Our website is UNDER CONSTRUCTION, please be patient. . . . . . "We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . . Our Website is UNDER CONSTRUCTION, please be patient!

HTML

...

BOOKMARK AND SHARE

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, June 14, 2018

LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS - PARTS 14 & 15



The following two chapters concludes this series, 

Living in the Last Days!



May we keep a continual posture of dependence upon God and maintain a humble and contrite spirit throughout our pilgrim journey on this earth. May the Lord God cause His face to shine upon us and enable us to persevere until the end. 



CHAPTER 14

HEALTHY CHURCHLIFE - THE PRACTICAL OUTWORKING

Healthy church-life is not something that develops spontaneously. It does not mean that whenever a group of Christians come together as a congregation, even though they may be sincere, that healthy church-life will develop. What are some characteristics and features that contribute to and constitute healthy church-life? Let us now ponder over some features which make up healthy church-life in practical outworking.           

It is fundamentally the people of God who contribute to healthy church-life. The children of God, in one sense, can make or break healthy church-life. It is not something static but rather, it is dynamic, either growing in quality with the passing of time or degenerating, as the case may be. It would very much depend on the response and cooperation of the believers involved in that context. Knowing this, we must ensure that we fulfil our roles and responsibilities in church-life, and we must guard against just being mere "spectators" looking in, as it were, at church-life and giving critical comments rather than being part and parcel of church-life itself and seeking to contribute positively in any way that is fitting in the eyes of God.

Read more!

BOBSERVATIONS: ZEAL for the LAW is met with GOD'S ZEAL FOR MERCY AND GRACE


I would like to take a moment to introduce you to one of our new contributors and guest writers for TTUF.

Bob Lawrenz and his lovely wife, Norine, have been personal friends of my mine and my husbands for many years.  He is Senior Pastor of Whitestone Christian Fellowship in Victor, New York, and the writer of the Bobservations column that is being presented here to you today.  What are Bobservations? They are concise observations of scripture written in devotional style from Pastor Bob to his flock.  Thus you have Bobservations.

Along with being given permission to share these Bobservations with you, we have also made his audio teachings available (still being uploaded to our website) here:  Bible Study Teachings - Pastor Bob Lawrenz.

You can read more of his bio here: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We are so blessed to have him as a contributor to TTUF, and look forward to the biblical insight and wisdom he imparts to us through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

With that I present to you:

Zeal for the Law is met with God's Zeal for Mercy and Grace!
Read more!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS - Part 13



Living In The Last Days - Part 13

CENTRALITY OF THE CHURCH AND HEALTHY CHURCH LIFE

*This series is used with permission by the writer, Quek Koh Choon

Before we get into part 13 of this series, a few words . . .


I believe that a healthy church not only believes in the soon return of Jesus Christ (the rapture), but is waiting and preparing herself for His return. 



I know that there are many believers who are all over the place in what they believe about the rapture of the church, but we here at TTUF believe in a pre-trib rapture as the scripture teaches.

Living in the last days,  Titus 2:12–13 says that the grace of God teaches us “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

This passage identifies that “blessed hope” as the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior! No question about it!!

The true church has the joyful assurance that God will extend His blessings to us and that Jesus Christ will soon return. We are waiting for this glorious event to happen imminently. Why do we believe this? Because Jesus said He would return (John 14:3), the angels said He would return (Acts 1:11), and the epistles say He will return. The rapture will be announced by the voice of the archangel and the Trump of God. The bodies of those who have died will rise first, then we which are alive will be 'caught up' together in the clouds. Our bodies will be changed, we will see Him as He is, and we will be together with Him forever.(1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). 1 Corinthians15:52 says that this will happen "in the twinkling of an eye".  The true church will be waiting, and watching, and hoping, and preparing as the bride makes ready herself for the bridegroom.

The apostate church are not so.  They are like those in 2 Peter 3:4 saying,
"Where is the promise of His coming?  For all things continue as they were." They are not watching or waiting or preparing themselves for the appearing of or Lord, Jesus Christ. Why?  Because they deny Christ, and inevitably will deny the Second Coming because it is associated with judgment.

As you go through this part of the series, keep these things in mind.  Are you saved? Have you surrendered to God?  Are you sharing the gospel with the Lost?  Are you prepared to suffer for His name's sake? Are you watching and waiting for His return?  Are you prepared to meet the Lord in the air?


