Katholisch Leben!

The Jesus Brothers

A Walk Across the USA

Wahre Jüngerschaft

Was ist ein Jünger?

 

Kurz gesagt ein Schüler oder ganz einfach jemand, der dem Beispiel eines Lehrers folgt und sich dessen Lehren zueigen macht.

 

Jünger gab es auch schon im Alten Testament, wo sie Propheten gefolgt sind:

“Ich will diese Warnung sorgfältig bewahren und die Lehre in meinen Jüngern wie mit einem Siegel verschließen.” (Jes 8,16 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Auch in 2 Kön 2,7 lesen wir von “Prophetenjüngern”.

In ähnlichem Sinn sind auch Verse wie Sprichwörter 4,1 (Einheitsübersetzung) zu verstehen:

“Ihr Söhne, hört auf die Mahnung des Vaters, merkt auf, damit ihr Einsicht lernt.”


Wenn wir ins Neue Testament sehen, so hatte zum Beispiel Johannes der Täufer Jünger:

“Am Tag darauf stand Johannes wieder dort und zwei seiner Jünger standen bei ihm.” (Joh 1,35 – Einheitsübersetzung)

 

Aber auch die Pharisäer hatten Jünger:

 

“Sie veranlassten ihre Jünger, zusammen mit den Anhängern des Herodes zu ihm zu gehen…” (Mt 22,16 – Einheitsübersetzug)

Die Phaerisäer wiederum nannten sich Jünger des Moses:

“wir aber sind Jünger des Mose” (Joh 9,28 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Meist jedoch wird mit dem Wort “Jünger” im Neuen Testament ein Nachfolger Jesu Christi bezeichnet. Dies kann etwa ganz allgemein gehalten sein:

“In diesen Tagen, als die Zahl der Jünger zunahm…” (Apg 6,1 – Einheitsübersetzung)

 

Oder aber bezogen auf einen der zwölf Apostel:

 

“Dann rief er seine zwölf Jünger zu sich und gab ihnen die Vollmacht, die unreinen Geister auszutreiben und alle Krankheiten und Leiden zu heilen.” (Mt 10,1 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Dann sagte er zu ihnen: Geht hinaus in die ganze Welt, und verkündet das Evangelium allen Geschöpfen! Wer glaubt und sich taufen lässt, wird gerettet; wer aber nicht glaubt, wird verdammt werden. Und durch die, die zum Glauben gekommen sind, werden folgende Zeichen geschehen: In meinem Namen werden sie Dämonen austreiben; sie werden in neuen Sprachen reden; wenn sie Schlangen anfassen oder tödliches Gift trinken, wird es ihnen nicht schaden; und die Kranken, denen sie die Hände auflegen, werden gesund werden.” (Mk 16,15-18 – Einheitsübersetzung)

 

Mit “Jünger” koennen aber die 72 Ausgesendeten bezeichnet werden:

 

“Danach suchte der Herr zweiundsiebzig andere aus und sandte sie zu zweit voraus in alle Städte und Ortschaften, in die er selbst gehen wollte.” (Lk 10,1 – Einheitsübersetzung)

 

In der Apostelgeschichte wird mit “Jünger” jeder Gläubige – Mann oder Frau – bezeichnet.

Zumeist finden wir den Begriff “Jünger” in den Evangelien und der Apostelgeschichte und zumeist bezeichnet er die zwölf Apostel. Paulus etwa war ein solcher Juenger: Er haette ein respektierter Rabbi werden können, dies sah er aber als wertlos an, verglichen mit der Nachfolge Jesu Christi. Er nahm das Kreuz auf sich und ertrug bereitwillig Verfolgung, körperliche Gewalt und schließlich sogar den Märtyrertod. Er war der Schüler des berühmtesten Rabbis aller Zeiten – Gamaliel – und hätte mit seinem Talent Ruhm und Geld bekommen können. Stattdessen verzichtete er auf Reichtum und predigte lieber das Evangelium. Im Gegensatz zu so manchen heutigen Fernsehprediger vermied er nicht die schwierigen und unbequemen Worte Jesu, auch und gerade, was Sünde anging, sondern hörte, liebte und befolgte sie.


Jesus ist nach Seiner Auferstehung in eine besondere und direkte Beziehung mit Seinen Jüngern getreten: Er hat mit Ihnen gegessen und hat sich sogar von ihnen berühren lassen. Er ist die Mitte und ruft uns durch Sein Wort und Seine Zeichen. (KKK 542, 645)

Jesus hat Seine Jünger angehaucht und somit den Geist gespendet (vgl. Joh, 20,22). Die Sendung Christi und des Geistes wird somit zur Sendung der Kirche: “Wie mich der Vater gesandt hat, so sende ich euch.” (Joh 20,21 – Einheitsübersetzung) (KKK 730). Der Heilige Geist wird bei und in den Jüngern sein und sie “in die ganze Wahrheit führen” (Joh 16,13 – Einheitsübersetzung). Der Heilige Geist wird zuerst von demütigen Menschen aufgenommen – so etwa von den ersten Jüngern (KKK 725).

“Dazu seid ihr berufen worden; denn auch Christus hat für euch gelitten und euch ein Beispiel gegeben, damit ihr seinen Spuren folgt.” (1 Petr 2,21 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Jesus will diejenigen an Seinem Erlösungsopfer beteiligen, denen Sein Erlösungsopfer zuerst zugute kommt, vor allem etwa Seine Mutter (vgl. Lk 2,35). (KKK 618)

In Seinem Namen haben die Jünger Wunder gewirkt (vgl. Mk 16,17), da Gott Vater Ihnen alles gewaehrte, worum sie um Jesu Namen gebittet haben (vgl. Joh 15,16). (KKK 434).

 

Was bedeutete es nun aber, Jünger Jesu zu sein?

 

Es hat mal jemand gesagt, dass das Christentum bedeutet, zum Fuß des Kreuzes zu kommen. Jüngerschaft aber bedeutet, das Kreuz zu umfassen. Dafuer müssen wir Ihm aber unser ganzes Leben geben.

Jünger sein bedeutet auf jeden Fall weitaus mehr, als nur ein Schüler oder ein Anhänger zu sein. Damals ging es nicht darum, einem normalen Rabbi nachzufolgen – Jesus war weitaus mehr als das.

Er hatte nicht Theologie studiert und braucht auch keine Erlaubnis, um zu lehren:

“Die Juden wunderten sich und sagten: Wie kann der die Schrift verstehen, ohne dafür ausgebildet zu sein?” (Joh 7,15 – Einheitsübersetzung)

So wie Jesus lehrte, hatte noch nie jemand zuvor gelehrt:

“Als Jesus diese Rede beendet hatte, war die Menge sehr betroffen von seiner Lehre; denn er lehrte sie wie einer, der (göttliche) Vollmacht hat, und nicht wie ihre Schriftgelehrten.” (Mt 7,28-29 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Jesu Jünger kamen nicht einfach nur zu Ihm, um belehrt oder unterrichtet zu werden. Er rief sie mit eigener Autoritaet zur Jüngerschaft:

“Da sagte er zu ihnen: Kommt her, folgt mir nach! Ich werde euch zu Menschenfischern machen.” (Mt 4,19 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Auch in anderer Hinsicht unterschied sich die Jüngerschaft, zu der Jesus Seine Anhänger rief, von der Jüngerschaft anderer: Es ging hier nicht darum, dass Seine Jünger danach trachteten, eines Tages Jesus gleichgestellt zu sein, so wie dies etwa bei den Pharisäern der Fall war. Er war nicht einfach nur ein weiser und schlauer Lehrer, dem Seine Jünger andächtig lauschten. Jesus rief Seine Jünger zu einem völlig neuen Leben – und Er lebte ihnen dies selbst vor!

“Darauf sagte Jesus zu seinen Jüngern: Wer mein Jünger sein will, der verleugne sich selbst, nehme sein Kreuz auf sich und folge mir nach. Denn wer sein Leben retten will, wird es verlieren; wer aber sein Leben um meinetwillen verliert, wird es gewinnen. Was nützt es einem Menschen, wenn er die ganze Welt gewinnt, dabei aber sein Leben einbüßt?” (Mt 16,24-26 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Wenn dich deine Hand zum Bösen verfuehrt, dann hau sie ab; es ist besser für dich, verstümmelt in das Leben zu gelangen, als mit zwei Händen in die Hölle zu kommen, in das nie erlöschende Feuer.” (Mk 9,43 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Wer Vater oder Mutter mehr liebt als mich, ist meiner nicht würdig, und wer Sohn oder Tochter mehr liebt als mich, ist meiner nicht würdig. Und wer nicht sein Kreuz auf sich nimmt und mir nachfolgt, ist meiner nicht würdig. Wer das Leben gewinnen will, wird es verlieren; wer aber das Leben um meinetwillen verliert, wird es gewinnen.” (Mt 10,37-39 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Das ist eine harte Botschaft: Wir sollen Jesus mehr lieben als Vater und Mutter, wir sollen unser Kreuz auf uns nehmen, Ihm nachfolgen und all unsere Besitztümer aufgeben. Um in Sein Königreich zu kommen, bedarf es einer schweren und folgenreichen Entscheidung unsererseits. Ein radikaler Ruf nach ebenso radikaler Nachfolge – selbst wenn der Preis hierfuer unser eigenes Leben ist! Ein Ruf zu wahrer Juengerschaft!

Viele Menschen heutzutage erkennen nicht, wie radikal und wie ernst gemeint dieser Ruf ist.

Wie war das aber nun: Einerseits sollen wir Vater und Mutter ehren – zumindest steht das so in den Zehn Geboten – andererseits sollen wir Jesus mehr als Vater und Mutter lieben, sie sogar für Ihn verlassen und Jesus auch dann nachfolgen, wenn das einen Keil in unsere Familien treibt! Widerspricht sich da die Bibel nicht? Ebenso sollen wir Ihn mehr als unsere Ehegattinnen und Ehegatten lieben – wie passt das alles zusammen?

Wir sollen Vater und Mutter gar “hassen” (in Lk 14,26 heisst es etwa in der Einheitsübersetzung: “Wenn jemand zu mir kommt und nicht Vater und Mutter, Frau und Kinder, Brüder und Schwestern, ja sogar sein Leben gering achtet, dann kann er nicht mein Jünger sein.”)??

Um all dies zu verstehen, muessen wir uns auch bewusst sein, dass sowohl im damaligen Hebräischen wie im Aramäischen keine Komparative wie im Deutschen gebildet werden. Wenn wir also jemanden mehr als einen anderen lieben, wurde das damals so ausgedrückt, dass man den, der einem am wichtigsten ist, “liebt” – und jeden, der danach kommt, “hasst”.
Jesus sagte tatsächlich, dass es in unserem Leben nur eine absolute Priorität geben dürfe. Nur einer vierdiene absoluten Gehorsam und absolute Zuneigung: Gott.

Diese Verse sollen uns dazu bringen, unser eingenes Gewissen zu erforschen: Lieben wir Ihn wirklich mehr als alles und alle anderen? Lieben wir Ihn mit ganzem Herzen, Geist und Verstand? Mit allem was wir haben? Jesus kann nicht einfach nur ein Teil unseres Lebens sein, eine Art Zutat zum Hauptgericht. Er muss das sein, was Er ist: Gott.

Wie oft haben wir uns entschuldigt, wenn es darum ging, Verantwortung in der Gemeinde zu uebernehmen, an Veranstaltungen teilzunehmen, aktiv unseren Glauben im Rahmen der Evangelisation zu verkünden, anderen Menschen zu helfen – mit Ausreden wie “Ich habe keine Zeit”, “Ich muss arbeiten”, “Wir bekomen Besuch”, “Das Thema liegt mir nicht”, “Ich komme mit dem Priester nicht zurecht”, “Ich will noch ins Fitnessstudio”, “Wir haben nur eine gemütliche Männerrunde – fang’ bloß nicht wieder mit deiner Evangelisation an!” usw. War uns da Gott wichtiger als alles andere? Wohl kaum.

Wie oft haben wir Kompromisse geschlossen, wenn es um Sünde ging, um Entschuldigungen dafür zu finden, dass wir etwas tun können, dass Gott nicht gefällt. Ein Motto der frühen Heiligen war: Lieber sterben als sündigen! Wenn sie die Wahl hatten zwischen Gott und etwas, das Gott missfallen koennte, wählten sie immer Gott. Ein wunderbares Beispiel hierfür sind die Märtyrer. Sie opferten ihre Verpflichtungen Gott gegenüber nicht einmal, wenn das ihr eigenes Leben kostete! Das ist wahre Jüngerschaft!

Was bedeutet es nun, dass wir unser Kreuz auf uns nehmen und ihm nachfolgen müssen, um sein Jünger zu sein?

Vergessen wir nicht, dass Er vom Kreuz sprach, bevor Er gekreuzigt wurde und Seine Jünger diesen Hinweis wirklich völlig verstehen konnten! Wie seltsam muss sich das für Seine Jünger damals angehört haben!

Unser Kreuz auf uns zu nehmen bedeutet mehr, als nur ein wenig mehr Gewicht auf unsere Schultern zu laden. Der zentrale Punkt beim Kreuz ist ja gerade, dass wir auch sterben könnten! Wir selbst müssen sterben, unser altes Ich, unser eigener Wille, unser Ego muss sterben, damit Jesus leben kann! Im äußersten Fall müssen wir sogar bereit sein, unser eigenes Leben niederzulegen!

Was meint Jesus nun damit, dass wir all unsere Besitztümer aufgeben sollten?

Jesus sagt dieser Worte nach der Analogie vom Turmbau, für dessen Planung erst überprüft werden müsse, ob die Mittel ausreichen und vom König, der gegen einen anderen in den Krieg zieht und sich erst hinsetzt und überlegt, ob die Zahl seiner Männer ausreicht.

Dann sagt Jesus in Lk 14,33: “Darum kann keiner von euch mein Jünger sein, wenn er nicht auf seinen ganzen Besitz verzichtet.” (Einheitsübersetzung)

Genauso dumm wie es waere, einen Turm zu bauen, ohne die nötigen Mittel hierfür zu haben oder in den Krieg zu ziehen, um hierfür gerüstet zu sein, wäre es auch, Jesu Jünger sein zu wollen, ohne all seine Besitztümer vorher aufzugeben! Wir würden ganz einfach nicht durchhalten als Seine Jünger! Warum? Sehen wir uns hierfür Mt 6,24 an (Einheitsübersetzung):

“Niemand kann zwei Herren dienen; er wird entweder den einen hassen und den andern lieben, oder er wird zu dem einen halten und den andern verachten. Ihr könnt nicht beiden dienen, Gott und dem Mammon.”

Jesus meint nicht zwangsweise, dass wir all unsere Bankkonten auflösen sollen. Er meint vielmehr, dass wir ALL unsere Besitztümer Gott übergeben müssen und für den Dienst an und für Ihn verwendet werden sollen. Wir sind nur Verwalter, nicht aber Eigentümer von den Dingen, von denen wir denken, dass sie uns gehören. Alles, was wir haben, hat Gott uns gegeben – und es ist mit einer Absicht und einer Verantwortung verbunden. Unsere Familien zu ernähren ist offensichtlich Teil dieser Verantwortung. Ebenso ist es Teil dieser Verantwortung, für die eigene Ernährung, Ausbildung, Kleidung und Unterkunft zu sorgen. Wir werden hierfür auch zur Verantwortung gezogen werden (vgl. Mt 25,14-30). Besitzt das, was wir haben, uns – oder besitzt es Gott? Hängen wir an diesen Dingen, oder haben wir ein gelöstes Verhältnis dazu? Jesus sagt uns sehr deutlich, dass wir nicht Seine Jünger sein koennen, wenn wir daran hängen!

Jesus hat eine Menge Fans heutzutage – wieviele Jüngerinnen und Jünger sind aber darunter?

Wer Sein Jünger sein will, muss mehr tun, als einfach nur ab und an von oder über Ihn zu hören, auf christliche Veranstaltungen oder in Gottesdienste zu gehen (so wichtig das auch ist!). Er muss all das auch in die Praxis umsetzen!

Wer Jesu’ Jünger sein will, muss brennen, wenn es darum geht, Seine Lehre jeden Tag mit voller Leidenschaft zu leben, sein Kreuz auf sich zu nehmen, Jesus immer an die erste Stelle zu setzen und Ihm absolute Priorität enzuraeumen sowie für Seinen Ruhm und für den Dienst and und für Ihn alles zu geben!

Maria war so eine Jüngerin. Sie sagte Ja zu Gott – auch wenn es ihren Tod bedeutet haette (sie hätte unter dem Gesetz Mose für ein Kind, das außerhalb der Ehe gezeugt wurde, gesteinigt werden können!). Sie sagte Ja, auch wenn das ihre Ehe zu Josef zerstören hätte koennen (wenn Gott Josef nicht im Traum erschienen wäre). Sie nahm ihr Kreuz jeden Tag auf sich und folgte Jesus nach bis zum Ölberg. Ihr Herz wurde unzählige Male durchbohrt – dies aber vereinigte sie noch mehr mit Jesus. Außerdem war sie arm und losgelöst von irdischen Besitztümern – so arm sogar, dass sie in einem Stall für Tiere gebar und ihr Kind in eine Krippe legte. So arm, dass sie und Josef sich nicht einmal ein Lamm im Tempel bei der Vorstellung Jesu leisten konnten, sondern zwei Tauben nehmen mussten. So arm – und doch so reich, da Gott ihr einziger Schatz war.

Auch die Apostel waren wahre Jünger. Alle ausser einem wurden auch tatsächlich gekreuzigt. Sie “freuten sich, dass sie gewürdigt worden waren, für seinen Namen Schmach zu erleiden.” (Apg 5,41 – Einheitsübersetzung) Auch sie waren losgelöst von der materiellen Welt, arm im Geiste und fanden ihren wahren Schatz in Gott. Sie folgten Jesu’ Gebot: “Steckt nicht Gold, Silber und Kupfermünzen in euren Gürtel. Nehmt keine Vorratstasche mit auf den Weg, kein zweites Hemd, keine Schuhe, keinen Wanderstab; denn wer arbeitet, hat ein Recht auf seinen Unterhalt” (Mt 10,9-10 – Einheitsübersetzung). So arm, dass Petrus dem Gelähmten beim Tempeltor, der dort um Almosen bettelte, antwortete: “Silber und Gold besitze ich nicht. Doch was ich habe, das gebe ich dir: Im Namen Jesu Christi, des Nazoräers, geh umher!” (Apg 3,6 – Einheitsübersetzung).

Auch Mutter Theresa zeigte uns, was es heisst, Jüngerin Jesu zu sein. Sie gab sich Jesus ganz und voller Vertrauern hin – und war gleichzeitig immer frohen Mutes und voller Liebe! Sie liebte Jesus ueber alles und vertraute sich Ihm bedingungslos an. Sie nahm Sein Kreuz täglich auf sich und stellte dabei fest, dass es nicht so sehr ein Symbol des Schmerzes, sondern der Liebe war, die sogar den Schmerz der Kreuzigung erträglich machte. Was weltliche Besitztuemer anging, so lebte sie selbst in völliger Armut, losgelöst von all dem, was sie von Gott trennen koennte.

Gott ruft uns zu einer ähnlichen Jüngerschaft. Wir sollen Ihn an die erste Stelle setzen, uns aufopfernd und voller Liebe Ihm und anderen hingeben und alles, was wir haben, zum Dienst an und für Ihn zu verwenden. Um das aber zu tun, brauchen wir einen Plan – so wie man einen Plan braucht, um einen Turm zu bauen. Angesichts der ungeheuren Aufgabe, die Gott uns gegeben hat – Seine Jünger zu sein – muessen wir uns hinsetzen und einen Plan entwerfen, wie wir dieses Ziel mit Seinen Vorgaben erreichen können. Alles andere wäre ganz einfach dumm.

 


Was sind also wesentliche Bestandteile davon, Jünger zu sein?

 

Das Gebet. Tägliches Gebet hilft uns dabei, in der Liebe zu Gott zu wachsen. Wie seltsam und befremdend ist es doch, hören zu müssen, dass Menschen keine Zeit zum Beten finden! Wohl aber zum Fernsehen oder für andere Vergnügungen! Die Form ist hierbei nicht so wichtig – solange wir das Gebet zum Bestandteil unseres täglichen Lebens machen. Das Gebet hilft uns auch, Entscheidungen zu treffen, die uns von Gott geschenkten Gaben am besten zu nutzen, demütig zu werden sowie unser tägliches Kreuz zu tragen.

Tägliches Bibelstudium. Unerlässlich für jeden Christen!

Der tägliche Gottesdienstbesuch. Hier hören wir Gottes Wort und können uns von Ihm durch Sein Fleisch und Sein Blut in den Gestalten von Brot und Wein ernähren lassen. Dies wird uns stärken, wenn es darum geht, die täglichen Kämpfe im Zusammenhang mit der Jüngerschaft zu bestehen. Ja, es erfordert tägliche Opfer, dies zu tun – aber ist es all das nicht wert, um Gott selbst empfangen zu dürfen? Außerdem können wir Gott so zeigen, dass wir nicht jeden Tag nur dem Mammon dienen, sondern zuallererst Ihm.

Regelmäßige Beichte. Jeder von uns wird gelegentlich fallen. Lassen wir unsere Wunden von Jesus heilen, bekennen wir unsere Sünden und lassen uns von Ihm vergeben, lassen wir uns von Ihm die Kraft für den Neuanfang schenken! Die Beichte hilft uns auch, zu erkennen, ob wir Gott wirklich mit unserem ganzen Herzen, Geist und mit unserer ganzen Kraft geliebt haben. Auch schenkt sie uns Klarheit, wenn es darum geht, auszumachen, ob wir an irgendetwas mehr haengen als an Gott. Hierzu gehört auch ein System von gegenseitiger Rechenschaft. Wir muessen anderen die Chance geben, uns zu ermutigen, aber auch zu ermahnen, falls erforderlich – und dasselbe für sie tun.

