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Did you know a person can believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and still not be saved? Many people have been belief and had preached into them these Biblical truths: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved" as quoted fromActs 16:31, or from Christ's own words 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", as well as other Scriptures that say salvation comes by "faith (belief) alone" and it's not as a result of works as clearly explained in Ephesians 2:8-9. These statements are absolutely true! It is only by faith we are saved, and only by belief that God redeems us and adopts us into his eternal family as heirs with Christ! We cannot earn any of it.
So what am I saying? I am here to tell you that some of the most hideous heresies come from taking Bible passages out of context of the whole counsel of God as given by the Holy Spirit inspired Word. While is it true Jesus and Paul and all the new testament writers spoke much about the fact that God saves those who "believe", we must absolutely know, teach and preach how God defines belief! Jesus and the Apostles all wrote much about what this faith is. It's not enough to bark out one line Bible quotes like these 3 verses above if we do not very clearly define Biblical Faith as Scriptures define it.
All sorts of well meaning people have "Faith", but are lost and still in their sins. We love to make pretty signs and symbols that say "Believe" or "Have Faith" or talk about the 1st Corinthians 13 concluding statement of the greatest attributes to possess as Faith, Hope and Love!
But we must be very diligent and very careful to not let these words stand alone and be defined by every person's whims! They are useless and meaningless left on their own. We cannot and MUST not assume other people know what the heck we are talking about when we say, "Just have Faith"!
There are two types of Faith according to Christ. One type that deceives and one type that saves. Jesus made it clear many times what saving faith really is, and what kind of love is good, and what type of hope is ultimately beneficial and of lasting value.
You see you can have faith in God for the wrong things. You may hope in the wrong things and you may have love for the wrong things. It's not enough to say Faith- Hope- Love and sing Kumbaya and let's all get along.
Jesus came to bear a CROSS, and so too must YOU, if he is to be YOUR master. Many people are just "fans", but few are the "followers". Here is the difference in people who believe and are not saved and those who believe and are saved. True Biblical faith is repentant faith. True faith is humble faith. True faith is obedient faith. It's not perfect faith, we all stumble, and God is gracious, but real saving faith costs us greatly. Matter of fact, it costs you your entire life. Jesus said, If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)
Here again Jesus is telling us clearly that you can believe and do all sorts of great things, but be as lost as any sinner in hell! Listen closely to his words.
“Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On the last day many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for you, and through you we forced out demons and did many miracles'. Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you'. “Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.” -Matthew 7:21-27 NCV. Hearing is a form of belief here, but effective belief is that which compels us to obey.
"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them." Jhn 14:21. ('Has' is the belief and 'keeps' is the obey)
Conclusion is this: Jesus is telling us that by faith we alone are saved; yes this is true, but faith has feet; it follows and obeys him.
A quick nutshell Gospel message and way to more accurately quote John 3:16 in Biblical context is like this: define belief biblically by adding obediently for clarification. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes (has obedient faith) in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
When you first have faith, real faith, it comes by Holy Spirit new birth, then this same Spirit God leads you into dying to self and living for Jesus. If this is not your life experience; If your love for Jesus is not a compelling drive to sacrifice your life for him and seek out ways to better serve him, you too may be an idol lover, and your love may well be in vain. Many lost Hindus love Jesus and have shrines dedicated to him in their homes and pray to him also.
Examine your hearts and your lives. Don't be fooled by 'out of context' Bible passages that get you close to heaven, but never really knowing the this living God that demands you bear your cross, just as he bore his.
You don't have to be among those who hear, "Depart from me, I never knew you!"
Repentance and obedience is in order for us today and tomorrow. Just as you received Christ Jesus as LORD, so walk in him... Those who 'know' him, who received him in repentant humble obedient faith must go daily in this attitude. Teach others likewise and preach a complete Gospel message, lest you lead others deceptively close to heaven, but never helping them enter in.
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.
