Posted by: missionventureministries | October 11, 2018

HAVING CONFIDENCE AT HIS COMING -1 John 2:28

“And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1 John 2:28)

John indicates that there are two possibilities when Jesus Christ comes: either we will have confidence at His appearing or we will be ashamed of our behavior when He returns.

There are many that for a while, professed to know Jesus Christ, but then turned away, showing that their faith was not a genuine saving faith (1 John 2:19). They have denied Him His rightful place as the Sovereign Lord and have turned, instead, to foolish speculations that puff them up with pride in their supposed knowledge. Their denial of Christ means that they are ashamed of Him, therefore, when He comes He will be ashamed of them (Mark 8:38). They will hide in fear and shame when they see Him in His glory (Revelation 6:15-17). But, for those who abide in Christ, they will be confident when He comes.

To abide in Him means to live righteously, and because God is righteous, those truly born of Him will be righteous in the way they live their lives; because, when we are born of Him, He grants to us “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
Ephesians 4:22-24 further explains that: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” That new life in us produces godliness, or righteous living therefore: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God” (1 John 3:9).

Living righteously is a lifelong process of growth in obedience to God’s Word. It does not happen instantly or without setbacks and struggles; but if we are born again, we will be learning to evaluate every thought, motive, and attitude by God’s Word. We will seek to please the Lord, beginning with our thinking and actions as He warned us in Mark 7:20-23, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

If you are truly born again, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be growing in your character, “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23), and you will be disciplining yourself for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). Of course, all of this is done in dependence on the Holy Spirit, but we must be involved actively in the process, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

We are to abide in Christ so completely that we would be like a branch growing from the vine, thus making “fruit” possible (John 15:4-5). We are to continue in His Word so thoroughly that our prayers will be in synchronization with His will (John 15:7) and our behavior will be in synchronization with His commandments (1 John 3:24). To abide in Him means to be at home with Him and to be an alien in this world.

“Little children” implies that abiding in Christ is simple, not something that we need a seminary degree to understand or practice. In fact, Jesus said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Ask yourself these basic questions:

  • Do I spend consistent, regular time alone with the Lord in the Word?
  • Do I trust God by drawing near in prayer to His throne of grace in all of my trials?
  • Do I memorize and meditate on God’s Word, applying it to my life?
  • Am I faithful as a steward of all that God has entrusted to me, maintaining integrity and refusing to be greedy?
  • Am I growing in holiness, developing the fruit of the Spirit by walking in the Spirit?
  • Am I confessing, and forsaking sin?
  • Am I working at maintaining relationships, especially with my family? This includes sincere and loving communication; listening; being kind, having patience; forgiving and being humble.

When trials come into our life, we must actively draw near to the Lord and depend on Him as we have never had to do at other times. If we do not actively do this, we will become angry and bitter and will drift away from God. This is why Peter writes to suffering believers: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,  casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.  After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11)

So, are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? If not, why not start today? Get alone with the Lord and confess all known sin to Him. Accept His gracious forgiveness. Change your daily schedule to dedicate time to your Creator and Savior and as you do, you will grow in confidence anticipate His coming.

Remember that the lifestyle of abiding in Christ while we are on this earth builds the sanctified relationship with Christ that we are going to enjoy for eternity.

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Posted by: missionventureministries | October 5, 2018

HUMBLING OURSELVES BEFORE GOD – 2 Chronicles 7:14

“If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

This promise was originally given to the nation of Israel. However, the saying that immediately follows the reference to “my people” is one that opens up this promise to more than the Jewish people and says, “who are called by my name.” This wording is used to describe everyone who has become part of the family of God.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

We also have assurance in Romans 15:4 that “everything that was written in the past (the Old Testament) was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of Scriptures, we might have hope.”

It is therefore important that we apply the principles of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to our own time, nation, church, and family, as did the ancient Israelites. We need to understand that the principles by which God rules remain the same; and do not change.

Yes, these are God’s words spoken to Solomon, King of Israel. Likewise, the “land” referred to was the land of Israel. When the Israelites sinned against the Lord, He would send the plagues mentioned in verse 13. But if they responded by humbling themselves, praying, seeking God’s face and turning from their wicked ways, God would hear them from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land. 

Can Christians find any appropriate application from this text? Absolutely! Paul cited Old Testament examples of rebellion in Israel’s history that prompted God’s punishment; he noted that they also served as warnings for Christians living under the new covenant. Paul said: “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). 

