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.        © 2013 Desiring God

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Choosing the Kingdom over Football - Christian Ballard

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
The SportsXchange – Tuesday, 17 September, 2013

Ex-Viking Ballard: NFL was no longer enjoyable

After a month of silence, Christian Ballard opened up Tuesday regarding the reason he walked away from the Minnesota Vikings in training camp. The former defensive lineman told USA Today that he wasn't enjoying life in the NFL anymore.

The revelation came less than a week after Ballard was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery following a dispute with his wife at their Lawrence, Kan., home, according to USA Today. The district attorney dropped the case without filing charges, the newspaper reported. Ballard, 24, left the Vikings on Aug. 18 and married Victoria Hallenbeck less than two weeks later, according to USA Today.

After he was selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft out the University of Iowa, Ballard played all 32 games for Minnesota the next two seasons. He started twice as a rookie. Ballard made 13 tackles in 2011, 16 tackles in 2012, including one sack.

"I wasn't really having a good time playing football," Ballard told the newspaper. "It wasn't fun for me. It wasn't a blast for me. Making that much money -- that was fun. But money is still a material thing. You can always make money. You can't make that time that you lose with your friends and your loved ones. Time is something that you can never get back."

Ballard told USA Today that leaving the NFL is allowing him extra time with his 3-year-old son from a previous relationship, and that he hopes to complete an undergraduate degree in art. He said he's become a church-goer again. He refused to rule out a future return to football.

"(Playing in the NFL) made me selfish," Ballard said in the interview. "It made me complacent. I just thought that I was better than everyone. Don't get me wrong -- there are tons of people who play in the NFL and are strong believers in the Lord and they have a great lifestyle. But for me, it wasn't really working out. "I'm not sitting here saying I'm done forever. I've just got to re-evaluate what I really want to do with my life and go from there."

The Strength of Weakness - Carlos Guevara

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong . . . 1 Corinthians 1:27


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Power and Joy of Walking with Jesus

Colossians 1:1-14                  September 15, 2013                Link for audio/video/document

When we initially come to faith in Jesus Christ we are spiritual infants. And just as in our physical lives, once we are spiritually born in Christ, we are also to grow and mature spiritually in our walk with Christ. The power of walking with Jesus is the power of risen Christ that lives within the heart of those who are truly following Jesus. The joy of walking with Jesus is the joy of pursuing spiritual maturity as God works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. God is pleased when we live out the work of the cross of Christ in our lives in pursuit of spiritual maturity!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Living in the Grace of Jesus

Titus 2:11-14                    September 8, 2013                     Link for audio/video/document

It is by the grace of God that we are saved. But God’s grace does not stop at salvation. It was God’s grace manifested in the person of Jesus Christ that brought us salvation. And as a result of our salvation, God’s grace empowers us to live for Jesus. Just as our brothers and sisters before us struggled in their walk with Jesus and with living out their faith in Jesus in the church, so do we struggle in our walk with Jesus and with living out our faith in Jesus in the church. Living in the grace of Jesus means by the grace of Jesus we have been saved - and because of the grace of Jesus we can live for him – “zealous for good works.”

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Husbands, Love Your Wives, as Christ Loved the Church

“When I am done playing golf, I’d rather be noted for being a good husband and good father than anything else.” 
Professional golfer Hunter Mahan, on leaving the Canadian Open and flying to Dallas on July 28 after receiving word that his wife went into labor three weeks early. Mahan was at the time leading the Open, which pays its winner more than $1 million.

World Magazine/August 24, 2013 - Quotables

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27

Drafted by God