Power of Truth

It was a warm summer night. The beautiful sky was filled with stars as far as the eye could see. Mary was relaxed in the passenger side starting to doze off, confident that her husband would get them safely to their destination, Myrtle beach, South Carolina. She was already starting to dream of the perfect beaches, fine restaurants and championship golf courses. Then suddenly something started to bother her.

They had made this trip many times and this time things looked a little different. “Tom, this doesn’t seem right. Are you sure we’re going the right way?” Tom patiently replied, “Of course sweetie, just relax and take your nap.” “Tom, I tell you we are going the wrong way where’s that map?” She started looking for the map and Tom just a little more frustrated insisted “You have nothing to worry about. I know where I am going. I am right!” Mary gave up looking and exclaimed “Yeah you’re right. Well I can’t find it anyway.” She made herself comfortable and went off on her nap.

A sudden stop woke Mary up, “We’re there already?” Tom sheepishly answered, “No dear, we’re lost.”

It took a brief stop at a Gas station for directions and a costly 2 hour detour, but Mary and her husband did arrive safely at Myrtle Beach.

What is worse than going the wrong way? Stubbornly insisting your right, while going the wrong way in the middle of the night, on a long trip to South Carolina is definitely worse. What is better than believing your right? Discovering the truth that sets you on the right course and sets you free from a blind belief in deceptions that can only lead to failure and destruction is definitely better.

Jesus tells us that “The truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) He was speaking of the truth that He is the savior that came to sacrifice His life that all could be saved. When we discover the error of our beliefs, what we are left with is the treasure of truth. The truth that Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate price that has been paid so that a world lost in sin could be saved is the greatest truth of all. A multitude throughout history have discovered this great truth, that if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are forgiven from all sin and immediately become part of God’s kingdom forever.

The power of truth continues to work in all our lives, knocking at our hearts and minds. However it is often hindered by our pride. When we are set in our beliefs and guided by misconceptions it can be difficult to see beyond these cherished beliefs. Sometimes we stubbornly argue like Tom, when all along we are headed in the wrong direction.

 

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A treasure or a choice

The Disciples may have thought they were simply an annoyance. They did not want them anywhere near Jesus. But Jesus commanded that they be brought to him. He said “for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) We are talking about children.

The bible has another word for children. No it’s not “pain in the neck” nor is it “hardship”. The Bible makes it clear that children are a treasure. It uses terms like “a heritage from the Lord”,  “a reward” (Psalm 127:3), “crown of the aged” (Psalm 17:6) when referring to children.

It is a shame that a large portion of today’s society no longer seem to hold children in the same regard. Many are prepared to treat children as unwanted burdens. This year alone there has been over 8 million abortions worldwide. (worldometers.info/abortions)

In 2003 Eastern Europe had more abortions than live births. The countries included Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia and the Ukraine. On average each woman in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia had close to 3 abortions each in their life time. (euro.who.int/en/facts-and-figures-about-abortion-in-the-european-region) In 2012 Russia had 42 abortions per 100 live births. (forbes.com-Are-there-really-13-abortions-for-every-10-live-births-in-Russia/)

From 1973 through 2011, nearly 53 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S. “Twenty-one percent of all U.S. pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.” (abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/) It is predicted that at the current rate of abortion, nearly one-third of American women will have an abortion in their life time. In the United States only 12% of woman surveyed claimed health reason for the abortion and only 1% said it was due to rape. (abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/) Of all the women surveyed who had abortions, 75% said their reasons were due to work, school or other responsibility. The same percentage said they could not afford to have a baby.

Based on the data it appears that the primary reason for the devaluation of children and human life is the powerful dollar. Although we should be sympathetic towards those living in poverty who say they cannot afford a child, it still does not make it right to terminate a life. As for those who choose career, college and other economic opportunities over life, are in effect saying money and career are of greater value than human life.

The bible makes it clear that for the focal point of our lives to be wealth and possessions, amounts to foolishness, since these treasures are temporary and easily perishable, (Matthew 6:19), while a life in God’s hands is forever.

 

 

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Defense against false prophets

In 1956 Jim Jones began a church called “Peoples Temple Christian Church Full Gospel”. Jim Jones would go on to preach a socialist and communist message founded on his own ideas about how society should be organized. The bible had nothing to do with it. Matter fact Jim Jones once referred to the bible as a paper idol. Jim Jones would begin preaching rather odd concepts that would definitely conflict with scripture. He would go onto to say, “If you’re born in capitalist America, racist America, fascist America, then you’re born in sin. But if you’re born in socialism, you’re not born in sin.” He also taught, “those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment — socialism.” Jones also began to proclaimed himself the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi, Father Divine, Jesus, Gotama Buddha and Vladimir Lenin. He believed that he could be a savior to those that believed in him.

Even though many today do not consider Jim Jones to have been a legitimate Christian minister, since his teachings were in contradiction to the Bible, It did not stop many politicians from seeking his advice and support. The Democratic major of Indianapolis Charles Boswell appointed Jones director of the Human Rights Commission in 1960. In 1975 San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appointed Jones as the chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.

