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.

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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!

Posted by: missionventureministries | August 2, 2018

LISTEN TO GOD BECAUSE HE SPEAKS IN A STILL SMALL VOICE – 1 Kings 19:12

“And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:19)

Elijah ran and was hiding for his life, even though God had spectacularly answered his prayer with fire from heaven. Jezebel, however, had not been intimidated by Elijah’s victory and swore she would kill him. And because of this Elijah fell into such depression that he wanted to die. If Jezebel could not be impressed with fire from heaven, how could Elijah ever hope to defeat her and her armies?

So, what happened to Elijah?

In many areas of life, great victories are often followed by times of doubt, discouragement, and depression. Emotional stress, physical fatigue and other factors can sometimes combine to bring on depression.

People committed to God are not immune to being human, because, emotions are part of that humanity. That is why using our human emotions as a guide for our spiritual condition is hazardous. Feeling good and being happy are not always good measures of our commitment to God. Likewise, feeling depressed, discouraged, anxious, doubtful, are not necessarily signs of spiritual decline.

Elijah had given up. He left his country in the north and traveled south. When he got to the border of Israel at Beersheba, he left his servant there and kept going alone and finally after walking a whole day into the wilderness he sat down under a bush and prayed to God to take his life, then exhausted he fell asleep.

We need to understand that God does not give up on us nearly as easily as we give up on Him! God came to Elijah in the desert in the midst of his anguish when an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.”

The word translated “angel” in the Hebrew simply means messenger (v. 5). Often the bible uses messenger as a way to describe the presence of God himself (Judges 2:1; Isaiah 63:9).

Now after gaining his strength, as Elijah journeyed toward Horeb he still had not fully recovered from his emotional state; but he was moving, which was good. We cannot always expect a “quick fix” to our discouragements, the healing may be slow but beginning the process is a good start.

Now we read what happened to Elijah and God’s revelation to him in verses 1 Kings 19:9-18.

Here is the heart of the story. In these verses, the story moves beyond Elijah and his personal needs to that deeper level that addresses the question of how God works. God had not given up working with Elijah and we see God’s persistent questions gently pushing Elijah toward a faithful response.

Mount Horeb, where Elijah found himself after his long journey through the desert, was the very mountain where Moses had encountered God in the fire of a burning bush (Exodus 3:1). It was at that mountain, also called Mount Sinai, that God had given the law to Moses amid fire, smoke, and thunder (Exodus 19:16-18).

By God’s divine grace and providence, Elijah was sustained for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb the mountain of God and found shelter in a cave. This reminds us that “Forty” shows up in the Bible in such places as the 40 years in the wilderness for the Jews; 40 days of Moses on the mount receiving the Law, Jesus’ 40 days in the desert and His temptation by Satan, and there are many other accounts of 40 days in the Bible.  

Now while there, we read that “a great and strong wind,” was sent and “after the wind an earthquake” and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12). But the Lord was not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire. God finally reached Elijah with “a still small voice,” and that voice assured him that God was well in control of all circumstances.  

In our human impatience, we think God should always move immediately in great strength. Unless there are things happening immediately, we grow discouraged, like Elijah. But God more often speaks in a still, small voice and works in a quiet way. Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; . . .And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left (Isaiah 30:18, 21). The Holy Spirit will never tell us to do something that violates and disobeys God’s Holy Word.

Once we learn to be still and wait on the Lord and our spirit has quieted down, we are encouraged to talk to God about what’s going on in our life and to listen because:

  1. God’s voice is often quiet. At times, unless we are skilled in recognizing God’s voice, we might mistake it for a passing thought. I believe that God would like to talk to us often, but many times we aren’t listening. Or there is so much “noise” and commotion going on in our life and so little quiet time with Him, that God’s gentle voice goes unheard.

We know that God is fully capable of getting our attention if He needs to; but that He would rather have us listen to Him because we love Him and know that He loves us and wants the very best for us.

  1. God’s voice can guide us in what to do. After listening to God, He gives Elijah an assignment to anoint three men, two kings and his prophetic successor.

God’s voice was there to clarify direction for Elijah and He does the same for us.