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
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
"May I be daily more and more conformed to thee, with the meekness and calmness of the Lamb in my soul, and a feeling sense of the felicity of heaven, where I long to join angels free from imperfections, where in the image of my adored Saviour will be completely restored, so that I may be fit for his enjoyments and employments.I am not afraid to look the king of terrors in the face, for I know I shall be drawn, not driven, out of the world." - excerpt from a Puritan prayer from 'The Valley of Vision'
Early America was filled with many well educated and literate devout followers of Christ. Prayers and speech like this are full of solid theological meaning and depth that we just do not hear today. We today are some of the shallowest people our nation has ever produced due to the techno-media sound bite attention span most of us have, we rarely plumb into the depths of God's word and truths and apply them so eloquently to our own words and lives. When I read these Puritan prayers, I am challenged to think and ponder God's Word and his blessed truths as they apply to myself. Thank the Lord for many writings from these godly people of early America and beyond. We all would do well to read more of our Christian ancestors and their deep faith and knowledge of God. They offer us much wisdom and inspiration. Who today speaks like this? Who talks about the "felicity" (intense happiness) of heaven? Who refers to our God as the "king of terrors", because truly He is for all the unrepentant! Look how the prophet Isaiah responded to the King of glory when he saw his vision:
Each creature was calling to the others: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord All-Powerful. His glory fills the whole earth.” Their calling caused the frame around the door to shake, as the Temple filled with smoke. I said, “Oh, no! I will be destroyed. I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure, but I have seen the King, the Lord All-Powerful.”-Isaiah 6:3-5 NCV
And this same God who came and befriended us, saved us from his own terrible wrath to come for our own sins, will return as the greatest terrorist of all time bringing fear to the vast majority of sinners in the world! Look how John's Revelation pictures him!
The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.- Revelation 1:14-18 ESV
But for us redeemed by his merciful hand, we know him as the shepherd of our souls. Truly he is the meek and mild Shepherd who is the defender of our lives.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. -John 10:14,15
Our Holy Holy Holy God, has given us who trust in him a confidence and peace beyond words, because apart from that, we should all tremble..tremble....tremble.... If still lost in our own righteousness (or should I say our lack thereof) The standard is God's holiness. How will you measure up?
In Christ you are pure and perfect... ...if you don't know him, you are not going to fare well. Terror is the best description.
I am Gabriel!!! I stand in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you this good news!! (Luke 1:19 exclamations mine)
This is how I see it. I added the exclamations. This is from the story of Zechariah the priest getting the news of his 80 year old wife's pregnancy; their prayers for a son answered by God in such a dramatic way. Zechariah was standing before God's highest archangel and requesting a sign!?? Really? Haha. Wow. I hope when God speaks to me l can be more properly responsive. I mean he came and appeared before him fresh in the glory of God himself, the archangel Gabriel!
Just before, the text states that Zechariah "nearly peed himself" in fear, when Gabriel appeared in vs 12 (using modern day expressions)! Gabriel had to comfort him to not to be afraid, but that he came bearing good news, and then he told him that he and Elizabeth's prayers were about to be answered with the conception of John.
Just prior to all this the text narrates some about who Zechariah and Elizabeth were. It said they were righteous people before God, living blameless lives following God's commands. Wow. That's quite a statement of how great a man Zechariah really was! He was truly a man of faith, while most only were going through the motions of religion, he followed God out of love and obedient faith. It had been hundreds of years of mostly silence to the people of Israel. Miracles were mostly stories of long ago history, so when Zachariah gets a visit from heaven's great angel Gabriel, he had trouble with what seems like simple faith. Zechariah sees and trembles and hears the from God his Holy Angel, and then dares ask for a sign to prove what he said was true? LOL. I can't help but laugh.
We know how the story ends. This statement above is what Gabriel begins with by basically saying (my rendition): "I am Gabriel, " for crying out loud! Are you so blind and dim that you don't take my own appearing before you as enough of a sign?! Well since you apparently are so blind, I'll make you blind until your son is born! That will be your sign!"
I chuckle at this story, but as I think it over I also freeze with some fear over my own frailties and inability to hear God and obey at first word from him. I too have stood in the presence of not just one of his holy Angels, but the presence of God through his indwelling Spirit! Yet I still get dim-witted and blind and allow myself to fall into sin from time to time. O how this grieves me and causes me to fall on my face in repentance and sadness! My God who redeemed me and robed me his own glory and righteousness, the goodness of Christ, and who now lives in me through the Holy Spirit; How in my right and sane mind could I ever willfully sin?! How?! Like Paul sometimes, I must humble my heart and say, "O wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death? (Romans 7:24)
Within us all is a war raging! A war of love for God's law and glory, given by Holy Spirit transforming us from the inside out, the new man born of God, daily fighting the old man and law of sin and death! If you desire God, and truly want to be like Jesus, this battle will never stop raging...the day it does, you have turned around and are walking from God.