In 1978 Jones moved many members of his congregation to Jonestown (named after Jim Jones) Guyana and many at the time would never imagine what would happen next. Jones explained to his people that somebody was coming to take over Jonestown and shoot babies, torture children and seniors. He convinced them that it was best to commit suicide. 900 hundred would be found dead, including 303 children.

Peter had this to say about men such as Jones, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” (2 Peter 2:1-3). Paul also warned that some could be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14)

One great defense against false prophets is the study of scripture. First we must read scripture diligently. Studying it, learning it, and keeping it in our heart, that when men come with false doctrines we can recognize it as false immediately. Paul writes that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) David explains that the word lights his path, showing him were to go. (Psalm 119:105) The word of God gives us wisdom (2 Timothy 3:15), training and guidance so that we cannot be easily persuaded into error. We should dedicate time daily to its study in order to identify the deceivers when they come.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jones

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Christian Persecution

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

In early November, 2012 German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Christianity is “the most persecuted religion in the world.” Does this sound a bit absurd?

Rupert short, the Religion Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, contributor to the Guardian and The Times and a Visiting Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, in his book Christianophobia focuses on instances of persecution of Christian communities in countries where they often have a long established and historic presence but are now a diminishing minority. He finds that on a global scale more Christians face discrimination, and often violent persecution, than followers of any other religion.

Kelly James Clark, the Senior Research Fellow, Kaufman Interfaith Institute, Grand Valley State University, writes that “Between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have departed or been killed over the past century.” He report that “In 1990, there were over 1.2 million Christians in Iraq but by the end of 2003, there were fewer than 500,000; in 2013, there are fewer than 200,000 Iraqi Christians… Bishops and priests have been kidnapped and tortured; churches are bombed, killing and injuring Christians.”  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-james-clark/christianity-most-persecuted-religion_b_2402644.html) Christians in the Middle East are made to feel that they have two choices leave or suffer persecution.

The following are some nations that treat apostasy under their criminal laws. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostasy)

  • Iran – illegal (death penalty)
  • Egypt – illegal (3 years’ imprisonment)
  • Pakistan – illegal (death penalty since 2007)
  • United Arab Emirates – illegal (3 years’ imprisonment, flogging)
  • Somalia – illegal (death penalty)
  • Afghanistan – illegal (death penalty, although the U.S. and other coalition members have put pressure that has prevented recent executions)
  • Saudi Arabia – illegal (death penalty, although there have been no recently reported executions)
  • Sudan – illegal (death penalty, although there have only been recent reports of torture, and not of execution)
  • Qatar – illegal (death penalty)
  •  Yemen – illegal (death penalty)
  • Malaysia – illegal in five of 13 states (fine, imprisonment, and flogging)
  • Mauritania – illegal (death penalty if still apostate after 3 days)
  • Morocco – illegal to proselytize conversion (15 years’ imprisonment)
  • Jordan – possibly illegal (fine, jail, child custody loss, marriage annulment) although officials claim otherwise, convictions are recorded for apostasy
  • Oman – legal in criminal code, but according to the family code, a father can lose custody of his child.

Under these laws, in general, both the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and converting to Christianity, places people at great risk, in the countries listed above. They may suffer the death penalty, imprisonment or some other form of torture.

To be a Christian in a great part of the world means to be persecuted.  Jesus warned of this He said “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)  He also said “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. “(John 15:19) 

Jesus also had this ominous prophecy “And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:11-13)

Christians have suffered from the founding of the faith and continue to suffer until this day.  In America we enjoy great liberty, to preach the gospel and practice our faith. We should humbly recognize this as a great gift and an opportunity that we should not pass up. We should share the love of Christ at every opportunity we have and remain politically active in order to protect our rights.  We must also seek to help our brothers and sisters that suffer under persecution. We should encourage our leaders to use the influence of our great nation to initiate reforms and establish protections around the world for all those who suffer persecution, including Christians.

Consider these Verses-on-persecution

 

A time of Darkness

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 

Prostitution, idols to other gods, incense burning to a multitude of  gods, priest dedicated to the worship of strange gods in the temple, the practice of witchcraft,  channeling (also known as mediumship or spiritism) and the sacrificing of children, by burning them, were among the horrific practices of Israel when Josiah became king. (2 kings 22-23)

How had Israel fallen so far from the grace of God? They had rejected God and misplaced their bible.  They had tossed out the very word of God, as if it was garbage. They no longer had any use for it.

Israel had entered a time of darkness much like our own.  We now have a society that has rejected God and the bible is treated like it’s a work of fiction.  Its rules, commandments, code for living, and guidance in all matters are no longer applicable.

