Satan Makes His Appeals With Passion & Love

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.  Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”  But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” ~Matthew 16:21-23

It’s amazing how much difference tone can make when reading something.

While listening to this on my audio Bible in the car the Lord showed something about this: Satan’s appeal through Peter to Jesus was made with the tone of “loving concern”, “passion”, and “zeal”.  Peter could not stand the thought of Jesus being killed- he tried to reason with Jesus on behalf of Jesus’ well-being.  But Jesus told Peter, “you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”  Peter’s “loving concern” was for the cares of the flesh, to preserve health and to rule this world with power (they still thought Jesus would overthrow Rome and rule).

Satan courts us with the appearance of love, but, not for the things of God.  He wants to touch our hearts and move us with compassion, but for the things of this world.  He is the one that tries to persuade you against risking health, prosperity, and even life for the Kingdom of God.  He is the one who tries to persuade you against the high cost of the cross, to depart from the highway of holiness and take the easy way.

BUT FOR NO GOOD

So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?   They zealously court you, but for no good. No, they desire to alienate you, that you may seek them. ~Galatians 4:16-17

They courted them with sincerity and zeal, appealing to them as if angels of light, but, they did so to alienate them from Christ’s grace!  I imagine they may have puffed them up and paraded the appearance of Godliness before their eyes to dazzle the Galatian Christians.

The result of this courtship is alienation.

Satan sends his servants dressed as angels of light to provide you with a more appealing alternative to the truth.  They speak softly, but, because they walk as enemies of the cross, their words are like snares that entrap you into bondage again to sin through law.

The only opportunity Satan found in Paul’s ministry was by the offense of the truth.  He did not find any opportunity to disqualify Paul through misconduct, nor were Paul’s words harsh and overbearing to cause people to become resentful (Paul was world renowned for his astonishing patience- see Clement of Rome’s first epistle to the Corinthians).  So Satan took the opportunity afforded to him by the offense of the cross to deceive those who could not bear the cost.

Likewise, because the flesh always has great indignation for the cross, whenever we preach the cross- the dying of self and living to Christ- the flesh is always certain to squirm and reel, crying out “foul!”

A WORD OF WARNING

Now I must preach something that from personal experience I know will offend the flesh of men’s pride: there are many out there who think by causing offense by their harsh demeanor that they are, therefore, “speaking the truth” as Paul did.  Yet, they forget that we’re exhorted to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).

Remember, it was by “doing good that we overcome evil”- do not fall into this trap of thinking that by looking down on everyone else and thinking that no one else is holy enough for you that you are somehow better than everyone else.

Do not forget that mercy triumphs over judgment, and, if you judge mercilessly then you yourself will be judged without mercy by the true Judge of all Heaven and Earth!

CONCLUSION

Flattery and soft words are far different from love and gentleness: the cross causes offense— our demeanor must never be the cause— but the appeal of flattery and soft words present themselves as soothing consolation and a wiser alternative to God’s way.

Brethren, be not deceived by Satan’s “concerned appeal of love”— it is not for good, but to alienate you from Christ!  It always brings you into bondage to another law that is not the law of Christ!

The Lord Has Made The Way To Kansas City

Today I wanted to take a moment to bring an update regarding God’s direction for Mary and I.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

For a while we have known that Mary and I’s time in Rogers, Arkansas is finished and have been wrestling with where to go from here, whether back to China, or somewhere else in the U.S.

I have a tremendous desire to return to China in order to serve the body there, especially to help look out after the brethren we know there, and, for a time I allowed that desire to lead our plans rather than waiting upon the Lord to make clear and straight paths for us.

As we were pursuingg plans to return to China, we had a number of very good teaching jobs presenting themselves, even some that seemed secure.  But, I did not have the same peace of Christ with me as I usually do, so we had been continuing in prayer to see the Lord’s will.

I asked the Lord to close doors of employment to places that He did not want us to go to and received emails or calls that night from every school we were talking to informing me that the positions were no longer available.

Then, in October, the Lord miraculously answered a prayer to provide me the means to go down to New Orleans for the Priority One conference by having a brother whom I hadn’t spoken to in almost three years contact me and tell me that he wanted to pay for the whole trip!  While I was there the Lord began placing His fire, zeal, and vision in me for the work that He is calling us to in the U.S. now.

We began asking God for two things: 1) that He would give us the transcendent peace of Christ in our hearts for the work He would have us do, and 2) that He would confirm it by providing the necessary employment and provision.

KANSAS CITY

Just before Thanksgiving the Lord confirmed the peace that was entering my heart in October by bringing a job offer to Mary in Kansas City for a teaching position in a school system that is very difficult to get jobs in, during the hardest time of the year to find teaching jobs, and provides the provision necessary to do the work we feel called to do.

And, as seems to be the usual case for us, we had very little notice before we needed to be in Kansas City; we will be moving tomorrow on December 6th!

Although we are not moving back to China, and, I’ve felt the chastisement of the Lord for allowing myself to make plans according to the desire of my heart rather than the confirmed direction of the Lord, I am not forgetting the brethren in China: we are looking into recording Bible studies for them and meeting with them live online after they watch them to answer questions and do followup ministry.

The Lord has made straight paths for Mary and I, and sent to us the refreshing clarity of His will, and we are ever thankful for this!

MINISTERING IN KANSAS CITY

Regarding the work set before us in Kansas City, I feel both overjoyed and utterly and completely insufficient!  Yet I boast in the confidence which God has given to us in Christ!

