Saturday, April 30, 2011


Ephesians 5:18 How to Have a Spirit-Filled Life



Eph 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

My wife and I periodically take a personality inventory in which one can score either as a thinker or as a feeler. It shows whether you make decisions with your head or your heart. Thinkers and feelers gravitate to different kinds of occupations. A pastor, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer asked, “What’s with these guys? We’ve been waiting for fifteen minutes.” The doctor agreed, “I don’t know, but this is ridiculous.” The pastor noted, “Hey, here comes the groundskeeper. Let’s have a word with him.” The pastor called out to the groundskeeper, “Say, George, what’s with the group ahead of us?” George said, “They are rather slow, aren’t they? That’s a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.” The group was silent for a moment. The pastor sympathized, “That’s so sad. I think I’ll say a special prayer for them tonight.” The doctor added, “That’s a good idea. In fact, I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there is anything we can do for these guys.” The engineer suggested, “Well, in the meantime, why can’t these guys play at night?” I think you know what category the engineer fell into.
Thinkers are like that. They don’t gift-wrap things. One fellow that had one too many was stumbling home through a cemetery late one frosty night. He fell into an open grave. Pretty soon another inebriated type came along and heard the first fellow yelling from the hole in the ground, “Help. I’m cold. I’m cold.” The second fellow peered into the open grave and said, “Well, no wonder. You kicked all your dirt off.”

Am I responding to His Lordship or acting out of guilt?

Am I letting the Holy Spirit work in and through me or am I in a spiritual rut?

Oh, foolish Galatians! What magician has cast an evil spell on you? For you used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ's death as clearly as though I had shown you a signboard with a picture of Christ dying on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ. Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? You have suffered so much for the Good News. Surely it was not in vain, was it? Are you now going to just throw it all away? I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law of Moses? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ. Galatians 3:1-5

Am I letting the Holy Spirit work in and through me or am I in a spiritual rut?

Three areas:

1. Individual

2. In the Church

3. In the World

Signs we are in danger or are already in a spiritual rut:

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.Reading the Bible is dry/boring. You look at it more like a rule book or an encyclopedia …it’s informational.

.You might pray, but it is often with little or no expectation of a response.

.Sinful behavior is justified or ignored.

.You worry, even fear, that God may complicate your life with some trial.

.It’s all about following the rules. You want to know if it’s right or wrong, and you’re very concerned about others doing the same.

.You are a controlling person unwilling to trust God for your future or others.

.You see a list like “Love, joy, peace…” and you try your best to be those things.

.You’re doing what you have to spiritually to get by.

In the Church:

.You repeat without feeling or meaning

.You sing without wonder or joy

.You don’t see evidence of God working in other peoples’ lives, you are self-righteous, and want your own way always.

.You listen without expectation or surprise

In the World:

.You don’t want to stand out or make waves

.You don’t want others to think you’re different

.You look more like those of the world than Christ

.You don’t panic at the thought that the person next to you may spend eternity in Hell

.You are more concerned and bothered by the sins of others in the world (homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex) than you are about expressing practical love to them

.You seek money for your life comfort rather than the cause of Christ

The background is Insecurity, the cause is




The solution is the gospel of Christ.

Are you Playing The Shame Game?

So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. Galatians 5:16-17

Characteristics of His Holy Spirit who is with us and in us:











.Gives gifts




But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Galatians 5:22-23

From a rut to a new life:

.Confession & Repentance

.Less of me, more of God

.Be filled…

.Seek change

Results: Fruit of the Spirit Love Joy Peace Patience Kindness Goodness Faithfulness Gentleness Self-control

Only through the grace of God in Jesus Christ is a person enabled to escape the curse of his/her sin (and of the rut) and to live a new life.

The Spirit Filled Life

A profound truth -The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of the filling of the Spirit.

What is the filling of the Spirit?

What does the Bible say about the filling of the Spirit?

Fact Number One: Every believer has received the gift of the Spirit.

Acts 2:38, Ephesians 3:17-19

Fact Number Two: Every believer has been baptized into the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13

What does it mean to live a Spirit- filled life?

Fact Number Three: Every believer has been sealed by the Spirit. Ephesians 1:13

Fact Number Four: Every believer is commanded to be filled with the Spirit.

Every Christian needs to learn how to be Spirit-filled, so that they can experience the full measure of the Christian life.

Imagine a man saved his money for years to buy a brand new car. He parks it in his driveway, shows it to his friends, and sits in it all afternoon so people will notice his new car. But he doesn't know how to start it, so everywhere the car goes he has to push it. That may seem silly to you, but that's the way many Christians are with their spiritual lives. They know the Holy Spirit dwells in them, but they never have quite figured out how to be filled with the Spirit. They've got faith, but they end up pushing their faith around rather than allowing their faith to carry them. Paul tells the Ephesians, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). I believe many Christians have not understood that verse. They realize it warns us not to get drunk, but they don't recognize that it also encourages us to be filled. The Christian life is not just a matter of "don'ts", it is also a matter of "do's." Don't be under the influence of alcoholic spirits; do be under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

1. The Reasons for Being Filled with the Spirit

We are called to be filled with the Spirit, as Stephen Olford has said, continuously, consciously, and conspicuously. Being saved is not a matter of what you do for God, but what God does through you by His Holy Spirit. If you do not know how to be filled with the Spirit, you will never fully enjoy what God has planned for the Christian life. There are several reasons why we are to be filled with the Spirit.

Obedience to God

God has commanded you to be filled. To not do so would be disobedient. Ephesians 5:18 is not just a good suggestion, it's a command! It is written in the imperative, which means it is necessary for you to do this. The Christian who is not Spirit-filled is living in rebellion against God. It is also written in the present tense, so it commands you, right at this moment, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And the command is written in the plural, so it is not just for pastors and missionaries but for all Christians everywhere. Every Christian should be filled, right now, with the Holy Spirit.

We Baptists have a tendency to carefully study the first part of the verse, about not being drunk with wine, and forget about the last part that calls us to be filled with the Spirit. Many people seem to think that getting drunk is the worst thing someone can do. But the way that I read the verse, it is a greater sin not to be filled with the Spirit than it is to be filled with wine. I've had far more problems from people in churches who were not filled with the Holy Spirit than with people who were drunk with wine! We would all be shocked if someone came up to the platform of a church drunk, but we should be more startled if a person came up to lead a church service without being filled with the Spirit. God has commanded us to be filled, and we ought to obey.

