Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Test of Character - Josh Ferrin

                   “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Josh Ferrin's hands trembled as he fumbled for the phone. He started pacing the floor. He was so giddy from joy that when his wife answered, he choked on his first words. "Tara," he blurted, "you're never going to believe this . . ." Ferrin had just discovered $45,000 stashed in his new home. There's a biblical parable about a man who found treasure hidden in a field. Ferrin found his in a dusty attic. For years, the author and illustrator had wondered what would happen if he struck it big. Would sudden wealth change him? Three years ago, Ferrin got his answer.
His story began one Wednesday in May, when Ferrin was miserable. He was suffering from pneumonia and had been forced to take time off from his job as an artist at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. But things were looking up. He and his wife had just closed on their first house, and Ferrin decided to take a private tour after getting the keys.
Ferrin moseyed back to the garage, where he noticed something odd: a scrap of carpet dangling from an opening in the ceiling. Grabbing a ladder, Ferrin tugged on the carpet and pulled back a celling panel leading to an attic. When he climbed into the attic, Ferrin saw eight World War II-era ammunition boxes. He delicately pried one open, dreading seeing a grenade. Instead what he saw blew his mind: wads of bills held together by orange fishing twine. He started counting -- and kept counting until he eventually realized he had stumbled onto $45,000. He called his wife, already envisioning how they could use the cash: remodel their new house, repair their car, maybe even adopt. But her first response chilled those plans. She told him to call the family who previously owned the house. "I immediately knew she was right," Ferrin said. "As much as I wanted to keep it, I couldn't keep it. That just wouldn't be right."
The previous owner was Arnold Bangerter, a biologist with the Utah fish and wildlife department and a father of six. His wife had died in 2005, and after Bangerter died in 2010 his children sold the house to the Ferrins. It turned out Bangerter had been squirreling away money for years; some of the bills dated back to the 1970s. Ferrin contacted Bangerter's children and gave them all the money. Before he did, though, he had a little fun. He photographed his two boys, Lincoln, 10, and Oliver, 7, throwing piles of cash up in the air while he yelled it was raining money.
Not everyone thought it was a laughing matter to give back so much cash. Some people told Ferrin he should have kept the money, that he had a legal right to it because he found it in his home. For Ferrin, something could be legal, but that didn't make it ethical. How could he keep money intended for someone else? "We always wonder to ourselves, if I struck it big would it change me?" he said. "Would I be a different person? It was hard to hand over ($45,000), but it was the right thing to do." What sealed Farrin's decision, though, wasn't ethics; it was fatherhood. Ferrin thought about the devotion Bangerter had for his children, and he saw a kindred spirit. "I imagined this guy, for years and years, collecting money and putting it away. I understand that need to think for the future and take care of loved ones. I can understand him as a dad."
Ferrin said he, too, is trying to leave something for his children as they grow up. "There's a big world out there and I try to teach them to be good young men," he said. "Sometimes I come short of that. They'll forget about all the lectures I gave them. But I think they will remember this one." Ferrin left the Deseret News but is still an artist. He draws political caricatures and whimsical children's illustrations and has written a book, "Blitz Kids," about his grandfather's role with the University of Utah's improbable basketball championship team in 1944. Ferrin's art and his book, however, are not just a means to earn a living. "It's my attempt to establish a legacy that will last beyond me," Ferrin said. Now Ferrin's deed is part of that legacy.
News of his selfless act spread across the globe. His story is preserved online. He has received letters from around the world. One guy in Australia said he would be honored to buy him a beer. Another person sent him a pocket knife with the engraving, "Honesty has its own rewards." Ferrin had to stop granting interviews after a while because it became too much. He says today that what he gained from giving away his treasure is more than what he found. "It was one of those moments that test your character," Ferrin said. "We are the sum total of our decisions. I didn't want to be the guy who found something and kept something secretly. I don't regret it at all. It made me a better person."
John Blake, CNN, 2013-12-28

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Call to be Witnesses for Jesus

