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Reduce Your Time in Purgatory: Follow Pope Francis on Twitter…Yes Really

Vine Of Life News

Commentary by: πίστις Copyright© 2013

This is an old post from last July, but I wonder how many people have seen this?

Catholics believe in Purgatory. Purgatory is where people supposedly go after death if they have not done enough penance for their sins according to the Catholic church. In the churches own words: God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, and this doctrine involves as its necessary consequence a belief that the sinner failing to do penance in this life may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God.

You can read more on that here

So, while Christ’s sacrifice on the cross did indeed bring forgiveness of sin, according to the Catholic church, you still have to pay enough for your sins or you will go to Purgatory for additional punishment. This smacks of buying your salvation, works based salvation.

Either Christ paid for our sins, our He did not. You cannot have it both ways. If the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross paid for our sins, and it did…then we cannot do anything to pay for them ourselves or we are invalidating the crucifixion of Christ. The idea here is that one must be perfectly clean, pure and holy to enter God’s presence after death (I agree but that is accomplished by Christ)…so we need to have been punished enough to completely remove the stain of sin upon us according to Catholic doctrine. This is purely ridiculous. I know someone will argue that my interpretation is wrong here…but go read what the Catholic church says itself! Again…we can do nothing to remove the stain of our sins, only Christ can do that. If we need to suffer for our sins so that we may enter into the glorious presence of God after death, then I ask you why did Jesus have to suffer and die for us? Insisting that we as humans need to suffer a certain amount so that we can be unstained in order to enter into God’s presence is saying we need to make payment! Salvation is a free gift, yet the doctrine of the Catholic church would have you believe that you must purchase it. You need to suffer enough for your sins, you must give enough etc. In other words: if you MUST do anything to offset your sins, that is paying in some way and you are effectively destroying the gift that God gave you in salvation. If you pay anything no matter how small, then it is no longer a gift! Ephesians 2:8-9

Now while I fully agree that God punishes sin here on earth, the amount and duration of that punishment is at the sole discretion of God, not any man. The Pope does not have any authority over this, and certainly not any Vatican council. The fact that the Catholic church seems to think it can make all kinds of extra rules such as with Purgatory, granting indulgences, granting forgiveness of sin if you do as the priest tells you to do, and the required veneration of Mary…well they are much more descended from the Pharisees than from Peter.

Think about this, first the Catholic church suggests that you must suffer enough for your wrong doing or you cannot enter into God’s presence, then they say: oh wait…we can lessen your additional punishment in Purgatory if you do these things we say. Like Follow the Pope on Twitter. Really??? Ok so you also have to pray, confess your sin, and go to mass. Still sounds like purchasing favor to me.

Where is any of this in the Bible? Did I maybe miss Twitter in the Bible? Anyone?

I have had believing Catholics tell me they doubt the veracity of the Pope, then say that the doctrine of the Catholic church is sound. Uh…you just contradicted yourself. Don’t get me wrong here, this is no attack on Catholic people as I have been accused of. I hope people read this and search out the truth for themselves. How can anyone see all the contradictions in the Catholic church and believe in it? Many many people who took up their Bibles and read them for themselves have left the Catholic church…there is a reason for that.
The Catholic church leads people astray and does them a disservice all to often. They tie up loads on the people’s shoulders that no one should have to bear. The Pope wants to make nice with every other religion. We are to be separate from other religions.
Deuteronomy 13:6-10 The Pope says it is not up to him to judge if homosexuals go to heaven. The Pope is taking things of the Living Word of God and ignoring them! In the Old Testament God said to take two men who had lain together and kill them! Leviticus 20:13 How much more clear does anyone need this to be? Just for the record…God does NOT hate homosexuals as some sites wrongly say! God loves them as He does you or me. If the homosexual repents of this behavior asking forgiveness…that person will go to heaven. It’s all in the Bible, look it up!

