Sunday, August 30, 2015

Even Bad Stuff Works To God's purpose And Our Good or He wouldn't Let It Happen

God is not powerless against evil. But judgement still falls upon the evil doers.

One of the Christian Keys to peace, contentment and surrender to God's perfect will is understanding and acceptance of Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good  to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." But that is only true "to them that love God" and "to them who are the called according to his purpose." The good a bad thing works in your life may only be "Don't do that again", or "Don't date that loser any more", or "Drive more carefully", or "Stop stuffing yourself".

Many other verses reinforce this central truth of God's word. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding  and eternal weight of glory; " 2Cor.4:17. "Affliction works for us" when we 'love God and are called to his purpose".

Apostle Paul's experience and testimony confirms that fact.  "And lest I should be exalted above measure.... there was given to me a thorn in the flesh...For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Cor.12:7-10.

An Old Testament example of bad working for good, to the sons of Israel, is seen in their pride, jealousy, hatred, lying and betrayal of their bother Joseph into slavery. The record is given in Genesis 37 that Israel loved Joseph more than his other  sons because he was the youngest at that time. This hurt the other brothers feelings and they were jealous of Joseph and hated him. So when they had him alone, far from home, they sold him as a slave to Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt where Pharaoh's Captain of the guard bought him. For many years Joseph was a slave but rose in power until he was second only to the Pharaoh and was in charge of all the Pharaoh's wealth and possessions. Joseph was now much older when a drought fell upon that part of the world, including the family of Joseph's father Israel. When they were near starvation, Israel sent his remaining sons, except young Benjamin, to Egypt to buy grain which Joseph had wisely stored up for the seven good years before the drought. The story is long but eventually Joseph revealed himself to his brothers who had sold him into slavery. They were afraid he would kill them for the evil they had done and were now repentant, and Joseph graciously told them ..."But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them." Gen.50:20-21.

The grandest example, of good out of bad, is the crucifixion, suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. As awful and wicked as it was for the heartless mob to beat Jesus, pull out his beard, spit on him and nail him to that cross, as in everything else, it played into the hands of God that His holy purpose might be accomplished. (Jesus) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Titus 2:14. God's marvelous plan for the redemption of sinners was fulfilled there on that awful cross and was followed by His glorious resurrection.... all to the eternal benefit of believers. Out of that injustice, cruelty, betrayal and savage attack upon purity, innocence, and deity itself, came forgiveness, cleansing, redemption and eternal life for sinners.

Another example is when the Christians in Jerusalem were so hated, abused and persecuted that they were scattered abroad over all the known world and thereby the seeds of their faith and testimony were broadcast everywhere they went. Many more believed and were saved and churches sprung up everywhere as a result of their persecution. "Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch,  preaching the word...." Acts 11:19.

As I look back on my own pathway of life, I can now see clearly that those things which seemed so terrible, fearful and painful, at the time, turned out to be God's stepping stones leading me to the events and places where He wanted me, and where He could use me.

Many years ago, the story is told, of a King in Africa who had a close friend, no doubt a Christian, with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that occurred, good or bad, as "a good thing".

One day the King and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the King. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the King fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual, "This is a good thing". To which the King replied, "No, this is NOT good", and he proceeded to send his friend to prison. About a year later, the King was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied him to a post, stacked wood around it and were about to ignite it. As the village chieftain came to set the wood ablaze, he noticed that the king's thumb was missing. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So, untying the King, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the prison to speak with his old friend. "You were right", he said, "It was a good thing that my thumb was blown off". And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so I am very sorry for sending you to prison for so long. It was bad for me to do this."

"No", his friend replied, "This is a good thing".

"What do you mean, "This is a good thing"?  How could it be a good thing that I sent my friend to prison for a year?"

"If I had NOT been in prison .... I would have been with you." 

(I received that story 25-30 years ago from Esther Epperly)

Situations may not always seen pleasant while we are in them, but the promise of God is clear. If we love Him and live our lives according to his precepts, even that which seems to be bleak and hopeless will be converted by God for His glory and our good. Hold on, God is faithful! May God bless you this week as you seek His will in every situation and, in faith, accept what He sends. RB

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Word Of Knowledge Echos Across The Centuries ...

From the lips of wise King Solomon, 3000 years ago. The words of God spoken through Solomon that day were addressed to children of all ages and of all generations throughout time. In today's vernacular, the message was this ....

"My children and grandchildren, you waste and violate your parents' lives, energy and resources, in their raising of you, and shame them when you listen to lies and heresy. Stop listening to instructors, teachers, professors, preachers, psychologists, friends and even husbands and wives who lead you astray from the high standards your parents taught you and from the the Holy Scriptures. These ungodly witnesses mock God's judgement and devour every kind of sin and wickedness. 

The actual words God put into Solomon's mouth were these:

Proverbs 19:26   He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his  mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach. 

  Proverbs 19:27   Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. 