CENTRALITY OF THE CHURCH AND HEALTHY CHURCH LIFE


We continue to focus on what we can do to ensure that we stand in the last days. In 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10, we see clearly that God has called a people to be His, not just individuals, although individuals are important to Him. It is God's desire and plan that a group of individuals should be called out to be His people, His nation and His priests. It is therefore imperative that the believers, filled with the Spirit of God, should grow and develop towards maturity in the context of God's calling. The child of God should not stand alone and seek to grow alone. It has to be within the context of the church and healthy church-life. The believer must recognize that he is a member of the family of God and he should take his proper place in the local congregation. Notice the term "healthy church-life". It is not just a group of Christians coming together, but rather God's people congregating together after the pattern that God has prescribed in the Scriptures, manifesting the life of God in practical church-life. We see therefore that one aspect of ensuring that we stand in the last days is to grow and develop in the context of the church of God and in the context of healthy church-life. Why is it so, we may ask? 




Read more!

LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS - Parts 11 & 12


by A.M. Kisly


Living In The Last Days - Part 11

*This series is used with permission by the writer, Quek Koh Choon 

A LIFE OF QUALITY

We continue to focus on what we can do to ensure that we stand in the last days. A major area we need to look into is to build a life of quality. There may be some overlapping truths with the areas of character and commitment; however, a life of quality is something so important that it should be looked at on its own. In this respect, we would be considering some significant aspects that reflect a life of quality.

The first aspect we can ponder upon is an adequate and wholesome knowledge of God and the truths in Christian living. For the child of God, without this adequate and wholesome knowledge, there can be no life of quality. Spiritual life would be superficial and with worldly influences and pressures present in abundance, the child of God would certainly be tossed to and fro in his faith and understanding. He would then be easily led astray by false teachings and wrong emphasis. In addition, it becomes very much easier for the child of God to pursue "beliefs" colored by deception and distortion.

Once, I was involved in conducting a test for advanced first-aiders. And in the test, I realized how important it is, even in the area of knowledge of first-aid, for the student to have adequate and wholesome knowledge. Otherwise, the first-aider may become a stumbling block and even a danger to the injured instead of being a help. I asked a few candidates what they understood by the term "shock." I was alarmed by the answers. The term "shock" here refers to a condition where there has been excessive loss of blood and the body becomes cold and clammy with fast but feeble heart beat. Such a condition is an emergency and the injured requires urgent blood transfusion and fluid replacement. It is significant therefore for the first-aider to know this condition and to recognize it in an injured person in order to be able to help save his life. You can imagine how taken aback I was when a few candidates told me that "shock" is a condition when they receive bad news or alarming news, like failing an examination. Of course, this meaning is what is generally used in the English language but it certainly does not refer to the circulatory shock that a first-aider must know and recognize. Some candidates were able to answer the question reasonably. For those who could not, they were obviously lacking in adequate knowledge of first aid. Even for those who could answer the question, quite a few demonstrated that they did not grasp the subject wholesomely. When I asked the question, "Is it possible for a person to be in shock even though there is no visible blood loss?" Several answered "no." However, in reality, a person can be in shock because of internal blood loss as in the case of a massive fracture of a large bone, or rupture of an internal organ. In such cases, externally, there may be no blood loss seen, but the person may be very ill or in shock. Even in the secular realm, adequate and wholesome knowledge is important; how much more in the spiritual realm and in our spiritual lives? Inadequate and unwholesome knowledge certainly pose a threat to the lives of God's people. This is one aspect we cannot afford to ignore.

The Corinthian Christians were endowed with many spiritual gifts. Not a few of them felt that they were wise and knowledgeable to a point that the apostle Paul rebuked them for their arrogance and boasting. In the epistles to the Corinthians, Paul demonstrated to them how inadequate and unwholesome they were in their knowledge as well as in their spiritual state. This unwholesomeness had resulted in the Corinthians being carnal, boastful, arrogant and quarrelsome, and they themselves were led astray by false prophets and teachers who exploited them in their inadequate state.

The Galatian Christians formed another group which displayed this trait of unwholesomeness in their knowledge and understanding of the gospel in particular. As such, although they started well in their Christian life, they were deceived into following another gospel by those who seemed so authoritative and impressive. The apostle Paul had to rebuke them sternly for their wrong direction and emphasis in their lives. Here we see clearly how essential it is for God's people to have adequate and wholesome knowledge of God and the spiritual truths in order for them to be kept unblemished and unstained, particularly in the face of spiritual pressures of various kinds. The Scriptures refer to the example of the people of God in Berea who were noble-minded, for they received the word of God with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see for themselves whether what they heard were so (see Acts 17:11). For ourselves, we need to take heed of this example and discipline ourselves, with the Lord's enabling, to study the Scriptures and to be men and women approved by God, handling accurately the word of truth. A life of quality would invariably imply a life where there is adequate and wholesome knowledge of who and what we believe in. Do we have this to see us through?


