He was cru·ci·fy·ed for our sins,

cru·ci·fy ˈkro͞osəˌfī/ verb past tense: crucified; past participle: crucified 1. – to put (someone) to death by nailing or binding them to a cross, especially as an ancient punishment. For as…

Source: He was cru·ci·fy·ed for our sins,

Earthquakes in Various Places

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Once when serving the LORD as a missionary in Queens, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with a 76 year old man from Nepal that I will call mister M. For three days we’d meet in the park on 208th and Hillside Avenue and talk about eternal things. He was an evangelistic Hindu and very serious about following the teachings of this religion that he was sure would lead him to god and eternal life.

As I sat and listed to Mr. M, the LORD gave me and opportunity to share the gospel with him on our second day of meeting when I asked him, “In all of your life, have you ever found anyone that was able to truly keep the Hindu precepts? When I asked this question, all of his religious enthusiasm and joy drained from his face, and he responded, “No!” Then he solemnly said to me, “Eric, the only thing that I am looking for is peace of mind.” He went on to say that he did not need money because he had enough to travel the world and do what he wanted to do.

With this said, I shared with him what Jesus said in John 14:27, which says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” I went on to share with him other verses from the Bible that talk about the peace of God and how it is obtained (Isaiah 26:3. Ephesians 2:14-22, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, and others). After hearing God speak to his heart from the Word, MR. M asked me to give him a Bible and to mark all of the verses of Scripture that I shared with him.

Mr. M heard the gospel over the next couple of days that we saw each other, but to this day I do not know if he ever believed it and became a follower of Christ. Pray for Mr. M. Pray for Nepal. In our local church a couple of weeks ago an offering was taken to share with the suffering people of Nepal. As the LORD gives you an opportunity to share, please prayerfully do so. They will need our financial help to help them rebuild their destroyed villages and cities, but more so, they need Christ.

Luke 21:11 “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.13 “But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.

CLICK THIS LINK BELOW AND TAKE A LOOK AT THIS FOOTAGE OF THE EARTHQUAKE.  PRAY FOR NEPAL.

http://bit.ly/1GJli7j

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_NEPAL_EARTHQUAKE…

The Game Changing Gospel

Three Crosses and Silhoutted Person in Prayer at Sunrise

Through the gospel God exerts his power to transform lives and change cultures. I am of the opinion that the church does not need another summit or conference on racial reconciliation or multi-culturalism; what’s needed today are preachers who will prophetically proclaim the gospel.  When the gospel is preached to people whom the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive it, they receive it, and they demonstrate their faith in the gospel by walking in “newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)  Let me suggest that anything short of this (changing or accommodating our music styles, or creating night club like atmospheres in our sanctuaries, etc.) will not bring the needed flame of radical revival, but will produce a mere reshuffling of the same old deck of lukewarm cards.

I love this section from George and Woodward’s book, The Mark of Jesus. Using an example from the history of the church, George and Woodward challenge us to consider afresh the power of the gospel to change our lives. They write:

The Testimony of Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr effectively depicted and defended the lifestyle of Christians. In his First Apology (c. A.D. 155), Justin challenged Emperor Antonius Pius to take a good, hard look at the way Christians lived. Justin apparently did not fear that an investigation by the emperor would find the Christians to be hypocrites: “It is for us, therefore, to offer to all the opportunity of inspecting our life and teachings, lest we ourselves should bear the blame for what those who do not really know about us do in their ignorance.” Then, in a marvelous passage, Justin described how the power of the Gospel had transformed Christians at the very core of their aspirations and desires:

Those who once rejoiced in fornication now delight in continence alone; those who made use of magic arts have dedicated themselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who once took pleasure in the means of increasing our wealth and property now bring what we have into a common fund and share with everyone in need; we who hated and killed one another would not associate with men of different tribes because of [their different] customs, now after the manifestation of Christ live together and pray for our enemies and try to persuade those who unjustly hate us, so that they, living according to the fair command of Christ may share with us the good hope of receiving the same things [that we will] from God, the master of all.

According to Justin Martyr, Christians turned their backs on sexual immorality, on the making of money as a life avocation, and on yielding to racism. Rather, they shared their goods even with those whom they had formerly disdained for racial reasons—those who belonged to other tribes. Many Christians were living in unity and were intent on seeing their non-Christian neighbors come to Christ. They prayed for their enemies with the hope that they might likewise become followers of the true God. They believed that only those persons were worthy to be called Christians who actually obeyed their Lord’s teachings.

