Hebrews 12 vs 14-15 The root of bitterness

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. (Hebrews 12:14-15) 

Bitterness is distrust that results in an intense resentment or hostility towards others. The Bible teaches us to “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” It then goes on to teach us how to deal with such bitterness and its fruits by being kind “to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32) 

Bitterness is the emotional state where a person is hurting and angry and they want everyone else to feel the pain that they are feeling. It is because of that need to make people feel their pain that they end up lashing out either in a passive or aggressive way. 

Verse 15 explicitly says that bitterness will defile us. That means that it will make us unclean on the inside. The Bible is very clear that bitterness is something that needs to be avoided at all costs, because it will totally destroy our relationships with our family, friends, and especially with God. 

Bitterness is tied to un-forgiveness. Remember the parable of the unforgiving servant? (Matthew 18:21-35). Even though he had been forgiven of owing ten thousand bags of gold, he could not forgive the servant who owed him a hundred silver coins. This was because of bitterness. He was angry and consumed with the fact that he was owed something. Bitter people think that others owe them something and they are going to demand that they are paid a price no matter what. The result is that they become bound up and so focused in their own lives that they can’t see beyond what is right in front of them.  

One reason that bitterness is so extremely dangerous is because it starts to take root and begins to grow and spread and spiritually contaminates and defiles our heart and spirit before we even realize what’s wrong with us. Sinful human nature makes it very easy for us to rationalize and justify ourselves for harboring hurt feelings or a grudge against others when we feel that they have wronged or mistreated us.  

The world is full of people who do not know how to deal with an old hurt. Therefore, they seek things to criticize, to find fault with people as a mean to justify the way they feel. Have you ever met people who are super critical? Generally, these are bitter people. They know how to manipulate the events to get people to act the way they want, and when we react this further justifies their bitterness and efforts to control us.  

When we willingly allow the roots of bitterness to grow in our life, it is like opening the door to the enemy. The Bible tells us, “not to give place to the Devil!” (Ephesians 4:27).  And James 4:7 tells us: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  

People who are bitter never blame themselves for anything that seems to go wrong; they’re always blaming other people, similar to the self-righteous hypocrite who never blames himself either. 

The Bible is so practical and clear that if we take what God teaches us about overcoming bitterness and apply it, we can be free of its bondage. God encourages us to deal with it as Paul wrote: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

Paul is describing a number of emotions here that come along with bitterness. When bitterness is taking root in our heart, usually wrath is too. The same happens with anger, slander, and malice. One way to root out bitterness from our heart is to pray for the offending person. 

As believers we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, therefore, we need to live in a close relationship with Him so that we do not grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30). We are to be filled and controlled by the Spirit, who enables us not to fulfill the sinful desires of the flesh, but rather to produce His fruit of righteousness in us (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16). But the Spirit-filled life is not exclusively passive; we have an active role to play, where we fight daily against the sinful desires that tempt us and yield to the Holy Spirit in obedience to God’s Word. All bitter people are proud and pride will always divide. 

Remember: Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:17-19)

Posted by: missionventureministries | July 7, 2016

DO YOU BELONG TO CHRIST OR ARE YOU GOING TO YOUR OWN PLACE – Acts 1:24-25

Acts 1 vs 24-25

“And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” (Acts 1:24-25) 

Let us focus on the last three words of this passage which have profound significance. Although Judas had walked with Christ and the other apostles for three years, he was not really one with them. It took the traumatic events of the final week of Jesus’ ministry to reveal his true character which none had ever focused on and only Jesus knew about. 