Another aspect of a life of quality is a high level and degree of vigilance in our lives. This is particularly needful in the face of the various schemes that can be employed by the evil one. A life of vigilance does not mean a life lived in constant fear and anxiety, wondering when and where the enemy would strike. On the contrary, vigilance can go hand in glove with confidence in the Lord and with the peace of heart and mind that is the privilege of every true child of God. We know that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light, and many false apostles and deceitful workers disguise themselves as servants of God. In view of this, we see how very important it is for God's people to be alert in their spiritual lives.
I recall a story in the second world war when the German army sent in some German officers disguised as British officers to penetrate the allies and to seek vital intelligence reports which may affect the outcome of the war. These German officers were highly trained to speak and to behave like British officers. So it would be difficult to discover their disguise. In one such story, a British officer suspected one officer to be a German spy. However, he found it very difficult to uncover his disguise. He finally had an idea. He decided to catch this officer off-guard by suddenly switching from the English language to the German language. This German officer was caught in the trap, for he spontaneously responded in German and was apprehended. It was recorded that quite a few German officers were successful in posing as British officers and gaining vital intelligence information for their forces. We see here how in physical warfare, deception and disguises by the enemy, when undetected, can cause so much havoc and damage. Let us be fully conscious that the dangers are as real and even greater in spiritual warfare. Let us not be caught unprepared and thereby suffer spiritual setbacks unnecessarily. 

In practice, vigilance does not mean that we become suspicious of everyone and everything and start questioning every issue. It does mean, however, that we need to be careful in evaluating situations and decisions prayerfully. We should not react to situations hastily and in a manner that is typical of the people of the world. We should be careful of not speaking impulsively and saying things that may damage the kingdom of God and His people because we are personally hurt or misunderstood. It is important that we do not accept ideas and concepts which have not been clearly examined in the light of the Scriptures and godly principles. Sometimes, the exercise of vigilance may require the use of spiritual common sense. We are aware how some individuals have been tricked by confidence tricksters who managed to swindle their victims of large sums of money. In many of these cases, the situations could have been prevented by taking simple measures to counter-check the various points presented by the tricksters. These would amount to common sense in some instances; nevertheless, this may be lacking when they are panicky and lose control of the situation. In other instances, the same people involved would have chosen the wiser options. 


As regards spiritual common sense, the children of God should not, for example, conclude that whenever there is something spectacular or supernatural, then it is necessarily the work of God. The Scriptures clearly reveal that the evil one is capable of performing feats that are supernatural. Similarly, a person who can impress with his speech, appearance and charisma need not necessarily be sincere in promoting the kingdom of God. There ought to be vigilance in examining what he has to say in the light of known scriptural principles. Nonetheless, many Christians would be easily carried away by such individuals or be impressed by works of miracles. This is a reflection of a lack of spiritual common sense and vigilance.

Another aspect of a life of spiritual quality is a genuine and true spirit of discipleship.
Too often, many of God's children do not realize the implications of being true disciples of the Lord and when pressures, perplexities and difficulties come along, many withdraw from following the Lord. We see such an incident recorded in John 6:59-67. Here, many withdrew from following the Lord and the reason highlighted by the Lord Jesus in verse 64 is the problem of unbelief. Earlier on, many of the disciples grumbled at the difficult statement made by the Lord. They were perplexed; they could not understand what the Lord was trying to communicate, and in their own frame of values and understanding, the statement made by the Lord was unacceptable. Perhaps, they were wondering how it is possible for one to eat the flesh of the Lord and to drink His blood. This did not make sense to them. So they doubted the Lord and withdrew from Him.


When we are faced with perplexing situations, when we need to understand why certain events occur and somehow we cannot receive satisfactory answers, how do we respond? We know that there are many spiritual truths and principles which are hard to understand. In this world, we should be aware that there are many questions which might remain unanswered or partially answered. Should we then begin to doubt the Lord and to abandon the path of discipleship, just like those who withdrew in John chapter 6? Can God count upon us as true disciples who have counted the cost and are committed to pursuing the course the Lord has assigned to us? Or are we easily shaken and is our discipleship so superficial that we easily crumble in our faith? The evil one can readily capitalize on the lack of quality of discipleship in our lives. It is so very easy for him to sow seeds of doubt and discord. 

