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Real heroes of the faith are still among us: part 1

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The New Testament book of Hebrews contains a record of what many call “heroes of the faith”. In fact, chapter 11 of Hebrews is commonly referred to as the faith chapter because it lists what some call the “faith hall of fame”.

As you read through this chapter, one is struck by the presence of some very familiar names. Abraham, Moses, David, Samson, and Gideon to name just a few. Readers who are familiar with the Old Testament can no doubt recall some of the events associated with these well known men of God.

Yet there are references to other,unnamed heroes of the faith that are recorded here as well. While the writer of Hebrews doesn’t mention them by name, he does list some of their “qualifications” for enshrinement into the “faith hall of fame”.

Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  Hebrews 11:35-38

Though lesser known than the Old Testament patriarchs or kings, these “others” were nonetheless uniquely qualified to take their place alongside their more famous predecessors.

These were men and women who refused to bow the knee, but instead held fast to their faith in God and believed that a better day was coming. Put to the severest of tests, these faithful soldiers endured unimaginable persecution because they counted their lives as nothing that they might win the ultimate prize.

Our minds today simply won’t permit us to comprehend the untold sufferings described in the verses noted above. Being stoned to death is itself a terrifying method of execution, but can you imagine what it was like for someone to be sawn in two?

Church history reveals that tens of thousands of Christians were persecuted by some of the most vile,heinous, and satanically inspired means imaginable in an effort to eradicate the true Church. Yet somehow, the sustaining grace of God kept alive a remnant, for which you and I owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

In our present culture however, I am often surprised at the apparent unwillingness of many in the church to “earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints” (Jude v3). Indeed, there seems to be an attitude of spiritual entitlement among us that would be totally unrecognizable to the early church.

No doubt this is due in part to the prevalence of the gospel of “easy believism” and “health and wealth” that is pandered about today. It should be noted as well that neither of these false gospels would have ever been taught in the early church.

In fact, I’ll go on record and say that such teachings are part of what Paul described as “another gospel”, one that he said anyone preaching it is accursed (Galatians 1:8). That is for another day however.

 

In part 2 of this series, I will introduce you to some modern day heroes of the faith. Their identities may not be well known among believers today, yet their stories are no less inspiring than those found in the book of Hebrews.

Until then!

Ron

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If this world is not our home…

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Then why on earth are we Christians so consumed with creating our own version of heaven on earth?

I mean where do we draw the line between being salt and light to this world, and wanting to supposedly claim dominion over the earth in Jesus name?

I don’t want to take control of this earth, neither is it a mandate from Jesus that we do so. There are many false teachings floating about today, particularly those coming from the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) camp that say Christians are to rule the earth NOW.

I won’t bore you with the gory details, but a quick search over at 828 ministries will provide ample evidence of their four primary mandates,with Dominionism being the primary one. This false belief states that Christians must conquer the world in order to facilitate the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Time after time the scripture makes it crystal clear that we just passing through here. This world is not our home. Even the great patriarch Abraham was told by God to look for a city whose builder and maker was God. In addition, Jesus tells us we are not to lay up treasures on this earth.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   Matt.6:19-21

Scripture is clear, John the Revelator saw a new heaven and a new earth coming down from God out of heaven, for the former earth was passed away. Does that sound like we should be wasting our time trying to gain control of an earth that is one day going to be destroyed?

I believe in living life to the fullest. Enjoy all that God has given us while we are here. Live the abundant life Jesus talked about in John chapter 10. Go for it in Jesus name! Yet never forget that we are but strangers and Pilgrims here on this earth.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.   Hebrews 11:13

One day, one glorious day, we will inherit a new earth. One that will never be corrupted by sin. A place where we will live without sickness, without ever experiencing lack or want of any thing. Jesus is even now preparing such a place for you and I!

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.   John 14:2

Rest in the promise that God has a better place for us, a place where we will live with Christ for all eternity. No matter your plight here on earth, when we step into that new home that has been prepared for us all will be forgotten here below.

Thank God, this world is not my home. This is but a place of preparation, a dress rehearsal for that which is to come!

