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What A Mighty God We Serve

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God Confronts Job

And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. He said:

‘’Why do you confuse the issue?

Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about?

Pull yourself together, Job!

Up on your feet! Stand tall!

I have some questions for you,

and I want some straight answers.

Where were you when I created the earth?

Tell me, since you know so much!

Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that!

Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?

How was its foundation poured,

and who set the cornerstone,

While the morning stars sang in chorus

and all the angels shouted praise?

And who took charge of the ocean

when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?

That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds,

and tucked it in safely at night.

Then I made a playpen for it,

a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose,

And said, ‘Stay here, this is your place.

Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’

“And have you ever ordered Morning, ‘Get up!’

told Dawn, ‘Get to work!’

So you could seize Earth like a blanket

and shake out the wicked like cockroaches?

As the sun brings everything to light,

brings out all the colours and shapes,

The cover of darkness is snatched from the wicked

they’re caught in the very act!

“Have you ever gotten to the true bottom of things,

explored the labyrinthine caves of deep ocean?

Do you know the first thing about death?

Do you have one clue regarding death’s dark mysteries?

And do you have any idea how large this earth is?

Speak up if you have even the beginning of an answer.

“Do you know where Light comes from

and where Darkness lives

So you can take them by the hand

and lead them home when they get lost?

Why, of course you know that.

You’ve known them all your life,

grown up in the same neighbourhood with them!

“Have you ever travelled to where snow is made,

seen the vault where hail is stockpiled,

The arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness

for times of trouble and battle and war?

Can you find your way to where lightning is launched,

or to the place from which the wind blows?

Who do you suppose carves canyons

for the downpours of rain, and charts

the route of thunderstorms

That bring water to unvisited fields,

deserts no one ever lays eyes on,

Drenching the useless wastelands

so they’re carpeted with wildflowers and grass?

And who do you think is the father of rain and dew,

the mother of ice and frost?

You don’t for a minute imagine

these marvels of weather just happen, do you?

“Can you catch the eye of the beautiful Pleiades sisters,

or distract Orion from his hunt?

Can you get Venus to look your way,

or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out and play?

Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations

and how they affect things on Earth?

“Can you get the attention of the clouds,

and commission a shower of rain?

Can you take charge of the lightning bolts

and have them report to you for orders?

What Do You Have to Say for Yourself?

“Who do you think gave weather-wisdom to the ibis,

and storm-savvy to the rooster?

Does anyone know enough to number all the clouds

or tip over the rain barrels of heaven

When the earth is cracked and dry,

the ground baked hard as a brick?

“Can you teach the lioness to stalk her prey

and satisfy the appetite of her cubs

As they crouch in their den,

waiting hungrily in their cave?

And who sets out food for the ravens

when their young cry to God,

fluttering about because they have no food?”

“Do you know the month when mountain goats give birth?

Have you ever watched a doe bear her fawn?

Do you know how many months she is pregnant?

Do you know the season of her delivery,

when she crouches down and drops her offspring?

Her young ones flourish and are soon on their own;

they leave and don’t come back.

“Who do you think set the wild donkey free,

opened the corral gates and let him go?

I gave him the whole wilderness to roam in,

the rolling plains and wide-open places.

He laughs at his city cousins, who are harnessed and harried.

He’s oblivious to the cries of teamsters.

He grazes freely through the hills,

nibbling anything that’s green.

“Will the wild buffalo condescend to serve you,

volunteer to spend the night in your barn?

Can you imagine hitching your plow to a buffalo

and getting him to till your fields?

He’s hugely strong, yes, but could you trust him,

would you dare turn the job over to him?

You wouldn’t for a minute depend on him, would you,

to do what you said when you said it?

“The ostrich flaps her wings futilely—

all those beautiful feathers, but useless!

She lays her eggs on the hard ground,

leaves them there in the dirt, exposed to the weather,

Not caring that they might get stepped on and cracked

or trampled by some wild animal.

She’s negligent with her young, as if they weren’t even hers.

She cares nothing about anything.

She wasn’t created very smart, that’s for sure,

wasn’t given her share of good sense.

But when she runs, oh, how she runs,

laughing, leaving horse and rider in the dust.

“Are you the one who gave the horse his prowess

and adorned him with a shimmering mane?

Did you create him to prance proudly

and strike terror with his royal snorts?

He paws the ground fiercely, eager and spirited,

then charges into the fray.

He laughs at danger, fearless,

doesn’t shy away from the sword.

The banging and clanging

of quiver and lance don’t faze him.

He quivers with excitement, and at the trumpet blast

races off at a gallop.

At the sound of the trumpet he neighs mightily,

smelling the excitement of battle from a long way off,

catching the rolling thunder of the war cries.

“Was it through your know-how that the hawk learned to fly,

soaring effortlessly on thermal updrafts?

Did you command the eagle’s flight,

and teach her to build her nest in the heights,

Perfectly at home on the high cliff face,

invulnerable on pinnacle and crag?

From her perch she searches for prey,

spies it at a great distance.