Acts 1:1-11          December 29, 2013          Link for audio/video/document

To be a “witness” for Jesus Christ means to be someone who gives a firsthand account by sacrificially following Jesus because they have seen, heard, and experienced the life-changing, heart-transforming, soul-restoring power of the risen Christ. We are called to the kingdom battle when we hear Jesus call his followers to be his witnesses. Witnesses for Jesus are able to fight for the kingdom because they have been empowered through the Holy Spirit by their belief that Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus rules and reigns as King, and Jesus will someday return. When we truly seek to be “witnesses” for Jesus - our lives, our families, our friends, our enemies, our churches, and the world around us will be dramatically transformed!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Promised King

Isaiah 9:1-7                    December 22, 2013               Link for audio/video/document

Whatever your circumstance or situation or struggle might be today, know that Jesus is sovereignly in control. The birth of Jesus Christ as a baby, the incarnation of God into man, is also the coming of the glorious, all-powerful, victorious King who died on a cross, rose from the dead and rules and reigns over His kingdom forever and ever. As we celebrate this Christmas, may we see the Jesus of the manger sitting on His throne in heaven - and may we embrace Jesus as our King and allow him to rule and reign in our hearts!

Monday, December 23, 2013

"I Fear the Disapproval of God More Than I Fear Your Disapproval"

"I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or the disapproval of society."
Pastor Rick Warren during an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, on his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. Psalm 25:12-13

The steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him. Psalm 103:17

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Greater Love of Jesus - Ronnie & Anita Smith

“I love them and I do forgive them - I pray with all my heart that the attackers, that maybe this incident will call them to know the love and forgiveness that’s found in Jesus.” Anita Smith, wife of Ronnie Smith, 33 – the American Christian who was teaching at the International School in Benghazi, Libya, who was fatally shot and killed on December 5 four unidentified assailants in a black Jeep.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

CNN, Fri December 20, 2013
To read the entire posting - Click Here

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jacob Chen - An Adoption Story

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:4-6

The Promised Priest

Psalm 110:1-7                December 15, 2013           Link for audio/video/document

The power of the gospel is the power of God for a salvation that rescues us from the wrath of God – so we might then know forgiveness from our sin and our guilt - and rescue from evil and death, so we might be restored to God and know life after death in the eternal joy of the glorious presence of God. Jesus is the Word who became flesh, our promised priest, who sacrificially rescued us from the wrath of God. Sin is our tragedy, Jesus is God’s answer. In this season we celebrate God’s answer. Jesus is our Savior because Jesus is our priest!

God Uses Secret Santa to Change an Atheist

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How to Clear the Clutter in Your Life - Jonathan Parnell

Sometimes our dining room table gets cluttered.
For one, it’s a big table. Every time I have to squeeze around the end chair, sliding my back against the wall, I remind myself that it’s not for the table we live in our house. It actually takes up so much space in our dining room that it’s become the easiest place to set stuff. Toys. Mail. Homework. Cups. More cups. The generous tabletop makes it simpler to just move things around rather than move them away, and after a while, it accumulates a swath of unrelated, inordinate objects into one centralized location, which is called clutter.
Which can be a lot like life.
We are constantly piling on one thing after another onto the tabletop of our lives. There are always more things we should be concerned about, and give attention to, and make room for — somehow. Before long, it’s a life full of clutter. It’s a whirlwind of good intentions, but bad directions — maybe a load of participation, but a litter of purpose. And it stays this way until God’s arm intervenes, mighty to sweep, and clears the table.
Which he does for us in 2 Corinthians 5:9.