Die bedingungslose Aufopferung. Andere zu lieben, wie Jesus uns geliebt hat, notfalls sogar sein Leben fuer andere hinzugeben sind Kennzeichen Seiner Jüngerinnen und Jünger. Jesus ruft vielleicht nicht jeden dazu, Maertyrer zu werden, gleichwohl sollen wir alle in aufopfernder und demütiger Liebe dienen – Gott und den Mitmenschen. Wir müssen uns zum Wohle anderer selbst verleugnen. Diese aufopfernde und selbstlose Liebe hilft uns dabei, unser Ego zu überwinden, ebenso unsere Bequemlichkeit und unser Hängen an irdischen Besitztümern – und stattdessen mehr so wie Christus zu werden. “Jetzt freue ich mich in den Leiden, die ich für euch ertrage. Für den Leib Christi, die Kirche, ergänze ich in meinem irdischen Leben das, was an den Leiden Christi noch fehlt.” (Kol 1,24 – Einheitsübersetzung).

Nicht zu vergessen: Das Eingebundensein in eine Gemeinde und in eine Familie sowie in ein Netz von engen christlichen Freunden, die unser Innerstes kennen und uns bei Bedarf auffangen können. Letztlich gehört hierzu auch die Sorge um das eigene leibliche und psychisch-/mentale Wohl. Unser Körper ist der Tempel Gottes – und wir sollten pfleglich mit ihm umgehen. Auch die Sorge um unser geistiges Wohl gehört hierzu: zum einen der Kontakt zu, einem geistlichen Ratgeber, zum anderen das tägliche Verweilen im Heiligen Geist, das Erfülltsein von Ihm und das Hören auf Seine Stimme:

“Jedem aber wird die Offenbarung des Geistes geschenkt, damit sie anderen nützt. Dem einen wird vom Geist die Gabe geschenkt, Weisheit mitzuteilen, dem andern durch den gleichen Geist die Gabe, Erkenntnis zu vermitteln, dem dritten im gleichen Geist Glaubenskraft, einem anderen – immer in dem einen Geist – die Gabe, Krankheiten zu heilen, einem andern Wunderkräfte, einem andern prophetisches Reden, einem andern die Fähigkeit, Geister zu unterscheiden, wiedem einem andern verschiedene Arten von Zungenrede, einem andern schließlich die Gabe, sie zu deuten.” (1 Kor 12,7-10 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Die Frucht des Geistes aber ist Liebe, Freude, Friede, Langmut, Freundlichkeit, Güte, Treue, Sanftmut und Selbstbeherrschung; dem allen widerspricht das Gesetz nicht.” (Gal 5,22-23 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Werden wir uns dafür entscheiden, die Saat, die Gott in unseren Herzen gesaet hat, wachsen zu lassen? Werden wir wahre Jüngerinnen und Jünger Jesu werden – anstatt nur Fans? Jüngerinnen und Jünger, die ständig danach trachten, zu lernen und zu wachsen, um Jesus ähnlicher zu werden? Jesus, der uns als Seine Jüngerinnen und Juenger ruft, wird uns auch all die Hilfe geben, die wir hierfür brauchen. Sagen wir Ja zu Ihm wie Maria dies in Nazareth tat, oder am Fuss des Kreuzes, damit wir die Chance haben, einmal fuer immer Amen zu Ihm im Himmel zu sagen!


Eine weitere wesentliche Aufgabe der Juenger war und ist die Weitergabe des christlichen Glaubens, die Verkuendigung Jesu Christi. Durch sie sollen Menschen zum Glauben an Ihn gefuehrt werden (KKK 425).

Die Apostel brannten förmlich danach, dies zu tun:

“Wir können unmöglich schweigen über das, was wir gesehen und gehört haben.” (Apg 4,20 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Was von Anfang an war, was wir gehört haben, was wir mit unseren Augen gesehen, was wir geschaut und was unsere Hände angefasst haben, das verkünden wir: das Wort des Lebens. Denn das Leben wurde offenbart; wir haben gesehen und bezeugen und verkünden euch das ewige Leben, das beim Vater war und uns offenbart wurde.” (1 Joh 1,1-2 – Einheitsübersetzung)t

“Meine Botschaft und Verkuendigung war nicht Überredung durch gewandte und kluge Worte, sondern war mit dem Erweis von Geist und Kraft verbunden, damit sich euer Glaube nicht auf Menschenweisheit stuetzte, sondern auf die Kraft Gottes.” (1 Kor 2,4-5 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Er muss wachsen, ich aber muss kleiner werden.” (Joh 3,30 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Gott will nicht nur unsere Fähigkeiten, Er will vor allem unsere Verfügbarkeit – uns selbst.

Vielleicht haben wir Angst oder denken, wir sind nicht geeignet dafür, Jünger zu werden. Sehen wir uns den Propheten Jeremia im Alten Testament an, wie er auf die Berufung Gottes voller Zweifel reagiert und wie Gott ihn beruhigt:

“Das Wort des Herrn erging an mich: Noch ehe ich dich im Mutterleib formte, habe ich dich ausersehen, noch ehe du aus dem Mutterschoß hervorkamst, habe ich dich geheiligt, zum Propheten für die Völker habe ich dich bestimmt. Da sagte ich: Ach, mein Gott und Herr, ich kann doch nicht reden, ich bin ja noch so jung. Aber der Herr erwiderte mir: Sag nicht: Ich bin noch so jung. Wohin ich dich auch sende, dahin sollst du gehen, und was ich dir auftrage, das sollt du verkünden. Fürchte dich nicht vor ihnen; denn ich bin mit dir, um dich zu retten – Spruch des Herrn.” (Jer 1,4-8 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Wir können Gott immer trauen. Er wird immer an unserer Seite sein und uns nie verlassen. Manchmal ist vielleicht alles dunkel um uns herum – dann bedarf es einfach ein klein wenig Glauben und Vertrauen in Seine Macht, Stärke und Weisheit.

Fuer die Jünger Christi war es wesentlich, den Glauben zu bewahren, aus ihm zu leben, ihn zu bekennen, mutig zu bezeugen und weiterzugeben (KKK 1816). Alle müssen “bereit sein, Christus vor den Menschen zu bekennen und ihm in den Verfolgungen, die der Kirche nie fehlen, auf dem Weg des Kreuzes zu folgen”  (LG 42 – vgl. DH 14).

“Wer sich nun vor den Menschen zu mir bekennt, zu dem werde auch ich mich vor meinem Vater im Himmel bekennen. Wer mich aber vor den Menschen verleugnet, den werde auch ich vor meinem Vater im Himmel verleugnen. (…) Denn ich bin gekommen, um den Sohn mit seinem Vater zu entzweien und die Tochter mit ihrer Mutter und die Schwiegertochter mit ihrer Schwiegermutter; und die Hausgenossen eines Menschen werden seine Feinde sein.” (Mt 10,32-33.35-36 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Werden wir uns kühn zu Jesus bekennen? Werden wir die Wahrheit verkünden – ohne Abstriche und ohne Rücksicht auf Verluste? Oder werden wir zu einer einer Art liberalen Christentums, wie es der protestantische Theologe H. Richard Niebuhr vor 70 Jahren beschrieben hat:

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgement through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” (Source: http://insightscoop.typepad.com. Taken from a column that originally appeared in the September 9, 2007 edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper in a slightly different form).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer hat derartige Auffassungen als “billige Gnade” bezeichnet. Derselbe Bonhoeffer, der von den Nazis umgebracht wurde, weil er sich weigerte, seinen Glauben an Jesus Christus zu verleugnen.

Wie weit sind wir bereit, zu gehen?

 

Gehen wir noch einmal zurueck ins Alte Testament:

“Sucht den Herrn, solange er sich finden lässt, ruft ihn an, solange er nahe ist.” (Jes 55,6 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Es wird also eine Zeit geben, in der der Herr nicht mehr nahe ist und sich nicht mehr finden lässt!

“Sät als eure Saat Gerechtigkeit aus, so werdet ihr ernten, wie es der (göttlichen) Liebe entspricht. Nehmt Neuland unter den Pflug! Es ist Zeit, den Herrn zu suchen; dann wird er kommen und euch mit Heil überschütten.” (Hos 10,12 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Jetzt ist die Stunde! Jetzt ist der Tag! Eine zweite Chance werden wir nicht bekommen!

“Bittet den Herrn um Regen zur Regenzeit im Frühjahr! Der Herr lässt Gewitterwolken entstehen, er füllt sie mit Regen und gibt den Menschen das Grün auf dem Feld.” (Sach 10,1 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Bereiten wir unser Feld vor – und überlassen es dem Herrn, wann Er den Regen sendet!

Werden wir zu Kriegern Jesu!

“Und schliesslich: Werdet stark durch die Kraft und Macht des Herrn! Zieht die Rüstung Gottes an, damit ihr den listigen Anschlägen des Teufels widerstehen könnt. Denn wir haben nicht gegen Menschen aus Fleisch und Blut zu kämpfen, sondern gegen die Fürsten und Gewalten, gegen die Beherrscher dieser finsteren Welt, gegen die bösen Geister des himmlischen Bereichs. Darum legt die Rüstung Gottes an, damit ihr am Tag des Unheils standhalten, alles vollbringen und den Kampf bestehen könnt.” (Eph 6,10-13 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Satan ist eine Realität – auch wenn das heute viele icht mehr wahrhaben wollen. Er steckt hinter jeder Art von sündhaften Emotion und Absicht: Hass, Lügen, Gewalt, Lust, Gier, Wut und Neid. Ebenso entwickelt er neue Mittel und Wege, sündhaftes Vergnügen zu suchen und zu bekommen – etwa stärkere Drogen oder Pornographie über das Internet. Für seine Absichten benutzt er alles Mögliche: Musik, Sex, Essen, Sport, Geld, Kunst, Kino, Medien, Krieg, Internet und vieles mehr. Nichts ist ihm zu schade, um die menschliche Rasse anzugreifen!

Und was tun wir?

Vielleicht haben wir ein spärlich besuchtes Gebetstreffen einmal wöchentlich. Oder wir helfen ab und zu mal bei einer Suppenküche für Arme aus. Vielleicht organisieren wir einmal jährlich eine Veranstaltung oder stellen uns mit einem Stand auf eine jährliche Großveranstaltung. Oder wir starten ein oberflächliches Programm, um unsere Jugend bei der Stange zu halten. Dazu noch ein wenig Fasten ab und zu – und wir denken, wir sind die großen Glaubenskämpfer!

Das sind wir aber ganz bestimmt nicht. Eher kleine Kinder, die mit Spielzeugsoldaten spielen und hölzerne Häuserblocks anstatt wirkliche Häuserblocks erobern. Das muss sich ändern, wenn wir eine wirkliche spirituelle Revolution starten wollen! Wir müssen zu den Waffen des Glaubens rufen!

Satan ist ein Meister der Lügen – und eine der Geheimnisse psychologischer Kriegsführung ist es, feindliche Truppen zu überzeugen, dass Aufgabe süss schmeckt, dass es besser ist, zu kapitulieren als weiterhin zu kämpfen, dass die Niederlage unvermeidlich ist.

Wie oft haben wir diesen Lügen geglaubt, anstatt den Kampf aufzunehmen? Wie oft haben wir uns mit Kompromissen zufriedengegeben oder uns biblische Wahrheiten, die uns nicht schmeckten, schön geredet? Wie oft haben wir uns eingeredet, dass Jesus nicht wirklich gemeint hat, was Er gesagt hat – dass man das nicht wörtlich nehmen dürfe, was da in der Bibel steht, sondern mehr oder weniger als schöne Geschichte des Glaubens sehen soll? Wie oft haben wir resigniert, anstatt zu kämpfen?

Wenn Satan einmal seinen Fuss in der Tür hat, wird er auch versuchen, reinzukommen.

Er versucht uns zu erzählen, dass die Dinge doch gar nicht so schlimm sind. Wir sollten uns nicht so viele Gedanken wegen der Sünde machen und dass ein Kompromiss doch besser sei als ein Konflikt. Wir müssten doch nicht auf diese radikalen christlichen Fundamentalisten hören – warum nicht einfach vernünftig sein? Man darf doch nicht gleich so übertreiben! Was ist schon so schlimm dabei, wenn zwei Erwachsene, die sich lieben, aus freiem Willen Sex miteinander haben, auch wenn sie nicht miteinander verheiratet sind? Was ist schon so dramatisch daran, wenn man sich einen Drink gönnt, um die Nerven zu beruhigen? Was ist so falsch daran, wenn ein Mann mit einem anderen Mann intim wird – schließich sind sie doch so geboren und können nicht anders! Was ist schon so sündig daran, wenn eine Frau mit einer anderen Frau Sex hat, wenn sie doch für Männer nichts empfinden kann? Sei doch kein Fundamentalist – es reicht doch, wenn du dich von den wirklich schlimmen Sachen wie Mord, Diebstahl oder Vergewaltigung fernhältst – und ansonsten lernst, tolerant zu sein! Und warum gleich in die Luft gehen, wenn sich jemand auch mal woanders umsieht – schließlich gibt es Schönes in allen Religionen zu entdecken! Natürlich sind deine Überzeugungen wahr – Jesus ist tatsächlich der einzige Retter und Erlöser! Aber man muss ja nicht gleich so fanatisch werden wie diese Verrückten, die die Abtreibungsärzte umbringen oder sich in entlegene Gegenden zurueckziehen und auf das Ende der Welt warten! Es reicht doch, wenn man ein gutes Leben führt und sich um seine Familie kümmert – eine höhere Berufung als das gibt es nicht! Du kannst doch auch dein Christsein zeigen, ohne so viele Worte dabei zu verlieren. Spende was an die nächste Kirche und halte dich ansonsten mit deinen Überzeugungen etwas zurück  - ist doch Privatsache und hat in der Arbeit nichts zu suchen! Im übrigen brauchst du dich auch nicht so aufregen wegen der paar Sünden ab und zu – Gott versteht das. Er kennt dich doch!

Derartige Lügen klingen sehr verlockend und so manch einer fällt darauf herein. Öffnen wir den Menschen die Augen! Steigen wir in den Ring! Wir haben einen mächtigen Gegner – lernen wir zu kämpfen!

Wenn wir aber kämpfen, dürfen wir nicht aufhören, bis wir unser Ziel erreicht haben. Ansonsten waren unsere Anstrengungen umsonst – zumindest teilweise. Wenn wir nicht bis zur Erreichung unseres Ziels kämpfen, lassen wir die Tür für Satan offen – und das kann tödliche Konsequenzen mit sich bringen!

Dennoch kämpfen einige von uns nicht – vielleicht weil sie wenig Hoffnung haben, dass sich etwas ändert. Wenig Hoffnung, dass es eine spirituelle und moralische Revolution in unserer Gesellschaft geben könnte. Kein Wunder, dass wir so am Boden sind! D.L. Moody wies einmal darauf hin, dass es einen großen Unterschied gibt zwischen denen, die kämpfen, um zu gewinnen – wenn sie können – und denen, die ganz einfach käempfen, um zu gewinnen!

Ein feiges Herz und ein zweifelnder Geist werden im Kampf nicht bestehen können, wie C.H. Mackintosh einmal festgestellt hat!

Che Guevara und mit ihm die kubanische Revolution waren unter anderem deshalb erfolgreich darin, das Regime von Batista zu stürzen, weil sie die gefährliche Einstellung mancher Revolutionäre und Möchtegern-Revolutionäre überwinden konnten, die inaktiv blieben und sich hinter dem Vorwand verstecken, dass man gegen eine professionelle Armee sowieso nichts unternehmen kann, die schließlich abwarteten, bis in irgendeiner Art und Weise alle notwendigen objektiven und subjektiven Bedingungen gegeben waeren – ohne jedoch selbst daran zu arbeiten, dass dieser Fall eintritt.

Viele Gläubige haben genau diese Einstellung. Sie hoffen, dass sich die Dinge irgendwie und irgendwann zum besseren wenden. Oder sie warten einfach voellig ziel- und planlos darauf, dass der Herr wiederkommt. Bis dahin wird ja eh alles einfach nur schlechter.

Wir müssen handeln! Wir sind gerufen, in die Welt zu gehen und die Gute Nachricht zu verkünden sowie Menschen zu Jüngern Jesu Christi zu machen! Worauf warten wir noch?

Die Dunkelheit ist dunkel genug. Was haelt uns also noch zurueck? Warum haben wir noch keinen Handlungsplan entwickelt?

Wir vertrauen immer noch auf die Politik – darauf, dass jeder Politiker, der sagt, er sei ein praktizierender Christ, auch tatsächlich einer ist. Man müsse ihn also nur wählen und darauf vertrauen, dass es dieses Mal nach der Wahl doch anders ausgehen wird als beim letzten Mal!

“Gottesfurcht verlangt, Böses zu hassen. Hochmut und Hoffart, schlechte Taten und einen verlogenen Mund hasse ich.” (Sprichwörter 8,13 – Einheitsübersetzung

“Eure Liebe sei ohne Heuchelei. Verabscheut das Böse, haltet fest am Guten!” (Röm 12,9 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Unser Kampf richtet sich nicht gegen Menschen. Wir kämpfen mit dem Teufel selbst, mit seiner dämonischen Armee, mit seinen hinterhältigen Plänen. Dieser Kampf wird mit Gebeten gekämpft, mit Aufopferung, Taten, Gehorsam, Glauben und Gottvertrauen – gestützt auf den Empfang der Sakramente. Er wird in unseren Koepfen geführt, in unseren Wohnungen, in unseren Schulen und an unseren Arbeitsplätzen, in unseren Kirchengemeinden und in unserer Gesellschaft.

Manchmal ist es ein Kampf Mensch gegen Mensch, ein Leben nach dem anderen, eine Entscheidung nach der anderen, ein Gebet nach dem anderen, eine Tat des Gehorsams nach der anderen. Wenn wir uns aber weigern, aufzugeben und Kompromisse zu schließen, werden wir den Sieg des Herrn sehen. Natürlich werden wir nicht erleben, dass jede Seele gerettet wird oder jede Stadt sich – oder gar das ganze Land sich ändert. Wir können aber mit Sicherheit davon ausgehen, dass eine spirituelle Revolution uns nach vorantreiben wird. Millionen werden gerettet werden und viele Staedte werden sich ebenfalls ändern. Ein Großteil der Nation wird erneuert werden.

Teile mit uns diese Vision!

Der Grund warum unsere Gesellschaft heute in einem derart dramatischen Zustand ist, liegt nicht so sehr bei korrupten Politikern oder vom rechten Weg abgekommenen Schauspielern oder Rockstars. Das Hauptproblem dürfte bei der Kirche selbst zu suchen sehen, die oft zu viele Kompromisse eingegangen ist. Den Weg, den die Kirche geht, geht auch die Gesellschaft! Wollen wir die Gesellschaft ändern, müssen wir erst einmal wieder zurück zum Altar!

Unsere Revolution muss eine Revolution der Liebe sein – eine selbstlose, aufopfernde, übernatürliche Liebe. Wenn unsere Feinde uns vefluchen, segnen wir sie. Wenn sie uns Böses antun, tun wir ihnen Gutes. Wenn sie uns verfolgen, beten wir für sie. Wenn sie uns hassen, lieben wir sie. Wenn sie uns töten, werden wir leben! Alle reden über Radikalität - was könnte radikaler sein als das?

Wenn wir Menschen mit gleichgeschlechtlichen Neigungen die Gute Nachricht verkünden wollen, müssen wir zuerst einmal ihre Füße waschen! Wenn wir Müttern, die abtreiben wollen, davon abbringen und sie von der Sündhaftigkeit ihres Vorhabens überzeugen wollen, müssen wir uns zuerst einmal um ledige Mütter und ihre Kinder kümmern! Wenn wir den Frauen beistehen, die gerade eine Abtreibung hinter sich haben und die geistigen und emotionalen Wunden davon mit sich tragen!

Henly nennt das “militante Liebe”: Bei dieser Art der Liebe greift das Leben den Tod an, das Licht den Tod, die Wahrheit Lügen. Militante Liebe fügt anderen kein Leid zu, sondern ist sogar bereit, Leid für andere auf sich zu nehmen. Militante Liebe nagelt ihre Feinde nicht ans Kreuz, sondern ist bereit, sich für sie ans Kreuz nageln zu lassen. militante Liebe wäscht die Füße derer, die sie betrügen und verraten.

“In allem erweisen wir uns als Gottes Diener: durch große Standhaftigkeit, in Bedrängnis, in Not, in Angst, unter Schlägen, in Gefängnissen, in Zeiten der Unruhe, unter der Last der Arbeit, in durchwachten Nächten, durch Fasten, durch lautere Gesinnung, durch Erkenntnis, durch Langmut, durch Güte, durch den Heiligen Geist, durch ungeheuchelte Liebe, durch das Wort der Wahrheit, in der Kraft Gottes, mit den Waffen der Gerechtigkeit in der Rechten und in der Linken” (2 Kor 6,4-7 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Vergessen wir unser Selbstmitleid und unsere Ausreden und gehen wir das an, wozu uns Gott jetzt berufen hat! Wenn jetzt nicht die Stunde ist, wird die Stunde nie kommen!

J. Hudson Taylor hat einmal gesagt, dass wir bei unserer Konzentration auf Methoden und Mittel vielleicht zu wenig auf die Quelle der Kraft selbst geachtet haben: das Erfülltsein vom Heiligen Geist!

Wir wurden von Gott damit beauftragt, die Gute Nachricht zu verkünden und Menschen zu Jüngern zu machen. Haben wir dabei vielleicht vergessen, dass wir dafür auch einen Handlungsplan brauchen?

