Tag Archives: Gospel

Evangelical Christian

To Spread the Gospel.

To begin, let’s break down the two words. The term Christian essentially means “follower of Christ.” Christian is the term given to followers of Jesus Christ in the first century A.D. (Acts 11:26). The term evangelical comes from the Greek word that means “good news.” Evangelism is sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. An evangelical, then, is a person dedicated to promoting the good news about Jesus Christ. Combined, the description “evangelical Christian” is intended to indicate a believer in Jesus Christ who is faithful in sharing and promoting the good news.

In Western culture today, there are many caricatures of evangelical Christians. For some, the term evangelical Christian is equivalent to “right-wing, fundamentalist Republican.” For others, “evangelical Christian” is a title used to differentiate an individual from a Catholic Christian or an Orthodox Christian. Others use the term to indicate adherence to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. In this sense, an evangelical Christian is a believer who holds to the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith alone. However, none of these definitions are inherent in the description “evangelical Christian.”

In reality, all Christians should be evangelical Christians. The Bible is consistently instructing us to be witnesses of the good news (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 1 Peter 3:15). There is no better news than Jesus! There is no higher calling than evangelist. There is no doubt that holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview and, yes, political belief. However, there is nothing about being an evangelical that demands a certain political party or affiliation. An evangelical Christian is called to share the good news, to preach God’s Word, and to set an example of purity and integrity. If these callings require political action, so be it. At the same time, evangelical Christians should not be sidetracked into abandoning our highest calling-sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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The Life of Paul

The apostle Paul born a Roman citizen to Jewish parents born in Tarsus, in modern eastern Turkey. Paul the Apostle commonly known as Saint Paul, and also known by his native name Saul of Tarsus, who trace their ancestry to the tribe of Benjamin.

There is much we can learn from the life of the Apostle Paul. Far from ordinary, Paul was given the opportunity to do extraordinary things for the kingdom of God. The story of Paul is a story of redemption in Jesus Christ and a testimony that no one is beyond the saving grace of the Lord. However, to gain the full measure of the man, we must examine his dark side and what he symbolized before becoming “the Apostle of Grace.” Paul’s early life was marked by religious zeal, brutal violence, and the relentless persecution of the early church. Fortunately, the later years of Paul’s life show a marked difference as he lived his life for Christ and the advancement of His kingdom.

Paul was actually born as Saul. He was born in Tarsus in Cilicia around A.D. 1-5 in a province in the southeastern corner of modern day Tersous, Turkey. He was of Benjamite lineage and Hebrew ancestry. His parents were Pharisees-fervent Jewish nationalists who adhered strictly to the Law of Moses-who sought to protect their children from “contamination” from the Gentiles. Anything Greek was despised in Saul’s household, yet he could speak Greek and passable Latin. His household spoke Aramaic, a derivative of Hebrew, which was the official language of Judea. Saul’s family were Roman citizens but viewed Jerusalem as a truly sacred and holy city.

At age thirteen Saul was sent to Palestine to learn from a rabbi named Gamaliel, under whom Saul mastered Jewish history, the Psalms and the works of the prophets. His education would continue for five or six years as Saul learned such things as dissecting Scripture. It was during this time that he developed a question-and-answer style known in ancient times as “diatribe.” This method of articulation helped rabbis debate the finer points of Jewish law to either defend or prosecute those who broke the law. Saul went on to become a lawyer, and all signs pointed to his becoming a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court of 71 men who ruled over Jewish life and religion. Saul was zealous for his faith, and this faith did not allow for compromise. It is this zeal that led Saul down the path of religious extremism.

Because of his extremism Saul might have been present at the trial of Stephen. He was present for his stoning and death and he held the garments of those who did the stoning (Acts 7:58). In Acts 5:27-42, Peter delivered his defense of the gospel and of Jesus in front of the Sanhedrin, which Saul heard. Gamaliel was also present and delivered a message to calm the council and prevent them from stoning Peter. From that moment on, Saul became even more determined to eradicate Christians as he watched the Sanhedrin flog Peter and the others. Saul became more ruthless in his pursuit of Christians as he believed he was doing it in the name of God. Arguably, there is no one more frightening or more vicious than a religious terrorist, especially when he believes that he is doing the will of the Lord by killing innocent people. This is exactly what Saul of Tarsus was: a religious terrorist. Acts 8:3 states, “He began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.”

The pivotal passage in Paul’s story is Acts 9:1-22, which recounts Paul’s meeting with Jesus Christ on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus, a journey of about 150 miles. Saul was angered by what he had seen and filled with murderous rage against the Christians. Before departing on his journey, he had asked the high priest for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for permission to bring any Christians (followers of “the Way,” as they were known) back to Jerusalem to imprison them. On the road Saul was caught up in a bright light from heaven which caused him to fall face down on the ground. He hears the words, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He says, “Who are you Lord?” Jesus answers directly and clearly, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (vv. 4-5). As an aside, this might not have been Saul’s first encounter with Jesus, as some scholars suggest that young Saul might have known of Jesus and that he might have actually witnessed His death.