I continue to seek further revelation and understanding of the Lord’s will but want to take to providing this update on what has been revealed to us regarding the Lord’s calling.

Although I hadn’t put it into these words yet, after talking to brother Shannon about these things, he told me, “it sounds like you’re being led to plant a Church”, and that seems like an accurate description to me.

The ministry that the Lord has been showing me to do is as follows:

  1. Prayer and worship
  2. The Ministry of the Word
  3. Service

I know that regardless of the size of our assembly, whether 3 or 30,000, we will not organize into the 501c3 Tax structure that American churches have traditionally organized into.  The Church is not an inanimate organization!  We are the living body of Christ, and I do not wish to be anything more or less than that.

REGARDING WORSHIP

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” ~John 4:23-24

It is amazing to me that God says He is searching for those who worship Him in spirit and truth!

There is perhaps no greater aim for a person’s life than to apply himself or herself heartily to worshipping God in spirit and truth, offering the whole of their life to God as a living sacrifice of praise!  Worship is not to be dead and dutiful, nor offered with zealous flames of false fire!

IN ALL THINGS

The first thing God is showing me regarding the ministry of worship is that we are bound and hindered in our worship: it is hindered by things like apathy, the need for entertainment, and the traditions of men that nullify the commandments of God.  Some churches may have zealous worship services, while others may be orderly, but they are both dead because their concern is not for the things of God, but for men (whether entertainment or tradition, both are equally defiling to worship).

“Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ~1 Corinthians 10:31

“If anyone speaks, let it be as it were the very words of God. If anyone serves, let it be as of the strength which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” ~1 Peter 4:11 (cf John 13:31

We need to bring the whole of our lives through the gates of “spirit and truth” to worship God!  We do not belong to ourselves anymore because we have been bought with the blood of Christ, therefore, we need to learn how to offer every element of our life as living worship to God!

Those who paint, let them bring glory to God in the assembly with their art, those who sing, do likewise, those who dance, do likewise, those who write poetry, likewise!  And, let us not forget those who handle money wisely, let them likewise bring glory to God in the assembly!

It is time for the Church to get zealous about doing all things to the glory of God!  We should be carefully considering each and every one of our skills and diligently seeking for ways to offer them to God for His glory!

LET ALL CREATION WORSHIP

Can a city on top of a hill be hidden?  Does anyone light a candle and set a basket over it?  Why, then, is our worship hidden behind four walls?

The Lord showed me that we need to declare the praises of God before all creation!  And, to that end, we will take days to meet together in public places, like parks and the backyards of our brethren, to worship God.

When we meet in the backyards of our brother’s and sister’s houses, we will go with them to invite their neighbors to join us in worship.

REGARDING PRAYER

Something the Lord has been showing me is how interconnected all ministries are, even as “there is One Spirit who gives many gifts”.

Prayer and worship are not independent of one another.

“Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” ~Isaiah 56:7

It was from within the house of prayer that the sacrifices of praise were offered to God with joy!  And you, my brothers and sisters, are the Lord’s house of prayer!

DOOR TO DOOR PRAYER MINISTRY

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” ~John 15:7-8

The bearing of fruit through prayer is appointed to bring glory to God!

Even as much as the ministry of prayer begins in the quietude of the prayer closet and moves out into the Church assembly, it must not stop there!  Prayer should proceed out as a sweet smelling aroma to God before all men by which He is glorified.

We will go door to door to pray for the people around us.  Our aim is to minister to the needs of those who are heavy laden that God may be glorified before their eyes and drive away their unbelief!  We pray that those who do not know the gospel will get a chance to have the gospel preached to them in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit- Lord let it be so!

STREET EVANGELISM AND PRAYER

Just as the ministry of worship is interconnected with prayer, so also is the ministry of prayer interconnected with the word (something we’ll look at closer in a moment).

We are going to do a lot of street evangelism.  But, alongside the ministry of the word we will have brethren whose ministry will be to offer prayer to people on the street who are hurting and discouraged.  I truly believe this is the heart of outreach and it will be one of our focuses.

IN THE ASSEMBLY

“These all continued [in the upper room] with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” ~Acts 1:14

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” ~Colossians 4:2

It is not impossible to build a large ministry without prayer.  But it is impossible to build one that glorifies God without it!

Prayer composes the assembly and from it flows our worship, speaking, and ministering.

HOSPITAL PRAYER VISITS

At the judgment seat of Christ, the Lord is going to say to many who cast out demons in His name “depart from me you worker of iniquity… for, I was sick and you did not visit me!

Visiting the sick, whether or not they attend our assembly, in hospitals is one of the avenues in which we will take our prayer outside.

THE PRAYER CLOSET

Jesus’ first commandment regarding prayer is to “go into your closet and pray”.  Our private time spent in our prayer closets composes everything else we do: from it will flow our praises to God, our speaking “as the oracles of God”, and every other thing we do.

This is an entirely private ministry.  Therefore no one will be accountable to anyone else for their prayer closet except to God!  We will simply be here to encourage and exhort our brothers in this direction for their edification.

REGARDING THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD

“One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” ~Proverbs 28:9

This has been something that the Lord really convicted my heart of: even if we have prayer around the clock, if we have turned away from hearing His word, and His judgments and statutes are not welcome in our midst, we are only building “houses of abomination” to God!

Prayer cannot be isolated from the word any more than it can be isolated from worship!

ONLINE BIBLE STUDIES

This is how we will connect with our brethren in China and continue providing Bible studies for public access online.  These will be conducted through our dropbox account, skype, dedicatedfaith.org, and YouTube.

