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Flesh vs. Spirit, part I

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“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please (Galatians 5:17, NAS).”

 

There is an ongoing battle between the flesh and the Spirit. Satan wants to activate the flesh in all of its deadness because he strongly desires to make people act irrationally, unjustly, mercilessly, selfishly, foolishly – evil and against The Kingdom of God. Where God uses His Spirit to connect with our spirit internally, Satan uses the flesh to connect with us externally. The god of this world provokes us to evil through emotionalism.

Emotionalism stems from the flesh. Emotionalism, in whatever form it may present itself, causes us to act and react in an unholy manner and, when we do, we justify our poor conduct. Emotionalism causes us to rationalize bad behavior with “I’m tired, I’m stressed, I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m bored, I’m irritated, I’m right, I’m aroused, I’m hungry, I’m needy…I’m, I’m, I’m!” Notice the “I” which translates: I’m thinking only of myself (an idol set before God) and not of God who is my life. My fleshly thinking is more important that heavenly, spiritual thinking.

In this, our God-focus becomes buried under self-focus; and believe me when I say that I am not exempt! My child and I have simultaneously undergone much travail with our health the last two and a half years; stressful and exhausting does not begin to express this experience. We are both feeling much improved these days, but that is not the focal point.

The subject at hand is that situations such as this can gradually cause us to become weakened spiritually so as to awaken the fleshly nature – or rather, they cause us to recognize and face that which has not been fully consigned to Christ as we may have thought. I know for me at the worst of it, I caught myself saying things at the “slip of the tongue” (aka lack of self-discipline) that are not godly and have had to quickly consign myself back to Christ.

I have said for years that bad situations do not change people; they only bring about truth of who the person really is underneath the tidy veneer. It’s easy to walk with God when things are great, but turn up the heat and yikes – out comes all the junk! For me personally, I find that where patience would otherwise prevail, impatience and irritation with people and things tended to become more prevalent. When I stepped back and heard/saw myself, I was appalled, or rather; my spirit, Holy Spirit, was appalled at the flesh in which I reside. This is the battle spoken of in Galatians 5:17.

That which the flesh loves (self-desires), the Spirit hates and vice versa. As long as we live in this fleshly shell, there will be battle. There, of course, will be times where the battle seems less intense, but it’s there nonetheless and can do a sneak-attack if we are not on guard at all times. But we are not without hope, people of the Most High God!

Romans 7:14-25, NAS: For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”

 

Stay tuned for next week’s part II! If you’re interested in reading more, please go to my website and check out my books or my ministry Facebook page.

Peace and blessings,

 

Alexys V. Wolf

 

www.thefierysword.com

 https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fiery-Sword-Global-Ministries/185299884822251

 http://thefierysword.wordpress.com/


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A Call to Commit: Crush the Idols

So many who come to faith in Christ seem to want to return to where they were before. Why? They think it was better or “more fun” to live in slavery to sin. As I have shared before I call this place a “Christian’s Spiritual Egypt.” Obviously I am referencing when Israel wanted to return to slavery in Egypt instead of continuing to the Promised Land. They thought they’d be safer and more comfortable there. So a Christian (I am not referring to all believers) thinks their old life was better and they want to return. They want to return to their slavery to sin. That comes from a lack of trust in God which is exactly what the Israelites were suffering from at the particular time I’m referencing. My message here is to those Christians who are on the fence. I pray the Holy Spirit draws you close before you fall back into the vicious cycle of an utterly sinful life.

“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”- 1 Kings 18:21

In this passage of scripture Elijah is establishing to the people of Israel this same message that I’m trying to give to you: You can’t truly serve more than one god. You need to either choose the One True God or you can choose the worthless gods who will do nothing for you. I’m talking about money, popularity, power, sex, relationships, etc. Those are all idols when you put them before serving the Lord.