Fight my friends! Never give up! From Glory to Glory we shall overcome! We know when we fail our God, we have purification and restoration to keep in the war! All we need to do is repent and come to Jesus. (1Jhn 1:8-9) We too can rejoice like Paul and say as he did in Romans 7:25 ...
"Thanks be then to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Why? Because Jesus himself declared that even if we fall, Satan can never own us ever again and he will complete what he started in us(Phil1:6)! Hallelujah!
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” -John 10:27-30
Stay in the battle and see with clear eyes the glory of God working in you.
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.
....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.
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 School 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.
Why should I be afraid of bad days? Why should I fear when evil people surround me? They trust in their money and brag about their riches. No one can buy back the life of another. No one can pay God for his own life, because the price of a life is high. No payment is ever enough. Do people live forever? Don’t they all face death? See, even wise people die. Fools and stupid people also die and leave their wealth to others. Their graves will always be their homes. They will live there from now on, even though they named places after themselves. Even rich people do not live forever; like the animals, they all die. This is what will happen to those who trust in themselves and to their followers who believe them. Think deeply on this. Like sheep, they must die, and death will be their shepherd. Honest people will rule over them in the morning, and their bodies will rot in a grave far from home. But God will save my life and will take me from the grave. Think deeply on this.
Could you sleep through a violent thunderstorm pounding your home? I do many times, but I know many who cannot. How about if we add a mega earthquake to that storm? Could you sleep through that?Okay..you know someone who could maybe? Well then let's move their comfy bed outside and then let the torrent of rain fall down on them and add that storm and earthquake to them. How about then? Could they sleep though that?! I bet not! You'd have to either be literally unconscious, crazy, dead, or so full of assurance of your life being in Gods hands, that you would be comfy taking a "rocking-n-rolling-shower-in-bed-while-you-slept" nap!!
I love the story in Matthews Gospel about Jesus sleeping in the storm. Just think about this. The twelve disciples on a relatively tiny fishing boat in a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee fighting for their lives to stay afloat while water is violently thrashing around their boat splashing in and all over everyone! There is no "below deck" sleeping quarters here...just think like a large canoe! And yet Jesus is quietly taking a peaceful catnap with water splashing all over him... and the thunderstorms seemingly about to sink their vessel far away from land! Think loud, rough and wet!
Read this Matthew 8:23-27 with me...
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
He was asleep! They had to go and wake him! I mean there is so many things to take away from this account and his miracle of commanding the storm and the sea to be calm is what most of us focus on because of its miraculous nature, but don't overlook this important part of the story!
Jesus was sleeping! Really! How can that be? Think about how you cannot sleep when even tiny things worry you and keep your mind churning... Just imaging what is going through Jesus's head to sleep through such an event. Nothing! Absolutely nothing but a dream about riding a cart pulled by 12 little lambs.. Haha. Who knows what he was dreaming, but I can tell you this. It was no nightmare! He had total confidence that the Fathers will must be done... and his heart was so in tune with God's so as to rest totally in God's divine power and sovereignty! (He and the Father are one in essence and the Spirit kept him humanly aware) So he did not worry that they would perish on that lake because he knew this... God's will was not for them to drown at sea but to spill his blood for you and me.. on the cursed tree!
Are we willing to let go of life control so much as to drop of all your worries, and truly trust in God? Oh how I pray for this kind of Holy Spirit power. Not so much to command the seas and the winds, but to rest my soul even in the storms that blow through my own mind and life! We all have various storms, but will we rest in Christ through faith?
Come unto me all you who are tired and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. -Jesus (Matt 11:28)
He is the Master of REST!
There is a real interpersonal mystery in the Holy Spirit. He relates to each of God's elect on an intimate basis. Even so while maintaining his eternal relation to the Father and the Son in the triune mystery. As we read in 2 Corinthians 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all"; herein we see there is fellowship and intimacy with God through the Spirit. (Notice also the triune persons of God represented again) There has been much talk about the Holy Spirit and his power being revealed among us as much in the charismatic movement has been a forced exercise of trying to use God the Spirit for our own human desires or feelings. But God; He is not one who we can use. He uses us. Intimacy with God begins by surrendering daily to the Spirit and allowing him to lead you. We don't conjure Him up in some emotionalized worship service like some form of pagan spiritist or medium. Worship and power of the Spirit is much more than outward manifestations seen among worshippers in a gathering of Believers, which many times emotionalism and forced jibberish is confused with the Spirit's power and presence. But rather a life of obedience to God is evidence of the Spirit in you. Romans 8:5b says "...those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." The Spirit is sent in power to encourage us yes, but even more so to empower us to boldly do the works of the Gospel.