The Reality Tension

In the course of defending his apostleship and the gospel he preaches, Paul assures the Corinthians that he is full of hope, that he doesn’t lose heart, that he is always of good courage (2 Corinthians 3:124:1165:68). Why? Because the message he proclaims guarantees this courage. It possesses a surpassing glory beyond the veiled-faced ministry of Moses (2 Corinthians 3:11–13), and it reveals a surpassing power beyond anything for which we’re capable (2 Corinthians 4:7). And on top of all this, Paul knows that one day he is going to be raised from the dead (2 Corinthians 4:14). Everything of this world that surrounds him — the seen reality — is transient. Soon enough it’ll be gone. But simultaneous to this seen reality, there is the unseen, the eternal. This is the reality that will never end (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Paul stays on these realities into chapter five. There’s the tent of our earthly home, our bodies here; and there’s the eternality of our heavenly dwelling, our bodies there (2 Corinthians 5:1). We groan here (in our earthy bodies) to be there (in our glorious bodies). This is the wonderful tension the Spirit creates in us now, like in Romans 8:23. And it’s more reason for Paul to have courage. There’s more to this life, and in fact, it’s even better. “Away from the body and at home with the Lord” means a deeper experience of Jesus’s presence. Life here is a life of faith in hope of that day (2 Corinthians 5:6–8Philippians 1:21Romans 8:24–25).
See, the clutter of our lives makes us lose sight of this — that right now there is a deeper, more wonderful reality awaiting us. We know we should be more heavenly minded. We really do want to stop and smell the roses. We want to experience every “possible theophany” out there. But we’re so here, so now, so busy. There is a tension.

At the End of the Day

Paul seems to understand, or he might as well, because this is where God, through his apostle’s words, clears the table for us. 2 Corinthians 5:9:
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
Paul is saying: Look, whether we’re there with Jesus, or whether we’re here living by faith, the overarching, clear-the-table goal is that we please him.
It’s really that simple. At the end of the day, what matters is whether we have pleased Jesus. When it’s all said and done, we’re going to stand before him (2 Corinthians 5:10). Not our family, not our neighbors, not our boss, not our kids, not our colleagues. We will stand before Jesus. We will see him face to face. And in that moment, the only thing that matters is what he thinks.

For His Good Pleasure

God has stepped in now. He has raked away the rubble. He has opened our eyes.
Our aim in life is to please Jesus. That is the ambition of our every day, our every decision.Does Jesus take delight in this? Which, to be sure, has no determining function in our righteous status as God’s children. By faith alone, in Christ alone, because of grace alone, we are brought into Christ, justified in him, saved from God’s wrath, made his children forever (Ephesians 2:5–8Romans 3:23–24John 1:12–13Romans 5:9). Don’t mistake “please” to mean placate, or appease, or propitiate. That work has been taken care of. We’re talking about joy, about delight — about pleasure, which Wayne Grudem calls an “essential component of any genuine personal relationship” (For the Fame of God’s Name, 279).
Will it make him glad? Will it cheer his heart? Is it for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)? That is the question before us, and the enduring mission in and under and beyond every detail of our lives. We make it our aim to please him.
The table is cleared, just like that.
© 2013 Desiring God

The Promise of a Messiah

Genesis 3:1-19                  December 1, 2013                 Link for audio/video/document

In the beginning, everything God created was good. But then sin entered the world and God’s judgment began. But in the face of our open rebellion against God and His authority over our lives, God graciously and omnipotently put a plan into place to save us from our sin and restore us back into our God-created relationship with Him. At the very moment sin entered the world, God promised to send a Messiah to deliver us from the endless conflict within our souls. Jesus is our promised Messiah!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Walking in the Spirit of Jesus

Galatians 5:13-26           November 24, 2013           Link for audio/video/document

The freedom we have been given in Christ is the freedom to unconditionally serve each other in love, just as Christ did for us. We are only truly free when we desperately walk in the Spirit of Jesus. Walking in the Spirit is manifested in a deeply relational life: our relationship with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, with each other, and with those we don’t even know. This is what we were created to do because the fruit of the Spirit is healthy relationships. The power and joy of walking with Jesus is walking in the Spirit of Jesus together!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Supremacy of Christ in Our Christian Witness

Colossians 4:2-18           November 17, 2013          Link for audio/video/document