One last thing on Purgatory: remember the story about Lazarus and the Rich man? Luke 16:19-31 Lazarus and the rich man both died. Lazarus was being comforted by Abraham while the rich man was in hell in torment. There was a chasm in between them that none could cross over. So much for Purgatory.

 

One hell of a deal: Pope Francis offers reduced time in Purgatory for Catholics that follow him on Twitter

Court in charge of forgiveness of sins says those that follow upcoming event via social media will be granted indulgences

Around 1.5 million are expected to flock to Rio de Janeiro to celebrate World Youth Day with the Argentine pontiff later this month. But for those who can’t make it to Brazil,  forgiveness may be available to contrite sinners who follow Francis’s progress via their TV screen or social networks.

The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that rules on the forgiveness of sins, has said that indulgences may be given to those who follow the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.

The Penitentiary said that Pope Francis’ Twitter account, which has already gathered seven million followers, would be one such medium.

Vatican officials, noted however, that to obtain indulgences over the internet or otherwise, believers would first have to confess their sins, offer prayers and attend Mass.

“You can’t obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine,” Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

SOURCE: The Independent


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AN INDISPENSABLE PREREQUISITE

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

January 6

John 17:3 NIV
Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent
 
The focus of my ministry, both as a pastor and a seminary professor, has been the interrelated ministries of discipling and Christian counseling. I have been a discipler and a counselor of countless individuals. I have also taught discipleship and pastoral counseling at the seminary level and in churches and leadership conferences across the country. Much of my interaction with people has been to expose the insidious reality of Satan’s relentless assault of deception on the Christian’s mind. He knows that if he can keep you from understanding who you are in Christ, he can keep you from experiencing the maturity and freedom which is your inheritance as a child of God.
 
I am intrigued by the overlap of the ministries of discipling and counseling. Christian discipleship focuses on truth and tends to be future-oriented, provoking spiritual growth and maturity. Christian counseling considers the past to correct problems and address areas of weakness. Your past has shaped your present belief system and will determine your future unless it is dealt with. Biblically, discipleship and counseling are not separate ministries. Both are intensely personal ministries which are necessary to apply the truth to set people free from their past and establish them complete in Christ.
 
Furthermore, it is my conviction that discipleship and counseling must both start where the Bible starts: with a knowledge of God and our identity in Christ. If we really knew God, our behavior would change radically and instantly. That’s what happened in Scripture. Whenever heaven opened to reveal the glory of God, individual witnesses were immediately and profoundly changed. I believe that the greatest determinant of mental and spiritual health and freedom is a true understanding of God and a right relationship with Him. A good theology is an indispensable prerequisite to a good psychology.
 
Prayer: Father, I am eternally grateful to You that in Christ I am a saint dwelling in the heavenlies instead of a sinner wallowing in the mud.


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The Must Read Interview with Satan!

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Copyright© πίστις 2013

Me: Do you acknowledge Jesus as being truly God?

Satan: Of course I do as do the demons, it is only foolish humans that do not.

Me: So why do you think so many people refuse to acknowledge Christ as Lord?

Satan: Because they want to live any way they choose doing what they want when they want to, works for me! It makes my job easier.

Me: Did you really temp Jesus?

Satan: Of course I did! If Jesus would have accepted my offer of all the kingdoms of the earth being His to rule we would not be having this conversation because I would have won!

Me: How do you figure the earth and its’ kingdoms are yours to give?

Satan: When Adam disobeyed God his dominion over all the earth passed to me. You did notice that Jesus did not say I was wrong when I offered Him MY kingdoms right?

Me: Did Jesus truly die on the cross?

Satan: Yup He sure did, I was there and had a hand in that…one of my finer moments.

Me: But then on the third day Jesus rose from the dead…

Satan: Oh…yes that was a really bad day for me. He was not supposed to come back to life that really upset me. I’m still angry about that day.

Me: Lets talk about the people of this world. Why do you temp people so much with so many evil things?

Satan: HA…don’t make me laugh! Have you not read James? That miserable cretin got the picture right away.

