Stay true to the LORD against all odds

Watching end-time prophecy being fulfilled before one’s eyes is absolutely amazing and thrilling.   At the same time there is the tragic side to this.   Why do I say this?

 

There is an ever and rapidly increasing number of people throughout the world, including the UK and Europe in general, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand who have become so anti-Christian, anti-God and anti-the Word of God, the Bible!   They prefer to think of Bible-believing Christians as religious fanatics or nutcases or bigots.

 

Someone put it this way very recently:the darkness has become so dark that a normal light seems blinding. Deception and false religion have spread so widely that the simple truth seems threatening.

It is appropriate to share this comparison as we remember Billy Graham, that great Evangelist, who passed away into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ yesterday, 21 February 2018.

Just as recently as last year, Billy Graham was voted one of the most popular men in America for an amazing 61st time!  He came fourth behind former US President Obama, President Trump and the current Pope.

But, when Billy Graham’s son, Rev Franklin Graham, spoke in honour of his father, there were people who viewed what he said as abhorrent.   This is what Franklin Graham said: My father has been faithful to God’s Word. He believes the Bible to be the inspired Word of God. He believes in Heaven and Hell, and preached repentance from sin and that people must put their faith in Jesus Christ who took our sins to the cross, died in our place, and then God raised to life.”

Mentioning Hell and Repentance from sin?   That makes him a religious fanatic, according to some “leading” opponents to the Christian message, and many others these days!   My prayer for Franklin Graham is that he will continue to proclaim the pure and powerful Gospel message and be used to bring thousands to Jesus as Saviour.

The Compromised Church

We are living in times where the Church is so compromised.   It matches the description of the churches in the Book of Revelation (chapters 2 and 3).   Yes, there are still some who have not bowed the knee to the modern, (so-called) progressive, compromised emerging church and who believe and obey God’s infallible Word and do not deny the LORD (the Philadelphian Church). But the sad spiritual state countries find themselves in today, globally, is because the Church has lost its first love.  As a result, they wandered from the Truth.   They’ve watered down the Gospel message which has power to save and change lives, and have adopted beliefs and practices that have nothing to do with God’s Word whatsoever.  In fact, some practices are positively pagan within the modern church.

As a Church Age, it is clear that we are in the Laodicean Age:  Jesus said: I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! (Rev 3:15)

As someone wrote recently, Rather than us changing the world, the world has changed us. Rather than us impacting the society, the society has impacted us. Rather than us raising the standards of the nation, we have embraced the standards of the nation.  So, what we find is that thousands and thousands of people profess to be Christians, but are not living out the faith once delivered to the saints. As Jude verse 3 states: defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to His holy people.  (the Believers)

The words of Chinese Christian leader, Watchman Nee (1903-1972) still apply today: By the time the average Christian gets his temperature up to normal, everybody thinks he has a fever.”

Or, as Leonard Ravenhill stated (1907-1994), The Church has been subnormal for so long, that when it finally becomes normal, everyone thinks it’s abnormal.”

We are living in the last of the last days.   Of that there can be no doubt!   Now is the time to be about the Master’s business.   Read and study God’s Word daily.   Don’t follow man-made ideas.  Stick to the Truth of God’s Word.  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)

For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.…”  (Hebrews 4:12-13)

For further information, do not hesitate to contact via the contact form or email us at indefenceofthefaith77@gmail.com

RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING & STUDY

  • A special blessing for those who read, hear and obey this prophecy: Rev 1:3 (Read Rev 1)
  • The letters to the Churches: Revelation 2 & 3
  • The Danger of False Teachers & a Call to remain Faithful: The Book of Jude
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The Precious Infallible Word of God

The most precious Book one can ever read or study is God’s Word, the Bible.  I love the Bible and love reading it.

What I am finding for myself as I watch, hear and research what is happening globally, (as have many others who love His Word – sound teachers of the Word of God), is that there is an increasing skepticism about the Bible.   Very disturbing.