Reicht es denn nicht, sich auf den Heiligen Geist zu verlassen?, mag manch einer fragen. Hat der Heilige Geist aber keinen Plan? Verlässt Er sich bei der Durchführung Seiner Absichten nur auf den Zufall? Auf keinen Fall! Es ist kaum möglich, die Evangelien und die Apostelgeschichte zu lesen, ohne darin einen Plan zu erkennen, eine göttliche Strategie. Die Tatsache, dass Gott uns manchmal überrascht und anders handelt, als wir uns das vielleicht vorgestellt haben, bedeutet nicht, dass Er nicht weiss, wo Er hin will oder wie Er dorthin gelangt.

“Plaene kommen durch Beratung zustande. Darum führe den Kampf mit Ueberlegung!” (Sprichwörter 20,18 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Denn durch Ueberlegung gewinnst du den Kampf, viele Ratgeber verhelfen zum Sieg” (Sprichwörter 24,6 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Da uns eine solche Wolke von Zeugen umgibt, wollen auch wir alle Last und die Fesseln der Sünde abwerfen. Lasst uns mit Ausdauer in den Wettkampf laufen, der uns aufgetragen ist, und dabei auf Jesus blicken, den Urheber und Vollender des Glaubens; er hat angesichts der vor ihm liegenden Freude das Kreuz auf sich genommen, ohne auf die Schande zu achten, und sich zur Rechten von Gottes Thron gesetzt.” (Heb 12,12 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Ein Punkt, den wir oft vernachlässigen: Evangelisation. Missionare wie Oswald Smith haben uns daran erinnert, dass die Kirche, die nicht evangelisiert, zum Fossil wird und dass eine der wichtigsten (wenn nicht die wichtigste!) Aufgabe der Kirche die Evangelisation der Welt ist! Aber – wie F.H. Henry sagte – das Evangelium ist nur dann die Gute Nachricht, wenn sie auch rechtzeitig bei den Menschen ankommt!

Worauf warten wir also?

”Hört das Wort nicht nur an, sondern handelt danach; sonst betrügt ihr euch selbst.”
(Jakobus 1,22 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Wir gehen vielleicht regelmässig in den Gottesdienst, singen die Lieder mit – und denken, wir tun damit schon viel und sind deshalb gute Christen. All dies ist natürlich nichts Schlechtes, aber wenn es dabei bleibt, sind wir einfach nur ein mehr oder weniger passiv konsumierendes Publikum und täuschen uns somit selbst. Jesus hat uns aber nicht erlöst, damit wir nur ein passives Publikum sind!

Passive Zuhörer verändern die Welt nicht. Sie beginnen auch keine Revolutionen. Genausowenig bringen sie das Königreich Gottes voran oder erfüllen das grosse Gebot (zu allen Völkern zu gehen, alle Menschen zu taufen und sie zu Jüngern Jesu zu machen sowie sie zu lehren, alles zu befolgen, was Jesus den ersten Jüngern geboten hat). Ein passives Publikum macht dem Teufel keine Angst. Nicht im geringsten. Wir müssen diese passive “Zuhörer-Mentalität” zerstoeren. Das wird ganz bestimmt nicht leicht in einer Kultur, die ganz auf Unterhaltung und Superstars hin orientiert ist (was auch an der Kirche nicht spurlos vorübergegangen ist!).

WIR müssen aktiv werden – und nicht nur irgendjemand in der Kirche, der dafür bezahlt wird! Jeder einzelne von uns! Frank Viola hat bereits deutlich darauf hingewiesen, dass Paulus sich immer (abgesehen von den Pastoralbriefen, die an einzelne Menschen geschrieben waren) an die Kirche insgesamt – also alle Gläubigen – gewandt hat und nicht nur an ihre Leiter! Die gläubige Gemeinde als ganze ist gerufen, sich selbst zu organisieren, gefallene Glieder in geschwisterlicher Liebe zu disziplinieren, die zu warnen, die vom Weg abkommen, die Schwachen und Traurigen zu trösten und zu unterstützen, Werke der Liebe zu verrichten, einander zu ermahnen und zu ermutigen, einander zu lehren und voneinander zu lernen, einander zu dienen, die Lasten der anderen zu tragen, füreinander zu sorgen, einander die Füßße zu waschen, einander zu lieben, Güte und Mitgefühl füreinander zu zeigen, einander aufzurichten, einander zu ertragen, einander zu guten Taten zu ermuntern, füreinander zu beten, Gastfreundschaft füreinander zu zeigen und einander unsere Sünden zu gestehen, füreinander Mitleid zu zeigen, aber auch andere zu fuehren, materielle Güter zu teilen und andere zu heilen.

Jesus fordert von Seinen Jüngern einen radikalen, absoluten Gehorsam. Ein Gehorsam, der so extrem ist, dass er für einen Großteil der Welt – und einen grossen Teil der Kirche – als fanatisch, ja fast wie ein Kult erscheint. Jesus ruft uns alle als Seine Jünger. Wissen wir wirklich, was das bedeutet?

Wir sollten nicht nur ein “Christ” oder ein “Gläubiger”, sondern vor allem ein “Jünger” sein – ein Begriff, der mehr als 260 Mal im gesamten Neuen Testament verwendet wird (einschliesslich mehr als 230 mal in den Evangelien und 28 mal in der Apostelgeschichte). Wie können wir den Ruf nach wahrer Jüngerschaft herunterspielen oder gar ignorieren, wenn er doch ein derart wichtiges Thema in der Bibel darstellt?

Zum Vergleich: Das Wort “Christ” etwa kommt nur drei mal im gesamten Neuen Testament vor (Apg 11, Apg 26, 1 Ptr 4) – das Wort “Gläubiger” oder “Glaubender” nur 26 mal!

Was bedeutet das?

Was sagt uns das, wenn viele von uns kein Problem haetten, sich als “Christ” oder “Gläubiger” oder “Glaubender” zu bezeichnen, sehr wohl aber, wenn es darum geht, sich “Jünger” zu nennen? Alleine das Wort laut auszusprechen, zwingt uns beinahe dazu, unser Gewissen zu erforschen, ob wir den wirklich Jünger sind!

Denken wir an die Kultur des Neuen Testaments:

“Rabbi” war nicht ein formaler Titel oder ein klerikales Amt zu dieser Zeit. “Rabbi” war vielmehr ein Ehrerntitel, den besondere Lehrer und Führer erhielten. Ergebene Studenten folgten diesen Rabbis nach. Rabbi Yohanan (Johannes der Täufer) hatte seine Anhänger, ebenso Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus) (vgl. Joh 4,1; 31).

Ein Schüler wurde mit seinem Lehrer in Verbindung gebracht. Sein ganzes Leben drehte sich um seinen Meister (Lk 6,40; Mt 10,24-25). So blieben auch die ursprünglichen zwölf Jünger Jesu stets an dessen Seite. Sie waren Ihm sogar näher als Seine eigene Familie (Mt 12,48-50). Er teilte Seine Geheimnisse mit ihnen und sandte sie auch aus, um Ihn zu vertreten (Mt 10,40) und um Seine Mission auszufuehren (Mt 10,7-8).

In den Evangelien ist aber nicht nur von den zwölf Aposteln die Rede. In der Mehrzahl der Fälle ist sogar nicht von den zwölf Aposteln die Rede, wenn es “Jünger” heisst, sondern von den vielen Männern und Frauen, die Jesus nachfolgten. Und Jesus hat es ihnen bestimmt nicht leicht gemacht, Ihm nachzufolgen!

“Ein anderer aber, einer seiner Jünger, sagte zu ihm: Herr, lass mich zuerst heimgehen und meinen Vater begraben! Jesus erwiderte: Folge mir nach; lass die Toten ihre Toten begraben!” (Mt 8,21-22 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Das New International Dictonary of New Testament Theology betont, dass die Nachfolge Jesu als Jünger das bedingungslose Opfern seines ganzen Lebens bedeutet. Matthäus unterstreicht besonders, dass Jünger sein bedeutet, an Jesus und an Gottes Willen gebunden zu sein (Mt 12,46-50; vgl. Mk 3,31-35).

“Wieder ein anderer sagte: Ich will dir nachfolgen, Herr. Zuvor aber lass mich von meiner Familie Abschied nehmen. Jesus erwiderte ihm: Keiner, der die Hand an den Pflug gelegt hat und nochmals zurückblickt, taugt für das Reich Gottes.” (Lk 9,61-62 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Als Jesus von dort wegging, sah er einen Zöllner namens Levi am Zoll sitzen und sagte zu ihm: Folge mir nach! Da stand Levi auf, verließ alles und folgte ihm.” (Lk 5,27-28 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Als Jesus am See von Galiläa entlangging, sah er zwei Brüder, Simon, genannt Petrus, und seinen Bruder Andreas; sie warfen gerade ihr Netz in den See, denn sie waren Fischer. Da sagte er zu ihnen: Kommt her, folgt mir nach! Ich werde euch zu Menschenfischern machen. Sofort liessen sie ihre Netze liegen und folgten ihm.” (Mt 4,18-20 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Er rief – und sie ließen alles zurück und folgten Ihm. Das ist Kurzform die Vorstellung von Jüngerschaft, von wahrer Ergebenheit. Das ist die Norm des Neuen Testaments.

Dieser Ruf nach wahrer Jüngerschaft beinhaltete aber immer auch den Ruf nach dem Dienen. Der messianische jüdische Gelehrte Dan Gruber meinte einmal, anstatt jemanden zu fragen: “Bist du gerettet”, sollten wir lieber fragen: “Wem dienst du?”.

In Lk 14,33 sagt Jesus: “Darum kann keiner von euch mein Jünger sein, wenn er nicht auf seinen ganzen Besitz verzichtet.”

Tom Skinner wies darauf hin, dass dies einer der härtesten Verse in der Bibel sei und viele Menschen wünschten, er wäre nicht da. Solche Menschen sagen, Gott wolle doch nicht wirklich, dass wir alles aufgeben. Man könne doch Christus nachfolgen und sein Ding durchziehen, ohne alles aufzugeben! Sie führen dann oft an, was die Bibel wirklich damit sagen will, ist, dass wir dazu bereit sein sollten.

Sieh dir selbst diesen Vers an – siehst du hier irgendwo den Ausdruck “bereit sein”?

Wir tendieren manchmal dazu, unseren Verstand abzuschalten, wenn wir bestimmte Abschnitte in der Bibel lesen. Der Jesus der Evangelien ist ja immer so offen und direkt in Seinen Forderungen! Es sieht fast so aus, als bedürften Seine Lehren immer eine Erklärung oder Abänderung unsererseits. Denken wir nicht manchmal – bewusst oder unbewusst – genau so?

Vielleicht versuchen wir uns einzureden, dass all das vielleicht für die ersten Jünger Jesu gegolten haben mag. Sie konnten ja wirklich alles verlassen und mit Jesus gehen, sogar bis zum Tod. Bei uns ist das aber doch ganz anders! Sie waren Jünger – wir sind doch nur Gläubige, Glieder einer Ortskirche!

Unser Glaube ist doch sehr bequem und kostet uns wenig, geschweige denn dass er uns irgendwie in Schwierigkeiten bringen koennte. Unser Glaube ist doch eher “vernünftig” als radikal. Die Dinge sind doch heute anders. Alles hat sich geändert. Oder?

Nicht, was Gottes Wille und Wege angeht. Nicht, was Seine Forderungen und Ansprüche betrifft. Ein Jünger ist ein Jünger, und dieser Begriff bezeichnete am öftesten die Glieder der Kirche, des Leibes Christi, in der Apostelgeschichte. Wenn man ein Gläubiger war, war man ein Jünger – und Jesus machte unzweifelhaft klar, was das bedeutete.

Jetzt einmal ganz offen: Welches Buch, welcher Theologe, welcher Mensch hat das Recht, uns sagen zu wollen, Jesus hätte nicht wirklich gemeint, was Er da gesagt hatte, als Er davon sprach, was es bedeutete, Sein Jünger zu sein? Dass Seine Aussagen nur für einige wenige Auserwählte zutrafen? Auserwählte, die aus anderem Stoff waren als die Gläubigen des 21. Jahrhunderts? Auf welcher Grundlage verfälschen wir die Aussagen unseres Herrn?

“We're called to be the Church militant, not the Church mush!”
Fr. Bill Casey, Superior of the Fathers of Mercy

Als Christinnen und Christen ist es nicht unser Ziel, um jeden Preis Menschen gefallen zu wollen, sondern Gott. Wir gehorchen den Gesetzen des Landes, in dem wir leben; wenn diese jedoch Gottes Gesetz widersprechen, dann müssen und werden wir Gottes Gesetz befolgen. Hierfür bedarf es aber viel Weisheit und Vorbereitung, was mögliche Konsequenzen angeht (siehe Apg 5,25-29).

Auch sollten wir ständig vom Heiligen Geiste erfüllt sein. Keinesfalls sollten wir Seine Stimme ignorieren. Auch sollten wir unsere geistigen Gaben trainieren und ausüben (siehe 1 Kor 12,1-11).

“Nicht ihr habt mich erwählt, sondern ich habe euch erwählt und dazu bestimmt, dass ihr euch aufmacht und Frucht bringt und dass eure Frucht bleibt. Dann wird euch der Vater alles geben, um was ihr ihn in meinem Namen bittet.” (Joh 15,16 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Eine wesentliche Quelle unserer Jüngerschaft: Das tägliche Gebet und Bibelstudium. Nehmen wir uns Jesus als Vorbild: Er wusste, wo Er herkam und wo Er hinging. Auch wir sollten das wissen. Auch Mutter Theresa betete täglich und ausgiebig.

Gott hat uns mit vielen wunderbaren Gaben ausgestattet – die wenigsten unter uns nutzen jedoch dieses ungeheure Potential! Was wir doch tun und erreichen könnten, wenn wir nur mutig und furchtlos voranschreiten und Unbekanntes wagen würden!

Wenn wir behaupten, Christinnen und Christen zu sein, uns aber weigern, auch so zu leben, wie Jesus es uns aufgetragen hat, verleugnen und entehren wir Ihn. Geben wir Ihm also unser uneingeschränkt und für alle sichtbar unser ganzes Leben!

In einer Zeit, in der sich Menschen vom christlichen Glauben abwenden, ist es umso wichtiger – ja lebenswichtiger! -, diesen offen und furchtlos sowie in Liebe und Demut zu verkünden!

“Haltet in eurem Herzen Christus, den Herrn, heilig! Seid stets bereit, jedem Rede und Antwort zu stehen, der nach der Hoffnung fragt, die euch erfüllt; aber antwortet bescheiden und ehrfürchtig, denn ihr habt ein reines Gewissen. Dann werden die, die euch beschimpfen, weil ihr in (der Gemeinschaft mit) Christus ein rechtschaffenes Leben führt, sich wegen ihrer Verleumdungen schämen müssen.” (1 Petr 3,15-16 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Papst Benedikt XVI. hat kürzlich in “Ubicumque et Semper” einem Apostolischen Brief in der Form eines Motu Proprio daruf hingewiesen, dass es einer neuen Evangelisierung zur Vertiefung des reinen und festen Glaubens bedarf. Eine Evangelisierung, deren wiederbelebende Kraft vom Heiligen Geist sowie von einer tiefgehenden Gotteserfahrung kommen muss. Als Instrumente empfahl er ausdrücklich auch die neuen Formen sozialer Kommunikationsmittel, aber auch die Verwendung des “Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche”.

Eine derartige Evangelisierung muss von allen Gläubigen getragen werden. Wir alle haben von Gott Gaben und damit auch Aufgaben bekommen. Nutzen wir sie!

In diesem Zusammenhang ein Verweis auf das Sakrament der Firmung (vgl. Joh 14,15-21):

Durch dieses Sakrament und die damit geschenkte Gnade des Heiligen Geistes werden wir zu Soldaten Christi, zu Zeugen des Evangeliums für die Welt. Jesus versprach, den Heiligen Geist zu schicken, was dann an Pfingsten geschah (Apg 2,3-4): Der Heilige Geist kam auf die Apostel herab. Diese wurden von Ihm verändert und verwandelt:

“Mit großer Kraft legten die Apostel Zeugnis ab von der Auferstehung Jesu, des Herrn, und reiche Gnade ruhte auf ihnen allen.” (Apg 4,33 – Einheitsübersetzung)

“Alle wurden von Furcht ergriffen; denn durch die Apostel geschahen viele Wunder und Zeichen.” (Apg 2,43 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Sie zeigten auch die persönliche Heiligkeit des christlichen Lebens:

“Es gab auch keinen unter ihnen, der Not litt. Denn alle, die Grundstücke oder Häuser besassen, verkauften ihren Besitz, brachten den Erlös und legten ihn den Aposteln zu Füssen. Jedem wurde davon so viel zugeteilt, wie er nötig hatte” (Apg 4,34-35 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Die Firmung setzt diese Gnade, die Die Apostel an Pfingsten erfahren durften, fort.

In Samaria sehen wir die Firmung als eine sakramentale Handlung ausserhalb und getrennt von der Beichte: Petrus und Johannes besuchen eine Gruppe von Gläubigen, die im Namen Jesu getauft worden waren, aber noch nicht den Heiligen Geist empfangen hatten. Die Apostel legten die Hände auf die getauften Gläubigen und der Heilige Geist kam über sie (Apg 8,14-17). Auch heute noch wird durch dieses Handauflegen seitens der Bischöfe der Ritus der Firmung vollzogen (KKK, 1285-1321).

Durch diese Gnade des Heiligen Geistes wurde uns auch eine ganz persönliche Berufung als Jünger Jesu Christi aufgegeben! Wir sind Soldaten Christi – also handeln wir auch danach!

“Seid also standhaft: Gürtet euch mit Wahrheit, zieht als Panzer die Gerechtigkeit an und als Schuhe die Bereitschaft, für das Evangelium vom Frieden zu kämpfen. Vor alem greift zum Schild des Glaubens! Mit ihm könnt ihr alle feurigen Geschosse des Bösen auslöschen. Nehmt den Helm des Heils und das Schwert des Geistes, das ist das Wort Gottes. Hört nicht auf, zu beten und zu flehen! Betet jederzeit im Geist; seid wachsam, harrt aus und bittet für alle Heiligen” (Eph 6,14-18 – Einheitsübersetzung)

Amen.

 

Quellen:

u.a. Scott Hahn, “Catholic Bible Dictionary”, Doubleday Religion, New York 2009. ISBN 978-0-385-51229-9
Michael L. Brown, “Revolution – The Call to Holy War” Regel Books. Ventura, California, USA, 2000. ISBN 0-8307-2640-3
Michael L. Brown, “Revolution in the Church. Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change.” Chosen Books, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, 2002. ISBN 0-8807-9310-2 (pbk.)
Fr. Roger J. Landry on
www.cuf.org
Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche. München (R. Oldenburg Verlag) 1993.
http://insightscoop.typepad.com
Our Sunday Visitor
Matthew Bakholer, “Mission Preparation Training”, ByFaith Media, Great Brittain 2006, ISBN 1846851653 (978-1-84685-165-0)
Papst Benedikt XVI: “Apostolischer Brief in Form eines Motu Proprio Ubicumque et Semper des Obersten Hirten Benedikt XVI. mit dem der päpstliche Rat zur Förderung der neuen Evangelisierung errichtet wird” (Quelle:
www.kath.net / Dr. Alexander Pytlik)

 

Call for a Catholic Revival!




“Revival” – ist das nicht etwas Evangelikales? Etwa eine dieser Großveranstaltungen voller etwas zu emotionalen Menschen, wo man nicht so genau weiß, was man davon halten soll? Hat das nicht gar etwas Sektenhaftes?

In einem stimmt dies: Bisher waren es evangelikale Christinnen und Christen, die “Revivals”, also “Wiedererweckungen” organisierten und damit dem Christentum erheblichen Zulauf und auch Aufschwung bescherten. Was aber hindert uns Katholiken daran, dasselbe zu tun? Sollten nicht gerade wir als “Mutterschiff” uns endlich einmal daran machen, das größte Revival aller Zeiten ins Leben zu rufen?