The apostle Peter, speaking to a group of first-century Christians, said this: “For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (1 Peter 2:10). Today, followers of Jesus Christ are God’s people. Christians are those who are “called by My name.” Therefore, it is appropriate that we apply the timeless truths of 2 Chronicles 7:14 for today also, because it is crucial for all Christians, to humble ourselves, pray, seek the Lord’s face and turn from our wicked ways, asking Him to graciously hear from heaven, forgive our sin and bring spiritual healing to the ailing, ineffective churches in our land. 

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, we note three precepts that are consistently called for by God throughout Scripture: Humility, hunger and holiness. 

The first requirement for such spiritual healing is “humility”. “If my people who are called by My name humble themselves,” because, it is vital for a Christian to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). Every redeemed human being should give all glory to Jesus for salvation. 

The second requirement for spiritual healing is hunger, “… pray and seek My face.” Jesus urged His followers to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). All Christians would do well to increase their hunger for godliness.  

The final requirement for spiritual healing is holiness. “… turn from their wicked ways.” Holiness comes by means of repenting from sin. Repentance means to confess our sins and turn away from them; which in turn, leads to true holiness. 

These three emphases from 2 Chronicles 7:14, humility, hunger and holiness, are much needed among Christians today. We need harmony and spiritual health to come into our life. Just because 2 Chronicles 7:14 was written to Israel thousands of years ago does not mean that Christians cannot benefit from its warnings by obeying its precepts.  

Remember that God talks to His people. That is the believer “My people . . .”, and not with the people running around who think they are Christians, but really are not. In fact the Bible says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).  

Then there are many who are living a double life. They put on a good performance at church. They say all the right things. But they are living a life that is completely contradictory to what the Bible says about how a Christian ought to live. Jesus asked: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46) 

A spiritual awakening starts with God’s people. It starts with those that are truly born again and hunger and thirst for righteousness. 

We pursue righteousness when we pursue the character of Christ and desire holiness more than fleshly pleasure. We avoid the temptation to become self-righteous when we understand that true righteousness begins with godly humility: “The humble He guides in justice and the humble He teaches His way” (Psalm 25:9). We remember that Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When we spend time in the presence of God, we become more aware of our own sin and rebellion; understanding that pride and self-righteousness are impossible in the presence of a Holy God. Pursuing righteousness begins when a humble heart seeks the continual presence of God (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).  

As we see, the humble, believing heart leads to a lifestyle of righteous action acceptable to God. Therefore we should ask Him to: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

 

Posted by: missionventureministries | September 27, 2018

LOVING GOD OR THE WORLD? – 1 John 2:16

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16) 

Worldliness is a matter of the heart. If your heart is fascinated with the world, you will love the things of the world. If your heart is captivated by the love of God, you will be drawn to Him and to the things that please Him. The only way however, that our hearts can be transformed so that we love God is by the supernatural new birth of repenting, believing, committing and trusting Him.

This passage identifies three key points that will, if unchecked and unguarded, ensnare a person into a sinful lifestyle.

First the lust of the flesh – in other words, sensuality, which is a body-oriented and emotion-driven reaction to fleshly appetites that can never please God (Romans 8:8) and is in constant warfare with the Spirit of God: For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:17).

We are told to Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).

Therefore, to yield to the lust of the flesh is not to love the Father, but the world.

Second the lust of the eyes, which is an intellect-oriented and imagination-driven stimulation of wishful thinking that will take control of behavior if not carefully curtailed. Jesus said: The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23).

And thirdly the pride of life which is a self-oriented and ego-driven desire for dominance that has no ethic or limiting factor other than the praise of men, for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43).

Any love relationship must be cared for, and that is true of our relationship with the Father. It is also true that the enemy is trying to lure us from the Father’s love with all of the temptations of the world.

If we look at Genesis 3:6 we see a lot of similarity in how Satan tempted Eve. She saw that the forbidden fruit was good for food, which was an appeal to the lust of the flesh. She saw “that it was a delight to the eyes,” appealing to the lust of the eyes. She also saw “that the tree was desirable to make one wise.” This in turn appealed to the pride of life.

We all battle these temptations frequently, and some fail quite often. But John’s point is, if we go on yielding to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life as our way of life, we are not maintaining love for the Father; rather, we are maintaining love for the world. Worldly people wallow in these things; God’s children fight them often.

So how do we maintain our love for the Father? We need to obey and love the Father with our eyes on eternity with Him and not apart from Him (1 John 2:17).

The opposite of loving the world means loving the Father, and obeying Him; “doing the will of God.” The will of God here refers to obeying His commandments as revealed in His Word. As Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).