COFFEE SHOP BIBLE STUDIES

This ministry is going to be a ministry expressly devoted to ministering to the brothers and sisters in Christ that we meet who are disconnected from, and discouraged by, the local church.  This ministry will focus on “strengthening the arms that hang down and the feeble knees”.

IN THE ASSEMBLY

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” ~Acts 2:42

Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God is bread for our nourishment.  It is by the famine of the word that so many today are famished, weak, starving, and dying!  This is why we do not put time constraints on God’s word.

Notice that the ministry of the word is not segregated from fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer?  Neither should it be today!  We will employ all God’s blessings for the edification of the Church together.

Our assembly meeting is where we will focus on equipping our brothers and sisters for that good work of service that the Lord has entrusted to them.

STREET EVANGELISM AND PRAYER

As covered above, this is one of the key points in which we will answer Jesus’ commission to “go out into all the world”.

REGARDING THE MINISTRY OF SERVICE

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.   Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.   And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” ~Matthew 20:25-28

Are we greater than our master?  If Jesus served, shall we then sit down in luxury and serve not?

Service is one of the major things that the Lord has been dealing with me on since our return to the U.S. (even before we returned).

How many of us can genuinely call ourselves “servants” of the Lord?  This needs to change.

SHARE ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” ~Galatians 6:2

The bearing of each other’s burden is the fulfillment of the law of Christ.

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him?  My little children, let’s not love in word only, or with the tongue only, but in deed and truth.  And by this we know that we are of the truth, and persuade our hearts before him” ~1 John 3:17-19

Where is this in the Church today?

There is so much attention given to perishing matters in churches right now, but, where is the fulfillment of the law of Christ among us?

This is why the ministry of service will be among the ministries of worship/prayer, and the ministry of the word.

Jesus did not say that He will stand in judgment and ask why you did not pray longer, though your lack of prayer may be one of the roots of things that you will be judged for, but He did say that He will ask why you did not serve others.

To do this requires that the Church organizes herself in such a way that she can harness her resources effectively to be applied towards meeting her various needs.

I’ve been seeking God’s counsel on this matter for some time.

I see a lot of problems that hitch a ride into the Church on the coattails of the traditional way of tithing directly to the Church.  It tends to create a “tithe and retire” approach to service.  When I was pastoring in Louisiana I heard so many people say “we tithed, now its your responsibility”.  Today, tithing seems to pass the responsibility for actively serving the needs of others onto someone else, and I believe that is deplorable.

Therefore, as I continue to seek the Lord’s counsel in prayer and in the word, I believe what we are going to do is to teach the brethren how to set up their own personal ministry funds and tithe weekly directly into these accounts, which they then will be personally responsible for ministering over directly.

We will call upon men and women in the Church who have knowledge and financial expertise to help the brethren learn how to manage their money in such a way that will support active service (both to meet short term needs in the Church and longterm needs).

Each brother that I have spoken to regarding this matter has confirmed to me with various word of caution that this will require diligent discipleship and accountability.  As each person in the Church begins to take back their personal responsibility to serve the body of Christ, there will be temptation for misuse of the gifts God has entrusted to them.

The account of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) serves as a sobering reminder of how serious this is.  The consequences of lying to the Holy Spirit regarding your service to the Kingdom of God is severe!  Yet, that does not mean that we do not serve!  It means that we “conduct ourselves with fear and trembling throughout our stay on this earth” and walk uprightly before the Lord!

PANTRY SHARE

This follows the same exact idea expressed above except it uses personal belongings and money to meet the needs of those who are outside our fellowship and may or may not be believers.  We will actively look for needs and then bring those needs before the Church.  When we hear of people who  need furniture, clothing, food, transportation, or accommodation, we will bring this before our assembly and seek to meet those needs.

THE MINISTRY OF CARING

People’s needs cannot always be met with material supply.

Whenever we see someone who has been hospitalized or is enduring some other personal trial, the body of Christ will surround this person with the support they need to bear through it.  If they’re in the hospital, we may make sure their household chores are taken care of and their children get to school on time, and they are visited regularly by those they love!

WE NEED PRAYERS

The things that I’ve highlighted above are things that I’ve felt the Lord leading me towards, but, they are not things that can happen overnight.

I honestly feel utterly and completely incapable of doing this on my own, but, I am leaning more on the grace of Christ.

So we have some prayer requests that we’re asking your continual support in:

1) The Lord send us like-minded brothers and sisters to encourage Mary and I and serve alongside us.

2) The Lord give us wisdom, patience, and perseverance to faithful administer these things.

3) The grace of the Lord would causes us to become sufficient ministers of the Lord’s ministry of reconciliation.

Again, I thank you all for your prayers and the support you give.

Giving Up

Yesterday morning I was really under heavy temptation to quit trying to warn people of the judgment of Christ that will come against all unrighteousness and ungodliness on the earth without partiality or favoritism. This temptation came because I am getting tired of speaking to stone walls!

Then the Lord brought two things to my remembrance:

First- “Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against Yahweh in ceasing to pray for you: but I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear Yahweh, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you. But if you keep doing evil, you will be consumed, both you and your king.” (1 Samuel 12:23-25

How can I sin against my beloved God in ceasing to pray and warn this people of the awesome judgment of God that is coming?  So long as it is still called “Today” we must not quit seeking to save those who are lost!

Second- He reminded me of a dream He gave me over 2 years ago in Hefei of the ministry here in the U.S. that He was sending us to do, and, in this ministry I was preaching to the people, some were passing by, others standing, but their hearts were cold and unfeeling.

