January 6, 2013
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven of God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.
And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he saith, Write: for these words are faithful and true. And he said unto me, They are come to pass. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
He that overcometh shall inherit these things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: her light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal: having a wall great and high; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the several gates was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof. And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb.
And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there): and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it: and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (The Revelation 21:1-7; 10-12; 21-27)
I will pray a short prayer covering a topic, and then it will be your turn to pray aloud about that topic. Everyone is free to pray. Once you have prayed, please allow others to pray before you pray again.
Our Father and our God, the news is filled with evidence of the fallenness of this world. Earthquake and famine, war and economic failure plague the nations. Our Sovereign Lord save us.
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Your Chosen People in Israel are threatened on every side. Deliver your people from those who would wipe them out.
Sovereign Lord, You are to God of all nations. Exert Your mighty power and return our nation to godliness.
Come Holy Spirit and enliven the spiritually dead churches in Washington and especially along the I-5 corridor to Christ-centered holiness.
Lord Jesus, you have placed Grace Fellowship Church in Maltby and on Paradise Road for a reason. Motivate us to fulfill Your purposes.
Before we come to Communion, ask Forgiveness for Yourself and confess your need for Christ.
“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:” (Isaiah 1:16-19)
“He hath not dealt with us after our sins, Nor rewarded us after our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is his lovingkindness toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:1-12)
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
Author: Steve Gammon, Conference Minister
One of the most important things any of us can do for our churches is to pray for them. When Paul wrote to the churches the things dearest on his heart, he often focused on prayer.
In Colossians 1, for example, there are wonderful lessons on how to pray for the church. In verses 4-7 Paul begins with prayers of thanksgiving. Let me encourage you to join me in praying such prayers of thanksgiving for the faith of God’s people, for their love, and hope, for their response to the gospel that still goes out, and for faithful ministry leaders like Epaphras.
Then in verses 9-14 Paul presents a list of petitions for which he unceasingly prays for the church—for the knowledge of His will, for spiritual wisdom and understanding, for lives lived “worthy of the Lord”, for bearing fruit in every good work, for growth in the knowledge of God, for strength and power, for great endurance and patience, for joyful thanksgiving to the Father, that they might know that God has qualified them and has already rescued them from the dominion of darkness, that they might know that God has brought them into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, and that they might truly believe in the redemption and forgiveness of sins that is theirs in Christ Jesus!
Paul not only longed for these things for the church! He fervently prayed for them! I want you to know that I am praying for you! And I urge you all to be praying for the church!
Maranatha! Resurrection Day!
March 31, 2013
First, let me share with you the traditional Easter greeting.
Hallelujah! Christ is risen!
Christ risen indeed! Hallelujah!
We are elated that God’s promise of the resurrection was proven to many witnesses. They saw the death of Christ. They knew that He was dead and buried. And yet, they saw him alive. They testified to us that Jesus was and is alive from the dead. Therefore, we believe in the resurrection. We have embraced God’s promise for us.
But what if – what if it is not true. Paul addresses this question.
“Now if the rising of Christ from the dead is the very heart of our message, how can some of you deny that there is any resurrection?
“For if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead, then Christ was never raised. And if Christ was not raised then neither our preaching nor your faith has any meaning at all. Further it would mean that we are lying in our witness for God, for we have given our solemn testimony that he did raise up Christ—and that is utterly false if it should be true that the dead do not, in fact, rise again!
“For if the dead do not rise neither did Christ rise, and if Christ did not rise your faith is futile and your sins have never been forgiven. Moreover those who have died believing in Christ are utterly dead and gone. Truly, if our hope in Christ were limited to this life only we should, of all mankind be the most to be pitied!
“But the glorious fact is that Christ did rise from the dead: he has become the very first to rise of all who sleep the sleep of death. As death entered the world through a man, so has rising from the dead come to us through a man! As members of a sinful race all men die; as members of the Christ of God all men shall be raised to life, each in his proper order, with Christ the very first and after him all who belong to him when he comes.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-23 J.B. Phillips)
Thus, we have reason to celebrate!