Me: Explain please…

Satan: People believe (at least those that believe I exist) that temptation originates with me. It does not it originates with the people I tempt! I only encourage all those foul thoughts that are already there in their minds.

Me: So we are to blame for the temptations that overtake us?

Satan: Precisely…that is why most of the world is mine! I just encourage all those bad thoughts, those actions that people know they really should not do.

Me: What are your thoughts about prayer?

Satan: I HATE prayer! Then people don’t listen to my “suggestions” so easily. So don’t pray people and do not read the Bible.

Me: So you DO believe the word of God is real and powerful.

Satan: Ummm yeah unfortunately I have to. People have been using that book against me for a long time. The Apostle Paul did lots of damage and he used to be on my side!

Me: So the Pharisees were your children?

Satan: That’s what Jesus said.

Me: So what about those who do not even believe you are real?

Satan: That is one of my finest works! I deceive and lure people to their deaths…permanent separation from God Himself and they do not even believe I exist…I love it!

Me: But the Bible says you are real…

Satan: True it does, but people have to actually read the Bible and then believe what they read. I deceive people into NOT believing what the Bible says. And then they argue over what is real and what is not…I whole-heartedly encourage this!

Me: So do your deceptions also work on Believers?

Satan: Oh my yes! Many believers in God do not want to acknowledge that true evil exists…after all a loving God would not permit that now would He…

Me: So you are evil then?

Satan: No no…of course I’m not! I just give people what they want! You only have one life to live after all!

Me: True…but the question is where are we going to live our eternal life?

Satan: With me! It will be one big party with friends!

Me: Oh come now Satan, you know that is not true! According to the word of God hell is anything but a party, it is a place of eternal suffering.

Satan: People don’t believe that.

Me: But it is true nonetheless. Why don’t you give your life to Christ and have your sins forgiven and be set free?

Satan: NEVER!! This interview is over!

This is of course not real, but the principles of this interview are. Satan is a master of deception even among people who DO believe in Christ. So many do not believe in Satan because they are blinded by the fact that God DOES allow evil. I did not say God causes evil, but it IS allowed…for now. You have only to look around you at the world in general to see that this is true.

So you have two choices: believe that there really is no God because of the rampant evil in this world…or you believe that God is real in which case you MUST believe that God allows evil things in the world. If God be God, and He is all-powerful, then it only stands to reason that evil IS allowed. Evil in this world was and is brought about by the sin of man…so no one should be blaming God for it!

The rightful ruler of this world has allowed it to be ruled by Satan…for a time. If you read your Bible you know this. But that time is fast drawing to a close. We live in the end of the End Times. It will not be long before the return of Jesus Christ to this world once more.

So where do you stand? Have you given your heart and soul to Jesus, or are you still serving Satan? You cannot have it both ways you know. Your Father is God Himself, or your father is Satan…choose this day whom you will serve! Not making a choice IS making a choice. You will NOT have a second chance after death as some teach! If you die today without having accepted Christ, your fate is sealed…hell for all eternity.

There are no scare tactics here as I and many others have been accused of but rather simple facts. You cannot serve two masters, and God will not be mocked! You serve Him, or you serve your father the devil…Satan.

No matter what sins you have committed, you CAN be saved! Do NOT wait until you are “better” to except Jesus. This is another lie fostered by the father of lies Satan! Jesus will accept you as you are; no matter what you have done if you come to Him truly repentant of the things you have done. If you have lived 70 years as a wantonly evil person…God will accept you as His child provided you come to Him and repent of what you have done and ask His forgiveness! Hitler himself had he dropped to his knees and earnestly prayed for forgiveness would now be in heaven…that may offend some of you but it is the truth!