Lesen wir die Zeichen der Zeit:

  • Die Zahl der regelmäßigen Kirchenbesucher sinkt.
  • Viele Menschen verlassen die katholische Kirche.
  • Der christliche Glaube an sich und mit ihm traditionelle christliche Familienwerte verschwinden aus der Öffentlichkeit. Die Konsequenzen daraus sind kaum zu übersehen.
  • Eine moderne Form der Theologie hat in den letzten Jahrzehnten um sich gegriffen, die traditionelle katholische Glaubensaussagen sowie klare biblische Wahrheiten relativiert bis umdreht – wohl gutgemeint (“Das war damals so, ist aber heute ganz anders”), aber dennoch untragbar und gefährlich.
  • Das biblische Bild von Mann und Frau sowie von der christlichen Familie wird im Zuge des “Gender Mainstreaming” aufgelöst. Der gottgewollte Unterschied zwischen beiden soll verschwinden bzw. der individuellen Definition überlassen werden: jeder kann für sich selbst bestimmen, wer oder was er oder sie sein möchte. Da dieser Unterschied sowie die Geschlechterrollen jedoch tief in uns verankert sind und nicht einfach ausgelöscht werden können, hat eine naive Gleichmacherei extreme negative Konsequenzen - sowohl für den Einzelnen wie für die Gesellschaft.
  • In diesem Zusammenhang ist auch Sexualität nicht mehr etwas, das Mann und Frau in einer monogamen, lebenslangen Ehe vorbehalten ist, sondern kann in allen möglichen Konstellationen und Formen praktiziert und gelebt werden. Homosexualität wird auf dieselbe Ebene wie Heterosexualität gehoben und Menschen, die diese Ansicht nicht teilen, werden in eine radikale Ecke gedrängt und als “homophob” beschimpft.
  • Ein moralischer Relativismus greift um sich, bei dem es keinen gesellschaftlichen Konsens mehr darüber gibt, was moralisch gut, wahr und akzeptabel ist. So ist nun auch das Töten ungeborenen Lebens unter Umständen akzeptabel. Moral ist nunmehr eine individuelle Größe, die nur von gesetzlichen Regelungen begrenzt wird. Eine Gesellschaft jedoch, die sich nicht auf einen gemeinsamen Standard einigen kann, ist dem Untergang geweiht.
  • Der Christliche Glaube wird als etwas Privates angesehen, das im öffentlichen Leben nichts zu suchen hat.
  • Anstelle bekennender Christinnen und Christen, die ihr leben auf Jesus Christus hin ausrichten und voller Feuer und Begeisterung für Ihn sind und Ihm alles geben wollen, haben wir lauwarme Sonntagschristen (wen überhaupt das!), die eine Form des Auswahlchristentums praktizieren, bei der sie den katholischen Glauben mit protestantischen Überzeugungen oder gar Praktiken aus anderen Religionen sowie eigenen Vorstellungen vermischen, um schließlich ein spirituelles “Wellness-Paket” zu bekommen, das es ihnen erlaubt, zu tun wonach ihnen ist und sich dabei noch in einer rosa Wolke eines diffusen spirituellen Gefühls eingepackt zu wissen.
  • Das öffentliche Bekennen des Glaubens, das allgemeine Priestertum und das Verbreiten des Wortes Gottes und des katholischen Glaubens ist beinahe auf dem Nullpunkt angelangt. Heute hat man “politisch korrekt” zu sein.
  • Noch schlechter ist es um das Wissen um den katholischen Glauben, das tägliche Gebet, Bibelstudium, der wöchentliche Besuch der Heiligen Messe, das regelmäßige Empfangen der Sakramente und das Führen eines heiligen Lebens in Christi Nachfolge bestimmt.
  • Gegenüber anderen Religionen wie etwa dem Islam herrscht eine erschreckende Mischung aus Unwissenheit und Naivität.
  • Werke der Nächstenliebe werden als etwas angesehen, das den Wohlfahrtsorganisationen vorbehalten ist.
  • Die Heilige Messe verkommt beinahe zu einem Theaterstück, bei dem jeder nach Lust und Laune (wenn auch gutgemeint) eine selbstgewählte Rolle spielen darf.
  • Der Respekt vor dem kirchlichen Lehramt und den kirchlichen Würdenträgern ist kaum mehr vorhanden.
  • Berufungen zum Priestertum oder zum Ordensleben sind radikal zurückgegangen (oder anders ausgedrückt: die Berufungen sind wohl da, aber sie werden nicht angenommen und beantwortet).
  • Worte wie “Sünde”, “Hölle” oder “Fegefeuer” gelten als nicht mehr zeitgemäß. Eine Liebe aber, die nicht stark genug ist, um auch unbequeme Wahrheiten auszusprechen, ist keine wahre Liebe.
  • Wer oben genannte Ansichten vertritt, gilt als altmodisch, rückständig und schwarzmalerisch. Wäre es nicht besser, zu sagen: realistisch?

Anstatt nun aber über den Zustand der Welt zu jammern, wollen wir aktiv werden. Wir wissen, dass der Heilige Geist Seine Kirche leitet und diese bis zum Ende aller Zeiten Bestand haben wird als Leib Jesu Christi.

Wir rufen also alle gläubigen Katholikinnen und Katholiken zu einem Revival auf! Werdet aktiv! Engagiert euch! Tut eure Meinung kund! Steht zu eurem Glauben und entzündet damit die ganze Welt! Warum sollten wir nicht auch öffentlich unseren Herrn Jesus Christus und die Katholische Kirche feiern? Wir jubeln Fußballvereinen und Rockstars zu – warum nicht auch dem, der uns wahres Leben gibt! Eines Tages werden wir vor Gott stehen und alles dafür geben, wenn wir nur noch einmal die Chance bekommen würden, zurückzugehen und dann alles anders zu machen. Nützen wir diese Chance jetzt!

Für ein katholisches Revival!

Für eine katholische Revolution!

München, 08.08.2010

Robert Gollwitzer

ESV Audio Widget

Isaiah 40:31

Gleichgültigkeit

Es gibt nur eines, das schlimmer ist als militante Atheisten: gleichgültige Christen.

Christen, die lauwarm geworden sind, Glauben für ihre Privatsache halten, selbst entscheiden, welche der kirchlichen Lehrern und biblischen Grundsätze sie annehmen, wann sie in die Kirche gehen, wie viel von dem, was Gott ihnen geschenkt hat, sie mit anderen teilen und was “Christ sein” überhaupt heißt.

Christen, die den Auftrag Jesu völlig vergessen haben, nämlich alle Menschen zu Jüngern zu machen und sie zu taufen. Christen, die ebenso vergessen haben, dass wir uns eines Tages vor Gott verantworten müssen. Dass eines Tages Jesus wieder kommt – und zwar wie ein Dieb in der Nacht…

Wir finden Ausreden und Entschuldigungen, warum wir uns nicht um andere Menschen kümmern oder in den Gottesdienst gehen können – oder es interessiert uns grundsätzlich erst gar nicht.

Wir selbst machen unsere eigenen moralischen Regeln und Normen. Wir setzen den Standard. Wir spielen Gott und machen unsere eigene Religion.

Diese Gleichgültigkeit ist wie ein Eisberg – vielleicht noch schlimmer als ein Eisberg, denn angesichts des augenblicklichen Klimawandels ist die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass ein Eisberg schmilzt, wahrscheinlich höher, als dass die Gleichgültigkeit so mancher Christen sich in leidenschaftliche Nachfolge Jesu Christi verwandelt…

Bibelzitat

"Ich kenne deine Werke. Du bist weder kalt noch heiß. Wärest du doch kalt oder heiß! Weil du aber lau bist, weder heiß noch kalt, will ich dich aus meinem Mund ausspeien."
(Offb 3,15-16 - Einheitsübersetzung)

 

Was ist ein Jünger?

Ist ein Jünger jemand, der den Lehren eines anderen folgt, den er als Lehrer akzeptiert, wie ihn das Oxford American Dictionary definiert?

Aus säkularer Sicht bestimmt. Aus christlicher Sicht muss jedoch angefügt werden, dass das Prinzip Jüngerschaft noch weitaus weiter und tiefer geht.

Laut Joel C. Rosenberg und T.E. Koshy gibt es drei Charakteristika eines Jüngers:

1) Er hat eine persönliche Beziehung zu Jesus Christus.
2) Er hat eine Beziehung zu einem älteren und weiseren Gläubigen.
3) Er hat eine persönliche Beziehung zu jüngeren Gläubigen.

Ein Jünger ist jemand, der ganz bewusst dem Leben und Verhalten eines älteren und weiseren Gläubigen folgt.

Sehen wir uns Jesus und andere Beispiele aus der Bibel an: Jesus folgte dem Vater (Johannes 5,19). Er forderte Seine Jünger auf, Ihm zu folgen (Matthäus 9,9, JOhannes 1,43). Der Apostel Paulus forderte seine Jünger auf, ihm zu folgen (1. Korinther 11:1). Paulus trug Timotheus auf, andere zu lehren, ihm zu folgen (1. Timotheus 4,12.15).

Wie sieht es damit in unserem eigenen Leben aus? Haben wir eine persönliche Beziehung zu Jesus Christus? Haben wir jemand, der spirituell in uns investiert und gibt es jemand, in den wir investieren? Haben wir Jesu' Auftrag, hinaus zu gehen, Menschen zu taufen und sie zu Jüngern zu machen, erfüllt? Dieser Auftrag gilt für alle, die an Jesus glauben. Gibt es jemand in deinem Leben, zu dem du eine Jüngerschaftsbeziehung hast?

All das mag für manche fremd klingen, jedoch macht es das Wesen des Christentums aus. Jesus begründete keine Mega-Church mit einer Publicity-Abteilung, sondern machte einfache Menschen zu Jüngern, die wiederum andere zu Jüngern machten und so die Gute Nachricht über die ganze Welt verbreiteten!


Empfohlene Literatur:


The Invested Life: Making Disciples of All Nations One Person at a Time
Joel C. Rosenberg (Author), T. E. Koshy (Author)
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (August 17, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414376375
ISBN-13: 978-1414376370

The Jesus Manifesto

The dawning of the 21st century finds the church of America in a moral and spiritual crisis. Decades of self-centered living and worldliness have taken their toll. Years of compromise and toothless gospel preaching have had their effect. And now we have reached the moment of truth: Either we wake up, stand up, speak up, and act up, or we run the risk of becoming a mere historic curiosity, an irrelevant religious sideshow, an entertaining, harmless spectacle. Something must change, and it must change now. There is no other choice.

Forty years ago, a counterculture revolution swept through America, resulting in a sudden, steep moral decline. Since that time (from the early ’60s until today), the divorce rate has doubled, the teen suicide rate has tripled, reported violent crime has quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, the percentage of babies born out of wedlock has risen six-fold, and couples living together out of wedlock has risen sevenfold. And the end is not in sight.

The last generation’s counterculture of rebellion has become this generation’s establishment of revulsion, and what was unthinkable forty years ago – daytime talk shows celebrating adultery and incest; homosexual love scenes on major network TV; eleven year-old multiple murderers; massacres in our schools and houses of worship – is a matter of course today. We need a revolution!

But this revolution will be different than other revolutions – including the revolution that birthed our nation more than 200 years ago. This revolution will not be fought with earthly weapons of destruction – not with guns and knives and bullets and bombs. It will not be fought with hatred, anger, intimidation, or brute force. No. It will be fought with the message of the gospel, with the love of God, with the power of the Spirit, with radical holiness, with sacrifice, compassion, and courage. It will be a Jesus revolution, an intense clash between two spiritual kingdoms, a heavenly attack on the enemy’s strongholds, a no compromise stand for morality and truth. And it will impact society in a lasting way. It must!

Revolution means upheaval. Revolution means the overthrowing of the status quo. We dare not downplay the significance of the word. Revolution is a matter of life and death, and our revolution flows from the blood of the Savior to the blood of the martyr. We put down our sword and take up our cross, overcoming Satan by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony, and by not loving our lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev. 12:11). Nothing can stop a revolution like this!

Our revolution is fueled by the power of the gospel, and the gospel does violence to the forces of hell. We must recover the fullness of the gospel of Jesus! It is nothing less than a direct assault on the kingdom of Satan, a frontal attack on hostile, spiritual powers, a mortal confrontation of light against darkness. It brings about the ultimate counterculture conflict.

That’s why Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:18-20).

That’s why Paul explained that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12), reminding the disciples that, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). God’s people march to the beat of a different drummer. God’s obedient people will always offend the world, no matter how much we seek to be peacemakers and to walk in compassion and love. Our very lifestyles are a reproof to the ungodly.

That’s why Joseph Parker could say more than a century ago, “The man whose little sermon is ‘repent’ sets himself against his age, and will for the time being be battered mercilessly by the age whose moral tone he challenges. There is but one end for such a man — ‘off with his head!’ You had better not try to preach repentance until you have pledged your head to heaven.” The gospel means conflict and confrontation, and all who stand for righteousness will be resisted.

That’s why Jesus was accused by his own people of being “a Samaritan and demon-possessed” (John 8:48), why Paul and Silas were accused of “throwing cities into an uproar” (Acts 16:20) and “causing trouble all over the world” (Acts 17:6), why Paul himself was mistaken for being an “Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert” (Acts 21:38). The gospel is subversive. The gospel is a threat to the kingdom of darkness. The gospel is revolutionary.

We’re in a war, and war means conflict, hardship, and sacrifice. As Leonard Ravenhill wrote, “When a nation calls its prime men to battle, homes are broken, weeping sweethearts say their good-byes, businesses are closed, college careers are wrecked, factories are refitted for wartime production, rationing and discomforts are accepted — all for war. Can we do less for the greatest fight that this world has ever known outside of the cross — this end-time siege on sanity, morality, and spirituality?”

Satan’s strategy is to institutionalize the Church, to turn the Body of Christ into a powerless religious system. If that tactic fails, he tries to desensitize us and lull us to sleep until we lose our convictions and our sense of outrage is gone. And he is always seeking to seduce us into sin until we become just like the world, enslaved by its passions and lusts. And when he thinks he has succeeded, when he no longer feels threatened by the people of God, then he gets aggressive and brazenly puts forth his agenda. He’s doing it today. We need a revolution!

The cat is out of the bag. The secret is no longer a secret. Anti-God forces are after the soul of our nation, and if we don’t wake up now, if we don’t take a stand now, if we don’t repent and pray and rise and speak and act now, then instead of this great country being “the land of the free and the home of the brave” our nation could become “the land of sleaze and the home of depraved.” We need a revolution!

DNA tests to find out who fathered the baby are here. (In fifteen of our nation’s largest cities, more than 90% of the babies born to teens are illegitimate.) Legalized same-sex “civil unions” are here. Children’s textbooks encouraging adolescent fornication are here. School hallways splattered with teenage blood are here. Bans on using the name of Jesus at our graduations are here. Topless, feminist “worship services” on our college campuses are here. We need a revolution!

We live in a time of ethical madness and social uncertainty, a time when talk of a moral revolution should be everywhere. Instead, the best-selling “revolutionary” books are books about new diets. What does this say for us as a people? When we need to be talking about the call to die for the gospel, we are talking instead about the call to diet for good looks. What a sad indictment! And what does it say of our self-deception and lack of discipline when we are at one and the same time the world’s best-read nation on diet and nutrition and the world’s most obese? Even our pets are overweight. We need a revolution!

The United States boasts the highest percentage of professing evangelicals in the industrialized world, with more than 36% of Americans – meaning more than 90 million people – classified as born-again. Yet America has:

• The highest percentage of single-parent families in the industrialized world
• The highest abortion rate in the industrialized world
• The highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases in the industrialized world (the rates of syphilis and gonorrhea transmission are almost 500% higher than the highest rates in the other industrialized nations)
• The highest teenage birth rate in the industrialized world (by far!)
• The highest rate of teenage drug use in the industrialized world

We need a revolution!

Our society is deteriorating all around us and even non-believers sense that something is wrong. Why? It is because we, the people of God, the army of the Lord Jesus, the messengers of liberation, the ambassadors of reconciliation, have been sidetracked by the love of this world and distracted by the cares of this age. As a result, we have not changed this generation. This generation has changed us!

Rather than seasoning the world like salt and brightening the world like light, we now smell and taste like the world, and its darkness is snuffing out our lamps. Rather than setting captives free by the power of Jesus’ blood, many of us are being ensnared and enslaved, making a mockery of that sacred blood. Rather than making disciples of sinners and teaching them the ways of God, many of us are being discipled by them, learning their ways, imitating their lifestyles, and conforming to their values.

A 1997 survey conducted by George Barna used 152 different items to compare the church and the world. He found virtually no difference between the two. In fact, the divorce rate today among evangelicals is higher than the divorce rate among atheists. We need a revolution!

Communist educators visiting America have been shocked by the materialism and worldliness of many of our Christian young people, while Islamic leaders are appalled by the rampant sexual sin and shameless immodesty among many who profess Christ as Lord. The ideals of the unsaved are often more lofty than the ideals of the saved. We need a revolution!

Just consider how far things have fallen, despite decades of 24-hour gospel radio and TV, hundreds of Bible colleges and seminaries, thousands of Christian schools and bookstores, and churches and ministries too numerous to count. Forty years ago, men having sex with men and women having sex with women was considered perverse. Now it is considered perverse – homophobic, hateful, mean-spirited, and bigoted – to call such behavior wrong. We need a revolution!

Forty years ago, not even science fiction writers would have predicted that American companies would be making money off the sale of the skin and brains and limbs and spinal chords of aborted babies. Today, Congress will not even pass legislation to make this thriving practice illegal. We need a revolution!

Jesus rebuked the leaders of his day who said of themselves, “If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets” (Matt 23:30) – and then they took part in shedding the blood of the greatest Prophet of them all. How hypocritical! Yet we do this very thing, saying, “If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in the detestable sin of slavery. We would never have tolerated such evil. We would surely have done something about it.”

Yet on our watch, in our day, we have tolerated an even more heinous sin: the slaughter of forty million babies in their mothers’ wombs. In what way have we been better than our forefathers who tolerated slavery – or better than the European “Christians” who tolerated the Nazi extermination of six million Jews? How much have we really done to stop this generation’s holocaust?

Bloodshed pollutes the land (Num 35:33), and the blood of these helpless victims – oceans of blood of these aborted little ones – has been crying out for justice for decades. What will our God do? We need a revolution!

In 1960, only 2.3% of percent of white women had children out of wedlock. By 1997, more than 25% — a ten-fold increase! – were having children out of wedlock (despite millions being aborted before they ever left the womb). In the African American community, that number rose from 23% percent to more than 68%. We need a revolution!

In 1962, the Supreme Court outlawed organized, public prayer in our schools (without citing a single historic precedent to back its decision), and we complied with that ruling. In the year 2000, the Court has banned voluntary public prayer in our schools. Why have we complied with this ruling too? At what point do we say, “We must obey God rather than man”? At what point do we say, “Enough is enough”? We need a revolution!

On April 12, 2000, at Pearl River Central High School in Carrierre, Mississippi, the Spirit of God fell upon the students attending a voluntary, pre-class assembly led by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. As students lined up fifty deep to confess their sins and get right with God and one another, the principal, Lolita Lee, herself a Christian, decided to let the meeting go on through the day. Civil libertarians were outraged, but, as Time magazine reported (June 5, 2000, p. 61), “The school received hundreds of congratulatory e-mails. ‘Thank you for your courage,’ wrote an Ohio man to Lee. ‘You have done the equivalent of not moving to the back of the bus.’” Isn’t it time we follow suit? If not now, when? What more needs to happen?

For more than two hundred years, the Bible was commonly used as a textbook in our schools, and generations of children learned the ABC’s with a Scripture truth for each letter. But in 1963, the Supreme Court banned required reading of the Scriptures from our schools, and once again, we complied with the ruling. Why? By 1980, the Court had ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments from public view in our schools and by 1985, it outlawed benedictions or invocations in formal school activities. Some lower courts even ruled against students praying out loud over their cafeteria meals. We need a revolution!

When the governing authorities seized the apostles and charged them not to speak in Jesus’ name, Peter replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). And they kept speaking! As a result, they were arrested, whipped, and strictly ordered not to speak any more in Jesus’ name. But, Scripture records, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 5:41-42). Can we learn something from this?

Christians around the world today are severely persecuted because they refuse to obey oppressive, unjust laws. Many of them are model citizens in every way, obedient, respectful and peace loving. But when the government – or religious establishment – forbids them to read their Bibles, forbids them to baptize, forbids them to share their faith, forbids them to gather together, forbids them to make disciples, then they say with the apostles, “We must obey God rather than man.” At what point does this apply to us?

Our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world have been discriminated against, deprived of their livelihoods, imprisoned, tortured, and killed, all because they refused to render to Caesar that which does not belong to Caesar. Yet we are afraid to take a stand for Jesus if it would threaten our income, or cost us a scholarship, or make us unpopular. Why this double standard? Why do they refuse to comply – even when threatened with imprisonment and death – while we willfully comply, even when there is no threat? We need a revolution!

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded to worship an idol or be subject to a fiery death, they refused to bow down (Daniel 3). But today, with no one commanding us, we freely worship the idols of our society, bowing down to the gods of unclean entertainment, sensual fashion, and unbridled materialism and greed. Our obsession with sports is idolatrous as well, to the point that many churches throughout the land make sure their Sunday services end in time for the afternoon football games, canceling their meetings entirely the night of the Super Bowl. We need a revolution!

When Daniel was told that an edict had been passed declaring that “anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to [the] king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den . . . he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10-12). It’s time that we follow his lead. Godly defiance spells triumph while retreat spells defeat. We need a revolution!

Year by year our religious freedoms have been taken away, while special rights and freedoms have been given to those whom the Bible calls “unrighteous” (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; in the Scriptures, homosexual activity is classified along with adultery, fornication, theft, drunkenness, hatred, anger, greed, and hypocrisy, and all who practice such things are called “unrighteous”). Thus the Supreme Court ruled that a school full of Christians cannot choose to have prayer before a school sporting event since it would offend and exclude the minority who don’t want to pray. But when homosexuals introduce children’s textbooks into our schools outlining in graphic detail the intricacies of gay sex, the offended majority is told to accept it. Right is now wrong and wrong is now right, and the will of the godless is imposed on the will of the godly. We need a revolution!

When a gay man is beaten to death because he is gay – this is a reprehensible, despicable act that every decent person should abhor – it causes a national uproar, with loud voices in the government calling for new legislation against hate crimes. And we should speak out against such deplorable crimes. But when Christians students are shot to death as they profess their faith in God, the government raises its voice to forbid the placing of memorial crosses on school property. The handwriting is on the wall. The strategy is clear. We need a revolution!

Teachers in our public schools can give condom demonstrations to our teens and use books like “Heather Had Two Mommies” to teach our kids to read, and we are required to support this with our own tax dollars. But let a teacher read from the Scriptures to a seeking, needy student, and that teacher could be out of a job – all because of the First Amendment’s so-called separation of Church and State.

But that is not what the First Amendment intended. It simply stated that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” meaning, first, that the government could not form a national denomination (like the Church of England of old) and require all Americans to be part of it, and second, that there would be religious freedom for all. As emphasized by Stephen Carter, professor of law at Yale University, “The wall of separation of church and state is not there to protect the state from the church; it is there to protect the church from the state. It stands as a divide to preserve religious freedom. And one needs to protect the church from the state because the latter will utilize its enormous powers to do what the state has always done – either subvert the religion or destroy it. If we continue our slide toward a state that breaches the wall of separation whenever it is convenient, then I worry about the great risk to religious freedom. In the end, such a breach could destroy our ability to form the communities of resistance that are crucial if we are going to have a chance to transform the nation.”

Our forefathers wanted to ensure that the government would not be able to impose its will on the church. For more than one generation now, this has been totally reversed and stood on its head, and the price has been very high, with skyrocketing crime rates and plummeting rates of morality and literacy. And what has become of the First Amendment’s guarantee of “the free exercise” of religion when the courts tell us that we cannot use religious symbols on public property, cannot post the Ten Commandments in government buildings, and cannot use the name of Jesus in public school events? We have lost our religious freedom. We need a revolution!