Her young gorge themselves on carrion;

wherever there’s a roadkill, you’ll see her circling.”

God then confronted Job directly:

“Now what do you have to say for yourself?

Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?”

Job answered:

“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.

I should never have opened my mouth!

I’ve talked too much, way too much.

I’m ready to shut up and listen.”

Job 38-40 (MSG)

He Didn’t Throw Me Away

“A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out…” – Isaiah 42:3

Empty and broken, I came back to Him
A vessel unworthy, so scarred with sin.
But He did not despair…He started over again
And I bless the day, He didn’t throw the clay away.

Over and over, He molds me and makes me,
Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

He is the Potter…I am the clay
And molded in His image, He wants me to stay.
Oh, but when I stumble…
When I fall…
When my vessel breaks,
He just picks up those pieces,
He does not throw the clay away…

Over and over, He molds me and makes me,
Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

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Lyrics by Terri Gibbs / Photo by Marina Shatskih from Pexels

Rachel and Steve Saint Testimony

Rachel Saint always wanted to be a missionary when she grew up. Do you know what a missionary is? Somebody who travels to another country and tells people who have never heard of Jesus, all the Jesus stories.  Why do you think they would do a crazy thing like that? Because Jesus commanded us to go to all the people in the world and teach them everything he taught us – but only if they want to hear about it. If you get there and the people aren’t interested, that’s OK, Jesus said just move on to a different place. But everybody in the whole world should at least get a chance to decide for themselves if the teachings of Jesus are true or not.

Natives and problem of violence

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Rachel wanted to tell Jesus stories to the Waorani Indians of Ecuador.  Of all the people in the world, why do you think Rachel wanted to tell the Waorani Indians stories about Jesus?  (1) No missionary had ever been there before. The Waorani had never even heard the word “Jesus.  (2) The Waorani had a big problem, a “cycle of violence.”  Here’s how a cycle of violence works.  Your friend hits you.  So you get your brother and hit him back. Then, he gets his big sister and she hits you back. Then, you get your big brother and he hits her and her brother. And it just goes on and on and on. Except the Waoranis didn’t just hit each other. They killed each other with spears. Even little boys were taught how to kill people with spears if they did something to hurt your family.  Rachel thought, maybe if the Waorani people learn about not taking revenge, they will have a happier life.

Men and Women and child

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Rachel worked for an organization called the Wyclyffe Translators. Her part of the job was to learn the Waorani language and make a dictionary of all their words. Then, after she learned their language she would re-write the whole Bible in their language and give it to them as a gift. The Waorani people could decide for themselves if they believed it or not.  Rachel wasn’t alone. There was a team of 5 missionaries who were working together to make a Bible for the Waoranis. One of them was her brother, Nate. Nate’s job was to fly the airplane into the jungle and drop off food and supplies. Nate was married and had a little 5 year old boy named Steve.

Steve and readiness to die

Steve didn’t like that his Dad was a missionary. Every time he saw his Dad get in a plane, he was afraid it would crash. Or, he was afraid the Indians might spear his Dad to death. Steve had heard about how the Indians were good at killing people with their spears.  But Steve’s Dad said, “Son, I am ready to go to heaven any time God wants me to come. But the Waorani are not ready yet.  So I have to go make friends with them.” He began a gift exchange with them. Jim Elliot, another member of the missionary team put it like this, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Plane airdrop, Heavenly Vision

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One day Steve’s worst fear came true.  His dad and 4 other men landed their plane near the Waorani tribe and all of them were speared to death.  But a funny thing happened to the man who killed Steve’s dad.  His name was Mincaye. After Mincaye killed Steve’s dad, he suddenly knew this was a holy man, and he felt remorse.

Women Move In

After the five men were killed, two of the women made a courageous choice. Steve’s aunt, Rachel, and Jim Elliot’s wife, Elizabeth, continued the gift exchange until the Waorani invited them to come live with their people. Maybe women were less threatening. It also didn’t hurt that Elizabeth Elliot had a two year old daughter.

Translating

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It took years for the women to learn the language, the cultural context, and create an alphabet. Finally, the day came when they assembled a team of volunteers to help them translate the New Testament from Greek, and then the Old Testament from Hebrew. One of the first things the volunteers noticed about following the “trail of Jesus” is that he teaches his followers to never take revenge.

One By One

One day, when the men were organizing a revenge killing, one of the translators refused to participate because he was beginning to have faith in Jesus. The other men ridiculed, ostracized and persecuted him, but the translator held firm. At the next revenge killing, a second man refused to participate. Everybody ganged up on him, too. To make a long story short, the cycle of violence stopped. The Waorani people went from one of the most violent cultures in the world to one of the most peaceful.

Angry Teenager

While all these wonderful things were happening to Rachel, Elizabeth, and the Waoranis, Steve was growing up with his single mom in Florida. Steve wished he had a dad like all the other kids. He grew into an angry teenager. Aunt Rachel had an idea. Why don’t you let him come live in the jungle with me for a while?  Steve’s mom thought that was a great idea.

