Posted by: missionventureministries | August 24, 2016

THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK – James 1:19-20

James 1 vs 19-20

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)

Our words are very powerful, they have the power to build up, and to tear down, the power to inspire and to dishearten, the power to encourage or discourage. Whether you are a parent, a family member, a teacher, a minister, or a friend here are five simple things to consider.

Next time before you say something you might regret, ask yourself these five questions. If the answer is “NO” to any one of them, you are not going to want to say them. Think before you speak!

  1. IS IT TRUE?
  • “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
  • “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19)
  1. IS IT HELPFUL?
  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
  1. IS IT INSPIRING?
  • “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)
  • Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:23-24)
  1. IS IT NECESSARY?
  • “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)
  • “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)
  1. IS IT KIND?
  • “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
  • “One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend. (Proverbs 22:11)
  • “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)

Another way to look at think before you speak is to consider how to reword what you have to say so that it follows what the Bible teaches us:

Because, what goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth that is what defiles them.” (Matthew 15:11) 

If we call ourselves Christians, and yet do not keep a tight rein on our tongues we deceive ourselves, and our religion is worthless.” (James 1:26) 

Therefore, “whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” (1 Peter 3:10)    

Remembering that: The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom and their tongues speak what is just. (Psalm 37:30)

Posted by: missionventureministries | August 17, 2016

WHAT IS TRUE FRIENDSHIP ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE? – John 15:13

What is true friendship - John 15 vs 13

The Bible says that the greatest love is the one who gives his life for his friends (John 15:13). Jesus calls us his friends and loves us, even with all our faults. Jesus is the perfect example of friendship revealed in the Bible, because He gave His life to reconcile with God all those who believe in His sacrifice. He died in our place because He is a true friend. 

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can be friends with God. Sin no longer separates the one who is saved, from friendship with God. This means we can have a relationship of true intimacy, unity and love with our Creator. 

Friendship with God affects our friendships with others. The believer who knows the true friendship of the Bible will try to be a true friend because: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18) 

Therefore, true friendship is based on the love of Christ and Jesus is our great example of the most valuable friendship of all. 

We must choose friends who love the Lord and have pure hearts. The Bible says, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22) 

Friends are people who have things in common like studying the Bible, and who enjoy each other’s company. We can have many acquaintances with whom we get along well, but a true friend is a person who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).  

A true friend gives us biblical advice and discourages us from going against God’s word. They encourage us to: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

A Christian friend should respect our decisions even if they do not agree with them; knowing that whatever decisions we make, we are the ones that ultimately will be responsible for them: “For we (all believers) must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Jesus is not only our best Friend but also our one and only Judge.  

A relationship of friendship requires loyalty and fidelity, and therefore God disapproves of any kind of betrayal. Gossip can destroy friendships and the Bible says in Proverbs 16:28: “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”

It is worth keeping true friends as the Bible says: “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” (Proverbs 27:9)

A true friend cares about your welfare, and therefore, is open, honest and sincere with you, in a sensitive and gentle way, even if at times it “hurts”. The Bible says: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:5-6) 

What characteristics do we need to have to be a good friend? The Bible says in Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” 

Here are some additional characteristics of true friendship according to the Bible: 

Love is the key to any genuine relationship; true friendship is a symbol in brotherly love. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) 

One of the most known cases of genuine friendship in the Bible is between David and Jonathan, as you can see in 1 Samuel 20 and 2 Samuel 9. Their friendship was so strong that Jonathan risked the wrath of the father to save the life of David, and David looked after the son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth when Jonathan died. 

Friends like being together and defend each other. “One man can be defeated, but two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) 

True friendship respects the value of the person and demands their best. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”  (Romans 12:10) 

A true friend helps his companion when they know that he is experiencing difficulties or problems. “Do not abandon your friend or the friend of his father; when hit by adversity do not go to the house of his brother; best is the close neighbor than a distant brother.” (Proverbs 27:10) 

The Bible tells us that the hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered (Proverbs 11:9). We need to be aware that the mouth can be used either as a weapon or a tool. We either hurt our friends or build them up. Sadly it is often easier to destroy than to build, and most people have received more destructive comments than those that encourage them. Our words make a difference; are they a weapon for destruction or tools for construction? 

What kind of friend do you want to be? And how many people you call friends would you be willing to give your life for?

