BELIEVE AND OBEY, BOTH NECESSARY

There is no doubt Jesus accomplished all we need to be righteous before God our Father. Salvation is available for all those that repent of their sins and believe in Jesus as both our Saviour and Lord.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” Romans 1:16

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.Romans 3:21-22

We are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:24

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50

It is a done deal, however the following verses also indicate that Jesus calls us to action.

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Matthew 4:19-20

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.And he rose and followed him.

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-60

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.Matthew 16:24

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

Jesus has put us in right standing with our Heavenly Father and made it possible for our Father to send the Holy Spirit to enable us to live the Christian life, to be our Counsellor, our Comforter and Teacher so the question now is are we truly obeying His call to follow Him and to do the good works He has prepared for us?

OUR JOB AND KNOWING IT IS SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Jesus tells us that in the “last days” before He returns to rule and reign there will be false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. They are under the power of Satan and we know he disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise that his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 11-15

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4::11-13

We need to recognise that the true battle is in the heavenly places and it is against the spiritual forces of evil which is why we are told to put on the full armour of God daily.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,Ephesians 6:14-18

Our job with the lost is preach the Good News as directed by the Holy Spirit knowing they cannot understand the word of God without the Spirit of God

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.Romans 8:5-8

We are also called to love them, pray for them and return good for evil but also to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit may be doing in their lives. The Holy Spirit may prompt you to use one of the nine Holy Spirit gifts that He expects us to operate in. He distributes them according to His will.

Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.Luke 6:35-36

God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. Hebrews 2:4

THE HARVEST IS RIPE

A Team In Pakistan went out Into the Harvest. They shared the Gospel with the 3 Circles presentation. Six young men repented & believed In Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!

Here is the report: “God is awesome; to be given six youths to teach them about God’s Word so God can prepare them and to make them a means of saving others. Because in Pakistan 98% population are far from Kingdom of God. Thank God by yesterdays first meeting when I had shared the Word of God with them, by great anointing of Holy Spirit, the 6 young boys did repent of their sin.”

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1

Need your prayers to spread the word of God in Pakistan.

LEADER USING THE 411 DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING TOOL TO TRAIN A COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS

The 411 Discipleship Multiplication Tool!
3 Circles presentation

Report from one of the participants

Wow! It was an amazing Sunday today. After going through the Harvest training program, I gathered about 15 people today and taught them the 411 training program and they were all excited and this week we will bombard our various spheres of contact with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thanks to the wonderful Harvest Team. I am so so grateful for the rich content of the trainings. God continue to bless you all.

BEST NEWS EVER TOLD

The GOSPEL is the best news ever.in human history. Consider what God, our heavenly Father, did to make it possible for mankind that had rejected His sovereignty at THE FALL to be restored back into a right relationship with Him.

Adam was told that death would be the result of eating from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil> Yet Eve and he chose to disobey God and eat it being deceived by another being, a spiritual being, that had already chose to disobey God, Satan, also known as the Devil. Mankind thus bought death and suffering into a word that was originally created perfect.

God’s plan to restore mankind is beyond our comprehension and it is only because God originally made us in His image to be in relationship with Him does He reach out to us by His Holy Spirit to make Himself known.

The most remarkable part of God’s plan is that He, Himself entered His world in the person of His Son, Jesus to pay the price of mankind’s disobedience – death. It is important to understand Jesus came exactly as prophesied in God’s Word given through His prophets.

God has demonstrated that He wants a relationship with each of us. He has done this ever since Creation by working with individuals that trusted Him. It is why it is so important we know His Word (The Bible) is inerrant, it conveys the true history of this world and of His working with individuals.. Events such as Noah’s Flood, The Tower of Babel, Israel’s exodus from Egypt and above all Jesus resurrection from the dead were all real events. Satan has contrived with strategies that are demonstrably untrue, such that the world made itself via evolution and therefore miracles are impossible and that God’s intervention in His world with miraculous events such as Noah’s flood are myths. In the case of Noah’s Flood this is despite the fact most nations around the world have a flood story in their origins.

