Monday, November 29, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
I'm thankful to God for who he is, who he shows himself to be- good, loving and faithful. Those attributes show up in our world in three ways, 1. what he has done, 2. what he's doing now, and 3. what he will do in the future. All three declare to a watching world that God is good, loving and faithful to his creation. Here are a few of the things I have noted in these thoughts. There are many more, but this will be enough for this post.
He is sustaining, Col. 1:15-17, “Lord, thanks for holding us together. Thank you for keeping everything together and working out your purposes in this world.”
There are too many to count in each of these lists, but let me add just one more to this list,
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
The discussion focused for a moment on this strange phrase, "the law of liberty." It's a short phrase that presents a paradox. Law and liberty seem, in our day, to be opposites, but in this short passage the text puts these two concepts together. The law of liberty is a contrast to the law of Moses. The law of Moses had 10 commandments, but many more requirements. The law of liberty has one item and yet it fulfills and replaces perfectly the law of Moses! How can this new law of liberty replace all that the old law required? How can this new law of liberty do what the law could not?
It fulfills the law and gives liberty with this one simple command- Love your neighbor as yourself. That one command replaces the law and gives liberty to those living by this new law. Love your neighbor as yourself. It's a law that brings liberty because when I love those around me it sets me free from a list, rules, trying to measure up, trying to please. Love makes the difficult easy. Love, as Solomon wrote, covers a multitude of sins. This amazing law of liberty sets me free to enjoy people. I don't have to try to please them, control them or make them happy. All that is accomplished by love and it sets me free to have real, deep and meaningful relationships. A law that produces liberty? Amazing, but wonderfully true. Today I'm just meditating on this promise of a law that brings liberty.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
One of the great advantages of a long plane ride is having time to read. A friend gave me Erwin Lutzer's new book, When a Nation Forgets God. It's an interesting work looking at Hitler and Germany in the 30's and 40's as Hitler's ideology changed a nation. His ideology and propaganda brought the German nation to choices they might have never considered only a few years earlier.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I'm in Moscow as I write this. Last night of this whirlwind trip! We left last Thursday afternoon and will get on a plane home tomorrow morning at 7 AM. It's been exhausting, but well worth the time. We came to be part of the dedication of our sister church in Tula, south of Moscow, and it was quite a day. Here are a few photos of the day. I'll tell you more when I get back.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
It's a clear statement of faith.
It's an exclusive statement of faith.
If you read it carefully it declares that the god of the Muslim faith is the only god. Their claim is absolute and exclusive. It's a declaration that the Muslim faith is the only faith with a real god.
Their statement of faith, by it's exclusive claim, says every other religion is foolishly worshiping idols. For all of those around us who believe there are many ways to god they must have never talked to an orthodox Muslim!
But, to be honest, I like the boldness of their statement of faith. No one can possibly miss their core beliefs. They are exclusive in both their faith and their revelation. I am a member of an exclusive faith as well. Like my Muslim friends I believe in absolute truth and in only one god.
This morning I read these words in the book of Isaiah,
"I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God."
he says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other."
"...there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me."
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other."
Now, for all of us, there is a choice to make. There is a true God, only one. The God of the bible claims to be that one. The battle of our day is simply this- which faith presents the real god for your worship? Both claim they have "the only god," but only one can.
If you're still a seeker I invite you to research the claims of Christ. His words, his deeds, his life, his death and finally his resurrection should convince you that the one true God is the one he came to reveal to us. Jesus wasn't vague about this issue either.
He made amazing claims, just as the Father did in Isaiah.
He said, "I and the Father are one."
He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me."
He said, in both word and deed, "I am God." The claims are exclusive for both faiths. The price for the wrong choice is high. I invite you to study and see if what Jesus said is true.
It's a choice that will affect you for eternity.
Of course….there is one more choice I haven’t mentioned, but it’s one that some have chosen. For them there isn’t enough information to go beyond this simple statement of faith, “There is no god….” With that they dismiss the whole discussion, but the price is too high to stop before you ask the tough questions. There is a real God, maker of heaven and earth, and he’s worth knowing. You can find out about him in the book of John in the bible. If you’re curious I invite you to read this short book. It will be worth the quest!