Obligation to God

Being filled is not only our obedient response to God, it is our obligation. You have obligations as a Christian. In Ephesians 5:19-20 Paul continues, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." In our worship life, we need to be filled with the Spirit because that's the only way to truly worship God. I have been in worship services where it came across as a tired and empty exercise. But a Spirit-filled worship time is life-changing and world-shaking. You have an obligation to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.

You also have an obligation to be Spirit-filled in your wedded life. Verse 22 reads, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." The wife is to respect and love and submit to her husband as though he were Jesus Christ. That won't be done through human nature; our culture is filled with the selfishness and independence of feminism. Women are called to stand up for themselves and throw off the shackles of patriarchy. However, God has called women to submit to their husbands, so feminism is dead wrong. To truly submit, she will have to be Spirit-filled. It's her obligation. The Bible doesn't stop with women, however. Verse 25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." The wife is to submit to her husband as though he is Jesus Christ, but the husband is to love his wife as though he were Jesus Christ loving the church. Jesus loved sacrificially, giving His own life for the church. A husband ought to love his wife so much that he is willing to die for her, and he ought to show it by the way he lives for her. Most women wouldn't have any difficulty submitting to a husband whom she could see loving her that much. The problem I have is that I can't love as well as Jesus Christ loves. So I have to let the Spirit work His love through me. My wife is loved by God through me. She doesn't mind being my second love, because she knows that when I am Spirit-filled she receives the love of God through me.

Not only in your worship life and your wedded life are you to be Spirit-filled, but in your work life you are to be filled with the Spirit. In Ephesians 6:5 Paul writes, "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ." You serve your boss as though he were Jesus Christ. Even if he isn't a Christian, you serve him as though he were the Lord Himself. "Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men" (vv. 6-7). You ought to go to work with the same enthusiasm that you have for church. Your job is your temple of devotion. It is your lamp stand for witness. What better place to let your light shine? Imagine the impact we would have if all Christians on the job were known for being honest, careful, punctual, trustworthy, and hard working. Of course, that's not human nature. We are naturally slow, lazy, and critical. But you could make a difference in your office if you decided to serve others like Jesus Christ. You won't be able to do it under your own power, however. You'll need to be Spirit-filled.

You also have an obligation to be Spirit-filled in your war life. In Ephesians 6:10 we read, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God." We are in a spiritual battle, and the only way to win is to be filled with the Spirit. Our enemy is real and is active. He has marshalled the forces of hell against us, and will attempt to sabotage your life and your family. He wants to bring devastation to your home, your health, your happiness, and your trust in God. He is strong and powerful, and the only way you are going to win the war is to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

You must be filled with the Spirit if you are going to fulfill your obligations in your worship life, your wedded life, your work life, and your war life. But you must also be filled with the Spirit if you are going to be effective in your witness life. Notice Ephesians 6:18&19: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel." If you are going to talk with anyone about your faith in Christ, you must first be filled with the Spirit. Before I step into a pulpit to preach, I want the Spirit of God filling me. Without that filling, my words have no power to touch men's hearts.

2. The Requirements for Being Filled with the Spirit

Don't think of the Holy Spirit as a substance, but as a Person. Don't refer to the Spirit as "it," but as "Him." Jesus said, "When He is come He will teach you all things." The Spirit is a person, and you are His temple. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us, "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" He will fill you with His presence.

The first thing you must do is to make a complete commitment to Him. You open up the door of your heart, welcome Him in, and give Him complete control of your life.

The filling with the Spirit may be pictured to the filling of a glove with a hand. Without the hand in the glove, the glove just flops about uselessly. If you have no yet become a Christian, the Holy Spirit is not living His life out through yours because He is not yet within you. As soon as you become a Christian the Holy Spirit indwells you.

Eph 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

If you are a Christian, just like the hand entering a glove, the Holy Spirit of God has entered your life. How many of you here have the same problems I do in putting on gloves. I could never live in a cold climate. I get frustrated with gloves. I get two or three fingers stuck in the same hole. If there is a little hole in the glove, my fingers will stick out through it!. I am hopeless with gloves. The Holy Spirit, just like your hand as it fills out each of the fingers of the glove, wants to fill out each area of your life and make it godly. You allow Him to come into every area of your life: your marriage, your job, your friendships, your finances. You open it all up to Him. Your complete commitment to Him is necessary before He can fill your life. He must be allowed to enter and control each area of your life. Have you let Him do that in your life? In your worship life? In your wedded life? In your work life? In your warfare life? In your witnessing life?

There must also be a continual control. The Holy Spirit wants to be continually filling your life and controlling your mind. The reason Paul used the contrast of being filled with the Spirit to being drunk with wine is because they have a similar effect on people. At the day of Pentecost, the apostles were accused of being drunk with wine. Peter had to explain they weren't drunk with wine, but drunk with the Holy Spirit. When you are drunk, the alcohol takes over and controls you. You don't act the same because the alcohol has changed your behaviour. The way you walk and talk and think are all altered. You may become generous, or violent, or talkative. You are dominated by the influence of the drink. So it is with the Holy Spirit. He controls you, and you aren't the same anymore. Your walk, your talk, your generosity, and your courage are all changed by the Spirit of God. A person gets drunk by drinking and stays drunk by drinking more. Likewise a person commits themself to the Holy Spirit, then needs to continually be dependent upon the Spirit.

There must be a claiming of this filling of the Holy Spirit. There needs to be a conscious claiming of it. "Just as you received the Lord Jesus, so walk ye in Him," the Bible says. You received Jesus by faith, so you must continually walk in faith. Just say, "Lord, I open myself up to You. Thank You for filling me with Your Spirit. I'm not looking for a feeling, I'm just claiming by faith the fact that I am filled."

3. The Results of Being Filled with the Spirit

As you are filled with the Spirit, you will see it in your relationship to God, your relationship to your circumstances, and your relationships with other people.