The supremacy of Christ can be seen in us most clearly in our Christian witness in the way we speak to God about people, in the way speak to people about God and in the way we serve Jesus Christ. The power and joy of walking with Jesus is embracing the reality that Jesus is the Son of Living God, the Savior, the Redeemer, the Lord of all glory, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, the One who created all things through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might be preeminent over all things. Jesus is Christ in you, the hope of glory, who is supreme in and over everything!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

You Were Created to Sing - Tony Reinke

God created you in his own image to dream, and work, and laugh, and love, and labor, and hope, and eat, and enjoy the good gifts in this world.
“A man is such a noble work of God,” said nineteenth century preacher Charles Spurgeon, “he cannot have been intended merely to measure off yards of silk, or to weigh pounds of sugar, or to sweep street crossings, or to put on crowns, and robes, and diamonds. There is something grander than that for man to do.”
Yes, and most grand of all: God created you to worship, praise, and sing.
The beauty of Christ is the cause of our songs. His glory draws worship from our hearts to our lips (Revelation 5:6–147:9–12).
This Christ-centered, thank-filled worship is the capstone over everything else we are and do in this life (1 Corinthians 10:30–31Colossians 3:17).
And so we sing.
To the best of our ability, we sing in our homes.
We sing with our families.
We sing alone in our cars on the drive to work.
We sing together on Sundays.
And as we raise our voices in church we are “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19–20).
So how do we “speak to one another” in our singing?
Pastor Rick Gamache explains it like this:
We come here to worship together — to respond rightly to the glory of God in Christ as the church. And when we do that, we are fulfilling the very reason we were created. And as we do that, as we sing, we are also helping others fulfill the reason why they were created.
Maybe they came in here burdened by their circumstances and their heart is cold, but when they hear you sing of God’s sovereignty and wisdom and love, the burden is lifted and so they lift their voice in song with you.
Maybe they came in weighed down by the knowledge of their own sin, but when they hear you sing about Christ, who died to bear the punishment of our sin in our place, and who lived a righteous life that’s now credited to our account, the weight is lifted and the heart is softened and they join you and lift their voice in song.
As we sing, our Spirit-filled delight in Christ ministers to the burdened, nudges them to look past the afflictions they carried in, points them back to Christ, and encourages them to rejoin the pleasure of engaging in what we are all created for — worshiping our glorious Savior.
© 2013 Desiring God

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Extravagant Kindness of the Golden Rule

"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” Jesus, in Matthew 7:12

Super Typhoon Haiyan - God is Our Refuge and Strength

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.

"Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46:1-8, 10-11

Friday, November 8, 2013

As the Lord Has Forgiven You, So You Also Must Forgive

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

Pastor Saeed Transferred to Brutal Iranian Prison

November 4, 2013 
The ACLJ has confirmed through Pastor Saeed's family members in Iran that he has been moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj - an even more dangerous prison where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment. . . . 
Pastor Saeed's wife Naghmeh gave the following statement in response to this disturbing turn of events: "The news of Saeed's transfer to this prison is most difficult to bear. I am devastated and I do not know what to tell my children. I am more concerned now about his safety than at any other time during his imprisonment. I can only imagine the torment and anguish he is experiencing. He is truly defenseless in this prison - defenseless from the abuse and violence of other prisoners - defenseless from a radical government that continues to violate his rights. I am grateful for everything our government has done in the past - but now during this most dangerous and uncertain time - I once again call on our government - including President Obama - to fight for Saeed's life and his freedom - to fight for this U.S. citizen. During this most difficult time, I am strengthened by my faith in Jesus Christ and I continue to pray for my husband's safety and his release. I am also very grateful for those who support Saeed and our family." 
To read the entire article, Click Here.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:10-12

Monday, November 4, 2013

Walking in the Riches of the Indwelling Word

Colossians 3:16-17        November 3, 2013       Link for audio/video/document

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Walking Together in the Power and Joy of Jesus