Mincaye

Do you remember the name of the man who killed Steve’s father? It is pronounced min-kie-yay.  How do you think Mincaye felt when he heard that the son of the man he killed was coming for a visit? Mincaye knew what he had to do. He asked Steve to meet him alone at the very spot where Steve’s dad was murdered. He brought his spear. Steve never forgot that moment when his father’s killer told him exactly what happened that day ten years ago.  Mincaye said, “Your father was a holy man. I have regretted what I did every day since. It is our custom that when I murder an innocent man, the son has the right to kill me.” He handed Steve the spear. Steve said he would not actually spear somebody, but in his heart he truly wanted to.

A Father

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Mincaye asked Aunt Rachel, “What is wrong with Steve? He doesn’t know how to climb a tree or track animals. He doesn’t even know how to use a blow gun!” Aunt Rachel said, “Steve doesn’t have a father to teach him.” Mincaye replied, “I took away his father, so I will be a father to him.”  He taught Steve how to use a blow gun, to track animals, to fish, and to climb trees. Steve forgave Mincaye. What do you think happened to all that anger in Steve’s heart? It melted away.

Visiting

Every year after that, Steve would visit Mincaye. Sometimes Mincaye would visit Steve in Florida. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw an American grocery store! Other than that, he said people are the same underneath. When Steve got married and had children, they called Mincaye “grandfather”. Mincaye loved playing with the children. Guess what he taught them to do? Climb trees and track animals. You can’t use a blow gun in Florida.

Injury

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Steve started I-TEC, a company that invents helicopters and other machines to help jungle missionaries get in and out safely. On June 13, 2012, he was seriously injured by a falling piece of equipment while testing it. He was partially paralyzed from the neck down. Mincaye flew up and cared for him in Florida. To this day, Mincaye has been a father to Steve and Steve has been a son to Mincaye.

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Many people I know think that it is wrong for missionaries to go to a different country and tell people about Jesus. They say missionaries will ruin their culture. And, who are you to think your religion is better than theirs. What do you think?  What do you imagine the Waorani think?

 

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Bibliography

Benge, Janet & Geoff, Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer, YWAM Publishing, Seattle, WA, 1998.

By Nancy’s Testimonials at Nancy’s Hero Stories

Religious or Spiritual?

Our goal is to become more Christ-like in character “…For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” ~ Romans 8:29

“If you are more interested in going to meetings than in crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24), you are religious, not spiritual.

If you are more interested in reading your Bible every morning than in controlling your tongue the whole day, you are religious, not spiritual.

If you are more interested in fasting and prayer than in being free from the love of money, you are religious, not spiritual.

If you are more interested in evangelism than in personal sanctification, you are religious, not spiritual.

All the activities of religious people mentioned in the above examples are good. But it is a question of priorities. It is right priorities that makes a man spiritual.”

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** Quote by Brother Zac Poonen / Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

Less of Me

Let me be a little kinder

Let me be a little blinder to the faults of those of around me

Let me praise a little more 

Let me be when I am weary, Just a little bit more cheery

think a little more of others, and a little less of me 

Let me be a little braver, when temptations make me waver

Let me strive a little harder, to be all that I could be

 Let me be a little meeker, with a brother who is weaker

Let me think more of my neighbour, and a little less of me 

Let me be a little nearer, let me speak a little clearer

of the One who came to love me, who died to set me free 

Let me be when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery

Let me think more of my neighbour, and a little less of me 

Let me climb a little higher, let me think a little purer

Let me help all those around me, who are so much in need 

Let me be a little closer, to be a brother who’s a loser

Let me climb a little higher, In every word and deed. 

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*Base tune and lyrics by Glen Campbell

5 Sins Jesus Hated Most

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

As we grow spiritually, we will discover that the righteousness of God is not primarily external, and that sin too is not primarily external. When we talk about righteousness, most people think of the standard mentioned in the ten commandments. But righteousness under the new covenant is measured by the life of Jesus and not by any written Law. When we consider the sins that Jesus spoke against the most, we will discover what He hated the most. As we consider five such sins, we will see that none of them are listed in the ten commandments!!

1. Hypocrisy

To be a hypocrite is to give others the impression that we are holier than we actually are. It is the same as being false, or telling a lie. Jesus pronounced a curse on hypocrites seven times in Matthew 23:13-29. It is possible to tell a lie without even opening our mouths. Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit without saying a word – when he pretended to be a wholehearted disciple of Jesus (Acts 5:1-5).

Jesus told the Pharisees that their inner life was “full of self indulgence” (Mt. 23:25) – which meant that they lived only to please themselves. Yet they gave others the impression that because they knew the Scriptures well and fasted and prayed and tithed their income, they were very holy. They appeared very pious externally. They prayed lengthy prayers in public, but they did not pray at length in private – just like many today. It is hypocrisy if we praise God only on Sunday mornings, but do not have a spirit of praise in our hearts at all times. God looks at our hearts. The wise virgins had a hidden reserve of oil in their vessels while the foolish ones had only enough to light their lamps externally and have a good testimony before men (Mt. 25: 1- 4). When we hear of a Christian leader suddenly falling into adultery, we must realise that that was no sudden fall but the final result of a long period of unfaithfulness in his inner life. He was a hypocrite for long!