Posted by: missionventureministries | August 11, 2016

SERVING OTHERS AS JESUS DID – John 13:15

John 13 vs 15

In John 13:15, Jesus sets an example for us to follow. After washing His disciple’s feet, which was an act of love, humility and service, He encouraged them to follow His lead and serve one another by telling them:

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:15)

Jesus, the Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, never placed Himself in a position above others. He loved and humbly served by leading and teaching the lost. He fed thousands; He healed the sick and raised the dead. He spent time with those no one else cared to be with.  

When we look at Christ’s life it reflects His love for humanity and this should be our greatest desire as well.  

It is very important that as Christians, we follow the example of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter where we are or who we are with. The words we speak and the things we do should always reflect our faith in Christ. Sometimes we are eager to tell other people what they should do and how they should live, but often we fail to follow our own instructions.  

Jesus tells the crowds and His disciples to do what the Pharisees and the scribes teach them to do, “but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach” (Matthew 23:3). In other words, the leaders want to be obeyed but don’t follow or practice what they teach.  

Why is it so important for a believer to practice what he preaches? The most basic reason is the integrity of our faith, as Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:14)  

People should be attracted by the light that shines forth from us by the way we live, act and the words that we speak. We need to realize and be aware that people are watching us and seeing how we respond to the ups and downs of everyday life.  

Our church, family members, children, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and classmates are all watching us. What evidence are we offering of our profession of faith? Are our responses and behavior any different from those persons who don’t profess to know Christ? 

How do we practice what we preach? One way is to be careful about the words we speak. You can determine a lot about a person by their verbal communication and even more so by the words they use when they are distressed, angry, or threatened. James tells us that the tongue is very dangerous; “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)  

More people than we think are listening to the words we speak; so, do our words bring peace and tranquility to a situation or do they add fuel to the fire? Please understand that the words we speak should match the person we claim to be. If we profess that we are followers of Christ, then our words should be a reflection of that relationship. 

We practice what we preach when we live our lives as reflections of the life of Christ. People should always see a reflection of Jesus in us wherever we are and in whatever situation we are faced with.  

We need to be aware of that there is as much emphasis upon practicing the truth as in teaching it. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” (Romans 2:21-22) 

Failure to practice what one preaches does not apply only to parents, preachers, elders, deacons, and teachers but to every born again Christian.

Remember, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit… In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3, 5)

Posted by: missionventureministries | August 7, 2016

WHERE WILL YOU BE ON JUDGMENT DAY?

Bema vs White Throne Judgment

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”  (Hebrews 9:27) 

There are two accounts of a final judgment in the Bible pertaining to every human being that ever lived. One for the believer, those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and made Him Lord of their lives, and one for the unbeliever who rejected the Son of God. 

The judgment seat of Christ, also referred to as the Bema Seat is described in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

Gold, silver, and costly stones refer to works done for the glory of God, with the right motive, and in dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit.  

The Bema Seat judgment does not determine salvation. Rather, it is when believers must give an account of their lives to Christ and whose salvation has already been secured by faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). We should not focus on the Bema Seat as Christ judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us according to how we lived or lives. Romans 14:10-12 explains: “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”   

In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul gives the Corinthian church an illustration of the Bema Seat, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Paul is teaching us that all Christians will stand before the Bema Seat of Christ. There, believers will be rewarded according to how faithfully they served, obeyed, and followed Christ.   

Some of the things we will likely be judged on are: 

  • Whether we fulfilled our role in the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
  • How victorious we were over sin. Romans 6:1-4 reminds us, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
  • If we were successful in controlling our tongue. Read – James 3:1-9
  • Whether the fruit of the Spirit was manifest in our lives. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness  and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  

The Bible mentions Christians receiving crowns for various aspects of the Christian life, one of them being described in 2 Timothy 4:8, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  

Another is found in James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  There are three more described in the Bible. In response, believers will cast their crowns before the Lord’s throne saying, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11).  

It is very important not to confuse the Bema Seat with the Great White Throne Judgment. The Great White Throne Judgment is a trial, set in the future after the Millennium, for all people who have rejected God’s call to salvation. Every person who has lived upon earth and has refused to accept God’s way to redemption from sin, will stand before their Creator at this time, and acknowledge that He is God – that Jesus Christ is Lord.  

Revelation 20:11-15 describe this judgment: “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”  

At the Great White Throne is where those who died as unbelievers are judged and condemned. Each will then be cast into the Lake of Fire, which will be their place of torment throughout eternity. (Read Mark 9:43-48) 

The Bible clearly presents two options for ETERNITY. Therefore, we need to remember that we are only a heartbeat away from our choice becoming a reality. 