In 1999, a bill was brought before Congress that would have required businesses – which by implication could have included churches and religious institutions – to hire gays and lesbians if they were qualified for the job in question, despite their sexual preference. And the bill failed by only one vote! Even more distressing is that if the bill did pass, there was another bill ready to follow, calling for a ban on even speaking against a person’s sexual orientation. (A similar bill has now been passed in Canada.) Such speech would be deemed hate speech, punishable by law, and potentially meaning that a pastor simply expounding the Scriptures to his flock could be arrested. Yet this is the very thing from which our Founding Fathers were trying to protect us. So much for the First Amendment and religious freedom! The fact that such laws could even be crafted for Congress proves that we have long since passed the breaking point – yet some Christian leaders would have felt obligated to obey these laws if they had passed. We need a revolution!

We have gone from debating a woman’s “right to choose” to sucking out the brains of third trimester babies (with the backing of the courts!), from arguing about the medical definition of death to legalizing physician-assisted suicide, from needing metal detectors at airports to needing metal detectors at schools (and soon at houses of worship?), from tracking down absentee fathers to trying to figure out who the father is, from the outlawing of mandatory school prayer to the outlawing of voluntary school prayer. We need a revolution!

Without a holy, counterculture revolution, America could become a society where candid religious expression is outlawed, a society where it is almost impossible to keep our children free from the pollution of the world, a society teetering perilously close to the thunderous judgments of God. Such things have happened to other nations, and such things could happen to us.

But all is not lost! The gospel has changed societies before, and the gospel can change societies again. For countless centuries, India engaged in the practice of widow-burning, where the widow of a deceased man was sometimes burned alive with her husband’s corpse. This horrific practice was outlawed through the tireless efforts of missionary William Carey. Both slave-trading and unjust child-labor laws were abolished in Britain through the fearless work of the Christian political leader William Wilberforce. And this followed on the heels of England’s transformation through the sacrificial labors of John Wesley and his Methodist followers, saving the nation from the anarchy and violence of the French Revolution. Around the world today, whole communities are being impacted by united prayer and evangelism, and here in our land, there is a rising momentum of concerted, twenty-four hour worship and intercession not seen for decades.

There are pockets of spiritual renewal throughout the country, and the tides of a radical youth revival are rapidly rising. Another Jesus people movement could be near, a heaven-sent revolution far greater than the worldwide Jesus movement of 1967-1975, when hundreds of thousands of hippies and radicals were swept into the kingdom. Even now, it is at the door. And not only will multitudes of lost sinners be truly saved, but multitudes of casual church goers will also be truly saved. Just think of what would happen if even one-quarter of America’s professing believers got totally and uncompromisingly right with God – and then each of them touched just five or six other people. It would quickly reverse our nation’s moral decline. Despite our perilous condition, it’s still not too late!

If our nation could be changed for the worse in one decade – this is what happened in the 1960s, despite progress in Civil Rights and some other social areas – it can be changed for the better in one decade. If angry student protests on college campuses could help stop an international war (Vietnam), what could holy student “protests” on our campuses accomplish?

America can be impacted for the good, and as followers of Jesus, we are called to make that impact. We do it by walking in the light, as He is in the light; by calling the lost to turn back to God in repentance; by preaching the gospel and making disciples; by proclaiming liberty to the captives; by pursuing righteousness in every area of public and private life; by acts of kindness, mercy, and compassion, overcoming evil with good; by prayer, fasting, and the power of God; by living holy lives and setting holy examples; by being a prophetic voice and a moral conscience to society; by Spirit-led community involvement and godly political action; by non-violent resistance of injustice and oppression.

What else should Christians do? Should not the presence of tens of millions of believers be felt in a nation? Should we not make a difference for God? Should we not be a force for spiritual and moral reformation? Should we not actively extend the kingdom of God? Should not the Great Commission leave tangible results in its wake?

This is our sacred moment, our solemn time for action. If we will unshackle ourselves from the love of this world – from our lusts, our addictions, our obsessions – and give ourselves wholly to the purposes of God, we can shake this nation. If we learn the principle that to save our lives is to lose our lives, while to lose our lives for the Lord is to save our lives, then we can really live. As Martin Luther King declared in 1965, “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right; a man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice; a man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.” It’s time we take our stand!

The counterculture revolution of the 1960s began when people said, “Something is missing. Something is wrong. There must be something greater than this.” And they were right! There must be something greater than eating and drinking, working and sleeping, existing. There must be something greater than the American dream. There must be something greater than simply getting a good education so that you can find a good job and have a good family so that your kids can get a good education and find a good job and have a good family so that their kids can a get a good education . . . . Is this really it? Is this why God put us here on this earth? There is more!

Our goal is revival, not survival, the transformation of the human race, not the preservation of the human race. There is a divine purpose and destiny to our time here on earth. Even atheistic revolutionaries understand that there must be a higher purpose to life, and they give themselves for their cause, freely dying for their revolution so that their families can live in what they hope will be a better world. And they do this without the promise of heaven or eternal life. How much more should we give ourselves to the cause of our Master? How much more readily should we hear the call?

Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, martyred as missionaries in 1956, understood this well. They recognized that life was far more meaningful, far more rich, far more significant than most of us ever realize, even if we live to be 100 years old. As Nate Saint wrote, “People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget they too are expending their lives and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”

Yes, everyone’s bubble will burst one day. The dust will return to dust and the spirit will return to God who gave it (see Ecc. 12:7). On that day, only one thing will matter: Did we fulfill the purpose of God? Did we make a lasting impact for Jesus? Did we leave behind a blessed legacy for the generation to come? All the silly little things that seemed so important to us during our few years here on earth will seem utterly insignificant when they are viewed in the light of eternity.

How wise it was for Jim Elliot to write these now-famous words: “That man is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” And how wise it was for him to lift up this petition before the Lord as a young man in college: “God, I pray, Thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.” Oh, that all of us would lead truly full lives!

Columbine martyr Rachel Scott was not wrong when she wrote in her journal, “I have no more personal friends at school. But you know what? I am not going to apologize for speaking the name of Jesus. I am not going to justify my faith to them, and I am not going to hide the light that God has put into me. If I have to sacrifice everything, I will. I will take it. If my friends have to become my enemies for me to be with my best friend Jesus, then that’s fine with me.” Jesus is worth it to the end!

Fellow-soldiers, holy servants of the risen Lord, blood-bought disciples of the Master, heed the call. It’s now or never, time to put up or shut up. Either we take a stand once and for all or forever we hang our heads in shame. History is eagerly anticipating our next move. This is the hour we have been waiting for. So, on with it – by life or by death. The revolution won’t wait.

 

*The Jesus Manifesto: A Call to Revolution (Copyright © 2000, 2005, Michael L. Brown) is distributed jointly by FIRE School of Ministry (www.fire-school.org) and ICN Ministries (http://askdrbrown.org/). It may be reproduced and distributed freely in any form, provided that it is reproduced unedited, in its entirety, and with proper attribution, and is not sold or distributed for profit. Some material in The Jesus Manifesto has been adapted and excerpted from Michael L. Brown, Revolution! The Call to Holy War (Ventura, CA: Gospel Light, 2000).

(Source: http://voiceofrevolution.askdrbrown.org/the-jesus-manifesto/)

 

CHOICES! “To Whom Will You Serve This Day?”


Please read Joshua 24:1-27

Our entire day is made up of choices. From the moment you get up in the morning, till the moment you lay down at night, you make many thousands of choices. Some of the decision you make throughout the day, you do so without giving it much thought. For example, most of us by habit when we wake up in the morning make a straight bee- line for the washroom. This is of course is a necessity as we generally have bodily needs which need attention. You do have the choice to ignore that need and by-pass the washroom and go straight to the kitchen, or out the door for that matter. You make a choice to go straight to the Java or to the porcelain bowl.

And, even upon entering the washroom you still make choices. Do you stop and look into the mirror first, or perhaps look out the window, or perhaps you may just lean on the sink for a moment trying to catch a few extra z’s. Until in some case, you hear your mother calling up the stairs, “hurry up, you’ll be late for school.”

Zapped out of your moment of sleep, you move and make your choice. Turn on the shower tap, sit on the potty, or perhaps you lean over against the wall and catch a few more z’s.

As the day wears on you make many more choices. Some good, some bad. Just stop for a moment and consider the thousands and millions of choices that you make daily, weekly, yearly and perhaps for a lifetime and into the future.

As you can see, life is made up of choices continually.

Listen to a little story about choices.

Two boys in Pennsylvania accepted Christ as their Lord and savior at the same time. One grew up to be a devoted, consecrated man of God, used of Him in bringing many souls into His Kingdom. The other lived an aimless, half hearted Christian life that brought little glory to God.

What was the difference between the two? One chose to live close to God, and the other chose to live a life of selfish ease.

It is in your power to choose. God has set before you, not only life and death, but also the alternative between completes abandonment to Him or a weak halfhearted allegiance.

WHAT WILL YOU CHOOSE?

You may have heard it said that heredity sets the limits as to what you can do. You may have heard it said that your parents and grandparents are determiners of your future, through their genes. Or you may have read that your environment hinders you, that your situation prevents you from becoming what you would like to be. Or you may have been told, that you are the product of your glands, that your glands determines your strength, your personality, your abilities, and your whole life, physical, mental, and spiritual.

There is some truth to each and every one of these sayings. Anyone, can take anyone of these sayings, and use them as an excuse to live below the level of doing their very best, for themselves and for God. If you do not want to assume responsibility for making the most of your life, you can find plenty of excuses. There are thousands of ways you can make excuses to not do your very best.


Examples:

Your parents have saved lots of money over the years for your college education. They do not pressure you to make a career choice; they leave that entirely up to you. You even throughout your grade school and high school days keep telling them, yes, I want to go to college and make something of myself. But when it comes time to go to college, you run off to a foreign country and blow all your college money on drinking and partying.

We have a Biblical example of the same thing in the Prodigal son. Luke 15:11-32.

The younger son had all he could have wanted if he would stay at home, but he chose to run away with his wealth, his inheritance, and lived the life of a partier, until all his money ran out. Then he found himself eating the grain of the pigs he fed. Fortunately this story has a happy ending. But is that the case for all such stories? Some time yes, sometimes no. It depends on the choices we make.

Looking back to the story of the two boys, the first came from a non- Christian home. (This is the one whom became a man of God.) The second boy’s parents and grandparents were faithful Christians. Even with this background and influence, he chose to walk an aimless, non- productive Christian life. The first lad proved that you can rise above your environment, however unfriendly it may be.

You can compensate for lacks in your constitutional powers, whatever they may be. You can rise above your environment. To you are given the privilege & the responsibility to choose what you will do with what you have with your life and with your talents.

Matthew 25:14-30 is the parable about the Talents. Many people believe this is about how we handle money. But this is not so. This parable is in part of what is described as the Olivet Discourse in which Jesus is telling people about the kingdom of heaven. The previous parable is the parable of the Ten Virgins and their oil Lamps. The message of this parable is telling us that we need to be ready, be prepared for the Lord’s return. In regard to the Talents, He is telling us that we will be judged with what we do with what He has given us. That is, He will judge us for the abilities He has given us. What have we done with what we are able to do, to bring glory to Him, to help bring others into His kingdom, etc?
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles…” 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11 King James Bible

Your greatest enemy, you see, is not your heredity, your environment, or your glandular constitution. But, your greatest enemy is your unwillingness to make right decisions, right choices.

Look again at the passage of Joshua 24:1-27. We can clearly see that Joshua made his choice. The people around him were worshipping idols rather than God. He did not yield to the influences of his environment. We read in Joshua 24:15 “Choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (English Standard Version 2001) Joshua faced his situation head on, with all its limitations. He chose a wholehearted allegiance to God. He chose to walk the walk, not just to talk the talk. He chose to rise above his environment.

We all know the story of Daniel, who was raised in a corrupt court of a heathen king with evil all around him. Yet Daniel did not become the victim of circumstances. We read in Daniel 1:8 “He purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” (King James Bible) He purposed therefore, to put God first in his life.
Daniel chose to make a clear and definite decision fro God, not just once and then turn his back on God, but many times, and throughout his entire life.

Unfortunately many of Daniel’s fellow country- men chose instead to obey the ways and customs of the heathen people around them, rather than to serve God. Many perhaps put on a show of walking with God, but they were in fact walking the fence, following the ways of the world. They followed if at all, half -heartedly.


HOW WILL YOU WALK?

Remember this. There is and will be a time of reckoning for every believer. The Judgment Seat of Christ (The Bema) “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the tings done in his body.” 2 Cor. 5:10 King James Bible. This is not to be confused with the judgment of your sins. They have already been dealt with at the cross. Praise God!!!! Your sins no longer exist the moment you are saved, the moment you trust in God for the provision of your sins. Christ’s blood on the cross dealt with and paid for all your sins, past, present and future.

But, what are you doing with the gifts God has given you? Do you use them to honor Him while you are on this earthly plain? Are you a half- hearted- Christian walking about aimlessly by doing nothing for His kingdom? “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Rom. 14:10 King James Bible.
It is a sure thing, that each and everyone of us will some day stand before Jesus and give account to Him what things we have done on earth for Him.

These are not my words; these are the Words of God, given us in scripture.
“So then everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God.” Rom. 14:12 King James Bible
This in reality is what the parable of the talents is all about. Our deeds here on earth for or not for Him, will be judged by fire. 1 Cor. 3:12-15 Your works will be tested by fire to distinguish between the durable, the perishable, the precious and the worthless.

Consider these sobering reminders of how the Lord views the careless, lazy believers. It is fool-hearted to ignore these warnings given to us in His scriptures. Note Heb. 10:30, the last line. “The Lord will judge His people.” (NIV) This is not about the unbelievers, for they are not His people. This is a terse statement. There can be no way to make it say anything else than what it says.
“You Will Be Judged!!!”

Please read further on in the next verse; Heb. 10:31. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (King James Bible)
Paul added to this warning in 2 Cor. 5:10-11. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (King James Bible)
In other words, we can fool man, but we cannot fool God. We can pretend we are for God, but you will not fool Him.

So, How about you? Are you walking for the Lord, or are you trying to fool Him?

Will you make a weak surrender to the conditions and circumstances surrounding you? Will you submit to peer pressure? Will you do what everyone else is doing? You have the power within you to say “NO” You have the power with in you to use the hereditary capacities you have to make your environment a steppingstone rather than a stumbling stone. You can utilize all of whom you are. You can choose to make God; you’re All in All!! You can choose to use your God given talents to your full capacities and give Him the glory. Or you can choose to waste your talents and discredit the Christian faith.

Will you choose to compromise your situation and follow half-heartedly the ways of God and thus disgrace Him, or will you choose instead to make an uncompromising stance and stand beside and follow Him whole-heartedly.

If you choose to make an uncompromising stance and follow whole-heartedly after Him, He will become your All In All with all the power and resources available at His disposal, as you unswervingly continue to seek and learn and do His will, rather than your own.

“Choose Therefore This Day Whom You Will Serve.”

Will you serve the world, or will you server the Lord?
There really is no in-between in the final count of things.
You are either a follower of God, or you are a follower of Baal, the devil.



Listen to this poem by John Oxenham.

To every man openeth
A Way, and Ways and a Way.
The High Soul Climbs the High way.
The Low Soul gropes the Low.
And in-between, and on the misty flats
The rest drifts to and fro.
But to every man there openeth
A High way and a Low Way.
And, every man decideth,
The Way his soul shall go.


Which Way, Which Road are you going?

Are you taking the High Way, or the Low way?
Or, perhaps you are groping in-between, walking the fence.
Maybe you are walking to and from, going neither way at all,
going nowhere in particular at all.

You have a choice to make. Which way are you going?

Lastly:

You have one more important choice to make before you die which will determine your eternity. Believe it or not, you will either spend eternity in Heaven, or in Hell. It is your choice to make. No one can make it for you.

Sure, you can allow your environment and your surroundings to influence your decisions. But, in the end, it is your choice to make by yourself. And you will have to answer to God. You have the choice to follow God, or not to follow God.

“If the Lord be God, follow Him! But if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21 King James Bible

Moses wrote in Deut 30:19

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursings; therefore choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.” (King James Bible)

My brothers, most of you have made your choices many years ago.
Will you compromise and take a chance, that what I have just said is wrong?
Perhaps I am! At which point, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain as you do.

But! If I am right, I still have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Whereas, you, if you choose to disbelieve and follow after the ways of the world and walk an aimless, half-hearted Christian life, then you gain nothing, and have everything to lose.
What Will You Choose? Whom Will You Serve?

When we are children, our parents put food in front of us to eat. We often choose to deliberately, decide we do not like it, without having first tried it, to see and decide that we do nor don not indeed like it. Sometimes we will try it, other times, we just ignore it, only later to regret our choices.

Will you regret the choice you have made about God?

So, today, I offer to you, to try Jesus Christ.
Perhaps in the past, you have made a decisive choice to reject Christ. Perhaps, today, it is time to try this food I offer up to you.
You will still have the choice afterwards too accept Him, or reject Him, once you have tried Him.

Do not, I warn you, let others influence your choice.
Do not, make a half-hearted decision.
One way or the other, the choice is up to you to make. One way or the other, the choice that you make will influence how you spend eternity.

It is your choice to make!

Do you choose life or death?

Will you chance and compromise and loose your rewards?

Will you gain or lose?

So make this day your choice. “Whom will you serve? “

Take a moment now with a sheet of paper and make two columns.

On one side write; Reasons Why I Should Serve the Lord.

On the other write, Reasons Why I should Serve the World.

If you find that you have more reasons to serve the world, then that is where your hearty truly is.

If on the other hand, you find more reasons to serve the Lord, then that is where you heart truly is.

If you have nearly as many reasons in one column as the other, then I suggest to you that perhaps you are walking about aimlessly, half –heartedly with the Lord.

I pray that you would have far more reasons to serve the Lord, than the world. And preferably, no reasons at all to serve the world.

Father in Heaven. I come before you today, and ask that you would help me to search my heart to determine truly where my heart is. I pray Father, that you would cause a stir in the hearts of all whom would read this sermon, and hear it, that you would work within their hearts, to search within themselves to find whom it is that they are following.

Father, the time is short, and your time to come to receive your own is not too far off.

Father, I pray that each and every one of my brothers, be found to be searching whole-heartedly after you. To be wanting and searching for you, to do only what is pleasing to you in your eyes.

Father, I pray that each and every one would walk after you and flee away from the ways of the world.

Father I pray that each and every one would be found worthy in your sight when they stand before you, to give an account, that their works would be found worthy, to be found without dross, to be found pure as gold, that you in turn would reward them with crowns of righteousness, and that you would say to them  “Well done, good and faithful servant…:enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Matt. 25:21 King James Bible

Amen

André B.

Message from André (Canada)


It is not too difficult to any well read individual or learned person to know that this earth is in one big mess. Though many may deny all is well, the truth is it's awful out there.
 
Everytime you read the newspaper or hear the news on the radio or t.v., the majority of the news is bad. We have terrorsts around the world wanting to destroy the ways of the free western societies. we have children and teenagers shooting their fellow students. Our own governments are turning their backs on the very people that have elected them into office. They do thier own thing, no longer serving & protecting the populace. It is not hard to see that the world is topsy turvy. What once was wrong is right, and what once was right is wrong. Even mothers, brothers, sisters, brothers etc. are killing their own.
 
So why should we be surprised as it says in Luke 21:26 26 "men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken"
 
In the context of this verse Jesus is foretelling how the heavens will shake just before His coming to judge the earth and men will be fearful and frightened to the point that they will be so scared that they will be having heart attacks and many will die. These are men and women who contiune to reject God and His ways, during the coming tribulation.
 
Likewise many today are rejecting God, rejecting the gospel mesage of Christ's saving grace because of the cross. And thus many are in great fear of all the trouble that is going on in the world.
 
Those who have placed thier hope in banks are watching thier wealth and riches collapse before the very eyes. Many vare losing thier jobs as the economy of the world is falling like a dominos castle. Families are arguing and fightin bceause there is no income because of the lost jobs.
 
People are losing the desire to live because they have placed thier hopes in the gods of this world. The Baals amoung us include moeny, possessions, heroes and movie stars. None of these things have the answers they are seeking so that they may have hope, peace and joy.
 
Consequently many are becomeing so depressed and discouraged to the point that they are listening to nthe tauntings of Satan as he whispers in thier ears that it is time to throw in the towel, time to quit life, give up and jump.
 
Many are doing just that. They are jumpimg off of tall buildings and bridges. They are committing suicide in mass numbers, and sadly taking many others with them.
 
Thier focus has been on thrmselves and the gods of this age, where there is no no hope, no promise of eternity in heaven with a God who loves them. This trajectly, is a sad reality.
 
If the gods of this age were the only answer, the only hope to this darkened world, I too would likely give up, party on for tomorrow we die.
 
But there is an answer which unfortunately too many have turned thier backs on because they do not want to believe in the only answer that truly does give then hope and trust.
 
Who ar what is the answer/ It is Jesus Christ! It is God, the author and maker of our lives! How do I know this/  Because many years ago I put my hope and trust in Him. And He has answerd my prayers. He has given me hope and trust. He has led me to the rock of ages, to the lige giving waters which only through Him can nourish my thirst.
 
Some may ask, how can I to receive this hope and trust. It is very simple. By reading the Holy Bible, believing that maybe this book has the answers for this worlds troubles. By reading it for the first time with an open mind, you to can see the truth and also receive Christs salvation, hope and trust. But you need to read and keep reading, believing that what it says is true. The Bible contains God's Word. He is the author of the Bible written by man through the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
 
 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 2 Tim. 3:16
 
When we follow, and obey His Word, then we too are inspired and are given the power to obey His commandments and lead the life He wishes us to live, and by so doing we have hope and trust in this life and we also trust that He will take us to live with Him eternall in a world that is not ME centered, but God centered.
 