  1. God’s voice can provide comfort when we are anxious. Elijah was fearful and exhausted, depressed and hopeless. God comforts him by giving him a new work to do, a new assignment. Jesus comforts and restores Peter in a similar way, he restored him by gently pointing out the job He had for him to do, by asking him three times to care for His lambs and His sheep.

God also reassures Elijah by pointing him to a spiritual companion, Elisha, who will learn from him, and eventually succeed him so that his life’s work will continue after his passing. What a blessing!

  1. God’s voice can bring rebuke. Sometimes, we need God to set us straight, to correct our errors of thinking. Elijah had been complaining, “I, only I, am left.” God informs him that 7,000 people have not compromised their faith in Him.

There was Elisha, a young man that God was preparing and 7,000 other men who had not bowed to Baal. It showed Elijah that his ministry had not been in vain and that God’s Word does not return void no matter how bad things may look to us. The nation would not be totally exterminated and there were those who would carry on the work of the Lord.

The Bible is called the Word of God because it is His voice, not in audible sounds, but in words written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And when we hear it preached and taught in spirit and in truth, we are hearing the voice of God that effectually works in those who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

So when in distress always remember what the inspiration of the Holy Spirit told the psalmist to write:

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Posted by: missionventureministries | July 26, 2018

GOD HELPS US TO RESIST THE DEVIL – 1 Corinthians 10:12-14

Therefore, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)

Question; in the midst of the circumstances that surround you, are you living as a true Christian? Remember that if Christ lives in you, you: Have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).  

God desires to transform your character and conduct in the likeness of the character and conduct of Jesus Christ. And He will do so to the extent that you allow Him.

If you daily renounce all self-confidence to depend solely on the Lord, and if you refrain from making independent decisions to accept and obey His will, then the glorious life of Christ will manifest in you.

It is possible, however, that it has been difficult for you to put into practice what you learned. The reason is that you have an enemy that wants to get in your way. This enemy is the devil. His purpose is to make you sin, and his weapon is temptation. But God is with you, and in His word He shows you the way to overcome.

In 1 Peter 5:8 we read these words, Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The devil is angry with you because once you become a child of God, he has lost you. Before your conversion to Christ, as 2 Timothy 2:26 says, the devil held you captive to do his will. But if you are now born again it is not like that anymore; and according to Colossians 1:13 God has delivered you from the power of darkness and has transferred you to the kingdom of His beloved Son. In other words, you have changed citizenship; before you belonged to the kingdom of darkness, and the devil exercised authority over you. But now you are a citizen of the kingdom of Christ, and the devil is angry with you.

But the devil is also angry about the fact that now God intends to use you as a witness of His liberating power. If daily you allow Christ to live His life in you, then you will be an effective instrument in the hands of God so that other people may be saved.

To prevent such a thing from happening, the devil attacks you. His purpose is to make you sin. He knows that any sin breaks your intimate communion with God; “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2), and we read in Psalm 66:18 that, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” The devil also knows that when you turn away from the Lord, you can not bear fruit for Him, as John 15:5 teaches. Then, to weaken your Christian testimony, the devil tries to make you sin. The weapon he uses for this is temptation.

Now, we have to understand that being tempted is dangerous, but it is not the act of committing a sin. As Hebrews 4:15 teaches that the Lord Jesus was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Sin does not consist in being tempted, but in yielding to temptation.

Second, God can turn the temptation of the devil into a means of blessing. James 1:12 says: 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. This means that when the temptation is overcome the victorious believer is strengthened to fight better against future temptations.

The third encouraging thing is that God offers to help you overcome. His offer is found in 1 Corinthians 10:12-14 which is today’s verse. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends flee from idolatry.

In this important passage verses twelve and fourteen are commandments, verse thirteen contains two promises. The promises are enclosed between the commandments. This indicates that they are closely related to each other. God will faithfully fulfill the two promises when you are equally faithful in obeying the two commandments.

The first commandment is that you do not trust yourself at all “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Remember Peter’s case. He confidently told Jesus: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will; … Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Matthew 26:33, 35). And we all know the sad result. Therefore, the first thing you have to do to overcome the temptation is to distrust yourself and to totally depend on the Lord.

The second is: “flee from idolatry.” An idol is not just some image or figure. Anything that separates you from a supreme allegiance to God is an idol for you. So when you know that something tempts you to sin, you must run away from it.