2. Spiritual Pride

Spiritual pride is the most common sin to be found among those who pursue after holiness. We all know the parable of the self-righteous Pharisee who despised others even in his prayer (Luke 18:9-14)! It is more than likely that 90% of all prayers offered in public by believers are primarily meant to impress others who are listening and not prayed to God at all. The Pharisee in the parable may not have been evil like other sinners in his external life. But Jesus hated the pride with which he thought of his spiritual activities and with which he despised others. It is spiritual pride that makes believers constantly judge other believers.

The tax collector however, who saw himself as THE sinner – worse than all others – was accepted by God. All who have come face to face with God will have seen themselves at some time, as the chief of sinners. Jesus taught that the greatest person in heaven would be the humblest (Matthew 18:4). The greatest virtue found in heaven is humility. We see in the book of Revelation that all those who receive crowns in heaven are quick to cast them down before the Lord acknowledging that He alone deserves every crown (Revelation 4:10,11).

Jesus said that even if we managed to obey EVERY SINGLE commandment of God, we would still be unprofitable servants who had not done anything more than what was expected of us (Luke 17:10). Then what shall we say about our condition when we fall so often!

3. Impurity

Impurity enters into our hearts mainly through our eyes and our ears. This impurity then comes OUT from our hearts and expresses itself through the various members of our bodies – primarily through our tongues and our eyes. Anyone who seeks to be pure must therefore be especially careful about what he sees and what he hears. Jesus hated impurity so much that He told His disciples that they should be willing to pluck out their right eye and cut off their right hand rather than sin with those members (Matthew 5:27-29).

When do doctors recommend the amputation of the right hand or the surgical removal of an eye? Only when things have become so bad that without the removal of these organs, the whole body would die. This is what we need to understand in relation to sin as well. Sin is so serious that it can imperil our very life. Most believers have not realised this and that is why they are careless in the way they use their tongues and their eyes. We must be as blind men and as dumb men when tempted to sin with our eyes and our tongues. This is the implication of Jesus’ words.

4. Indifference To Human Need

Jesus was angry when the leaders of the synagogue did not want Him to heal a man, just because it was the Sabbath day “He was deeply disturbed by their indifference to human need” (Mark 3:5 – Living).

We are commanded to do good to all men, especially to the children of God (Galatians 6: 10). Jesus taught that those who did nothing to help their brothers who were in need of the basic necessities of life, would be cast out of His presence in the final day (Matthew 25:41-46). We may not have the gift of healing to heal sick believers. But we can all certainly visit those who are sick and encourage them. That’s all the Lord asks of us.

The rich man went to hell because he did not care for his brother Lazarus, who was a fellow Jew and a fellow son of Abraham. The priest and the Levite in the parable of the good Samaritan, were exposed as hypocrites by Jesus because they did not show compassion on their fellow- brother- Jew who was lying on the roadside wounded. The Bible says that those who see their brothers in need and who are not moved to help them do not really have saving faith (James 2:15-17). They are only deceiving themselves when they say that they are born again; they are not. Those who do not help their brothers in need cannot possibly have the love of God dwelling in their hearts (1 John 3:17) . Jesus spoke out strongly on such matters because He hated the attitude that many religious people had who were concerned only with religious activities but not with helping their needy brothers.

5. Unbelief

The four sins that we have already mentioned can easily be identified as sins by all believers. But when it comes to unbelief, almost all believers think of it, not as a sin but as a weakness. And therefore they don’t learn to hate unbelief as they hate other sins.

But the Bible speaks of an unbelieving heart as an EVIL heart (Hebrews 3: 12) Jesus rebuked His disciples seven times for unbelief. (See Matthew 6:308:2614:3116:817:17-20Mark 16:14Luke 24:25). It seems that He almost never rebuked His disciples for anything else!!

Unbelief is an insult to God, because it implies that God does not care or provide for His children even as much as evil fathers on earth care and provide for their children.

There is also a counterfeit faith being preached these days, as a means of getting things from God. But that is not the faith that Jesus preached. He wanted us to have faith to live by, in our daily life. Victory over depression, bad moods and discouragement can come only as we have faith in a loving Father in heaven and in the wonderful promises He has given us in His Word.

Twice we read of Jesus being amazed – once when he saw FAITH and once when He saw UNBELIEF!! (Matthew 8:10Mark 6:6). Jesus was excited whenever He saw faith in people. And He was disappointed when He saw people unwilling to trust in a loving Father in heaven.

Now That We Know

Now that we have understood what Jesus hated the most, it should be our aim to hate these five sins too. As we discover these sins in our lives, we must crucify them ruthlessly.

Many preachers read articles like this regularly, only in order to get points for their sermons. Let me warn all such: Satan will tempt you to use this article just to get five points for a sermon! But what you need to do, first of all, is to hate these sins thoroughly in your own life.