Colossians 3:1-15        October 27, 2013             Link for audio/video/document

Those of us who carry the name Christian can create this same kind of confusion when we fail to act like the one whose name we bear. But when we focus of our hearts on Jesus and set our minds on Jesus and put our hope for the glorious life that Christ has promised us; when we put to death the sin that lives within our hearts and minds, and put away any remaining sins in our hearts and minds, we are then able to put off the old self and put on the new self - so we might walk together in the power and joy of Jesus!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Power of the Peace of God - Charles Wesley

I would, but thou must give me power;
My heart from every sin release;
Bring near, bring near, the joyful hour,
And fill me with they perfect peace.         Charles Wesley

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock     Isaiah 26:3-4

Monday, October 21, 2013

Walking in the Freedom of Christ

Colossians 2:16-23                      October 20, 2013                   Link for audio/video/document

Our greatest protection against spiritual deception is to remember the sufficiency we have in our legal standing before God in Jesus Christ. In Christ we have been given freedom from sin and death – and we have been given the freedom to live for Christ. Christianity is not a matter of what you do or what you don’t do. Christianity is a matter of what has been done for you. Jesus has freed us from the expectations of people and the measure of this world, in order that we might live according to the expectations and measure of God.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Forgiveness: Confession of sin or obedience to conscience?

“God forgives those who obey their conscience.”
Pope Francis, in a letter to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, responding to an editorial that asked whether “the Christian God forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith.” Francis wrote: “The question for those who do not believe in God is to follow their own conscience. Sin, even for a non-believer, is when one goes against one’s conscience.” - Quotables, World Magazine October 5, 2013

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The apostle John – 1 John 1:9, The Holy Bible

Resting in Jesus - Charles Wesley

I would, but thou must give me power;
My heart from every sin release;
Bring near, bring near, thy joyful hour,
And fill me with thy perfect peace.

Charles Wesley

 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Help, My All, in Thee! - Charles Wesley

Wretched, helpless, and distrest,
Ah! Whither shall I fly?
Ever grasping after rest,
I cannot find it nigh:
Naked, sick, and poor, and blind,
Fast bound in sin and misery,
Friend of sinners, let me find
My help, my all, in thee!

Charles Wesley

Walking in Christ: Grounded, Growing and Grateful

Colossians 2:1-7                         October 6, 2013                      Link for audio/video/document

Satan is "the father of lies.” His weapons are deceit and delusion. He will do anything and everything he can do to get us to believe that lies are truth and truth are lies. God calls those in the church to a maturity of faith so that they will not fall victim to false teachings. Spiritual maturity comes through receiving Jesus, being rooted in Jesus, built up in Jesus, established in faith with Jesus, and thankful for Jesus. We can walk in the power and joy of Jesus when we are grounded, growing and grateful in Jesus!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences - Jon Bloom