At death, each of us will go to his own place, whether heaven or hell. If in this life a person does not like being in the company of believers and feels uncomfortable, and feels more at home with those who do not believe and doubt the Bible, he will be going where he belongs. Such a person would be more miserable in heaven than in “his own place.” The tragic words of the Bible’s final chapter are these: “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” (Revelation 22:11) 

A false profession of belief will not change a person’s basic character, but sooner or later, that person will be exposed just like Judas was. Yet a true transformation, through genuine faith in Christ, will change our eternal residence, because God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Colossians 1:13) 

If you belong to Christ, you are reconciled to God, your sins are all forgiven, you can enjoy fellowship with the Lord every day, and you know that if you were to die today, you would be with Jesus in the glory of heaven forever. 

So, do you belong to Christ? You may say, “Yes, I invited Jesus into my heart in Sunday School.” Or, “Yes, I prayed the sinner’s prayer and I was told that if I prayed that prayer, I would be assured that I’m going to heaven.” Let me ask you…Where does the Bible say that praying a prayer will get you into heaven? You need to make sure that you belong to Christ based on what the Bible says. 

Jesus said it very plainly to Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) And He went on to say “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.” (John 3:7) Jesus was telling Nicodemus that when we are born again, the Holy Spirit imparts new life to us and takes up residence in us. Thus it is a very serious matter to know whether the Spirit of God is dwelling in you or not. 

We must realize that if the Spirit dwells in us, we are drawn to Jesus Christ and desire to know Him and to honor Him in everything that we think, say and do.  

Here are some of the transformations that will take place in us:

  • We want to learn more about the Bible and will grow to understand it more each day.
  • We start to bear fruit, and so prove to be Jesus’ disciples. (John 15:8)
  • We walk by the Spirit, and have no desire to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
  • We have a passion for holiness and a growing aversion of sin.
  • Our desire for prayer and intersession for others increases. (Ephesians 6:18)

If God’s Spirit dwells in us, we belong to Christ; and though our physical body will die, God will one day raise our body from the dead. (1 Corinthians 6:14)

When we trust Christ as Savior and Lord, we no longer live “according to the flesh” but “according to the Spirit.”

So remember it is never too late to have a change of heart while you are still breathing, as we see in the example of the two criminals on the cross: “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

One of the two criminals on the cross continued in unbelief right up until the time he died, but the second repented and believed unto salvation.  

The repentant one, beholding Christ and hearing Jesus say: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34), came to believe that Jesus truly was God’s Son and that He could, indeed, grant forgiveness and salvation. 

The penitent one had no opportunity to be baptized, to change his lifestyle, or to do anything, except repent and believe that Jesus was the Son of God. 

Both criminals would die that day, and the soul of the unrepentant one would soon descend into Hades “his own place”, there to await condemnation at the future judgment day. The other, because of his trust in Christ, would go with Him to paradise. 

The tragedy is that far too many people, assuring themselves that it is never too late, keep waiting until it becomes forever too late! “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1) 

The Bible teaches us: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Please do not delay in accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior; because once you cease to breathe you will go to the place that you chosen by your actions in advance and there will be no turning back.   

Remember, there is, indeed, a wonderful “place” that Christ has gone to “prepare” for all those who truly desire to be with Him – at His place! (John 14:2)

in-my-house-there-are-many-mansions

2 Timothy 2 vs 24-26

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26) 

Paul is giving Timothy, who is a young pastor, this wonderful advice. “The servant of the Lord” in this passage refers to a pastor, a minister of the Word, as Timothy was. However; as born again Christians this quality should be reflected in all of us.  

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome: The most important advice we see Paul giving Timothy is to instruct these quarrelsome false teachers without becoming like them; because it is not the job of the Lord’s servant to pick fights and to start arguments. Some pastors and lay people however, only feel energized and motivated when they start and maintain a dispute. We are to remember that as the Lord’s servant we need to approach quarrelsome and divisive people in a different manner. Pastors as well as all believers are to be humble and mild mannered as they approach difficult, divisive and abusive people.  

Every true believer is a “priest unto God,” (Revelation 1:6) and has been anointed, appointed and called by God to humbly minister the love and compassion of Jesus to hurting people around them.  