Elijah isn’t the only one who spoke this message in the Bible. Jesus told us that we can’t serve two masters. We’ll hate one or the other (Matthew 6:24). Sin is rebellion against God. And that is ultimately hatred towards God. Also, God can’t go against his own character. If you choose to live in slavery to sin, God will be forced to withdraw His presence, His Holy Spirit from you. We saw that happen to Israel’s first king, Saul.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul…”- 1 Samuel 16:14

Saul chose to disobey God and lead a life of rebellion. He paid the price for it. God doesn’t change, so He is required to do the same today because He is just.

Sin is so deceiving and it sneaks up on you like a predator. You begin to tolerate one little thing and that gives a foothold for the enemy. Sin then slowly takes over your life. Finally, you feel trapped and you can’t get out. No matter how much you want to and how much you try you can’t. I’ve been there. Then, if you don’t confess your sin to the Lord and repent, you begin to love your sin and you’re back to where you were before Christ. Finally, you’ll begin to plunge deeper and deeper until you are destroyed by your sin unless you turn back to Christ. That is the downward spiral of sin.

“How come every time we buy into an idol, we’re the ones that get devoured?”- Jefferson Bethke

Because as Jefferson Bethke states in the video I just quoted, “An idol takes, it never gives.” When you’re so wrapped up in what people think of you that you’ll do anything to gain their acceptance, you are a slave to acceptance. You have now put that before God. It’s the same way with anything else. Popularity isn’t bad, unless you turn it into an ultimate. Money isn’t bad until it’s turned into an ultimate. What are your idols?

“This day I call the heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”- Deuteronomy 30:19

Life is found in Jesus Christ. Death is found in sin and the ways of the world. It’s as simple as that. Your choice. No one else can make it for you. God’s not going to force you to choose life, but he wants you to. If you turn your heart away from God and choose to be disobedient and serve your idols, you will surely be destroyed (Deuteronomy 30:17-18). Choose life (that is: Jesus) today.

You know who you are. If you are on the fence and are falling into the idol trap, you haven’t gone too far. The grace of God can reach you. No matter what you’ve done you can be made new. If you repent and turn back to your faith in Christ, you will be saved. God promises us that. If you have been ensnared by sin, pray to God and repent now. Don’t wait. Do whatever measures it takes to crush your idols.

Make this declaration:

“As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”- Joshua 24:15

Here is the video of Jefferson Bethke that I quoted. This poem is inspired by what true manhood is, but I believe everyone can get something out of this.

God bless you!

-Austin


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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


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Depart From Me. I Never Knew You.

Matthew 7:21-23:    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

This passage tells us that not everyone who claims to be a Christian will go to Heaven. Jesus says many times that obeying the will of God is a condition for entering Heaven. It doesn’t save us, but it should be a response to our salvation. It is by God’s power and grace that we are able to live according to God’s will. That means we need to pray for that power and put it into action.

Jesus states that “not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.” There will be people who truly believe they are serving Him, but they really don’t truly know Jesus. They don’t have that relationship. It is important that you strive to know Him more everyday. Your salvation has everything to do with your relationship with Christ. If you don’t have that true relationship, you aren’t saved. No relationship=Unsaved. But when you accept Christ as your Savior (come into a relationship with Him) you get your salvation. Jesus is salvation.

Jesus told the people who “ministered” to people that he never knew them. There it is again. That relationship I’ve been talking about in recent posts. These people are involved in powerful, supernatural activity, but they didn’t have a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul says that what appears to be powerful ministry can actually be the “work of Satan.”

So listen to this warning. Be careful of false teachers! When you hear a message, look into the Word. If the message doesn’t line up with what the Bible says, then throw the message out! Always go back to the Word.

I would want someone to do that for me. If something I say or write doesn’t line up with God’s Word, confront me about it so I can go back to the Word myself and correct my message. I never want to be a false teacher!

God bless! And remember (no matter who the preacher is) check a message with God’s Word.

-Austin

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A Letter from Pastor Saeed Abedini

This is a letter from Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in prison at one of the most brutal prisons in Iran for his Christian faith. Keep him in your prayers. The ACLJ has put his letter onto a video. Here it is:

You can sign the petition for his release here:

http://aclj.org/iran/save-american-pastor-from-iranian-prison-sentence

God bless!