Do you live according to the Spirit? How does this reveal itself in you? Since the Spirit inspired all of the Bible, wouldn't you likewise assume to see a deeper hunger for those who are true children of God for his Word, and to walk in the ways of Jesus to whom the Spirit leads us to be like? Yet the vast majority of those who call themselves Christian rarely spend time with God listening to him through reading and meditation and obedient application of their Bibles to their lives. Scripture exhorts us to be doers and not hearers only. (James 1:22)
If a regular hunger and making time with God through prayer and reading his Word and seeking his voice to lead is not part of your life, then something is seriously wrong.
Make the change you must to reorder your life. Today is the day of repentance from known sins that hold you back, and getting your life right with God. Don't delay, because every day missed from this glorious relationship with Christ and the Father through the Spirit is a day others cannot be made new through you. God does have plans for you, to give you a future and a glorious hope. Yet you must seek him in love and listen to the Spirit and yield to him. The promise is; you will find.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.- Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV
God,I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my willful sin; You have struck a blow at my pride, At the false god of self, And I lie in pieces before you. Forgive me.
But you have given me another Master and Lord, your Son, Jesus. And now my heart is turned towards holiness. My life speeds as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to you! Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride. Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, And everything that is natural to fallen man. O God, let Christ's nature be seen in me day by day. Grant me grace to bear your will without hesitation, and delight to be not only chiseled, squared, or fashioned, But separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, There I may be built in Christ forever and ever. Amen.
(Excerpt adapted from 'Heart Corruptions' Valley of Vision, Collection of Puritan Prayers)
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
In my current Bible study time through 1Peter I have come across this section of scripture that has often been misunderstood and even among many good Bible scholars and students will still stir up some disagreement as to it's proper meaning. Yet it is still something we should seek to understand it's proper meaning. Context within all of scripture is very helpful to keep us away from spurious interpretations that lead to bad theology and living. Here is the text. 1 Peter 3:18-22 ESV "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him."
While I think Peter could have worded this passage a little differently to make our understanding more clear, herein are some great truths that align with other Scripture to help us see the beauty of what God wants us to hear and apply. This too is Spirit inspired Holy Word of God, so God had a reason to cause us struggle a bit with the passage. So let us think about it.
Two big questions that arise are how did the spirit of Christ preach to the lost in the days of Noah? And is Peter now saying we are saved by baptism? Clues are given within immediate context and greater Biblical context, so this is where it benefits us to know our Bibles and its revealed history. Does not the Bible teach us that prophets of God preached as they were moved by the Spirit of God? (ref 2 Peter 1:21). Is not the Holy Spirit also referred to as the Spirit of Christ? (ref ROM 8:9 where the titles are used interchangeably) God is triune, one in essence and yet three in person. So when the Father speaks you are hearing the spirit of Christ speak, and when Christ speaks you are hearing from the Holy Spirit. They are One. Some people have wrongly viewed this passage as meaning Jesus went into hell or Sheol and preached to the lost trapped there due to their disobedience. This is not at all what is being taught here. First of all that would be pointless. They have died and clearly Scripture teaches it is appointed to everyone once to die, then judgment (ref Heb 9:27). There no benefit to then be preaching to the dead, and this would not be in alignment with the justice of God that speaks to all men's consciences prior to their finality of death, from which our choices in life are sealed. They have their just reward. But based in the context of scripture clearly understanding the other facts I have just mentioned, Jesus Christ was preaching to the disobedient and lost in Noah's days through Noah, his prophet and servant. The context here is said "God's patience waited in the days of Noah", thus giving us the time of when Christ's spirit was preaching to them. They received their due warnings and through Noah. This passage Peter is paralleling to is the one in which Jesus began his earthly preaching ministry also. Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18. Notice in it the same phrase of "preaching to the spirits in prison" and how this is exactly what he said was being fulfilled in his ministry on earth when reading Isaiah 61 " to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound". He was speaking of us...of those living and yet to live who were captives to Satan spiritually because of our sin nature and how his mission is to set us free from sin and death, to unlock our or prison cells spiritually and bring us into the kingdom of light and freedom! This preaching of the the salvation of God has been his message even before Abraham. The Spirit of Christ formed the cosmos and even today holds everything together by his divine power! So all Peter is saying is that Christ preached to the lost through Noah.