I recently read and studied througj Psalm 119.In so doing I noticed that this Psalm is has a pattern of 8 lines per verse im each of it's 22 sections. And each section stresses a title or description of God's word. Meaning that each section talks about His laws, His testimonies, His ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, ordinances, judgementsa etc. Do you see the pattern here? There are all one and the same. They are His gude book for us to live a righteous and Holy ligfe that we may be happy now here on earth and into the eternal future which He has in store for us, if we but trust and obey.
 
If we turn from our own ways and follow His ways, then He promises us a world that is God centered, full of hope and trust in Him.
 
Unfortunately this Me centered world is on the way to it's final end when those who focus on themselves rather than on Him will meet the one whom they worship and not the one that they think they will see one day. Satan is waiting with open arms for these ME centered people. But as for me, I will follow the Lord.
 
See for your self what scripture says. Psalm 119 verse 1 reads.
 
1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
         Who walk in the law of the LORD
 
Read on and see if by reading and studying and by obeying that you to will not be blessed.    
 
 2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
         Who seek Him with the whole heart!
 3 They also do no iniquity;
         They walk in His ways.
 4 You have commanded us
         To keep Your precepts diligently.
 5 Oh, that my ways were directed
         To keep Your statutes!
 6 Then I would not be ashamed,
         When I look into all Your commandments.
 7 I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
         When I learn Your righteous judgments.
 8 I will keep Your statutes;
         Oh, do not forsake me utterly!
        
   This is only the first 8 lines read the rest. be encouraged and obey.
 
 
This hymn which I love and sing often is a great reminder of the need and joy we receive when we Trust and Obey,
Stanza 1:
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.



Refrain:
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.



Stanza 2:
Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.



(Refrain)



Stanza 3:
But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
For the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.



(Refrain)



Stanza 4:
Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we'll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do,
Where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.



(Refrain
 
Go forth my friends and have a good and Godly week, for what lasting value is a good week if it is also not a Godly week.

andré

(Trust and Obey: Text: John H. Sammis, 1846-1919, Music: Daniel B. Towner, 1850-1919)

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Feed My Sheep

I recently watched a movie about a church which had grown quite large, not only in attendance, but also financially. It had become not just a church, but a business with shareholders etc. With this huge growth it had visions of spreading globally so that the sermons and other outreach programs could be viewed world wide. It had visions of doing the Lord’s work by dumping big money into big projects to help lots of people at one time.

All this sounds wonderful, but it was a lost church. Much like some of the churches written in Revelations by the apostle John. Jesus said that they were rich in many ways, but they were also very poor, because they had lost their first love. The church in the movie looked great from the outside attempting to do the work of the Lord. It was a big church, with a big congregation, a big steeple on top, televised all across the nation and to other countries. Oh sure it was rich, but Jesus would say it was poor because it has lost it’s first love. It’s eyes were no longer on the Lord, but on itself. "Oh look how wonderful we are." they would say. "We do big breakfasts for the poor, we help many people around the world, feeding the poor, we are watched on TV around the world." This church had lost it’s first love. It was no longer the Lord, or His people, it served to increase the bankroll of it’s shareholders.


Jesus, while he walked on the earth after His resurrection, said to Peter three times; "Simon Peter, do you love Me (…) feed my sheep..." John 21:15-17 New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.


Whom are the sheep which Jesus was speaking of? Jesus was speaking about all the people all around Him. Feed these souls, Jesus was saying to Peter. Feed the young, feed the poor, the old, the destitute, the lost, the blind, the lepers etc. Feed them all Peter. Was He speaking of just their physical needs? No, He wanted Peter to feed their most important needs. He was asking Peter to meet their spiritual needs. He wanted Peter to show the people that all are lost, that all are in need of a Savior. That all are in need of repentance. He wanted the people to learn that they could be saved from their sins by believing on the work that Jesus did by dying on the cross in their place for their sins, for our sins.

And yes, He was also asking Peter to help meet their physical needs as well, but first and most importantly their spiritual needs needed to be fed first.

Jesus showed by example during his 3 years of ministry how we all are to look after others, to help meet both their physical and spiritual needs. In most cases when confronting others Jesus first turned the conversations to the people’s spiritual needs before He would meet their physical needs. He wanted to show then that they were in need of a savior, before He would meet their physical needs.

Compassion and love is the root to feeding the sheep. Sure you can fill people heads full of sermons and flowering speeches I big buildings. But wait. Stop ! Open up the church doors, and it’s windows. What do you see, what do you hear?

Walk out the doors and tell me what you see. Look across the street at those run down houses. What about that fellow over there curled in that cardboard box with clothes on that have not seen soap and water in so many years? What about that bag lady on the corner dragging one foot behind the other as she along all here material possessions in a small cart? There, look over there ! See that dude in the alley with a needle stuck in his arm? And look, over there, there’s Donnie sitting behind his favourite park bench with a brown bag clutched tightly as he takes a sip from the contents of a bottle within the bag.

Peter, do you love me, feed my sheep. Yes Lord, you know that I love you. Then feed my sheep Peter.
 
This is what is lacking in many churches today. They have forgotten the Lord’s command to: "Feed My sheep." Instead they build these great edifices, with sparkling windows, and tall impressive soiers with a cross on top. The churches doors are closed, and the donnies and the bag ladies are shunned and left outside. Feed my sheep !
 
Jesus was often found rebuking the Pharisees and the Saducees. For they to were much like the churches of today. They boasted how good and how great they were. They had no need of help from anyone, or anything. To lead and shepherd the lost in the synagogues. They thought themselves to be too good, to wealthy to be in need of a low life carpenter or to help the low lifes of their day.
 
Yes those on the inside are also in need of being fed, but the rich corporate churches of the day are neglecting the sheep outside and are instead filling the pews to make themselves look good, to fill the pocket books of it;s shareholders, much like then Pharisees whom wore rich clothing Lording it over the poor..
And what of you, yes you the individual whom though, yes you are in need of being fed, are you also going outside of your comfort zone and feeding the sheep? Did Jesus not command us all to go out into all the world and feed my sheep? Matt. 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15

It is not neccessary to board ships and planes and go preaching to the furthest ends of the earth to "Feed My Sheep". There are many out there already who are doing that. And great, it is need. But there are also very, very many right outside your back door, down the road, in the park, in the alleys etc. who are in need of being fewd. Feed My Sheep. Where are the sheep? They are evrywhere.
 
For Jesus said to His disciples; "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." Matt. 9:37 New International Version, ©2010

Friends, indeed the harvest is great. The signs of the times are showing that the time of Jesus's return to reap the harvest is near. Yet the field is still ripe. Few there are who will open the doors and Feed the Sheep.
 
You do not need to travel far. You do not need a great education, a doctorate in theology, be eloquent of speech. You only need the basic knowledge of the gospel, and the faith of a child to go forth and feed His sheep.
 
Will you sit in comfort in your church pews, or will you go out and feed the sheep? The need is great. There are many ways of ministering God's Word by way of mouth, pen, Internet, foot etc. Let your imagination and the leading of the Holy Spirit and the faith of a child encourage you to go forth and FEED HIS SHEEP!  
 
WHAT SAY YOU !

andré (Canada)

As for Me and My House

All throughout scripture we are admonished to discipline ourselves to live a godly life, not a worldly life. Yes, we live in the world, but the ways of the world, (the ways of the ungodly), are not the ways of God. They lead to destruction. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6:23 KJV

The author of the Proverbs reminds us that, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Prov. 14:12 KJV

In fact the proverbs are replete with comparisons of the ways of the righteous and the ways of the unrighteous. They are replete with the ways of good and evil.
We would do well to meditate upon the scriptures. To meditate on the scriptures is to stop. To consider, think, weigh in the balance of its words, upon the Word of God.

To meditate upon scripture is not trhe same as the pagans who meditate in a trance like state, in an attempt to reach a higher state of consciousness, which in fact are doing nothing more than making contact with the Demon Spirits, whom fill their minds with the contrary ways of God. Thus these adherents to occultic or not, meditations, do the will of Satan rather than the will of God.

In contrast to those who meditate on scripture, on the ways of God, they do not go into a trance like state, filling their minds with ungodly thoughts, but instead consider and fill their minds with the ways and Word of God. Those who do so consider and balance the rewards of following and obeying God, rather than following and obeying Satan. The reward of those who meditate on God and His ways is eternal life with Jesus Christ. On the contrary, the gift, the reward for those whom follow after the ways of Satan is darkness, separated eternally from God, with Satan, with no chance of ever crossing over the chasm from darkness to light.

Jesus spoke more on hell in our scriptures than on heaven to give us a warning of what will befall those whom follow after Satan, rather than Himself. Jesus uses the story of the rich man and of Lazarus to contrast and show us what is the final destiny of all of us. We have one of two choices to make before we draw our last breath here on earth. We have the choice to either follow the ways of God, or the ways Satan. Whichever choice we make, will determine our eternal destiny, either heaven or hell.

The choice is simple. To follow the ways of God leads us to and eternity living in the presence of God eternally, with a renewed heavenly body, to no more suffer pain, sickness, death and misery. The opposite choice is to suffer an eternity forever banished from the presence of God with no chance to ever cross the chasm between heaven and hell. To live in eternal darkness, in pain of agony, thirst and discomfort.

Read for yourself the account Jesus gives of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Here we see in detail the eternal rewards of the choices we make while we still draw breath here on earth, on this side of eternity. At death we read that Lazarus whom we can infer was a righteous man, was lifted up to the bosom of Abraham ( representing eternity in heaven) Jesus says that now, Lazarus is comforted (Luke 16: 25). That is that, whereas, Lazarus while on earth suffered from pain, sickness and disease, from persecution, and bad treatment from the wealthy of the world. But at death, he was immediately taken to the Bosom of Abraham, to heaven, to live eternally with his reward in the everlasting presence of God, of Jesus.

However, the rich man whom sought the ways of the world, who sought to reap the riches and pleasures of life on earth, upon his last breath was rewarded eternally to Hades upon his last breath. Luke 16:23. Here, he is no longer in comfort, but is in eternal torment of pain and agony, thirsty forever, unable to have his thirst quenched. This is the reward of those whom seek and lust after the ways of the world, whom seek after the pleasures of the world. These are the rewards of those whom meditate on the ways of Satan, rather than the ways of God.


1 Tim. 4:7-16 shows us also so clearly that those whom follow and obey the teachings, the doctrines of God, will be eternally rewarded to, not a hope, but a promise of everlasting life with God. 1 Tim. 4:7 says: “But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness." (KJV) If we were to turn this on its side we would read; "Have nothing to do with the ungodly ways of the world."

Following this verse are instructed to discipline yourselves for godliness, for we are told that if we discipline ourselves following the ways of the world, seeking after it’s temporary pleasures, it profits us but for a short time. Whereas if we discipline ourselves for godly living, it holds a promise for things (eternal) things to come in heaven.

Therefore my brethren, may I implore you, may I beseech you to meditate daily on the ways and things of God. And once you understand, and obey there teachings therein scripture, know this, that your eternal reward will be alongside of Lazarus, forever comforted.

So, what is your choice? "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15 KJV

André


The Root and the Vine



I love the analogy of the root and the vine used by Jesus in His describing what the kingdom of God is like. I have in the past work in orchards and vineyards and on occasion still do some work on apple trees and vineyards. It is so important that the trees and vines be pruned, thinned, fertilized etc. For when these things are done, there is a wonderful, plentiful crop produced. But if we do not, the crop eventually withers and the produce grows small and eventually the tree and the vine dies.
 
Likewise, we to need a spiritual pruning etc to grow stronger and closer to Him. For if we do not, we to fall, and eventually will grow away from Him.
 
Thanks for hanging in there and allowing us along with Him, in His leading, strength and direction to be vessels to help you to grow.

André

ESV Audio Widget

Philippians 3:17-20

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I often ponder one of the most important questions, that we as individuals will ever need to ask ourselves on this side of eternity. And that question is; "What is it precisely that gets me into the portals of heaven, and not into the doors of hell.?" I recall watching a play many years ago at a church in Kelowna British Columbia Canada. It was called Heavens Gates, Hells Bells, or something like that. The play was about how two different groups of teens spent their Saturday night, and the consequences of what they did that night. One group did what many of us have done in the past on the weekend. They partied hardy, got thoroughly liquored up and then left the party Foolishly the driver of the car was drunk and as can be expected the car was involved in a crash, killing the driver and a few of the other passengers. Before crashing, none of them had ever given much thought or consideration as to their eternal destiny, or of God.

Before or after this sequence, we see a different group of youths who belonged to a youth group in a church . This group of kids spent the night studying scripture, playing games etc at church. They to were involved in a car crash in which some of them were killed.

Within this same play we see the eternal destiny of these two different groups of youths. The church group were led to heavens gates. On the other hand, the partiers, who were drinking and whom had died in a car crash were received into the welcoming arms of Satan’s demons through the portals of hell, forever in pain, forever in thirst.

So, hat or whom determines the direction of ones eternal destination? Why should some fun loving, party hardy kids be destined for the dark pits of hell, while the other group of kids, who were not partying, be destined and welcomed into the arms of God’s angels in heaven? Is it fate, is it the luck of the draw, the roll of cosmic dice that determines our eternal home after we flat-line, drawing our last breath? What is the separating factor, or question that will put us in one place or the other for all eternity?

Many have pondered and asked these same questions over the centuries. Many have written books. Many have different ideas and theories. Can there be many different answers that are true? Is there an absolute truth to this most important question? Or does our may different beliefs really matter, do they differ as to what one book says is true as compared to another? Is ones truth equally right as another? Or is there only one true answer?

Part of the Holy Bible was written hundreds of years before any other faiths of man were ever thought of. Do these ancient writing explain and tell us who or what determines our eternal destiny, if indeed there is one? If I believe another answer, does that negate the scriptures of God? Is my different belief more true or just the plain truth, as compared to the Words of the Holy Bible? If I believe one thing, does it mean that what I believe is right and all other beliefs are wrong?

If Bob is nearly completely blind, and colour blind on top of that, and if he says that the sky is green, does that mean that the truth of the matter mean that the sky is indeed green, and not blue? If I say that 2+2=4, but Tom says that 2+2= 9, is Tom’s answer right, or as equally right as mine? Is my answer wrong? Can there be more than right answer to the same questions as these?

It would be absurd to believe that the answer to 2+2=4 is anything but 4. And yet many would have us to believe that just because they believe that God does not exist , He therefore does not exist, He therefore is not ! That is just as absurd as to believe that 2+2=5. And that anyone else’s belief is also wrong.

God has proven Himself in Scripture quite thoroughly. Rom. 1:19-23. Ps. 14:1;3:1 says "The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”." New International Version, ©2010 (NIV)


Therefore if scripture is true, and if the words written with are true, and if the Bible says that there is only one way to heaven and God, then it must be so. And if that is correct then what God says is true about who or what determines our eternal destiny, if there is one, then that also must be true. So what does the Bible say?

Eph. 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 is a good starting place to search out this most important question. Please read them.

Hmmm, well I see through these verses that nothing I can do on my own will get me to heaven. Being good or good enough will not se me through the portals of heaven. Attending church will not get me there, giving all my money to charity will get me there, or any other thing which I can conceive in my mind will ever get me through those heavenly portals.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Then what is the standard to get me there? Rom. 3:23 tells me ; "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (King James Version). We all miss the standard, we all miss the mark that God alone has set as the way to Him. Oh My! Paul tells us in Rom. 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (King James Version). Again going by the words of Eph. 2:8-9, there is nothing I can do on my own to get me into heavens gates. Oh Ohhhhhhhhhhh!

So How then can I ever get there? Is there any way? Am I eternally doomed to the darkness of hell eternally?

If we were to take time to study further into scripture, we will find that like it is here on earth, God also has laws by which He wants us to live. So, perhaps if I were to simply obey God’s laws, I would be ushered into heaven. Rom. 3:19-20 says: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin." (New International Version, ©2010)

So therefore, it is by the knowledge of the Law that I can know what sin is. His laws tell me what sin is and that if I do not obey them, I am a sinner, still outside of heavens portals, knocking unable to get in. 1 John 3:4 clearly confirms what sin is. Again Rom. 7:7 tells me that I can know what sin is because of God’s Laws.

We are given in the Old Testament 10 Basic commandments (Laws), revealing exactly what is right and what is wrong by way of these 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:1-7 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

And if we read elsewhere, we learn that we can be free if mwe follow and obey God’s Laws. Free that is, because if we obey them, then we find that God’s Laws protect us from harm in many ways. But if we disobey them, then we find that our obstinate behavior will lead us to harm, perhaps to sickness or maybe even death.

For example we are told not to commit adultery. That is that we are to have sex only within the confines of marriage between one man and one woman only. To do otherwise is to face the possibility of getting sexual diseases and perhaps even death. So if we stay within the parameters of God’s Laws, we are free to live a life free of harm. God’s Laws therefore keep us safe and free to enjoy life without harmful consequences. Traffic laws do the same for us.

As I read through all 10 commandments, I must admit that I have broken nearly all, if not all of them at least once in my life and therefore according to these laws, I am a sinner, not worthy of entering into the eternal joy of heaven.

We can try to hide our sins, but God who knows all and sees all is not fooled. Numbers 32:23; Heb. 4:13. All of our sins to God are as a stench in His nostrils. Isaiah 64:6

Perhaps you think that I am okay, I am pretty good because I have maybe only broken one law ever. Therefore I am good enough to get into heaven. NOT !!!!!!!!!! James 2:10 tells us otherwise: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (King James Version)

Oh Myyyyyyyyyy !!!!!!!!! It seems like I will never get to heaven because I cannot abide and obey His laws on my own.

Be good, religious etc. doesn’t cut it neither. Matt. 7:21-23 It does not get us into heaven.

How surprised many will be on judgment day when Jesus judges them and condemns them to enter the gates of hell. We have learned that being good, nor our good deeds will get us into heaven. Nothing we can do on our own merit will get us there no matter how good we think we are. Is. 64:6 tells us that all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags to God. They just don’t cut the mustar.



A pair of street evangelists in the U.S. have a unique way pointing out that we are all sinners, and that not one of us, including myself is worthy according to God’s standards, of entering into God’s rest, into the eternal gates of heaven. They approach folks in big city U.S.A. on the street, and engage them in to conversations regarding this question as to where does one go on the other side of eternity. How do I get there, am I good enough, does my good works out weigh my bad deeds? Am I good enough to get into heaven by being good/
They eventually bring their questioners to the 10 commandments. And then they will have them state categorically whether they are a thief, a liar, adulterer etc. by stating the 10 commandments alone. By these standards each individual if being honest, will yes I have lied, stolen committed adultery etc. And by Gods written word, we also have to admit that if we have committed any of these sins even once, we are guilty as charged and are therefore not worthy of entering into heaven. Each one of us has at one time or another committed each and every one of these sins. I myself would have to admit, that according to God’s standards, that I too have at one time or another committed each and everyone of these sins at least once in my life. Therefore I to am a liar, a thief, adulterer etc. Sorry guys, I too am a sinner, not worthy of entering into God’s glory. That’s a fact. For all have sinned …. Rom.3:23 KJV

So am I doomed for all of eternity into the pits of hell? Is there a way out? Is there a loophole I can use, a lawyers trick I can use to wham-doozle the Lord with?

Please allow me to suggest that God has made a way of escape Himself.

It is purported that W.C. Fields, just before he died, was found by a friend to be flipping through the Bible. This friend asked him what he was doing. W.C. Fields answered "I am looking for loopholes." He knew full well God’s standards, because God has placed His laws within all of our hearts. We all know truthfully that we are all sinners worthy of being sent to hell. Yet, so many think that they can find a way out, a way to by-pass God’s judgment and making it safely to heaven, just like the runner who rounds 2nd basement on the way to home base as he slides in on his belly, stretching out his fingers and touches home plate just in time from being tagged out.

Sorry Pal, it ain't gonna work.There is one way and only one way to heaven. No loopholes. Well what then? Is. 45:22 begins to put the final piece in the puzzle.

God tells us there is only one name by which we may be saved. Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (King James Version) And what is that name ? 1 Tim. 2:5 tells us. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (King James Version). Those who reject Jesus Christ as the only way will not be known by the Father God, but they that accept and acknowledge Him, the same will see the Fathers face. 1 John 2:23

The life is found in no other but the Son. 1 John 5:11-12

Them that believe are not condemned to hell, but them that do not believe are already condemned. John 3:18

We are told explicitly that , if we do not believe we shall die in our sins. John 5:24:b

There is only one way to the Father and that through Jesus John 14:16

What makes Jesus, and Jesus alone the only way to the Father into heavens glorious gates? It all boils down to something that sounds detestable to our 20th century minds. It is by way of a blood sacrifice that Jesus and Jesus alone is the only way.

God used in Old Testament times the blood of animals to atone, to cover, to pay the penalty for the sins of the people of the day. An animalsmshed blood was the replacement for the payment of sins. God has determined that by the shedding blood and by blood alone sins can be forgiven. Lev. 17:11

Remember the Exodus, when God told the people to paint their door posts with the blood of an animal to cover for the sins of the people. Because He was going to pass over Egypt that night and pass judgment on the Egyptian people, especialy on Pharoh, for not obey His command to let His people go and go to worship out in the wilderness. This was a foreshadow of what Jesus would do by the shedding of His blood on the cross in the New Testament, to atone for the sins of the people of all time. This is the reason that Jewish people celebrate The Day of Atonment ( Yom Kippur) once a year. This celebration looks back to the exodus when God freed His people from Egyptian bondage. It looks back to God showing that freedom from sins is only gained mby the shedding of blood. It is sad that many Jews today do not see the connection between the exodus and what Jesus has done.

John upon seeing Jesus approach the Sea of Galilee, knew whom Jesus was when he said ; "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29 (New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

Jesus is the perfect blood sacrifice for the atonement of sins.

This is confirmed by Peter 1 Pet. 1:18,19; "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.)