From this moment on, Saul’s life was turned upside down. The light of the Lord blinded him, and as he traveled on he had to rely on his companions. As instructed by Jesus, Saul continued to Damascus to make contact with a man named Ananias who was hesitant at first to meet Saul because he knew Saul’s reputation as an evil man. But the Lord told Ananias that Saul was a “chosen instrument” to carry His name before the Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel (v.15) and would suffer for doing so (v.16). Ananias followed the Lord’s instructions and found Saul, on whom he laid hands, and told him of his vision of Jesus Christ. Through prayer, Saul received the Holy Spirit (v.17), regained his sight and was baptized (v.18). Saul immediately went into the synagogues proclaiming Jesus and saying He is the Son of God (v.20). The people were amazed and skeptical, as Saul’s reputation was well known. The Jews thought he had come to take away the Christians (v.21). Saul’s boldness increased as the Jews living in Damascus were confounded by Saul’s arguments proving that Jesus was the Christ (v.22).

As a result of this miraculous transformation, Saul became known as Paul (Acts 13:9). Paul spent time in Arabia, Damascus, Jerusalem, Syria and his native Cilicia, and Barnabas enlisted his help to teach those in the church in Antioch (Acts 11:25). Interestingly, the Christians driven out of Palestine by Saul of Tarsus founded this multiracial church (Acts 11:19-21). Paul took his first of three missionary journeys in the late 40s A.D. Paul wrote many of the New Testament books. Most theologians are in agreement that he wrote Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. These 13 “letters” (books) make up the “Pauline Authorship” and are the primary source of his theology. As previously noted, the book of Acts gives us a historical look at Paul’s life and times. The Apostle Paul spent his life proclaiming the risen Christ Jesus throughout the Roman world, often at great personal peril (2 Corinthians 11:24-27) It is assumed that Paul was arrested upon his return to Rome and died a martyr’s death by beheading in the mid-to-late 60s A.D.

So, what can we learn from the life of the Apostle Paul? First, we learn that God can save anyone. The remarkable story of Paul repeats itself every day as sinful, broken people all over the world are transformed by God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ. Some of these people have done despicable things to other human beings, while some just try to live a moral life thinking that God will smile upon them on the day of judgment. When we read the story of Paul and know what he had done, it is difficult for us to believe that God would allow into heaven religious extremists who murder innocent women and children. Today, we might see people on death row as unworthy of redemption because their crimes against humanity are just too great. Yet we live our lives in a sinful manner, expecting that God will be impressed by the fact that we haven’t killed anyone. The story of Paul is a story that can be told today-he isn’t worthy in our eyes of a second chance, yet to God he is worthy. The truth is that every person matters to God, from the “good, decent,” average person to the “wicked, evil” degenerate. Only God can save a soul from hell.

Second, we learn from the life of Paul that anyone can be a humble, powerful witness for Jesus Christ. Arguably, no other human figure in the Bible demonstrated more humility while sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ as Paul. Acts 20:19 tells us that he “served the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to [him] through the plots of the Jews.” In Acts 28:31, Paul shares the good news of Jesus Christ: “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul was not afraid to tell others what the Lord had done for him. This verse is the very definition of Paul’s newfound life in Christ. He would spend the rest of his days working tirelessly for the kingdom of God.

Finally, we learn that anyone can surrender completely to God. Paul was fully “sold-out” for God. “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14). Paul was in prison when he wrote these words, yet he was still praising God and sharing the good news. Through his hardships and suffering, Paul knew the outcome of a life well lived for Christ. He had surrendered his life fully, trusting God for everything. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Can we make the same claim?

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An Antichrist or The Antichrist

Antichrists are here today

An Antichrist or The Antichrist. The book of Revelation is an enigma to most people.  Many have heard about the antichrist.  Who is the antichrist?  Does the Bible describe the antichrist?  Does the Bible tell us who the antichrist is?  Does the Bible teach where the antichrist will come from?  How can we know who the antichrist is when they come?  What will the antichrist be like so we can realize who it is?

Two Types of Antichrists

Anti means opposed to or someone who is against whatever the prefix is attached.  Anti can also mean in place of as we will find in the book of Revelation.  Thus, to be antichrist means to be opposed to Christ or to place oneself in His place.  The Bible actually describes two different antichrists.  In fact, antichrists are here today.  We don’t have to look toward the future for the arrival of the antichrist because there are in the world today.  But the antichrist is not the same as the antichrist.

The apostle John talks about the antichrist but he differentiates the difference between the two antichrists that exist.  One is the antichrist with the small “a”.   Then, there is the Antichrist.  That is the one that is capitalized.  One is a proper noun meaning it is a specific person.  The non-capitalized antichrist speaks of several who are antichrists.

A Definition of an Antichrist

The small “a” antichrist is only recorded in the Bible three times.  The antichrist is anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh or that He was both man and God.  By denying this, they also deny the Father and the Son, as stated by the apostle John in I John 2:22, “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist denying the Father and the Son.”  As John says in I John 4:3, they were already living in his day as he testified, “but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”  Anyone who denies that Jesus is from God and did not come in the flesh is saying God is a liar (John 1:14).   John says further, “I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist“(II John 1:7).