A key reason to obey God’s commandments is the knowledge we gain from Scripture of the temporary nature of this world and its lusts, as contrasted with the eternal promise of heaven: “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17)

If we love the world or the things in the world, we will lose them all at death. All that the worldly person lives for is gone in an instant and means nothing in light of eternity. Even if we have attained our worldly desires, what good are they at death? But, if we do God’s will, we will abide with Him in heaven throughout all eternity!

Remember that giving into these “worldly” powers may grant us pleasures for “a season” (Hebrews 11:25), and whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4).

May our Lord Jesus grant that we stay armed against our enemy the devil with His complete armor so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes; and may be able to stand our ground (Ephesians 6:11, 13).

 

 

Posted by: missionventureministries | September 20, 2018

EQUIPPED TO SERVE GOD – Joshua 1:1-9

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.” (Joshua 1:1-2)

Here we see God encouraging Joshua in his new role as leader of Israel. These verses lay out a plan for the success of Joshua and the Israelites in taking over the Promised Land and thriving there. 

As we see, God clearly called Joshua into this leadership position.   

Joshua was one of only two men from the older generation of Israelites still alive forty years after Israel’s departure from Egypt (Numbers 14:29-30; Deuteronomy 1:34-38). During those forty years he had gained much valuable experience as Moses’ assistant.  

In the early days of the journey Joshua served as a military commander, defending his people against the Amalekites, who attacked the weak and infirm at the rear of Israel’s ranks (Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy 25:17-19). When Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the commandments of God, Joshua accompanied him part way and was not involved in the sin of worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 24:13; 32:17). Joshua was one of the twelve who explored the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:8); he and Caleb were the only two of the twelve to give a positive report and resist the people’s demands to appoint a new leader and return to Egypt (Numbers 14:1-9). And at the end of the forty years in the desert, God chose him as Moses’ successor (Numbers 27:18-23). 

As we see, by the time the Israelites reached the banks of the Jordan, Joshua had learned some important lessons. And likewise, when God chooses us for a task, He gives us the experiences we will need in order to carry it out; and these experiences teach us valuable lessons. 

  • Without God’s presence, Joshua would not be able to succeed and neither will we.
  • In the protective environment of God’s presence, Joshua could be “strong and courageous” as can we.
  • By obeying God’s word, the Israelites could enjoy the full measure of blessing that God intended for them, and so can we.
  • To carry out God’s commandments, the Israelites would need to study them, commit them to memory, and apply them, as we should.

These verses provide valuable instruction for God’s people throughout the ages. They remind us that God has delivered us from bondage from sin and made us His servants. He has given us the gift of salvation and assigned a mission for us to accomplish (Matthew 28:19-20), providing us with experiences that will help us carry out our parts of that mission. Along the way, we will have “rivers” to cross; however, because God is with us, we can walk across those rivers with courage and live victoriously, focusing our eyes on Him and the purpose He has for His eternal kingdom. God tells Joshua several times to be strong and courageous. 

If God has called us to lead, it means that He has also given us courage and strength to lead. When God calls us into leadership, He makes us a promise just like He made to Joshua.  He promises to give us everything we need to be successful and to accomplish His will.   

We need to understand that the right way to lead is to lead by faith.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Then Hebrews 11:6 shows us the importance of faith with this truth, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.” 

Faith is never a risk and certainly, it is not a leap into the unknown. Faith is believing in the promises of God, and it is in this assurance that we gain courage and strength. 

The Lord spelled out what Joshua must do in order to succeed at bringing the people into the Promised Land: “Be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (v. 8). Obedience is of utmost importance because God’s methods won’t always be understood until after there is total obedience.  

When the people approached Jericho, the Lord gave Joshua a very strange command; march around the city once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day. Then shout and the walls will fall down (Joshua 6:3-5).  

If Joshua had not followed God’s directions, he would not have succeeded. Like Joshua, we must trust the Lord and courageously obey no matter what He may require of us. He will never give us an abundance of tasks where we have no time to meditate on His Word; and as we focus on Him and move forward in obedience, we will be equipped for everything that He calls us to do.  

But make sure that you ask for and are following the Lord’s leading. “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. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,…” (James 1:5–6). And make sure that you are asking in the right spirit. Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths (Psalm 25:4), and He will.  

Make sure your motives are above reproach and follow Joshua’s lead: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

Remembering to: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:8-9).

Posted by: missionventureministries | September 13, 2018

ISRAEL’S FALL FEASTS – Leviticus 23:23-44

Israel’s three fall festivals, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles, are grouped together within a three week period. 

They afford us an annual opportunity to see a three dimensional portrait of our Messiah, Jesus, as we peer through that window and see Him through believing eyes. 