-Austin

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A Call To Anguish- Full David Wilkerson Sermon

This is a sermon by David Wilkerson. Very powerful. Take a listen!

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America: A Nation Turned Against God? (Part Two)

Alicia

Are We Losing Focus?

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.  If you look within, you’ll be depressed.

 If you look to God, you’ll be at rest.”  ~Corrie Ten Boom

Sadly, the Christmas celebration came to a predictable end and I was once again forced to begin the drive back to Tennessee from my hometown in Michigan.  This year, this also meant trudging through inches of snow lying on the Michigan and (northern) Ohio pavement.  Ugh.  Let the fun begin…

I decided to make a stop at a McDonalds in Ohio–not only to maintain my caffiene intake, but also to give my dog, Bagel, a much needed visit outdoors.  The interior of this McDonalds was quite a suprise.  It had a beautiful stone fireplace, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and a large decorative clock mounted on the back wall.  When I was a kid, a McDonalds was considered fancy-shmancy if it had a ball pit or Ronald McDonald statue to shake hands with in the foyer.  Now however, fast-food restuarants have apparently become a luxurious place to put our feet up, warm ourselves by the fire, and at the sound of the gong on a grand ole clock, make our way to the next looming appointment in our sometimes grueling days.

We have come a long way as a society.  Perhaps the progression of a fast-food restaurant’s aestheic design isn’t the best example of this, but it does however paint a picture.

* * *

Each year, I see our American culture becoming busier, more advanced, and surprisingly maintaining an increasing “need” for acquiring more “things.”  We have more toys, gadgets and fantastically tantalizing thingamabobs then we’ve ever had before.  Practically everything seems to exist in a digital format, presented with the help of multiple digital devices that constantly remain in the race for which is the smallest, fastest, and containing the most storage space.  As a result, information is more readily available, efficiency is improved, and yet…why is it that we still seem to maintain, and even amplify those busy schedules?  Perhaps one reason is to continue paying for those gadgets that are supposed to make our lives so much easier??

Regardless of the reason, it’s happening.  Our pace is in over-drive.  Our destractions are rolling in with unstoppable force.  And where does that seem to leave us?   Most likely, this type of lifestyle does and will only continue to steal our time and focus from God, our provider of wisdom and rest.

We lose focus.  We struggle.  We’re surrounded by harsh realities on the evening news and we fear what our children and grandchildren will see on their televisions when the time comes.  When does it end, and what can we do to stop it?  I hate to admit this, but as long as each of us has a pulse here on earth, it won’t end.  Devestating news reports will continue to roll in and technology will continue to steal our attention.

We may not have control over everything that happens in this world (we were never meant to), but we do have control over our focus.  God hasn’t gone anywhere.  He is our sturdy, picturesque oak tree maintaining the strength in His limbs for our protection.  However, the further we stray from His shade, the more susceptable we are to destractions and self-destruction.  Now more than ever, it is necessary to remain close to His branches, despite the rough weather in our midst.

Moreover, no matter what state our world is in, or where our personal footing lies, we must never forget the image we were created in and our purpose to shine for Him.  Today, here and now, we’re not finished yet.  There’s still time.  There’s still hope.  Dwelling on shortcomings won’t bring us or our nation any closer to God; it’s only one more distraction in our world of “things.”

Lets keep our focus where it should be, on His guiding Words, and His withstanding branches.  If we focus too much on the distress, we may miss the beauty.

 

Provoking Thought:  Have you recently been swept away by the world’s distractions?  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a smartphone, iPad, or eReader.  (God knows I do!)  However, perhaps consider loading a Bible app to one of these devices during your next use.  A little reading goes a long way.

**Do you have any suggestions to share on how you maintain focus?  We’d love to hear!

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

 

Alicia M. Smith

Twitter: @AliciaMSmith7

 

Brody Barcus (my 15-year old cousin):

America is nearly exactly like Israel in every aspect. Just like Israel, our founding was one of the most miraculous this world has ever seen. And, just like Israel, our society was to be centered around our God and not ourselves. Our nation was designed to be set apart from all others in the way it was run and the God that it served. But after all of this was set into place, we failed to teach younger generations of those miracles which led to Israel’s demise and will lead to ours.