The Antichrist

The apostle Paul speaks of a specific person as the Antichrist, although not using the name specifically, it is nonetheless the same thing he wrote about in II Thessalonians verses 3 and 8, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”

Revelation chapter 13 describes a deceiving imitation of the Trinity that includes Satan, the False Prophet, and the antichrist.  The dragon is what is often referred to as Satan throughout the Bible and is clearly identified as Satan (Rev. 12:9).  The beast and the false prophet who comes next (Rev. 13:11) will be given power by Satan and they will rule the world for 42 months during the time of what is called The Great Tribulation (Rev. 13:5-7).  They will rule over the earth and place themselves in the place of God and demand to be worshipped (Rev.13:4).  The beast of Revelation 13:11 is the third person of the evil trinity that mimics the Holy Trinity of God, performing signs and wonders that will deceive the world (Rev. 13:13-14).

Safely Delivered From the Antichrist

No one that is saved today and has been born again has to worry about the antichrist who lives in the world today or the Antichrist that is to come.  God will pour out His wrath upon the unsaved world in the Great Tribulation but He has not appointed those who are His to wrath (I Thess. 5:9).  Just after Jesus raptures His church out of the world, the world will see such a time that it has never seen before (Matt 24:21).  Daniel 12:1 explains that this will be the worst time that has ever been experienced for humans on earth “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered.”

The Gospel

If you are not saved, then you may have to go through the Great Tribulation and it will be, as Daniel wrote and as Jesus said, it will be the worst time in human history since there were nations that existed.  I would hope that today, if you are not a Christian, you could be born-again this very moment.  When a person believes in Jesus Christ and places their life in Him and trusts in the atoning work of the cross, they are safe from the wrath of God and will be found worthy to escape the wrath of God in the Great Tribulation.  This free gift of faith came at great cost to Jesus Christ but His blood has paved the way for anyone who wants to be saved to be sparred from eternal judgment and to spend eternity with God in heaven.

Decide today and you will never have such a worry again about your future for you will be placed under His protection.  Then you can warn others of the coming Great Tribulation and tell them of a way to escape the wrath of God and avoid having to worry about the Antichrist.  Then find a Bible-believing church where the cross of Christ is preached and the Bible is taught and join a Sunday school class where you can begin to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Pondering, What is the Meaning of Life?

Philosophers have pondered for thousands of years two questions.
These 2 questions I have posted and answered them! Enjoy!

1) What is the meaning of life?
The meaning of life, is to do in this life with what we have been given in this life to do it with. And at the the end of this life. We are judged on what we did with this life, with what we were given to do it with.

Reba McEntire - Back To God

Reba McEntire – Back To God

2) What is this life for?
After we have done what we did with what we were given to do it with, then the judgement, and If we gave, we will be given to. But if we took, we will be taken from, at that time!

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February 12, 2017 · 9:41 am

Christian Missionary

A Christian missionary is commissioned by the Lord to make disciples, followers of Christ. Jesus commands all Christians to share the Gospel, the message of His death and resurrection that conquered the penalty and power of sin.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Who is a Christian missionary? Many people picture a missionary as a middle-aged man who leaves his job in America to evangelize and plant churches in Africa. But that is a simplistic view. Today, African Christians reach out to Muslims in the Middle East. College students spend their summer teaching English in Asia. A family in America befriends and witnesses to international students. A truck driver responds to an international disaster, meeting both physical and spiritual needs. All these are missionaries.

Although missionaries cannot be stereotyped, they each have a call. God calls them to set aside personal ambitions in order to be witnesses of the Gospel. Like Isaiah, a missionary gladly responds, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8b). Often God sends a missionary to a particular people group as Paul was sent to the unreached Gentiles and Peter to the Jews (Galatians 2:8). Although technically a Christian missionary is one specifically called by God and sent out by the local church, every Christian has a mission to make disciples.

What does a Christian missionary do? A Christian missionary proclaims Jesus as Savior and Lord. Whom do they tell? Jesus made it clear that Christians are to reach out to “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19), especially those ethnic groups without a Gospel witness. Unreached people groups are still waiting for the way, truth, and life found in Christ (Romans 15:20). But Christians at home should be missionaries in their own communities, doing personal evangelism (Acts 1:8).

Missionaries do more than evangelism. The commission was to make disciples, not immature believers. Thus, a Christian missionary’s outreach involves evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. These main goals are accomplished in a variety of ways: street preaching, tract hand-outs, church building, Bible studies, teaching English as a second language, relief projects, children’s clubs, mountain trekking, literacy teaching, radio broadcasting, etc.

Why does a Christian missionary go? Christian missionaries go in obedience to God’s call. God called the apostle Paul, “to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles” to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:16-18).

Jesus assured us that missionaries will face surrender and suffering. Missionaries leave friends behind, experience culture shock and rejection (Matthew 10:16-31). But instead of falling into self-pity or pride, they learn to delight in serving God. Rather than being a burden, obeying His call brings joy and reward in heaven. Therefore, a missionary serves not out of duty but love (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

The Lord is good to All

The Lord is good to All

A Christian missionary delights in spreading the good news of Christ to the lost just as Paul did: “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord. . . . thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:12-17). Rather than seeking personal gain while witnessing, Christian missionaries bring glory to God by honoring Christ’s righteous life, sacrificial death, and absolute authority.