Your relationship to God will be energized by a spirit of adoration. You'll want to praise God and sing to Him. You'll find yourself constantly singing and praising the Lord. You can't help but praise God when you are filled with the Spirit. Your relationship with God will be strengthened as you adore Him.

You'll also find you have a spirit of appreciation, giving thanks to God for all the wonderful things He has done in your life. Your outlook on your circumstances will change, because you will begin to see your life through the eyes of God. You will no longer be under your circumstances, but will praise God that each circumstance is a divine appointment to move you toward Christlikeness.

Finally, you will develop a spirit of accommodation, which will change your relationship to other people. You'll find the Spirit helping you to submit joyfully to others, as unto the Lord. You'll find yourself looking for ways to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ. That's because the Spirit of God has changed your heart. Is the Holy Spirit filling you right now?


Thinkers, Feelers and other animals from Charles Lowery

My wife and I periodically take a personality inventory in which one can score either as a thinker or as a feeler. It shows whether you make decisions with your head or your heart. Thinkers and feelers gravitate to different kinds of occupations. A pastor, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer asked, “What’s with these guys? We’ve been waiting for fifteen minutes.” The doctor agreed, “I don’t know, but this is ridiculous.” The pastor noted, “Hey, here comes the groundskeeper. Let’s have a word with him.” The pastor called out to the groundskeeper, “Say, George, what’s with the group ahead of us?” George said, “They are rather slow, aren’t they? That’s a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.” The group was silent for a moment. The pastor sympathized, “That’s so sad. I think I’ll say a special prayer for them tonight.” The doctor added, “That’s a good idea. In fact, I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there is anything we can do for these guys.” The engineer suggested, “Well, in the meantime, why can’t these guys play at night?” I think you know what category the engineer fell into.
The majority of men score in the thinking category while the majority of women score in the feeling category. In my marriage, it’s just the opposite. I don’t know if I think like a woman or Penny feels like a man. But it affects our relationship. The first time I was sick, I wanted some serious comfort. I wanted sympathy, understanding, breakfast in bed with Snickers and ice cream, and a little bit of encouragement. She said, “You’re not that sick. Take a shower and go to work. You’ll feel better later.” Once I woke up with a backache, moaning and looking for some comfort. Penny said, “Get on the floor and do the exercises you are supposed to be doing. You’ll feel better.” I felt like the man who had a critical heart problem. The doctor called his wife in by herself and said, “Your husband is in bad shape. He will die unless you cook healthy foods for him, rub his neck, and meet his every need so that he can relax and not worry about anything.” When they were alone her husband asked what the doctor had said. The wife replied, “He said that you’re going to die.”
Thinkers are like that. They don’t gift-wrap things. One fellow that had one too many was stumbling home through a cemetery late one frosty night. He fell into an open grave. Pretty soon another inebriated type came along and heard the first fellow yelling from the hole in the ground, “Help. I’m cold. I’m cold.” The second fellow peered into the open grave and said, “Well, no wonder. You kicked all your dirt off.”
Inebriated thinkers are still thinkers. They have the ability to depersonalize things. Their humor is even different. They like jokes like the one about the war camp. The prison camp leader said, “Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. First the good news: There is a change of underwear in the shower for everyone. But now the bad news: Smith you change with Jones, Jones you change with Smith…” You get the idea. If you are a thinker you are probably laughing. If you are a feeler, you are saying, “Yuck! How could he say that?”
I knew an administrator who was a thinker. People said he would fire his own mother. He replied, “No. I would never have hired her in the first place.” Thinkers would rather be right than be liked. They don’t worry about presentation; they just give you the cold, hard facts. Feelers gift-wrap everything.
Being liked is important to feelers. They are concerned with people’s feelings; they understand people and want to help. Unfortunately, this means they have a tough time saying no. They are the ones at the family reunion trying to keep everyone happy, especially after some thinker just insulted everyone at the table.
So why do feelers get into trouble? Because in trying to take care of the whole world, they end up resenting the world. Feelers have to remember what you learn on the airplane. In times of trouble, first put the oxygen mask over your own face and then help your children. You can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself.
How should I make decisions? With my heart or with my head? Use both. Don’t you know that they are connected? God connected them with a word. The word is love. Speak the truth in love. A gentle heart and a firm mind can get along when connected by love. Love connects a lot of opposites. It’s kept my wife and me connected for a long time. She has even softened up to my sick spells. As a matter of fact she goes overboard. When she says, “Does my little boy have a runny nose?” It takes a little joy out of my ice cream. But her heart is right. And for a thinker, that’s progress. So I respond, “Yes,” and I also add, “Your little boy has a headache, too, which a Snickers would really help.” So when heart and head are in competition, remember the love connection.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Encouraging Words From Tom Elliff

We worship and serve a living Savior! That fact in itself distinguishes Christianity from all other world religions. Never has a message been so desperately needed in a lost and hurting world. And never should believers be more ready to share the simple truth of the Gospel than right now.

This afternoon, I’ve been thinking about the challenging days before us. Reading John’s account of that first evening following the resurrection has filled me with such encouragement and hope. What the Lord provided for those trembling disciples hiding in the upper room, He provides for you and me today. These are theresults of the resurrection. I need each one desperately and imagine that you need them as well. Take a moment to reflect on John 20: 19-23, and meditate of the provisions of our resurrected Lord.

1. Distinct Peace (19). Christ’s first words to the fearful disciples was a promise of peace. “Peace be with you,” said the Lord as He suddenly appeared among them. And that message has become the hallmark of the Christian faith. It is in Christ that we find peace with God, an abiding peace that enables us to then share God’s love with a troubled world. Our world is reeling with unrest right now, an unrest that troubles the heart of anyone who does not know Christ. But to know Christ is to rest in Him and to experience a peace that surpasses all understanding. The living Christ provides a vital, distinct peace.

2. Definite Proof (20). The disciples must have been aghast at this sudden appearance of Christ. They had heard rumors of the resurrection. Mary had spoken of His appearance, as had two men who had just returned from Emmaus. Peter and John had spoken of the empty tomb. But now, here He was among them. To assuage their doubts and strengthen their faith, Jesus showed them both His hands and His side.John is writing as an actual eye witness to this event, a witness that is firmly attested by many others. We serve a real Redeemer, not a mere figment of human imagination.