Why is he referring to Noah? This leads to the second complicated concept here. Peter is about to relate to us how this same spirit by which Christ was raised is proclaimed in our baptisms. Some say it is the baptism of the Spirit he is telling us that is now saving us (which is in essence is true, but not specifically spoken about here), but the illustration is one of being saved by water. Like the 8 saved in Noah's day by water, so too we are saved today by Baptism. He is talking about water baptism (not just spirit baptism). Remember context is king. Now does he mean we are saved by water Baptism directly? Well obviously not, because he says clearly "not by the washing of dirt from our bodies", but he brings it back to the simple truth by saying as "an appeal to God for a good conscience through Christ's resurrection" . You see, as is true throughout scripture., Faith...obedient faith through the power of Christ is what saves us. Its always been about hearing God and obeying. Water Baptism does not save us, but real faith that follows Christ does. Baptism by water is a command for the faithful. Even Jesus our Master was baptized as an example that we too should follow him. When is a person saved? When they truly believe. Then they cross over from death to life. So some will never make it to the waters of baptism before death and still will enter into paradise, but this is not the norm. How do we know if a person is a Believer? They obey Christ. But for one who has ability to be an obedient follower of Christ and never has proclaimed their allegiance and death to self and new resurrected life in Christ through water baptism. About all I can say to you is what Christ has said.
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven - Matthew 10:32 ESV
How does a person acknowledge Jesus before men? With your lips only? No, with what you say and how you obey. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. So a clear conscience before God is made by taking this step of faith and being baptized into Christ in water showing others you now seek to kill the sin nature daily and live in the resurrection of life following Jesus. Just as hearing and obeying was considered faith that saved Noah and the other 7 by water, so likewise baptism by the Spirit of Christ is shown in your life by hearing and obeying his commands, including the mark of all Christ's disciples, water baptism. Being baptized is essential to the obedient Christian life. Jesus taught his disciples to teach every thing he "commanded". Why? Because his followers want to obey ...and his true ones will. Are you his follower? Have you been baptized? Why not?
As people of Christ, the true servants of God, we must take heed to these words of the Spirit given to us. In Christ we are set free from the bondage of the law, of sin and death! We still have our old flesh and sin nature we are working to perfect more like Christ and so we mess up and fail to be like God in many ways....Yet we are free from the consequences of our deserved punishment because of the purifying blood of Christ shed for us! This is a glorious thing! We are indeed free to live as Children of God, forgiven and humble before him. Yet never forgetting He is a holy God, a consuming fire...even in the overwhelming glorious love and grace, he still demands our hearts to come be aligned with his. We must not allow our freedom from sin and death to be a means by which to excuse sin, but rather use it as a tool and means to fight it all the more! We must never forget that but by the grace of God, we would be facing his terrible and eternal WRATH! Do not ever forget. You are saved from your own evil desires and inclination towards evil. Live as servants of the Most High God. This God of glory wants us to respect and honor everyone. To deeply love the brotherhood of Beleivers, by doing life and service with them and making them the priority of your life. And yes, God wants you to honor your president, and leaders. You and I are to not talk about president Obama in a disrespectful and demeaning way. If your disagree with his politics (of which I do in most every instance), you are not to take part in verbally or visually using disrespectful words and tones. Not only that, you must Honor him for his position and office he holds over us all. Many Christians are sold out to the devil on how they speak about our Leaders. How can we as Christians expect God to bless our nation with revival when we all live as hypocrites before Almighty God?! Evil or good, he is where He is because God has ordained it so for the time. So let's live as holy Saints of God and use kindness and respect towards all, especially weighing carefully the way we speak about our political opponents who hold office over us. This is not an option, but a command of God. You cannot pick and choose how you want to follow God. Blessings come to the faithfully obedient.
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.
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.