The opposite of quarrelsome is peace-loving. Sadly, we see that many proud and abusive religious leaders elevate their status to that of a “Religious Dictator,” so that they can put down everyone who refuses to be controlled and manipulated by their unyielding, legalistic theories. They are exactly like the proud, abusive hypocritical Pharisees whom Jesus, exposed and condemned so many times in Matthew chapter 23. This is what Timothy is being warned of by Paul.

But be kind to all: Meaning gentle, as this word is also found in another of Paul’s letters: “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children” – (1 Thessalonians 2:7). In other words, our teaching doesn’t need to have an edge of anger or an attitude of trying to score points against the opposition.

Able to teach: This next characteristic involves a skill in teaching. We must be able to communicate effectively the truths in Scripture to others. This refers to not just the ability but also the willingness to teach. We must be able to teach what is true doctrine to those who are misinformed or don’t understand. We must be kind and willing to instruct others in the truth, but never in a quarrelsome manner. This will require preparation and courage with the motivation and readiness to go teach. To do this, we must first be clear about biblical truths, and then willing to go with the right attitude. 

Patient when wronged: We must stand for God’s truth even when under attack and evil treatment. That means that we need to have patience in the presence of the opposition. It is not easy to accept unjust criticism; but as Peter quoted, we need to follow Christ’s example: For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” – (1 Peter 2:21-23)

Having patience does not mean that Timothy is to never confront those who need to be confronted; but he must do it humbly and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. 

With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition: Paul instructs Timothy to carry out this work of teaching with gentleness and meekness, not weakness.

Gentleness is also referred to as “meekness”, which means, the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, but correcting with humility and gentleness. We need to be very sensitive to the Lord and make sure that when we correct opponents, our ego is not involved. We need to realize that we are not the ones changing the person, but rather God is using us to soften hearts and change minds through God’s Word.

If perhaps God may grant them repentance. Trusting God to do the work is the final characteristic that Paul teaches Timothy. Instead of doing this in our own strength, we are to teach and correct in the hope that God will “grant them repentance leading them to knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:25-26)

All true repentance is the work of God. The purpose of kindness and gentleness in teaching and correcting is to lead those in opposition to the truth so that they would hopefully be led to a right understanding of God’s Word resulting in repentance; causing a change of mind and direction.

Our motivation in correcting with gentleness is so that God would awaken repentance and the desire for truth in people’s minds.

Leading to the knowledge of the truth. Repentance leads people out of their sin and deceit and into a “knowledge of the truth”. The word for knowledge doesn’t refer to just factual information, but to a deep spiritual understanding of God’s truth. God is the One who gives this kind of knowledge and understanding that we all must seek. Only God’s Word will bring clarity and truth to foolish speculations and we must know Scripture and submit to it. 

Come to their senses. The hopeful result would be a return to sober thinking about what is true. Falsehood and sin can produce a sort of a spiritual inebriation resulting in a loss of judgment and proper control of one’s mental faculties. The destructive effect of false teaching and sin is that it anesthetizes our conscience, confuses our mind, erodes conviction and paralyzes the will.(1)

Escape from the snare of the devil . Satan is working behind the scenes to manipulate, scheme and seduce hearts and minds of men and women – (Ephesians 6:12). Deception is always Satan’s trap. That’s why it is so important that leaders in the church can and will stand firm on the truth of God’s Word and gently correct those who are held captive to the devil’s will. From the very beginning of time, Satan has been clever in his lies to trap people with subtle deception. The best antidote for false teaching and a sound thinking is found in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” And Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” We must return to soberness and true understanding which enables a believer to escape the devil’s snare. 

Held captive by him to do his will. A believer can be held captive by Satan to do his will. This is how a vessel of honor becomes a vessel of dishonor and a pawn of Satan to work his evil will within the body of the church through lies and deception. We must always remember that the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation if we turn to Him – (2 Peter 2:9). God is faithful and will not allow us to be tested beyond what we are able – (1 Corinthians 10:13). And if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us of all unrighteousness – (1 John 1:9).