The Bible is being increasingly marginalized in societies today.  A well-established research group (Barna), say “With each passing year, the percent of Christians who believe that the Bible is ‘just another book written by men’ increases.  So too does the perception that the Bible is actually harmful and that people who live by its principles are religious extremists”¹    There are other polls done which indicate that Americans no longer view the Bible as a guide for living a meaningful life.   The same applies to the UK.   Europe as a whole has pushed God and His Word aside.

The tragedy of this is that churches no longer give the Bible, the reading thereof, the doctrines taught very clearly within its pages and the Truth it conveys, its rightful place.   I have personal experience of this happening.  One such church, for example, removed pew Bibles and did not encourage the reading of God’s Word.   Many churches concentrate on worship and singing and give virtually no teaching from the Word of God anymore.

Is it any wonder that (as the BIBLE says), people are giving way to doctrines of demons, deceiving spirits?   Remove the Bible, which IS the Word of God, and you take away Jesus Who IS the WORD.   1 Timothy 4 tells us “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons”.   I make no apology for putting things bluntly.  I quote His Word.

Even pastors and clergy are “falling away” because they are turning away from believing and trusting the Bible.  Some continue to use the Bible, but water it down and start introducing deception and the serpentine practice of questioning God’s precious and Holy Word,did God really say ...”  I have heard a very recent testimony of this happening and causing incredible spiritual damage to people.   In this way, these so-called Christian leaders sow doubt and confusion into the listener.  And, because many of these “pastors” are highly thought of and have huge followings, they are dragging people into the apostasy the Bible warns us about in no uncertain terms, introducing various forms of teachings and practices which are pagan in origin, but “christianized”.

This is a huge subject and I will be sharing more about it in my next post, BUT, in the meantime, remember that God has given us His Word to hide in our hearts.   Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation.     “For no prophecy was ever brought about through human initiative, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21-22) “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16)  Start reading His Word and not just what others are saying about His Word.

Hold on to His Word.  Love His Word and learn to love the Lord Jesus Christ all the more.  Remember, Jesus is the ONLY way to God.   Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6)

As people reject the Bible, the precious and true Gospel that saves to the uttermost, will continue to be attacked and undermined.  For many, the fact that Jesus is the only way of salvation is fast becoming anathema, whilst the word of the hour is “inclusivism”

Hold on to the TRUTH of God’s precious infallible Word.  Let no man deceive you.

I close with the words of Jude, one of the four half-brothers of Jesus, “… I was compelled to write to you [urgently] appealing that you fight strenuously for [the defense of] the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith that is the sum of Christian belief that was given verbally to believers]. For certain people have crept in unnoticed [just as if they were sneaking in by a side door]. They are ungodly persons whose condemnation was predicted long ago, for they distort the grace of our God into decadence and immoral freedom [viewing it as an opportunity to do whatever they want], and deny and disown our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.  …..  But as for you, beloved, remember the [prophetic] words spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They used to say to you, “In the last days there will be scoffers, following after their own ungodly passions.” These are the ones who are [agitators] causing divisions—worldly-minded [secular, unspiritual, carnal, merely sensual—unsaved], devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on [the foundation of] your most holy faith [continually progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], pray in the Holy Spirit, and keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously and looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ [which will bring you] to eternal life.(Jude vs 3,4,17-21)

If you have questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact me

Day Ashton

¹The Barna Group, The Bible in America, 8,56.  See also The Barna Group, “Bible Engagement in a New World”, May 18, 2016, online report, http://www.barna.com
OTHER REFERENCES:
John MacArthur Study Bible
End Times Super Trends. Ron Rhodes (2017)

Thessalonians … The Model Church

AN INTRODUCTION TO 1 THESSALONIANS

(1 Thes 1:1-10)

The first letter to the Thessalonians was probably one of the earliest of Paul’s many inspiring writings. He wrote it from Corinth very shortly after he departed from Thessalonica.  Tremendous persecution had broken out there and he was sent away for his personal safety.