Will you be a Christian missionary? This ministry WHATSHOTN is also a Christian missionary ministry, reaching out to the four corners of the world, literally! A Christian missionary is an ambassador of Christ. Each one must be yielded to the Lord, loving Him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength. Specifically, a missionary is one whom God sends through the support of the Church to the un-reached. All Christians, however, are called to be missionaries of the Gospel. The Lord works through them to rescue the lost. What greater call can one answer?

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Hanukkah – the Miraculous Oil of Joy for the poor in spirit

“I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.'”  (Isaiah 49:9)
On Saturday night, the eight-day “Festival of Dedication,” HANUKKAH begins.
This wonderful holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple by the Hasmoneans, also known as the Maccabee family, and the miraculous single-day supply of oil lasting a full eight days in the process of that re-dedication.
The first Hanukkah on the 25th of Kislev in 164 BC heralded freedom from Greek rule, the purification of Jerusalem from pagan influence, and the restoration of God’s House—the Temple in Jerusalem.
With the Temple recaptured from the Greeks and newly restored, the family of Judah Maccabee reestablished the seven-day autumn festival of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) and the extra day of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah, which concludes the annual cycle of Parashiot).
The Greek ruler Antiochus IV had forbidden its observance earlier in the year, so when the Temple was recaptured in December, they celebrated this eight-day festival.
And so the keeping of Torah once again freely commenced.  Hanukkah, therefore, represents the renewed ability to study the Torah, which is compared to light.
Darkness Descends on Israel
“Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.”  (Micah 7:8)
The Greek Empire had risen to power under Alexander the Great after Judah had served as a vassal state to Persia for two centuries.  After Alexander’s death, the state of Judah was wrested back and forth by two of Alexander’s generals seven times.
All the while, clashing starkly with the unique holiness of the Hebrew religion, the pagan culture of the Greeks was wildly offensive: naked wrestling, immodest dress and a preference for homosexuality, writes Richard Hooker in The Hebrews: A Learning Module.
However, while the Greeks influenced the language and culture of Jerusalem and the state of Judah (Judea), “they allowed the Jews to run their own country, declared that the law of Judah was the Torah, and attempted to preserve Jewish religion,” writes Hooker.  Such was the case, at first.
Two Greek monarchs, Ptolemy and Seleucus, battled for Judea until 198 BC, at which time Antiochus III, a Seleucid Greek, won the prize.  He allowed the Jews autonomy until “a stinging defeat at the hands of the Romans began a program of Hellenization that threatened to force the Jews to abandon their monotheism for the Greeks’ paganism,” writes Mitchell G. Bard in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East Conflict.
After Antiochus III raised idols in the Jewish Temple, the Jews rebelled, forcing back the Greeks.  However, Antiochus IV took the throne in 176 BC and did not accommodate Jewish customs as his father had.  The son outlawed the keeping of Shabbat as well as the circumcision covenant, and carried out a cruel campaign against the people of God.
Antiochus IV gave himself the last name “Epiphanes” (meaning “the visible god”) and destroyed every copy of the Scriptures he could find, selling thousands of Jewish families into slavery and murdering anyone who had a Scripture scroll in their possession.
Antiochus IV defiled the Jewish Temple by offering a pig on its altar, erected an altar to Jupiter, and prohibited the Jews from Temple worship.
But the reach of that defilement was wider than the Temple.
“Women who insisted that their sons be circumcised were killed along with their babies.  Brides were forced to sleep with Greek officers before they could be with their husbands.  Jews were required to eat pork and sacrifice pigs to the Greek gods.  The teaching of Torah became a capital crime,” writes Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf.
Although a great darkness had come over Judah and Jerusalem, “most Jews did anything and everything to remain Jewish,” Apisdorf adds, including studying Scripture and getting married in secret.
The Rise of Righteousness
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.”  (Ephesians 6:14)
The Hasmoneans were a Jewish family with a seemingly impossible calling: to stand up for righteousness under the weight of an oppressor trying to eradicate their identity as well as empty the Temple of its holy purpose — and of its eternal light.
The head of the family, Mattisyahu (Mattathias), was serving as a priest in God’s Temple in 167 BC when a Greek official tried to force him to sacrifice to a pagan god.  Mattisyahu resisted and killed the official, which triggered reprisals by Antiochus IV against the Jews.
Nevertheless, Mattisyahu — and after his death, Judah, one of his five sons — took charge of the fight against the pagan Greeks and earned the name “Maccabee” (possibly from “hammer” in Hebrew) because of their hammer-like blows against their enemies.
Three years after the Maccabee uprising, in 164 BC, the Hasmoneans had taken back Jerusalem and purified the Temple.
It took another 20 years before the Hasmoneans pushed the Seleucid Greeks out of the Land of Israel with the defeat of the Acra citadel, a stronghold uncovered in 2015 (after a decade of excavations) just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls.
That the many were defeated by the few is heralded as the main miracle of Hanukkah: Judah and the Hasmoneans succeeded in defeating the pagan Greeks who had so offensively defiled the Temple of God, the Holy City of Jerusalem, and the Holy Land given to Israel.
The Maccabees served as a light that pushed back the darkness; by faith, their”weakness was turned to strength; and [they] became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”  (Hebrews 11:34)
While the Greeks devastated the Jewish community at the time, they would not succeed in destroying the Hasmonean conviction to worship the God of Israel alone.
And while the Greeks defiled the Jewish Temple, they would not succeed in eradicating its means for purification—oil.
Despite the pagan altars within her and impure animals that were offered to idols on the Temple’s holy ground, a day’s worth of purified oil remained concealed on the Temple grounds with its seal intact.
This jar of oil, sanctified to the God of Israel, would help push back the spiritual darkness that had overcome the Temple.
And while it was only enough for a single day, it miraculously burned for a full eight days.  By the last day, the Jews had prepared enough sanctified oil to keep the light shining perpetually.
Let Your Light So Shine
“Open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”  (Acts 26:18)
During the years of His ministry, Yeshua (Jesus) walked the Temple Courts during Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication, and told those gathered around him: “The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me.” (John 10:25)
Yeshua pointed to His own deeds, which were all good, as a testimony of His identity and of His Father’s character.
In the context of the Festival of Lights, another name for Hanukkah, Yeshua may have had in mind His Sermon on the Mount, where he said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)
The term “good works” is idiomatic for the commandments of Torah.
Yeshua told His disciples that if they kept the commandments of Torah according to His teaching, they would retain their saltiness and their light would shine before men and bring honor to God.
The half brother of Yeshua, Yaacov (James), elaborated on this point, saying that”faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  (James 2:17)
Good deeds done by those faithful to God allow His Spirit to shine from within them, illustrating “the light of the world” and giving glory to Adonai’s Name.
For the Festival of Lights, this image of God’s light shining through His people is emphasized further by noting the basic components of fire — a spark and a source of fuel — as well as by contemplating that God Himself provides both our Spiritual Light and Oil.
A Jewish woman serves traditional sufganiot (donuts) at a Hanukkah party.  It is traditional to eat foods fried in oil during this holiday in honor of the one-day supply of oil lasting eight days.