As for those persons who did not obey Christ’s teachings (hypocrites), Justin Martyr offered little comfort: “Those who are found not living as he taught should know that they are not really Christians, even if his teachings are on their lips, for he said that not those who merely profess but those who also do the works will be saved. For he said this: ‘Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.’”Justin Martyr, therefore, viewed “apologetics”(the defense of the faith) in a somewhat different fashion than we often do, if we limit its scope to the presentation of the “theistic proofs”or historical arguments for the resurrection of Christ. Certainly Martyr made the case for fulfilled prophecies in Scripture, the reality of Christ’s miracles, and the truthfulness of the resurrection. But Martyr was not hesitant also to make the point that many of the Christians he knew obeyed Christ’s teachings. This would mean that any hypocrisy charge regarding them would not stick. He wrote: “Many men and women now in their sixties and seventies who have been disciples of Christ from childhood have preserved their purity: and I am proud that I could point to such people in every nation.”

Justin Martyr’s presentation of how Christians actually lived out their faith received confirmation of sorts from a surprising quarter. Pagan critics, while condemning Christianity as an irrational faith that attracted the weak-minded, on occasion paid backhanded tributes to the Christians by describing them as those who kept their word and shared their goods with each other. Undoubtedly, the early church had its hypocrites who by no means followed Christ in the way Justin Martyr indicated. At the end of the second century, Tertullian complained that he knew Christians, including members of the clergy, who ran after money and church offices rather than seeking to follow Christ’s teachings. For many early Christians, not following Christ’s teachings indicated a person was worse than a hypocrite; the person was a “non-Christian.

Many Voices to Chose From, but only One Voice Has the Truth

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Proverbs 3:1 ¶ My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands;
2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.

Many of our struggles in life come upon us because we listen to the multitude of negative voices that bombard us daily. Below is a list of just a few of the many voices that speak to us every day.

  • We hear the voice of fear
  • We hear the voice of failure
  • We hear the voice of defeat
  • We hear the voice of rejection
  • We hear the voice of incompetence
  • We hear the voice of criticism
  • We hear the voice of slander
  • The voice of guilt
  • We hear the voice that says we are not loved

Sometimes these voices are rooted in our past circumstances. Sometimes these voices are fixed in our present circumstances. No matter where these voices come from, they are not the voice of the Spirit of God. For:

  • God says “fear not”, for I have not given you the spirit of fear, but of “power, love, and soundness of mind.” (Isaiah 41:10; 2 Timothy 1:7)
  • God says we are not failures because “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)
  • God says we are not defeated, because in Christ “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
  • God says we are not rejected. Quite the contrary, we’ve been 1) adopted as sons to Himself, 2) according to His will, and 3) for His glory. Simply put, God has “made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:5,6,7)
  • God says we are not incompetent because we “are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:10; see also I Corinthians 12)
  • Regarding criticism, God says “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:33)
  • And when haters slander us and try to bring us down to their level with hurtful words, God says “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11,12)
  • God speaks to us with the voice of forgivenesssaying it is I, “Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:3-5; see also 1 John 1:9)

In essence, God says we are His “beloved”.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1,2)

What God says of His children defines them for both time and for eternity. By faith believe what God says, and by faith live your life accordingly. Of the thousands of voices that are in the world today, voices that cry out for our attention, only One voice says authoritatively, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11)  When this voice speaks, it speaks the truth with power.  This is the voice of freedom.  This is the voice of God. (John 8:32)

I love these words from Eben Otuteye, that I have shared below:

Affirm and meditate on the life of God in you. Meditate on your oneness with God. If you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior then God has put His spirit in you and His spirit has merged with your spirit. Therefore deep at the spiritual level you are one with God. (You may be wondering “if I am one with God how come I am not perfect and I still have these wacky beliefs, behaviors and attitudes?” The answer is that it is your mind and your body that are in the way but God can fix that).

Recognize, acknowledge and thank God that the best and the greatest thing that can ever happen to a human being has happened to you. You have the best and the greatest thing that a person can ever have: you have the life of God in you.

God, by His Holy Spirit dwells inside of you and is always with you and He fully fills your whole being. He is Emmanuel, the Lord with us. He is Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is there; the ever present One. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ and Christ is in you and you are in Christ. Your spirit is fused and merged with the Spirit of God and you are one with God. (John 17:23; 2 Peter 1:1-7)

Meditate on and thank God for the fact that He has put His life in you, which means that you are one with perfect love; you are one with all power; you are one with all wisdom; you are one with all knowledge; you are one with every good thing. You are one with the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God. Nothing can ever overcome or defeat you because the omnipotent power of God is working in you, through you, and for you. The omnipotent power of God, combined with His wisdom, lovingkindness, and faithfulness towards you, makes you always a winner and an overcomer. Nothing can separate you from the love of God and nothing can separate you from the power of God. That makes you more than a conqueror in all things.