Leader: Hallelujah! Christ is risen!
Response: Christ is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Leader: Hallelujah! Christ is risen!
Response: Christ is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Leader: Do not be afraid to make the walls ring and the windows rattle
Response: Hallelujah! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Speak aloud your praise to God the Father. Speak aloud your adoration of the Lord Jesus. Speak aloud your thanksgiving to the Blessed Holy Spirit.
Pause for Prayer
Adoni Sabaoth, Jehovah Jireh, We magnify You for the glorious provision You have bestowed upon us. You came into our darkness and took us by the heart and led us into your magnificent light. You opened our blind eyes to your splendor.
If that is all you had done it would have been ample, since we were lost in darkness without You. What was sufficient for us, was not enough for You. You had far more and abundant riches to bestow.
Pause for Prayer
You not only revealed Yourself to us, You gave us a beautiful and fruitful world in which to live. We offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving for Your amazing generosity.
Pause for Prayer
You not only gave us this abundance, You adopted us as Your sons and daughters, making us family. O how we praise You our glorious Father.
Pause for Prayer
You not only adopted us, but You gave us an exceedingly great legacy as joint heirs with Christ.
Pause for Prayer
You not only made us joint heirs with Jesus, but you gave us the outstanding promise of resurrection, transfigured bodies and eternal life. Your love and openhandedness are overwhelming. We lift our voices in praise of your astounding grace
Pause for Prayer
Having experienced Your love and benefited greatly from Your mercy we lay before you these concerns for others and ourselves, confident that you gladly receive our prayers.
Pause for Prayer
We rejoice in Your resurrection and in the promise that we too will rise. Now, Lord Jesus, we join our hearts together offering the prayer you taught, saying.
The Lord’s Prayer
Leader: Hallelujah! Christ is risen!
Response: Christ is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Into Your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend the soul of Your servant , now departed from the body. Through Your grace, she/he is a sheep of Your fold. She/he was a sinner who You in love and through sacrifice redeemed to become
She/he was a sinner who You, in love and through sacrifice, redeemed to become Your beloved lamb. Our hearts are gladdened that You have not only received her/him into your arms, but You have granted her/him a celestial body, incorruptible and undefiled.
Endow her/him with Your blessed rest and everlasting peace as she joins that glorious company of saints gathered around Your throne basking in Your glorious Presence.
For more discussion on Death, read Comments Inspired by the Death of a Loved One.
I’m sorry, but I cannot change the offer. Everyone gets one. The Scripture tells us that it is given unto man once to die; and after that the judgment. I suspect that most will want a second chance after they will have an opportunity to review their lives before the Divine Judge, who is righteous and just. Everyone who stands before his court He will judge by a perfect standard. Each will receive his or her perfectly just deserts.
Once a person sees his choices set off against what he should have decided, it will be clear why it would have been a better choice than what he made while living in this material life. But—and it is a life changing “but”—despite the resolution to do better next time, there are no “do-over’s”. This is all we get.
Life is a one-way street from cradle to grave. There is an absolute end of life, just as there is the absolute beginning at conception. We talk of remains. This refers to the dead body, which our family or society must dispose. Of the person, nothing is left in the carcass. Therefore, what is done in his or her life is finished. Every body dies. No exceptions (well, One).
The Bad news is that everyone dies. There is no escape in the foreseeable future. Some graveyards are so full of those who have died that they are having to double stack the bodies. There are upwards of 7,000,000,000 people on earth. Everyone can expect to end the same way – in death.
As I said, the body dies, but the good news is that we live on. God, in His wisdom, made us both material and immaterial. Our body He created for time. It ages and wears out, until it has outlived its usefulness. The good news is that He also gave us living souls that are immaterial. They do not wear out; thus while not eternal, since they began their being beginning in conception, they are everlasting. This means that in our persons, but not in our bodies, we have life that continues beyond the existence of our flesh.