In Revelation 22:12, Jesus Christ declares: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

SO WHERE WILL YOU BE ON JUDGMENT DAY?

REMEMBER YOU ARE ONLY A HEART BEAT AWAY FROM ETERNITY

Posted by: missionventureministries | August 4, 2016

HOW TO WIN SPIRITUAL BATTLES – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

1 Corinthians 16 vs 13-14

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be courageous, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 

Every day there is a war going on all around us, and many of the participants in this war are unseen, but we certainly are able to see many of the results.  

Homes are being destroyed. People are caught in the bondage of sin, and they can’t break free. Many children can quote the words of a rap star, but can’t quote anything Jesus ever said. Many souls are incarcerated and doomed to eternal destruction and sadly the list goes on and on. 

Through Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we are told to watch, to stand fast in the faith, to be courageous and to be strong.  

Though we have spiritual enemies that we must fight, even so, love should characterize all that we do. These two verses are not contradictory, because we also read what Paul wrote to the Romans: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (v. 12:21) 

The meaning of to watch is to be alert, to be vigilant. We need to be spiritually watchful as Jesus said we need to watch and pray. The word translated “watch” means ‘to have the alertness of a watchman.’ A night watchman must be even more vigilant than a daytime guard. In the daytime, danger can often be spotted from a distance. But in the night everything is different. A night watchman must use senses other than sight to detect danger. He is often alone in the darkness and without the defenses he would otherwise employ. There may be no indications of enemy attack until it happens, so he must be hyper-vigilant, suspecting something might happen at any moment. That is the type of watching Jesus spoke about. Jesus warned us that we are too easily distracted by the physical and will be caught unaware if we do not continually discipline ourselves by being watchful. 

How should Christians stand fast in their faith? The two things we can do to stand up for Christ are to live according to His Word and to grow in our knowledge of Him. Christ said, “Let your light shine before men…” (Matthew 5:16). This means that we should live and act in a way that supports the gospel. First Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” We need to live and teach as Christ would and let Him take care of the rest. 

The next word is to be courageous. The word “courage” translated from the Greek means literally “boldness and confidence.” Therefore, when God commands us to fear not, to be of good cheer, and to have courage, He is always commanding against fear, which is the opposite of courage. 

As Christians, we are to be strong in the mighty power of God. This means that our strength is not our own; it is not human or fleshly. Our strength is not of the world, but our strength is found in Christ thru our having an intimate relationship with Him. As Paul tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). In other words, there is no other source that gives man the strength to overcome the world with its trials, its temptations, and death. It is through submission to God’s strength that we overcome the power of Satan: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It is by first aligning ourselves with the strength of God through our total submission to Him that we are able to withstand the deceit of Satan: “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). 

The Bible says that we are to love others the way that God loves us. We are to love the family of God (1 Peter 2:17). We are to love our enemies—that is, we are to actively seek what is best for them (Matthew 5:44). Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). When we show benevolence and selfless love, we reflect God’s love to a lost and dying world. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). 

In summary, to win spiritual battles we rely on God’s power and not our own. We need to put on the whole armor of God, utilize the power of Scripture and pray with determination and holiness, making our appeal to God. We stand firm in our faith (Ephesians 6:13–14); submitting to God and resisting the devil’s work (James 4:7), knowing that the Lord of hosts is our protector. “Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (Psalm 62:2)

Posted by: missionventureministries | July 27, 2016

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF HOPE IN THE BIBLE? – Romans 15:13

What is the meaning of hope in the Bible

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13) 

When the Bible talks about ‘hope’, it is not talking about wishful thinking; it is talking about trusting God.   

Many people may say “I hope” when they really mean “I wish”. Therefore, let us take a look what hope means to the Christian. Biblical hope is a certainty, not a probability. Because, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. (Psalm 62:5) 

Hope is real because it is founded on faith in the factual content of the Holy Scriptures. 

Biblical hope becomes possible when there is belief in the living God who acts and intervenes in human life and who can be trusted to keep His promises. 

Hope is the certain expectation of the future reality of God’s blessings, based upon the manifestation of the activities of God’s faithful actions, as revealed in the Bible. 