Subsequent to leaving Thessalonica, Paul had sent Timothy from Athens to visit the church. Following Timothy’s great feedback about them, Paul wrote this letter in which he commends them for their steadfastness and reminds them of the various truths he taught them while he ministered to them for just under a month.

The theme of 1 Thessalonians can be divided into 4 sections:

  • To help and confirm the new converts in the foundational truths he’d already taught them
  • To exhort or encourage them to live a life of personal holiness, pleasing to the Lord
  • To comfort them concerning those who had died
  • To instruct them with regard to their own hope of the Lord’s return

An interesting feature of both first and second Thessalonians is that teaching on the coming of the Lord is very prominent throughout both letters, and forms part of basic doctrinal teaching which is sadly lacking in the church today!

It is also very interesting that even though the time spent in Thessalonica was relatively short (just less than a month), many great doctrines of the Christian faith are referred to in his first letter to them. This would indicate that they would have had more substantive teaching on these doctrines whilst Paul was with them.   Here are the doctrines he alluded to:

  • The Trinity (1:1, 5 & 6)
  • The Holy Spirit (1:5-6; 4:8 & 5:19)
  • Christ’s second Advent (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:14-17 & 5:23)
  • The Day of the Lord (5:1-3)
  • Assurance (1:5)
  • Conversion (1:9)
  • Resurrection (4:14-18)
  • Sanctification (4:3 & 5:23)
  • Christian Behaviour (2:12 & 4:1)

The commentator’s (Scofield) sub-heading for verses 5-10 is “The Model Church”.  Paul said about them “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers” (v2)

In our next study, if the Lord tarries, we will look at the three “tenses” of the Christian life

Now a prayer

Precious Father.  We come to You in the Name of our Risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We thank You for Your Word which is alive and active and that speaks to us.   Thank you that Your Word is Truth and is our Guidebook for living.   Thank you that by Your Blessed Holy Spirit You help us to live a life that is pleasing to You.   We know too that if we do sin, “we have an Advocate Who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the One who is truly righteous”.  Help us to live each day for You and to Your glory.  Help us to watch for Your appearing.   Help us to tell others about You while we still have time.  We ask this all in the matchless Name of Jesus. Amen.

“… looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment” (1 Thes 1:10).

WATCHING AND WAITING!

WATCHING AND WAITING

You need to persevere, so that after you have done God’s will, you will receive what He has promised. For, “In just a very while little, He who is coming will come and will not delay””  (Hebrews 10:37)

Just recently I shared a post about the return of the Lord Jesus and it was interesting to note how a number of folk shared that they do not hear this message preached in their churches anymore.   I ask the question again … “How long has it been since you last heard a sermon or message in your church or on TV and Radio about the Lord’s return and the Rapture or catching away of the Church?”

The Word of God, the Bible, is very clear about the events of both His first coming and His return.  If the first coming of Christ was fulfilled to the letter, why should His second coming not be fulfilled to the finest detail?  It will.

For those who have never come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, time is running out.  We do not know the day or the hour, but we do know that His coming is imminent!

The Bible tells us very clearly:

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father… Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. … So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:36,42 & 44)

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. … Therefore, keep watch … What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13:32,33 & 37)

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36)

To illustrate the difference between “watching” and simply “waiting”, I will share two examples I heard recently.  They get their point across very well:

The story is told of sailors returning to harbour following active service during the war.   There were crowds of people on the dock cheering and watching to see the first glimpse of their loved one.  There was one sailor, however, that had no one there to greet him.   He returned home and found his wife at home busy in the kitchen.  When he walked into the kitchen she turned around and said, “I’ve been waiting for you”.     Waiting but not watching.    Expecting his return some time, but not actively watching to see if he would be aboard that particular vessel that returned that day.

The other true story was an example given by Charles H Spurgeon during one of his sermons about the return of the Lord.   He stated that even whilst he was busy preaching to his congregation, his dogs would be eagerly watching for his return home from church.   They knew he would be coming back and they were actively watching and listening!   As soon as they heard the sound of his carriage coming along the road, they would rush to the front door and be ready to greet him.

Are you eagerly watching and waiting for your Saviour’s return?