God’s Bright Design for Your Bitter Providences
by Jon Bloom | October 4, 2013
This is the will of God, your sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”
God tells us everything we need to know to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3). But sometimes we wonder.
The unexpected, unexplained twists and turns our lives take create all kinds of apparent uncertainties for us. And the profound pain we endure can be so perplexing. There is so much God doesn’t tell us — so much we think we would really like to know.
But as Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.”
This means that as creatures we must learn to live contentedly with what God intends to be mysterious to us and grab hold of the revealed things with everything we have.
“Deep in Unfathomable Mines”
The secrets God keeps from us are a greater mercy to us than we likely realize. We often forget just how thin is the sliver of reality we see and information we can contain at any given time. Humans are not equipped to handle what the Bible calls “the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17).
When we want God to start giving us some answers, we need the Bible to help us get our heads out of the claustrophobic confines of our private worlds and into the galactic greatness of what God is allowing us to be a part of. We need to remember that we’re dealing with God here.
God is a person for whom time, space, and matter present no limitations. He has dimensions accessible to him that we know nothing about. He is Trinitarian in his essence (Matthew 28:19). He holds tens (maybe hundreds) of billions of galaxies together by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). He has created and governs every throne, dominion, ruler or authority (Colossians 1:16) and every being that is invisible to us, whether angel (Romans 8:38) or demon (Luke 4:41). He is orchestrating all of human history (Acts 17:26) with its multiple billions of complex individuals past, present, and future — of which each of us is only one — and multiple trillions of interweaving causes and effects — of which each of us only experiences a relative handful. And he’s working all of these things toward a point when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10–11).
And we wonder why we struggle to understand what God is doing in our difficult circumstances.
“He Treasures Up His Bright Designs”
God is doing ten thousand things in our circumstances! That’s likely a significant underestimate.
We would fall on our faces in awe-filled worship if we saw the chain reaction for our eternal good (Romans 8:28) and that of other present and future believers that God is engineering in just one seemingly random occurrence (Proverbs 16:33) that today might be the source of our grumbling because of the grief it is causing us. Now think of a lifetime’s worth.
God doesn’t explicitly promise this, but I tend to think that one of the glories and joys of the age to come will be God’s unveiling of the bright, extensive designs of his bitter providences in this age and the grace upon grace upon grace that they unleashed while we, not knowing, simply held on to Proverbs 3:5 with all our might.
“His Purposes Will Ripen Fast”
But what God does explicitly promise is that every moment and level of suffering we experience as we live by faith (Romans 1:17) “is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
That thing that you don’t want, that you’re weary of, that you plead with God to remove (and might remove at some point unless he says otherwise [2 Corinthians 12:9]) is preparing you for glory.
God’s will for you is your sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3). He wants you to share his holiness (Hebrews 12:10). And the kindness of God in pursuing this for you is incomprehensively wonderful because without his holiness you will have no real and lasting happiness. Only in his presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and only the pure in heart will see him (Matthew 5:8).
You want him to make you holy. You really do. Whatever it takes.
“Ye Fearful Saints Fresh Courage Take”
The God who governs the visible and invisible worlds knows what he is doing in your life. The God who was brutally murdered on a Roman cross knows what it’s like to suffer and how to redeem it. Specifically how he will bring good out of your trials may be mysterious to you now, but that he will bring good out of them is not a mystery. It’s a promise.
And this is where you get to participate with God in your sanctification! You get to act the miracle. You work out your salvation (Philippians 2:12) by believing the promises God makes to you (John 6:29).
And as you believe God’s promises you will bear the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11), which are the attitudes and actions of those who live by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). Behavior always follows belief. So your belief will result in faith-filled obedience to God (Romans 1:5) and produce various kinds of faith-fueled works for God (2 Thessalonians 1:11).
The secret things are the Lord’s for a very good reason. Trust him with the mystery. But the revealed things are yours and they are glorious. Believe them and one day you’ll share God’s holiness and all the forevermore pleasures he has prepared for you (Psalm 16:11).
© 2013 Desiring God

Monday, September 30, 2013

Proclaiming Jesus Christ

Colossians 1:24-29               September 29, 2013            Link for audio/video/document

God expects for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of his people, so that when they do experience times of affliction the world will see the infinite value of Christ's afflictions on the cross for the forgiveness of sin and the resultant new transformed life God offers them through the risen Christ. We, the church, are the gathered people of God. We are to be the physical presence of Jesus on earth. Our purpose is to bear witness in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ unto the world by passionately following Jesus, sharing in the sufferings of Jesus, fully giving of ourselves to serving Jesus, trusting in the promises of Jesus, fulfilling the purpose of Jesus, enabled by power of Jesus.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Blessing of Persecution - Naghmeh Abedini

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:10-16

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Joyful Grace of Suffering - J.C Ryle

If we know anything of growth in grace, and desire to know more, let us not be surprised if we have to go through much trial and affliction in this world. I firmly believe it is the experience of nearly all the most eminent saints. Like their blessed Master they have been men of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and perfected through sufferings. J. C. Ryle 
Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13

When Our Hearts Perceive His Worth - John Newton

When our hearts perceive his worth,
Desires, till then unknown, take place;
Our spirits cleave no more to earth,
But pant for holiness and grace.