The word “hope” in the Bible expresses confidence and assurance concerning the future because it’s based on God’s promises, character and faithfulness. Hope is to look forward to something with a feeling of expectation and confidence. A Christian always knows they have hope because they have God in their heart and hope is always at the forefront of their thoughts. 

What does hope encompass for the believer? Hope in Christ is not limited to this world, but for eternity because He is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1).  

Being Christ’s disciple bears with it the hope of sharing in His glory (Ephesians 1:18), which is already stored up for the believer in heaven (Colossians 1:5) and will take place when the Lord is revealed at His coming (1 Peter 1:13). 

Christians can be sure of this hope because God’s promises are sure and our faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:21) 

Also because “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5) 

Remember faith and hope are inseparable. When you have faith, you have hope and vice versa. In fact, they are bound together with love, which covers all (1 Corinthians 13:13). 

Hope is God’s gift to us, which is: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) 

In other words, a biblical hope is never an escape from reality or from problems and it doesn’t leave us idle.  

Hope gives us joy and peace as our verse states: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13) 

Hope protects us: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 33:18) 

It gives us strength and courage: “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24)  

God is called “the God of Hope.” This means He is the source of all real hope. If we are going to have hope as a confident expectation, it must come from Him for He alone has the power to give it. “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:5)  

If you have not accepted Christ, you are without God and without hope. And “at that time you were without Christ … and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12)  

For us to have hope we need to know the Word of God. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) 

Hope depends on knowing and resting in God’s Grace. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)  

And again Romans 15:13 stresses that hope depends on the Spirit-filled life, so “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19) 

Do you have that hope that God promises you? Does your life prove it? Has this hope changed who you are, what you value, and what you are doing with your life? 

As believers we are to be “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) and “and everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure” (1 John 3:3)

 

Posted by: missionventureministries | July 23, 2016

SEEKING THE HIDDEN TREASURE AND THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE – Matthew 13:44-46

Matthew 13 VS 44-46

44Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)

What is the meaning of the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price? 

Jesus had just finished explaining to the disciples the meaning of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares and these two short parables are a continuance of His discussion of the “kingdom of heaven.” He expressed truths about the kingdom in three pairs of parables in Matthew 13:3-23. The seed and the sower; the weeds in the field (vv. 24-30); the mustard seed (vv. 31-32); the leaven or yeast (v. 33); the hidden treasure (v. 44) and the pearl of great price (vv. 45-46).  

The resemblances of these last two short parables make it clear they teach the same lesson; that the kingdom of heaven is of immeasurable value. Both parables involve a man who sold all he had, to possess the kingdom. The treasure and the pearl represent Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers. And although we cannot pay for salvation by selling all our worldly goods, once we have found it, we are willing to give up everything to possess it. – “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9)  

The kingdom of heaven is more valuable than anything else we can have, and a person must be willing to give up everything to obtain it.  

The man who discovered the treasure hidden in the field was greatly blessed by God, it was not an accident; it was an expression of God’s love and he recognized its value when he found it. Although the transaction cost the man everything, he paid nothing for the priceless treasure itself. The treasure came free with the field.  

Nothing is more precious than the kingdom of heaven; nevertheless God gives it to us as a gift. 

In both parables, the treasures are hidden, indicating that spiritual truth is overlook by many and cannot be found by intelligence or power or worldly wisdom.

Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 15 For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:11-17)

And 1 Corinthians 2:14 make it clear that the mysteries of the kingdom are hidden from some who are unable to hear, see, and comprehend these truths. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

The disobedient reap the natural consequences of their rebellious unbelief, which is spiritual blindness. Those whose eyes are opened by the Spirit yearn to discern spiritual truth, like the men in the parable; they understand its great value.

In the following parable, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. In contrast to the previous parable, Jesus is now displaying another aspect of the kingdom.

Notice that the merchant stopped seeking pearls when he found the pearl of great price. Eternal life, the eternal inheritance, and the love of God through Christ constitute the pearl which, once found, makes further searching unnecessary. Christ fulfills our greatest needs, satisfies our longings, makes us whole before God, gives us peace and quiets our hearts, and gives us hope for the future. The “great price,” is that which was paid by Christ for our redemption. He emptied Himself of His glory, left His throne in heaven and came to earth in the form of a humble man and shed His precious blood on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. 

Are you seeking the hidden treasure of the kingdom of heaven and finding it? Our prayer is that you will find Jesus, so that you too might share in this joy, and that your life is forever transformed by the great power of God’s Holy Spirit.

 

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

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