Did you know that there is a crown of righteousness awaiting those who are longing for His appearing?

 “In the future there is reserved for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8 – Amplified version).   Another version puts it like this… “to all who crave His appearing

Are you eagerly watching and longing for His appearing?

He could come today!

Are you ready?

Understanding that Amazing Grace …

Amazing Grace …

Just recently a few friends were gathered and the hymn, Amazing Grace, was discussed.   Various thoughts were expressed about it.  This got me thinking about John Newton’s well-known hymn and what a magnificent testimony it is to God working in the lives of His children.

Sometimes hymns or tunes can become a bit “worn” and we stop thinking of the profoundness of the words of the hymn or Christian song.   Also, in the case of “Amazing Grace”, it has incorrectly been associated with the slave trade.  Yes, John Newton was very outspoken against slave trading and the abolishment thereof.   However, John Newton NEVER connected the writing and construction of Amazing Grace with anti-slavery sentiments.  The hymn was his personal  testimony of salvation!

The words of Amazing grace were penned to convey the wonderful work of grace God had performed in his life.

Let’s have a closer look at the words, and realize that they are as relevant to each one of us as individuals today as they were for John Newton.  Let’s find out why.

WHAT IS GRACE?
There is an acronym which spells it out – God’s riches at Christ’s Expense.   God’s undeserved favour.
Put yet another way, “Grace” means that God moved heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves.   That includes you and me!

WHY DO WE NEED THIS GRACE?
To be perfectly honest, and this is something people do not like to hear or admit … we ALL have sinned, every single one of us and fall short of God’s standard.  No one is righteous – not even one” (Romans 3:10).   “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood.” (Romans 3:25a).   He became our substitute.

Ephesians 2:8-9 paints such a clear picture: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”.

So, if one is basing one’s salvation and achieving a place in heaven on “living a good life”, “doing good works”, “being seen at church”, “paying the church”, this will all fail.  There is only ONE way, and that is coming to the foot of the Cross where Jesus died for you and me, confessing that we are sinners, repenting of our sin, acknowledging that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, and asking Him to save us.

As that beautiful hymn by Charlotte Elliott (which one seldom, if ever, hears today) says:
“Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!”

Just as I am …

It is only once we’ve come to the Cross of Calvary and accepted Jesus as our Saviour, that works count (and then only simply to prove that we belong to Jesus – for all we do should be in the Name of Jesus, the Name above all Names)

A TESTIMONY OF AMAZING GRACE

Let us take a closer look at JOHN NEWTON’S hymn of testimony

If one has been saved from certain destruction or death when we definitely did not deserve it, or completely lost and then gloriously found… what would your reaction be?   If you’re a normal being you would be eternally thankful to the one who has helped and / or found you …

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me!

Wretched?  We’ve already taken a good look at what that means in terms of how God sees us BUT … the good news is that … He made a way for us to be put in a right standing with Himself.   Remember, God’s Word tells us that ALL our good works (in order to try and save ourselves) are as filthy rags.   Isaiah 64:6 tells us “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.  Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind”.   “(God) hath made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.

John Newton realized how lost and wretched he was and what an amazing grace it was that God had mercy on Him.  He had lived a life far from God and had been opposed to Him.   His life was radically changed when he realized how blind and lost he was.   We may not all have such a dramatic conversion, but nonetheless we are lost without Jesus as our Saviour.   I certainly can identify with this hymn … I too was lost once and knew that I would go to a lost eternity, BUT, praise His Name, Jesus found me and saved me from my sin and gave me a new life in Him.  (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed
.

Grace” is mentioned three times in this verse, and it culminates in Newton’s most personal story of his conversion and underscores the use of his personal testimony that he shared with his parishioners.

When we first come to know the Lord as our personal Saviour, peace which passes understanding should be flooding our soul and knowing Jesus should be something so precious.  The hour I first believed”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)   Having come to know Jesus as our Saviour, we can look forward to an eternity in the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who saved us by His grace.  With John Newton we should also be able to sing from the depths of our souls …

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun”.