John Newton, Olney Hymn #32

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. Psalm 73:25

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Power of Prayer in Times of Persecution

Emily Belz, World Magazine - Posted: Sept. 23, 2013
Unexpected Encounter 
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani crosses paths with the wife of jailed pastor Saeed Abedini in an answer to prayer  
NEW YORK—Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived at the United Nations Monday projecting the face of a reforming Iran after his government released 80 opposition prisoners. The newly elected president said he would “take the opportunity to present the true face of Iran as a cultured and peace-loving country,” and he may even meet with President Barack Obama. 
When Rouhani arrived at his New York hotel across the street from the UN, where the General Assembly begins this week, he crossed paths with the wife of a prisoner his country has not released: American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini. 
Abedini has now been held in Evin Prison for almost a year, arrested as a threat to national security while he worked at an orphanage in Iran. His lawyers in the United States say he was jailed for his faith, and that he has been tortured and beaten in the year since. The government sentenced Abedini to eight years in prison and has refused to allow him to speak to his wife, Naghmeh, and their two young children, ages 7 and 5. Naghmeh said the Iranians executed two prisoners in front of her husband in an effort to intimidate him. 
Naghmeh Abedini happened to be staying in the same hotel as Rouhani, though she and her lawyer from the American Center for Law and Justice, Tiffany Barrans, had not intentionally booked a room there. They said this was the only hotel their travel agent could find near the UN. Later, while reading news reports, they realized they would be in the same hotel and prayed they might cross paths with Rouhani. 
I met Abedini and Barrans in the hotel lobby for an interview, and they noticed Iranian security detail milling about. Partway into our conversation, Barrans noticed American and Iranian security becoming more active. 
“Something’s happening,” Barrans said. A few moments passed. “That’s him, that’s him,” she said, as Rouhani walked by, less than 10 feet from Abedini. 
“President Rouhani?” Abedini asked her attorney in disbelief. 
“Yes,” said Barrans. Rouhani was less recognizable because he wore a suit, not his traditional dress. Abedini grabbed a letter her husband had written the president and walked over to the bank of elevators, where Rouhani was surrounded by Iranian and American security. He stepped onto an elevator, but some of his Iranian aides stayed behind. 
Abedini approached one of the Iranian aides and said in Farsi, “I’m the wife of Saeed Abedini, who you have in Evin Prison.” She said the aide looked shocked and recognized the name. She asked him to give the president the letter, and the aide said he would. 
The chances of this kind of meeting are very slim because security is so tight around the General Assembly. Barricades and security checks surrounded the hotel, along with dozens of FBI agents and New York Police Department officers. Also, Barran only had an non-governmental organization pass to the UN, so the two wouldn't have access to the actual General Assembly. The meeting in the hotel lobby was the only way they could have come so close to Rouhani. 
“I didn’t know if they were going to stop me,” Naghmeh Abedini said of the Iranian security after she returned to our seats. “That was so intense.” 
She said of Rouhani, “OK, you’re a moderate—let’s see it.”
Copyright © 2013 God's World Publications

Who Rules Your Heart?

Colossians 1:15-23                 September 22, 2013              Link for audio/video/document

Who rules our hearts? Jesus was God in the flesh. He is our sovereign, supreme ruler of all things – who creates and sustains all things is the one who reconciles us back to God. May the ruler of all things reign and rule in all of our hearts – to the glory of God and to the praise of his name!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Happy Are They Who Give Themselves to God!

Happy are they who give themselves to God!
They are delivered from their passions,
from the judgments of others,
from their malice,
from the tyranny of their sayings,
from their cold and wretched mocking,
from the misfortunes which the world distributes to wealth,
from the unfaithfulness and inconstancy of friends,
from the wiles and snares of the enemy,
from our own weakness,
from the misfortunes and brevity of life,
from the horrors of a profane death,
from cruel remorse attached to wicked pleasures,
and in the end, from the eternal condemnation of God.