God is not surprised by the coldness of people’s heart, nor is He thwarted by their stubbornness.  But God says He does nothing unless He first reveals it to the prophets!  He sends them out early and often, that we might have every opportunity to hear and repent!

BEAR FRUIT WITH PATIENCE

But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. ~Luke 8:15

 

Don’t be discouraged, brethren, for it is with patience that the fruit of the Kingdom is wrought forth!  Therefore, walk in the Spirit, for it is not by the failing patience of the flesh that Kingdom fruit is born, but by the perfect patience that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit by which the fruit of the Kingdom is had!

Don’t bow your head with grumbling, nor purse your lips with bitterness at the trying of your patience, but in all things, whether trials and tribulations or bounty and gain, give thanks to the Lord from a sincere heart!

BY PATIENT CONTINUANCE

“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”:  eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;  but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath” ~Romans 2:5-8

 

God has not put you in charge of the increase.  He has charged us with the patient continuance of doing good.

Therefore, by not ceasing to think on those things that are true, noble, and right, and never allowing those things that are pure, lovely, admirable, good,  and praiseworthy to depart from your mind, let us not grow weary in doing good, but persevere with patient continuance!

YOU HAVE NEED OF ENDURANCE

“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

“For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarryNow the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” ~Hebrews 10:36-39

 

Heed the warning carefully, for we have urgent need of endurance!  For the promise of God does not come to those who draw back to perdition, even to those who mixed the cup of the Lord with Belial (let whoever reads have understanding), but the promise of our eternal inheritance comes to those who press on with endurance with faith to the saving of the soul!

Therefore, let us make sure that we do not look back, as Lot’s wife, nor receive a dead faith, but, that we press on to the saving of the soul with faith in Christ!

MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Thanks be to God our Father in Heaven that He saw fit to send Jesus with “grace upon grace” as One being “full of grace and truth”!  Therefore, do not trust in man, nor the strength of men, but lean wholly on Jesus name that you may receive grace sufficient for the journey ahead!

Indeed, brethren, it takes great faith to endure the isolation and persecution from family and friends that we will experience for the Lord’s sake, but, do not become weary, neither set your eyes on the things of this earth and its trials, but set your focus squarely on Jesus Christ who is seated at the right hand of God in the Heavenlies and press on towards the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus, amen!

Though I be weak, let the LORD be my strength!

Though I be abandoned, let the LORD be my company!

Though I be striped naked, let the righteousness of Christ be my raiment!

In all things, let the LORD be my all!

A Short Word to Young Brothers Entering Ministry

There’s something on my heart to speak to any of my brothers who are set on entering into active ministry, whether as an evangelist on the streets, a preacher or teacher in the Church, or in serving the needs of the body through various other ministries.

Set your heart wholly on Christ and crucify all other passions and desires that you have, especially your addictions!

These things will be Satan’s greatest door into your life and will plague/defile your ministry.

May the grace, mercy, and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ abound to you mightily!  Amen!

Master, I Knew You To Be A Hard Man

Matthew 25:13-30

13 Watch therefore, for you don’t know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. 14 “For it is like a man, going into another country, who called his own servants, and entrusted his goods to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his own ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 Immediately he who received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 In the same way, he also who got the two gained another two. 18 But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 “Now after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reconciled accounts with them. 20 He who received the five talents came and brought another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents. Behold, I have gained another five talents besides them.’ 21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 “He also who got the two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents. Behold, I have gained another two talents besides them.’ 23 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 24 “He also who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Master, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter. 25 I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the earth. Behold, you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his lord answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow, and gather where I didn’t scatter. 27 You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. 28 Take away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away. 30 Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

While I was driving today the Lord brought to my mind the parable of the talents, specifically, the wicked and slothful servant who received his talent and buried it in the earth because he knew his master to be a hard man.

The Lord showed me that this man is the one who has withdrawn himself from the harvest and thinks to escape the judgments of God by hiding himself away in the world because he is afraid of God.  He thinks that he will simply guard what has been entrusted to him and return it to the Lord in-tact when He returns.

The Lord also showed me that this servant knows the judgments of God from afar off, but does not know Him; he has considered the severity of God, but not His goodness!  He sees that the world is a dark and wicked place and is paralyzed by fear that he himself might offend God if he goes out into it.  He also sees that to go out into the harvest would require much labor and great toil!  He knows that it would be back-breaking and bloody work, and he is afraid of such difficulties!  So he would much rather come home after work and stay at home, where it is comfortable, than go out and labor in His Father’s field!

KNOWING GOD

One of the things that the Lord showed me is that this servant does not really know Him.  Not really.  He has observed the severity of God from afar off, and God’s judgments seem harsh to him, but he never came near to God to learn of Him as a son or daughter of God!

As A.W. Tozer taught, God is not “in parts”, that is to say, God is not divisible into distinct and independent parts.  Everything God does is in agreement with everything that God is.  When we think of God, we must think rightly of Him!

God has never needed to diminish any of His divine nature in order to exercise another- every time God has exercised His goodness it has been in complete harmony and agreement with His severity, and, so also, every time God has exercised His judgment and wrath, it has been in complete harmony and agreement with His love!  Nothing God does is ever opposed to everything that He is; He is never constrained by “parts”, as we so often say, but acts wholly in unity with everything He is!

Because we are finite beings, God has shown Himself to us in ways that we can understand, but, in ways that are right.  Therefore, when we are admonished to“consider the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22), we’re expected to still think rightly of God, not as though His goodness were separate or opposed to His severity, but as they are in agreement together.  As much as the Father is one with the Son, so also is the goodness of God one with His severity!  And so we understand the Father through the Son.