It is significant to note that the Lord Jesus did not compromise on the standard of discipleship for His followers (see Luke 9:23-26). To deny oneself and to take up one's cross daily is part and parcel of true discipleship. These may be painful to some. Many find it hard to say "no" to self and "yes" to God. Many shrink back from carrying their own cross. In fact, they will have nothing to do with suffering or pain, even if these are for the sake of the Lord. They would not mind the more pleasant aspects of following the Lord but they fail to recognize that the disciple must be prepared to walk the narrow path and to experience "Calvary" in their lives. 

Luke 9:62 states very clearly and soberly what it means to follow the Lord. However, it is not uncommon for many to look back or even to turn back. The Lord might be asking us this same question, "Would you also go away?"


For some, an area that is difficult to give up is the area of human relationship. It might be a family member or a loved one. When it comes to the issue of loyalty to the Lord and acknowledging the Lord first before everything else, quite a few may find it hard to respond as true disciples (see Matthew 10:34-37). It is relevant to take note of what the Lord brought out in this passage:- "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." This will be especially true in the context of the last days. Although the Lord is a God of love and He has come to bring peace on earth and salvation, yet here He clearly stated that for those who follow Him and seek to love Him above all else, situations of conflicts may occur in family relationships.



After exhorting the Ephesian believers to be strong and to put on the full armour of God, Paul came to verse 18 of chapter 6 where prayer was singled out as a very important aspect in the battle against the evil forces. Paul wrote, " Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Ephesians 6:18). Here we see beyond any doubt the importance and significance of prayer in our war against the negative spiritual forces. Certainly, the quality of our prayer life is one area that contributes to a life of quality in our walk with God. When we refer to how we can stand in the last days, prayer and the quality of our prayer life must feature prominently. This is especially so as we recognize that much of the pressure and persecution in the last days are engineered and orchestrated by the evil one and his allies. We cannot hope to effectively counter his attacks and manipulations if we forget that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the powers and world forces of this darkness and the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. We need to learn to pray, and we need to pray at all times in the Spirit. It is not just time set aside for prayer - it is in fact a posture and an attitude of prayer - praying at all times, manifesting a prayerful spirit as we serve the Lord and as we encounter various events and situations in life. It is continually being prayerful in big things and small things, in daily events and in major decisions and by prayer, to move God to demonstrate His power and His sovereignty to the glory of His name.

E. M. Bounds in his book, "Power Through Prayer", made a statement which we will do well to pay heed to. He said, "What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use - men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men - men of prayer."

As we approach the last days, we would see more and more organizations, more and newer methods, all mainly through the efforts of men who seek to contribute to the kingdom of God. Let us however not forget that we need to serve God in God's ways and by His enabling. And prayer features prominently in this respect.

We have considered one major area that can help us to stand in the last days. We need to cultivate a spiritual life of quality. We saw aspects of such a life - adequate and wholesome knowledge of God and the truths, vigilance, a true spirit of discipleship and a quality prayer life. A life of quality would ensure that we have the capacity to withstand the onslaught of the increasing pressures and negative influences in the last days. 

However, let us take note that a life of quality takes time to develop. A soldier does not become a warrior overnight. It takes years of training and hard work. Similarly, a life of quality spiritually may take many years to cultivate. Truths need to be learned. They need to be reinforced over and over again; spiritual reality needs to be experienced, and those who are spiritually hungry and teachable would grow to assimilate them and to make them part of their lives.

Those who are unhealthily impatient and want quick results may miss the boat. In fact, they may even end up spiritually crippled and ineffective. On the other hand, there is no room for laziness and complacency. We need to take time to grow and to develop wholesomely with all diligence and perseverance. Nothing less than a life of quality would overcome in the last days. If we seek to be among those who would stand and overcome, then we cannot afford to live our lives carelessly. We cannot ignore the pursuit and cultivation of a life of quality.