3. Deliberate Purpose (21). “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” Though this is an uncomfortable equation, there can be no doubt as to our purpose here on earth. Christ co-missions us! We are to live in aggressive cooperation with God’s great plan for the redemption of lost mankind by being bearers of the message of Christ. Everything I do is to be measured by this plumb line: Is this in some way a means of fulfilling the Lord’s great commission to us? That single purpose should guide the thoughts and energies of my life. That is the very essence of Christ-likeness.

4. Divine Power (22). “Receive the Holy Spirit,” commanded the Lord as He breathed of them. From Pentecost forward, the Holy Spirit has been God’s great gift to every true believer. We are, in fact, the very temple of God’s Spirit, Who when allowed absolute reign in our lives, powerfully reveals Christ through us to a lost and dying world. We are not powerless in the fulfilling of our mission!  As we surrender to the Lordship of Christ, the Holy Spirit fills our lives, enabling us to be Christ-like. Now that is power from on High.

It is no mere coincidence that this first meeting between the resurrected Lord and His followers is recorded for us. I, for one, needed to reflect on this record of that first meeting with the resurrected Lord. And maybe you did as well.

He is risen…indeed!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


He For You

He Was Forsaken That You Might Never Be Forsaken

Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Isaiah 25:8 and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.

HIS Way Was Closed That Your Way Might Be Opened

Matthew 26:42Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Matthew 27:50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

He Was Condemned For Sin That You Might Never Be Condemned For Sin

and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.

He Died That You Might Conquer Death

And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Isaiah 25:7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8He will swallow up death forever;

He Died As A Man That You Might Recognize Him As The Son Of God

54When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Respond To His Love

Isaiah 25:9It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”


In 1941, Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda was sent to a small US-occupied island in the Philippines with orders to do all he could to hamper enemy attacks on the island. He linked up with a group of soldiers already stationed there, but within a month, all but four of the men had been killed in battle. Hiroo and the others took the hills.

In 1945 they began seeing pamphlets stating the war had ended, but Onoda dismissed them as propaganda. In the following few years, the others surrendered or died one by one, but Onoda held his position, even continued his guerilla activities ... until 1974.

Onoda finally met a college dropout named Suzuki backpacking in the island who explained to him the war had ended. Still, the dedicated soldier was reluctant to believe. Finally, his former commanding officer, long since retired, flew to the island and gave Onoda his orders to lay down his arms.

Many of us, just like Lt. Onoda, are fighting a war that has long since been won.

Before Jesus breathed his final breath, he cried out "It is finished." Maybe some within the sound of his voice thought he was talking about his own life, or maybe they thought he was talking about the future of his following ... but the truth is that he was talking about the power of sin and death.

Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:31) And at that moment death was swallowed in victory; the cost of our freedom was paid in full.

Like the pamphlets that arrived on that tiny Philippine island, we have heard about our liberation, but we refuse to believe it. It's too good to be true. We stubbornly stay in the fight, and we lose battle after battle -- the same battles he has already won.

It is finished, he said. Sin. Death. Guilt. Regret. Sin. Despair. Isolation. And did I mention sin? These are all swallowed up in the victory of the cross and his powerful resurrection.

His work is finished, he has rested. And he is inviting us now to rest in him. --

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Share Him

(The powerpoint in pdf format may be found here in the downloadable media player


Saving faith is both simple and complex. Faith is as simple as a drowning man reaching for a rope, a child taking a step or a sinner looking to Jesus Christ. Faith is simple belief. On the other hand, saving faith is complex, setting in motion all the judicial machinery of heaven. The ultimate purpose of God is activated by faith; but eternal consequences are not received as easily as an impulsive purchase at the discount store. To be saved, a person must have proper knowledge, proper emotion and proper decision of the will in response to God who calls, convicts and converts.

“Faith” is one of those common words that is difficult to define specifically. Some have suggested that the concept of faith is actually beyond the ability of any human being to define. But we can recognize certain aspects of faith that make the idea more understandable. Leon Morris suggests:

Faith is clearly one of the most important concepts in the whole New Testament. Everywhere it is required and its importance insisted upon. Faith means abandoning all trust in one’s own resources. Faith means casting oneself unreservedly on the mercy of God. Faith means laying hold on the promises of God for daily strength. Faith implies complete reliance on God and full obedience to God.

Faith is part of a person’s response to God in the salvation experience. The Heidelberg Catechism reflects the belief of Martin Luther: “The Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel....”

(Faith) is not merely a certain knowledge, whereby I receive as true what God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a cordial trust, which the Holy Ghost works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, the forgiveness of sin, and everlasting righteousness and life are given by God out of pure grace, and only for the sake of Christ’s merit.

Faith begins by knowing God and His plan. Intellectual faith has never saved anyone, but intellectual knowledge is the foundation for saving faith. It is the proper response to saving faith. Intellectual faith is measured by what a person knows about the historical facts of Christianity. It is not a matter of the emotions or the will, but simple knowledge of God.

Intellectual faith is the basis for volitional faith. In the first step, the person believes in the existence of God, that the Bible is God’s Word, that Jesus shed His blood on the cross for the sins of humankind and that God will save those who call upon Him. This knowledge is not ultimate faith, but is the beginning.

There is a place for a person’s intellect in faith. Someone once defined faith as “believing what ain’t so.” He was wrong. Saving faith is not a blind leap in the dark. It is based upon objective truth. As Morris notes:

The verb pisteuo is often followed by “that,” indicating that faith is concerned with facts. This is important, as Jesus made clear to the Jews, “for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). But it is not all-important. James tells us that the devils believe “that there is one God,” but this “faith” does not profit them (Jas. 2:19).3

New Testament Words Describing Evangelism

Witnessing martureo Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Talking laleo Acts 4:1  And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,

Evangelizing euangelizo Acts 8:4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

Announcing kerusso Acts 8:5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.

HCSB Acts 8:4 So those who were scattered went on their way proclaiming the message of good news.
5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and preached the Messiah to them

Confusing suncheo Acts 9:22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

Explaining dianoigo Acts 17: 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3  explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.

Demonstrating paratithemai Acts 17:3

Preaching katangello Acts 17:3

Persuading peitho Acts 17:4 2 Cor. 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.