Be blessed, in Jesus name

Ron

 

 

 

 

The Great Adventure

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I’m looking for adventure.

I’m not looking to book passage on a cruise ship or a train. I’m not dreaming of going on safari. Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t calling me. And I’m sure not interested in a trek to the South Pole!

No, I’m looking for an adventure of the God kind.

Adventure 1

wordsoverpixels.com

You know the kind of adventure I’m talking about, don’t you? The kind where you know that God is calling you out and away from the stale,ordinary day to day existence we all succumb to. Real adventure.

The kind of adventure where you have no idea what the end goal is, and even less insight on how to get there. You just “know that you know”that God is calling you to MORE.

Like He did with Abraham, telling him to leave all he knew to start on a journey to who knows where(Genesis 12).

The kind of adventure guided only by the Word and the Presence of God.

Scared yet?

Or an adventure like Noah. Build an ark? Sure thing Lord. But what’s an ark, and what is this “rain” you speak of? Noah’s adventure was one of a kind, in fact we’re still talking about it today!

I’m looking for a faith adventure. One that requires me to walk by faith, and not by sight. An adventure over uncharted waters, across hills and valleys, my compass fixed on God.

walk by faith

Davidcrank.com

I’m looking for an adventure that goes far beyond Church, one that is immersed in a living relationship with the living God.

I’m looking for that Abundant Life kind of adventure.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly“.   NKJV   emphasis mine

I don’t know when, how, or any other of the countless details that make up this great adventure. What I do know is I’m putting myself out there and saying to the Lord that I’m all in.

Lead me Lord,and I’ll follow.

Who else is up for a great adventure of the God kind?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

The fear of the unknown vs. your familiar past

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I’ve been thinking about an event recorded early on in the book of Genesis, one that took place thousands of years ago, yet still has implications for us today.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one that most people are familiar with, or have at least heard something about. It’s a story of both destruction and deliverance, one where the central theme is God’s willingness to forgo righteous judgment if only a few God fearing people can be found.

As the story goes, the search for righteous citizens is futile, thus God orders the complete destruction of the cities by raining down fire and brimstone. Not a pretty thought, to be sure. The only escapees are Abraham and his wife, his nephew Lot and his wife, and their two daughters.

As they are running for their lives, the angels who delivered them warned them not to look back. Unfortunately for Lot’s wife, she could not resist the temptation to do just that. Here is the high price she paid for her disobedience:

“But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”   Genesis 19:26

This story is now thousands of years old, yet the central truths of it still ring true today. God is still a righteous, loving, and forgiving God. And man is still prone to looking in the rear view mirror instead of looking ahead.

Lot’s wife looked back because she wanted to see what was happening to her former home. She felt an emotional attachment to the city, so much so that she disregarded the clear warning of the angels who had been sent to rescue her.

Aren’t all of us guilty to some degree of doing the same thing? Instead of forgetting those things which are behind and pressing toward the mark (Philippians 3:14)….we are drawn back to familiar territory. We gravitate toward the known and comfortable, and resist the unknown in front of us.

The familiar is a powerful force in our lives, and I dare say all of us enjoy the comfort we receive from being surrounded by the familiar things we have accumulated.

The flip side of this however is that the familiar can also become a huge burden that wears us down as we endeavor to journey onward with Christ.

This burden is always present to remind us that we don’t really need to press on into uncharted territory, not when we can stay here in the relative calm waters of familiarity. Besides, there is a certain element of fear when dealing with the unknown, and we all know how we feel about that!

In spit of these things, there is a very real danger in allowing the familiar to rock us to sleep. If we choose to permit this, we risk missing the greatest adventure we could ever partake of!

This Great Adventure is going to be the primary emphasis of “A Front Row View of the Church” in 2018. I will be sharing from the word of God how that the words of Jesus in John 10:10 “…... I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly, are the key to unlocking this Great Adventure.

I am excited about what God has in store, and trust you will be encouraged to put yourself out there, where The Great Adventure beckons!