No fancy words are needed, just pray…tell the Lord you are sorry for your sins and ask for forgiveness. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior today! Accept that Jesus death on the cross was enough to pay for your sins. Place your trust in Him, not yourself or your works that are of no value without first trusting in ONLY Jesus to save you. If you hear His voice calling, do not wait another moment! Commit your life to the only One who can save you, Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins, meaning that you change your life and live the way that God wants you to no longer living the sinful life you once did.

Yes it really is that simple. God will give you the strength to change! True change comes from within, the power of Christ within you once you have accepted Him.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He (Jesus) is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.


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What do Babies, Jesus, and Your Death (or not) Have in Common?

©Copyright πίστις 2013

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Babies are so cool…little bundles of cuteness, a new life created by God. Their needs are really pretty simple if at times very overwhelming! They want to be fed, held and loved. When they do not feel good…they look to us as the parent to fix it, make the problem go away.

So what do we as adults have in common with babies? Lots and at the same time little. Let me explain…

Babies all have one characteristic in common; they are completely helpless. Anything babies’ need is provided for them by the parents.

We all began life as this helpless little new life dependent on someone to take care of us; if someone did not fulfill the responsibility of taking care of us as babies…we would have surely perished. Then we grow up and outgrow this need…or do we?

Soon before you know it that baby is a toddler, and then in a blink of an eye they are the willful teenager…and right around the corner they morph into the young man or woman that knows it all while you the parent are an idiot that knows nothing. Not all kids are like this, but many are to some degree.

We live our lives, we learn our lessons in school, and we gain life experience. At some point we live on our own and manage our own lives. We are adults and can make our own decisions and take care of ourselves now right?

I would submit to you that this is an illusion. Don’t feel bad…we have all participated in this illusion and many still are. NO one is self sufficient…many think they are but it is not so. This is another lie fostered by Satan himself. If you truly believe you are self sufficient, then you have no need of God do you?

As I said before babies are born helpless. As a matter of fact, we are all helpless in a way and it does not end because we can manage our own household.

You see my friends…we are all born dead. Yes dead! We are born spiritually dead, separated from God. During the course of our lives we have opportunity to reverse this “spiritual deadness”. We are helpless to do this however without the help of our Creator…God.

You may very well get through life just fine without God…but what are you going to do when your physical body dies and your eternal soul stands before Christ? When Christ says to you why should I let you into my heaven…what are you going to say? You were a good person? Sorry…that does not count. There is only one correct answer to that question; I trust in Jesus.

As a baby is utterly helpless to take care of itself, we are utterly helpless to bring our eternal spirit to life without Christ. We are all born spiritually dead, the only way that condition changes is by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Why are we born spiritually dead? We all sin, sin is death and it only takes one. Not death of the body as we all will die unless Christ comes back first but that is another topic altogether. We are speaking of the death of your spirit. Let me make this as simple as possible. We all have a soul and spirit. Our soul is what makes us who we are; gives life to the otherwise inanimate body. Our spirit connects us to God. When we are born, the soul is alive so to speak, but the spirit is not as our spirit is not yet connected to God. If you die without connecting your spirit to God…well you will be separated from God forever and your spirit will die forever. However…your soul on the other hand will live on eternally…in hell. Yes that is right, your soul will life forever tormented in hell…Bibles words not mine.

The thing is loved ones…it does NOT have to be this way! Jesus Christ regardless of what you do or do not think of Him came here to save you! Jesus died on the cross so that you may go to Him, ask for forgiveness of your sins, change your life to live for Him and receive eternal life in heaven…your spirit alive and your body perfectly restored better than it was in life. What does not sound good about that?

Either you accept Christ and live forever with Him; no more pain either physical or emotional, no more death, no more anything bad ever! Or…you refuse Christ and you will suffer for that decision forever in hell. God sends no one to hell…you choose that eternal destination for your self at the same time you willingly choose to refuse the One who created you Lordship over your life.

You can refuse Christ now and party down and do anything you want to, but you WILL pay for that decision!! Please realize that your decisions now will affect you in eternity.

Christ is soon to return to this earth. Time is short…the need to accept Him as Lord and Savior is now, not tomorrow. You may not have a tomorrow.