So what does God require of those who are entrusted with teaching and guarding the truth? We must be persistent without being unkind. We must be firm without being harsh; because when we faithfully and humbly preach and teach the Word, this is one of the means by which God uses to open the heart and transform the soul of those He has places in our life.

 

References:

(1) MacArthur, John Jr., MacArthur Commentary on 2 Timothy. Moody Press: Chicago, 1998. Pg.98, 100, 102

Posted by: missionventureministries | June 22, 2016

ARE YOU TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT JESUS? – John 3:16

Are you teaching your children about Jesus

Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Matthew 22:37) 

This commandment had been given by God to Moses in the Old Testament. 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9) 

Parents need to understand that contrary to popular belief, the HOME – not the church – has the primary responsibility of teaching children the Bible; and that God created us to have a relationship with Him. 

God created men kind to be His children; therefore, we are never normal until we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior so that we can become God’s children. 

Many parents may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of training their children because they themselves are not taking the time to have a relationship with God and study His Word on a daily basis. 

The Bible provides parents not only reliable counsel on how to study and learn but also practical direction on how to teach their children. As the Bible verses above (Deuteronomy 6:5-9) indicate, it is vital that parents find time each day to teach and talk about God to their children.  

The Bible is God’s manual for life and gives us basic instructions before leaving earth.  

Once our time is over, we will either be spending eternity with our Savior or an eternity in hell, apart from Him. It is our choice, but we need to give everyone the opportunity to hear, learn and to choose; because faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17) 

Here are some suggestions for parents to teach their children about God. 

  • For instance, illustrate lessons from creation to your children. The apostle Paul wrote:Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

God’s creation teaches us that He does exist because God has left His mark upon of all His creation.

Through Creation, God has pointed the way to those who desire to find out more about THE all-wise, all-powerful and merciful God, who deserves to be loved and worshipped above all else.

Because God has given this revelation of Himself even the heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies proclaim the work of His hands. (Psalm 19:1)

Creation is like a standing invitation to seek the God of glory and to want to know more about Him. Anyone who turns down this invitation is without excuse before Him.  

  • Parents can do much to help their children see God, like drawing attention to God’s creative works and then helping their children discern what qualities of God those creations reveal. 

When teaching His disciples Jesus used this example. He said: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

Jesus showed how God provides for the birds and emphasized how much more He loves His children. 

King Solomon who was given much wisdom from God taught on setting worthwhile goals and then using our God-given talents to achieve them. He wrote about the ant and how wise it is! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. (Proverbs 6:7-8)  

As a parent you can ask your children questions to stir up their interest in God’s creation. You might focus on a caterpillar and ask them “who do you think gave that caterpillar all those legs?”  

You can also show them that the caterpillar is short, stubby and has no wings. But thru undergoing an astonishing transformation, called ‘metamorphosis,’ it become a beautiful butterfly. Who made that happen? 

The important thing is to start teaching a child while they are young. The Apostle Paul’s missionary companion Timothy had been taught “from infancy” by his mother and grandmother who read the Scriptures to him every day; which were able to make Timothy wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. They also helped him to reason on the truths of God’s Word. (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15) 

Parents can with the help of the Holy Spirit imitate the effective teaching of Jesus. You might be asking yourself. What if my children display a bad attitude or are slow to learn some valuable lesson from the Bible? Consider the way Jesus dealt with the apostles. They at times argued bitterly among themselves and were slow to learn the benefits of being humble. Yet, Jesus remained patient and repeatedly spoke about the need for humility (Mark 9:33-34; Luke 9:46-48). Parents who imitate Jesus will patiently correct their children and, if needed, will repeat the same lesson until the children fully grasp its importance. 