A Jewish woman serves traditional sufganiot (donuts) at a Hanukkah party. It is traditional to eat foods fried in oil during this holiday in honor of the one-day supply of oil lasting eight days.

Oil is understood to be a symbol of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).  It has had an important role in Jewish life for millennia as a means of anointing.  In Judaism, anointing was performed for kingship, for the priesthood, for prophets, for the healing of the sick, and for purification.

Where the anointing sanctified the priests and treated the sick, “anointment conferred upon the king ‘the Spirit of the Lord,’ [that is to say], His support (1 Samuel 16:13–14), strength (Psalm 89:21–25) and wisdom (Isaiah 11:1–4),” states the Encyclopedia Judaica.
Of the Messiah (Anointed One) to come, the prophet Isaiah announced, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord.”  (Isaiah 11:1–2)
Messiah Yeshua announced His anointing in a synagogue in Nazareth when he read from the scroll of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Luke 4:18–19; see also Isaiah 61:1–2)
The Messiah’s light shone throughout His life and continued to burn brightly even when confronted with the darkness of death.  Death could not hold Him and extinguish His light. 
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  (John 1:4–5)
With the oil of Adonai’s Ruach upon and within Him, the Messiah is an Eternal Light.  By living out His anointing He brought “a crown of beauty,” “the oil of joy” and “a garment of praise” to the mourners of Zion.
As Isaiah prophesied, the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners in darkness, the mourners, and the grievers of Zion — having received the freedom and favor of the Lord—”will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.”  (Isaiah 61:1–4)
Just as promised, through the Messiah those covered in ashes and a spirit of despair would receive the oil of joy and “be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.”  (Isaiah 61:3)
Through Adonai’s life-giving work, the once-devastated children of God would be re-activated to rebuild the ancient ruins and renew the ruined cities; His people would stand as oaks of righteousness for “the display of His splendor,” a calling that radiates light.
Miraculous Oil for the Poor in Spirit
Having come “to bring good news to the poor,” Yeshua said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
“Being poor in spirit is admitting that, because of your sin, you are completely destitute spiritually and can do nothing to deliver yourself from your dire situation,” writes Got Questions, led by S. Michael Houdmann. “Jesus is saying that, no matter your status in life, you must recognize your spiritual poverty before you can come to God in faith to receive the salvation He offers.”
This spiritual poverty is reflected in the single flask of oil found in the recaptured Temple.  While enduring the unspeakable darkness of Greek oppression, that flask did not hold enough oil to fulfill its purpose in the House of God to keep the Menorah lit while more oil was made.
Only with a miracle could this oil be multiplied, and it took the intervention of God Himself.
A Jewish girl admires the lights on the menorah.

A Jewish girl admires the lights on the menorah.

In the Temple, the Almighty intervened to make the flask of oil last for eight full days—as if adding the oil of His Spirit to sanctify and renew the devastated Temple.

Likewise, when we are poor in spirit, humbly acknowledging our reliance upon God, we can praise Him for sanctifying and renewing our spirit with His, as David did when He wrote, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”  (Psalm 23:5)
From all of our ministry family…
May you be filled with oil of joy this Hanukkah and clothed with the garments of praise during this Holiday Season!
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

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Sinners Prayer, Is Ask Jesus into your Heart Enough?

