HOPE FOR AN ETERNAL FUTURE

Saints, by receiving the Holy Spirit, we grow in the knowledge of God through the Word and we experience the power of God producing the fruit of the spirit in our lives, of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, kindness and self control . The Holy Spirit provides the gifts of the spirit for ministry; gift of faith, tongues, interpretation of tongues, words of knowledge, prophecy, wisdom, discernment, healing and miracles. As a result, we have full hope for an eternal future and full hope for today as well! When we have needs, we are invited to the throne of grace where we can expect the Lord to speak to us, imparting faith.  By faith Jesus is our healer, by faith Jesus is our provider, by faith Jesus sets us at liberty from all that would come against us in this life.

Let’s learn and enjoy the way of faith.  Trust the Lord completely, for He cares for us. Listen and receive the faith that comes by the word He speaks to us by the Holy Spirit. The word that is the sword of the Spirit to defeat our circumstances.

Let us also look at what Paul had to say about living the Christian life.

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God Romans 15:18-19

THE GENIUS OF C.S.LEWIS

Eric Metaxas interviews Oxford Fellow Dr. Michael Ward about his discovery of a secret code in C.S. Lewis’s CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, which Ward explores in his book PLANET NARNIA. Both men are brilliant and Christians. They expanded my view of Jesus and therefore God and hope they will do that for you as well. Whilst I have several of C.S.Lewis’s books this interview has inspired me to want to dig deeper. The level of C.S.Lewis’s faith was incredible. If you want to go deeper in your faith you need to read Miracles – Do they Really Happen.

REVIEW OF 2020 BY FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA

Tony Abbott is a former prime minister of Australia. This is an edited extract of his contribution to Cancel Culture and the Left’s Long March by Wilkinson Publishing which will be out in March 2021. His accurate summation of the spiritual condition of the world in the first paragraph was sufficient for me to bring it to your attention.

Tony Abbott Prime Minister 2013-2015

“My sense is that it’s the seismic cultural shifts, now underway in the West, that have driven a pandemic response that’s so different from that envisaged under plans drawn up even just a short time ago. We are materially rich but spiritually poor, and generally more fearful. More self-confident governments would not have placed so much faith in unelected and unaccountable experts. The experts would not have so readily changed their minds about the need for mandatory shutdowns. Societies that retained more “faith in the world to come” would have been less alarmed by a virus similar to those that have readily been seen off before.

Nine months on, with the virus much better understood and much less likely to kill, even here in Australia, it’s still being treated like the grim reaper. More perspective on this virus, at least going forward, could help to dispel the climate of fear that, once created, is hard to shake, and that tends to bring out the authoritarian in officials and the conformist in citizens.

When state governments get away with imposing tougher restrictions on churches than on brothels and on religious services than on sporting events, keeping state borders closed for months longer than any health imperative could justify, requiring people on the street to produce their “papers” in order to avoid heavy fines, denying sick and dying people ready access to their families because of minute infection risk, failing to notice stormtrooper tactics against people in parks or in their own homes, and announcing draconian new restrictions based on impossible-to-question “expert advice” (that’s invariably not released), public trust is unlikely to be sustained. Our sense of nationhood could take a long time to recover from the Queensland Premier’s declaration that “Queensland hospitals are for Queenslanders”; or the West Australian Premier’s refusal to allow Australians from other states to enter his, even with quarantine.

Always, it’s the job of a thoughtful conservative to question and to doubt; to insist that new measures be justified, and proportionate, especially when the change goes counter to considered positions that conservative political movements have been supporting for decades. Of course, as Cicero once declared, “the people’s safety is the highest law” but that hardly makes “safety first” the only principle or even the first principle that should guide government. Especially when the impact of action or inaction is speculative; and when not knowing the future makes it hard to decide what to do now; it’s more important than ever not to overreact. Even if Australia’s COVID toll remains low and there’s a quick recovery from the policy-induced economic slump; even if an early vaccine means that Australia does not need to remain closed to the world, this is unlikely to be a time anyone recalls with much pride because so much that’s happened has been out of character with an Australia accustomed “to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield”.