Then you will be able to proclaim God’s Word with authority. Otherwise you will only be a Pharisee like many other preachers in the world.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

 

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**By Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/ 

Picture by Magda Ehlers at pexels

The Hammer, The File and The Furnace

So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
~ 1 Peter 1:7

The hammer is a useful tool, but the nail, if it had feeling and intelligence, could present another side of the story. For the nail knows the hammer only as an opponent, a brutal, merciless enemy who lives to pound it into submission, to beat it down out of sight and clinch it into place. That is the nail’s view of the hammer, and it is accurate except for one thing: The nail forgets that both it and the hammer are servants of the same workman. Let the nail but remember that the hammer is held by the workman and all resentment toward it will disappear. The carpenter decides whose head will be beaten next and what hammer shall be used in the beating. That is his sovereign right. When the nail has surrendered to the will of the workman and has gotten a little glimpse of his benign plans for its future it will yield to the hammer without complaint.

The file is more painful still, for its business is to bite into the soft metal, scraping and eating away the edges till it has shaped the metal to its will. Yet the file has, in truth, no real will in the matter, but serves another master as the metal also does. It is the master and not the file that decides how much shall be eaten away, what shape the metal shall take, and how long the painful filing shall continue. Let the metal accept the will of the master and it will not try to dictate when or how it shall be filed.

As for the furnace, it is the worst of all. Ruthless and savage, it leaps at every combustible thing that enters it and never relaxes its fury till it has reduced it all to shapeless ashes. All that refuses to burn is melted to a mass of helpless matter, without will or purpose of its own. When everything is melted that will melt and all is burned that will burn, then and not till then the furnace calms down and rests from its destructive fury. 

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

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  *** By A.W. Tozer The root of the Righteous / Photo by Kateryna Babaieva from Pexels

Afraid of What?

E.H. Hamilton, a Presbyterian missionary to China, wrote the poem below to reflect upon and commemorate the martyrdom of his fellow missionary J.W. Vinson (1880-1931). In October 1931, as Vinson visited some believers 18 miles from his mission station, the area was overwhelmed by a group of 600 bandits. Vinson was taken hostage along with around 150 others. Offered freedom if he would write a letter to the commanding officer of government troops telling them to withdraw, Vinson declined “unless all the hostages are released”. The bandit chief refused and Vinson was shot and killed. His decapitated body was later found by Edward Currie, and he was buried in the small missionary cemetery in Haichow.

As his captors prepared to execute Vinson, waving a gun in his face they asked him, “Are you afraid?”. A girl who witnessed the event later testified that Vison replied, “No. If you shoot, I go straight to heaven.” This incident inspired E.H. Hamilton to write his poem.


Afraid? Of what?
To feel the spirit’s glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Saviour’s face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace,
The glory gleam from wounds of grace,
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
A flash – a crash – a pierced heart;
Brief darkness – Light – O Heaven’s art!
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To enter into Heaven’s rest,
And yet to serve the Master blessed?
From service good to service best?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To do by death what life could not –
Baptise with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from that spot?
Afraid? Of that?

Poem by E.H. Hamilton

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By webtruth.org / Photo Great wall of China by Tom Fisk at pexels

Home Builder or Demolition Expert?


The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1

It is interesting to follow the ongoing description of two women in Proverbs. These two women are the wise and godly woman and the immoral and foolish woman. Here they are contrasted in how they deal with their own house. House is used here not of a literal building but rather of how a woman builds up her own family. Thus the wise woman builds up her family. She is selfless and gives herself away to strengthen and encourage and bless her family members. Her husband knows her love and support – and her children are partakers of her love, discipline, and care. Truly, the woman who does this gives untold blessings to her family. Her spirit pervades the home and makes it so much more than just a place to live – but a place to grow and thrive. Keil and Delitzsch make a comment that I want to quote here.

“In truth, the oneness of the house is more dependent on the mother than on the father. A wise mother can, if her husband be dead or neglectful of his duty, always keep the house together; but if the house-wife has neither understanding nor good-will for her calling, then the best will of the house-father cannot hinder the dissolution of the house, prudence and patience only conceal and mitigate the process of dissolution—the folly of the house-wife, always becomes more and more, according to the degree in which this is a caricature of her calling, the ruin of the house.”

Moms are such a blessing to the home if they are godly ones. They will build up their homes with their own hands and with their own works. That house is truly blessed to have one – to have a mother who is a wise woman – and who builds up her home by her constant efforts to make it a place of peace and an environment where the work and presence of the Holy Spirit is welcome.

On the other hand – the foolish woman tears down her home with her own hands. Her foolishness is what is keyed upon here. Foolishness throughout the book of Proverbs is seen in those who do not take God’s perspective on things. To the extent that a woman does not focus upon the Lord – to that extent she will tear her own house to the ground. Women who focus on wealth and the world’s view of beauty will do great damage to their sons and daughters. The woman who thinks that a career is far more important than the job of being a mom will do great damage, not just to her own family, but to the society around them. Multiply this attitude a million-fold in a society and you have the makings of that societies’ downfall. She can teach her daughters that they should focus on chasing men rather than seeking God. She can have them think that a man is gotten by her female wiles rather than by her chaste and godly character. Such foolish women have destroyed their homes down through the ages. The Bible is full of examples of both these women.