There are three key reasons for every believer, whether Jewish or Gentile, to study the Fall Feasts. First, study of these feasts opens up our eyes and deepens our understanding of the New Testament. As Paul emphasizes in his letter to the Colossians 2:16-17, these Jewish holy days point us to our Messiah; and the very essence of each festival is richly saturated through and through with Christ.  

Second, these holy days are very important to God. In Leviticus 23, where the calendar of these festivals is formally presented to Israel, they are specifically referred to as: “These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies” (Leviticus 23:2).  

According to the Bible, the first of the Fall Holy Days in Israel’s calendar, the Feast of Trumpets, is simply to be observed as “a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts” (Leviticus 23:24). The Jewish people traditionally call it Rosh Hashanah (literally, “head of the year”) and it is observed as the Jewish New Year. This serves as the commencement of a 10-day period called the “Days of Awe” which concludes with the Day of Atonement. For observant Jews, this solemn period serves as an occasion for self-examination, introspection and reflection as God annually considers the fate of each Jew. 

Many prayers on Rosh Hashanah are recited for God to remember the Jewish people with kindness, mercy and salvation based on the merit stored up through Isaac. The prayer goes, “Remember the binding of Isaac in mercy to his seed.” The events of Genesis 22 are a prime example of what scripture calls “a shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:16-17). Isaac was a prophetic type, a picture, of the Messiah and both Yeshua (Jesus) and Isaac were the sons of promise. Both had miraculous births. Both were obedient and willing sons who were prepared and ready to lay down their lives at their Father’s request.  

As we see, both sons even carried the wood for their own sacrifice. Both had Fathers who were prepared to slay them to fulfill a larger purpose. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son; so too was God willing to sacrifice His only Son; but God did not demand of Abraham what He demanded of Himself. The Lord provided a substitute sacrifice for the son of Abraham, a ram caught in the thicket. But there was no alternative sacrifice for the Son of God; and Jesus became the obedient Lamb of God, slain for the sin of the world. 

The 10 Days of Awe conclude with the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. This Holy Day enlightens Jesus’ mission as a satisfactory sacrifice to remove sin and illustrates His resurrection ministry as our great High Priest. 

The Biblical term, Yom Kippur, can be translated as “The Day of Coverings”. It does not indicate removal of sins, only a covering over of sins. According to Scripture, the covering for sin is blood, the symbol of life (Leviticus 17:11). Without blood, there can be no atonement. Only Israel’s High Priest could act as Israel’s representative and carry the sacrificial blood into the Divine Presence in the Holy of Holies on this sacred day. 

God gave Israel the sacrificial system in order to restore their sin-fractured relationship; to cover over sin on an annual basis. Of course, this annual covering only lasted as long as individuals did not sin again. Indeed, following the Day of Atonement, the daily and weekly Levitical sacrifices immediately recommenced. 

Without bloodshed within the sacrificial Temple ritual, there can be no atonement; however, the New Testament letter to the Hebrews portrays Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of Yom Kippur.

Hebrews 9-10 makes it clear that Jesus is now our great High Priest. This Priest did not first have to make atonement for His own sins before representing the people, for He was sinless. Furthermore, High Priests came and went as they were replaced or died. Jesus, as a resurrected High Priest, will minister forever. Our sinless High Priest was also the perfect sacrifice. The very fact that animal sacrifices were repeatable proved that they were insufficient (Hebrews 10:1-4). Jesus’ sacrifice is a perfect offering sacrificed once for the total and complete eradication of sin. 

With the death of Jesus, sins are no longer merely covered over. Now they are removed through our Messiah’s sacrifice, which has created true atonement between God and His people, both Jew and Gentile. 

*****

Now the week-long Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkoth (booths) falls five days after the Day of Atonement. The most somber time of the year is quickly contrasted with the most celebratory. 

Biblically, it was the third and final pilgrimage period (along with Passover and Pentecost), when Israel was commanded to assemble at the central location of worship, the Tabernacle and later, the Temple. It was primarily established as an agricultural holiday, a period for ingathering of Israel’s people and crops. The essential element of this holiday is its namesake, the Sukkah, the singular form of Sukkoth. This is the temporary, three-walled hut which is built in the backyard or courtyard of Jewish homes. Although the Biblical command is to live in these booths for seven days, most Jews today fulfill that command by eating at least one daily meal inside the Sukkah; and some particularly observant Jews will sleep in them as well. 

The messianic connection we derive from the Feast of Tabernacles is that the Messiah has come to dwell with His people. The initial chapter of John’s gospel proclaims that “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory” (John 1:14).  