The writer of Hebrews attests to this, that it is by the shedding of blood, that without out, there is no remission, no atonement, no payment of sins.

Peter again points to Jesus as the Lamb of God paying the penalty of sins with His shed blood. 1 Pet. 2:24-25

God demanded a perfect sacrifice. If Jesus were but a sinful man, like us, His blood would not have been good enough  to pay the penalty of our sins, and therefore if that had been the case, He too would have been sent permanently to the grave with no possibility of having His sins forgiven, and we to would none to have paid for our sins, thus we to would be forever condemned to hell.

Yes, He to was tempted to sin, as we all are, Yet, He did not sin. Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22,23

Jesus was the perfect, sinless Lamb of God. He never sinned, not once. This is how He could be the perfect, blameless Lamb of God. He alone is the perfect atonement, paying the price for our sins.

Several Old Testament passages written hundreds of years before Jesus was born in a manger, pointed ahead to this testimony. Read for yourselves Ps. 22; Jer. 31;31-34; Daniel 9:24-27; Prov. 30:4 and many more.

Knowing this truth, and believing it fully in your heart and mind Jesus said would set you free.

There is only one truthand He is the Truth. That is Truth. John 14:6. There is no other way by which we can be received into the Fathers loving arms after we draw our last breath.

Jesus, and Jesus alone is the only pathway to heaven. Any other attempted way is fruitless. Matt. 7:13-14 There is only one truth, and only one truth. There is no ther, no matter what any other may say, or believe.

There are a lot of wrong answers and beliefs, but only one true path, only one true Messiah, only one true Jesus, only one way of salvation, only one true way to the Fathersom in heaven. Jesus and Jesus alone is the one and only true way. He paid and paved the way for you and me.

If we wish to get there, we must walk in His light. 1 John 1:7

Only His blood and His blood alone can cleanse us from all of our sins.



Stop now and consider all of this. Stop and reason says God, and see if you will not also believe and allow Him to cleanse you from all of your sins. Is. 1:18

Charles Spurgeon said; "The heart of Christ became like a reservoir in the midst of the moutains. All tributary streams of iniquity and every drop of the sins of his people, ran down and gathered into one vast lake, deep as hell and shoreless as eternity. All these met, as it were, in Christ dear heart and He endured them all."

Again Charles Spurgeon said; "The marvel of heaven and earth, of time and eternity, is the atoning death of Jesus Christ. This is the mystery that brings more glory to God than all creation.”

That my friends deserves a BIG KING SIZED AMEN.

Again there is nothing, nothing at all that we can do, to be good enough to make our own way to heaven.

Read the account of the crucifiction and see if this not fit and fill in the last piece of the puzzle. Luke 23:33-49

Each one of us is like one of the thieves on either side of Him o the cross. Which one are you? One threw insults and was condemneed that day. The other asked to be remebered that day. He entered into paradise that day.

Repentance and placing our faith and trust in the works of Jesus Christ on the cross is the only way to get to heaven. These are not my words. These are the words of scripture.

We each have a choice to make before we draw our last breath. No one can make that choice for you. However, whatever you choose to do with Jesus will determine where you will spend eternity.

Once you choose to believe and accept His shed blood as the only way to have your sins forgiven, then your sins are forever blotted out as if they never were. Your sins debt then is once and forever paid for, in full by the precious blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

This is a free choice, a free gift with no strings attached. It's yours to accept or reject.

By believing and accepting this wonderful free gift, we have the promise, that as He was raised from the grave to glory, we to have the promise of resurrection to life eternal because of what He has done for us. 1 Cor. 15:1-19


Blaise Pascal, the great mathematician and philosopher suggested that if we live as if as if there is am God, it ia s better wager than living as if there is no God. Here is the full written statement.

If you live as if God doesn't exist and you are right, you just die and go to the grave. But if you live as if God doesn't exist and you are wrong, you go into eternity in hell and misery. Conversely, if you live as if God does exist and you are wrong, then you would die and go to the grave. But if you live as if God does exist and you are right, you have just hit the jackpot for an eternity in heaven.

That's a wager worth pondering on. It's a gamble perhaps wrth betting on. Think about it!

So, gamble if you wish and behave as if God does not exist, and live a hellion life and see if you a winner or not. It will take only your very last breath to know forsure if you are wrong or right. Take a chance if like on this most important lottery.

It is said that 100 % of people die. Thus far to this date it has never been proven false. We all die. What is your choice? Will you take a chance by rolling the dice, by playing Russian Roulette?

We never know for sure when we will die and draw our last breath. It could happen right now, 10 seconds from now, tonight, tomorrow, next week, next year. Will you wait and gamble mthat perhaps God does not exist and live as if He does not? Will you not at least taste and see?

One of my brothers once said that he will wait and check it later. Well, he died a few years later in a car crash. Whether he accepted Jesus's free gift or not I will not know until Christ takes us home. But my guess is he gambled and lost. Will you?

So gamble if you wish. What is your decision? Hells gate are wide open awaiting for you to come on down. But the only other alternative is heavens gates and the waitng arms of Jesus in heaven.

Your last breath awaits your answer! What will you do with that most important question? What will you do with Jesus.

Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick,-------------------------------------------!

P.S. John 3:16 is a short version containing the Gospel message. Look at it, study it out Word for Word and see.



Now the time is running out. You have just used up several more minutes of you life. Your last breath is amfew more minutes closer than it was a little while ago.

The time is running down towards eternity.



TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, ---------------------------------------------------------------


André

CK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, ------------------------------------------------------------------

No Spirit of Fear!


Sometimes life gets tough and we get down on ourselves and beat up on ourselves. Satan loves that because he sees you being defeated, then he works on you to believe the lie that God has abandoned you. Don't believe it. God loves you more than we can even begin to imagine. His love to us is immeasurable. If the scriptures are true and sure, and it says in scripture that He loves us and will... " never leave thee, nor forsake thee. " Heb. 13:5 (King James Version).

Satan will try to make you believe the opposite is true if you let him. Don't believe the lies and don't let yourself down by beating up on yourself. Trust Him whom is true and sure.
 
Yes, be a fighter, only losers quit. You are not a loser, for God made you in His image
"for in the image of God has God made mankind." Genesis 9:6 (New International Version, ©2010)
 
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7 (King James Version)
 

God Bless
 
André

But(t)-Christians


Or: What’s wrong with a but(t)?

Wouldn’t that be a topic to preach on? Imagine the announcement in the Church bulletin: This Sunday Rob is going to preach on but(t)s…LOL! So move your butts to the Church and – well, you get the picture…LOL


So what is this all about?


1) “God loves you, but…”

Haven’t we all heard or used Christian commonplaces like this one before: “God loves you, but He loves you too much to let you stay this way”.

Is there anything wrong with that statement?

Well, yes and no. First, we might think about the attitude of our heart when we say things like that. How do we really feel towards that person and why do we hide it behind a “but”? What problem are we ourselves having with accepting God’s unconditional love? Why does there have to be a “but” attached?

Remember the woman caught in adultery (John 8). Jesus stood up for her, saved her life and told her He did not condemn her, and from now on she should go, and stop sinning. All of that before (!) she even said that she repented of her sins! Yes, changing your ways is part of repentance, but [there you have it again…lol] God’s love comes first – and He loves. Even more so: He is love. If we want to reach out to the lost, we need to first convey the message that God loves them. Period. Everything else comes next, as soon as they come to the point that they can accept God’s love. However, if we attach a “but” to it, we sound pretty self-righteous (we have it all together and tell them what to do, something they have probably heard quite a lot already). This kind of love does not lead us - and them - anywhere. Yes, love needs to be tough love sometimes and we do not help people if we do not tell them the truth. Actually, it is not an “either/or”, but a “both”. First of all, however, we all need to learn that God’s love comes before everything else – with no attachment at all. He even gave His Son to die for us – without any “but” attached. Jesus did not ask those He died for before He came down if they repented and changed their ways. He first showed us His unconditional love – even and especially for those who were against Him. Let’s love other people like Jesus and make the Christian faith so attractive to them through our own example that they would like to have it as well.


2) “We love the sinner, but hate the sin!”

Even though I used this statement as well in the past, I grew to dislike it a lot in the course of time. Again: At first look, there is nothing wrong with it. If you think about what might be behind it, however, things are different.

Let’s start backwards: “We hate the sin”. Again: this sounds really self-righteous. The good Christians and the bad sinners. What about the sin in our own lives (I have heard a 100 % of Christians are sinners as well!)? Would we be just as thankful and would we feel blessed if other people confronted our sins much the same way? Ah right, there are sins and sins. And, of course, our sins are different. They are not as bad as the sins of that other dude who really sinned big time. Are they not?

If we “hate the sin”, what does that exactly mean? Do we take the necessary steps to get rid of all of our own sins as well? How do we help other people not to sin? Do we confront sin in the Church or do we think it is none of our business what other people do with their lives? How do we approach sinners and how do we help them to repent, change their ways and come back to Jesus?

So we “love the sinner”. Do we? When have we shown a sinner (again: who is not a sinner?) the last time, that we loved him? How did we do that? What does “love” mean to us? If it is true that our love for others should reflect the love that Jesus has for us (unconditional and self-sacrificial), have we ever (!) really loved anybody like that? Have we ever shown through our own example what love for a Christian is all about? Have we ever made Christianity so attractive others would want it as well? Have we ever loved others so much that we put them with their bad deeds to shame? Have we made a point to show those that we do not get along well with, those who do us wrong, those who are not nice to be around with, that we love them – REALLY love them? With no “but” attached? Or have we been “smarty pants” or “I know it all”-folks who have it all together and tell others what they need to do? Not that there is anything wrong with exhorting people (we even need to do that!), it is more the attitude of our own heart when we do that what I want to point out here. Has our motivation, has our heart really been at the right place when we said things like that? Was our intention more to stand out as the good Christian who says nice things to those bad sinners (even though there might not have been any practical consequences following those nice words), to sound super-spiritual and extra-Christian? To use Christian commonplaces without much practical meaning? Was our motivation really to humbly love others as Christ would or to soothe our own nagging conscience with nice-sounding words?


3. “I am a Christian, but…”

Another version of the “but” attached to some statements. Usually used in the context of compromise. Like: “I am a Christian, but I do not believe that divorce is against God’s commandments” or “I am a Christian, but not a fanatic. You need to have some fun sometimes, right? Sure God understands that.” or “I am a Christian, but you can’t take all what’s in the Bible literally. There has to be some common sense and modern science has shown us that we have to see what’s in there with a different point of view now. Sure the writers of the Bible would write something else today, had they known what we know now”.

Sounds familiar?

It is always good to “be a Christian”, but when it comes to the point that this might have practical consequences for our lives, that’s another story. We always find good excuses why we can do whatever we want to do – even though this clearly is against God’s commandments. If the Bible does not fit our ways, we interpret it so long it does. Or we build up our own moral standard and put together our own spiritual “package”, mixed with different believes (sometimes even from different religions) and our own wishes and preferences.

Fr. Bill Casey once warned His congregation in a sermon to watch out for those “buts” and to not go to hell on their “butts”!

He sure had a good point there!


So let’s check our own heart and make sure we follow the Lord and His commandments – with no “but” attached – and love others as He does – also with no “but” attached!

Sure, we are all members of one body, yet we don’t need to be the “butts”, right?

Rob

Appearances

In ancient China it is said that during the 3rd to 5th century B.C. there was a state called QI. The king was fond of listening to music played on a Yu, a wind instrument. He brought together a band of 300 players. Every day at tea time the band was called to play the Yu for his majesty. One of the player, a Mister Nan Guo, knew nothing about playing the instrument, but by pretending to play the instrument he was believed to be a part of the orchestra. No one knew the truth.
 
Finally the king died and the prince became the king. But the new king did not enjoy hearing an orchestra, but preferred the sound of solo players. Gradually he called each musician to play before him solo. The time came for Nan Guo to play and of course he was found out to be what he really was.
 
This story is likened to the parable of the wheat and the tares told by Jesus. (Matthew 13:24-30) There are those in the kingdom of earth who appear to be playing the Yu, who appear to be Christians by their walk and talk. But  the time will come for them to show whom they really are.
 
Unger says that in the Holy land there is a tare (weed) called the "bearded darnel," which is a poisonous grass. Apparently it looks very much like the wheat which grows there. Side by side it is very hard to tell them apart. But when they are matured it is easy to tell them apart.
 
Also apparently the roots of the darnel intertwine with the roots of the wheat. That is why the farmer ordered his workers not to rip out he tares until it was time to harvest. Otherwise the roots of the wheat would be damaged likely killing the wheat.
 
While we await our Lord's coming, we are commanded to; " Let our lights so shine...." Matt 5:16  Jesus said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (King James Version)
 
So how about you? Are you playing the Yu in the orchestra, pretending to be a follower of the Lord, or are you truly playing the Yu so that "your light may so shine before men?"
 
 
When the Lord comes and separates the tares from the wheat, which one will you be, the tare or the wheat?
 
I would pray that you all will be gathered together with Him to eat at the Feast of  Lamb  where He will say to you; "Well done, good and faithful servant; (…) enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25:23. King James Version)
 
There are so many people in this world who put on the appearances of how they want others to see them You may be able to fool them, but before Jesus you will seen to be whom you really are
 
So may I encourage you to study your lessons, study scripture, pray in all things continually and to play the Yu in the orchestra so that you will be found to be a good and faithful servant seated with Him at the Feast of the Lamb.
 
God Bless

André

How is your walk with God doing these days?

Scripture tells us that Enoch walked with God. Gen. 5:24 What does it mean to walk with God? How does one walk with God?

When you are Friends with someone, you usually spend lots of time with them. You will often like doing many things that they also like doing. And you will spend a lot of quality time doing things together. To develop a friendship with someone you need to spend time walking and talking with them as well.

However in order to become Friends with someone you need also to earn their respect. That is, the way you behave will show them if you are a man of integrity. A man of integrity is a man whom is honest, trustworthy, reliable etc. You will never earn ones respect if you are a liar, cheat, unreliable, dishonest etc.

What is integrity after all you may ask?   You could say that Integrity is to ha good moral values, to be righteous, honest, trust worthy, reliable, to always do what is right. I recently had a talk about this word with my young Sunday School students. We decided that a definition is how others view you in the way you behave at work, play, school etc in all situations and at all times.
 
Enoch, we are told walked with God. We could say that in another way. We could say that Enoch walked with Integrity.He had good morals. He practised at doing what is right. He was not in the habit of lying, stealing, cheating, arguing etc. He practised at being a righteous man. Was he perfect, did he never sin/ Certainly not. Only one man ever born on earth was perfect in all ways. That man was Jesus Christ. Rom 3:23 tells us: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (King James Version), Nor do any do good, Rom. 3:12.

But my guess is that Enoch must have been a really good man in that he practised at doing what is right at all times. God must have thought him as someone very special because it says in scripture Gen.5: "And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (King James Version)


David in Ps. 15:1-5 wrote about one who walks or has fellowship with God (someone whom dwells in the presence of God)

 1 LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
         Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
         
 2 He who walks uprightly,
         And works righteousness,
         And speaks the truth in his heart;
 3 He who does not backbite with his tongue,
         Nor does evil to his neighbor,
         Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
 4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
         But he honors those who fear the LORD;
         He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
 5 He who does not put out his money at usury,
         Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
         
         He who does these things shall never be moved.

New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.


Therefore when one dies, nothing bad can be said about them, and thus it was with Enoch.

Years ago people walked about wearing a bracelet that had the initials WWJD, meaning what would Jesus do. In every circumstance of their lives, the principle was to think and do what is the right thing to do, just as Jesus would.


To walk with God is to keep your word no matter what. If you made a promise to your mom to do a chore and you later change your mind because you learn that a friend was going to the beach or something, you should still do what you said you would do first. To do otherwise dishonours yourself. When it becomes a habit to not do what you say you are going to do, you will soon lose the trust of friends and family.

To walk with God is help others in need without expecting a reward and to do so before you are even asked for help. I have a saying in regard to this. "A friend is a friend to a friend indeed, when a Friend is a friend to a Friend in need."

To walk with God is to represent yourself in everyday life, in every situation pleasing God, to do what is righteous in all situations in all you say and do, at work, at play, at home etc. I often pray asking God to help me be pleasing to Him today. It helps, believe me.

People are always watching what you are doing and ssaying, especially when you are a Christian. It is sad that there are so many so-called Christians who behave badly giving the name of Christians a bad rap because of the way they behave. As the saying goes, "It only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch."

How do others see you? Do you steal small things like elastic bands from work? Do you tell little white lies to get yourself out of something you would really not want to do? Do you swear like a sailor at work all week long, but praise the Lord with those same lips on Sunday? It should not be so it says in James.

How do you shape up before the eyes of the Lord? Does he not see and know all you say and do all week long/ What is His view of you? How do you measure up in integrity before His eyes? Does He see a man whom is walk with Him?

Do you really think that you can fool Him? God is not mocked.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” Gal. 6:7 (King James Version)

For whatever you do in the flesh seeks its reward.

A man reaps what he sows.

“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Gal. 6:8 (King James Version)

So, are you walking as Enoch, walking with God, or are you walking in the flesh seeking the temporary rewards, pleasures of the flesh and therefore also receiving the reward of God for what you have done in the flesh?


Do you see the end of the above passage? "he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. "

That should be your goal. That should be the reward you are seeking. So therefore my brothers, seek ye first the kingdom of God and walk with Him.

God Bless

André

Don't Compare Yourself with Others

Be careful to not compare yourself with others. That is a good time for the dark side to fill your mind with the lies and deceits. You are perfect in the eyes of God.It is quite likely that many of them do not have a good marriage. We all look great at parties all duded up and wearing our plastic smiles, but as the song writer once sang: "who knows what goes on behind closed doors." All is bright and rosy behind rose coloured glasses, take them off and she don't look so good after all. Look rather to Him and see yourself as he says you and walk in His ways and be uplifted by Him, not by the world standards.
 
Remember that the standards of the world are as filthy rags to God. So strive rather to compare to Him and search to be like Him, not people.
 
God Bless and have a great and Godly week
 
Andre

Lukewarm...

 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16, King James Version)

Be Not

Let this verse be your daily motto as you wake up in the morning till your last waking moment of the night as you fall asleep. If you heed by this verse, it may well help you not to back slide and fall into sin.

 
Andre

 
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Romans 12:2 (King James Version)

Who Are We?

"He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:39 (King James Version)

We must know who we are before we know what to do, when to do it, where to go, and how it's done. Identity is a first step in the Christian life. Before Jesus' public ministry, the Father proclaimed Jesus His beloved Son in Whom He was well pleased (Mt 3:17). As soon as Peter recognized Who Jesus was, Jesus announced to Peter: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18 (King James Version).

Paul repeatedly told believers who they were. He called us the holy ones, the chosen ones, the adopted sons and daughters of the Father (Eph 1:1-5). We are the redeemed, the forgiven, the gifted of God (Eph 1:7-8). Likewise Peter proclaimed: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;" (1 Pt 2:9. King James Version).

The first question in life is: "Who is Jesus?" The second is: "Who am I?" All the questions of life are based on these first two. Jesus asks each one of us: "Who do you say that I am?" (Mt 16:15 (New International Version, ©2011))

When we recognize Jesus as Lord and Messiah, we reverse the situation and ask Him, "Who do You (Jesus) that say I am?" We tell Jesus who He is, then He tells us who we are.

The Christian life is a struggle to believe in our God-given identity. It is an identity crisis. Our heavenly Father tells us the truth about Jesus and ourselves while the devil tells us lies. For example, after the Father proclaimed from the heavens that Jesus is His beloved Son, the devil's first words in tempting Jesus were: "If you are the Son of God..." (Lk 4:3 (New International Version, ©2011)).

In the same way, the devil tempts us to doubt our identity. He substitutes question marks for God's periods and often adds the word "if," but the Father through Jesus tells us who we are, and this is confirmed by the Spirit.

Father, may we not be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewal of our minds in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:2).


THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Andre

Obedience

Obedience is another Word that is stressed in scripture, We are commanded throughout to obey some 141 times throughout scripture. Why would we be asked to obey? When at home with your family you were expected to obey your parents. Why?  Because though we thought we knew better, they knew better and knew that in obeying them, they were teaching us values that would be profitable for our lives, now and future. And also by obeying them we were protected for injury one way or the other. Likewise, God in teaching us to obey is protecting us and teaching us values that will influence and keep us in Him for now and into eternity. And also in obeying Him He is protecting us physically from harm one way or another.
 
This is the key to living in Him. To be a Christian is not a matter of following rules and be fearful of a heavenly Father who holds a big stick above our heads. The Key to being a Christian, is to have a personal relationship with Him. When you are in a personal relationship with someone on earth, you are as a rule, doing all you can to be please to that one. Likewise, when we are in a personal relationship with Christ we ought to do what is pleasing to Him. And in so doing, He rewards us with treasures on earth and in heaven and much more joyful life as we walk the walk, and not just talk the talk.
 
So my friend, go forward this coming week, and enter into a close fellowship with Him, and watch and see how He draws to you.
 
Go with Him and have a great week.
 
Andre

Love the Unlovable

One of the greatest lessons we all need to to learn is to love the unlovable. We are all at times, frankly, jerks. And we all at times behave badly and treat others horribly. Thanks be to God, that He does not treat us the same way that we treat others who abuse us in one way or another. It always impresses and amazes me how Jesus behaved when He was led to the cross  and hung there. As is said, He could have called down a thousand angels to defend Him, but He said not a word in anger or in defense of Himself though He was likely the most mistreated, most abused person ever for having done not a single thing wrong ever in His entire existence on earth. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 3:5
 
Hold fast to your faith, studying and meditating daily in His Word. 2 Tim. 1:13; Titus 1:9; Heb. 10:23
 
Have a great and Godly week, for what good is a good week, if it is also not a Godly week.
 