Now, if you have obeyed these two commands, then you can fully confirm that God will fulfill His two promises. First, He will put a stop on your enemy. He will not allow you to face any temptation that you can not overcome. And secondly, together with the temptation He allows, He will give you an exit so that you do not fall into the trap.

So “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7), and we can do so by constantly maintaining sobriety and vigilance against his seductions, and be careful to remain “firm in the faith.” Otherwise, the pseudo-intellectualism and the social pressure to which we are subjected daily could quickly persuade us to compromise the faith, or even to turn away from it.

We are commanded not to give up and to not compromise. Instead, we must “put on the full armor of God, that you may stand firm against the snares of the devil.” And we have to take “the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the fiery darts of the evil one, and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:11; 16-17).

This was the instrument with which the Lord Jesus Himself resisted the devil, rejecting every temptation with the word of God. The result then, as it will be with us, was that the devil “departed from Him for a season” (Luke 4:13).

Our victory is in Christ. Hebrews 2:18 says, Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.Thus, the closer we live to the Lord and His word, the safer we will be.

Satan has no power over a true child of God; because, Satan’s power was broken and completely shattered when Jesus was resurrected from the grave.  

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

For the Lord our God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. (Deuteronomy 20:4)

 

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REALITIES OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE AND VICTORIOUS LIVING

Posted by: missionventureministries | July 19, 2018

BEING A BARNABAS AND ENCOURAGING PEOPLE – John 7:38

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)

Barnabas’ name was actually Joseph but he was such an uplifting person that the leaders of the early Christian church changed his name to Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.”  

Barnabas was willing to take risks to give others a new start in life and that is what he did for Saul. Saul had made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Now while on a trip to the city of Damascus where he was planning on doing the same, he had an encounter that changed his life. He heard the voice of Jesus and saw a bright light. The voice said, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4) 

Not recognizing the voice, Saul asked who the voice belonged to and was told “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). The brightness of Jesus’ light blinded Saul for three days. The voice of Jesus, whom Saul had been certain was dead, removed his spiritual blindness and allowed him to see that Jesus was the Messiah, just as the Christians that he had been persecuting had been saying. 

Now, Saul wanted nothing to do with his old life, all he wanted was to follow and teach everyone about Jesus. He began to share his new-found faith with people and was very effective in leading non-Christians to Christ. But he was less than effective in convincing the Christian leaders that he was authentic in his love for Jesus. 

This is when Barnabas stepped in: “Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus” (Acts 9:27). 

As we see, Barnabas not only “took him”, but walked with him to where the apostles were and vouched for his experience. We can be like Barnabas. We are to be generous disciples, who help “take people” to their calling, and their vocation. 

Paul, formally Saul was the lowest of the low in the eyes of the Christian leaders. Barnabas reached out and lifted Paul up in the eyes of others. From that time on, Paul was allowed to preach about Jesus and became one of the greatest Christian teachers in the early church. But none of it would have been possible without Barnabas, the son of encouragement. 

As we see, Barnabas obviously had influence with the leadership of the early Christian church. They listened respectfully as he told the story of what happened to Paul and how he had been changed. 

Standing in the gap causes the doubters to suspend judgment for a moment as they try to rationalize, “Why would you stake your reputation on this person?” 

Once you have convinced others to give the new person a go, you need to stand by them and encourage them! Barnabas modeled this well with Paul. He traveled and preached with Paul for a couple of years then moved on, to encourage the next young leader. 

Only trust makes this kind of encouragement possible. Paul trusted Barnabas and Barnabas trusted Paul to continue in the way he had been trained. Both of them moved into new spheres of influence as they allowed physical distance to come between them. 

Do you have a Barnabas in your life?  Do you have a friend who comes alongside of you and says: ‘I’m here for you?’  Or, ‘I love you.’  Or, ‘I know that with God’s help you can do it!’  – Because: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

More important, are you a Barnabas?  If you have a personal relationship with Christ, you have the same resources that Barnabas had. He had heard Jesus’ message of salvation and glorious living through the power of God.  

The reason Barnabas could be such an encourager to others is that he believed in the greatest Encourager! God is the “Father of mercies and the God of all encouragement” (2 Corinthians 1:3). The grace of Jesus changed Barnabas into a son of the Father of encouragement!  So Barnabas learned to treat others the way God treated him. He knew the Source of encouragement, and he became a wonderful imitator of his Lord.  