“Do you want to be saved? Then just ask Jesus to come into your heart.” While this statement is not anti-biblical, neither is it expressly biblical. The wording generates a mental image that can easily lead to wrong impressions, especially among children, who tend to take things literally. Plus, the exhortation to “ask Jesus into your heart” if that’s the whole message leaves out some important things such as repentance and faith. The Bible does mention the fact that, in some sense, Jesus resides in our hearts: Paul prayed “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17). But Paul is writing to believers who had already received Christ. The parallel prayer in verse 16 is that God “may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” There is no evangelistic appeal in the context of Ephesians 3. Paul is not telling the Ephesians to “ask Jesus into their hearts”; he is simply elevating their awareness that Jesus is present within them through the Holy Spirit.

The verse from which the “ask Jesus into your heart” concept is usually taken is Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Notice, however, that the verse does not mention the heart at all. Neither does the individual ask Jesus to do anything; rather, Jesus asks us to do something. In context, Jesus is speaking to the church of Laodicea, who was in desperate need of repentance (verse 19). The Laodiceans had effectively excluded Jesus from their fellowship, and the Lord was seeking to restore that fellowship. The passage does not deal with a person calling on the Lord for salvation.

The idea of Jesus “coming into your heart” is nowhere used in any preaching in the Bible. The gospel is the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sin (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Gospel presentations in the Bible exhort a proper response to that message: believe (John 3:16; Acts 16:31), receive (John 1:12), or repent (Acts 3:19). We are to change our minds about our sin and about who Christ is, believe Jesus died and rose again, and receive the gift of eternal life by faith. None of the apostles ever told someone to “ask Jesus into your heart.”

HeartOften, the exhortation to “ask Jesus to come into your heart” is used as a simple way to say, “Ask Jesus to enter your life” or “Allow the Lord to take control.” If this is done in the context of presenting the whole gospel, then there’s no harm done. But before a person is invited to “ask Jesus into your heart,” he or she should understand sin and its penalty, the payment Christ made on the cross, and the reality of Christ’s resurrection. In fact, referring to salvation as Jesus’ “coming into your heart” might even help a person understand that the Spirit of Christ comes to indwell the soul (see John 14:17). Still, it is always best to use the terminology the Bible uses. “Ask Jesus into your heart” does not fully communicate what is actually occurring at salvation.

When sharing the gospel, we should be careful what we say and how we say it. Even the word believe can be misleading if it is presented as mere intellectual assent (agreeing that certain facts are true) instead of as trust (relying on those true facts). Judas Iscariot believed certain facts about Jesus, but he never trusted Jesus for salvation. Salvation is not about believing a list of facts. Salvation is not about asking Jesus to come into your heart. Salvation is not even about asking God to forgive you. Salvation is about trusting in Jesus as your Savior, receiving the forgiveness He offers by grace through faith. Salvation is about being made new through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

Faith and salvation is given freely and the Holy Ghost, “Christ within” us is not something we can earn. IT DOES HAPPEN, and should happen, according to scripture.

Another way to present this opportunity for JESUS to come inside and abide would be to follow the example of the ORIGINAL 11 disciples of Christ, Paul/Saul the “one born out of due time”, and the early church as recorded in the book of Acts (Acts, Is the only place in scripture will you will find the verbatim preaching of an anointed man of God, preaching to a “lost soul”/sinner/unregenerate human, and telling them how they should respond to (obey) the gospel AFTER THE RESURRECTION of Jesus.) Acts 2/Acts 8/ Acts 10/ Acts 19; etc)

James said, “As the body without the spirit is DEAD, so is FAITH WITHOUT WORKS”, action. (Faith, which can only be given by God, is the conduit through which the saving “grace” of God MUST flow.) WORKS/ACTION IS WHAT GIVES FAITH LIFE, else it is dead. Faith must be defined by scripture, and CAN NOT BE EARNED.

THERE IS NOT ONE ACTION OF SALVATION which is contrived or earned by MAN, it is all freely given by God through Jesus Christ, AND IT MUST BE RECEIVED AND OBEYED by Jesus, THE WORD, AND THE HOLY GHOST WORKING IN US.

I personally believe it’s much better to just preach the same “Gospel” the apostles preached which is;

THE BIRTH of JESUS
THE LIFE of JESUS
THE DEATH of JESUS
THE BURIAL of JESUS
THE RESURRECTION of JESUS
(an example of the “faith of Jesus Christ, “thy will be done” and it was “DONE”/ACTIVATED/”WORK”ED OUT through the actions of JESUS CHRIST)

THE RESPONSE of the faith of JESUS Christ moving the heart/mind/spirit of a convicted “sinner” which brings about confession of sin and repentance. (Death)
Acts 2:37 “Men & brethren, what shall we do?”

The work of JESUS CHRIST moving in the heart on that human to follow Him in burial through water baptism in “the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” Act 2:38

The continuing WORK OF JESUS CHRIST to fill that human soul with His Spirit/Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit (Resurrection Spirit the “1st fruits” of the coming resurrection) For the promise is to “ALL that are afar off, even as many as THE LORD our GOD shall call.” Acts 2:39

ALL OF THIS IS THE WORK OF CHRIST AND MUST BE FULFILLED IN FAITH, else it would ALL be in vain.