Do I ask God for my needs, or do I just fight it out of life myself?Do my prayers go unanswered? Do I ask God with correct motives, for his glory, or for my own pleasures? Am I really loyal to God? Do I realize the world is against God and is his enemy? Do I remember that being a friend and lover of the world is being an enemy of God? Do I dare ask God for things while still loving the world, and really expect him to bless my prayers; really? Do I think God's Word wasn't serious when it said, "The Spirit that God made to live in us wants us for himself alone?"
It's time we examine our lives and come near to God in Christ Jesus. Change our laughing into crying, our happiness into sadness, humble ourselves in repentance in the Lord's presence. Then He will lift us up and give us life and honor. This is how we begin to see the power of God in our lives and our prayers get answered.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. - Ps 37:4 In delighting in him, our desires become God's desires.
But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. -James 2:8
This sums up the commands of God for us toward our fellow man. This is easy to do to those who love us, or when it doesn't demand any real sacrifice on our part. But real life doesn't always go that way. Sometimes your life is busy or demanding, or financially stressed with more needs than resources. Then someone you love dearly has a crisis, and you have immediate ability to meet that need, but it will put your wisely planned out resources and budget to get blown up and leave you in need, or unable to stay in a secure place. What do you do? Worse yet, someone you are not emotionally or lovingly close to has a need and you see it and can meet all or part of the immediate need, what do you do? Do we pass them by, because it may put us in debt and force us to work harder and longer to recover than we desire or planned? Do we pass over the need because it may impact our ability to fund our immediate or long term plans or retirement "properly"? Do we walk on by like the Jews of the good Samaritan story not helping the person in need because we don't want to be inconvenienced; or we want a nicer car and can't afford a new car payment and sending an extra 10, 50, 100 or 300 dollars a month to help fund an orphanage or feed hungry and hurting Pastors, or feed the poor people who need to see the love of Jesus in action before they can see his offer of Salvation? What do we do? Needs abound, so do we just pass them by, or do we dig deeper, cut back more on self, and invest more in others and less in personal pursuits? What does loving you neighbor as yourself look like for you? Is it a life of giving mercy to others that takes from your own resource pool of mercy and provision?
We can choose to avoid seeing or acknowledging needs, turn a blind eye like those who passed the beaten and robbed man on the road way to Jerusalem, or we can stop and render what aid we can. We can all do something. It's better to do all you can to save a few, than nothing, and keep on walking. God has blessed you. What will you do?
God has blessed me more than I deserve. I really believe this, so I choose to prove it by giving more and more back to those in need, even when it hurts to do so. Not just talking about it, but doing it. This is why I invest much of my time and money in the poor and for the Gospel message of Christ, and have partnered with Jim Ball to make it easier for others to join us in doing exactly this. Loving our neighbors who are in the greatest of need around the world. Join me at http://www.aboutfacemissions.com or on our Facebook page and help us help more and reach more for Jesus. https://www.facebook.com/AboutFaceMissions . Even as hard as the road may be at times dealing with the troubles and problems of others as well as your own, the resulting rewards and new life friendships and bonds of love that form from your efforts will last forever. Joy unspeakable will come though Christ to you, and have you saying, "why did I ever even hesitate?". I know this, I struggle daily with these questions and find stepping out in faith for Jesus always has immense rewards beyond my human reason.
Greek transliteration "thrēskos"- fear or Worship of God, "religious" If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. - James 1:26
Oftentimes we see James 1:27 quoted, since it tells us what pure religion or rather the worship of God looks like. Naming the loving and caring for the needy and helpless, as in the widows and orphans who tend to be the most overlooked among us. But rarely do we pause to listen to what God is telling us in verse 26 that leads up to the truths of verse 27. Today in western society we have a distaste for the word "religion" or "religious" because we have seen many hypocritical abuses in religious traditions. In reality religion and religious are not bad words, they just seem to come with a lot of baggage and so many wrong ideas come to mind when using them. This word for religious used here by James is the only instance of this Greek word thrēskos in the Bible, which is typically translated as religious in most translations. But a quick look up of the word in Strong's Greek concordance (G2357) says it means literally the fear of or worship of God. So a better way to translate this passage that would not carry the mental blockage it does to many people would be like this: If someone thinks he fears and worships God yet does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his heart and his worship is in vain. (And on to vs 27) Pure and undefiled worship before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unpolluted by the world. (James 1:26-27)
So if you call yourself a Christian and do not control your tongue, (Which could mean; using crass or course speech, vulgar or foul words or joking; saying things intentionally hurtfull or mean without a loving or constructive purpose; saying things to tear people down rather than leading them to life; gossip; saying things out of place; speaking too much and listening too little, etc..)the Bible says here that your worship of God is useless, in vain, pointless.