So, until that day when the trumpet sounds and those who’ve trusted Christ as their Saviour, are caught up to meet Him in the air, we must be about our Father’s business.

  • Share the good news of the Gospel with others,   
  • Read His Word daily and grow spiritually,
  • Pray and
  • Fellowship with other believers.

The challenge this hymn brings to us is this:

  • Have you come to the point in your life where you’ve realized that you are a sinner and that there is nothing you can do to save yourself … that you need a Saviour?
  • If you have taken advantage of that amazing grace, are you living for Jesus?

MAKE THIS YOUR PRAYER

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

Refrain:
O Jesus, Lord and Saviour, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.

Living for Jesus, wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His Holy Name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Deeming each trial a part of my cross.

Living for Jesus through earth’s little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.

Thomas O. Chisholm, 1917

 

From the Bookshelf …

At the start of this new year, I find myself thinking about some of the books I have read over the last year and how they have impacted on my life, if at all.

Needless to say, the Bible is my daily food and over the last year, having spent time not only reading it, but also studying it closely, it has drawn me so much closer to the Lord Himself.  It has enabled me to share with others some of the treasures it holds and also the definite challenges to us as individuals.

But I have read several others in traditional book format, as well as in audible format whilst completing other tasks.

An author I have found amazing – so alive and descriptive – one can feel, touch and experience the content and the content is riveting.  The author is Frank E Peretti.  The two books were “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness”.   This is so spot on with regard to the times we are living in and highlights the fact that as Christians, if we are truly trying to walk with the Lord, we experience spiritual warfare.   These books paint such a clear picture of spiritual warfare and the need for earnest and ongoing prayer.  It shows so clearly the tremendous power in prayer.  These are all topics very dear to my heart.

Other Christian writers that have helped me in my spiritual walk during this last year have included Dr Ron Rhodes, John McArthur, David Jeremiah, Tim la Haye and Jerry B Jenkins, Warren Wiersbe and Lorraine Lorenz. They are factual and deeply spiritual writers (and speakers).

Other books that have been practical and helpful include, Brian Tracy’s “Master your Time, Master your Life”, “The Power of Self-Discipline – No Excuses” and “Eat that Frog – 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastination and get more done in less time”; “Second Chance” by Robert T Kiyosaki; a great favourite secular book which is practical and inspirational is Jim Rohn’s “The Day that Turns Your Life Around” and the audible book, “The Ultimate Zig Ziglar Library”.

But, without a doubt, the best book ever, remains the precious Word of God, the Bible, which provides everything we could possibly need for our life here on earth and to prepare us for our eternal home.

THE SECRET OF EXPERIENCING THE PEACE OF GOD

2017 has been a tumultuous year.   2018 could be as bumpy a ride or worse (I believe in being realistic!).

So, if you and I need to find peace within the storms of life, we need the peace of God.

A few days ago, I found a few steps to focus on in the book of Philippians, chapter four.  If we follow these steps 4 steps, God’s Word promises us His peace.   Let’s take a look …

  • Stand fast in the Lord or in other words, “stay true to the Lord
  • Be “full of joy in the Lord”– rejoice in the Lord
  • Be “considerate in all you do” or put differently, “let your gentleness be known to all …
  • Be anxious for nothing. That is, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything

HOW ARE WE ABLE TO DO THESE THINGS?