Monday, November 08, 2010
"Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, 'Celebrate with me! I've found my lost sheep!' Count on it—there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue."
I'm fascinated by those last words, "there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue." All of heaven celebrates the redemption of each one rescued from wandering.
Some would say that the shepherd is not concerned for everyone, but that's not the heart of the shepherd I read about in the bible. I see a God in love with his creation, seeking, searching, looking for his lost ones....for every lost one. I wish we could see the celebration in heaven when someone trusts Christ. I wish we could see the joy that resounds when one lamb is found. If we could get the heartbeat of heaven for those who are wandering it would dramatically change how we view those lost sheep.
I'd like to talk more about the problems of wandering, but perhaps another day. Today I'm just thinking about an amazing shepherd looking for lost sheep. If you're lost you need to know someone is looking for you. Someone loves you. Do you want to create a stir in heaven? Come home, come back, trust Christ and heaven will resound with celebration. God's in the business of looking for lost people.
Are you lost and wandering? Someone is looking for you.
Friday, November 05, 2010
Dear brothers and sisters, Salam
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am continuously seeking grace and mercy to you, that you remember me and those who are bearing efforts for his name in your prayers.
Your loyalty to God is the cause of my strength and encouragement.
For I know well that you will be rewarded; as it’s stated: blessed is the one who has faith, for what has been said to him by God, will be carried out.
As we believe, heaven and earth will fade but his word will still remain.
Dear beloved ones, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of a few verses, although you might know them, So that in everything, you give more effort than the past, both to prove your election, and for the sake of Gospel that is to be preached to the entire world as well.
I know that not all of us are granted to keep this word, but to those who are granted this power and this revelation, I announce the same as Jude, earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.
We are passing by special and sensitive days.They are days that for an alert and awake believer can be days of spiritual growth and progress. Because for him, more than any other time there is the possibility to compare his faith with the word of God, have God’s promises in mind, and survey his faith.
Therefore he (the true believer) does not need to wonder for the fiery trial that has been set on for him as though it were something unusual, but it pleases him to participate in Christ’s suffering.
Because the believer knows he will rejoice in his glory.
Dears, the “ judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end beof them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
Therefore those who are enduring burdens by the will of God, commit their souls to the faithful Creator. Promises that he has given us, are unique and precious. As we’ve heard he has said: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you”
How can it be possible for a believer to understand these words?
Not only when he is focusing on Jesus Christ with adapting his life according to the life Jesus lived when he was on earth? As it is said ” O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”
Have we not read and heard: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Many attempt to flee from their spiritual tests, and they have to face those same tests in a more difficult manner, because no one will be victorious by escaping from them, but with patience and humility he will be able to overcome all the tests, and gain victory.
Therefore in the place of Christ’s followers, we must not feel desperate, but we have to pray to God in supplication with more passion to help us with any assistance we may need.
According to what Paul has said: In every temptation, God himself will make a way for us to tolerate it.
O beloved ones, difficulties do not weaken mankind, but they reveal the true human nature.
It will be good for us to occasionally face persecutions and abnormalities, since these abnormalities will persuade us to search our hearts, and to survey ourselves.
So as a result, we conclude that troubles are difficult, but usually good and useful to build us.
Dear brothers and sisters, we must be more careful than any other time.
Because in these days, the hearts and thoughts of many are revealed, so that the faith is tested.
May your treasure be where there is no moth and rust.
I would like to remind you of some verses that we nearly discuss everyday, (Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.) but as long as our human will has priority over God’s will, his will will not be done.
As we have learned from him in Gethsemane, he surrendered his will to the father, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
What we are bearing today, is a difficult but not unbearable situation, because neither he has tested us more than our faith and our endurance, nor does he do as such. And as we have known from before, we must beware not to fail, but to advance in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, And consider these bumps and prisons as opportunities to testify to his name. He said: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
As a small servant, necessarily in prison to carry out what I must do, I say with faith in the word of God that he will come soon.”However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Discipline yourself with faith in the word of God. Retain your souls with patience. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly.
May you are granted grace and blessings increasingly in the name of Lord Jesus Christ.
Lakan Prison in Rasht