But the wicked and slothful servant did not know God.  He thought to avoid the severity of God by hiding away in the security of home, but, he wrongly understood the severity of God because he did not know God!

Likewise, today, there are many Christians who wrongly understand God and will stand before the Lord on His return and be called a “wicked and slothful servant”!  Some because they were paralyzed by ungodly fear (Oh that we would be baptized with the true fear of God!)  while others because they were paralyzed by apathy because they thought wrongly of the goodness of God and trampled under foot the sacrifice of Christ!

WICKED AND SLOTHFUL

This person’s slothfulness is quite evident- he knew what he had been given, but was afraid of the hard labor and toil that it would take to make it increase!  And so it is hard labor and toil!  If you are going to work in your Father’s harvest, you will endure great trials in this life- you will endure sleeplessness, financial cost, ridicule, laughter, hatred, reviling, persecution, and even threat to safety.  You will because Jesus did, and we are not greater than He, are we?

Yet, notice that God did not say to the man, “you wicked and slothful servant, you didn’t return to me the same amount that the man with 5 times your gifting did!”  God did not judge him in comparison with his co-laborers!  This is one of great mistakes that we make today; we judge in comparison with others- “well he isn’t an evangelist like me” or, “he doesn’t preach”- we always want to compare ourselves among ourselves.  God didn’t do that!  He said, “I have sent your out as salt of the earth and a light atop the hill, why have you hid your light under a basket?”

Neither was the measure of the Lord’s gift to the servant burdensome or too great, for the Lord “gave to each one according to his ability”.  The Lord knew the servant well, better than the servant knew his master, apparently.  And gave to him what he knew he could handle!  The Lord never gives a gift in greater measure than we could possibly be faithful with!  The servant did not lack the skill to handle what he was given, he only lacked the heart to use it- and that because of his own slothfulness!

But, what about the man’s wickedness?  What did he do that was wicked?

First, the Lord entrusted his good things to him.  There is a measure of trust involved in this transaction, and the servant violated the Lord’s trust by hiding away the good that was given to him.

Likewise with us, when the Lord gives to us the many bountiful gifts that He entrusts to the Children of God, He gives these gifts to us with a measure of trust, expecting that we will use them properly in the service of His Kingdom.  Our wickedness is quite evident when we misuse these gifts in all manner of ways: some use their gifts to the glory of their own name, others to the hurt of their fellow servants, and others are too lazy and slothful to ever put them to use at all!  Here we are speaking of the Christian who has not put to use what Jesus has entrusted to him or her.  The neglect of the heavenly gifts given to us by Christ Jesus our Lord is one of the great acts of wickedness found in the Church!

Secondly, the faithful servants went immediately and put their Lord’s money to good use, but the slothful servant went away, like the man “who sets his hand to the plow and looks back”; He went away to hide.  He hides himself from the work he knows he should and could be doing.  He hides himself from the labor that he knows would bring increase to his Lord’s gift.  He hides himself from the toil he knows would profit his master.  He hides himself away from all the difficulty and darkness that would confront him if he were to go out into the harvest, as he should and could. He has all the ability and means to his work and increase his Lord’s gift, but he hides away!

So many times I hear people say “if I only had this gift, then I could do great things”, but so very rarely do I hear anyone offering thanksgiving to God for the gifts they do have and putting them to good use!  I wish it was the other way around, that it was rare to hear people making the excuse, and common to hear them thanking God for His gift and putting it to good use!

Thirdly, the wicked servant made excuse for his slothfulness and cast blame on God.  His response is very like Adam’s response in form in the garden of Eden when Adam gives an account of himself to God.  This wicked servant says, “I know you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter.  Therefore, I was afraid!”  He charged his slothfulness to his master’s account!

We know that our Father in Heaven provides our needs, yet, so often we offer up the excuse to God that He has not sufficiently provided for our needs, therefore, we cannot serve Him!  This is not only wrong, but it charges God with a great sin of not sufficiently providing for His own children!

The wicked servant did not care who he was slinging guilt at so long as he himself did not bare the blame, even if he had to cast guilt on his Lord.

A FAITHFUL SERVANT IN THE HARVEST

The Lord of this servant was gone for a long time.  He provided all that was necessary to his servants to go out and be profitable, even with little, and, likewise, the Lord our Savior and God, Jesus Christ, has made provision for us so that we will want for nothing to go out and make the increase.

Be careful that you do not betray the trust of the Lord by misusing what He has entrusted to you, nor hide yourself away from the trials and difficulties that you will face while on this earth.  And be careful that you do not make excuses for your slothfulness or begin to sling blame on others for why you are not being faithful with what has been entrusted to you.

Each one of us has been called as servants to work in the Lord’s harvest, therefore, see to it that you work while it is still called “Today”.  Some of us have been called as evangelists into the harvest, others are called as preachers, while others as those who give hospitality.  Every one of us under-girds the Lord’s call to the great commission and actively answers that call ourselves.  The faithful servant goes immediately to put to use what they have to make increase for the Kingdom of God.

Trust God to be faithful to keep you from stumbling as you go out into this dark and wicked world- set your hope firmly on Him to sustain you and keep you, and do not fear, as the wicked servant did, that you cannot go out to do His work, but look to your Shepherd who goes out before you, and follow Him!  Then you shall not stumble nor be overtaken by the wolves!