Ahab, that wicked king of Israel had two of them in his life. First his mother did not rear him to fear the Lord. It is amazing to see that every king had his mother mentioned – and then afterward it is told whether he did right or evil in God’s sight. Possilby her greatest failure with Ahab was allowing him to marry Jezebel, the second foolish woman in his life. She counselled and encouraged Ahab to do evil and even to kill to get a piece of land he wanted. Ahab turned into a pouty, spoiled, godless man due to the influence of these women. He was responsible for his own actions, but how often the actions of a child reflect the mother who reared him. Ahab wound up destroying not just himself, but ever single child born to him. In the end, both his mother and Jezebel destroyed and tore down their houses with their own hands. These are not the only women who exhibit this behavior. There is Athaliah, who not only counselled her son to walk in th ways of Ahab, but who when her son had died, killed all the rest of the royal offspring so she could be queen. There was Micah’s mother who blessed her son’s thieving ways and dedicated her stolen precious metal to make an idol for him and her household. There was Herodias, who had her daughter debauch herself so that she could carry out her deadly grudge against John the Baptist by having his head cut off and put on a silver platter. These ungodly woman torn down house after house and paved the way for greater destruction in future generations.

Thank God that we also have godly examples placed before us. We have examples of women who built their houses instead of tearing them down. Godly Sarah who called Abraham lord, even though he was not the greatest of protectors. She was responsible for building up the house of Israel. There was Jochabed, mother of Moses who risked her life to protect and care for Moses – and then when God had allowed him to be placed back into her hands as his nurse – she taught him the ways of the Lord. There was the godly mother and grandmother of Timothy, Lois and Eunice, who took the time to teach him the Scriptures which made him wise unto salvation. What blessing was passed from generation to generation through these godly women. May God add to their number more and more so that our nation can be blessed in its future as well.

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Copyright Calvary Chapel Jonesboro / photo at pexels

The Assurance From our Father in Heaven

 

Please remember this assurance from our Father in Heaven:

 God is still on the throne,

And He will remember His own;

Though trials may press us and burdens distress us,

He never will leave us alone.

God is still on the throne,

He never forsakes His own;

His promise is true; He will not forget you;

God is still on the throne.

Remember the words of our Lord Jesus: “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” -Matthew 10:29-31

Stay blessed in his ASSURANCE

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By Filip Tomasz at Pexels

The Sin of a Paralyzed Man

A PARALYZED MAN
In John 5 Jesus met a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. This man often sat by the pool called Bethesda, because the Lord sent an angel there to stir up the waters and heal those who were in it (v4).

I wasn’t surprised that Jesus healed this poor man. But I was a little surprised by what He told the man afterward:
“’Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.'” John 5:14 NASB

The thought entered my mind, what could this man have done who was paralyzed all his life which led Jesus to warn him so sternly “Don’t sin anymore… lest something worse happen to you”? I pictured this man capable of little, except perhaps for begging for money. So I wondered, what was his great sin?

I believe the answer lies not outwardly, but what was within his heart, and we get a glimpse of this in verse John 5:7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

I believe this verse shows an attitude within this man’s heart which was one of “I’m the innocent victim. The reason why I have all my problems is because everyone else is selfish. They all won’t help me into the pool, and they all cut in front of me when I try to get in myself.”

He may have been paralyzed his whole life, but his sin nature and flesh was just as active as anybody else. His body couldn’t harm anyone, but self-pity in his heart must have caused him to murmur and grumble and blame just like anybody else.

THE VICTIM VERSUS THE SINNER
And so, his warning from the Lord is one which convicted me – if I have a view of myself as an innocent victim, and anybody else as “the problem”, then the Lord has the same fearful warning for me – ‘Sin no more (in your heart), lest something worse happen to you.’ The only justified (innocent) ones are those who come to the Lord and say, “I’m the problem.. it’s not my family or friends or children or spouse, or my coworkers – it’s ME. I am the problem” (Luke 18:13-14).

It’s tempting to hold grudges and blame when something bad has happened to us. Maybe it wasn’t someone else’s fault and I’m just looking to blame someone, or maybe it was someone else’s fault – maybe they sinned against me, maybe I have been a victim in that way – but I’m definitely not innocent either! And that means I cannot look down on anybody as if I’m better than them.