How did this happen? A blind man could see that our country has a moral standard that changes every time that it is opposed. Laws that used to be based on morals are being considered “unconstitutional” and are being thrown out of the legal system. Moral values are now considered opinion and are no longer considered honorable but are instead made out to be intolerable and, in a way, dangerous to our society. But, unfortunately, this is our fault. We are letting this happen and it’s time for us to stand up, take off the diapers, and start making others aware of what’s happening and start doing something about it instead of idly complaining.

-Brody Barcus

Note: I also asked my pastor to write a piece on this topic. However, circumstances have arisen and he will take a little longer to write his piece. I’ll post his piece in a part 3 when he sends it to me. For now, I will continue with my blogs as usual. Thank you everyone for your help in writing about this topic!

It’s time America turns back to God. I can’t promise that if we turn back to God we won’t implode. But if we don’t turn back to the Lord, wake up, and start running this country has it was originally intended; we face a guaranteed collapse.

It’s time to wake up! Time is of the essence.

In Christ,

Austin

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America: A Nation Turned Against God (Part One)

I wanted to write an article about how America has tried to moved beyond God. It seems this nation has almost turned it’s back completely on God. Given, there are still many, many strong believers in this nation, but as a majority, I fear this nation is collapsing from the inside. Imploding. We have pushed God to the side and have told Him that we don’t need Him any longer. We think we can take care of ourselves, but we can’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love America. I am extremely blessed to be a part of this country. I just feel like unless the United States turns back to the Lord, we will continue to collapse until this nation is no more.

As Mike Huckabee puts it, we have “personally escorted” God out of our society. It’s like the majority of the nation wants nothing to do with him. I see us a lot like the Israelites of the Old Testament. We have worship and follow the Lord for a time, but eventually we ended up turning against His commands. Now when something terrible happens, we turn to God and ask why he wasn’t there. And even after a tragedy, we ask God to remove Himself from our lives shortly after we “turn back to him.” Galatians 6:7 says: “Do not be deceived: God can” not be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” America will reap what she sows. It’s as plain as that. If we do not turn back to the One True God, we will face total collapse. Israel did and we will too if we don’t turn back. Fortunately, God is a patient and merciful God. However, eventually He will say enough and punish us for our sinful ways. Turn back to Jesus Christ. That is the only way to truly change the United States.

Joel C. Rosenberg says in his book Implosion: Can America Recover from Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time? that the Church is “the last best hope for America.” There will be no revival in America if the Church doesn’t wake up and stand up for what God commands. We are experiencing moral decay right now. And when a nation’s morals decay so does their economy and, eventually, their existence. It’s happened to every superpower in history. It’s what happened to the Roman Empire, Israel, etc.

I have also asked the other authors here at ICB to write a brief article regarding this topic. Here’s what they said:

Cheryl:

Is America turning away from God? Is this wonderful nation once built on “In God We Trust” forgetting the foundation it was built upon?  In my opinion I would say yes.  I think that unless we see a revival rock this country, we will see it flounder and fall.

I was a public school elementary teacher for twenty-five years.  I was in the classroom BEFORE computers were in the classroom, so I have seen many changes in how schools are run.  Sadly, the schools are falling under the pressure of our government to remove any mention of God or prayer.

Saying the Pledge of Allegiance is so controversial these days, all because of the words, “One nation under God.” Can you imagine somebody in the political realm changing the Pledge by removing “under God” with another phrase?  I believe it could happen.  The Pledge is still said in schools and sports events but for how long?

At Christmas, schools are expected to put on a Christmas program except it is no longer called a “Christmas” program.  Rather, “it’s often called a Holiday” or “Winter” program since this is seen as more politically correct.

The content of the programs are also closely monitored by School Districts not wanting to upset their public. “Jolly Ol’ Saint Nicholas “ and “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” have replaced the beautiful and traditional carols of old like, “We Three Kings” and “Away In A Manger.”  God is slowly leaving the minds of our young as Santa grows more popular and less offensive that God.  God forgive this nation.