Parents need to teach by example and do well to read the counsel the apostle Paul gave to Christians living in Rome. To them he wrote: “you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?” (Romans 2:21). I am sure you have heard the saying – do as I tell you but don’t do as I do. 

Remember, children are far more impressed by what parents do than by what they say. In fact, parents who practice what they preach are more likely to have children who listen to what their parents teach. 

Do you love your child? I am sure you do, then are you teaching your child that, “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) 

That, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:17)  

If you teach your child about Jesus and they believe in Him they will not be condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18) 

It is your responsibility as a parent to introduce your child to Jesus and it is up to them to accept Him or not. 

Here are some helpful links that you can use to start teaching your children about God and His Holy Word. 

https://wwyeshua.wordpress.com/bible-stories/ 

https://wwyeshua.wordpress.com/bible-studies/

Posted by: missionventureministries | June 15, 2016

BEWARE OF “SHEPHERDS” WHO MANIPULATE AND SPIRITUALLY ABUSE THEIR FLOCK

Manipulation in the church (E)

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3) 

Spiritual abuse can be detected in the church, since it is manifested in many ways.  

For instance, when a pastor tells his congregation that those who disobey his authority or decide to leave his church are in danger of God’s wrath, we can be sure this man is operating in a spirit of control. He is attempting to sow fear as a carnal means of keeping people in his church so that he can manipulate them for his gain.  

“If you leave this church,” he may warn, “the blessing of God will be lifted from your life, because you are disobeying God’s will. You will be in rebellion, and you will open yourself up to all kinds of calamities. The devil will have freedom to attack you because you have walked away from God’s protection,” that “protection” being the one true church that he happens to pastor.  

Fear is the motivation behind such intimidation, not love. We can be sure that this type of reasoning is not from God. Fear and false guilt are forms of manipulation, which is sin. Instead of motivating people through love, serving the body of Christ and reach the lost, a spiritually abusive minister will try to motivate through threats and manipulation.  

Remember: ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.’ (1 John 4:18) 

By ruling people in fear, controlling leaders work to get people to accept their lies and to follow them blindly. Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15) 

We also see this in the example regarding the prophets and priests in the book of Jeremiah.  

An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end? (Jeremiah 5:30-31) 

In these verses the controlling leaders are focused on their own agenda, and the people are being persuaded and led astray from God’s commandments.  

Sadly around the world, many hurting churchgoers struggle to earn the favor and approval of these modern-day Pharisees, false prophets and priests; all the while thinking they are earning the favor of God. 

Remember: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) 

The plan and purpose of false teachers and abusive manipulators is always to enslave their victims and to imprison them for their own egotistical and selfish gain. 

The truth is that if you are in Christ, you already have God’s favor! And no amount of work done for a spiritually abusive pastor will give you more acceptance than you already have. What you need to do is to run as fast as you can; get out of that abusive and controlling situation and find a group of true believers that love to study the Word and want to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth. 

Jesus recognized the burden that was being placed on sincere believers in His time, who just wanted to do what was right. He saw them as weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd, and He had compassion on them. (Matthew 9:36) 

A manipulative leader will discourage members from visiting other churches or receiving counsel from anyone who doesn’t attend their church. If anyone breaks this rule, he or she is viewed as rebellious. 

Many manipulative leaders are also very racists. However when Christ returns for His Church, people from all nations will be gathered to the Lord. Those who have become brothers and sisters on earth through the blood of Jesus will have that brotherhood lasting for all eternity. 

A true spiritual leader will provide godly counsel from selfless motives. He or she will want God’s will for your life. If that means that you have been called to minister somewhere else, they will rejoice that you are being sent out by God to be a blessing in another place. 

The preacher’s task is not to manipulate his hearers. Manipulative preachers however, use all kind of slick techniques, like the pulpit dramatics of talking loud and fast, having emotional shakes and jumping and stomping on the stage, and do whatever they can do to create an emotional setting. In addition they use background mood music and command the lifting of hands and clapping, and all kinds of additional emotionalism and pressure to pursue you to their way of acting and thinking. This is not preaching the Word; this is more like a secular Hollywood performance.