Here we see where the apostle portrays Jesus as “dwelling” among us, emphasizing the Messiah as God’s Tabernacle! And we read in the book of Zechariah, just how crucial it will be for all nations to properly observe this holy day in the future millennial kingdom, the messianic age (Zechariah 14:16-19).  

John also provides a gorgeous portrait of God’s great ingathering of His harvest in the book of Revelation, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.” (Revelation 21:3). History, as we know it, will culminate with God, Himself, becoming our eternal Sukkah.

 

Posted by: missionventureministries | September 6, 2018

GOD’S WARNING ABOUT ADDING OR TAKING AWAY FROM SCRIPTURE – Revelation 22:18-19

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

This serious warning in the last chapter of the Bible was given by the glorified Lord Jesus Himself; therefore it should be taken very seriously.
 

Although the warning in Revelation 22:18-19 applies specifically to the Book of Revelation, its principle must be applied to the entire revealed Word of God. We must be careful to handle the Bible with care and reverence so as to not distort its message. 

Moses gave a similar warning in Deuteronomy 4:1-2, where he cautioned the Israelites that they must listen to and obey the commandments of the Lord, neither adding to nor taking away from His revealed Word. Proverbs 30:5-6 contains a similar admonition to anyone who would add to God’s words: he will be rebuked and proven to be a liar.

In Psalm 119:89 we read that God’s word is settled forever in heaven. Throughout history it was gradually transmitted to men on Earth through God-called prophets, and 2 Timothy 3:16 states that: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. God’s words are an extension of God Himself they are God breathed, offering perfect wisdom for life and the information needed to find eternal life in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).  

Hebrews 4:12 reminds us, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” We need to understand that whether men believe it or not, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. In Hebrews 1:1 we read that: God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past, to the fathers by the prophets. They were the ones that God chose to write His teachings and commandments for His people then and now.

This final testimony and warning of Christ to those who profess to be His followers is a clear command not to either add to (Revelation 22:18) or taking away from the inspired “words” of the Bible. There are many people in the various cults following some leader who thinks they have received some new inspired word from God. That is very unwise; however, there are many false prophets, i.e. priests, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, etc., in mainline denominations who presumptuously either choose or explain away those Bible verses they consider unscientific or offensive in some way. That is very dangerous and very foolish, for those whose names are not found “in the book of life” will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

It is true that any two Christians may interpret certain passages in different ways. But they won’t be too far apart if they believe the Bible to be the inerrant, inspired Word of God, especially if they really believe that God is able to say what He means. The Bible authors do occasionally use figurative language, in which case any symbols are usually explained in context. When the writer clearly intends to be understood literally, as in the first chapter of Genesis for example, it is dangerous to impose some metaphorical meaning on the passage because of outside considerations. This seems to be what Paul called “handling the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2).  

Therefore, this warning is given specifically to those who distort the message of the Book of Revelation. Jesus Himself is the Author of Revelation and the giver of the vision to the apostle John (Revelation 1:1). As such, He concludes the book with a confirmation of His testimony to the finality of the prophecies contained in Revelation. These are His words, and He warns against distorting them in any way, whether through additions, subtractions, falsifications, alterations, or intentional misinterpretations. The warning is explicit and dire. The plagues of Revelation will come upon anyone guilty of tampering in any way with the revelations in the book, and those who dare to do so will have no part in eternal life in heaven.

Posted by: missionventureministries | August 30, 2018

GOD COMFORTS US SO THAT WE CAN COMFORT OTHERS – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) 

Paul opens this letter by praising God who has shown so much mercy and comfort to him. As we see, Paul knows the mercy and comfort of God on a first-person basis, because, as Spurgeon states:

“Here was a man, who never knew if he might be dead the next day, because his enemies were many, and cruel, and mighty; and yet he spent a great part of his time in praising and blessing God.” 

He calls God the “Father of compassion” and the “God of all comfort.” In His mercy and love, God is eager to provide comfort to His children in any and all circumstances. Whatever the trial we face, our Heavenly Father knows the situation and offers comfort as needed. The fact that He is the God of all comfort teaches us that all comfort ultimately comes from Him. He is our source of peace, joy and blessing.

How does God comfort us? He does this when we earnestly seek Him through prayer, reading Scripture, through listening to the leadership of the indwelling Holy Spirit in us, through godly friends and some times even through providential occurrence.

Once we have experienced God’s compassion and comfort in the midst of a trial we are better equipped to minister that same comfort to others. We know what it takes, by the grace of God, to help others who are suffering; and in bringing comfort to those in trouble; we glorify God by giving a glimpse of how He comforts those who are in distress. 

The comfort we Christians receive flows through us to others “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Like grace, comfort is an active, powerful gift to be not merely received but actively shared with others, supernaturally multiplied to advance God’s kingdom.   