May you all be filled with every grace of God and be strengthened in the joy of the Lord to run the race set before you with perseverance and faithfulness, amen!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving.  It’s my all-time favorite holiday.  I’ve written about it over the years quite a lot (here, here, here, here, here, and here).  I love that it’s a time for our souls to soak in humility, as we consider God’s abundant mercy, and it’s a time for our souls to be lifted up with joy, as we consider God’s infinite kindness.

I am reminded each year as I see or hear about families arguing with one another over thanksgiving dinner preparations that true thanksgiving does not come from the measure of abundance that we receive, but from the condition of our hearts to receive the blessings that we have!

I’m not going to write a long post here about Thanksgiving- the above posts still articulate what I have to say anyway- rather, I want to offer thanksgiving to God for His wonderful blessings!

MY THANKSGIVINGS

  1. Jesus Christ, my Savior, my Lord and King, my Shepherd, and my Friend!  I do not deserve You, I was nothing when You found me, I am no one today, but I am Yours- all that I am is Yours!
  2. The longsuffering kindness and mercy of God!  Without the exceeding greatness of Your mercy, I would be consumed in condemnation!  You bear with my weaknesses and infirmities, You forgive my failures, and You teach me to overcome!
  3. My Father’s discipline!  Without Your chastening I surely would have gone far astray and been lost in the outer darkness!  But You bring me in and teach me Your ways!
  4. New life!  The wonderful blessing of Naomi Elizabeth, our baby girl!  In a year with many troubles, God has given Mary and I a powerful blessing!
  5. A virtuous wife!  A treasured jewel, my wife is one of God’s most amazing blessings!  That He would send her to me just blows my mind!  She is patient, meek, sweet, kind, and understanding.  She is my wife!
  6. Reconciliation!  This year I’ve seen reconciliation worked in my life with brothers and sisters I did not think I would see reconciliation with again.  Again, the Lord has taught me the value of “gentleness” and “peace”, that now I see that anyone who does not yet have these has not yet matured in the mind of Christ.
  7. New Fellowship!  I rejoice as God has given us fellowship with new brothers and sisters in various places all over!  They are relationships I treasure deeply and am so thankful that God has shown me more of His family!
  8. Daily bread!  Our Father provides our daily bread, a miracle I do not understand, but I rejoice that He has not let us want for nourishment!
  9. Revelation!  A great joy to my soul is the revelation God has taught my heart.  Through infirmity, trial, the Word, and travel, God has taught me His will, and I thank Him!
  10. The future!  Because of Jesus Christ, my future is secure, and my hope safe!  I know not what tomorrow may bring, but I know, whatever it may bring, Jesus Christ is there to receive me and keep me safe.

~~~

Heb 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

Hallowed

Usually I write about holiday’s like Halloween quite a bit in advance, but this month has been so busy with the baby coming, adjusting to being a father, and traveling to KC to visit family, that I haven’t had time to write about Halloween until now.

So, with Halloween just six days away, let’s give some thought to Halloween.

HALLOWEEN

Halloween derives its name from “All Hallowed Eve” and is a Catholic adulteration of the special Druid night called “Samhain”. The Druid priests believed this particular night was a night when the realm of the dead came closest to the realm of the living and the powers of darkness were heightened to their peak.  Halloween’s history, though quite extensive and very interesting, is readily available from other more authoritative sources than me, so it’s not my intention to investigate it any further.  I’ll assume that you understand the basic pagan roots and how it was brought in with and adulterating effect by the Catholic Church.

The part I want to focus on is Halloween’s “holiness”.  Halloween, when broken down to it’s basic elements, is all about “holiness”, but the question is “whose holiness?”  The founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LeVay, wrote that “the two holiest Satanic holidays after one’s [own] birthday are Walpurgisnacht (May 1st) and Halloween”.  It has been said that on Halloween “Christians around the world will join hands with satanists, pagans, occultists and the like in an attempt of one of the most insane, bizarre unions to ever hit the planet”.  Halloween is filled with the “idols of Halloween” (see section on “Ornaments of Halloween”), which many Christians buy at Wal-Mart and take into their homes (where they are supposed to be raising Godly offspring).

What is important to understand is that Halloween is viewed by Satan as his holy day.  Indeed, darkness is Halloween’s appeal and death is its rule.

HALLOWED BE THY NAME

I have two primary considerations to write about before I reveal the purpose and goal of writing this post.

My first consideration is regarding the holy name of God.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  ~Matthew 6:9 (NASB)

Jesus’ first and foremost concern in prayer was that the name of God would be hallowed.  Jesus taught His disciples to pray and ask God for this because the hallowing of God’s name is not accomplished by the power of man, it is God’s work:

But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations, where they went. Therefore tell the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: I don’t do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.  And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am Yahweh, says the Lord Yahweh, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. ~Ezekiel 36:21-23 (WEB/ESV)

The people of God profaned His name among the nations by both observing the festivals, customs, and traditions of pagan religions and calling on the holy name of God.  Therefore, God’s mighty work is to vindicate the holiness of His great name by the demonstration of His power in and through His people to all nations.

Therefore, when we pray to ask God to “hallow His name”, we are asking Him to use us to vindicate His holy name from the common and profane!

The holy name of God is my first concern for Christians in respect to Halloween is for the holy name of God.  I am concerned when Christians call a night that is devoted to celebrating death, terror, hellish ghouls and demons, “a Hallowed eve”.  Likewise, I am concerned that the children of God, who do bear the holy name of God, would be seen celebrating with the world the same things that the world celebrates on Halloween.

CLOTHED IN CHRIST

I will greatly rejoice in Yahweh! My soul will be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation.  He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. ~Isaiah 61:10

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring[k] and heirs according to promise. ~Galatians 3:27-29