  Proverbs 19:28
   An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mercy And Justice Are Two Ends Of The Same Stick

Mercy and Justice are not opposites, enemies or contradictions of each other.
They are two ends of the same stick, the Shepherd's staff. One end , the "rod", pokes and prods the sheep into the Shepherd's way or drives the wolf away. The other end is a secure hook which lifts and pulls the sheep to safety into the Shepherd's will and way, and for the sheep's welfare, which is the same thing. The Shepherd leads his "flock" in that way; he does not "herd" them. Willful, obedient and healthy followers of their Shepherd to green pastures, still waters, restoration and paths of righteousness is the Shepherd's desire for his sheep.

Psalms 23:1   The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

Psalms 23:2   He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 

Psalms 23:3   He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 

Psalms 23:4   Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 

Psalms 23:5   Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Whatever Happened To "Christian America"... Is Happening To You And Me

Not many years after the founders established our nation, arose a lawyer, Charles Finney, who turned to Christ after reading an English Christian, William Blackstone's works. Finney became a nationally known revivalist/evangelist who had great influence on early America and is part of the spiritual root system of what became known as "Christian America". Finney made an interesting observation which I, as a pastor, must agree with. He said, "If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it." Most modern-day ministers would probably disagree with that statement. I say that because it is seldom, if ever, heard in most pulpits of today.... but I believe it is true. If we Christian pastors had done our jobs and fulfilled our calling to more thoroughly study and preach God's word over the last 75 years, America would not have ceased to be "Christian America". Who can honestly say, considering the rule of Satan in our halls of legislation, that America is still a Christian nation? I cannot.

Here is a very interesting article from Bill Federer's "American Minute" attesting to the importance of Blackstone's Commentaries on America's Founders, Evangelists, Churches and Christian America in general. RB

American Minute with Bill Federer

Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, published 1765-1769 by Oxford's Clarendon Press, had an immense influence on America's founders, being considered the definitive pre-Revolutionary source of common law by United States courts.

Blackstone wrote:

"The principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute rights, which were vested in them by the immutable laws of nature."

Blackstone wrote:

"It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer."

Blackstone wrote:

"Of great importance to the public is the preservation of this personal liberty; for if once it were left in the power of any the highest magistrate to imprison arbitrarily whomever he or his officers thought proper...there would soon be an end of all other rights and immunities."

Blackstone wrote:

"There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and engages the affections of mankind, as...that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe."

Blackstone wrote:

"To bereave a man of life, or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole kingdom;

but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government."

Blackstone defined "Crimes against God", "Crimes against Man," and in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book 4, he defined the act of sodomy as a "Crime against Nature":

"It is an offence of so dark a nature... a disgrace to human nature... a crime not fit to be named; 'peccatum illud horribile, inter christianos non nomtnandum' (that horrible crime not to be named among Christians.'

Blackstone wrote that Parliament during the reign of Edward III heard of an accusation "that a Lombard did commit the sin 'that was not to be named,'" continuing in Latin: "where that crime is found, which it is unfit even to know, we command the law to arise armed with an avenging sword, that the infamous men who are, or shall in future be guilty of it, may undergo the most severe punishments."

This "crime against nature" deserved capital punishment, as Blackstone cited Leviticus 20:13-15 and wrote: "the voice of nature and of reason, and the express law of God, determine to be capital," making reference to the "signal instance, long before the Jewish dispensation" of "the destruction of two cities (Sodom and Gomorrah) by fire from Heaven; so that this is an universal, not merely a provincial, precept."

Blackstone also explained how Islam resulted in political despotism, as shown by"...terrible ravages committed by the Saracens in the east, to propagate the religion of Mahomet."

Abraham Lincoln's life changed when a poor family heading west stopped by his little country store in Illinois and traded a barrel of miscellaneous items for food. At the bottom of the barrel, Lincoln found a copy of Blackstone's Commentary on English Law.

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Beginning in 1870, Harvard Law School dean Christopher Columbus Langdell applied evolution to the legal process. Instead of having students study Blackstone and the original intent of those who wrote the Constitution, Langdell taught that laws could evolve through a series of "case precedents."

Blackstone's Commentaries were also read by 29-year-old attorney Charles Finney.

Finney saw so many Scripture references in Blackstone's Law Commentaries that he bought a Bible.

After reading in the Bible, Charles Finney, on October 10, 1821, decided to head into the woods near his home, saying: "I will give my heart to God, or I never will come down from there."

After several hours, he returned to his office, later writing:"The Holy Spirit ... seemed to go through me, body and soul... Indeed it seemed to come in waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way."

The next morning, at his law office, a church deacon suing a fellow-church member asked Finney about his case. Finney replied"I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause, and cannot plead yours."

Finney began presenting the Gospel with a convincing lawyer's argument. He would pray using common, colloquial language rather than in formal, traditional King's English.

Charles Finney began the tradition of an 'altar call' in his 1830 revival in Rochester, New York: "I had found, that with the higher classes especially, the greatest obstacle to be overcome was their fear of being known as anxious inquirers. They were too proud...

Something was needed, to make the impression on them that they were expected at once to give up their hearts; something that would call them to act, and act as publicly before the world, as they had in their sins; something that would commit them publicly to the service of Christ... I had called them simply to stand up in the public bring them out from among the mass of the ungodly, to a public renunciation of their sinful ways, and a public committal of themselves to God."