 

Living In The Last Days - Part 12 

A LIFE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD

We continue to look at what we can do to ensure that we stand in the last days. We have seen how difficult it would be for God's children to maintain and uphold a life of quality, especially with all the pressures and influences coming from various quarters. This is so, even with a general life of commitment and discipleship. In the New Testament we are aware of the life of one well known disciple of the Lord who was generally sincere and committed in his life. Nonetheless, when the pressures mounted, despite his sincerity, he failed rather badly. We see this in Matthew 26:69-75. Prior to this incident, Peter had expressed his willingness even to die for the Lord. We look at another passage which demonstrates a different Peter (see Acts 2:37-41). Here we see Peter speaking confidently and testifying powerfully on behalf of the Lord and at the end of his sharing, about 3000 people responded positively to the message. What a different picture this is when compared to the previous scene when Peter was weeping so bitterly over his failure. Something happened, in between, that caused this dramatic change in the life of Peter.
It was at Pentecost that Peter, together with the other disciples, were filled with the Holy Spirit of God, and it was after this experience and incident that Peter became more courageous and effective in his testimony and communication (see Acts 2:1-4). Instead of fear, anxiety and denial of the Lord, we see boldness, courage and a powerful testimony for God and the gospel. The time lapse between the period when Peter failed the Lord and Pentecost was not a very long one in terms of years, but something definite and powerful took place in the lives of Peter and the other disciples, so much so that even in the face of threats and persecution, they stood firm and rejoiced in the fact that they were given the privilege to suffer for the Lord. It is reasonably clear that what made the difference was the filling with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

As we ponder over what we can do to ensure that we stand in the last days, one aspect of the answer must be "we ought to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God." It is a life filled with the Spirit that would enable the Christian to overcome tremendous odds and to live a life of holiness and victory. It is such a life that would manifest the various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit such as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness and self-control.

Perhaps one aspect of such a life that is most dramatic is boldness and courage. We saw a little of this in the life of Peter earlier on. We see it also in the life of the apostle Paul (see Acts 13:45-46 and Acts 14:19-22). We observe here the boldness and courage of Paul in the face of the jealousy of fellow Jews as well as in the face of intense persecution and violence. Although Paul was conscious of the Jews' jealousy, yet he did not hesitate to speak the truth boldly. Many others in his context would have compromised. Even though he was stoned and dragged out of the city, presumably dead, Paul stood up and continued on in his ministry, encouraging the disciples to press on. If we pause and consider what Paul went through, we would appreciate the degree of courage he displayed. It was not that Paul did not experience pain from the stoning. In fact the stoning must have been quite severe to a point that they thought that he was dead. Despite the pain and danger he encountered, he did not allow himself to be beset with self-pity and fear. He pressed on with his mission, being a source of encouragement and inspiration to those around him. 

And what was the event that contributed to Paul's boldness and courage?

Without any doubt, the experience of being filled with the Spirit started Paul off in his ministry and testimony which was creating so much impact that the Jews sought to kill him (see Acts 9:17-30). To stand in the last days, boldness and courage are essential for God's children - and this is part and parcel of the manifestation of a life filled with the Spirit of God.

During the reign of Emperor Nero of the Roman empire, a great number of Christians suffered intense persecution. Many were thrown to the lions' dens and burnt at the stakes. One striking observation that was recorded was the outstanding courage that was manifested in the lives of those who died. Many sang at the burning stakes, and their boldness in the face of pain and death astounded many an observer. One description that was recorded about these martyrs was "These people know how to die…".  And even though many of God's children suffered pain and physical death, yet their testimony continues to make an impact, causing many to pause and to ponder about the gospel and the Christian faith.

Related to the subject of boldness is the enabling to overcome and to live a life of victory over sin and corruption. We saw how the influences of the last days can be so overwhelming that many of God's children would compromise and fail the Lord, giving way to the flesh and the lust of life. Certainly this can be a real struggle even for those who are sincere and who wish to live lives that are holy and true. Many a time, they will find that although they may desire to overcome, in reality, they fail again and again.

The apostle Paul wrote of such a struggle in Romans 7:18-24. Thankfully, he did not stop at that. He went on to share the secret of the victory that is possible for the child of God (see Romans 7:25 - 8:6). The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. Those who are filled with the Spirit of God are equipped and enabled by God's Spirit to overcome the law of sin and death. The Spirit of God empowers and strengthens us to live the life that God desires. He transforms us, as we co-operate with Him, into men and women who reflect the holiness of God in our lives. No longer do we need to be in the condition of Romans 7 where we struggle to overcome the weakness of the flesh. In the Lord Jesus Christ, and with the enabling of God's Spirit, we can and ought to live lives of victory over sin and the lust of the flesh.