God’s Word tells us that we too can be like Jesus (Ephesians 5:1).  How are you doing in this area of reflecting Christ?  Do you seek to encourage others? How are you encouraging your friends? Are you engaged in the ministry of encouragement? If people were asked to give you a nickname, as they did Barnabas, would “Encourager” apply to you?  

So how can we become a Barnabas?  Let’s consider specifically how our words can encourage others, just as Barnabas’s did. Consider Proverbs 18:21: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  That’s an amazing verse.  It says that we have the power, through words, to lift or subdue a spirit; so we must be careful to lift and not to make people feel worse, when they need encouragement.   

As Christians God wants us to be encourager to others, meaning, to give hope and to inspire others, opening up their eyes to their God given potential. There is a saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  

Encouraging others is one of the most overlooked and undervalued life skills. No child becomes a healthy adult without a fair dose of encouragement and challenge from a significant adult. Without being encouraged, young people are left to wallow in meaningless activities and irresponsible living. Only through the gift of encouragement are people truly allowed to shine. 

The Lord said to Joshua: “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) 

And He encouraged Isaiah by telling him: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.(Isaiah 41:10) 

Barnabas trusted God to make him the encourager that he became and he will do likewise for all that are willing to do the same. 

Remember, people don’t care about how much you know – until they know how much you care. 

“Lift up Jesus He’s the only one we really need to see,

Lift up Jesus He’s the only one who can fill the void in me.”

Posted by: missionventureministries | July 12, 2018

THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING UNITY IN THE CHURCH – 1 Corinthians 1:10

Unity is a critical manifestation of a Spirit-empowered church. That is why Paul told the Ephesian Christians to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). It’s why he wrote to the Corinthians: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

In unity there is one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4-6). The challenges we face, the spiritual battles we fight, demand that we embrace the truth that true believers “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Paul calls for the believer’s in the church to be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose (Philippians 2:2). Essentially he called them to be unified, to be one.

Where division might normally reign, unity should instead lead to a Christ like love, where believers listen to and bear with one another. Jesus said: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

We must understand that God made every believer unique with different functions, and these differences make the body of Christ beautiful – Romans 12:4. Unity consequently, does not mean that everybody is the same but that we honor our differences and work together despite of them – 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

Although we have different gifts and different callings, our common purpose is to glorify God in all that we, think, say and do (1 Corinthians 10:31). We glorify Him by living in obedience to His commands and by bearing much fruit (John 15:8, 10). We also glorify Him as we become more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and by being holy because He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

Christian unity is expressed by believers common mission which is to fulfill the Great Commission, to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19), and rejoice that Christ is being proclaimed (Philippians 1:15-18).

To be unified, Christians must develop the right attitudes, and believers must be unified in spirit. In Philippians 2:5 Paul says that every person should have the same “attitude” or “mind” as Christ. To be united in spirit means to care for one another as though we were caring for ourselves. This means to follow the golden rule, to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). Therefore, when Christians develop the mind of Christ, it will be easy to have a unified church.

Christian unity is expressed by believers’ common belief; believing in the inspiration and authority of Scripture; the Trinity; the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ; His substitutionary death on the cross; His bodily resurrection; His bodily second coming; and, salvation by grace through faith alone, apart from works.

If believers are to be unified, they must have the right spirit. They must forsake selfish ambition and vain glory. They must practice holiness and have the humility of a servant.

Christian unity is based on redemption. It is based on the fellowship we enjoy with all true believers who like us have experienced God’s forgiveness and who have been given eternal life. And Christian unity can only be experienced by true believers, those who have come to know the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.

Christian unity is based upon truth, but it is also based upon godly behavior. In the book of Revelation in the letters to the seven churches, Jesus warns about those who tolerate immorality in the church. Paul too, in his letter to the church in Corinth, says, “…you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler” (1 Corinthians 5:11). Paul is speaking of those who call themselves Christians but who do not live like Christians. He does not mean that we never talk to such people or never help them, no – but he is saying we cannot treat them as if they are true believers.