  1. Standing fast in the Lord or “staying true” to the Lord.
    The only way we can stay true to the Lord is by getting to know Him better, more intimately. And the main way we do this is through reading and studying God’s Word for ourselves.  Get to know the Author.   Reading and studying His Word will help us to avoid the massive deception that is in the world around AND sadly, within many, many churches too.  It will help us to stand firm and avoid compromise in a world that wants everyone to be squeezed into its ungodly mould.
  2. Be full of the joy of the Lord or rejoice in the Lord
    The key phrase here is “in the Lord”. Being full of the joy of the Lord or rejoicing in the Lord is not related to current circumstances around us – family, community or global circumstances.  Rather, it is knowing that despite all the personal and other difficulties around us, the believer’s joy is related to an unassailable, secure and unchanging relationship with the Sovereign Lord.  God does not change and His Word is true and addresses all situations.   It is knowing that we are secure in Him (having surrendered our lives to Him) that we can be filled with a deep inner joy.
  3. Let your gentleness be known to all.
    We live in a very hard and an inconsiderate world. This is where we as true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ can shine for Him.  This “gentleness” refers to contentment and being generous towards others, showing consideration for others.   Being compassionate and caring and sensitive towards others.   This reflects the Christlike spirit to a needy world.
  4. Be anxious for nothing
    We all feel anxious at times and no more so when the world around us is falling apart. These are rather perilous times we are living in.  Personal circumstances can make us very anxious too.  However, when we worry and fret, this could indicate that we lack trust in the wisdom of God and His sovereignty and power.   So, what could be an antidote to anxiety?  The answer lies within that same verse when it says: Don’t worry about anything; instead, PRAY about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done”. Meditating on HIS WORD (not meditation as the world understands it or contemplative prayer which has its roots in Eastern mysticism).   Feeding on HIS Word.   Delighting in the LORD.  Thanking Him for His eternal security for those who have put their trust in Him as their Saviour.

 

WHAT WILL BE THE OUTCOME OF FOLLOWING THESE 4 GUIDELINES?

If we stay true to the Lord, are filled with the joy of the Lord, are considerate in all we do and don’t fret and worry about things but take it to the Lord in prayer, “THEN we will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard (our) hearts and minds as (we) live in Christ Jesus”.  And as the New King James Version puts it, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus

Scripture references from Philippians 4:1 & 4-7 New Living Translation & the New King James Version of the Bible.

In the final hours of 2017…

As we enter the final hours of 2017, it is a good time to look back and give thanks to the LORD for His goodness.   It may have been a very difficult year for many of us, but whether it was a good or bad year, our God is faithful and He has brought us through it.

2017 has been a very turbulent year globally, and 2018 will be even more so.   So, as we give thanks for God’s provision, protection and love over the past year, we need to ask Him to step into the New Year with us.  We need His presence, protection, strength and wisdom.

So, in some of the words of the well-known hymn, let us give thanks and praise to the soon-returning King of Kings and Lord of Lords:

“Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,
urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided:
Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

Lord, for that word, the word of life which fires us,
speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze,
teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us:
Lord of the word, receive Your people’s praise.

Lord for ourselves; in living power remake us –
self on the cross and Christ upon the throne,
past put behind us, for the future take us:
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.” 1

Maybe you are not “religious”, neither am I.   But, I do have a precious Friend and Saviour, the Lord Jesus, who died for me on the Cross to take away my sins.   He changed my life completely and made it worth living.  As we enter 2018, won’t you ask Him to be your Friend and Saviour too?

 

Day Ashton
Email:   indefenceofthefaith77@gmail.com

1 ‘Lord, for the years your love’ by Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926). © Timothy Dudley-Smith in Europe and Africa. © Hope Publishing

Christmas or Xmas?

Christmas or Xmas …. Is it a big deal?

Sadly, Christmas, for the majority of folk, has become X-mas because they prefer to have a time of celebration without thinking of the precious Lord Jesus being the Reason for the Season.

Although in Greek, the original  language of the New Testament, Χριστός is the word for Christ and was apparently simply an abbreviation of Christmas – Xmas.

However, many have over the years viewed its use as a blatant attempt to remove the name of Christ out of Christmas.   As the years have gone by and particularly over the last few years and now in particular!!, there is no denying the increasing trend to take Christ out of Christmas.    People find it “offensive”, “intolerant”, “exclusive” and “politically incorrect” to have His precious Name seen and want to obscure it by all means possible.  The Christian origins of Christmas are being squeezed out and trampled under foot.