That is a fact that too few consider. They live in the now, without thought of the hereafter.
That Good news is offset by further bad news. With one’s material life behind, the question is what happens next. For the eastern religions, the goal of this material life is to live in such a way as to end in a passionless peace. Islam has a paradise for those who appease Allah and a hell for those who do not.
The truth lies in Christianity. The one true God has created all to be perfect, but man messed it up; thus we have two choices to embrace God’s way or follow our own way through this life. The further truth is that according to God’s perfect standard we are all under condemnation. The reality is, “To err is human.” Scripture says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
“To err is human.” Scripture says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
The Bad news is that none of us qualify (qualification is living a perfect life) for Heaven, God’s blessed place of joy, love, and complete peace. That is pretty bad news, because the alternative to eternal blessedness is eternal torment in Hell. If you think life in this life is bad, you want to avoid the infinitely worse Hell.
OK, I said “bad, good, bad, good news.” Now it is time for the Good news again. Picture you are standing before the ultimate supreme court. Flashing on the screen for all of humanity, all the archangels, all angels and all other heavenly beings to see are every imagination, every thought, every word and every deed you have thought, uttered or done. It will be all the unvarnished truth. Every lie (white or black), every condemning thought about everyone, every theft from petty to greater, every lusting idea, every time you injured another, whether physical or emotional, everything will be broadcast.
This means that no a single second of your life and thoughts will be excluded. The record will have no blank spots – the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth will be available for all to see and hear in full color and stereophonic sound. Also shown will be all the hidden acts of generosity, all the encouraging words, all the help you gave others, all your loving thoughts and deeds and gifts—everything will be exposed.
There will be no balancing scales, however, no offsetting of the good with the bad, or vice versa. I said earlier, the standard is perfection. Who will God allow into His perfect eternity? Only those who have lived perfectly, i.e. lived 24/7/365/80+/- years, only those with a perfect record (not one black mark).
Did I say this was good news? Actually it is. This is how it works. In the world, ethics says it should not be whom you know, but what you know that gives success. The reason is that it is important that all people be treated according to their ability. People consider it unjust for a boss’ relative or friend to be hired or promoted instead of someone who has earned the advancement by dint of hard work. Favoritism in the world is unfair.
However, in God’s Kingdom, it is WHO you know that gives you entry into an eternal life of God’s blessedness—of love, joy and peace.
How can, what in human terms is unjust, be in spiritual realm the opposite? It is a question of justice, not fairness. Justice implies getting one’s deserts. Justice indicates that those who worked harder be favored, and those who produce less be passed over.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23
In God’s perfect view of all men, not one measures up to His standard. Every human that has ever lived and all that will live in the future fail to qualify for God’s Kingdom and must be cast into Hell.
That desperate situation called for God’s mercy. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit knew before they created mankind, that all, every last one, would be unworthy and barred from entry into God’s Presence. To satisfy God’s justice, and yet to fulfill God’s purpose in creating mankind for God to love, required a tremendous sacrifice. According to God’s character, an innocent life can substitute for a sinful life, providing atonement for the sins. The Trinity agreed that the Son would be born, live a sinless life and die as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
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
Also according to God’s character, the unworthy sinner cannot be forced. He or she must voluntarily submit to cleansing by the atoning blood of Christ. Ultimately each person who chooses to belong to Jesus, becomes spiritually known to God. Therefore, those who know that Jesus is their only salvation and cling to Him become the privileged who are allowed into Heaven.
In this way, justice and mercy are both served; at the same time, He preserves mankind’s freedom of choice. It is amazing how He can make it all work together to preserve His order and to bless the people He created to love. He is a loving Father, as well as being omniscient. At the same time, He is just, so all who choose to live their own way get to live without God eternally.