Watch this video on our YouTube channel about how quickly one can be here today and gone tomorrow. WARNING…this video is VERY graphic. You will see people actually die.

To accept Christ simply pray to Him. Ask Him into your heart and confess all sins to Him. Believe that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was enough to pay for your sins. Place your trust in Jesus for your eternal life not yourself. Believe that Christ rose from the dead and lives even now with the Father in heaven.

Welcome to the family of God!

God bless you all
Greg


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So Your Life Is Falling Apart

God Running

Written by Kurt Bennett

So your life is falling apart. You lost something. You lost your job, or you lost your wife in a divorce, or you lost your father, mother, son, or daughter because they died, or you lost your health. So now you’re in pain, and not the kind that an aspirin can help you with. You’re in the kind of pain that makes you realize you need help–from God.

Well I’m here to tell you some things you’ve probably never heard before about becoming a Christian. You want God’s help, so you’re ready to ask Jesus Christ into your life, but you probably don’t realize what you’re in for. It’s not like you’re buying a gold fish for yourself, throwing him into a bowl of water, and feeding him once a day. Yes Jesus can help you, but remember, He’s the One Who created you. He’s the One Who created the whole world, and more than the world He created the sun and the whole solar system. And more than the solar system, He created the whole galaxy. And more than the galaxy, He created the whole universe. He created quarks, and black holes, and oceans, and mountains, and atoms, and electrons, and clouds, and comets. When you invite Him into your life, yes, you get His help, but along with the power to help you, you get the rest of His power too. He will willingly walk with you through your pain, if you’re brave enough to willingly walk with Him.

Another thing about Him: His standards are impossibly high, and you’ll never live up to those standards. Like all of us, you realize you’ve failed in your life. At one time or another, maybe very recently, you’ve lied, or you’ve stolen, or you’ve lusted, or you’ve broken a promise. Other religions try to teach you how to live, but with Christ, God provides you with life. God of course knows about your sins. So God provided His Son Jesus, to die for those sins, on your behalf. Jesus is life. He is the way, the truth, and the life.

You have access to that life, to eternal life, to new life. You have access to Jesus Christ. You can not only experience God’s presence while walking in your pain, but you can experience God’s presence forever. You can live, with Him, in heaven. In fact, God says. If you don’t want to live with Me in heaven, it will have to be over My dead body–the dead body of My Son. If you accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for your sins, if you accept Jesus Christ into your life, if you ask Jesus Christ into your heart, to be your savior, and your Lord, and your friend, then you’ll receive God’s presence in this life, and in eternity.

To accept Him now as your personal Lord and savior simply say the prayer,

Jesus, I’m a sinner. I believe you died on the cross to pay for my sins and I thank you for doing that. I believe you rose again and that you are the Son of God. Please come into my life and into my heart. Be my Lord and my Savior.

The words aren’t magical, what’s important is you opened your heart to invite Jesus into your life. And that’s the beginning.

Now find yourself a bible and read it. (I recommend these bible reading plans on the YouVersion App) Don’t worry about how much you read. Just be sure to read a little from the Old and New Testaments each day. It’s taken me as long as four years to read through the whole Bible.

Find yourself a church that teaches through the entire Bible and attend it. Hang out with other Christians–you’ll be blessed.

Pray, every day.

Tell others about Jesus.

If you have questions, send me an email at kurt@kurtbennettbooks.com.


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Totally Alive

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

October 11
 
2 Corinthians 4:16 
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
 
You are comprised of at least two major parts: your material self and your immaterial self. The outer man is your physical body, and the inner man is your soul/spirit which includes the ability to think, to feel, to choose (mind, emotions and will are often collectively identified as the soul), and to relate to God (spirit). Your body is in union with your soul/spirit, and that makes you physically alive. As a Christian, your soul/spirit is in union with God as a result of your conversion, and that makes you spiritually alive.
 