Paul delighted and had sufficient reason to regard God as the source of true comfort, as all Christians should. There is no other real source of happiness but God; and He is able and willing to impart comfort to His people. He promised and sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to accomplish this in us. 

Please remember that there is no amount of human suffering that can outstrip or exceed the resources in God’s heart to bring comfort and sustenance and grace to see us through. We need never doubt whether God is up to the task of providing what our soul most needs to survive, even thrive, in the midst of the worst imaginable heartache and hardship. It was only because Paul was confident that God’s comfort matched and exceeded his suffering that he was able to convey that comfort to others when they faced similar, perhaps even more severe, trials than his. 

Nothing in Paul’s life was interpreted as existing or occurring solely for himself. It was to help others, just as Christ gave of Himself, and so should we. 

What kind of comfort do you receive from your faith in God? From your personal daily relationship with God how might you share the blessing of this kind of comfort with a family member, a friend or a co-worker who is currently suffering? What words of comfort can you bring to others? 

Here are some: 

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) 

And Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Posted by: missionventureministries | August 23, 2018

JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER – Hebrews 13:8

This statement of faith has been a source of strength and encouragement for Christians in every generation for centuries because personally and spiritually Jesus Christ is our only secure anchor. 

Jesus Christ is the same for all eternity. He is everlasting and un-challengeable!  

The Psalmist declared of Him, “But You are the same, and Your years will have no end” (Psalm 102:27).    

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday because He was active in creation. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).  

Jesus Christ is the same today offering salvation to everyone who calls upon His name. Therefore, Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7). 

Jesus Christ is the same forever reigning in glory at the right hand of the Father in heaven. “But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). 

We need to understand that Jesus Christ is unchanging as the Bible tells us. Many yesterdays ago, He died in our place on the cross to take our sins. Today He intercedes representing us before the Father in heaven. He is forever our great high Priest. The writer of Hebrews states: “The former priests,… existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus,… because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently” (Hebrews 7:23-24). Here Scriptures clearly states that Jesus Christ is the same forever. All that Jesus was yesterday; He is today and will be forever. 

When we read the words, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday” we think of His birth in Bethlehem, yes that is when He became flesh with the purpose of coming to earth to reconcile us with the Father. Because, “since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). 

We need to understand that He is the eternal second person of the Holy Trinity. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2). Here we see again as we read in (Hebrews 1:1-2), that Christ was with God and that Jesus Christ was God. “He was in the beginning with God.” 

When everything else had a beginning He already existed and He had no beginning. “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (John 1:3-4). 

Jesus Christ is the same person who pre-existed before He became flesh and He is the same one who walked the dusty roads of Galilee, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised Lazarus from the dead; among many other things. 

In His awesome prayer the night before His death by crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). 

He came from glory and He returned to glory. Here is the most profound, relevant truth in God’s Word. Jesus Christ came from glory and became flesh, and humbled Himself to die as our substitute to pay our death penalty. Now He has gone back to the glory He had with the Father in eternity, and as He promised in John 14:1-4, He will come for His redeemed children, all of those who believe, trust and obey Him. 

His disciples witnessed His ascension and where told: “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). 

He will come back the way He went. Jesus who was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are healed, who cried, “It is finished,” rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, He will be the same when He returns to this earth in triumphant glory. 

When He comes again He will not be wearing servant’s robes, but the robes of the eternal King of glory. He will be dressed in the robes of the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for eternity.” He came the first time to bear our sin and iniquity and die as our substitute. Today He is in heaven making intercession for us as our Mediator. And when He comes again, “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”  (Philippians 2:10-11). 

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). And the apostle Peter preached, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). 

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:12-14)

Our Lord and Savior is the eternal unchangeable Christ, the Anointed Messiah. Believe on Him and be saved today, while you still have time, because: “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20-21)

Posted by: missionventureministries | August 16, 2018

THE AGE OF APOSTASY – 1 Timothy 4:1

Apostasy means the abandonment of a previous loyalty; it is a conscious defection, in biblical terms it is an act of refusing to continue to obey God’s Word. 

Throughout the history of the Church, we have seen a continual departure of people and churches from the faith of the apostles. As incredibly tragic as this has been, it should not surprise us because Paul warned: “The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).  

Shortly after our Lord began building His Church, the apostle John records one of the first occurrences of apostasy. “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). Since then, many other professing Christians, churches, denominations, and seminaries, who once upheld the truth and authority of God’s Word, have drifted into apostasy. One of the interesting characteristics of apostasy is that it does not happen overnight and actually develops over a period of time. It has however steadily increased at an alarming pace in the last 120 years.  