Members of a church have the right and responsibility to see that religious leaders conduct themselves in a manner that honors the dignity and Holiness of God. Please remember that: “all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” (1 Corinthians 14:40)

Jesus said: “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

The decision of yielding, surrendering and then acting, is between the hearer and God, not between the hearer and the preacher. It is the Holy Spirit’s work. Preaching is proclaiming saving and sanctifying truth, and strengthening truth from Scripture, the rest is done thru the Holy Spirit. 

Therefore, a healthy pastoral relationship should produce peace in the life of the believer. If the message and counsel that you receive is not giving you peace or rest in your soul, it is probably because it is not coming from the Lord. 

We must be very careful and discerning when seeking guidance from a person of pretended “spiritual authority,” otherwise we may be subjecting ourselves to the manipulative practices of a spiritual abusive leader.  

We need to ask God to give us a spirit of discernment through His Holy Spirit so that we can detect and avoid spiritual manipulation and control in our life.  

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) 

Therefore: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) 

How can you know when you are in the presence of a man or woman after God’s own heart? Jesus will always be the center of attention.

Posted by: missionventureministries | March 23, 2016

THE MEANING OF ‘TRUST’ IN THE BIBLE – Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Bible - Proverbs 3 vs 5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

Trust means a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. 

In the Bible “trust” literally means ‘a bold, confident, sure security.’ Trust is not exactly the same as having faith, which is the gift of God: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, trusting is what we do because of the faith we have been given. Trust means that we believe in the promises of God in all circumstances, even in those where the evidence seems to be to the contrary.  

Our verse clearly sums up the Bible’s teaching on trust: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” First, it is the Lord in whom we are to trust, not ourselves or our plans, and certainly not the world’s wisdom. We trust in the Lord because He and He alone is truly trustworthy. Therefore, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7) 

Matthew 6:31-32 tells us: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” 

Chapter 11 of Hebrews talks about faith, which is accepting and believing the truth that God reveals about Himself supremely in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the practical consequence of faith in God is trust, which we prove by living out our full acceptance of God’s promises day by day. Furthermore, it is by this trust that we are promised peace: “You will keep in peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) 

We also see that His nature is faithful and true: “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9). And in Psalm 25:10 we read that: “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” 

His plans for us are perfect and purposeful: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Further, because of God’s nature, we are to trust Him with all our hearts, committing every aspect of our lives to Him in complete confidence.  

We should not trust in ourselves because our understanding is temporal, finite, and tainted by our carnal and sinful nature. Trusting in ourselves is like walking proudly across a rotten wooden bridge over a deep abyss thousands of feet deep . . . and disaster inevitably will follow. 

One thing that can be noted about biblical trust is that it always produces further trust in our God. The believer’s faith may be tried and they may stumble but: “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” (Psalm 37:24) 

God knows that even though trials will weigh the believer down in this life, their trust should not waiver because that trust is based on faith in the promises of God; such as the promise of eternal joy with the Lord and the promise of “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4)

Posted by: missionventureministries | March 7, 2016

LORD GUIDE US IN HOW WE CAN BEST SEEK YOU – Psalm 31:3

Psalm 31 vs 3

“For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:3)

We need to follow what is already clearly revealed in the Holy Scriptures, if we are to know His will and guidance in those things He has not yet made known. God has already made known the greater part of His will for us in the Bible. Paul wrote: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

The Bible is full of instructions as to how God wants His people to live and to seek Him. All we need to do is to read the Bible regularly and prayerfully seek and obey the things that God teaches us from His Holy Word. Much of God’s will has already been made plain as to what we should do and how we are to honor Him in all that we think, say and do; and He gives us the Holy Spirit for the very purpose of enabling us to obey. 

The writer of Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). If we exercise trust and acknowledge Him in every area of our lives, His promise is that He will guide us.  