Today we have prostitution, drug addiction, and in this year we’ve had almost 40 million abortions; in the United States 22% of all pregnancies end in abortion. (http://www.worldometers.info/abortions/).Slavery exist all over the world, in the form of human trafficking, where children and woman are either kidnapped or bought from poor parents and kept worst than cattle. They are sold into prostitution, used in pornography (remember pornography is protected as free speech) and when they are no longer of use resold for body parts. In our generation, with the United Nations firmly established and active throughout the world we have seen in different locations government sponsored genocide, wars and acts of aggression. We are living in a time of darkness right now.

In Josiah’s time the nation of Israel was spared complete destruction for only one reason.  They rediscovered God’s word and turned to it with all sincerity. They put away all their evil practices and obeyed God. I truly believe that God is merciful and if our nation can rediscover God it would bring down a shower of blessings that would benefit both great and small. It is still not too late for a revival.  We can begin with caring for our neighbors, sharing God’s love and preaching His word.

Try Verses on the bible

They clamored for a King

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us… 1 Samuel 8:19

The people clamored for a king and Samuel, the great and wise, but aging prophet turned to God. Samuel’s revelation was, to put it simply, scary. He goes on to explain that the king will take their land, their children, their profits and use them for his own purpose. He explains that they would all become servants to the king. Loss of freedom, property, income and even your children does not seem like an attractive offer. However, the people clamored even more. Why? They were scared. They wanted to place their trust in a king. Someone who could organize them, build up their armies and protect them against their enemies. Fear can cause people to do some very strange things.

The other reason, and highly connected to the first reason, was a lack of faith in God. They were choosing to place their trust in a government and not God. It was God who had freed Israel from slavery in Egypt. It was God who had protected and provided for them while they journeyed through the desert. It was God who had given them countless victories against their enemies, both during the conquest of the promise land and its defense in the many years that followed. Throughout all those centuries He gave them freedom instead of an all-powerful monarch as stated in Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

In our time we have seen a growing influence of government in the lives of its citizens throughout the world. This is not an American phenomenon; the entire world is desperately seeking to be rescued. Just like in the time of the prophet Samuel we clamor more and more for our government to take charge, even though we know that for the government to be the solution it will have to grow, in power and in budget and we will pay with both a loss of income and freedom. This is symptomatic of a society that no longer believes in God and would rather place its hope in fallen man. God calls those who would trust in man cursed. (Jeremiah 17:5) It seems that as our Government grows more powerful it grows more inept at solving the world’s problems. Inflation, poverty, debt and war are still on the rise, while the economy continues to fail.

Instead of surrendering more and more of our rights, our income and our privacy, perhaps it is time to let God be the solution and not a larger, more powerful government. It is time to practice some faith in the God who does not lie, cheat or cover up. He will not raise our taxes; seek personal gain, or other perks. Put Him in charge of our lives, that He may give us the strength and guidance we need every day to work through our own problems, and watch freedom reign!

A small garbage bag and its reward

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Luke 10:2

There it was, a small garbage bag left inside the entrance of the church. Everyone entered and stepped right over it. Some noticed it and looked at it, as if it was some strange object never seen before. While others carefully walked over it, afraid that it might go off like a mine. But no one bothered to pick it up. It obviously had the “cudies”. What escaped everyone’s knowledge, except for the person who so carefully placed it, was that below the bag was a single dollar, the reward for whoever would dare pick up the bag and perhaps, if so inclined, throw it away. However this would take a special individual. Someone moved by an extreme sense of responsibility for the house of God, enough to overcome the “cudies” and the stigma of having picked up garbage.

Meanwhile one gentleman stood by, a witness to the whole event. It was he who had placed the garbage bag and its reward. He was the wise experienced pastor, the Rev. Dr. Cecilio Melendez of the international Christian church “The Savior” Incorporated.

Everyone entered the church and took their places. Some prayed, while others read their bibles. Some spoke softly to each other and some quietly waited for the service to start. To the pastor’s disappointment the bag and its reward was still there for the taking. Then the pastor was pleasantly surprised. One young man, Andy, who had passed over the bag like everyone else decided to return to the entrance. He turned to the pastor and said “what is this doing here?” It seems the thought of this bag had been playing in his mind until he had built up enough courage to take action. The pastor smiled but offered no direction. The young man said to himself, but out loud, “well I am going to throw it away.” He lifted the bag, and there it was. “Pastor there is a dollar here, what should I do?” The pastor replied “You picked up the garbage. You earned it. Keep it.” Now, twenty years later, Andy is an official of the church, a member of the board of directors, a Sunday school teacher, director of the men’s ministry, musician and the co-director of the choir. Oh, and he still cleans up whenever it’s necessary.

A sense of responsibility is what is needed. To take action and not wait for it to somehow get done; even if it is something we might consider small. Andy earned much more than a dollar. He showed himself to be a man of both responsibility and action. We would live in a much better world if everyone took such an attitude and simply did their part. There is much work; scripture calls us to tend to the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, and the naked. (Matthew 25:31-46) Scripture calls us to preach the good news and let the world know that there is a Savior. (Mark 16:15, 16) Work we do not lack, but the laborers are still few. If each of us can count on ourselves to complete even the small tasks, then together the greater good would be fulfilled.