The life of victory over sin, temptation and corruption is something real and attainable by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that the child of God will live a perfect life; however, more and more, as the Christian is continually filled with the Holy Spirit of God, his life is moulded and transformed by the Lord such that his character becomes one that is holy and godly. The child of God, at different stages of his life, learns to flee from temptations, to fight and overcome temptations and to be unaffected by the pull and influences of such temptations, desiring instead the will and desires of God. Such a consistent life of victory would only be the experience of those who have been filled with the Spirit of God. For the child of God who may be sincere and even mature in some ways, and yet has not experienced such a filling, the life of victory seems theoretical and so unreal. Nevertheless, for the one who has tasted and experienced being filled with the Spirit, such a life is feasible and is indeed part of the abundant life promised by the Lord Jesus.

A life filled with the Spirit of God would manifest the various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. One aspect of the fruit is love - the love of God manifested in the life of the believer. We see a dramatic illustration of this in Acts 7:54-60. Here we see the response of Stephen in the face of opposition, persecution and impending death. Stephen was described in Acts 6 as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. He was one full of grace and power, performing great wonders and signs among the people. Even here in Acts 7, Stephen was noted to be one being full of the Holy Spirit and in this state, he saw the glory of God and the Lord Jesus standing at the right hand of God. In the midst of the stoning and pain, Stephen called upon the Lord. Even in his dying moments, he cried to God to forgive the very people who caused him to die. In this, we see Stephen demonstrating love - the love of God, praying and forgiving the very ones who hated him and who caused his pain and agony. To many who read the account of Stephen's life and death, his response seems so unbelievable and unreal. How could it be possible not to be bitter against those who persecuted you unjustly? How could it be possible to even love these very same ones and to pray for their welfare despite their hardness of heart and cruelty? Nevertheless, we see all these demonstrated in the life and heart of Stephen. Undoubtedly, it was because Stephen was filled with the Spirit of God, so much so that he could respond during such a time like his Master did on the cross. We would remember the Lord Jesus praying to the Father to forgive those who crucified Him.

In the midst of the pain and pressures of the last days, would God's children end up angry, unforgiving and bitter, and in the process, lose the positive testimony and impact that could have been possible? The evil one seeks to cripple the life of many a child of God, and what better way to do it than to cause them to end up in a state of bitterness. In such a state, the Christian cannot be effective in serving the Lord, not to mention a life of faithfulness and victory.

The story is told of a Red Indian chief who was converted to Christianity. The chief's own son was killed by a rival chief and he had vowed vengeance in his heart since then. On one particular occasion, he had an opportunity to avenge the death of his son. Raising his bow and arrow, he had his son's murderer on target; yet he hesitated. Then he put down his bow and arrow saying, "Big chief wishes to kill son's killer but bigger Chief says to forgive". The term bigger Chief was used to refer to the Lord Jesus. Here we see how God's love can work in the life of one of His children. And certainly God's love can be seen in all its beauty and splendor in the lives of those filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

Two other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are joy and peace. These are qualities quite lacking in the lives of many, including God's children. Many Christians, in the midst of stress and pressure, find that joy and peace are not easily found. Instead, they become restless, disturbed, depressed and discouraged. We see a contrast in Acts 16:22-34. Paul and Silas were beaten badly with rods and thrown into prison. In fact they were placed in the inner prison and their feet were fastened in the stocks. This was not due to any wrongdoing on their part but rather because they sought to be faithful in preaching the gospel. Nevertheless, in such a state, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns of praise to God. There was much joy and peace in their hearts despite the unfavorable circumstances they were in. Physically, they may be in prison and in chains, but their hearts were not imprisoned or chained. Their hearts were filled with the peace and joy of God. Silas and Paul were notably men who were full of the Spirit of God.

Many years later, while Paul was again in prison, he wrote to the Christians in this same region of Philippi in the epistle to the Philippians. Again, Paul was imprisoned because of his faithfulness to God. This time around, Paul faced the prospect of death and he knew that the time of his departure was at hand. Yet, in his epistle to the Philippians, he wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice....And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (see Philippians 4:4, 7). Despite his physical environment and the prospect of death, joy and peace prevailed in the heart of the apostle and he sought to transmit these to the Philippian Christians, urging them to continue to have the joy and peace of God in their lives.