Ron

 

 

 

A Measure of Faith

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By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;

10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.   Heb 11:8-10

Abraham was a doer of the Word,not just a hearer of the Word. He set out on a journey not knowing where or how it would end,but secure in the knowledge that Jehovah would guide his every footstep.

Abraham fully embraced his calling and acted upon it as though nothing else mattered.A man like that has sold out to a higher purpose,his new mission that of a divine mandate far beyond the scope of this present world.

While Abraham sojourned in a strange land he never took his eyes off the prize. Surrounded by strange people,customs,and religions as he walked this new land of promise,he was not to be deterred in finding that city whose builder and maker is God.

Abraham’s heart had been set ablaze with an all consuming passion to obey a calling not of this world.Funny thing about a man’s calling;it will engulf him to the end of his days should he choose to accept it and follow it.Little else will matter to him except for the assignment he has been given.He will sacrifice his health,his wealth,opportunities,and to an extent even his loved ones,all is secondary to the call. In short,he is consumed by it.

It will also consume him to the end of his days should he decide to reject it, or even worse, only partially embrace it.This calling is always at the forefront of his mind.It permeates his being in a way not easily understood by those around him.His thoughts are never completely on his work,his social status,even his family.Every thing he does or doesn’t do is weighed against the calling he has received.

In short,unless he fully embraces his calling he is like a double minded man, tossed to and fro on the waves of the tempest that ever churns within him.Doubt clouds his vision. Compromise is the norm.His life one of restless hesitation.Perpetually weighed on the scales of indecision.

Lord,grant unto me a sliver of the measure of faith that Abraham displayed.

 

 

Tell Me The Truth

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I cannot tolerate anyone lying to me.

People who lie simply cannot be trusted because they are practicing deception at my expense.If you tell me something I am going to take you at your word and if I find that you have lied to me,well,good luck in earning back my trust in you.

Lots of people lie,and they tell all kinds of lies:

  • Big lies.truth
  • Little lies.
  • White lies.
  • Any kind of lie.

To some people lying is so natural that it seems they don’t even realizing they are lying.The truth escapes them and is foreign to them.They are in bondage to the enemy for indeed they are his children.Perhaps you know people like this?

As for me, I want to know truth.

I want to know God’s truth.I want to know God’s truth because it is powerful and above reproach.Even as men twist the scriptures for their own selfish,personal gain God’s truth remains.It cannot be changed.

It is because that God’s word is unchangeable and true that it has stood the test of time.While for thousands of years false prophets have tried to usurp His truth and change it into whatever convenient lie is required to dupe yet another generation,God’s truth is still setting free those held captive by Satan.

Jesus said that it was truth that would set us free.

John 8:32;  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

That my friends,is a very powerful statement.Lets look at the context of the scripture where Jesus said that.

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever,but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.    John 8:31-36   NKJV

If Jesus said that the truth would make us free then what will we be free from?

The trappings of Tradition…Religion…Guilt…Sin?

The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking were obviously very religious,maintaining they were Abraham’s descendants.Because of their position they were blind to the real bondage they were in.It cannot be argued that they were free except in their own minds, and that because of the lineage to Abraham that they held so closely to.

Funny what we will say and do when our religious traditions are threatened,isn’t it?

The world is full of different religions,and all of them claim heritage to someone or something that they believe makes them better than,or holier then,all others.Not a day goes by that we aren’t bombarded with news accounts of one atrocity after another done in the name of religion.Or how often do we hear of another type of religious atrocity when we read accounts of wolves in sheep’s clothing, fleecing the flock to fill their pockets while their “sheep”wander about without a true shepherd.

Yet the fact is that unless they know the truth that Jesus spoke of,they remain in bondage to Satan to this day.This is the lie of the ages that has been sown in the hearts of men for thousands of years.The lie that says it doesn’t matter which god you serve,they’re all the same.After all,there is “good” in every religion(or church if you will).

No,Jesus made it as clear as he could.If we are to be freed from our sins,freed from our past mistakes,freed from bondage of religion and tradition…only the Son can make us that kind of free.

And that my friends, is the TRUTH.

 

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