Let us focus on some biblical signs that clearly show that apostasy is taking place. 

FirstGod’s word is neglected as the supreme authority of our faith. Man’s words and wisdom become as important as God’s Word. People start following “Christian” personalities instead of the Word of God. Religious leaders discard the Lord’s blue print for building His church and create their own strategy. The power of the Gospel is weakened and is being compromised by religious leaders who are more concerned with growing a church and gaining a larger following than preaching the truth. Biblical evangelism is replaced by man’s methods of conversion and thereby falsely leading people to believe, that because they performed some ritual, or said a prayer, that they are saved. Churches give people what they want instead of what they need. The pursuit of holiness and sanctification is neglected when God clearly says: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Biblical warnings to expose false teachers are ignored. Contenders for the faith are labeled as divisive and intolerant. Women are allowed to teach men.   

SecondScripture is twisted and distorted for self-serving agendas. Truth becomes subjective and relative. Doctrinal error and sin are tolerated by religious leaders who neglect their responsibility to protect the sheep. Satan sows his tares with little resistance. The Gospel becomes more all-embracing to attract more people. Expository preaching is replaced by appealing messages and jokes. 

Biblical ignorance of those sitting in the pews provides fertile ground for false teachers to prosper. The exhortation to contend earnestly for the faith is ignored (Jude 1:3). People honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him (Matthew 15:8). “Infallible” men claim to be successors of the apostles and are embraced as brothers-in-Christ. Ungodly men creep in and turn the grace of our God into licentiousness (Jude 1:4). The defenders of the faith are ousted. 

Third – Ungodly entertainment, theatrical performances, dancing and distracting activities have replaced the Lord Jesus from the central focus of worship. Religious leaders are more interested in entertaining the goats than feeding the sheep. Ear-tickling messages give people what they want instead of what they need (2 Timothy 4:3). Sound doctrine and truth is suppressed for the sake of ecumenical “universal” unity. Hearts become hardened and the love for God grows cold (Matthew 24:12). Doctrinal error flourishes and is embraced with stubborn pride. There is no love for the truth and no discernment. People stand for nothing and fall for everything. A form of godliness exists, but it is void of power (2 Timothy 3:5). Idolatry is practiced and encouraged. Sin and immoral lifestyles are tolerated. Women are ordained as religious leaders.   

FourthTeaching is heavily influenced by doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). Jesus has been removed from the church. Deception is full-blown. Lying signs and wonders, including apparitions, are embraced as messages from the heavenly when they are indeed coming from Satan. Idolatry and prayers to the dead are encouraged. Those who proclaim the Gospel truth are condemned with anathema or put to death. Grace is turned into a license to sin. There is no longer any evidence of the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). God’s grace and forgiveness are sold for a price. The church’s lamp stand has been removed, and a certain terrifying judgment is now unavoidable.  

Perhaps you are in a church or denomination that is drifting into apostasy. Will Jesus Christ use you to contend earnestly for the faith and protect the sanctity of His Church? In these last days of growing apostasy and deception, we all need to heed the warning of Peter and encourage others to do the same: “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position” (2 Peter 3:17).  

Apostasy is all around us in varying degrees. As Christians, we need to be very sure that we are clinging to the truth of God’s word and resisting the Emergent Church, New Age, Ecumenism and the secularism that is all around us. We need to stand firm on the word of God and never be ashamed of the truth of the Gospel: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).  

We need to warn people against apostasy and the need to go forward in the faith, bearing fruit as branches attached to the vine. Hebrews 3:12-13 urges us to, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving hearts, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day… that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” 

Apostasy is defiance against God because it is a rebellion against truth; so will you defend the glory and honor of our great God and Savior and protect the purity of His Gospel? May God’s Word exhort and encourage us to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), because, the Bible warns us that “in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Timothy 3:1) and many will have “the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). The best way to avoid apostasy and reject the teachings of apostates is to be reading the Word of God and studying it, because, the best way to identify the counterfeit is to know the genuine truth of the Scripture.

Posted by: missionventureministries | August 9, 2018

THESE ARE THE MOST TERRIFYING WORDS YOU COULD EVER HEAR – Matthew 7:21-23

The most terrifying words a professing Christian could ever hear would be Jesus saying, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23). The Lord Jesus will declare those horrifying words to many, not a few, who boast in the many works they did in His Name. They called Him Lord but did not obey His first command to “repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). 