Andre

Choose whom you will Follow

This world unfortunately, always has and is still striving to go it it's own way, to walk without Christ, to obey his own man made rules, to make up the rules as they go along, and to break every rule of both God and man. There is a reward for them who follow man, but there is also another reward for them who follow God. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Prov. 14:12; 16:25 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Rom. 3:23. But "...the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6:23 (all King James Version)
 
The moral of the story then is to follow after whichever reward you desire to receive in the end. Choose for yourself whom you will follow. Choose life or choose death. As for me and my household, I will follow the Lord.

Andre

Our Treasures

Scripture tells us that where ever your treasure is, there also is your heart. Therefore, if your heart is into material things, it will show in the many toys you collect for yourself, and the little time and effort you spend with God.
 
Also, where lies your faith and trust? Does your trust lie with God, or in man?
 
Andre

Business

Business is one of the greatest sins of the 20th century. It takes up too much of our time. We cannot find time to spend with loved ones and friends. We are too busy.  We were promised with all this technology that we would have more free time. Well, unfortunately the opposite has occurred. It has chained us to our jobs and other activities. We have thousands of excuses why we cannot spent quality time with loved ones, and especially with God. What could be more important than spending quality time with God. We are unfortunately (myself included) guilty of being too busy. Business has created an entire generation of lackey kids. Why, because we are too busy. It hurts me when I see men and woman brushing aside their kids who want to play or spend time with their parents. Why, because they are too busy. How much more does our Lord hurt, when we say: "We are too busy."

Andre

Friendship

When we have and develop a friendship with someone, in time as we remain friends, we in time develop a love for that person, as God loves us. Likewise, we need that deep personal commitment of lots of one on one time spent with him, to develop a close personal relationship with Him. And as time progresses, we, too, learn to love Him as he loves us.
 
Andre

Real Friends

In my growing up years I had a hard time to trust most people, because in my own words I felt most people were "plastic". That is they were not real. Many used you, many were your friend for things you have or were or had connections to. Real freinds are hard to find. Real friends like the Lord stand by you through thick and thin, whether you fail or not.
 
Likewise we need to seek out real true intimate friends who will accept us as we are and whom we can count on to know they will be there for us at all times. Friends whom we can share our most personal thoughts and struggles with. Never give up the search for real friends, and when you find one, hang on to him/her with all you got.
 
Yes, He is also our great friend , and He wants to be there for us to lead us through dark times, through crooked paths and heal and restore us to become one like Him.
 
Andre

Live for Him!

The more and more you live for Him, and the more and more you give to Him all your troubles, worries, hangups, temptations etc, the less the weight of shame you will feel. As you live more and more for Him, the cemented feet will gradually soften as His shed tears of love will soften the cement and release you from bondage.
 
Take care and have a great and Godly week.

Andre

School

Every day is like another day in school. We are forever learning and forever growing in Him if we allow Him to work in us.  
 
Andre

Suffer for the Cause of Christ

Since time beginning people in power have always and will continue to power trip over those of whom they are in authority over.

It seems to give them satisfaction to belittle others. Jesus as we know was perfect and had no faults, and we know what was done to Him.

Jesus told us to turn the other cheek and so we must as hard as that is to understand and do at times. Last year at the construction site I wanted so badly to punch out my foreman. But I knew that was not the right thing to do. I put up with all kinds of verbal abuse. Still, I held my tongue and clenched my fists to my sides rather than striking him. In the end God will make all things rights, and He will make those who abuse us to pay. Remember Deut. 32:41 & Rom. 12:19 "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Rom 12:19 King James Version)

Christ's people will always be the targets of abuse. People hate the fact that we follow a code of righteousness and not the ways of the world. So the fact that you are being targeted by others is a sign of your faith in Christ. Remember, too, when the disciples and Paul told how they were abused, imprisoned etc. because of their faith, and yet they counted it joy that they could suffer for the cause of Christ.

Scripture tells us that if we are true disciples of Jesus, we can expect persecution, especially in these last days. So hold your head up high, and count it all joy as well, "for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:28 King James Version)


Andre

 

 

No Spirit of Fear! (A Response to an Email from a Member of a Christian Online-Group)

(...) As always, there will be those who treat you badly. Jesus commanded us to pray for those who persecute you. In doing so we pour hot coals over their heads. Meaning that when we treat them with kindness when they treat us badly, we put them to shame, in the hope that our kindness in the midst of their bad treatment of us will draw them to the Lord.

(...) This life, this Christian walk is not about us, it is about God, Jesus. He is the life giver. It is because of Him that we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28

Kings will give their crowns backs to Him. We shall return to Him glory, worship Him, bow before His throne to Him. Yes, it is all about Him.

And yes, He makes no junk, those whom will reject Him, will know without a shadow of a doubt, that He will one day grant justice by sending them to hell, because they wanted a world without Him. They wanted a world of darkness, and so they shall receive their just reward. They shall receive what they wanted, a world without God in their lives.

As you say, the past is past, and the bad things that have occurred in our lives have occurred to to bring Him glory. We need to learn and grow that He may be glorified. What others intended for evil for us, as in Joseph situation, God intended for good.

Again stand and be thankful; that "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim 1:7. King James Version).


Have a great day.


Andre

Metamorphosis - The Transformation of a Believer

Romans 12:1-2:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
(King James Version)


When I think of the word transformed, I am reminded of Transformers, the kid’s toys which can be twisted from one form to appear as something else.

For example a humanoid looking robot can be twisted and transformed to look like a fighter jet or a car.

Metamorphosis is another word which conjures up the image of transformation.

We are all familiar with the metamorphosis of the Monarch Butterfly which goes through a few transformations from the egg stage to the adult butterfly.

Another transformation is the complete change of a tadpole which eventually loses its tail, grows legs and no longer breathes with external gills.

The last stage of a tadpoles transformation of course is an adult frog.

The word Transformation comes from the ancient Greek word “Metamorphosis.” Which means a transformation, a marked change in appearance, character or function.

Turn to Rom. 12:1-2 and let us read what Paul wrote about the word Transformed.

From the New King James Version we read; ``Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. “

From this reading we see that Christians are involved in a kind of metamorphosis.

The difference however is that we do not change outwardly in appearance once we believe, but rather our transformation begins the moment we believe the gospel message.

What happens at that moment is a miracle which involves the Holy Spirit and is called Sanctification.

You are at that moment changed in a moment and are set apart as a child of God into His Kingdom.

That is not all that happens at that point.

At that moment you are born again, the Holy Spirit begins an inside job in you.

He begins a cleaning within you, changing you, transforming you gradually to become more and more like Jesus.

That is, your old ways begin to change. Your way of thinking begins to change. You are no longer concerned for the things of the world but thinking more and more of the things of God and our eternal destiny with Him.

A character change in other words begins and continues until we are perfected and taken home to be with Jesus.

As Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 5:17,”Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (King James Version)

The prophet Ezekiel likewise wrote regarding the Jewish nation, that God will one day:


Eze 36:26-27: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (King James Version)


God is likewise doing the same thing to us.

He gives us a new heart, He puts a new spirit within us, He takes out our old sinner’s heart of stone and replaces it with a new heart, one which is in harmony with His ways.

We no longer desire to be conformed with the ways of the world, but desire to be transformed and following and obeying His ways.

Instead of being conformed to the ways of the world we are gradually being conformed instead to the “image of his Son.” (Rom. 8:29 King James Version)

Paul again reminds us of this gradual transformation in 2 Cor. 3:18 "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.“ (King James Version)

Though this metamorphosis is a work of the Holy Spirit working in us, we have our own part to do as well.

Just as your muscles will not grow if you do not exercise them, our spiritual growth also needs a spiritual workout.

We do this with daily with time spent reading and studying His Word and meditating on what we are learning.

This is also accomplished in our talking with Him in prayer and in associating and spending quality times with other fellow believers, not only here in the church building but in other situations as we gather together in fellowship through various other get-togethers.

We grow closer to God as well when we put into practice the things we have learned through His Word and as we listen to His still soft voice speaking to us, guiding in our day to day living.

Listen to this quote from Oswald Chambers: QUOTE
The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of Sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God`s perspective. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that controlled Him will control us. Are we prepared for what that will cost? It will cost absolutely everything in us which is not of God. The resounding evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is the unmistakeable family likeness to Jesus Christ, and the freedom from everything which is not like Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s work in us? When I pray, Lord show me what sanctification means for me, he will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus puts in me; it is Himself in me….Sanctification means nothing less than the holiness of Jesus becoming mine and being exhibited in my life. Sanctification means the impartation of holy qualities of Jesus to me. It is the gift of His patience, love, holiness, faith, purity, and godliness that is exhibited in and through every sanctified soul. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy, it is drawing from Jesus the very holiness that was exhibited in Him, and that He now exhibits in me. Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation. Imitation is something altogether different. The perfection of everything is in Jesus Christ, and the mystery of sanctification is that all the perfect qualities of Jesus are at my disposal. Consequently, I slowly but surely begin to live a life of inexpressible order, soundness, and holiness “kept by the power of God. “ 1 Pet. 1:15
END OF QUOTE

God in His awesome power created some creatures to undergo a metamorphosis. In so doing we are witnesses to His almighty power and awesome beauty in creation. It is said in Romans that the heavens display the glory of the Lord.

Unlike the creatures of the world in their awesome beauty, God did something very special with us that He did not do in any other of His creations.

God created you, you, you, you and all of us whom are called of Him and have answered that call to bear His very image.

He loves each and every one of you with an everlasting love that is un- measureable to our limited mindset.

He has put within us all His very image and His very image includes the ability if we but grasp it and allow Him to work within us a transformation, a metamorphosis to change us from convicted sinners doomed to eternal death, to everlasting life, made perfect in His image to dwell eternally with Him.

If He can make creatures transform from one stage of life and cause them to be transformed into another awesome beautiful creature, what do you think He wants to do to your life whom He loves more than any other of His creations?

Are you ready to be morphed more and more into His image?

Then if so, take time each and every day to spend more time with him in his Word, in private one on one time with him in prayer, studying and immersing yourself in His love letter to you.
David when he wrote one of His Psalms wrote: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10 King James Version)

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence O Lord
Take not Thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation;
And renew a right spirit within me.

(Lyrics: Keith Green)

LET US SING “Change My Heart O God” page 654 in our hymnals:

Change my heart, O God

Make it ever true

Change my heart, O God

May I be like You

You are the potter

I am the clay

Mold me and make me

This is what I pray

(Written by Eddie Espinosa)


Is God making a difference in you? Are you being transformed daily being morphed into His image? If not it could be that you are not spending any quality time with Him, or perhaps you are Grieving the Holy Spirit.

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph 4:30-32 King James Version)

Now is the time, the day of salvation of redemption, of transformation. Again,

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence O Lord
Take not Thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation;
And renew a right spirit within me.

(Lyrics: Keith Green)

God Bless

Andre

 

 

No Time for God

Too often I hear excuses why some do not read their bibles, why they cannot attend church, why they can't participate with a group study, why they can't help with the church pot luck, why they can't spent a Saturday to witness to a sick friend. They are so many activities and things we can be doing for the Lord. Yet, there are thousands more excuses why we are doing nothing for Him. Funny how there is time for a movie, funny how there is time to read the newspaper, funny how there is time to go to the bar, funny how there is time to go to a hockey game or a baseball game, funny how there is time to go fishing, funny how there is time to just lay in bed, but there is no time for the Lord.

Below is the 23 Channel, not sure whom the author is. Perhaps after reading this, you can find the time to sit still a minute or so and ponder how there is time for and to do anything else, but no time for the Kingdom of God. It just maybe that after you have pondered this thought, you just may find time to pray, to read your bible, to go to church etc.

André

                                              

The 23rd Channel
 
The T.V. set is my shepherd. My spiritual growth shall want.
It maketh me to sit down and do nothing for His name's sake,
Because it requireth all my spare time.
It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian,
Because it presenteth so may good shows that I must see.
It restoreth my knowledge of things of the world,
and keepeth me from the study of God’s Word.
It leadeth me away from the path of planning to attend the evening worship services, and doing nothing in the Kingdom of God.
Yea though I live to be a hundred, I shall keep on viewing my T.V.
as long as it will work, for it is my closest companion.
Its sound and its pictures, they comfort me.
It presenteth entertainment before me, and keepeth me
from doing important things with my family.
It fills my head with ideas which differ from those set forth in the Word of God.
Surely, no good thing will come of my life, because my T.V. offereth me
no good time to do the will of God;
thus will I dwell in the place of the Devil and his angels forever.

(Author Unknown)





Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant!

May your todays and tomorrows be days in which the Lord will say;

"Well done, good and faithful servant." Matt. 25:21 (NKJV);

May you be doing the will of the Lord.
May you walk the walk,
And be not merely talking the walk.
May you not bend to temptations,

For:

1 Corinthians 10

 "1Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

 2And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

 3And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

 4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

 5But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

 6Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

 7Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

 8Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

 9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

 10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

 11Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

 12Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

 13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (KJV)

Therefore pray the Lord guide your steps
Pray He will prepare ye the way
To follow after Him, and be found well pleasing
where He may again say,
"Well done, good and faithful servant." Matt. 25:21 (NKJV).

Have a good and Godly week,
for what lasting value is a good week,
If it is also not a Godly week.

André





Freedom

I have read recently that freedom in Christ is found in obeying Him. Freedom is not doing what you want. Doing your own thing leads to trouble, death, disease etc. By obeying Him we are freed from the results of not following the rules as such. When we obey, He opens doors to grant us more grace to enjoy Him more fully and to enjoy our lives here on earth more fully, free from worries and tribulations.

André

 

Easter

Many there are who have risked their own lives to save and or rescue another from fire, car crash, drowning etc. The government and media will call them heroes. Many of these heros upon being interviewed will reject the label of being called a hero. They will say: "I am not a hero, I just did what needed to be done."

I myself tried to rescue my sister from drowning in a public swimming even though I could barely swim. I was only about 7 years old, but never-the-less I tried and nearly drowned myself while keeping her head above water. I was not a hero, I just did what needed to be done.


Roman 5:6-8 says

6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

(King James Version)


Jesus gave His all to rescue and save us from our sins and from the wrath of God upon lost sinners. Jesus died to save the good and the evil, the good and the bad, the believer and the non-believer.

As we recognize what He has done for us this Easter, let us reflect and remember His sacrifice upon the cross when He, too, did what needed to be done. He did not hesitate. He faced the crossed and went straight to it never regretting, never turning aside.

Let us all also do what needs to be done and help recue and save the lost by proclaiming the good news of what Easter is really about.

Please be a hero and do what needs to be done and give Him the glory.


André

 

Sell and Give it to the Poor!

Mark 10:17-31 (King James Version)

17And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

18And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

19Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

20And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

21Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

23And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

24And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

26And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

27And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

28Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

29And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,

30But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

31But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

What if Jesus really meant what He said? What if He wants us to give more than just the scraps, more than just the surplus, but what really hurts us? Many of us are blessed with more than what we really need - not so we possess more, but that we can give more! How many things do we have at home that we don't really need? How much did we spend on things that we could have gotten a lot cheaper as well? Imagine the good we could have done with what could have been saved - if we only had saved it! Imagine if this "if" could become reality and our desires would not be for material possessions or a comfortable life, but for serving those in need!

How many times have we tried to explain those verses away or twist them long enough so they suit whatever is comfortable for us. But, what if Jesus was serious about that? Jesus was pretty radical in His lifestyle (remember - He was homeless himself: "And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Luke 9:58 King James Version.

Why should those who follow Jesus have a bed of roses when the rabbi had a crown of thorns?

This might sound crazy to many of us. Radical. Fundamentalist.

Or Christ-like...

1 Timothy 6

King James Version (KJV)

1Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

2And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

3If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

4He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

5Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

6But godliness with contentment is great gain.

7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

9But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

11But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

13I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

14That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

15Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

16Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

17Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

18That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

19Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

20O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

21Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

Recommended resource:

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

David Platt (Author)

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Multnomah Books; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1601422210

ISBN-13: 978-1601422217

No time for God (An Email to a Christian Online-Group)

As I have pondering my spiritual life these last few days, I am reminded of the below poem written by someone else, but which aptly describes my own walk with God lately. Though I do not watch regular TV, as I am unable to receive regular TV signals where I live, I still watch videos regularly every night. Never-the-less I am no better than the TV couch potato who watches the tube every night, but seems to have little time for time in God's Word and little if any time reading His Word and time in prayer, and meditating upon His Word.

I wake up in the morning and what do I do? I find myself opening up my laptop to read the latest news and catch up on e-mails. Even though I feel guilty in so doing, I squash away the warning, the Holy Spirit and go online anyways.

It is said, we are what we eat. Likewise, we are what we do. If being a baseball or soccer fan to the hilt is our fix, then that is what we do. We push aside our kids, our wives, our pets and friends to get our daily fix of that sport. If our fix is the TV, the computer, our cars, boats, etc. Then that is what we do. It consumes us and we eat sleep, drink, dream all things whatever it is that is our fix. We are no better than the junkie who pokes his arms with the needle. we need to get our fix.

Whatever is our fix displaces time with God to our shame, to our detriment. Is it no wonder then that when we are consumed with things other than God, that we find ourselves falling away in our faith? Is it no wonder then that when we are consumed with things other than God that we find ourselves slipping back into old bad habits, old sins? Is it a wonder then when we are consumed with things other than the things of God that we gradually begin to eventually find excuses to not go to church, to stop praying, to stop being involved with certain church functions that we used to be a regular at, to stop reading the Bible every day, to neglect praying for the persecuted of the world, to stop praying for your lost friends and family members? Is it a wonder when we are consumed with things other than the things of God that we find ourselves being consumed by the things of the world?

Is it a wonder then that when we are consumed by the things of the world and no longer the things of God that the unbelievers are pointing their fingers at us and saying "Look, there goes so and so. He is a so called Christian. Hmmmmmmmm He is no different than us. He swears, watches porn, never reads the Bible, tells dirty jokes, passes them around on the internet etc. Why should I become a Christian if they are no different than us?"

The above is not me exactly, but not far from the truth neither lately. Why, because I have found excuses to stop reading the scriptures daily as I once did. I have gradually stopped my daily prayer life, stopped meditating in God's Word daily as I once did, stopped putting Him at the forefront of my mind in all things at all times.

This falling away was not a sudden fall in one day. No it was a gradual fall down a slight decline in my daily walk with Him all because I began to slowly replace God with reading secular books and even some good Christian books. Not that there is anything wrong with reading secular books, but these books became more important to me than the reading of God's Word. They began to become my daily fix. And then again, the nightly necessity to watch a video every night took away my evening time of devotions in reading scripture, in prayer etc.

A junkie likewise does not become a junkie overnight. No, the junkie becomes a junkie gradually by getting involved in mild drugs, then he decides at one point in time to experiment in other drugs. His daily desire for another kind of high, another kind of fix is soon met by a stronger fix to get the ultimate high. Unfortunately, the junkie has been deceived. His desire for a better and greater high has led to his daily fix of junk and for many, sadly to death.

It is no different for the Christian who begins a gradual wandering away from the true God, the true Word, the true daily feeding of God's Word. The daily desire for something different leads to a gradual falling away from God towards the things of this world and eventually being led instead of by the True God, being led by the god of this world, Satan. For if we are not following God, we are following Satan.

I have chosen tonight to firstly confess my sin and be cleansed. For if we confess our sins, He is willing to forgive and cleanse us from our sins. 1 Jn 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (NKJV)

Confession of sins leads to a cleansing and then we must repent and turn around and follow and obey the will and things of God.

This is but an example, albeit a true example of how easy it is to fall away from God and find ourselves in darkness and in sin. A falling away begins with small steps doing our own thing, rather than the things of God. No matter where you are in your life tonight, today, God knows exactly where you are, what you are doing and is willing to forgive and cleanse you from all and any sin.

There are many who have joined this group whom have not shown their faces in a long while. Perhaps it is that you have started off with good intentions to change, to follow after God, but instead have with small steps walked away from God gradually. Perhaps you feel too ashamed to go back to Him. Perhaps you think that once you have fallen away, that He will no longer accept you back into the fold. You could be no further from the truth. If God is true to His Word then 1 John 1:9 is a verse you might need to take to heart and remember. 1 Jn 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (NKJV) God is faithful and just and will never, ever, renege on His Word. If He says that He will forgive you and cleanse you of all of your sins if you confess them to Him, then you can be sure that He will.

Turn to Him all who are weary and lost. Turn to Him all whom have fallen away and He will cleanse you and forgive you of any and all your sins. For just as the father forgave and welcomed home the prodigal son, our Father in Heaven, likewise is waiting and wanting greatly to welcome you back home and to clothe you in raiment's of sparkling white clothing and rejoice in heaven with all His angels, and with a feast especially for you.

How about it? Are you wanting to come home?

André


The 23 Channel

The T.V. set is my shepherd. My spiritual growth shall want.
It maketh me to sit down and do nothing for His names sake,
Because it requireth all my spare time.
It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian,
Because it presenteth so may good shows that I must see.
It restoreth my knowledge of things of the world,
and keepeth me from the study of God's Word.
It leadeth me away from the path of planning to attend the evening worship services, and doing nothing in the Kingdom of God.
Yea though I live to be a hundred, I shall keep on viewing my T.V.
as long as it will work, for it is my closest companion.
Its sound and its pictures, they comfort me.
It presenteth entertainment before me, and keepeth me
from doing important things with my family.
It fills my head with ideas which differ from those set forth in the Word of God.
Surely, no good thing will come of my life, because my T.V. offereth me
no good time to do the will of God;
thus will I dwell in the place of the Devil and his angels forever.

(Source unknown)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Links International

Resources

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization. A statement by the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis

Fr. Ben Cameron: The Yoke of Christ (audio file of a homily)

Audio file: Gerald Boisvert on Voices for Christ: The Fear of the Lord

The Barna Group: Growing True Disciples + DVD

Audio: Fr. Tony Stephens from the Fathers of Mercy: Meaning of the Cross



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Radical | A book by David Platt
Radical | A book by David Platt