For premiers much more on centrestage than usual; for health officials dictating the terms of daily life; and above all, for the scientists seeking COVID cures, these have been the most bracing of times. For most of us, though, there’s been the dull prospect, not of doing more but of doing less: not “how much more can I do for my country” but “how much less must I do in order to be safe”.

I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year than with a renewed emphasis on the active virtues and the robust attitudes that have made Australia a country to be proud of. Let’s get back to being people who “have a go”, so that 2020 turns out to be the only year in our history blighted by a focus on what we can’t do, rather than what we can.”

This extract of Tony’s comment in the new book is insightful. It supports Scripture and its end-times predictions of the state of the world at that time.

ARE YOU A TRUE BELIEVER IN CHRIST?

“In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:16-17

These verses confirm that it is only those who repent, believe in Jesus and His sacrifice on The Cross, they receive and are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever1 John 2:17

“If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him.1 John 2:29

He will render (repay) to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” Romans 2:6-8

These three verses truly verify that it is only those that do the will of God and practise righteousness are granted eternal life.

“But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind,…” Jeremiah 11:20 (ESV)

“For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” Psalm 66:10 (ESV)

“the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:7-9

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Note: the above four verses makes it clear that God tests the hearts and minds of true believers.

Faith is what is so very precious to God. And that is why God has to test people to find out if they have genuine faith. That is the biblical truth of the matter.

WHY SOUTH DAKOTA HAS DONE SO WELL DURING COVID

Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, a rising star in the Republican party, claimed during an interview with CBN’s David Brody that during conference calls with fellow governors around the country she heard a palpable fear that she believes controlled and clouded much of their subsequent decision making. At the 3:05 minute mark in the below clip, Noem addresses a question about the lock downs we’ve seen around the country and explained why she refused to do so in South Dakota.

“We’ve done better than virtually any other state in the nation,” Noem said in defense of her approach, which was criticized by proponents of stricter measures. Measures, she believes, were not based on fear rather than rational or constitutional decision making.

Noem explained to Brody. “I was shocked and amazed at how fear controlled people and how emotional that they were.

To me it indicated that in this country we’ve lost faith. And the steadfast promise of God’s faithfulness in our life every day has real consequences. If you don’t have that in your life then your emotions and fear can control you and make you not have the discernment and wisdom you need in a time of crisis.

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:26-28

LIVING ETERNAL NOW

One of the greatest aspects of the Christian faith is what we believe happens after death. And by no means is it blind faith or wishful thinking. It starts with Jesus himself. In John’s eyewitness account of Jesus’ life and ministry, he records a conversation between Jesus and someone who had just lost a brother to sickness and death. 

Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:21-27

Jesus made a promise to Martha that not only was there a resurrection, but that Jesus himself was the resurrection and the life, and that faith in him would result in eternal life. It’s why this same apostle John, would go on to write the greatest summary statement in all the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Make no mistake, Jesus clearly taught that there was a resurrection, and the way to eternal life, to a life after this life, was through faith in him. Now, the skeptical might ask: sure that’s great to believe in, but what if it’s all a hoax? Where’s the proof?

That’s a legitimate question.

How Christians live their lives should be proof enough. Why?

Because Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to indwell the Spirits of all believers. He produces the fruit in our lives of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control. His job is to sanctify us, to make us like our Lord Jesus. We therefore build our lives around this belief in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. It affects how we live and interact with others. It affects how we use our time, our finances. We give our life to serving Him and others. The Holy Spirit even provides the gifts of the Spirit (all nine: 1 Corinthians 12:4 and Hebrews 2:4) to enable us to minister to others effectively.