In Isaiah it is written: “The Lord will guide you always” (Isaiah 58:11). In other words, if our motives and goals are right, following God’s guidance is something that will naturally happen. The Bible says that “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) 

Often when we look back is when we see that the Lord has been guiding us all along. 

God word says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle.” (Psalm 32:8-9) 

We need to listen to God’s guidance because it is written: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) 

Hearing God’s guidance begins with our mind and heart. The Bible reminds us to “be still” (Psalm 46:10) as we listen for His leading, and to “be transformed by the renewal of our mind.” (Romans 12:2) 

The Scriptures are full of prayers we can use to ask God to focus on Him, such as: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (Psalm 139:23). We need to genuinely seek the Lord and remember that: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)  

Thinking, reading and speaking God’s Word helps us to live it out! The Bible promises that we can seek His will in all you do (Proverbs 3:6) and depend on Him to guide all our paths. 

As we seek God’s guidance for all our actions, we need to pray to God the requests found in the Psalms: “Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness”; “Teach me Your way, O Lord”; “Teach me to do Your will, my God!” (Psalms 5:8, 86:11, 143:10). If we trust in Him, God will lift us up so that as we depend on Him it will become second nature to us, because He is our rock and fortress; and for His name’s sake He will lead us and guide us. (Psalm 31:3)

Posted by: missionventureministries | February 27, 2016

WITNESSING BOLDLY FOR CHRIST – Acts 4:18-20

John and Peter

But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) 

Every Christian knows that he or she should witness for Christ, but most are very reluctant to speak in His name very often. The most obvious reason for this hesitancy is apprehension. Sometimes we may be actually forbidden as were Peter and John: “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20) 

They were bold in their witness for Christ and prayed: “Lord, behold their threatening: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Acts 4:29). 

Many times our apprehension comes from fear of physical persecution or personal harm. There can also be a fear of mockery, or loss of prestige or position. This kind of fear is not part of the character of true Christians, “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If we love the Lord we must learn to conquer our fear of men. 

How often do current professional and business men, even theologians, compromise their stand for Christ and His inerrant Word because of fear of peer pressure? And, because of their high position, they refuse to take an open stand for Christ. Just as it is stated in Scripture: “Among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:42-43) 

We should ask God to give us the courage of Paul. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” he wrote, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Romans 1:16) 

We should not fear to witness because our God who has proven Himself faithful throughout the years is always with us. Because His character doesn’t change, we can say with a confident voice of faith, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength” (Habakkuk 3:19). Therefore, we should go and boldly witness for Him. 

Remember Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20). God did not intend for this command to give us feelings of fear or inadequacy. Instead, this command illustrates God’s desire to include us in His wonderful plan to redeem mankind. 

So let us study the Word, live the Christian life, let the Holy Spirit do His work and look for opportunities to share the gospel. It is a privilege to be a part of spreading God’s good news to the world; and as we fulfill the Great Commission, we have Jesus’ wonderful promise, “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, what have we to fear? 

Remember what Paul said: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). Therefore, we are told that “We ought to obey God rather than men” ()

Posted by: missionventureministries | February 15, 2016

FORGIVENESS – Romans 12:20

Forgiveness - Romanos 12 vs 20

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20)

What does it mean to “heap burning coals” on someone’s head? This may refer to an Egyptian tradition of carrying a pan of burning charcoal on one’s head as a public act of repentance. By referring to this proverb (Proverb 25:21-22), Paul was saying that we should treat our enemies with kindness so that they will become ashamed and turn from their sins.

Refusing to forgive is a sin. If we receive forgiveness from God, we must forgive those who hurt us. We cannot hold grudges or seek revenge. We are to trust God for justice and forgive the person who offended us. That does not mean we must forget the offense, since usually that’s beyond our power. Forgiveness means releasing the other from blame, leaving the event in God’s hands, and moving on.

Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious choice to obey God and forgive. The offender may not desire forgiveness and may not ever change, but that doesn’t negate God’s desire that we possess a forgiving spirit. Jesus said: But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

We need to realize that it is impossible to truly forget sins that have been committed against us. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. The Bible states that God however does not “remember” our wickedness (Hebrews 8:12). But God is all-knowing. God remembers that we have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, having been forgiven, we are judicially justified and heaven is ours, as if our sin had never occurred. If we belong to Him through faith in Christ, God does not condemn us for our sins (Romans 8:1). In that sense God “forgives and forgets.”

If by “forgive and forget” one means, “I choose to forgive the offender for the sake of Christ and move on with my life,” then this is a wise and godly course of action on our part. As much as possible, we should forget what is behind and strive toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). We should forgive each other “just as in Christ God forgave” (Ephesians 4:32). We must not allow a root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15).

The ideal is to forgive and forget as 1 Corinthians 13:5 states: Love keeps no record of wrongs. And 1 Peter 4:8 says: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  However, changing hearts is God’s business, and, until an offender has a true, supernatural heart change, it is only wise to limit the level of trust one places in that person. Being cautious doesn’t mean we haven’t forgiven. It simply means we are not God and we cannot see that person’s heart.

Even if our offender never repents, forgiving him or her will free us of a heavy load of bitterness.

Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” We cannot be holy unless we have peace with men. Something amazing happens when we forgive; we have peace and discover that life is more joyful. But, you might say, “Look what he did! I am not going to forgive him.” Remember when we forgive, we set two people free and one of them is ourselves.

Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:2)

Posted by: missionventureministries | February 8, 2016

NEITHER DRINK WINE NOR STRONG DRINK – Luke 1:15

Luke 1 vs 15

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15) 

Whether or not the Bible clearly commands total abstinence from alcohol for Christians, it is increasingly being recognized that alcohol is the most widely abused and dangerous drug of all – causing more fatal accidents and injuries, more destroyed families, more sexual promiscuity, more job absenteeism, and more disease than any other drug. Yet it is widely promoted socially and increasingly is being accepted even among evangelical Christians. 

The example of John the Baptist is worth considering. The angel Gabriel testified that he would be “great in the sight of the Lord” and then added that he would “drink neither wine nor strong drink,” implying a connection between the two. Indeed, Christ called John the greatest man who had ever lived up to that time (Matthew 11:11) – that is, greater than even Abraham, Moses, or Daniel! 

Our verse continues saying that John would “be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb,” and he is the only man of whom that was ever said.  

There seems to be a connection in these verses, for no one could simultaneously drink wine or strong drink and also be filled with the Spirit. The apostle Paul also warned concerning this conflict when he said: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) 

Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation may or may not be permissible, but that does not make it correct. “I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial.” And Paul continues: ““I have the right to do anything”- but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12). So here we see that Paul would not subject himself to be mastered by anything.  

At least in John the Baptist’s case, being great in God’s sight and being filled with the Spirit were closely associated with abstinence from alcohol. 

The Holy Spirit tells us through the apostle Peter: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) 

Let us consider one more thing. God our Father is the author of the Holy Scriptures by inspiration to His prophets, therefore let us read what He says in His Holy Word: 

Proverbs 31:4-5 reads: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink; Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.”  

Habakkuk 2:15 affirms: “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor…”  

It is our Lord the King of kings that had these inspired words written through the Holy Spirit, so how can we even assume that Jesus drank wine (alcohol) or gave others wine to drink, if He is the greatest King that ever lived? We are to follow Jesus’ example by abstaining from wine (alcohol), since He refers to us as a holy priesthood unto God. Yes, Jesus drank the fruit of the vine, but it was pure unfermented grape juice. He said: “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18) 

Remember: “… drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God…. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:21, 24)

 

 

Excerpts taken from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) – Dr. Henry H. Morris

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 97 other followers