We need to understand that unity is absolutely essential because the true church is the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27), and a body cannot be in disharmony with itself. If disunity occurs, it essentially ceases to be a body and becomes a disjointed group of individuals. We only will experience unity when we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, when we hold sincerely to the truth of God’s Word and when from the heart we seek to live a life of holiness that is pleasing to Him.

When a church does its work in a harmonious, unified way, and does so year after year while making Christ like decisions and accomplishing important ministries, the world notices. The outside world watches and sees, and people are drawn to Jesus.

This is what Jesus passionately prayed for, that His followers would be one: “Father, I pray that they all may be one…that the world may believe that You sent me…that they may be one just as we are one…” (John 17:20-23). This means that our unity is to be rooted in Christ’s own unity with the Father.

A unified church therefore, is one of the strongest evidences of the truth of the gospel. And through Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16).

Humility is the foundation for holiness; holiness brings harmony to the church resulting in a healthy church filled with, love, joy, peace and unity in the body of believers.

Posted by: missionventureministries | July 5, 2018

DEALING WITH SIN IN THE CHURCH – Matthew 18:15-17

“Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch…” (1 Corinthians 5:7) 

Paul is commanding the church in Corinth to get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch. Leaven or yeast in the Bible is represented by any type of sin. If you put a small amount of yeast in flour, it spreads throughout the entire lump (1 Corinthians 5:6). Paul is saying symbolically that the church needed to discipline the sinning man and if that did not work, they needed to expel the wicked person so that the purity of the church would be restored and the sin would not spread any further (vs. 5:13). 

This principle can be observed in a family. If parents do not consistently and impartially discipline a defiant child, very soon the other children learn that there are no consequences if they disobey their parents. The sin of the first child spreads to the others. The same thing happens in a classroom with a teacher who does not enforce discipline. Soon the entire class is out of control. On the government level, if the authorities do not enforce the laws, the whole country soon gives into anarchy. 

In the local church, God has given authority to godly elders who are living a holy life (Hebrews 13:17). Part of their responsibility is to uphold God’s standards of holiness and do all that they can to keep the church doctrinally and morally pure. Because, if we don’t uphold God’s standards of holiness, it doesn’t take long for the church to become just like the world.  

Scripture is clear that the church is to be distinct from the world by being separated unto God, who is holy. The church needs to be willingly to distance itself from this corrupt world. As 1 John 2:15 states, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 

We need to understand that the Bible is clear that we cannot love our brothers and sisters in Christ if we do not deal with their sins in the way that God orders. God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness…and He chastens everyone He accepts as his son (Hebrews 12:10, Hebrews 12:6). We need to understand that sin destroys people and relationships; therefore, to be indifferent toward someone who is sinning is really to hate that person. 

Sin is like leaven, it spreads. It’s like a contagious disease that if not taken care of will infect others. That’s why James 5:19-20 says, “my brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone  turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death...” Christian love seeks to turn a sinner from his sin by applying God’s love and His Word. 

The goal in church discipline is never vindictive. We are not seeking to punish people or to throw them out of the church. Our aim is to restore the offender. In Galatians 6:1, Paul writes, “brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted;” meaning that we are to do it without being arrogant, but gently, remembering that gentleness does not mean weakness, but strength under the control of the Holy Spirit.  

Some might ask, “what if it doesn’t work?” The answer is we need to be obedient to God and leave the results to Him. There is no biblical guarantee that it will work every time. Jesus said, “if your brother or sister sins go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over” (Matthew 18:15). 

The objective is not to “get things off our chest” by letting the sinning person know how wrong they are. The aim is to get them to listen to what Scripture has to say to win them back to the Lord because God’s Word is the ultimate authority. 

Jesus says that if you have knowledge of your brother in Christ’s sin, then you are the one to go to him. Before going we need to pray and ask for guidance and discernment from our heavenly Father. We need to check our own heart, to make sure that we have taken any log out of our own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5). And we need to check our motives to make sure that we are not going to try to prove that they are wrong and we are right, because if that is the case we are going for the wrong reason.  

We also need to make sure that we get true facts. If someone tells us about someone else’s sin, tell the informant to go directly to the sinning person following these biblical guidelines. We do not go to someone on the basis of hearsay or gossip, unless we are personally going to find out the facts. We need to go in gentleness and wisdom received through prayer, with the aim of restoring the brother to God and to those he has wronged. If the sinning person knows that we genuinely care for them, they will be more likely to listen and respond positively. 