In the book of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul makes a great point:

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:19

If this life is all that there is, then you would not live a life of sacrifice as Christians do.

Also look at the historical evidence: we know from the four eyewitness accounts from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, that Jesus claimed to be the son of God, and as he promised Martha, that he was the resurrection and the life. And then he died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross. Three days later, these disciples began to claim that Jesus was raised from the dead, that they had seen him. And if true, this would change everything, because on numerous occasions Jesus prophesied his own death and resurrection, and if someone can prophesy their own death and resurrection and then pull it off, surely it is evidence enough to convince the most hardened skeptic. Fifteen to twenty years later, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth, recorded in the book of 1 Corinthians. In chapter 15, we have this incredible teaching on what Christ has accomplished for us with His death and resurrection.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:3-6

Paul is recording the central claim of Christianity: Jesus proved his divinity by dying on the cross and rising again, thereby validating everything he said about the resurrection. It’s why we have hope that we who believe in Jesus will see our brothers and sisters in Christ again, that this is not the end for us. The key here is the list of witnesses: after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve, then 500 at one time, many of whom were still alive fifteen to twenty years later. It’s like Paul is saying: fact-check me on this one. I know it’s an outrageous claim, but go and talk to the witnesses yourself.

1 Corinthians is written twenty years after the event of the resurrection, with witnesses still alive, who saw Jesus alive after his death and burial and resurrection. And because Jesus rose from the dead, everything changes!

Here’s what Paul wrote about how Jesus’ resurrection secures our own resurrection:

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 54-57

Death is the great equalizer, death awaits us all, but Jesus has taken away it’s sting. Death is not all that there is, because Jesus conquered death, and through Jesus we will conquer death. That’s not saying that we’ll live forever in this life, but we’ll live forever in the next. For those of us who believe in Jesus, will see him again, at the resurrection at the last day, and we’ll be with him forever. And because of that, we can rejoice.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Let start living with an eternal focus NOW.

CAN WE BE JOYFUL IN SUFFERING?

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!Philippians 4:4

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.James 1:2

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-20

God hates evil and He commands us to hate it as well so so these verses certainly don’t mean we are to rejoice in evil, per se, However, we should believe Romans 8:28, which tells us God will work all things together for our good, including evil things that happen to us.

Believing this frees us to thank God in the middle of difficult and even evil circumstances, knowing that in His sovereign grace, He is accomplishing great, eternal purposes in us through these things. We walk by faith, believing in what God has done, is doing, and will do to bring a good end to all that troubles us. Choosing to rejoice, recounting our blessings in the midst of trials, affirms trust in God.

This response requires faith that God lovingly superintends our challenges. Viewing our sufferings as random or obsessing over someone else’s bad choices that caused our sufferings robs us of happiness. A weak, small, or faulty view of God always poisons the well of our contentment.

Being Spirit controlled is inseparable from giving thanks in everything. The more we grow in our understanding of God’s attributes, the happier we become.

.The deeper our knowledge of God’s character, the deeper our reservoir of strength, perspective, and happiness in hard times. Who is this God we are to trust? What is He really like?

Scripture teaches that we have a God who loves us and is sovereign over the universe, including all evil. We can’t be happy, and remain happy, without believing in the sovereignty of a loving God. The beauty of the Christian worldview is that while we’re encouraged to take initiative and control what’s within our power, we also know that the enormous part of life we can’t control is under God’s governance.

Scripture tells us, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleasesPsalm 115:3. It assures us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.Proverbs 16:9. And since God is eternally wise and good and happy, and we’re not, we’re far better off with Him, not us, in control.

Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

In light of that eternal glory being achieved for us by our momentary troubles, Paul offers the following words of eternal perspective: “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:1

This article is excerpted from Randy Alcorn’s book Does God Want Us to Be Happy?