Thus, knowing Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the key to entry onto God’s Kingdom. Come back to that court where He will judge all the people of the world. The Father and the Holy Spirit sit behind and above the Judge overlooking the whole process. At the bar sits the Judge, you must look at Him. You see that He is the Son of God, to whom the Father gave all judgment. There, also, are two books. The book of Works – every deed, word and thought is recorded for each person. That is a gazillion gigabytes of data, but in God’s infinite capacity it is all there.
Next to the book of Works is the book of Life. It is open to the blank page where your name could be written. You hope, fervently your name will be entered in and you will escorted by your guardian angel into glory.
As you approach, the recording angel (we can suppose) opens to your pages. He runs his finger down the right side and smiles at you. Then as his finger runs down the left side, he begins to frown, and then to sigh, and after a long list of negative entries, he looks at the Judge and just sadly shakes his head. The Judge looks at you and you quail, for His decision will be final and you eternal destiny hangs on His judgment. The negative total in the book of Works bears no appeal. That truth indicates a guilty verdict.
As the Son looks at you, He smiles and turns to His Father and says, “Father, this is one of mine, who believed in me and testified for me in the world. The guilty verdict is just; therefore I accept that verdict as my own.” He then turns back to you, raises His gavel and declares “Justified!” and brings it down with a heaven rattling finality. In humble gratitude and deep love for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you enter into glory, shouting praise to Almighty God for His love, mercy and forgiveness.
What happens to our sin? We saw that the total of the good and bad in your life tipped the scales of justice to the left. This meant that you would be left out of Heaven. However, with Jesus’ justification God admitted you. There are several answers to “What happens to our sin?” We will investigate them.
Scripture says God will remove our sins. He will sovereignly make our scarlet sins as white as snow. It says He will remove our sins as far as the east is from the west. It says He will cast them into the depth of the sea. It says He will cast them behind His back. It says He will remember them no more.
All of the above seems to indicate that He will eradicate our sins in some way. That sin which existed, has no more in existence, gone forever.
Jesus ransomed believers from their debt of sin. His blood cleanses us from all sin. Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross. We go free. Jesus took our sins upon Himself. They died with Him. Jesus is the agent, releasing us from sin’s penalty, to bear it no more.
God in the Garden of Eden slaughtered animals to make coverings for Adam and Eve. God shed the blood of innocent animals to cover the nakedness of our first parents. Thus, God established the sacrificial system in which the blood of an innocent victim is atonement for sin. It cannot be human blood, for no human (but One) is sinless and therefore innocent.
It is significant to note that within a generation after the crucifixion of Jesus, the Messiah, the Jewish sacrificial system ceased. The Romans destroyed the Temple. Thus, while Jesus was not the last sacrifice for sin, He was the culminating sacrifice. His human life was sinless perfection, so Jesus could willingly give His life as atonement for all sin. Through Jesus Christ, sins are forgiven.
It the sad truth that not only evil people sin, but believers, who have accepted Jesus’ death for their sin, continue to sin. That is what sanctification is all about. Sanctification is the process whereby we seek out sin in our own lives and work to eradicate it by the power of the Holy Spirit and the dint of our effort. Because none of us is God, therefore total sanctification is impossible. Thus, we all come to that Judicial Bench guilty.
The Apostle Paul teaches us an interesting truth. He points out that we all stand before God with all our accouterments, our gifts, abilities, our record of blessings and of sins. For those who have embraced Christ during their lifetime, there is a pass into heaven. However, since nothing impure can sully the perfection of heaven, all that remains in our life that we have not purged in the sanctification process, must be eliminated before we can enter. Paul states there is a purging fire that we pass through. All that is gold and precious jewels will be unscathed, but that which is unworthy, the “wood, hay and stubble” of our lives, the sins will be purged by holy fire. He warns that the burning away of sin will be excruciatingly painful, but since we belong to Jesus we will embrace the fire and come forth as much fine (as in refined) gold.