Lets face it, our materialistic society has all but succeeded in obscuring the real meaning. Just take a look at the decorations and cards … Winter Holidays, Xmas, Happy Holidays, gnomes, elves, fairies, Santa Claus, and much, much more.  Jesus totally excluded.   Praise God there are still some cards and items that still reflect the true meaning of Christmas.   But, there is no doubt that there are very many who will not be satisfied until the celebration is completely secularized.

But of course, that shouldn’t surprise us if we know our Bible.   What we are seeing is exactly what the Bible prophesied would happen as the return of the Lord Jesus Christ draws close.   2 Timothy 3 describes the type of people that will be around in the last days (and what the Bible describes here is absolutely spot on!) “…in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.”   

Furthermore, even within the evangelical churches, we see prophecy being fulfilled.   Tragically, wolves in sheep’s clothing have entered the churches and preach deceptive doctrine … trying to get people away from the Bible and its Truths.   These include the Kingdom now, Replacement theology, the Emergent Church, Mysticism, Inclusivism,  Christian Wicca and Chrislam, to mention but a few.   This results in the falling away which the Bible prophesies will occur in the last days before His Return.   (I could say much more about this but won’t at this stage).

So getting back to Christmas or Xmas …

In the same way as there was “no room in the Inn” at His first coming, when He came as the Christ-child,
“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail th’incarnate Deity, Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel”, even now there is “no room” in the heart and thoughts of men and women today.

I earnestly plead with those who do not yet know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, to get to know this wonderful Jesus.   Do so before it is ever too late.   Put Christ back into Christmas by inviting Him into your life and live for Him.

For those of us who know the Lord as our personal Saviour, use this time of year to reach out to others with the wonderful message of hope and peace that can only be found in the Christ of Christmas!

Wishing you all a happy and blessed Christmas 2017!

Day Ashton
dayashton.uk@gmail.com

The Costliest Gift of All

THE COSTLIEST GIFT OF ALL!

by Lorraine Lorenz

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 – NIV)

In a few days time it will be Christmas – that special time of year when the very atmosphere seems to change around us!  True, it has been commercialized and people tend to be over busy and to rush around, shutting out its real meaning.

But there’s more to Christmas season – there is something deep within our hearts, especially as children of God, something that speaks intimately and softly within.  Something, or rather Someone reassures us that what happened long ago at the very first Christmas, changed the world forever!

For on that first Christmas day(*) God came down to us in the guise of the baby boy born to the virgin Mary, a young Jewish girl from Nazareth, who was pledged to be married to Joseph.

No fuss, no glaring news headlines or any announcement, except that given by the Angel to the shepherds – God the Son arrived silently and had only a manger for His bed!  The Father’s wondrous gift was given, yet no human of any high repute knew anything about it!

There was no room in the inns around Bethlehem for this Baby and His earthly parents – no room for His holy birth.  People have no room for Him in their busy but ultimately purposeless lives (unless they open their hearts to Him before it is ever too late).

In John’s Gospel, chapter 1, we read about the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us; the Word, who had been with God from the beginning!  This Word refers to none other but our Lord Jesus – He came from the very bosom of the Father.

The Father loved us so much that He gave His most precious possession to die so that we might live eternally with Him!

Is God’s Gift, given at Bethlehem, you most precious Possession today?

[Used with permission from the Daily Devotional book, “Amber’s Story, Walking Back into the Light” by Lorraine Lorenz.  Obtainable from Amazon]

And the “Tree” referred to here is the Cross on which Jesus died for us!
My comment about Christmas Day:
(*) Christmas Day is not the actual day that the Lord Jesus Christ was born.   It is thought that it could have been earlier, possibly during autumn months, as Shepherds were out in the fields and not likely to have been snow-covered fields.  There are various suggestions as to why 25th of December was chosen as a date to celebrate His birth.  However, the date is not important.  The important thing to remember is that Christ was born, He was born of a virgin, He was born in Bethlehem, He was born as the Scriptures foretold, and the reason He came was to die in our place so that we can have eternal life.  He took our sins on the cross of Calvary.  He was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.  But remember, you need to recognize Him as the Saviour of the world, repent of your sins (for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God) and invite Him to be your personal Lord and Saviour.