Finney's revival preaching paved the way for evangelists Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham.

Charles Finney's 1835 Revival Lectures inspired George Williams to found the YMCA-Young Men's Christian Association-in 1844.

Finney inspired William and Catherine Booth to found what would be called The Salvation Army in 1865.

Charles Finney formed the Benevolent Empire, a network of volunteer organizations to aid poor and aged with healthcare and social needs, which in 1834 had a budget rivaling the Federal Government.

Finney organized the Broadway Tabernacle in New York in 1831.

While Charles Finney was president of Oberlin College, 1851-1866, it was a station on the Underground Railroad smuggling slaves to freedom.

Under his leadership, Oberlin College granted the first college degree in the United States to a black woman, Mary Jane Patterson.

Charles Finney died AUGUST 16, 1875.

Concerning the Kingdom of God, he wrote: "Every member must work or quit. No honorary members."

In his article, 'The Decay of Conscience' published in THE INDEPENDENT of NEW YORK, December 4, 1873, Charles Finney wrote: "Christ crucified for the sins of the world is the Christ that the people need. Let us rid ourselves...of neglecting to preach the law of God until the consciences of men are asleep.
Such a collapse of conscience in this land could never have existed if the Puritan element in our preaching had not in great measure fallen out..."

Finney continued: 

"If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree.  

If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.

Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation."

In Lecture XV 'Hindrances to Revival' (Revival Lectures, 1855), Charles Finney wrote: "The church must take right ground in regard to politics. Do not suppose, now, that I am going to preach a political sermon, or that I wish to have you join and get up a Christian party in politics. No, I do not believe in that. But the time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics, or the Lord will curse them..."

Finney continued:

"They must be honest men themselves, and instead of voting for a man because he belongs to their party, Bank or Anti-Bank, Jackson, or Anti-Jackson, they must find out whether he is honest and upright, and fit to be trusted. They must let the world see that the church will uphold no man in office, who is known to be a knave, or an adulterer, or a Sabbath-breaker, or a gambler... Every man can know for whom he gives his vote. And if he will give his vote only for honest men, the country will be obliged to have upright rulers..."

Finney stated further:

"The church must act right or the country will be ruined. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation were becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics.
But I tell you, he does see it, and he will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they take."

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Monday, August 3, 2015

In About 3300 BC, Enoch Gave Two End-Time Judgement Prophecies, Noah's Flood And The Second Coming Of Christ

As sure as the ark and flood judgement, so shall be the rapture and final judgement.


God's first preacher and prophet

Enoch was born in the seventh generation from Adam. My wife and I have a great great grandchild which is the fifth generation from us.  So it only took seven generations from creation to Enoch's day for the human race to be approaching complete depravity. So God called a preacher, prophet to warn the people of certain judgement if they did not repent. He chose Enoch.

"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth .... The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." Gen.6:5-6 & 11.

Noah's flood should have been expected by everyone on earth for two reasons. At the time of the flood, the Earth was relatively young with only a few generations of people, and those were concentrated in basically one area of Earth, so that Enoch's prophecies of destruction were quite well known. When Enoch was 65 a close encounter with God changed his life for ever when Methuselah was born. Genesis 5:22   "And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years...."
Upon that spiritual encounter with God, God put it in Enoch's heart to name this new son, Methuselah. The name was an encapsulated prophecy that divine judgement was coming, but it would be delayed until Methuselah died. And, sure enough, Immediately after Methuselah's death, a flood of  God's judgement was sent upon Earth. Thus, Enoch named his son Muth Shalach the two root words which compose Methuselah and mean "His death shall bring it forth" or "When he is dead, the end shall come". And so it was that immediately after Methuselah died, after God forestalled judgement for his entire lifetime of 969 years, God told Noah and his family to enter the ark. Amazingly, Methuselah's world record age reflects God's longsuffering patience with sinners and His unequaled love for us giving us chance after chance to turn to Him.

Enoch's second end time's, judgement prophecy, was of Christs Second Coming.
Understand that God knows a lot more than could be recorded in one Bible. Even all that Jesus said and did, while on earth, would require a world library full of books of record. Apostle John put it this way. "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written...." Jn.21:25. My reason for pointing that out is that Enoch's prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ is not recorded in Genesis with his Flood prophecy, but was revealed to Jude in Jude 1:14-15 "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. " Remember, this prophecy would have been given in Enoch's lifetime about 669 years before the flood, which he also prophesied, and 3300 years before the birth of Jesus. That was about 700 years after creation and 5300 years ago from today (6000 years). The final thousand years of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ will complete 7000 years of God's dealings with those created in His image, the human race. If the 1000 year Millennial Kingdom winds things up, the Rapture of true believers must be close at hand....allowing for minor discrepancies in our Gregorian Calendar. RB

Key verses relating to this first preacher and prophet of God:
Gen. 5:24   "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." 

 Hebrews 11:5-7  "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."