How do God's children face the pressure and persecution of the last days? In fact, for many of God's children, it does not take much to take away the joy and peace in their hearts. The prospect of failing an examination, or the prospect of being ill or being disappointed in work situation is enough to cause many of God's children to go around with long and drawn faces of despair and discouragement. The joy and peace of God are for God's children to experience and to keep, no matter what the circumstances may be. For the one who is filled with the Spirit of God, these aspects of the fruit of the Spirit should abound in his life.

As we consider a life filled with the Spirit of God, it is needful to realize that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). In the area of the ministry of the Spirit of God as well as in the manifestations of the Spirit-filled life, there can be counterfeits and imitations. At times, in the midst of God's working, the evil one may also be at work, creating confusion and spiritual setbacks. There is a real need for God's people to be prayerful and vigilant. Do not assume that as long as we are sincere and that we are God's children, the evil one cannot attack us (see Matthew 16:22-23 and Luke 22:31-34). In these two incidents recorded in the two passages, it is clear that Satan was working in the life of Peter to cause him to fail. In the first instance, the evil one instigated Peter to rebuke the Lord Jesus and to discourage the Lord from going to the cross. And the Lord Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." In the second instance, Peter's subsequent denial of the Lord three times had very much to do with Satan's manipulation of his life. Although Peter was sincere and he was a close disciple of the Lord, he was not immune to the attacks of the evil one.

The situation becomes more precarious if we are insincere and we have mixed motives in our lives. Pride, a critical spirit and self-confidence can expose God's children to many dangers and manipulations of the evil one. Even in the midst of the working of the Holy Spirit of God, many things can go wrong and have gone wrong.

In the book "Blessing the Church?" by Clifford Hill and three others, all leaders from within the charismatic movement, the following was penned on pages 4 and 5:- "We wrote, not in the spirit of judgmentalism, or indeed with a negative critical attitude. Rather we write out of a deep concern for the church in which we have leadership responsibilities and for the future direction being taken by the charismatic movement. The prime purpose in writing is to draw attention to what we consider to be a serious drift away from biblically-based teaching into the realm of experientialism. This has led to the pernicious practice of using contemporary 'revelation' as the basis for doctrine and the justification for the formulation of new teachings and practice within the church which has no biblical foundation…We therefore write in a spirit of love and humility under the deep conviction that the Bible provides us with the only standard of truth that can guard against error, false doctrine, wrong practices and unrighteous behaviour." The book reviews the history and direction of the charismatic movement with candid acknowledgements of the many serious things that have gone wrong when experience parts company with sound biblical teaching.

The overemphasis on experience and emotion, at the expense of sound biblical teachings, can lead to serious errors, false doctrines, wrong practices and unrighteous living. In such a context, the evil one can operate, and manipulate the situation as well as the lives of the believers.

At this juncture, it may be helpful for us to see the relationship between being filled with the Spirit and the various other qualities we have considered earlier. 

Take the area of commitment to the Lord. We saw how important commitment to the Lord is in helping us to stand in the last days. Commitment to God is, however, closely tied up with a life filled with the Spirit. In fact, one of the conditions that needs to be fulfilled before one is filled with the Spirit of God is a life fully committed to the Lord. If the Christian life is filled with many personal fleshly desires and there is no significant degree of commitment to God, there is no place for the child of God to experience the filling of the Spirit. If we do desire to be filled, we must come to a point of commitment to God in our lives and we need to continue to reaffirm this commitment throughout our spiritual pilgrimage here on earth.

Then there is the area of the character taking on the characteristics of godliness and holiness. We see that the nurturing of such a character goes hand in hand with the life filled with the Spirit, which in turn manifests the various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. All these aspects are integral in the character that is godly. As the child of God grows in his capacity to be filled with God's Spirit and as he continues to be filled, he would more and more manifest the character of God in his life. We see therefore how central being filled with the Spirit is in the process of nurturing a godly character. Transformation, renewal of the mind and the nurturing of a godly character are the work of the Holy Spirit of God although the Christian needs to co-operate with God in this process.