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

TRUE FAITH PRODUCES OBEDIENCE
One thing I’ve seen in my own life is that when I don’t take a Scripture seriously, then I have to be honest… it must be because I don’t really believe it. I imagine a man who reads Matthew 7:1-2 for the first time, or Matthew 6:14-15 for the first time and takes it at its Word. If he really believes it, he says to himself, “Wow! If there’s even one person I don’t forgive while on here earth, then God won’t forgive me of my sins?! I have to go forgive my enemy right now!” That person would be absolutely radical to make sure that they’re not holding even one ounce against anybody else. If I continue to blame others or hold grudges it must be because I don’t believe what God says.
Praise God that He is absolute love, and His mercy is never-ending. He loves me as much as Jesus (John 17:23)! And it was out of absolute love that Jesus gave such a fearful word to the paralyzed man. It’s like this paralyzed man was driving a car straight off a cliff, and Jesus told him sternly, “You’d better turn your wheel the other direction right now, you’re heading for a cliff.” Praise God for His Words to us now, so that we can avoid the cliff of judging and blaming others.

Lord, help me to release any grudge, or unforgiveness or judging I have against every single person on earth, and reject every thought that “I’m the innocent one.”

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** By Bobby MacDonald © Copyright – Bobby MacDonald. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://nccf.com/ 

Photo by Alvin Decena at Pexels

Testimony of Former Iranian Prisoners Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh

Watch this inspiring interview with Maryam and Marziyeh at HTB Church, London. In 2009 in Iran, Maryam and Marziyeh were imprisoned and sentenced to death because of their Christian faith. Maryam and Marziyeh were born into Muslim families but converted to Christianity and began to share the Gospel with those around them. They were arrested in March 2009 after being accused of evangelism and apostasy. After 259 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison they were released.

** Maryam and Marziyeh’s book called, ‘Captive In Iran‘ is available on Amazon Here

Timely Help – A Lesson of Faith

 

The hiding place where many Jews were sheltered in the home of the Ten Boom family during world war 2.

Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her father and sister, courageously hid Jews in their home during the Second World War. Her family was betrayed and handed over to the Germans, and they were sent to the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp. During her time there, Corrie lost both her father and sister. In spite of her loss, however, she did not lose her grip on God. When she finally was released from the camp due to a clerical error, she would reflect on the fact that God had given her the strength to endure and supplied His sufficient grace as she needed it.

In fact, Corrie had learned to trust God in the midst of death early on in life. When she was a young girl, she witnessed the death of a baby and was confronted with the fragile nature of life. Spooked by this experience, she burst into tears and sobbed to her father, “I need you. You can’t die! You can’t!” Seeking to comfort and counsel his frightened daughter, Corrie’s father sat down beside her and gently said, “Corrie, when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you the ticket?” She sniffled a little, and replied, “Why, just before we get on the train.” “Exactly,” her father responded, “and our wise Father in heaven knows when we are going to need things too. Don’t run ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need, just in time.”

Corrie Ten Boom learned something that day that would hold true throughout her life. God doesn’t give us grace for the future. Grace cannot be stored. It must be used for the moment we are in and nothing more. Grace is like the manna that God supplied the Israelites in the wilderness. It has an expiration date on it. Its shelf life is one day (Exodus 16:21). Grace is for right now (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In Hebrews 4:16, we are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of our gracious God to receive mercy and find grace to help us in a time of need. A more literal rendering of that last phrase would be, “grace for a well-timed help.” There is grace for what we need, when we need it. Now that is beautiful! Grace, not sooner, not later! Grace, no more, no less! Grace perfectly timed, and perfectly tailored.

Like Corrie Ten Boom, it is easy to let our minds run ahead of us, causing a stampede of fear. It is natural for us to wonder about tomorrow, but God has promised strength for each day (Deuteronomy 33:25). There is no grace for tomorrow until tomorrow. One of the secrets to successful living is living each day in the moment of God’s sufficient and surprising grace.

Timing is everything, even when it comes to God’s grace.

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** Picture of Corrie Ten Boom / By ktt.org

Modern Day Idols

 

Idol Worship Today

We tend to think of idolatry as a sin of the past or an eastern mysticism thing. We certainly don’t have idols in western culture, right? Actually, idolatry is surprisingly modern and very prevalent in our culture. Part of the reason we don’t think about idol worship today is because our definition of idolatry is off. We think idolatry is confined to bowing down to a golden statue or praying to a wooden trinket. Since we don’t do those things, we assume we don’t have idols.

But we do have modern day idols. Lots of them. They look different than the idols of the past, but we still practice idolatry today.

Before we look at idol worship today, we need to get a better definition of what an idol is. What exactly is idol worship?

What Is Idolatry? 

An idol is when something or someone becomes more important to us than God. Even good things can become idols when we make them the ultimate things in our lives. Anything, or anyone, can become an idol if we place the value for that thing/person above our value for God.

In ancient times that would have looked like bowing down to worship a golden statue. Modern-day idols look different- more like getting our identity from our job or staring at our technology all day. Anything that becomes more important to us than God becomes an idol; and we all have them.

Tim Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods says, “An idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, and anything that you seek to give you what only God can give.

Idolatry is alive and well today, and we are all prone to have idols in our lives. So what does the Bible say about these modern day idols?

Before you read this list, hear me on this: I’m not saying we should rid ourselves of the things on this list. For many of the things, that would be impossible. Rather, we need to evaluate our lives to make sure they are in the right order and none of these things have become more important than God to us.