God has always been one who doesn't just look to your uncommitted emotional and trivial appeals from your heart, but who weighs your heart by how you act on it. Faith is not a momentary feeling, but action on truths trusted as from God. By faith we are saved, but by actions we prove our faith. How do you live out what you say you believe? Is it a selfish faith or a surrendering, dying to self to serve God and others faith? 1Sam 15:22 says this; "Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams." God never changes. He still requires obedience of us. He saves us so that we can obey.
Today many of us fool ourselves into thinking we are following Christ and worshiping him, because we have emotional moments in Church when we sing praise and worship. I tell you pagens do likewise in their idolic worship of their loved music stars. They are more moved in their emotional adorations to their favorite music artists and the entertainment minded worshipers of football, baseball, basketball or soccer are more passionate about their team playing a game than most Christians in worship of their God. What makes a true religious person, a true worshiper of God, as in this context of Biblical truth?
Someone who doesn't just say they follow Jesus, but puts feet to their faith and gives sacrificially to others. That is love, the kind of love the true Spirit of God puts in a child of God. If in introspection you think maybe your worship of God may be a bit vain and meaningless, which I think all of us fall into at some level (we all are works in progress ), then do as God leads us in the Psalms. Seek cleaning from God, and ask him to help show you the right paths to make more worshipful steps in your life, repenting where needed, and giving more to Christ and others. Don't trust your own heart but trust it to God and live for him. Search me O God, and know my heart, test me and know my thoughts. See if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps 139:23-24) Make this your daily heart cry to Christ. Then watch God make your way pure. Worship is what you do with your life, not just a song you sing on Sunday.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. -Heb 13:8 Here we see that Christ never Changes, speaking of his eternal qualities, certainly at some point the Son was without human form and the point of immaculate conception joined with human form, so we can see that some form of change occurred. So what is it the Hebrews passage is referring to? His attributes. Hebrews is using a description of him only used of Yahweh (Jehovah) God. God's divine attributes never changes. God alone never changes and remains the same forever. This is how he describes himself. Even his name "I Am" implies this. He said "I am the LORD, I do not change" in Malachi 3:6
Jesus being God the Son, is also called eternally unchanging, of course speaking of his divine attributes, since the Father, Son and Spirit are One God, all the same essence. I dislike inconsistency , I suppose because consistency is something about God that is so beautiful to me, and my hope is built on it. I myself have to work on being more consistently. So I am preaching much to myself here. Something we humans would do well to learn from God and to emulate, is his nature of consistent covenant love. We love to soak in the love of God and be it's benefactors, but God does not give us life and his deep love so that we keep it to ourselves. No, his Spirit is seen as a river of water; the water of life that is "flowing" from the throne, the very presence of God and reaching out to each one of us.
We are designed to be Holy Spirit living reservoirs, to allow other people to drink of Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus offered the woman at the well, and all who come to him. Now a dead stagnant lake has no outlet of what comes into it. But a living vibrant lake flows fresh water in and out. We must wisely learn to commit, out of love for God and others, to give and serve others like God does, as a covenant of love, that does not fail when the other party fails to keep up their expected part. True love is not just acting out of emotions and "flighty", but steadfastly gives. Emotional love is selfish, really to meet ones own feelings, but covenant love does what is right and keeps on giving with or without the fickle feelings. Let us be people of commitment to God and others faithfully month by month, day by day, serving like God serves us with consistency. I see so many flighty inconsistent Christians wanting to serve God out of sporadic emotions and have little to no unchanging consistency. God is consistent and unchanging. Let us be like your heavenly Father, and make wise loving covenants to serve and do so consistently . This changes lives here for eternity, as your reservoir of Holy Spirit living becomes pure as what God flows into you is consistently flowing life into others who need living water of God. The dead sea has nearly no life, because nothing is flowing out. Don't be like that, but Be alive for God. Have many outlets consistently flowing for his Spirit. This is holy and pleasing to God, this is living faithfully.
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!
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