‘guilty but set free’

vom’s – extreme devotion posted 09.29.2008

Nikolai Khamara was arrested for robbery and imprisoned for ten years. Khamara watched the Christians and wondered what kind of beings they were. They were men, but they would show joy despite their suffering and would sing in very dark hours. When they had a piece of bread, they shared it with someone who had none. Their faces would shine as they spoke to someone whom Khamara could not see.

    One day two Christians sat down with Khamara and asked him about his story. Khamara told them his sad tale and finished by saying, “I am a lost man.”
    One of the Christians, with a smile, asked Khamara, “If somebody loses a gold ring, what is the value of that gold ring when it is lost?”
    “What a foolish question! A gold ring is a gold ring. You have lost it, but somebody else will have it.”
    “A very good answer,” said the Christian. “Now tell me, what is the value of a lost man? A lost man, even a thief, an adulterer, or a murderer, has the whole value of a man. He is of such value that the Son of God forsook heaven for him and died on the cross to save him.”
    The Christian said to the robber, “You may have been lost, but God’s love can find you.” Hearing this, Khamara gave his life to Christ.

How is value measured? Usually by a person’s investment of time, money, or emotion. That is, how a person treats a possession, an activity, or even a relationship reveals how much it is valued by that person. Consider, for example, the difference in the treatment of old work clothes and a new suit. Or the contrast between the care for a paper cup and a crystal goblet. And when a valued possession is lost or a loved one injured, oh the tears that are shed. So, how valued are people . . . are you? As the Christian told Khamara, so valuable that Jesus left heaven and died on a cross for his lost and rebellious creatures. God loves them that much. You are loved; you are valuable. Rejoice and spread this Good News to the other “loved ones” near you.

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Nikolai Khamara is not unlike any man or woman that is without Jesus Christ. For the purpose of analogy, my friend, we are not unlike Barabbas that was released and set free while Christ took his place on that cruel Roman cross. Barabbas was a insurrectionist, murder and robber.

  • My friend if you have not trusted in Christ you are guilty of the grossest rebellion against God. God’s word has told us that our sin has separated us from Him if we choose to remain in that condition, we will die in a rebellious state, and that without Christ.
  • Christ died for the sin of all His creation, if we reject so great a salvation we are therefore guilty of the blood of His precious son.
  • As the creation of God, He is worthy to receive honor and glory. If we do not give him such, with every breath in your lung and beat in your heart your rob God from all the honor and Glory that He, and He alone is due.

In essence we all are like Barabbas my friend, yet Christ took our place.

malachi

‘seed that is bringing forth eternal fruit’

Article post from 09.27.2008 vom- extreme devotion

Robert J. Thomas and his wife left to be the first missionaries to Korea in July 1863. His wife died soon after their arrival. In 1866, having evangelized for a few months in Korea and having learned the language, Thomas rode the American ship, the General Sherman, along the Taedong River to the location of the present-day capital of North Korea. The Sherman became grounded on a sandbar. Korean soldiers on shore were suspicious and scared, and they boarded the ship, waving long, flashing knives.

    When Thomas saw that he was going to be killed, he held out the Korean Bible to them saying, “Jesus, Jesus.” His head was cut off.
    Twenty-five years after Thomas’s death, someone discovered a little guest house in this area with some strange wallpaper. The paper had Korean characters printed on it. The owner of the house explained that he had pasted the pages of this book on the wall to preserve the writing. The owner and many of the guests would come in and stay to “read the walls.” This was the Bible that Thomas had given to his murderers.
    Even though Communists rule that area today, the church lives. The work of Robert J. Thomas—called the “temporary missionary”—continues in North Korea, where now God’s Word is not only pasted on their walls, but also hidden in their hearts.

Imagine planting a garden in the spring, only to move in the summer. All the time and effort spent planting and weeding and watering the seeds for the tomatoes, peppers, and melons seems wasted. The same can be said of our witness for Christ. Here, the stakes are higher than a basket of tomatoes. Without the benefit of seeing the fruit of our labors, it can be painful to trust that our hard work will be appreciated and respected. Remember, God is the one who makes all things grow. We can trust that God will continue the work we have begun—even when he moves us on. What gardens do you need to leave for someone else to grow?