Who are the “many” who will be turned away on Judgment Day? They are those who thought they could gain eternal life by the works they were doing instead of trusting in the work Christ had done. They also never turned from their sin to follow Jesus Christ in faith. Since they never obeyed the Gospel of Christ, they will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Tragically, when Jesus declares to them, “depart from Me,” there will be no second chance, no excuses, and no blaming the false teachers who deceived them. 

The Lord Jesus also referred to the “many” when He spoke of the two paths to eternity. Many will travel the broad road to destruction instead of the narrow road to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14). Rather than striving to enter the narrow gate by testing every man’s teaching, they foolishly follow false teachers, who are wolves disguised in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).

It is sad to see that many profess faith in Christ, but only a few show evidence of being born again as new creatures in Christ. Many calling themselves Christians cannot even communicate the Gospel that has the power to save souls. Part of the blame must be placed on man-centered methods of evangelism such as making a decision to “accept” Christ by repeating a prayer, or walking forward to gain salvation, or being a “good person” and doing good works. None of these methods are found in the Bible. The only saving response to the Gospel of Grace is to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15). Part of the blame can also be placed on those who compromise the Gospel to make it more palatable and less offensive (Galatians 1:6-10).

With so many false converts, the church has become a mission field. Many who profess Christ are not really obedient to Christ! They do not understand the new birth. They have never passed from death unto life. They remain condemned because they have not been justified. They remain enemies of God even though they profess to be His friends! They remain enslaved to sin because they have never been set free. They profess the Savior with words, but their heart is far from Him (Matthew 15:8). They deceive other people with their external righteousness, but they cannot deceive God because God cannot be mocked (Galatians 6:7). They are unaware of their pending danger, because they have never examined themselves to see if their faith is genuine: Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

The best way we can prove our faith is genuine is to examine it through the lens of Scripture. The apostle John wrote his first epistle so that those who believe in the Lord Jesus may know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13). We also see many characteristics of false converts in God’s Word. Some of them are listed below:

  • You think you are a good person, when the Word says: There is none who does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12).
  • You have knowledge of God but you do not obey Him. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (Titus 1:16).
  • You do not pursue sanctification when the Bible says: Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
  • You are self-righteous without repentance (Luke 18:9-14).
  • You seek to establish your own righteousness. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).
  • You are unwilling to forgive others. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).
  • You have no desire to follow Jesus, when Jesus said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
  • You call Jesus ‘Lord’ but do not do what He says (Luke 6:46).
  • You love your sin. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
  • You have not departed from iniquity. Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19).
  • You condone or promote things God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).
  • You are a mere hearer of the Word, not a doer, thereby deceiving yourself (James 1:22).
  • You are full of pride with no humility (James 4:6).
  • You walk in darkness. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).
  • You live according to your sinful nature (Romans 8:5).
  • You do not love the truth“that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
  • You say that Jesus is your Savior but you do not make Him the Lord of your life (Luke 4:46).

As the Bible tells us the assurance that we are truly saved is not based on a past decision but on a present reality. So what happens if we are unsure about our faith and our salvation? We find the answer in God’s Word: 

  • Abide in God’s Word – then you will know the truth that will set you free from religious deception (John 8:31-32).
  • Repent – with godly sorrow for your sins and cry out to God for mercy (Luke 18:13). For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
  • Believe the Gospel – follow the Lord Jesus Christ in faith (Romans 10:9-10).
  • Love God – with all you heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed” (1 Corinthians 16:22).

What should we do if we know someone who may be a false convert? Ask them to share the events that were present during their conversion. If their conversion testimony does not line up with Scripture, ask them more questions. Speak the truth in love. Let them know eternity is forever! We can be wrong about a lot of things in this life and still survive, but if we are wrong about our faith, we will pay for that mistake for all eternity.

At this time, there are images of the raging fires that are scorching many parts of the world that are absolutely terrifying. Thousands of people are fleeing to a safe place because they sense the imminent danger. As heartbreaking as it is to see these devastating fires, how much more disheartening is it to see people dismiss the reality of the horrifying fire that awaits people who die without Christ. Those who die in their sins will go immediately to a place of torments where they consciously experience pain and thirst from a blazing fire that will never be extinguished. The horror and hopelessness is so great they will want to warn their loved ones. Please read the parable that Jesus told His disciples about LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN; where Jesus warns us that the eternal state of punishment for sins is irreversible; there is no second chance and no escape.

Now, since we know the fear of the Lord, we need to persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:11) and plead with those we see that are lost to flee to the loving and merciful arms of Jesus Christ who is their only hope of escape (Luke 16:19-31).

Please know that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). As priests unto God, which all true born again believers are (Revelation 1:6) let us do all we can to rescue our loved ones from God’s wrath, before it is too late!

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