Teaching didasko Matt. 28:20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Discipling matheteuo Matt. 28:19

Reasoning dialegomai Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

Discussing suzeteo Acts 6:9  Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen.

Declaring gnorizo 1 Cor. 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel

Winning kerdaino 1 Pet. 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

Proving sumbibazo Acts 9:22

These words remind us that Faith has a knowledge element of which people need to be persuaded of the truthfulness and of the trustworthiness or faithworthiness of those facts.

We share Facts about Him

The gospel 1 Corinthians 15: 1 Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed to no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time, most of whom remain to  the  present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it is I or they, so we preach and so you have believed.

Everywhere you look in Scripture, you see the writer pointing toward Christ.

In Luke 24:27, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two forlorn followers and began teaching them the secret to Scripture. "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." The Old Testament points toward Jesus Christ. Every story and every event leads directly to the Savior.

In John 5:39, the Lord Jesus told His followers to "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me." Of course, the New Testament had not yet been written, so Jesus is telling His disciples to explore the Old Testament writings, because they all point toward Him.

As you read through God's Word, see how it points you to Jesus.

• Christ is the Seed of woman and in Genesis 3:15 we are told He will one day crush Satan.
• In Exodus we find the story of the Passover Lamb, and Christ is the sacrificial Lamb given for us.
• In Leviticus we read of the high priests making sacrifices for the people, and Christ has become our High Priest, making the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins.
• In Deuteronomy Moses prophesied of a prophet who would come that would be greater than Himself. Jesus is that Great Prophet.
• In the book of Joshua, Joshua met the Captain of the Lord's host. That man is Jesus Christ.
• In Judges, the leaders were judges who delivered God's people, each of them typifying the Lord Jesus.
• Boaz, the kinsman who redeemed Ruth's inheritance, is a picture of Christ.
• David, the anointed one, pictures Jesus and Jesus is described as being the Son of David.
• In 2 Samuel when the king is being enthroned, the entire scene is descriptive of the Lord Jesus.
• The books of Kings speak of the glory of God filling the temple and the Chronicles describe the glorious coming king, both referring to Jesus, the King of Kings.
• Ezra depicts Jesus as the Lord of our fathers.
• Job says clearly that the Redeemer is coming!
• Esther offers a picture of Christ interceding for His people.
• Christ appears time after time in the Psalms, including when David describes Him as "the Shepherd."
• Isaiah details His glorious birth.
• Jeremiah reveals that He will be acquainted with sorrows.
• Joel describes Him as the Hope of His people.
• Amos tells us that Jesus is the judge of all nations.
• Obadiah warns of the coming eternal kingdom.
• Jonah offers a picture of Jesus being dead for three days, then coming back to life to preach repentance.
• Zephaniah says that He will be the king over Israel.
• Zachariah is the prophet who speaks of Jesus riding on a colt.
• Malachi is the one who calls Him the Son of Righteousness.

Can you see it? The entire Old Testament points toward Jesus as Savior, and if you miss that, you've missed the entire point of the Scriptures. Jesus is the Messiah and the fulfillment of prophecy.

All of the Bible is about Jesus Christ and His blood redemption, and you will find this scarlet thread throughout the Word of God.

The Prophesy of the Blood

From the very beginning of human history, it is revealed. When Adam and Eve sinned, God shed innocent blood in order to make them clothes from animal skins (Genesis 3:21). This is a picture of the covering of righteousness that we receive when the Lord Jesus Christ died for us.

In Genesis four we read that Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. They instinctively wanted to worship God. Cain sacrificed the fruit of the ground. Abel had already learned that God demanded blood, so he brought a lamb. God accepted the blood of Abel's lamb, but He did not accept Cain's offering. Why? Because "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin" (Hebrews 9:22).

And God told Abraham to sacrifice his long-awaited son Isaac (Genesis 22). Just before Abraham plunged the dagger into the quivering heart of his son, an angel stopped him. Abraham saw a ram caught in a thicket. Isaac was set free, but an innocent animal's blood was shed instead.

Then, God wanted to deliver His people from bondage in the land of Egypt. On the night of the Passover, God instructed each house to slay a lamb and put the blood on their door. God said in Exodus 12:13, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you."

And in the tabernacle and later in the temple, thousands upon thousands of sheep, oxen, and turtle doves were killed and their blood spilt as sacrifices for sin.

And finally, the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross. His death was the fulfillment of all the prophecy and promises. Revelation 13:8 proclaims that He was slain before the foundation of the world. He came to die; He planned to die; He lived to die; and He was born to die.

Blood is throughout Scripture, but what does Christ's blood mean to us?

The Power of the Blood

His blood redeems us. There was a price against us that we could not pay, but the blood of Jesus redeemed us. First Peter 1:18-19 says, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things ... But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

His blood brings us into fellowship with God. According to Ephesians 2:13, "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." Without the blood of Christ, man is a long way from God.

His blood makes peace with God. Man, by nature, is at war with God; and we can only come to God on His peace terms—the blood atonement. The Bible says in Colossians 1:20, "And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself ..."

His blood cleanses. Not only does it remove the punishment of sin, it removes the pollution. I don't care what sin you've committed; "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

His blood gives power over the devil. It's the blood that Satan fears. Revelation 12:11 says, "And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb ..." The devil doesn't want you to learn about the blood. He hates it!

Before this planet was ever swung into space, God had determined in His heart that He would send His Son to die upon the cross. How wonderful it is to trace the scarlet thread of the blood of Christ woven throughout the Bible! How much more wonderful to experience its redemption personally. Praise God for the blood of His Lamb!

He was the conqueror of Death

Isa 25: 6  On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8  He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. . . For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 25-26

We Share Faith in Him

The Gospel of John uses the word “believe” 98 times and ties faith to the object of belief. We are exhorted to “believe in Jesus Christ.” As a result, the important aspect of belief is what you believe, not just the measure of your belief. Therefore, to have saving faith, people must believe that God will punish sin (Rom. 6:23), and that Christ has made a provision for their salvation (Rom. 5:8). People must believe these truths, which means they accept them intellectually; but mere intellectual assent to biblical truth is not enough to save.

