The 4 Progressive Steps to Apostasy

Written by Mike Gendron – Intro by Day Ashton

Jesus Himself warns us a number of times, “Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you(Matt 24:4) and in Mark 13:5-6 “Jesus began to say to them, “Be careful and see to it that no one misleads you.  Many will come in My name [misusing My name or claiming to be the Messiah], saying, ‘I am He!’ and will deceive and mislead many”This deception is happening before our very eyes both within the church and secular society as a whole.  This excellent article by Mike Gendron shows clearly the deception in the church and the downward spiral to apostasyThis is  a must-read …

 

Throughout the 2000 year 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 Tim. 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. It actually develops over a period of time th
rough a process that can be categorized into four steps.

First Step into Apostasy
God’s Word is neglected as the
supreme authority for faith and practice.
  • Man’s words and wisdom become as important as God’s Word.
  • Traditions and movements of men cause confusion and divided loyalties.
  • People start following “Christian” personalities instead of the Word of God.
  • Pastors discard the Lord’s blue print for building His church and create their own strategy.
  • Pastors win the approval of men for the size of their church, rather than their faithfulness and fidelity to God’s Word.
  • The power of the Gospel is weakened by compromise and made more inclusive to gain a larger following.
  • Biblical evangelism is replaced by man’s methods of conversion.
  • Churches give people what they want instead of what they need.
  • The pursuit of sanctification is neglected.
  • Biblical warnings to expose false teachers are ignored. A little leaven in the form of heresy is allowed to circulate.
  • Contenders for the faith are labeled as divisive and intolerant.
  • Women are allowed to teach men.
Second Step into Apostasy
 
Scripture is twisted and distorted for self-serving agendas.
  • Truth becomes subjective and relative.
  • Doctrinal error and sin are tolerated by pastors who neglect their responsibility to protect the sheep.
  • Satan sows his tares with little resistance.
  • Pastors become more determined to build their own church rather than the Lord’s church.
  • The Gospel becomes more inclusive to attract more people.
  • Expository preaching is replaced by topical messages.
  • Biblical ignorance in the pew provides fertile ground for false teachers to prosper.
  • Trials and persecution expose dead and spurious faith.
  • The exhortation to contend earnestly for the faith is ignored.
  • People honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.
  • “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.
  • Contenders for the faith are asked to leave.
Third Step into Apostasy
Entertainment, idolatry, liturgy and rituals have
replaced the Lord Jesus from the central focus of worship.
  • Pastors are more interested in entertaining the goats than feeding the sheep.
  • Ear-tickling messages give people what they want instead of what they need.
  • Sound doctrine and truth is suppressed for the sake of ecumenical unity.
  • Hearts become hardened and love for God grows cold.
  • 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’s void of power.
  • Idolatry is practiced and encouraged.
  • Sin and immoral lifestyles are tolerated.
  • Women are ordained as pastors.
Fourth Step into Apostasy
Teaching is heavily influenced by doctrines of demons.
Jesus has been removed from the church. Deception is full-blown.
  • Lying signs and wonders, including apparitions, are embraced as messages from God or Mary.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Are you in a church or denomination drifting into apostasy?
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). Will you defend the glory and honor of our great God and Saviour and protect the purity of His Gospel?
May God’s Word exhort and encourage us to fight the good fight of faith!
(Article used with permission)
If you have questions about this topic or anything related, please do not hesitate to contact Mike Gendron(1) via his website, Proclaiming the Gospel
(1)Mike Gendron – For over 34 years, Evangelist Mike Gendron was a devout Roman Catholic and a strong defender of the “one true church.” He was taught from a very early age, to trust and rely on the church, its priests, the sacraments and his own good works for salvation. However in 1981 while attending an evangelical seminar, he realized the Bible is the supreme authority for knowing truth.  Find out much more about Mike and his tremendous ministry to the honour of His Saviour, at his website, PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL

 

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Who is to blame?

When things go wrong, people are quick to blame others … not themselves.  Many even go as far as blaming God!

Even extra marital affairs and lifestyle issues are so often blamed on God.  Just this morning I read an example of this: “If God didn’t want me to leave my wife and fall in love with (name) and marry her, why did He bring her into my life?”

I am sure you can think of many other types of examples of people irrationally blaming God for the pickle they are in or a situation that has arisen and has become an incredibly serious issue with dire consequences.

The Bible in James 1:13 tells us very clearly: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be Image result for blame imagestempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” As the New Living Translation puts it: “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else.”  God NEVER tempts anyone to sin!  Verses 14 and 15 of James one gives it to us straight: “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”   In fact, “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17)

We need to think carefully before we go blaming others, and more importantly, God.  Solomon, in his God-given wisdom, warned us to be careful about being rash with our words: “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God…” (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

Image result for peace of God imagesWe do not always understand why things happen as they do.   But, it is not for us to blame God.  If you do not understand why things have happened as they have, or you want to question God, then ask Him directly, BUT do so reverently, remembering that He IS God!

We do tend to become worried and upset when things go wrong, but take heart and remember He has promised to help us and be with us through it all … “… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

J Sidlow Baxter put it so well: God doesn’t want to keep changing your circumstances; He wants to change you”.