Since this is the last of the mailed editions of Glad Tidings, many of you will no longer receive these mailings. Therefore, under “‘editorial privilege” I will give you my swan song.
Do not wait a moment longer, run, do not walk into Jesus’ waiting arms. Throw down every reservation, humble your heart before Jesus the Son of God and accept Him as your only Savior. Confess your need, your sins and seek His ready forgiveness.
I have staked my life on Jesus, and have discovered it was the best decision of my life. It will be yours as well. It is not hard. A simple prayer with a truthful heart, “Jesus I want You.” will do it.
To you who have been living in Christ, I adjure you – go deeper! Do not allow your pride to keep you from your knees. Do not allow your tradition to prevent your whole-hearted and enthusiastic surrender to the overflowing joy that is in Christ. Allow the Holy Spirit to pour living water into your souls and flush out the sin that so easily besets you.
Finally, pray for family, friends, acquaintances and people you see on the street or in stores that surround you and I. Their current lives may eternally separate them from the one true source of love and all that is gloriously good. Do not skip any opportunity to tell them about the love, joy, peace and wonder of the life in Christ. You are the ones that God is calling to evangelize. Take advantage of the privilege to bless them and receive blessing for the glory of God. Amen.
ANSWER: The Holy Spirit fires all revivals. I believe those who have researched past great revivals. They agree that revival comes because God’s people engaged in a concerted prayer effort to call for revival.
Prevenient Grace is the doctrine that the Holy Spirit works in individuals and society to lay the foundation for a turning to Christ. A revival occurs when multitudes of the lost and sinful become excited about Jesus and turn in droves to believe in Him. They abandon their former sin-filled lives and embrace holiness.
In 1740’s Great Awakening in the American Colonies, masses of people confessed faith in Jesus and the result was a positive impact on society. Church attendance skyrocketed. Taverns closed because they had no business, brothels disappeared. Families were strengthened, relationships were healed.
More recently in 1960’s, the Holy Spirit revival swept through the churches, reintroducing the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with attending manifestations. People in all denominations converted from the “frozen chosen” into ecstatic, joyful believers.Then in 1850’s our nation experienced the Second Great Awakening. It was marked by the masses of people who were convicted of their sin and publicly confessed. The revival swept through this young nation restoring the Christ-centered culture.
With our nation officially turning its back on Jesus, if America is to be saved we need a revival, desperately. Pray for revival!
Join me in bowing before our God in gratitude that we can speak directly and personally to Him. He is our loving Father, so we can embrace Him boldly, but respectfully.
My precious God, I am surrounded by people who do not know You. There are children growing up that do not know who Jesus is. There are two generations around us who have never learned any Bible stories in their youth.
What is your will for me? Do I make a fool of myself by going up to strangers on the street to tell them they need Jesus? They do!
Do I write to my neighbors and friends to tell them about Jesus?
Holy Spirit, My loving Father has placed You in my life as the earnest of my inheritance in God’s Kingdom. You are working in me to produce Your fruit in my life. I surrender to Your work in transforming me into a wholly owned servant of my precious Savior.
Convince me of my sin that I may confess and receive Your cleansing. Convince me of my resistance to my Master’s voice. Make me more malleable to His will in my life. Convince me of my ungodly attitudes that I justify. Fill my Heart. Make me a joyful, humble, loving servant to You and the people in my life.
You are my God and I will praise You. You are my Father and I will honor You. You are my Savior and I will thank You. You are my comforter and I will cling to You
You have come to live as a part of my life and I will pay attention to Your dwelling with me. I will submit to You for Your approval all that I think, say and do.
Your wisdom is important to me for all I do.
Now, my gracious God and precious Lord, I offer you my praise. I will glorify Your name by proclaiming it abroad. Blessings and honor and majesty and power and wisdom and glory are Yours, O God, most holy!