You are a child of God and whatever is born of God overcomes the world. Whatever is born of God overcomes all circumstances and situations. Since you are merged with God and you are one with God, that means whatever comes against you has to contend with God. Whatever comes against you needs to overcome God in order to be able to overcome you. There is nothing that can overcome or defeat the power of God. Therefore, nothing can overcome or defeat you. The power of God working in you and for you guarantees that you will win in every situation and over anything. Meditate on this.

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

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Sometimes, God says no

God Cares

Proverbs 24:5 A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;

Proverbs 24:10 ¶ If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.

A wise person knows that his strength is in Christ, and not in his flesh.  A wise person knows that they cannot live a godly life through their own self-effort, but through the power of Christ alone.

Three times the apostle Paul prayed and asked God to remove from his life what he called “a thorn in the flesh” (Take a look at the context of Paul’s prayer in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, and note that Paul was being demonized – “the messenger of Satan” was a demon), and three times God answered Paul’s prayer.  Note, however, that the way God answered Paul was not the way that most of us consider answered prayer.

God answered Paul’s prayer by choosing not to remove the “thorn” from Paul’s life. Although God did not answer Paul by giving him relief from the tormenting demon, what He did give him was much better. God gave Paul His personal assurance that by His empowering presence, and through His amazing grace, he would make it.

God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” As a result Paul boasted, not in his healing and deliverance, but in his weakness. Paul said, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

God’s presence and His grace are more than enough to see us through any situation. Boasting about God’s empowering presence and grace is true wisdom, and the key that unlocks the door to abundant living.  As it is written:

Jeremiah 9:23 ¶ Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

His Eye is on the Sparrow …… and me too

Proverbs 15:3 ¶ The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.

I was really convicted by today’s verse because it reminded me of a conversation that I had with a brother in Christ not too long ago.

  • Question: “Why wouldn’t I open up a Playboy magazine and read it in church?”
  • Answer: “Because you would be embarrassed to do so.
  • Response: “You are right. There are many things that I would not even think of doing publicly because I fear what others will think of me if I did them. Nevertheless, there are many things that I think of doing, and oft times do do privately, that I know God is not pleased with.”

The truth is: We will do things privately that we wouldn’t even think of doing publicly.  Why, you may ask?  Let me suggest to you that it is because we fear what men think of us far more than we fear God.

The verse above is a fresh reminder that whither we are in public or in private, God is there and we need to conduct ourselves accordingly. As it is written:

2 Cor. 5:9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,

that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Wanted! Counselors of Joy

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Could you imagine seeing a newspaper want ad like the this one:

  • Help Wanted! Counselors of Joy:
    • Must be willing to retrain the way you think and speak of others.

I thought about this as I read my daily proverb this morning.

  • Proverbs 12:17 ¶ He who speaks truth declares righteousness, But a false witness, deceit. 18 ¶ There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health. 19 ¶ The truthful lip shall be established forever, But a lying tongue is but for a moment. 20 ¶ Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.

As I continue to read through the book of Proverbs it is amazing how many times the LORD commends the righteous for speaking words that build others up; words that promote healing, peace, joy, and comfort. It is also amazing how many times the LORD condemns the the wicked for speaking words that destroy others.

I have a friend who was destroyed by the words of a teacher when he was in grade school. My friend suffered with asthma as a child, as a result he tended to miss a lot of school. One day when he returned to school after missing a couple days, his teacher said to him, “You are always absent, you will never be anything.” These were horribly harsh words to a kid that loved learning and loved going to school.  Needless to say, after hearing this my friend hated going to school; he hatted it so much that his mom would fight him daily to do so. (The above friend was actually one of my brothers)

Take a look at Ephesians 4:29 below:

  • Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

The word in verse 29 “corrupt” (GK. adjective = sapros) means rotten, like rotten fruit.  When I think of this word it reminds me of a tomato or a piece of fruit that has become moldy and unpalatable.  The point is: If I would not eat something rotten and gross like this, then I should not serve it to others.

My prayer for everyone that reads this is that God will use them as “Counselors of peace”. Although using words to put someone in their place or tear them down may make us feel important and powerful at the time, in the long run they will not bring us joy. As Proverbs 12:20 says, the “counselors of peace have joy.” Friend, let’s speak life!