Delivering the Gospel, the best news this planet has ever heard should be a joy for us to deliver and we should be anxious to share it with everyone. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer. He is also the one who convicts unbelievers of sin so He will direct us to those people that need to hear the Good News if we are available to be led by the Spirit and are saying each day, as Jesus did when He walked this planet, not my will but yours, Lord be done today.

Time is short, brothers and sisters in Christ so let us get about our joyous task of delivering the best news ever told. Your own testimony of what God has done and is doing in your life is an important part of the Good News. So too is Jesus prophesied soon coming return to put things right.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.jpeg
They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Rev. 20:5

This fallen world will experience the rule and reign of Jesus with the Saints for 1000 years before this world is destroyed by fire. The second resurrection of the dead and the White Throne judgement follows and only then will believers join Jesus and God the Father on a new earth and heaven. Jesus work is complete and He hands over sovereignty of the new earth to the Father. All unbelievers have been relegated to the Lake of Fire, punishment and a second death.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.Revelation 2:11

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

DBS WITH NICKY

Nicky shares with us the A-B-C process of Discovery Bible Study. I love this simple explanation of how to make disciples. Allow God’s Word to speak into their lives and expect the Holy Spirit to do His work. As Nicky explains in this video, in a group of four or five people the Holy Spirit will use one verse to speak a different message into the lives of each of them. It is awesome and confirms what the following two scriptures tell us.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, Isaiah 55:11

We just need to bring God’s Word and our own testimony to people who are willing to listen and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest. People need to experience God for themselves our words will accomplish little. I am reminded of the KISS principle.

THOUGHTS ON BEING A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST

DEEP GRATITUDE

On the way to Jerusalem he (Jesus) was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.Luke 17:11-19

The only thing we can ever offer to God is Deep Gratitude for HIS amazing, undeserved Grace.  In the above account, it is interesting that nine of the healed lepers (who presumably were Jews) lacked such gratitude because they did not see themselves as being in need of such grace, while the Samaritan ‘foreigner’ did!

A salutary warning to those of us, like me at 84 years of age, who have benefitted over many years from the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit: we can be too prone to take for granted our spiritual growth, and to think this growth is somehow our contribution to God, rather than His gift to us for which I am eternally grateful.  I like the verse of the old hymn about the Holy Spirit’s work in us: “And every virtue we possess and every victory won, and every thought of holiness, are His alone.” 

THOUGHTS ON MINISTRY

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.  On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-3

What great comfort and instruction these verses provide for us as we labour in the work of the Gospel.  Once we have experienced for ourselves the rich and comprehensive blessing of God’s saving grace, we have an overwhelming desire to share this blessing with others, especially those close to us and those who are really struggling with the burdens of our troubled world.

The Apostle Paul reminds us of some very important truths to keep in mind as we struggle.

Firstly, our own salvation, and our taking hold of it, was never a result of our work/efforts, but is only ever brought about by God’s Sovereign Mercy!

Secondly, and because of this, we must never lose heart – If God managed to soften my proud, rebellious, self-centred, self-sufficient heart, he can do the same for anyone else as well!

Thirdly, we must never resort to using the world’s tactics/weapons, or to ‘watering down’ the claims of the Gospel, just to ‘get people in’.  As he wrote to the Christians in Corinth: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Fourthly, although it might be twisted and deadened by SIN, Man-made-in-the-image-of-God still has a conscience that the Holy Spirit can use to convict of “sin and righteousness and Judgement” (John 16:8)!

Fifthly, it is not our job to change people – nor is it ever within our skill-set!  Only God can remove the ‘veil’ that prevents people from coming to repentance-and-faith and thus dissociating themselves from all those who are ’perishing’.  Our only job is to proclaim the Good News, Faithfully, Persistently and Prayerfully, whenever and wherever we can, and then to leave the outcome in God’s hands (1 Corinthians 3:6)! 