The characteristic construction for saving faith is that the verb pisteuo is followed by the preposition eis. Literally, this means “to believe into.” It denotes a faith that, so to speak, takes people out of themselves, and puts them into Christ (cf. the expression frequently used of a Christian, being “in Christ”). This experience may also be referred to by the term “faith-union with Christ.” It denotes not simply a belief that carries an intellectual assent, but one wherein believers cleave to the Savior with all their hearts. Those who believe in this sense abide in Christ and Christ in them (John 15:4). Faith is not accepting certain things as true, but trusting a Person; and that Person is Christ.

When the Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” he was told, “Believe.” Faith involves an act of the will on the part of the believer in that the believer surrenders to the will of God. In one sense, no person can ever surrender fully to Christ as Lord and Savior because humankind still has a sin nature. Yet, if people refuse consciously to surrender some part of their wills to Christ, they are not exercising faith.

A person becomes a Christian by faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). When the Philippian jailer was troubled about his salvation, he was exhorted to exercise belief—the verb expression of faith. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). When Nicodemus failed to understand how he could enter into a relationship with God, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Apart from faith, personal salvation is impossible.

Personal salvation is experienced by the inner person. Because humans are composed of intellect, emotion and will, faith comes through a proper exercise of these three aspects of personality.

Our faith must be grounded on correct knowledge. People cannot put their trust in something they do not know about, nor can they honestly trust something that is proven false to them. People must first know the gospel, which means they have an intellectual knowledge of salvation. But this knowledge alone will not save them.

The Bible seems to make a distinction between “believe that” and “believe in.” In the first place, people can believe that their teams will win or believe that their jobs are superior. The beliefs are opinion, but are not deep conviction (i.e., based on the object of their faith—Jesus Christ). When people “believe in,” the beliefs are based on carefully weighing the evidence. When we say “believe in,” we are speaking of a moral expression or a moral experience.

Our faith will have an emotional expression. Knowledge about God is the foundation of saving faith, but such faith will extend to the individual’s emotional responses as well. Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).

Your faith must be a volitional response. A third aspect of saving faith is an expression of volitional faith. People are saved as a result of an act of their wills whereby they rely on Christ as proclaimed in the gospel. Paul told the Roman Christians, “You obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Rom. 6:17). When people accept Jesus Christ as their Savior (John 1:12), it is a conscious act whereby they invite Him into their hearts (Eph. 3:16).

What is it to become a Christian?

John 5:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Faith in him ….

Receiving Him Rev 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.

John 1:10-13 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

1 John 5:11-13 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

John 6: 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46  not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48  I am the bread of life. 49  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

We Share Faith From Him

1 Corinthians 1: 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.


Join us for our Easter Services At the Glossodia Community Church


Good Friday  9:30 am …  enjoy free Hot Crossed buns


and Grrrrreat coffee at the Community Centre  


Easter Sunday  9:30 am  ….  Celebrating Jesus’ Power

over Death    


Discover The Power Of A New Life


Saturday, April 09, 2011


How To Share Jesus Without Fear


Use Questions That Allow Open Discussion

  • Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?
  • Where have your beliefs come from? Family, Friends, reasoned, experiences?
  • To you, who is Jesus?
  • Do you think there is a heaven or a hell?
  • If you died tonight, where would you go?


Share Jesus Without Fear - Let God's Word Speak
You can share Jesus without fear! Rather than recite an elaborate presentation, simply open your Bible and let God's Word speak for itself.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

"In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again'" (John 3:3).

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" (John 14:6).

As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame'" (Romans 10:11).

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13).

Salvation Prayer –

The Simple Steps:
1. Acknowledge in your heart that Jesus is Lord.
2. Believe that Jesus died for your sins and was raised three days later.
3. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
4. Repent of your sins.

Salvation Prayer - Merely a Tool to Communicate Our Faith
The Salvation Prayer is not a ritual based on specific words. This is a guideline for our sincere step of faith:

"Dear God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. I need You in my life; I acknowledge the completed work of Your Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross at Calvary, and I want to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through His sacrificial death for me. Come into my life now, Lord. Be my king, my Lord, and my Savior. I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in Your hands. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen."

How to Share Jesus Without Fear


With thanks to Lifeway’s Share Jesus Without Fear evangelism programme.



You can turn this into a pocket leaflet to keep in your wallet as a reminder to you as you share with others about the Lord Jesus Christ.

The PDF file for this may be found at

Sunday, April 03, 2011


SPLASH Showing People Love And Sharing Him SPLASH 2 LOVE

(The powerpoint in pdf format may be found here in the downloadable media player

“What do you want in life?” is one of our most basic and important questions. Some of us really don’t know. It isn’t that we are unwilling to try, it’s that we don’t know what we’re after. Some of us spend all of our lives chasing after money, career, power, relationships, sex or health in the hope that if we get what we’re chasing it will turn out to be what we really want. Our list is long but one “want” tops all lists. We all want love. Paul wrote about “Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). 

Mercedes Benz created a television ad showing one of their cars crashing into a concrete wall.  The point is that they have a design that absorbs energy and saves lives in otherwise fatal car crashes.  In the ad someone asks a Mercedes representative why the company doesn't use patent law to protect their design from being copied by other auto companies.  He answers, "Because some things in life are too important not to share."
That's the way it is with the very good news of Jesus Christ.  It's too important not to share.

There is one thing that no other religion, no other philosophy can offer that Christians can offer. And that is LOVE!  Romans 5:5.. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

When children were asked what love is they gave some interesting and touching answers:
© “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”
© “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
© “Love is when someone hurts you, and you get so mad, but you don’t yell at them because you know it would hurt their feelings.”
© “Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay.”
© “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
© “Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”
© “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.”
© “Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”
© “You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” 

Jesus started out with a handful of followers.  Today there are about two billion people around the world who call themselves Christians.  How do you think that happened?  The answer is obvious – Christians convinced unbelievers to follow Jesus.  That's what Christians do.  We tell others about God.  We explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We send missionaries.  We evangelize.  To be a Christian is to act in ways that produce more Christians.


Evangelism is not about prospects, it is about people!

See People first! The question is not “what can they do for us?” but rather, “what Christ can do for them!”