Addendum: When times are difficult, hard, and bring sorrow, then remember, chose to bring to mind, the wonderful deliverance Jesus has achieved for you. Then put on the garment of praise.  The spirit of heaviness will depart – no need to let things depress us and get us down. He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will bring good out of every situation for us. God is good. Sometimes it takes effort to start to praise God – especially if we come from a dark place, a place of difficulty or even a place of tragedy. Yet be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and sing and shout your praises to God, breakthrough into the inexpressible joy of the Lord – it is the place of strength for life.

GREAT OUTCOME FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN OZ

Israel Folau says he has been “vindicated” by Rugby Australia’s apology and says he is now “looking forward” to the federal government enacting legislation protecting the right to religious expression. 

In the video below posted to his website, Folau appeared with his wife Maria beside him and spoke of his reaction to the confidential settlement with Rugby Australia on Wednesday.

“We are extremely pleased with the settlement reached today,” he said.

“With today’s acknowledgement and apology by Rugby Australia we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family.”

Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) played a significant role in the settlement and Martyn Isles in particular is proving to be God’s man for this time in leading ACL.

God has used Israel Folau and this incident with Rugby Australia to achieve two of His purposes.

The first to get Scott Morrison in place as the Prime Minister of Australia. The Folau incident occurred just prior to the election. It galvanised Christians and some non Christians to vote for the conservative party. The fact that Israel, possibly the best rugby player on the Australian team, could be sacked because he quoted Scripture on Facebook about God’s position on gay marriage, made many realise that it was wrong, and they could not support the opposition party that supported it.

The second is the vindication received today just before the government enacts legislation to protect the right to religious expression. It must influence the government to ensure others like Folau are not persecuted for their faith.

I hope this demonstrates to all Christians the importance of standing up publicly for Christ and His values regardless of the cost.

HOW THE WORLD VIEWS ANY CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE OF PARLIAMENT

As Netflix documentaries go, “The Family” is just about as outlandish as they come. Who is this group Netflix  named “The Family”? It is a Christian group, whose real name is The Fellowship Foundation whose primary responsibility is to host an annual Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast. The trailer below is scandalous, if not plainly unhinged. The following is some of the content:

In my 20’s, I stumbled my way in,” spills the first alleged insider. “And what I found was a secretive Christian organisation called The Family, that had been hiding in plain sight for 80 years.”

Another breathlessly warns that this is a group “with tentacles around the world”; a gaggle of power-hungry fundamentalists led by the “most powerful man you’ve never heard of” — a man by the name of Doug Coe, who passed away in 2017.

Coe was, by all accounts, a quiet man with a penchant for world peace. In 2001, he organised a historic meeting between two warring leaders, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Congo’s Joseph Kabila. This would be the first of a series of covert diplomacy moves that would eventually lead to the signing of a historic peace accord that likely saved thousands of lives.

Does that sound like a slick political operator who was hell-bent on world domination? The Netflix program’s claims are farcical and absurd.

But what of the prayer breakfast itself? “The Family” is, after all, solely responsible for the popular annual event. So, are there clandestine side-room policy meetings and code-words being muttered into the ear of the president? Is the room scattered with secret handshakes?

Well, not according to Christian author, Jeff Lucas, who attended the gathering back in 2017.

“We ate eggs and bacon,” he told Premier UK. “ No agenda was shared that might lead to world domination. [We] met some interesting people, and…. prayed.”

The documentary lays claim to the uncovering of a secretive religious organisation, “The Family,” that it alleges has been secretly pulling the strings of the United States government for the past 80 years. 

Citing covert meetings with the president and the commissioning of sleeper agents to far-flung lands, the documentary paints a wildly sensationalist picture of “The Fellowship Foundation”, who as mentioned, its primary responsibility is to host the annual Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast.

Still, the hype keeps growing, with one British outlet, The Manchester Evening News declaring that streamers of the docu-series have found themselves “too horrified to sleep.”

Hopefully, people will see it for what it is — a ham-fisted attempt at smearing well-connected people of faith.