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Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?           John 11:25-26

Pray for those who serve and live in the face of death, only to live forever more.

malachi

‘knock… knock… who’s there?’

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

 

Most believers have seen this picture of ‘Christ Knocking At The Door’.   A common interpretation of the picture, is that it is an analogy of Christ standing and knocking on the door of the unbeliever’s heart. In that sense of the gospel this is true. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. And this gospel if readily available to all who come unto Him, none will be cast out.

A careful examination of the door, reveals there is no door handle on the outside, thus requiring the sinner to open the door from the inside. This is true in that Christ does not force Himself upon us, the door must be opened of ones on free will.

There is another picture in the scriptures where Christ is knocking on a door. The text is found in Revelation 3:13-25 reference vs.20. The odd thing about this picture in Revelation is that Christ is knocking on the door of a church, the Church in Laodicia. Now the scriptures teach us that Christ is “the head of the body, the church” (Col.1: 18). Why would the head of the church be standing outside the church desiring to get in? To help us understand the picture it would help us to consider the spiritual condition of the church. 

The spiritual climate of the church was lukewarm, which indicates they lacked commitment and had no testimony. Probably more interested in what Jesus could do for them, than what Jesus would have them do for Him. In fact, if it were not for their name being listed on the membership role in this church you would probably not know they were Christians.

Now I want to make it perfectly clear that a name on a church role does not make one a Christian.  This church had no testimony in the world in which they resided. The light of this church had lost the ability to illuminate in a world of darkness and their salt had lost it’s savour so it  not fit for seasoning… Matthew 5: 13-16 literally this church had no witness.

Their lack of spiritual discernment is evident in that The Word of God was not highly esteemed; hence they were blind and could not see afar off 2 Peter 1:9. They thought they had need of nothing, not realizing everything that they had was worth nothing. In order for the church to indulge in all their fleshly possessions, they had to remove The Word of God which left Christ standing outside and the church members comfortably residing inside… spiritually fat, dumb and happy.

So what does this mean for us my friend? Have you opened the door of your heart so that Christ can enter and be your salvation? “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For the scripture saith, whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. Romans 10: 11; 13

As His child, how important is His Word and could you live everyday and never consider it? The scriptures warns “that the time will come when they (the church) will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables” (novelty and untruth) 2 Timothy 4: 3-4. Have we set aside the Word of God that we might satisfy the lust of our flesh, that we might enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season? Hebrews 11: 25

It really matters not which scenario is applicable, if we will hear His voice and open the door, He will come in a sup with us.

Would you consider this Christ- Yeshua ha Massiach

malachi

‘no place for self’

I have watched for some time how the gospel has been marketed in America. As the church has endeavored to bring the gospel to the lost, they have felt it necessary to sell the sinner a ‘Jesus Christ’ that will meet the every need of the individual. It does not matter, if it is health, wealth, or prosperity, we have convinced those in need of salvation that this is the reason God sent His Christ… “to live at your full potential” .

Now there are a couple of problems with this thought process. The first is that it is the fartherest thing from the truth of God’s word. The second is that it propagates what I call a ‘selfish gospel’. Consider what Christ said when He called the people unto Him with His disciples..

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”. Mark 8:34-38

The truths that Jesus espoused don’t seem to exhort the one considering being a disciple of Jesus to think on ones self, but quite the contrary… ones selflessness. So if this is true why does the church have trouble promoting the truth? Because in America, it is not profitable in that it is not palatable to ones flesh. Doesn’t seem to draw the croud.

I think Richard Baxter hit the nail squarely upon its head when he writes in his Treatise on Self-Denial from The Practical Works of Richard Baxter.

The principal part of selfishness consists in an inordinate self-love. This is a corruption so deep in the heart of man, that it may be called his very natural inclination, which therefore lies at the bottom, below all his actual sins whatsoever; and must be changed into a new nature, which principally consists in the love of God. This is original sin itself, even the heart of it. This speaks what man by nature is; even an inordinate self-lover; and as he is, so he will act. In this, all other vice in the world is virtually contained…

Selfishness is most contrary to God, and would rob Him of all His rights as God, and God would be no God, if the selfish sinner had his will and did not heartily consent that God should be God to him. I have formerly told you, that self is the god of wicked men, or the world’s great idol; and that the inordinate love of pleasure, profits, and honor, in trinity, are what this self-love consists of; and that the malignant trinity of God’s enemies, the flesh is the first and foundation, the world the second, and the devil the third.