He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. ~Revelation 3:5

We are clothed with beautiful white raiments!  The filthy rags of our worldly wickedness have been taken off as we are conformed to the death of Christ and we have been clothed with the garments of Salvation as we receive newness of life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, God has given us the Robe of Righteousness!  We have put on Christ!  Hallelujah, praise Jehovah!

This is why I am very concerned that Christians would dress themselves and their children in hellish figures.

I am looking to see, where is the joy in Yahweh our LORD at the great salvation that He has clothed us with?  “Life reigns through righteousness” (Romans 5:17), and we have been clothed in righteousness!  So I must ask, why do we then dress up in figures of sin and death, knowing that “death reigned through sin” (Romans 5:21).  How do we who have tasted of the life of God now take pleasure in death?

But you must be sure of better things in Christ: you have been given the name of God unto life, and in life clothed with righteousness.  You have put off the darkness that is celebrated on Halloween and been transferred into the Kingdom of Light (Colossians 1:13).  Because of these things you have been set free into the joy of salvation and fellowship of the Almighty Father!

A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO AN UNHALLOWED EVE

The goal of my writing this post is to urge my brothers and sisters in Christ to consider a different response to Halloween.

Many people ignore Halloween altogether or go into hiding while others try to sanitize it, but I would like to suggest the following alternative response: perhaps we should consider the souls that are in bondage to the darkness on this day and contend with the powers of darkness by the Light of Christ over their souls.  I would like to encourage my brethren to meet together as a body for prayer and evangelism.  Let us all intercede with God on behalf of our neighbors as the royal priesthood of God that we have been redeemed by Christ to be, and let us go out as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God!  Let us set loose the captives and proclaim the joyful salvation of God!

If a patrol of American soldiers were informed that there was an unarmed squadron of enemy combatants that were holding and torturing prisoners, but turned their backs and did not assault their location, what would we do to them?  Would they not be immediately court-marshaled?  Yet, Christ has “disarmed the principalities and powers” and given us His name which is above every name!  Why, then, do we not go forth and liberate the captives?

Let me encourage you to respond this Halloween by contending in prayer and evangelism for the lost souls who are celebrating the darkness.  The soul who does this in faith will prosper to the glory of God and vindication of His great name!  Amen!

Deception of Unrighteous Judgment

Unrighteous judgment can be so hard to spot because it is so often cloaked in righteousness.  So let’s look a little closer at unrighteous judgment:

And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. ~Mark 14:3-6

We find out in the gospel of John (12:3-4) that it was Judas Iscariot who incited the other disciples to rise up against Mary with sharp criticism over her “shameless act of worship”.  Judas Iscariot appealed to their self-righteousness and led all the disciples into error.  It appeared to be a tremendous waste of valuable resources on such a “shameless” act of worship- how much good could’ve been accomplished with that money?  You could have fed many hungry children with the money from the alabaster flask that she just poured on Jesus’ feet!

Mary’s ministry to Jesus was condemned on appearances, but not with full knowledge.

Now, Jesus had just warned against unrighteous judgment:

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” ~John 7:24.

Mary had not committed an unrighteous act, but, the disciples judged her sharply according to their personal standard of righteousness.

We shouldn’t let it escape our attention that their unrighteous judgment was based on something righteous: it is good to give to the poor.  In fact, they had learned this benevolence from Jesus Himself, who commanded that the righteous should give to the poor (Matthew 19:21).  In other words, they had applied what we have now as Holy Scripture to the situation, but were still found in error!

Unrighteous judgment can conceal itself under righteous acts in order to deceive those who desire righteousness.  It can twist the Holy Scriptures to its own purposes, which is why it can be so hard to spot.

The heart of unrighteous judgment is gossip, hearsay, eavesdropping, and a critical eye.  It is not made in the light of truth and righteousness.  Unrighteous judgment will lead us to look down on and distance ourselves from people that we deem “below” us; perhaps they are “dirty”, “smelly”, or “dressed trashy”, so we perceive them as below us!

Its platform is pride.  That is why unrighteous judgment perceives only with its eyes, and not in truth, and often refuses to “associate with the lowly”, as the righteous are instructed to do (Romans 12:16).  And because pride is its platform, we will often experience an outburst of unrighteous judgment from someone whenever we touch someone’s pride with righteous judgment.

Unrighteous judgment is that response that we have when we grab-a-hunk-of-scripture and sling it as someone who has just confronted us about our personal misconduct.  It seems this is Satan’s favorite temptation to bring against the Lord’s disciples to prevent them from being corrected.

Jesus did not, however, condemn all forms of judgment; we’re actually instructed in righteous judgment, which waits for the light to make the deeds of darkness manifest and looks for the truth as it submits to the will of God and seeks for peace and righteousness.  The righteous judgment of Christ does not receive annoyance on the first offense but fills itself with all the righteous attributes of God’s divine nature.

It’s not hard to find everyday examples of unrighteous judgment.  Have you ever heard people rant and rave about what different Golden Globe’s attendants are wearing?  We’ve all heard the sharp criticisms that people make of each person’s fashion choices.  It’s cruel and loveless, it’s not made in the light of truth, nor has any regard for their soul, but is based only on appearance and delights in hurting others.  Sadly, these events only serve to further train our eyes and minds for unrighteous judgment.

Of course, I’m in no way condoning events like the Golden Globe’s, in fact I would discouraging even watching it.  My heart weeps because of the righteous judgment that will come upon the souls that take pleasure in, and love, such worldliness.   Their souls are so valuable, and their life is so precious, that I can’t stand watching them indulge in the very things that God says stores up His wrath for them in the day of judgment.