This is the scriptural was the “ask JESUS into your HEART.”

It’s AWESOME AND REAL!! “Taste and see.”

So now that I have covered this completely, Yes, asking Christ to come into your heart is definitely Biblical. Heart and soul are synonymous in Scripture, and they refer to a person’s mind, will and feelings, meaning their intellect, volition, and emotion.

Having Christ established firmly in those three areas is probably the most accurate and Biblical way of describing the process of Salvation from the penalty of sin. It is also important to see the other two aspects of salvation: from sin’s power (which we work out daily with fear and trembling) and its presence which we will experience when Christ comes to take us home.

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Meaning of, In Season and Out of Season

The King James Version says ” Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” The charge is given to Timothy who indeed is getting guidance from the Apostle Paul as a Pastor of a Church. The letters written to Timothy can also be called the preachers guide book as the instructions for ministers and pastors is well documented in the two books. This particular charge is for young Timothy to simply put do his job. His job is to preach the word of God to not only his Church members as they are eagerly awaiting a word from the LORD (in season) But also to those who may not be ready or willing to receive the word of GOD (out of season).

You have heard the expression preaching to the choir, well what that means is you are speaking or preaching to an audience that is in support of all you say. Most choirs fully support their preachers/pastors or they would not be there. A good example of preaching in season. When people welcome the word of GOD and want to learn and grow they will welcome you as a preacher, those are the times when you feel really confident and want to preach forever or as long as that season lasts.

Out of season is more like the street preacher or the preacher or evangelist who dares to take on a jail ministry, or preach the word of GOD on the playgrounds of the inner cities. That is out of season where more than likely those around are not so much interested in the word of GOD. But as Paul says to Timothy do your job, its a mission and we should all take on that mission. During the good times and the bad times. When we give ourselves to GOD for his service we can’t pick and choose where and when we preach. The HOLY SPIRIT will lead us and we should follow.

Glorify His NameIn Paul’s instruction to young Timothy he says reprove, rebuke and exhort. What that means is not sugarcoating the word to increase your congregation size. Tell people their faults, tell them the truth about entering into the Kingdom of GOD. Sometimes it takes a firm hand to make someone understand they are on the wrong path, and our job as was Timothy’s is the help them repent from their sins and continue on the right path to salvation.

At the same time exhort them meaning persuade them to stay the course and keep the faith holding out and enduring until the end. Let them know there is a brighter day ahead for all those who follow Christ and believe in Him. And yes all this must be done with patience and long suffering, which will be hard in some cases to sell your point when it comes to suffering most people don’t want to hear it. But the promise from GOD is always worth the suffering we endure here on earth.

Preach in good times and in bad times but remember always to Preach and in preaching it all about Jesus, The Gospel and Salvation!

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The Plan of God

What is God’s plan for me?

As a Christian, of course you want to make decisions according to God’s will. But what happens when you just don’t know which way God wants you to go?

Sooner or later in life everybody has to make some decisions. Which college should I go to? Whom should I marry? Should I move here or there?” The list goes on and on and as the questions grow bigger and more life-changing, shouldn’t God’s answers and plan for our lives be clearer and clearer as well?

It can be difficult to hear God’s voice and know which road to take. You pray to God and ask for help but there are often no prophetic dreams, visions or strong feelings leading you one way or another. It can seem like God isn’t answering you at all.

Do everything before His face.

Many Christians struggle with this because we almost expect a loud voice from heaven when we talk to God, complete with trumpets and a burst of sunlight. But God doesn’t necessarily work that way. Often He works in whispers instead of shouts. And the way we practice listening is to go in faith and do everything before His face.

Often God works in whispers instead of shouts.

It says in Colossians 3:23: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” This is the key point. It isn’t always so important what we do but why and how we do it. Are you doing it wholeheartedly because you want to please the Lord? Or are there a few selfish reasons behind your decision?

It also says in Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” God is more than willing to show us His will and plan for our lives, but he also wants us to show that we want to know it and follow it. He wants us to make an effort – to seek His will. Then He has promised that we will find it. So if you are asking and seeking and knocking and doing everything as to the Lord then you can rest assured that He will show you His will for your life. His will may not always be what we expect, and it can be revealed to us in unexpected ways, but if we are truly interested, we will find it.
God’s will – good, acceptable, and perfect

Put simply this is the entirety of God’s will right here.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2. Put simply this is the entirety of God’s will right here, as well as His plan with our lives. That we be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we prove what is God’s will. That is something we can do regardless of whether we decide to become a doctor or a teacher, move to another country or stay at home. There are always opportunities to be transformed and renewed wherever you are.

So how do you make your decision? Ask yourself, “Is it good? Is it acceptable? Is it perfect?” If the answer seems to be yes, then do it! Prove what is God’s will. Test it. He who seeks will find.

The renewing of your mind.

Whatever the outcome, when looking back, you may find that what you did was actually tainted with a bit of self-seeking, some demands on the others and so on. This was not according to God’s will, and yet you made your decision in faith and with a burning desire to serve God. That’s why God can now show you how you could have done it better, where you should have given up your own will. Go back and fix things, ask for forgiveness, set things right. It is this that is God’s will for us and His plan for our lives: that we to learn humility, that we learn how to live as a disciple. The revelation comes in an unexpected way – by showing you your mistakes, but because you are seeking to do God’s will, you use it to be transformed. This is the renewing of your mind.