François Fénelon

Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. Psalm 5:11

They Shall Mount up on Wings Like Eagles

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

Grace Gone Wild - David Mathis

Grace Gone Wild   by David Mathis | September 19, 2013
Grace is on the loose.
Contrary to our expectations, counter to our assumptions, frustrating our judicial sentiments, mocking our craving for control, the grace of God is turning the world upside down. He is shamelessly pouring out his lavish favor on undeserving sinners of all stripes, and thoroughly stripping away our self-sufficiency.
Primeval and Unbridled
Grace has been on the move since before creation, roaming wild and free. Even before the foundation of the world, it was the untamed grace of God that jumped the bounds of time and space and considered a yet-to-be-created people in connection with his Son, and chose them in him (Ephesians 1:4). It was in love — and to the praise of his glorious grace — that “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus” (Ephesians 1:5–6). Such a divine choice was not based on foreseeing anything good in us. He chose us by grace — not “on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:5–6). It was “not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
With patience, then — through creation, fall, and flood, through Adam, Noah, Abraham, and David — God prepared the way. Humanity waited and groaned, gathering up the crumbs of his compassion as a foretaste of some feast to come. The prophets “prophesied about the grace that was to be yours” (1 Peter 1:10). And in the fullness of time, it came. He came.
Invading Our Space
Now “the grace of God has appeared” (Titus 2:11). Grace couldn’t be kept from becoming flesh and dwelling among us in the God-man, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1:16). The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth are here in him (John 1:17). Grace has a face.
But grace would not be restricted even here, even in this man. Grace would not just be embodied, but break the chains to roam the globe unfettered.
Casting Away Restraints
It was sheer grace that united us by faith to Grace Incarnate, and blessed us in him “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). In grace were we called with effect, and given new birth. Because of grace unmeasured, boundless, free, now our dead hearts beat and lifeless lungs breathe. Only through grace do we believe (Acts 18:27), and only in grace do we receive “repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25).
But such wild grace keeps going. We get the Spirit, and experience our long-planned adoption, and cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). We receive “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Grace keeps breaking through barriers and casting away restraints. Grace justifies. A perfect, impeachable, divinely approved, humanly applied righteousness is ours in this union with Jesus. We are “justified by his grace as a gift” (Romans 3:24Titus 3:7). Through this one man Jesus, we are counted among “those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17). And so we happily say with Paul, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Galatians 2:21).
Breaking into Our Lives
And just when we think we have been carried far enough, that God has done for us all that we could imagine and more, grace shatters the mold again. Grace sanctifies — too wild to let us stay in love with unrighteousness. Too free to leave us in slavery to sin. Too untamed to let our lusts go unconquered. Grace’s power is too uninhibited to not unleash us for the happiness of holiness.
So it is that we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), and live “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Grace abounds not through our continuing in sin, but through our Spirit-empowered, ongoing liberation (Romans 6:1). Grace is too strong to leave us passive, too potent to let us wallow in the mire of our sins and weaknesses. “My grace is sufficient for you,” says Jesus, “for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Flooding the Future
Just when we’re sure it is done, and certain that some order must be restored and some boundary established, God’s grace not only floods our future in this life, but leaps spans the divide into the next, and pours out onto the plains of our eternity. Grace glorifies.
If the Scriptures didn’t make plain the story of our glory, we’d be scared to even dream of such grace. Not only will Jesus be glorified in us, but we will be glorified in him, “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:16). He is “the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ” (1 Peter 5:10). So Peter tells us to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). It will be indescribably stunning in the coming ages as he shows “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
Chosen before time. Called with effect. United to Jesus in faith and repentance. Adopted and forgiven. Justified. Sanctified. Glorified. And satisfied forever. Grace gone wonderfully wild.
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/grace-gone-wild        © 2013 Desiring God