If the person does not listen to us, Jesus says to take two or three witnesses (Matthew 18:16). These may be others who know of the problem or it may include church leaders. The point is to strengthen the reproof and to cause the offender to realize the seriousness of the situation. The goal is to bring the sinner to repentance and restoration. 

And in last resort Jesus says: If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector (Matthew 18:17). 

If the sin has to be made public, if someone’s sin is damaging the reputation of the church, he needs to be exposed and removed from the fellowship quickly. 

If after a while, the person expresses genuine repentance, which involves godly sorrow over their sin (2 Corinthians 7:10) and repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds (Acts 26:20), then the church should be informed and the person should be forgiven and accepted back into the fellowship. The restoration process, however, needs to include training to help the person grow and avoid the sin in the future. 

A church should be a fellowship of forgiven sinners who, by God’s grace, are pursuing a life of holiness and obedience to our Lord. We dare not fall into spiritual pride by thinking that we are better than a member who has fallen into sin. Paul says that our response to sin in a church member should be to mourn (1 Corinthians 5:2). 

We need to be mindful that if we do not deal with those who refuse to repent of sin as the Lord commands, His church will soon blend in with the world and the salt will lose its savor. The Lord warns that He will come and remove our lampstand (Revelation 2:5).  

Consequently, we must practice biblical church discipline toward those who profess being Christians and who persist in sin. And we need to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:26-27). 

So watch out and, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8).

Posted by: missionventureministries | July 4, 2018

TRUE FREEDOM – 1 Peter 2:15-16

“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16) 

We who live in what the song writer called the “sweet land of liberty” have a great responsibility to preserve that freedom which our forefathers obtained for us at great cost over two centuries ago. At the same time, we must not turn liberty into license. It would surely hurt those brave and godly men if they could see how we now use “freedom of choice” to justify murdering multitudes of innocent children before they are born, and how we use “freedom of speech” to warrant fouling the eyes and ears of our children with widespread pornography and to promote all kinds of immoral behavior in our society in general. No nation can remain free very long after such practices become widely accepted by its citizens. We need to pray for revival! 

The same warning applies to the abuse of our spiritual freedom in Christ. As the apostle Paul said and repeated: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not helpful” (1 Corinthians 6:12); and he added that “all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23). 

As Peter says in our text, even though we are “free” and have real “liberty,” we are nevertheless “servants of God,” where the Greek word ‘doulos’ actually means “bond servants,” or even “slaves.” Our liberty in Christ is not freedom to sin whenever we so choose, but rather freedom from our former bondage to sin. “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). 

Although our nation is rapidly becoming anti-Christian in belief and practice, we Christians can still best serve our nation and our Savior by practicing and proclaiming Christ’s wonderful saving gospel of free salvation from sin and regeneration unto righteousness.

May God bless you as you seek to live a holy life and to do His will.

Mission Venture Ministries

Anytime, Anything, Anywhere for Jesus, because He is so worthy

 

 

SOURCE: http://icr.org

 

Posted by: missionventureministries | June 28, 2018

THE HOLY SPIRIT FILLED CHRISTIAN – 1 Corinthians 2:15

“We who have the Holy Spirit are able to make judgments about all these things. But anyone without the Holy Spirit is not able to make proper judgments about us.” (1 Corinthians 2:15) 

A Holy Spirit filled person is one who is born again spiritually through faith in Christ and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, and who has a burning desire to follow the leading of the indwelling Spirit and to understand and obey the precepts of the Bible inspired by Him. 

A Holy Spirit filled person will have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), and is able to judge all things by spiritual standards and biblical revelation. They will “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” knowing that “to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:4, 6). As such, spiritual believers prayerfully make decisions seeking God’s will; they are “led by the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14). And since they “walk in the Spirit,” they “shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). 

They will be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) for Christian service. Furthermore, they will manifest “the fruit of the Spirit” in their lives and personalities, which are, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). 