A disciple is not one that knows everything and can do everything perfectly the first time.

A disciple is not one that knows everything and can do everything perfectly the first time. The life of a disciple means following Jesus, the Master, and learning from Him. It means listening for God’s voice every day and striving to be well-pleasing to Him. In this way, we will daily find more and more of this “I should have done things better. God, give me strength and wisdom to humble myself and do it better next time.” So next time I put to practice what God’s voice told me, and do it better – I’m becoming more like my Master day by day. That’s what it means to be a disciple!

Be Transformed by the Renewing of your Mind

Be Transformed by the Renewing of your Mind

No matter where we go we will find opportunities to hear God’s voice and do His will.

No matter where we go we will find opportunities to hear God’s voice and do His will. We will find our own life, our anger, our pride, our stubbornness and self-seeking, and by putting these things to death we are transformed more and more into Jesus’ image and in this way we are doing God’s will!

Ultimately, this is God’s perfect plan for both you and me: that we become free from the way that we are and be transformed into Jesus’ own image.

Isn’t that a hopeful gospel? You really can’t go wrong at all!

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Salvation Created by Faith or is Faith Created by Salvation

The offer of salvation was created when Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place – Jesus is the founder of our salvation. (Heb 2:10-11, Rev 19:1-3, 1 John 1:1-4, Titus 1:1-3) He made it possible for us to be delivered from slavery to sin, and instead be adopted as sons of God. (Is 46:13, Rom 7:6, Rom 8:1-4, I John 3:1-10).

Salvation is used in several different senses in scripture (deliverance from slavery to sin, deliverance from bondage to the law, etc) but primarily it refers to the salvation of our souls and eternal life that we will someday inherit. (1 Peter 1:3-9, Heb 1:14, Jude 1:20-23, Luke 20:24-38, Rom 8:18-25). The holy spirit is the down payment that God will indeed give us eternal life someday (II Cor 1:18-22).

God brought salvation through Christ, not through man (Heb 11:32-40, Isaiah 63:5, Titus 3:3-8). However, we do need faith to receive salvation (I Pet 1:3-9, John 3:14-17, II Tim 2:10-13, II Tim 3:10-17, I John 2:24-25, Rom 1:16-17, Gal 3:7-14, Rom 10:5-13). Faith itself does not ‘create’ salvation. [Indeed, faith is the persuasion that it is Christ who has the power to save us].

“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Gal 3:14

Salvation did not create faith, either. Rather, the eternal plan of salvation was revealed in Christ, and it is in His revealed sacrifice that we must have faith (John 3:14-15, II Cor 5:14-15, I Pet 1:3-5, Rom 10:5-15)

Faith is our belief and trust that Jesus is who He says He is, and that therefore we should accept His sacrifice, follow Him as Lord, and hope for His promises. (Rom 10:5-13, Heb 11:1-6, John 6:28-29) Even many of the OT people had faith in the promises of God, including the promise of a Messiah (Heb 11).

By analogy:

“Bob” lives in a landlocked country and has never seen the ocean. Despite this, he firmly believes that the ocean is real (based on the testimony of neighbors who have visited, pictures in books, etc). He decides to sell his house and, sight unseen, buy a new house in another country by the beach. After a long journey, he arrives and now can confirm by sight that the ocean is real.

Did the ocean create Bob’s belief? No – though the testified existence of the ocean certainly was a factor to why he believed it was real. Conversely, did Bob’s belief in the ocean create the ocean? [Certainly not]. His belief was necessary, though, for him to leave the land he grew up in, take a long trip to a beach he had never seen, and take up residence in his new home.

In summary:

It is necessary to have abiding faith in Christ to receive salvation, but faith does not ‘create’ salvation. Neither does salvation create faith.Christ alone, by the mercy and grace of God, completed everything necessary for our deliverance from sin and adoption as sons of God by His death and Resurrection. God created this plan before time even began.

Romans 10:9 ” That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. Romans 10:10 ” For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:13 ” For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. Romans 10:14 ” 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?”. Romans 10:15 ” And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things”. Romans 10:16 ” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? Romans 10:17 ” So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.

Ephesians 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”. Ephesians 1:14 “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory”. Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints”.

It is clear from scripture that the unregenerate, unsaved have no ability to comprehend much less believe the gospel message without the quickening or life giving power of the Holy Spirit first opening one’ s eyes to their fallen condition. So you see, salvation is the easy part once we truly realize we are lost. It is pure grace whereby we are saved. Faith is the vehicle that gives us the understanding.

I believe Ephesians 1:13 explains the sequence. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”.

1. We hear the saving gospel, the Word.
2. We put our trust in Christ’s vicarious sacrifice.
3. We believe in him with all our heart.
4. We are then sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Our faith does not sustain salvation. It is the faithfulness of the Lord God who keeps us secure. 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

A Light to bring Revelation to the GentilesHebrews 11:1 ” Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.  Hebrews 12:2 ” Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Like Jesus said on the cross: “It is finished”.

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