When God created Adam, he was totally alive–physically and spiritually. But because of Adam’s sin and subsequent spiritual death, every person who comes into the world is born physically alive but spiritually dead. Being separated from God, you lacked the presence and wisdom of God in your life, so you learned to live independently of God, centering your interests on yourself. This learned independence from God is characteristic of the flesh or the old nature.
 
When you were born again, your soul/spirit was united with God and you came alive spiritually, as alive as Adam was in the garden before he sinned. As the epistle of Epheisans repeatedly declares, you are now in Christ, and Christ is in you. Since Christ who is in you is eternal, the spiritual life you have received from Him is eternal. You don’t have to wait until you die to get eternal life; you possess it right now!
 
Our hope does not lie in the preservation of the outer man. It lies in the developing nature of the inner man. Our soul is in union with God and we are being renewed day by day. We will eventually lose our physical life, but not our spiritual life. Our emphasis should be on what is eternal, not on what is temporal.
 
Prayer: Lord, I won’t lose heart over the setback in my life today because my hope lies in my eternal union with You.


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SECURITY IN ETERNITY

By Neil Anderson

September 20

banner_secondary_who i am in christ
Psalm 18:2 
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold
 
The key to experiencing security in your life is to depend on things that are eternal, not temporal. Christians often feel insecure because they are depending on temporal things they have no right or ability to control. For example, some people rely on their money for material security instead of relying on God’s promise to supply all our needs. The safest place to keep money a few years ago was a savings and loan institution. But many have failed and the security people had placed in them was shattered. Only eternal investments are secure.
 
I believe God is shaking the foundations of the world. Natural disasters are on the increase, kingdoms are being toppled, political boundaries are being redrawn, and anarchy reigns in many poor countries. Scripture warns us that such conditions would precede the second coming of Christ (Matthew 24). This shouldn’t alarm us; we should be excited. Christ’s return will be the day of the church for those who have stored up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).
 
Security only comes from relating to that which is anchored in eternity. Jesus said that we have eternal life and that no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:27-29). Paul declared that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:35-39) and that we are sealed in Him by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14). How much more secure can you get than that? When your ultimate trust is in temporal values and relationships, you are always subject to insecurity because these things are subject to failure and can be lost. The greatest sense of security you can experience is the byproduct of taking a firm grip on values and relationships which will endure as long as God Himself.
 
Prayer: Lord, my Rock, thank You for the peace and security that comes from trusting in You instead of temporal values.


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THE VIEW FROM THE CROSS

By Neil Anderson

September 16

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ
Matthew 16:25, 26 
Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?
 
Three guidelines from these verses summarize the view from the cross, which we must adopt to counteract the self-centered worldview promoted by the god of this world.
 
First, we must sacrifice the lower life to gain the higher life. If you want to save your natural life (i.e., find your identity and sense of self-worth in positions, titles, accomplishments and possessions and seek only worldly well-being), you will lose it. At best you can only possess these temporal values for a lifetime, only to lose everything for eternity.
 
Furthermore, in all your efforts to possess these earthly treasures, you will fail to gain all that can be yours in Christ. Shoot for this world and that’s all you’ll get, and eventually you will lose even that. But shoot for the next world and God will throw in the benefits of knowing Him in this present life as well. Paul put it this way: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7, 8).
 
Second, sacrifice the pleasure of things to gain the pleasure of life. What would you accept in trade for the fruit of the Spirit in your life? What material possession, what amount of money, what position or title would you exchange for the love, joy, peace and patience that you enjoy in Christ? “Nothing,” we all probably agree. Victory over self comes as we learn to love people and use things instead of using people and loving things.
 
Third, sacrifice the temporal to gain the eternal. Possibly the greatest sign of spiritual maturity is the ability to postpone rewards. It is far better to know that we are the children of God than to gain anything that the world calls valuable. Even if following Christ results in hardships in this life, He will make it right in eternity.
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You alone are God. Help me to choose the higher life today instead of seeking the pleasures of this world.