What about the aspect of a spiritual life of quality and its relationship with a Spirit-filled life? We saw how a life of quality is characterised by wholesome knowledge of God and His ways, a true spirit of discipleship, a life of vigilance and a quality prayer life. If we were to pause and ponder, we would realize how these various characteristics are related to a life filled with the Spirit of God. Wholesome knowledge is closely linked to wholesome teaching and the Spirit of God is the ultimate teacher, teaching the child of God spiritual truths and principles which are not understood by natural men and women. True spiritual knowledge is imparted through the teaching and training by God through His Spirit. It is the Spirit of God also who teaches the child of God to pray in words and communication not generally appreciated by men. To be able to pray always and to maintain a prayerful life - this is not feasible without the ministry and enabling of the Holy Spirit. Hence we see again how various aspects of a life of spiritual quality are nurtured and maintained by the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

Similarly, when we refer to a life of vigilance and a true spirit of discipleship, they are also the benefit and fruit in the lives of those who have the privilege of experiencing the filling of the Spirit of God. So, as we consider what we can do to ensure that we stand in the last days, the answer can be summarized in one statement,
 


"Make sure that we are filled with the Spirit of God and that we continue to experience this filling in increasing measure throughout our lives." 


Only then can there be a life of victory, only then can we experience true and wholesome transformation of our lives and character. It is in such a context that the child of God would find the enabling to be bold and to overcome all odds, no matter what the circumstances may be, and to stand after the final battle.

It is not enough just to be sincere Christians; it is not even enough just to have generally good and positive desires in life. There are many sincere believers who end up spiritually shipwrecked in their lives. There are many, with good desires, ending up spiritually crippled and disillusioned. What we need to ensure is that we are equipped to live for God and enabled to serve Him for His glory. To that end, let us pay heed to the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:15-18. Yes indeed, Paul's exhortation to the Christians remains - "Be filled with the Spirit". The question we need to ask ourselves soberly is - Are we?

At this point, it may be helpful for us to ponder over what A.W. Tozer wrote in "Keys to the Deeper Life" (revised and expanded, pages 50, 52):- 


"The doctrine of the Spirit as it relates to the believer has over the last half century been shrouded in a mist such as lies upon a mountain in stormy weather. A world of confusion has surrounded the truth. The children of God have been taught contrary doctrines from the same texts, warned, threatened and intimidated until they instinctively recoil from every mention of the Bible teaching concerning the Holy Spirit. This confusion has not come by accident. An enemy has done this. Satan knows that Spiritless evangelicalism is as deadly as modernism or heresy, and has done everything in his power to prevent us from enjoying our true Christian heritage…The church can have light only as it is full of the Spirit, and it can be full only as the members that compose it are filled individually. Furthermore, no one can be filled until he is convinced that being filled is part of the total plan of God in redemption; that nothing is added or extra, nothing strange or queer, but a proper and spiritual operation of God, based upon and growing out of the work of Christ in atonement."


It is true that all believers have the Holy Spirit of God in their lives. It is also true that it is part of the total plan of God in redemption to have all believers filled with the Spirit of God, and living a life in the Spirit. However, we have seen that many things can go wrong. The evil one can manipulate God's people and cause much confusion in this area of truth. Nonetheless, it is still vital for God's people to be individually filled so that the church can be full of the Spirit of God.
Read more!

Monday, June 11, 2018

SATAN IS TARGETING YOU!

Target retailers all across America have set up displays in their stores promoting ‘gay pride’.  No matter where we go today, we are bombarded with seduction, and no matter how much the world seeks to ‘normalize’ aberrant and sinful behavior, it can never change what it is!  

While this world seeks to desensitize and convert you, remember God has set the moral standard, and on His standard we stand.
'Desensitization' means subjection the public to a continuous flood of gay-related advertising as norms. 
'Conversion' means the conversion of the average American's emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media. 
God sets the standards for our lives, "For in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)  There is No Compromise!  You cannot in your hearts and minds accept the world’s standards without making God a liar.  Christian take heed! 
Pride is Sin!  “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)    Pride is indeed a sin and as the passage says, it “defiles a person.”  Pride makes you unclean and impure.   

Read more!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

WALKING WITHOUT STUMBLING Part 3 of 4: – The WISDOM and FOLLY of SOLOMON


We have examined the lives of Samsonl  a Judge of Israel and Saul the first king of Israel; now we will turn our attention to the third person in this examination on how to walk without stumbling: Solomon, the third king of Israel (David his father, of course, being the second and God’s destined and approved man for the throne). 

Hopefully, prayerfully we will learn by these examples of failure on how NOT to walk and thereby avoid the same ‘stumblings’ as these men. The last Person we will look at in this four-part series is our Savior – the LORD Jesus Christ, the only legitimate example of spiritual perfection that we, by the Spirit of grace, are enabled to follow.

Read more!
ReferenceTagging.tag();