The Roman historian Tacitus wrote: "I am entering upon the history of a period rich in disaster, gloomy with wars, rent with seditions; nay savage in its very hours of peace. Four emperors perished by the sword; there were three civil wars; there were more with foreigners, and some had the character of both at once ... Rome wasted by fires; its oldest temples burned; the very capitol set in flames by Roman hands; the defilement of sacred rites; adultery in high places; the sea crowded with exiles; island rocks drenched with murder; yet wilder was the frenzy in Rome; nobility, wealth, the refusal of office, its acceptance, everything was a crime, and virtue was the surest way to ruin. Nor were the rewards of the informers less odious than their deeds. One found his spoils in a priesthood or a consulate; another in a provincial governorship, another behind the throne. All was one delirium of hate and terror; slaves were bribed to betray their masters, freedmen their patrons; and he who had no foe was betrayed by his friend." (Tacitus: Histories I, 2)

BUT THERE was something counter cultural about the Christians. Tertullian's "Apology", Chapter 39.7 (circa 200AD)

"Look," they say, "how they love one another" (for they themselves hate one another); "and how they are ready to die for each other" (for they themselves are readier to kill each other).

“In the period following the Apostolic Age, there was an exuberant caring and sharing on the part of Christians that was unique in antiquity. Julian the apostate, an enemy of Christianity, admitted that “the godless Galileans fed not only their (poor) but ours also.” Tertullian wrote that the Christians’ deeds of love were so noble that the pagan world confessed in astonishment, “See how they love one another.’ Exactly what is it that these Christians did which elicited such a response from their enemies?
“There was, first of all, an exceptional freedom to care for the needs of one another in the believing community. The Didache admonished Christians: ‘Thou shalt not turn away from him that is in want, but thou shalt share all things with thy brother, and shalt not say that they are thine own.’ By A.D. 250 Christians in Rome were caring for some fifteen hundred needy people. In fact, their generosity was so profuse that Ignatius could say that they were ‘leading in love,’ and Bishop Dionysus of Corinth could note that they were sending ‘supplies to many churches in every city. . . . ‘ We gain a helpful glimpse into the caring Christian community from I Clement, ‘Let everyone be subject to his neighbor. . . . Let the rich man provide for the wants of the poor; and let the poor man bless God, because He hath given him one by whom his needs may be supplied.’ Tertullian catalogued a long list of groups that were cared for by the Christian believers. . . .
“Christians also provided for those who lost their jobs because of their faith in Christ. It was assumed, for example, that an actor who became a Christian, and had to give up his profession because of its involvement in pagan mythology, would be cared for by the church. . . .

But their joyful sharing was not confined to Christians. . . . Bishop John Chrysostom witnessed: ‘ Every day the Church here feeds 3,000 people. besides this, the church daily helps provide food and clothes for prisoners, the hospitalized, pilgrims, cripples, churchmen and others. When epidemics broke out in Carthage and Alexandria, Christians rushed to aid all in need. . . . In fact, it was the way that in times of plague, when everyone else fled the city, that Christians became identified as the ones who would stay behind at the risk of their own loves to care for the sick and to take in those discarded by the road to die.
These Christians genuinely believed that God was the owner and giver of all good gifts. Their generosity was an imitation of God’s generosity. They were free from anxiety because they knew that tomorrow was in God’s hands. They lived in simplicity. Perhaps no one has capture the exuberant spirit of simple caring and sharing better than the Christian philosopher Aristides, whose words (written in A.D. 125) are so moving that they are best quoted in full:

They walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them, and they love one another. They despise not the widow, and grieve not the orphan. He that hath distributeth liberally to him that hath not. If they see a stranger, they bring him under their roof, and rejoice over him as if he were their own brother: for they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit of God; but when one of their poor passes away from the world, and any of them see him, they he provides for his burial according to his ability; and if they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs. . . . And if there is among them a man that is needy and poor, and they have not an abundance of necessaries, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food.”

Why did Christianity conquer the pagan world? Because God is love. And those who love are born of God and know God!

The reason we all have a deep need for love is because we were all created that way by God.
The Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Love is essential to who God is and what God does. God loves and God wants us to love him.
God created humans in his likeness and that included both the capacity for love and the desire for love. As fish were created for water and birds were created for air, so humans were created for love.
Whenever we lack love there is something missing in our lives. We feel hollow, incomplete and inadequate. We know something is missing even if we can’t quite point to what it is.

The Bible begins with a loving God creating a loving couple and putting them in a safe place called the Garden of Eden. It was a place without worries, threats, diseases or death. It was a place where Adam and Eve could be themselves and totally enjoy the love and goodness of God.

Eden was lost to sin and tragic choices. Ever since, we humans have had a deep yearning to go back—to be safe, to be whole, to be ourselves, to be secure in the love of God and one another. Some of us search for the satisfaction of this basic need in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. We make life worse rather than better. We just want to love and be loved. Deep inside we all want to be safe, appreciated, valued, touched and respected. Love validates us as persons. It is powerful, transforming and affirming to be loved by someone else and to give our love to someone else. It is no wonder that we want love! To satisfy our desire for love we need to understand how love works.

Home and Away. “I am not sure I know what love is.. I thought I had found it in God, but God has abandoned me. “

1. The Definition Of Love


God is love. 1 John 4:7-9, 16

— “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

In His farewell address Jesus indicates that love will characterize His disciples. John 13:34-35

1 John 4: 7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

When We Love We are walking in the Light of God 1 John 2: 9 The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

When We Love We are walking in the Life of God 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death.

When We Love We are walking in the Love of God 1 John 4:7,11,12

2. The Demonstration Of God’s Love 1 John 4:9,10

1 John 3:16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.

— The penetrating question – “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” Luke 6:32

1John 4:14 And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.

1 John 2:2 He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

Former President Jimmy Carter wrote a book called Sources of Strength.  In it he tells the story of a Cuban pastor named Eloy Cruz.  The focus of his ministry has been the poorest of immigrants from Puerto Rico to the United States.  Carter asked him the secret of his success.  With modesty and embarrassment he replied, "Senor Jimmy, we only need to have two loves in life.  For God, and for the person who happens to be in front of us at anytime." 