When the Christian can’t get his/her focus no farther than ones own self, they will never have a vision for the selfless sacrifice that Christ demands. Consider the actions of Mary the sister of Lazarus, that was raised from the dead, when she brought forth that ointment of spikenard, very costly and precious and broke it, anointed the feet of our Lord and wiped his feet with the very hair of her head. So precious was this offering that the word of God said “the house was filled with the odor of this ointment”. John 12

Oswald Chambers says that in order for God to make us like His Christ that it will require an “anti-self-realization”…. sound like the spirit we find in Mary.

Jesus did not say, “He who believes in Me will realize all the blessings of the fullness of God,” but, in essence, “He who believes in Me will have everything he receives escape out of him.” Our Lord’s teaching was always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a person— His purpose is to make a person exactly like Himself, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us— and we cannot measure that at all. Oswald Chambers – My Utmost For His Highest

“Whether you love an immortal, holy life with God, or this earthly, fleshly life better, is the great question on which it will be resolved whether you are Christians or infidels at the heart, and whether you are heirs of heaven or Hell…” Richard Baxter

malachi

‘a word that can not die’

Believers may be nailed to a stake, chained in a prison cell, or locked in stockades. Believers may even die. Yet the gospel lives on.       vom-extreme devotion

In 605 B.C. the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign and the year that Daniel and others were taken to Babylon, that God told Jeremiah to take thee a roll of a book and write therein all the words that God had spoken to him. So Jeremiah called Barauch and he wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord which Jeremiah had spoken unto him. Jeremiah 36

As the words of the scroll began to be read among the people, the king sent and had Jehudi fetch the scroll and read it in the ears of the king and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.

When Jehudi read the words in the ear of the king, he cut it with a pen knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consume in the fire.

What we see in King Jehoiakim, is a spirit that has existed since the beginning of time, and that a spirit that desires nothing more than to destroy the word of God. It is the same spirit that we manifest itself in the serpent in the garden, “yea, hath God said?” We see this same spirit handed down through the ages yet it is manifested in the arm of the flesh, a man if you please, and that spirit wants to destroy the word of God.

Now at this juncture of the story, King Jehoaikim probably was thinking in the recesses of his mind, “I have shut the word of God up”? but this was not the case at all. God told Jeremiah to take another scroll and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah had burned.

God’s word can not be burned. His word is not quenched if His messengers are chained in a prison cell or locked in stockades, or even killed. His word is alive, sharper than a two-edged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit and is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes  of Him with whom we have to do. Man can not shut the mouth of God.

 

I confess that flesh and blood must needs think this is a very hard saying; though they might consent to acknowledge it a duty, and a reasonable thing to die for Christ, and a note of excellency, and a commendable qualification of some few extraordinary saints, yet it goes down very hard with them that it should be the lowest measure of saving grace, and that the weakest Christian must have it that will be saved: for, say they, what can the strongest do more than die for Christ? But to this I answer: There is no room for objections against so plain a word of God. It is the wisdom of God, and not our reason, that disposeth of the crown of life; and therefore it is His wisdom, and not our reason, that must determine how we shall attain it. And if God said plainly, that “if any man come to Christ, and hate not his own life, (that is, love it not so much less than Christ, that for His sake he can use it as a hated thing is used) he cannot be His disciple,” Luke 14:26; it is too late for the vote of man, or all the clamor of foolish reason, to recall this resolution. The Word of God will stand when they have talked against it never so long: we may destroy ourselves by dashing against it, but we cannot destroy or frustrate it.

The above work was taken from his Treatise on Self-Denial from The Practical Works of Richard Baxter.

Richard Baxter was an English Puritan pastor who lived from 1615 – 169l.

malachi

‘the society crumbles under a foundation of spiritual decay’

Tellicherry_Church_of_England[1]

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation. There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken. The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. Ezekiel 22:23-29

When God brought a judgement against His people (Israel) at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, Ezekiel tells us what sin was prevalent in her day.