WHERE WILL YOU GO AND DO FOR GOD?

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.Acts 1:6-8

We know that it was probably only as a result of persecution that Christians eventually moved out of Jerusalem to spread the Gospel. Hence, we know that God will do whatever is necessary to accomplish His purposes. What was the eventual outcome? From what we know, Peter and his wife traveled into Asia Minor, over to Greece, and on to Rome, never to return home. John eventually made his way throughout Western Turkey and settled in Ephesus to oversee the work there. Notably, he ended up on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. Thomas headed in the opposite direction to India, Matthew to Ethiopia. Judas Thaddeus to Armenia.

But for most of us, God’s call is to go out into the community where He has placed us. The big question is, are we completing the great commission to make disciples in our community? Considering we are approaching the time of His return the answer to this question in the affirmative is mandatory.

available as an ebook on Amazon

WILL YOU ENDURE PERSECUTION DURING THE COMING TRIBULATION

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4:13 is likely one of the most misquoted, misapplied, and misunderstood passages within the New Testament. Suffice it to say, it is not about how one can literally do anything you put your mind to simply because you are in Christ. Paul has a specific context in mind here—and it is not about attaining your personal goals and aspirations, developing a healthy conception of self-worth, nor is it designed to be a coping mechanism to deal with the hardships of life. The passage isn’t even about finding the secret of contentment in all things, despite insistence from many that this is the focal point of this passage. This interpretation has more validity due to the previous verses:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Philippians 4:11-12

Paul undoubtedly affirms learning contentment in all circumstances. However, the overarching point of Paul to the Philippians in this passage is not contentment, but one of enduring through suffering, particularly, a suffering brought on through no fault of their own.

Brutal execution of 11 blindfolded Christians in Nigeria, the day after Christmas

The thing that is rather sad about focusing on both the ability to do “all things” and “contentment” is that we don’t focus properly on the message of Paul, which is Christ Himself. Not only does emphasizing the “all things” profoundly miss the point of the passage, but it just doesn’t stand the test of basic logic. It isn’t even an adequate application of this passage, because all things” to Paul here has a specific context, and that context is enduring through suffering for the prize gained through the glorious gospel of our Lord. Even more clearly, they stand to be glorified with Christ, as they too share in His sufferings. Yet equally as sad, though perhaps in a less heinous way, is the focus on learning contentment that is often also presented as the point of this passage. Again, it must be restated: contentment is the fruit, not the root. The root is Jesus Christ

A rather large focus in Philippians surrounds the idea that the knowledge of Christ and His great work is the means by which the Christian is able to endure persecution. What that means is that a true knowledge of Christ leads to us seeing Him as greater than everything else—even our suffering. A true knowledge of Christ will produce in us the heart attitude that believes all else is to be considered as loss, and that to live is Christ. The one who sees Christ as the preeminent One will actually remain stable in the midst of either incredible prosperity or incredible duress, because their eyes are fixated on the risen Christ Himself (Hebrews 12:1-2). They are not lured away to treasure or trust in wealth, yet neither are they acting as if the sky is falling in the midst of even the most horrendous of circumstances. They are able to say with Paul that they may be, “…hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Why? Because it is invariably through weakness that the Lord is pleased to show His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). They are content, yet their contentment is born exclusively out of seeing that their light and momentary” afflictions produces an eternal glory, which is the hope of the resurrection that the gospel of Christ brings (2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10).

Taken from article by Grayson Gilbert (Patheos) “Philippians 4:13 is not about your life goals”. Grayson completed his Masters of Divinity degree at Moody Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing church planting under the umbrella of his home church.