Greg:

The Death of America
The United States is dying; it is a slow and painful death that has been in progress for years. Why?
America has moved away from God, we as a country have been moving away from God at a steady rate for years. With the removal of God from many people’s lives, the secondary effects have been immediate and damaging.
Years ago morals and character meant something to most folks. In today’s fast paced go get-um world…success is the name of the game at any cost. A successful life is no longer characterized by strength of character and family along with community service and church involvement. It is characterized by how many toys you own, how much money you make, your position and influence in the corporate world.
Church is merely a social club if people bother to go at all. Church is not cool anymore so no need to be there really.
Today’s society fosters and aggressively promotes Me-ism; the world is all about me and what I want and how fast I can get it. Me, me, me, me…others are just in the way unless they serve to get me what I want.
In years gone by…people cared more about their fellow man, and were more willing to help others. The focus was not so much on you; but on others and contributing towards the common good.
Last but in no way least; truth has become irrelevant, truth today is whatever the individual views it to be. Truth, real truth is God centered…God’s Word is absolute truth. That view is no longer held as valid by an increasing majority in today’s world.
Yes the United States is committing a crime against God and itself. America has invited the wrath of Almighty God, and that wrath is descending quickly.
Sue and Bruce

God has made it very plain throughout His word that a nation is blessed if that nation worships Him as Lord. Psalm 33.

He also has said that we as a people will have no other gods but Him. Exodus 20.

We in the west have turned away from God – we have become self-seeking and idolaters – worshiping those things that have been created by God instead of worshiping the Creator himself.

God has said our sins separate us from God and through that separation God can’t hear us. Isaiah 59:2.

We as rebellious nations have denied our Lord, we have thrown Him out of our nations – Our elected leaders are openly antagonistic to God (in Australia our Prime Minister is an Atheist) who instead of seeking His will they are self-seeking and more intent upon winning a popularity contest to keep themselves elected.

We have thrown God out of schools, parliament and society.

We can’t expect our nations to flourish when we have openly and deliberately turned our back on the God of the universe.

Joey

I feel like America in a many ways reflect the Old Testament Israel. When Israel was established by God, the people worshipped God and depended on Him. But as they grew and became accustomed to the culture and world around them, they began to turn away from God and fed into their own lustful desires. I see this happening in America. Despite what people will argue, the people who discovered our country were here to seek religious freedom because of the oppression felt in the Church of Europe. So many of the monuments around America has inscriptions declaring allegiance to God. But that allegiance is fading, God is being removed from the public systems, and everything is being tolerated accept God. The moral decay of this country is much like that seen in the Old Testament of Israel. Rome as well had their golden age then caved due to their decaying culture. I fear the same for America if things do not change. I do not believe this change will happen by getting a Republican or Democrat in office. I don’t believe it will be fixed by getting a Christian leaders in office. This will have to be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit by God and a move that only He Himself can stir. Nothing of human origin. As God’s people, we ought to seek God and labor in prayer for this country that God may have mercy and begin a move in this country before the return of Christ and before it’s too late!

Please note: This is part one of two. I will post part two (which will consist of Alicia from here at ICB, my cousin Brody Barcus, and my pastor) when my pastor gets finished with his writing. This post would’ve been over 3000 words long if I hadn’t split it up. Part Two coming soon…

God bless!

-Austin

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The Blood of Jesus Christ

I started reading a book by Watchman Nee called Normal Christian Life. So far I have only read the first chapter, but within that first chapter something really stuck out to me. He said “a clear conscience is never based upon our attainment; it can only be based on the work of the Lord Jesus in the shedding of His Blood”. The entire first chapter is about the Blood of Jesus Christ and how it applies to the life of a Christian. I thought that the chapter laid out beautifully what the Blood of Christ truly means to us as followers of Christ.