For the sake of comparison please read the above verses taken from the twenty-second chapter of Ezekiel and everywhere you read the word her, substitute the word America.

The first thing we should note is that the she was in this time of tribulation, ‘a land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation’, because of her sin.

It was not His prophets and priest that had violated the law of God by profaning the holy things of God,  and devoured souls as a roaring lion ravening a prey, it was her prophets and priest.

It was also her princes, that were like wolves ravening the prey by shedding blood and destroying souls to prosper in their own wicked way. And instead of the prophets rebuking their ungodly judgment and laws, they daubed them with untempered mortar seeing vanity and divining lies unto them and would not stand upon the word of God and condemn their wicked deeds.

Because there was no spiritual leadership, the secular leadership ran amuck, leaving the people to exercise the same, vexing the poor and needy and oppressing the stranger wrongfully.

The very important lesson here, is that when there is no spiritual light and no moral compass the ship is tossed to and fro and drifts aimlessly at the beckoning of a wicked spirit, and that demonic.

My friend we don’t have to imagine real hard to see that America is in dire straits. The prophet and the priest have forsaken the word of God to daubed the pews in America with the lust of the flesh. I would to God that we had men behind pulpits that would rebuke the princes (congressman, senators, judges, lawyers, etc..) for their blasphemous judgements for profit and gain… Republican and Democrat alike!

When the prophet, priest and the prince are corrupt, where do we think that will leave the people? Look around my friend and pray for God’s mercy, for the ‘smelting furnace of God’s judgment’ is just around the corner.

malachi

‘when the strong meat of God’s word is likened to gristle’

Hebrews 5:14

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

As a Christian and more importantly a pastor and student of the scriptures, there are occasions that in prayerful meditation upon the word of God, I liken it to chewing on a piece of meat with a touch of gristle in it.

We are commanded to desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby, 1 Peter 2:2, but in the letter to the Hebrews 5:11-14 we are exhorted to move on from the milk of God’s word and feed upon the strong meat of His word. It is in these times that we occasionally run across a portion of God’s word that we find it rather difficult to chew and harder yet to swallow. It not palatable to the flesh, if you please. I liken it to when Christ told the multitude following Him; John 6:60 that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood, to which they responded,

“this is a hard saying who can hear it”?

I was reading vom’s ‘extreme devotions’ about Dinh Trung who has put hundreds of miles on his bicycle, traveling bumpy dirt roads to minister to the K’Ho tribe in Vietnam. On April 4, 1995, the police suddenly pulled him off his bicycle and started to beat him. He was taken to prison and held for six months before his trial.

Eventually, due to pressure on the government from Christian aid organizations, Trung was offered release six months early. But, although he had a faithful wife and two small children waiting for him, the evangelist wasn’t ready to leave! He saw this as another divine opportunity to preach to the lost. What could they do to him? He was already in prison!

Do you feel it? It is the gristle in the meat…

‘this is a hard saying who can understand it’.

How could a man imprisoned for simply preaching the gospel choose rather to suffer the afflictions of His Lord, than to get out and be with his faithful wife and two small children?

“Through Trung’s efforts in the prison near Quang Ngai, many came to Christ. After hearing of the numerous Christians praying and petitioning on his behalf, how could he pass up this opportunity to set an example by forsaking his life for the kingdom of God? Trung refused his early release and chose to remain in prison and continue his work as an evangelist.” vom’s extreme devotion

In the church in America we have difficulty appreciating such commitment to a cause. We look at the actions of those immersed in radical Islam, that are willing to die for the cause of Jihad and we shake our head in disbelief. It is not the killing that I draw your attention to my friend, for it is vile in its acts, but if we are honest with ourselves it is their commitment that we can not understand. It is something that the church in America knows very little about,

‘this is a hard saying who can understand it’.

Trung can, as well as the disciples did in the early church. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5), we find that they were imprisoned, like Trung for simply preaching the gospel. Before they were released they were beaten by the religious leaders of the day but did not regret such adversity but we are told… “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name”.

Trung, like these early Apostles see this level of commitment as the only option, even unto death. Christ tells us that if we are not willing to hate father, mother, brother, sister and even oneself and willing to lay down his/her life, can not be His disciple.

“this is a hard saying, who can hear it?”

malachi