With that in mind, here are 6 modern day idols we still worship.

1. Our Identity

It’s easy to place our identity in something or someone other than God. Whether it be our social media following, our position at work, our abilities/skills, or the achievements we are after, many have their identity wrapped up in the wrong thing.

Not only is this an idol, but it’s also a tough way to live. If your identity is in your work, your skills, your looks, or anything else, you will constantly feel like you don’t measure up.  They are harsh masters. But when our identity is secured in God, we can live in freedom. While we will still fall short, God’s love will never fail us.

For some, their identity has become an idol. They have placed more value on who they are, rather than in God.

2. Money/Consumerism 

It doesn’t matter if you have money or are broke. The pursuit of money and the acquisition of things is an idol for many in our culture. Many people trust their money more than they trust God.

Hear me on this. Money is not bad. Money is a tool. And like any tool, you have to use it correctly; otherwise, it can cause much damage. Money isn’t the problem, it’s how we use and view it that can become a problem. 

Many have placed their hopes and dreams in money. They trust it to provide for them, care for them, and protect them. The problem is, it can’t live up to what we are trying to get from it.

Money has become the ultimate thing for many of us. If the motivating factor in your life is money and not God, then that’s an idol. 

3. Entertainment

We are obsessed with being entertained. And it comes in many forms- from Netflix to vacations and video games to podcasts. We love entertainment in all forms. 

Again, as with the other modern day idols, it’s not that entertainment is bad. It can be a good thing. But when our lives become all about the search for entertainment and chase of the best experiences we can find, then it’s become an idol. It’s become more important than God. 

I would argue that entertainment is good and a gift from God, but we should worship the giver not the gift.

4. Sex

We are obsessed with sex in our culture. It is everywhere. It might be the only thing we think about more than money. We have taken a gift from God and made it into the god of our lives. And for many, their lives are controlled by sex. 

To even question the sexual ethic in our society will bring a slew of accusations, showing how tied to our idol we actually are.  Our sexual identity, sexual practices, and sex lives are sacred to us. 

Part of the Babylonian church instead of portraying sex as a good gift from God, in recent history, has heaped guilt and shame upon it. You could argue this is one of the factors that brought the over-exaggeration of sex. But regardless of how we got here, for many today, sex is an idol.  We value it more than we do God. 

6. COMFORT

There is an endless list of products promising to simplify and add comfort to your life. We have made our lives much easier and much more comfortable than at any other time in history. Tasks that used to take all day can be done in minutes. Many menial tasks are now automated. While that’s a good thing, our pursuit in life should not be comfort alone.

Jesus tells a very different narrative for his followers. He says that his followers will face trials, persecution, and difficulty. While comfort isn’t bad, it can become damaging when it becomes the main pursuit in life. When comfort is an idol, we will struggle when God calls us to something difficult.

6. Our Phones 

Smart phone addiction is increasingly becoming a worrying trend. This is especially true for Gen Z and Millennial generations, but it’s certainly not confined to them. For many, they simply cannot live without their phones (or online presence). This is quickly becoming an idol for many.

The problem isn’t our phones or social media or any form of technology. It’s the value we place on it that makes it a problem. When our lives revolve around how many likes we get, what our following looks like, or if we can’t sit in silence for 5 minutes without refreshing our news feed, we might have an idol. Anything that takes the place of God in our life, anything that becomes more important than him, is an idol.

How To Know If You Have A Modern Day Idol

Again, let me reiterate. This isn’t a list of things to avoid or a list we should use to beat ourselves down or ammo to shoot at others. This is a list of things that can take the place of God in our lives. When a good thing becomes an ultimate thing, ultimately it becomes a destructive thing in our lives. That’s idolatry.

What we should do with this list is use it to prayerfully evaluate our lives to make sure nothing has become more important to us than God. 

So how do we know if something has become an idol? Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to help you identify idols in your life:

Where Do I Spend My Time?
Where Do I Spend My Money? 
Where Do I Get My Joy? 
What’s Always On My Mind? 

Actually think about those questions. They will lead you to what either is an idol or what you might be tempted to make an idol. 

Idol worship today might look different, but it still exists. We shouldn’t let anything, even a good thing, take the place of God in our life. 

 

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By Jeffrey Curtis Poor at Rethink Now / Photo by Tom Fisk at pexels

His Plan for Me

When I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ
And He shows me His plan for me,
The plan of my life as it might have been,
Had He had His way; and I see

How I blocked Him here, and I checked Him there
And I would not yield my will,
Will there be grief in my Saviour’s eyes,
Grief though He loves me still?

He would have me rich, and I stand here poor,
Stripped of all but His grace,
While memory runs like a hunted thing
Down the paths I cannot retrace.

Then my desolate heart will well nigh break
With tears that I cannot shed;
I shall cover my face with my empty hands;
I shall bow my uncrowned head.

Lord of the years that are left to me,
I give them to Thy hand;
Take me and break me, mold me to
The pattern Thou hast planned.

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Poem by Martha Snell Nicholson / Picture by slon.pics