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Fire: Keeping the Flame Ablaze

During this summer, I have spent some time clearing out a worship spot at my house in the back of our woods. I must say, I really enjoyed doing it. I wanted a spot that I could go and spend time with God in solitude. I gathered old down trees to use for seating, found various pieces of old furniture to place back there, and Tiki Torches to help keep away bugs. In the middle I built a good-sized fire pit for bonfires. The other evening I went out to that spot to spend some time with God. My brother was with me and we were trying to light the fire. The pit had quite a bit of wood in it so if we ever got it lit, it would be a very big and nice fire. The problem was we couldn’t get the fire lit.  Granted the top pieces were a little wet, but the rest of the pile was dry, so we didn’t think it would be much of a problem. We had pieces of cardboard to help start the fire, but it didn’t work. We lit some of the dry leaves in the midst of the sticks, but it didn’t work either. We even found some straw to light to help with the process, but all it did was burn. It didn’t stay lit and the fire died quickly. So finally after much frustration, we got the gasoline. Now, I realize this is not the smartest choice nor safest, but I wanted a fire! Luckily nothing bad happened! So we light a few more pieces of cardboard and paper just enough to keep it a flame for a few minutes. Then we doused the places we didn’t have lit with some gasoline so with the fire caught it, it would light up. The finally we applied the gasoline on the flames that were going and instantly, the fire went ablaze. We experienced the thrill of getting our fire lit and the fire was glorious…for about ten minutes. But soon, that gasoline had burnt away, the wood had never really caught a flame, and the fire died out again quickly. Now I realize that there are better ways to light a fire, and if I did some other things I could have probably got that fire going. However, I’m glad I tried to light the fire the way I did because God used it to teach me something.

When the fire began to die out again, I was getting kind of irritated. Then I felt God speak to my heart saying, “I need people who will tend and stir the fire, not just light it.” I immediately knew what God was saying to me. In order to keep a fire going, you have to constantly add fire to the pile, you have to stir the fire to keep the fire going, and you have to watch it. Gasoline is a nice help, but it is only a temporary fix. It only lasts for a moment. It looks glorious and the flames are huge, but they don’t have much life. God doesn’t need followers who will be like the gasoline. Who will become very passionate and devoted to God one day, and have a devotion to Him that dies at the end of the week. He wants followers who will fan the flames. Who will keep the fire going, even if that means taking longer steps in doing so. Followers who will spend the extra time in prayer, reading of His Word, and living out the life He calls His people to.

I think you would be very hard pressed to find a church, if you asked them, would not want to see people come to know Christ. I mean, that’s just a ludicrous thought. The Church may have many different denomination and beliefs of theology, but I don’t really think there are many people in the Church who do not want to see souls saved. In fact if there are any, I really think those people need to evaluate their life and see if the are in step with the Spirit. But all too often the Church tries to witness to the world with gasoline. With big and glorious displays of various ministries, emotional appeals, etc. Those of you who serve the Lord know exactly what I’m talking about. But those things don’t last. People who come to the Lord on those terms won’t last unless that fire is cultivated. Unless their flames are stirred and wood is added to the fire. If the Church and Christians want to set this world on fire, we first have to cultivate the fire in our own hearts, then also be willing to take the time to minister properly and effectively to help keep the fire lit the hearts of others as well. Jesus told His followers that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they will be His witnesses. The Holy Spirit gives Christians the power to witness to others about Jesus powerfully. God is the source of that fire. I pray that believers everywhere will submit to the Holy Spirit and allow God move in their hearts. I also pray that Christians all over the world will fan into flame the gifts of God and take the steps necessary to keep that flame going. When the fire rises true and proud, the world around us will catch fire too. Don’t use the gasoline. Cultivate that fire.

“Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” ~2 Timothy 1:6

“Fire must be kept burning on the altar continually; it must not go out.” ~Leviticus 6:13

May God be with you.

-Joey