's story (with which we opened this chapter) was taking place, another Muslim community in that same region (of North Africa) discovered that four people among them were telling the stories of the Bible and speaking of Jesus. A leader of the community had become a Christ follower, along with his family, and he had shared the gospel with another man, who in turn took the gospel to his sons, who then went to another family, and soon there were many people sharing their faith in the town.

And that's when the local officials decided to stop this movement. The four men were arrested and forced to stand in an area of the town center for ten days awaiting their public punishment for abandoning Islam. The homes of these men were damaged and some were burned, and the men were forced to stand all day for many days in the sun. When The day of punishment came, the whole town assembled. Some people had urged the local officials to have mercy on the accused, and the leaders feared that there might be more people in the community who were secret Christ followers, so they said, "Today these men will receive their judgment for leaving Islam. But if there are any of you who are also following Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah), then you should let that be known and join their punishment. We will discover who you are, either way.

No one moved. A hush had fallen over the crowd, as people shifted uneasily on their feet, some impatient to get on with the spectacle, others fearful and undecided. The seconds ticked away . . . then a hand was raised in the middle of the crowd. A collective gasp was heard as an elderly man pushed his way to the front.

"I also am a follower of Isa al Masih!" he declared boldly.

The officials gnashed their teeth in fury, but before they could speak, a young man on the other side of the crowd raised his hand. Then two women raised their hands, then a young married couple. And almost instantly, hands shot up through- out the crowd. The leaders stood aghast: half the community were secret believers in Jesus Christ!  The officials stared at one another, not knowing what to do or say. One of the bolder officials finally put on a stern expression and challenged the crowd: "Are all of you with these four?" He pointed to the doomed men.

"Yes! " was the unanimous chorus.

The leader looked around in consternation as half the village stepped forward, their hands still raised. "How is this possible?" he cried. He turned to his fellow leaders, hoping for guidance on what to do. "There have been no outsiders here to bring this about," he said.

"Well," answered one of his fellow leaders, "we cannot do anything now . . . can we?"

The perplexed officials separated the people and said to the Christians, "Since you have made your choice, you can no longer attend the mosque.

But no one will harm you. You can have your own mosque, and you are now free to practice your religion in a mosque of Isa al Masih." And that is what the Christ followers call the place where they now openly worship God. (pp146-148 Miraculous Movements)

This is one of the many accounts of what God is doing in drawing many Muslims to the Biblical Jesus.

Come and see, Go and be.

For those who are from Muslim families and cultures, they are told many false things about Christ and following him. They have many misconceptions because they associate "western culture" as Christian and Christianity, of which not!   It is a LONG distance from true Biblical Christianity.  While there are many who were born into mixed pagen/christian belief system and lifestyle, this does by no means most are Christian. Just like there are many who call themselves Muslim, many within their own cultures do not purely follow the teachings of the Quran.  A Christian is one who follows the authentic Christ of the holy Scripture as seen in the Injeel, the Bible, not someone who attends a church or does some traditional religious things to ease their consciences.  For Muslims seeking real truth about Christianity, I ask you to visit this website for simple common questions that most Muslims do not know about true Christianity and how it relates to their own faith of Islam.  http://goldenripe.org/theway/

or visit this site where you can see how Christ is appearing in visions to many Muslims and drawing them to Pure faith in God. http://isaalmasih.net/isa/dreamsofisa.html

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