The chapter starts first by pointing out that the Blood of Jesus really isn’t so much for us, as it is for God. Now at first reading you may say, “Hold on a minute, the Blood of Christ is what saves me!” Yes that is very true and Nee is not dismissing that very important truth. What he means is that the only way God pardons our sin is if He sees the Blood of Jesus paying for the debt of our sin. Think about the Israelites when God commanded them to eat the Passover lamb inside the house, but spread the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. Then, when God passed over Egypt on the Passover night, God would see the blood and pardon the household. This is the same with us and the Blood of Christ. When God sees the Blood of Christ applied to our hearts, He can forgive and pardon our sin because of the great sacrifice of Jesus. So consequently, the amount we value Christ’s Blood is directly linked to the value that God values the Blood.

 

After realizing the value of the Blood, it is crucial that we base our life around that. Without the Blood of Christ, we can not go into the Presence of God without fear and shame. On the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament, the high priest alone was to go into the Most Holy Place to offer the sin offering to God. As it is with Christ. He is our High Priest who applies His blood to our sin to make retribution before God. When we allow this to become true in our everyday life, then it shapes our entire relationship with God. Some days I can feel really connected with God. I read my Bible and get a lot out of my reading. I feel like really connect with God in prayer and hear from Him. I am able to reflect the love of Christ well. I feel like I’m serving God well. Other days, it can be just the opposite. I don’t feel the same connection during my Bible reading or prayer time. I don’t reflect Christ’s love well. I may be mean or nasty. But listen to this: our standing before God is not based on our works, our merits, how we feel, or anything we can furnish. It is by the Blood of Jesus that we are able to be seen as forgiven by God!Do not allow the way you feel ditate how you think your relationship with God is based. It is only by the Blood of Jesus that we have relationship with God!

 

It is very easy as Christians to allow ourselves to get beat up when we fall short of the glory of God. We believe the lie that we have to earn our way into God’s love or we have to preform for God to be accepted. But praise be to God that it’s not about what I  can do, it’s about what I can’t do. Only Jesus can bring me back into restored relationship with Jesus. When we try to base our status with God on anything other than the sacrificial Blood of Jesus, we play right into Satan’s schemes.  The Bible calls Satan the Accuser. His tricks aren’t new. He has used the same tricks all through history; lying and accusing. He will try to accuse us of our sin before God and lie to us saying that we are failures and can’t be forgiven. By ourselves, we are failures and we can’t be forgiven. We can’t save ourselves. But by the Blood of Jesus I am redeemed and by His grace I can be pardoned of all my sin!

 

I pray that as you read this blog, you will ponder in your own heart whether or not you are applying the Blood of Jesus to your life. Does it really impact your everyday life, or is it more than a passing thought. I encourage as the Lord to reveal more of Himself to you, and share His value of His Son’s Blood with you. As always, I pray this blog encourages you or helps you! Blessings!

 

Joey

 

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The Virgin Birth of Messiah

Most people have probably heard the story about Jesus’ birth. Here’s Luke’s account:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

There’s something about the birth of Messiah that’s somewhat controversial, even among some Christians. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Many ask, “Was Mary actually a virgin? Was the birth of Jesus truly a virgin birth?” Well let me take you back a few hundred years before Jesus Christ was born.

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isaiah clearly prophesies a virgin birth here. The original Hebrew word that was used for “virgin” here is “almah.” This Hebrew word means a “young, unmarried woman who has had no sexual relations.”

The angel, Gabriel, appears to Mary in the book of Luke. Luke 1:26-38 says:

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Notice that Mary tells Gabriel that she is a virgin. She wants to know how she will give birth to a child if she has never been with a man.

My point is this: The Messiah MUST be born of a virgin. It was prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Hundreds of years before the book of Luke was written. It was something that had to be fulfilled. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. If Mary had not been a virgin, Jesus would not have been Messiah. Without the virgin birth, there is no Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), no Savior, and we are completely lost. But Jesus fulfilled ALL of the prophesied requirements for the Messiah. Jesus born of a virgin. That fact is essential to the Christian faith.

“Jesus was born that you might be born again. He lived that you might live. He died that you might die to sin.” ~Spurgeon
God bless you and Merry Christmas!
-Austin

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