If you have never got to know the Lord Jesus Christ personally as your Saviour and Lord, please don’t delay in taking that step.  Find out more today.

Bad News? … Good News? …

I was so blessed by an article in the online version of Decision Magazine Devotional this morning, I had to share a few extracts from it with you all …

“Paul established this balance in Romans 1, saying he was not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (verse 16). But then, in verse 18, he wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.” This theological tension reminds us we’ll never appreciate the Good News until we understand the bad news. It’s the bad news that compels the Good News to be supplied. Wrath summons mercy and grace …

Image result for judgement legalGod’s wrath is the result of our sin. He isn’t just randomly angry, or wrathful by nature; going back to Eden, we have offended Him by our sinful behavior, based on our choices to do things our way instead of His. But He wants us to come back to Him—His goodness should lead us to repentance, but true repentance starts only when we fully realize that we are sinners, that we deserve God’s judgment…

The entire world is guilty before God, including any who consider themselves to be just and moral people. No one keeps every part of God’s law perfectly. Paul wrote, “We know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19). God never changes; He is always perfect, holy, just and righteous. We’ve all fallen short of God’s standards, we all deserve His judgment, and we’ll never find a solution for our predicament apart from Him…

But God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In fact, He is willing to suffer if that’s what it takes to turn our hearts back to Him. That’s where Jesus comes in. He bought back—with His own blood—the possibility that we can be in God’s favour, and when Related imagewe receive Him as our risen Lord and Saviour, God passes over our sins “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). God paid the price we could never pay because not only is He eternally holy and just, He is also eternally loving and, until the end of this age of grace, continually merciful and forgiving. That’s the Good News—and oh, is it good! …

The Bible makes it clear that God’s wrath is coming. He has given us one way out: Jesus Christ. What He has not given us is a list of excuses for why we can’t use His exit strategy. Once we’re a new creation in Christ, He will give us what we need to overcome old habits that incur wrath and start new ones that honor Him.”

Extracts taken from the Original article published as “Bad News, Good News: God’s Wrath and Mercy” by Skip Heitzig   •   June 6, 2018
Decision Magazine –
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

5 Guidelines to find God’s Plan for our Lives

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21)

How do we find God’s Plan fro our lives?   It is not always easy, but these 5 principles were highlighted in a message I heard a few years ago.   I pray you will find them helpful too.

  1. Commit EVERYTHING to the LORD in the first instance
    The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes His steps” (Proverbs 16:9)
    Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3)
    Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and He will help you” (Psalm 37:5)
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:7)
  2. Ask God for Wisdom
    Our wisdom regarding our lives – spiritual and secular – is found in Christ “… in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [regarding the word and purposes of God]” (Amplified).  As the New Living Translation (NLT) puts it … “In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3)
    If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5- NLT)
  3. Take Advice
    It is often good to seek advice.  Just be careful who you discuss things with.   Find someone experienced in the area you are seeking wisdom – someone who is not simply talking and only interested in what they can possibly get out of the direction they are “guiding” you.   Seek someone with Godly wisdom – someone walking close to the LORD and who will also seek God’s wisdom before advising or counselling you.
    Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war” (Proverbs 20: 18)
    Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov 15:22)
  4. Accept God’s Providence
    The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Prov 16:33 ESV)
    We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall” (Prov 16:33 NLT)
    We don’t always understand why things work out as they do, but we must be thankful that the LORD knows the end from the beginning and He will be with you through the good and the rough times.
  5. Remember God’s purpose for our Lives
    God IS in total control.
    We do tend to want to wait for God to show us His personal will.  This is not always possible.  It is often necessary to move forward assuming that you are in His will (having followed some of the guidelines above!), and the LORD will indeed guide you and reveal more of His will for your life as you walk with Him.
    There are times we would love to have a clear message from the LORD detailing the steps to take. We know this does not  happen.  Or, we sit waiting around for a “sign” or allow others to control our lives and make decisions for us.

REMEMBER THIS …  Each one of us was designed to fulfill a unique purpose whilst here on earth – one that not only glorifies our Heavenly Father, but also brings us great joy and fulfillment.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
(Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

 

 

This Book has the Power to Change Your Life!

One of the very well-known and largest online bookstores has more than 3 million book titles for sale.   But, despite many claims some of those books might make, only the Bible makes this claim about itself: it is alive!

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12 – NLT)

This simply means, the Bible is not merely “words”.

In Jeremiah 23:29  “Does not my word burn like fire?” says the LORD. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?”  God’s Word is Powerful!   It is purifying!

When the Lord joined two of His followers on their way back to Emmaus following His death and resurrection, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.  When they realized it had been the Lord who had spoken with them, they said: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32- NLT)

“All Scripture is inspired by God (God-breathed) 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 – NLT). As a result, these words can find their way into the heart and lives of all those who read them – right down into the inner and deep parts of our life.   His Word can also enable us to see what the true intentions of our thoughts and desires are.   Because it is ALIVE, it is able to produce life, as we read in 1 Peter 1:23 “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God” (NLT)

So I encourage you to read His Word, life-changing Word, every day.  It is not like any other book, it has the power to change lives!