UNDERSTANDING THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN EVANGELISM

The church is simply to be found faithful to the task of heralding God’s message. We are to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth, which for most people, means we are to bring the gospel into our workplaces, friendships, families, and so forth. All that is required of us is to look to where God has placed us currently and simply to be found faithful to the task of proclaiming the good news to those who are dead in their sins.

It requires that we not be ashamed of the good news of the gospel, which includes not being ashamed of the bad news of God’s judgment against sin (perish in the Lake of Fire). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16). There is a second death. The Bible is explicit about it.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.Revelation 2:11

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6

Punishment and Second Death

Whatever the result of our proclamation of the gospel may be, whether a hardening or a softening of the heart, God effectually uses our message for His purposes. We may not necessarily like the implications of God using our proclamation of judgment and salvation to effectively harden an individual’s heart. We may not believe the implications of this are even fair—but we ought to remember in the midst of everything that we don’t want fair, because our idea of what’s fair doesn’t square with God’s.

What’s fair is God condemning every man, woman, and child to an eventual second death in the Lake of Fire. What’s fair is that the only blameless One to have ever existed would not be put to the cross to pay for the sins of others. What you and I desire is mercy and grace, because mercy is not giving people what they deserve, which is condemnation, and grace is giving people what they don’t deserve, which is no condemnation. The gospel is a scandal to the world because it sees the murderer, rapist, racist, and the like, on equal footing with the sweet old lady who doesn’t confess Christ—and offers them all the same grace of God in Christ. What that very simply means is that the gospel is not barred from anyone on the basis of their own doing or choosing, but rather, on the sovereign choice of God Himself.

If those who struggle with evangelizing were to focus on the sovereignty of God in evangelism, it would free many a burdened soul up to take joy in the work that God has given them, realizing that whether the person they share the gospel with rejects or receives it, God is glorified in accomplishing His work through the preached word.

In some cases, God actually uses the proclamation of truth as a means to close one’s mind from repentance, we can guard our hearts by recognizing that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. What that means with respect to evangelism is that sometimes, the preaching of the gospel actually serves as the means through which an individual’s heart is hardened against God. In other words, not every instance of proclaiming a message of repentance is designed by God to bring the people who hear it to repentance and faith. In fact, Scripture often demonstrates the opposite is true—that the proclamation serves to condemn the recipients rather than restore. A great example of this is found in the commissioning of the prophet Isaiah:

“Go, and tell this people: keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” Then I said, “Lord, how long?” and He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate, the Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, and it will again be subject to burning, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump” (Isaiah 6:8-13).

Christ Himself taught in parables for the express purpose of concealing the truth of the Kingdom of God, lest those whom it was not granted to would hear and repent (Matt. 13:10-16; Mk. 4:10-12; Luk. 8:9-10). The apostle Paul even picks this idea up when he speaks of God giving mankind up to the lusts of their hearts, dishonorable passions, and a debased mind (Rom. 1:1832). When you look through the entirety of the Old and New Testaments, what is plainly seen is that God is at work to harden the hearts of whom He desires, which is most clearly expressed in Rom. 9:6-29. In every instance where the edict is rendered a “lost-cause” against the recipients of the message, the truth of God has been made self-evident so that man is without excuse.

“”What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.Romans 9:14-18

None of this is a matter of controversy in Scripture. Instead, election and condemnation are simply part of the cosmic reality of judgment and salvation unfolding before us as the plan of God is revealed. In the midst of this, Scripture unabashedly upholds the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility without much qualification. The important thing to note in all of this is that it is not as if those under this severe indictment from the Lord are under it without cause. In every instance, the people have either forsaken the covenant or rejected their Creator willingly. The commission of Isaiah serves to show us this reality quite clearly, in that chapters 2-5 give clear evidence that the people plainly rejected the terms of their covenant with God, and as a result, He would send the prophet to seal their fate.

This post is based on an article by Grayson Gilbert “A Lesson from Isaiah on the Sovereignty of God” http://www.patheos ,com