— Jesus treated an outcast woman at the well with respect and tenderness. He touched a leper. He wept over the death of His friend Lazarus and the unbelief of his friends. He went home with a tax collector and allowed a fallen woman to wash His feet with tears.

3. The Demand Of God’s Love

We Are To Love unconditionally

Romans 5:6-10 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, [then how]much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!

When the woman taken in adultery was brought to Him, He turned all attention away from her nakedness, restoring her dignity. He then requires that she abandon sin

We Are To Love Sacrificially

1 John 3:16-18 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off his compassion from him—how can God’s love reside in him? 18 Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth;

How love works: You may already be a really good Christian lover.  Or you may just be getting started.  You may have lots of ideas of who to love and how to love and don't need much help. Either way, I'd like us to practice right here right now.

• Smile Our first exercise is smiling.  A simple smile is an act of love that can wonderfully bless another person's life. There was an old sage farmer in Tamworth who used to greet the new settlers as they arrived to the region. One wagon pulled up, the driver asked the old farmer “Is this a friendly town?” He would ask back “was the last town you lived in a friendly town?” The driver responded “Well no it was a very unfriendly town” “Well you probably find this town similar.” The next day another wagon load pulled up. “Is this a friendly town?” He would ask back “was the last town you lived in a friendly town?” The driver responded “Well yes it was a very friendly town” “Well you probably find this town similar.” He who would have friends must show himself friendly! So says the Proverb. Your smile is important!

Try it with the police officer if you're stopped on your way home.  Try it at work.  Even try it on the phone. Show Christian love with an intentional smile.

Give Next we're going to practice giving because giving to others is a fabulous way to love them.

Giving can be habit forming once you get started.  You give all kinds of things to benefit others.  Jesus said it's actually more blessed to give than to receive.  Those who love like Christians get hooked.  Giving becomes an addiction.

Forgive Exercise #3 is to forgive.  For this you'll have to come up with your own action.  Think of someone who recently offended, hurt, neglected, angered or otherwise antagonized you and decide to let it go.  Just release any resentment and move on. Don't start with anything big.  If a crime was committed against you, save forgiveness for another time.  Right now, begin with the small stuff–like the person who took your golden heart and didn't give one back to you; or, the person who wouldn't smile back no matter how hard you smiled.

Paul Yonggi Cho is founding pastor of the largest church in the world.  It is in Seoul, Korea and, last I heard, has around 750,000 members. 
      Cho travels the world as a speaker but told God he never wanted to go to Japan.  The Japanese had done horrible things to the Korean people and to Cho's family during World War II. When he received an invitation to speak to 1,000 pastors in Japan he reluctantly accepted knowing that it was the right thing to do.  When he stood to speak he blurted out words that he hadn't prepared: "I hate you.  I hate you.  I hate you."  And then he publicly wept.  Not a very good expression of Christian love.
      One by one the Japanese pastors stood and walked up to the front where they knelt in front of Cho and asked for his forgiveness.  It changed his heart until he said, "I love you.  I love you.  I love you."
You need to forgive.
Encourage Exercise #4 is to encourage.  Encouragement is one of the very best expressions of Christian love because we are all so hungry to be encouraged. Dan Baber posted encouragement for sale on eBay.  He asked people to bid on getting an e-mail from Dan's mom, Sue Hamilton, that he promised would "make you feel like you are the most special person in the world." How many of you think that people would pay money for an encouraging e-mail?   Bids started at $1.  There were 42,711 hits resulting in 92 cash bids with the winning bid at $610. People want to be encouraged.  People need to be encouraged.  Here's the challenge:  send an e-mail this week that the recipient will not delete.  Send a note in the mail that will be saved for years.  Leave an encouraging voice mail that will be saved for a long time.  Go up to someone and just do whatever you can to encourage as an expression of Christian love.

Jesus said, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

On March 15, 2004, an announcement was made that five Southern Baptist missionaries in Iraq had been killed.  One of them was Karen Watson who had written a letter to the pastors of her home church to be opened and read in case of her death.  Near the end of her letter she wrote:
      Care more than some think is wise.      Risk more than some think is safe.
      Dream more than some think is practical.      Expect more than some think is possible.

We Are To Love Personally

1 John 4: 19 We love because He first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from Him: the one who loves God must also love his brother.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Very early on Monday morning, July 29, 2002, nine coal miners were rescued from 240 feet under the earth where they were trapped for 77 hours (Somerset, PA). It was the first time in 30 years where there was such a successful rescue. During their three full days under ground they were in cramped quarters with cold rising water that sometimes was up to their noses. They shared one sandwich between them. They wrote goodbye notes to their families. They thought they were going to die—and they decided they would all die together so that their bodies was be found tied to each other.
At one of the emotional low points in their ordeal, 43-year-old Randy Fogle started to shiver and experienced tightness in his chest. The other nine feared he was suffering from hypothermia. They all surrounded him and took turns hugging him. They hugged each other. Blaine Mayhugh, 31, said, “When we were cold we would snuggle.”2 I doubt that these Pennsylvania coal miners whispered to each other in the dark, “I love you!” but they did love each other—with actions more than with words.

Love bears all hurts, wounds, sins and disappointments. Love believes the best about people, is never cynical, is never suspicious -- in spite of the way it is being wounded. And when love’s believing is betrayed, love turns to hope because God is still God and He can do anything. And even when hope grows thin and all hope seems lost, love endures. It endures deep hurt that seems so final, never losing the triumphant confidence that God who gives His children peace is still on the throne. Love cares too much to give up.

If we are to love the lost we need a similar miracle to take place in our lives in this time of moral degradation as took place in some people’s lives in the 18th Century. England was degraded spiritually. The churches had stopped preaching the gospel and were keen on preaching about anything but the gospel; they’d talk about politics, sports and anything else. But heart religion.. knowing Christ? Loving God? This was absent from the so called Christian pulpit. But God did a miracle in England in those days. He spoke to one or two folks. One put it into words that we sing: “Love Divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven, to earth come down, Fix in us Thy humble dwelling, All Thy faithful mercies crown.

“Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure unbounded love Thou art; Visit us with Thy salvation, Enter every trembling heart.” C. Wesley.

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