(The inspiration for this devotional came from part of my quiet time with the Lord earlier today, including the reading of Dr David Jeremiah’s Turning Point Devotional (available online or by snail mail)

Are you ready and watching?

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die … Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you (3:2-3)

Although the letter was sent to this specific church in Asia Minor, it is relevant and applicable to the church today.  These letters apply to all the original churches, as well as churches throughout the church age (which is the time since the first coming of Christ through to His second coming).

The church in Sardis was a small church… and very few of them remained faithful to the Lord, true believers.

They had killed the message and compromised the distinctiveness of ChristThey incorporated pagan cultures into the “church” and were happy to “get along” with other faiths and blend in.  Much like the interfaith, ecumenical movement that is being promoted today.   The distinctiveness of Christ no longer mattered or matters to the church of Sardis, then, and up today!

This church was dead!

The LORD counselled the church of Sardis to do 5 things which, if they’d obeyed, would have made them acceptable to Him:

  • Be watchful
  • Strengthen the things that remain
  • Remember what you heard and believed at first
  • Hold Fast
  • Repent

Today I want to concentrate on the first counsel the Lord gave this church … Wake up! Be Watchful!

Be watchful (Wake Up!)

The opposite of being watchful is being complacent.

The first thing Sardis needed to do was to stop being complacent and be on a state of alert.

The fact that the LORD had to tell them to wake up, be watchful, points to a serious deficiency in the teaching of the Reformation leaders.   This deficiency was because they lacked instruction in Bible prophecy and separation.

The word “WATCH” is used by the Lord in several other passages of Scripture and indicate the attitude that should characterize His children in view of His promised return!   Prophetically instructed Christians are very much more likely to be separated, consecrated Christians than those who are not aware of the promises of our Lord’s second coming and the imminency of the catching away (rapture) of the church, etc.

The church of Sardis represents some of the denominations today that are being swept along by compromise, sin and erroneous teaching. These 3 things kill a church.

We are living in days where people are deciding to pick and choose what they want to believe from the Bible.  This is extremely dangerous!

Christ’s Warning to Sardis
So then, if you do not wake up, I will come like a thiefor as the New King James Versions puts it: “Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (Rev 3:3)

As is the case for Sardis, so it will be for those who have not heeded our Lord’s warning. It is very clear that they will be taken unawares when our Lord comes.

The Lord Jesus Christ warns Sardis of the consequences of “Not watching”. If Sardis does not watch they will be taken unaware by Christ’s appearing. Throughout the Gospels the Lord stresses the need for the believer to be careful and keep a watchful eye for His “Imminent return

There are many evidences around that reveal the prophetic ignorance on the part of Reformation churches (AND, sadly, many of the evangelical churches today too!).  An example of this includes the fact that they have people from within their midst who are leaders in the World Council of Churches ecumenical program – a program that aims to unite all Protestants, all Catholics and all religions.  If they had any understanding of the prophetic Word of God, they would realize they are playing right into the schemes of the Antichrist.  That One World Religion is his church during the Tribulation.

We all know the parable of the 10 virgins, five were prepared for the bridegroom and five were not.  When the bridegroom came, the five foolish virgins rushed around trying to buy oil for their lamps.  The five wise virgins were ready and went to the wedding. Sadly, the five foolish virgins tried to get to the wedding later, but were kept out, because the bridegroom did not know them.  As it states in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 25 …“Afterward the other (foolish) virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’  But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”

Christ warns His church to be ready.

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13)

Through this prophetic foreshadowing, the dead churches are warned, that unless they WATCH they, like the foolish virgins, will be ushered into the Tribulation period.  They will NOT be ready for the Lord’s return for His Church.

One can recognize a “dead” church in that …

  • It doesn’t proclaim the Gospel
  • It doesn’t uphold the Scripture (Bible)
  • It doesn’t pursue holiness

So, I want to urge you to make sure you belong to a Bible-believing church.  One that teaches that you are saved by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the Cross.   A church that believes “sola Scriptura” (that Scripture – the Bible – is the sole authority for faith).   That the only way to get to heaven and be in a right standing with God is through the Lord Jesus Christ who clearly stated that: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. (John 14:6)

If you need further help or information, please do not hesitate to contact me via the contact form or one of the other options below

Day Ashton

Email: dayashton.uk@gmail.com
Skype: dayashton1

 

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

 

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.

Do you need to slow down?

Although this is a somewhat different post to my usual, I thought the poem by David L Weatherford had quite an effective message.

Life is incredibly fast-paced and stressful.   So many people are becoming over-stressed, burnt out, despairing, trapped.   Believe it or not, the Bible gives plenty of advice re priorities AND a balance in one’s life.   One example of where it spells out clearly the need to set aside time to rest a while, is found in Mark 6:31 where it puts it like this:  “Jesus said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while’—for there were many [people who were continually] coming and going, and they could not even find time to eat” (Amplified version)

We do need to take time out, slow down and rest a while.

David Weatherford, a child psychologist and poet, wrote:

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

Poem Used with permission.  If you’d like to see any more of David’s poems, you can visit his site at http://www.davidlweatherford.com/