Non-Christians cannot understand God, and they cannot grasp the concept that God’s Spirit lives in believers. Don’t expect the majority of people to approve of, or understand your decision to follow Christ. It all seems so foolish to them. Just as a deaf person cannot appreciate fine music, the person who rejects God cannot understand God’s beautiful message. And with no lines of communications they will not be able to hear what God is saying to them. Therefore, while “he that has the Holy Spirit indwelling in them” is thereby able to discern and evaluate all things by such divine standards, they find themselves often misunderstood by their unsaved relatives and acquaintances, because, “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). 

We must however not remain silent in our sharing the gospel. We should not accept unbeliever’s excuse of reading but not understanding. We need to make ourselves available to open up eyes and need to teach the truth of God’s word as opportunities present themselves. Someone’s question could be evidence that God’s Spirit is drawing them to the point of making a decision for Christ. We need to remember that no one can comprehend God (Romans 11:34), this comes only through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and an intimate relationship with Christ from spending time consistently in His presence and in His Word. This is the only way a believer can obtain the “mind of Christ.” 

Philippians 2:5 states: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Meaning that Jesus was willing to give up His rights in order to obey God and serve people. Like Christ, we should have a servant’s attitude, serving out of love for God and for others, by teaching them His Word. 

So let us proclaim to the unsaved: cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12), and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14). 

Along with this, we are to “put off, the old man concerning your former conduct” and then to “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). 

And finally we must “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). 

These items of spiritual clothing, the power of the Holy Spirit, the light of God’s presence, the new man in Christ, the resurrection life of the indwelling Christ, His imputed righteousness and holiness and all our spiritual armor, provide the foundation for beautiful spiritual clothing. “Since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him: . . . Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:9-10, Colossians 3:12-14). 

A lifestyle of obedience brings an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (1 John 3:24). And those filled by the Holy Spirit show by their deeds Whom they serve (1 John 3:7). “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). 

Please remember that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17); and that we should be doers of the word, and not only hearers, thereby deceiving ourselves. (James 1:22) 

A Spirit filled life and godly character await those who choose God over self.

Posted by: missionventureministries | June 21, 2018

JESUS PREACHES IN THE SYNAGOGUE IN NAZARETH – Luke 4:18-19

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) 

The Lord read this beautiful verse written by the prophet Isaiah referring to Himself, preaching from it in the synagogue in Nazareth and proclaiming: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). Note that He came to preach the gospel to the humble and not the proud. 

He also came to set the captives free. This reminds us of the year of Jubilee spoken of in Leviticus 25 and is defined as the sabbatical year after seven cycles of seven years (49 years). The fiftieth year was to be a time of celebration and rejoicing for the Israelites. 

The Year of the Jubilee involved a year of release from indebtedness (Leviticus 25:23-38) and all types of bondage (vv. 39-55). All prisoners and captives were set free, all slaves were released, all debts were forgiven, and all property was returned to its original owners. In addition, all labor was to cease for one year, and those bound by contract were released from them. One of the benefits of the Jubilee was that both the land and the people were able to rest. 

The Jubilee presents a beautiful picture of the New Testament themes of redemption and forgiveness. Christ is the Redeemer who came to set free those who are slaves and prisoners to sin – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). 

The debt of sin we owe to God was paid on the cross as Jesus died on our behalf – “When you were dead in your transgressions and the un-circumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14), and we are forgiven the debt forever. We are no longer in bondage, no longer slaves to sin, and having been freed by Christ we can truly enter the rest God provides. 

When Christ quoted “opening of the prison”, He actually expanded and interpreted it as follows: “And recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). 

The “prison” that Christ came to open is evidently a spiritual prison, a blinding of the mind. “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36), and free from the bondage of sin translates to us becoming “a royal priesthood…a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). 

Opening of the prison to those who are bound also had an additional meaning because after His crucifixion, while His body was in the tomb, His spirit descended into Hades where the spirits of all who had died in faith were awaiting Him, and “when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and . . . ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:8, 10). 

The good news is that we are still in the “favorable year of the Lord;” it is the year when we are restored and set free. It is the year when we accept Jesus as our Messiah and acknowledge the need for a Savior and decide that we are going to serve Him, praise Him, worship Him, honor Him, seek Him and obey Him for the rest of our life. 

Jesus has anointed us to be His ambassador, indwelled by the Spirit to bring the message of good news, as we help fulfill Christ’s great commission. The gospel is being preached to the poor, the blind are seeing, and the captives are being set free. Will you believe, receive and be set free?

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