Yet, this brings us to the next point: unrighteous judgment is oftentimes gladly embraced in the world, while righteous judgment is usually despised.  A celebrity gossip publication will get millions of footprints a month, whereas, a prayer meeting will struggle to get 10 people a week.

Unrighteous judgment always appeals to our sense of self-justification and self-righteousness.  Now, we should understand “self-righteousness” correctly; it is the sense of righteousness as measured by our own self-standard.  It is not the sense of righteousness as revealed in the scripture and measured by Christ- that is righteousness itself.  It is our sense of what “we think” and “personal opinion” on how people should behave apart from the law of Christ.

CONCLUSION

Unrighteous judgment is easy to make.  It’s impulsive and seductive, but righteous judgment requires patience and knowledge of God’s will.  We should not be afraid to declare the righteous judgments of God, not matter how much the world hates His righteous judgments, but we should guard our hearts carefully against the seductive lips of unrighteous judgment as we remember that even the greatest of Jesus’ disciples were deceived by it.

May the peace of Christ guard your hearts and minds as you seek to understand the righteous judgments of God, amen!

Can’t Transcend Experience

We can’t transcend experience.

Please hear me out.  I’m talking about the grave mistake of thinking that because we have read something in scripture it is automatically now true of our life.  When we read the scripture our expectation should be that our reading it with faith should be followed by experiencing the reality of what we just read.

For example, there is a gospel being preached that seeks to “understand” the cross, but never picks it up and carries it.  This same gospel preaches that Christ died, but does not want to experience joining Christ in His death.

We may preach and sing about counting all this world as loss, but if we don’t want to experience dying with Christ, then we will never truly die to this world and it will remain very much alive and dear to us.

The scripture talks about knowing Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings, the conformation of His death, and the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:7-11).  These are not abstract concepts that we talk about but never experience, they are the reality of the Kingdom of God that every Christian should walk in.

So let me exhort you, brothers, don’t seek to transcend experience through academic knowledge; embrace Christ in every way, both in knowledge, and wisdom, and experience, and walking in the light.  Amen!

Power of Preaching

For the last couple months my wife and I have been studying the gospel and seeking Christ that the Word might dwell richly in our hearts.  I am really sick of gospel preaching that is content with wrapping our heads around neatly packaged, but ultimately unrealized doctrines.  My hearts desire is that Christ would walk in the midst of our hearts and cause His word to flow like living waters within us so that our preaching would be out of the abundance of the heart.

“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.   For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.   A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?   Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.   But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell.  And the ruin of that house was great.”

~Luke 6:43-49

THE REALITY OF CHRIST-INDWELLING

There is no power in preaching  unless Christ first indwells the heart of the preacher.  You may outline your sermon, “checking it twice”, and you may seek counsel from the greatest preachers in the world so that your sermons are doctrinally impeccable, but, if Christ be not dwelling in you, your words are dead and there is not power in your preaching.

My wife and I are realizing how inescapably real this is; the soundness of your doctrine is unmistakably necessary, but the life-giving power that anoints your preaching is Christ indwelling and the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power.

We discover that nothing good dwells in the carnal man (Romans 7:18), but, being joined to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are washed of regeneration and renewing in the Holy Spirit.

If the preacher’s heart remains bad, having bitterness, envy, selfish ambition, and carnal lusts, though his doctrines remain technically right, his preaching is defiled by hypocrisy.  This kind of preaching does not receive God’s promised blessing to provide “rain for the seed” (Isaiah 30:23).

Equally terrifying is the possibility that although the preacher gives his life to preaching sound doctrine, and perhaps the Lord pours out His mercy and sends the rain that the souls listening might be saved, the end of such preaching is disqualification (1 Cor. 9:27).

Yet there will be no disappointment in the heart with whom Christ dwells!  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will surely lovingly teach such a soul to walk in soberness, righteousness, and godliness; this heart is guarded by the peace of Christ and from it will overflow every good thing that comes from Christ.

The heart in which Christ dwells is sure to have the blessings of the Lord proceeding from the mouth, and the preaching that comes from this source will be both sound and good.

THE POWER OF PREACHING

Preaching is God-appointed as the vehicle through which the miracle of salvation occurs: its purpose is to bring the hearing of the word which produces faith, and faith effects the work of God!

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?

As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The preacher is a a servant sent by God to proclaim His good news of salvation for all men.  Just as Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God, that, whereas you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17), so the preacher is entrusted to deliver this teaching that those who hear from a sincere heart with faith might receive deliverance!

PREACHER, TRUST GOD

My final exhortation for my brethren and fellow preachers is to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  It is not cunningly developed persuasion by which the everlasting faith given to us by Christ depends, but upon the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit; do not worry about the eloquence of your speech, the cleverness of your stories, or the well-laid plans of your mission, but depend wholly upon God to send the rain that your seed may increase!

Do not be discouraged when you labor and toil and see only hard hearts, for so they killed God’s messengers who were sent to invite His guests to the wedding feast (Matthew 22); submit yourself to God, and He surely will lift you up, preach the words that agree with godliness and the sound doctrines of the Lord Jesus Christ and so save yourself and those who listen to you (1 Tim 4:16).

May you go in peace and abound in grace.  Amen!

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