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The Persecuted Church

 

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Were not perfect    works in prog..gif (767 bytes)  but Under Construction

 you are His workmanship

No city is built to completion in a single day and neither is a Christian. When one becomes a believer we begin being under the construction of the Holy Spirit, who will conform each one us into the image of Christ. This takes time, and depending on what kind of person we are, and our cooperation-- will reflect on how long God will work on shaping and removing our flaws. God accepts us the way we are but doesn’t leave us the way we are. We are made positionally righteous in Christ and are in the process of being changed into the righteousness of Christ’s nature.  Despite how holy one may or may not look, no one will be perfect this side of Heaven. We will only finally realize the goal God has for us when we arrive in His presence in heaven. Until then, we all go through the same trials on earth and they are used in personal ways for each of us. The difference is how we handle them, do they have us grow or are we crushed by their weight. Our reaction will make the difference in how long we work through the process. Trials can make us bitter or better; its our choice in how we walk through them.

In Isa.6 when the prophet Isaiah saw the glory of God and he looked to himself first, it was between him and God. He saw himself fallen short and became undone. He realized that he himself was as unclean, no different than everyone else he lived among. He shared in the same humanity they had, he was called but he was no different than they were. It wasn’t until he was touched by the coal from the altar that his lips were cleansed.

 All of us are sheep and none of us are completely clean. Our wool may look whiter than another or it may look dirtier than another but we are all in need of cleansing.

What God does is take something unclean and make it clean his sight, he does this by the sacrifice of his son and his cleansing blood which is called justification. And he continues to do this to the believer by our reading the Word, which is called the sanctification process. The word is likened to water cleansing the dirt that comes in our lives as we trek through this journey. The means of our sanctification, and growth are not without correction, chastisement, trials and suffering. Faith grows in the soil of adversity. The more life throws at you, the greater the amount of fruit that can be produced. We receive spiritual blessings through our buffeting, although at the time it may produce discomfort and anguish in the end yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

God is into refining his creation. Everything in this fallen world needs maintenance. When we are tested that is when we find His hand is on the clay forming it. Those that submit to this process willingly, will rejoice over the outcome. If there needs to be any rebuilding, it is by God’s Word that removes what is not good in our lives only to be rebuilt correctly. It is his Words that wound us and heal us. As a two-edge sword the Word operates by cutting into the deepest part of our being, identifies what is sinful what needs attention and takes it out or refashions it by our submitting to His Word of truth and cooperating with His ways. We become changed persons not perfect persons.

The Word of God tells us we are His workmanship (poema) he is sculpturing away making us into His idea of a masterpiece. What kind of picture is he making out of you or are you allowing the world or Satan to shape your life. Paul says whoever you yield yourself to, has influence over you, and you become its servant. God has a purpose for everyone who is saved and we should actively be pursuing that purpose. If you want to know what spiritual gifts or talents you have don’t take a test or survey, start practicing it to see if that is what it is. Then you will know His purpose in your life. The gifts and talents he gives you are for a reason, they are to equip you to accomplish His plan in your life. 

We have the example of the people in the Old Testament such as Esther who was called for a specific time and purpose. If we don’t respond to our call God will find another but He will first do all he can to have us to do what He has called us to do. Your age does not matter as the Bible clearly teaches Abraham who had a son had to wait until he was 100 years old, up until this time he was being prepared. Moses led the people of Israel at 80 years old for 40 more years, until he was 120. Or Jeremiah was called at a young age. So one is never too young and never too old to find their purpose or mission in God.

Jacob was distraught as he was going out to meet Esau in battle the next day, he thought Easu would kill him. That night Jacob wrestled with God who came as the angel of the Lord. His hip socket was touched, and he went down. The fema is anatomically the strongest bone in the human body. God will touch the place of your greatest human strength so that your flesh will be crucified. Whatever talent, education, and ability you have, God will crucify it first so it can be used for Him. Now Jacob whose name was changed to Israel walked with a limp having to trust God, he couldn’t run away, he had to face his worst nightmare Esau. But because of his weakness God was strong on his behalf, it all worked out.

God is working in us our new name that he already has for us in heaven written on a white stone. What is your greatest trial now, what has been the hardest thing to overcome? What he is trying to work out of you now, what you have been straining at the most will probably have something to do with what you will be called in heaven.

Our Christianity is built on the foundation of Christ, which is unmovable. However our growth depends on our cooperation because we often struggle instead of standing still in the process. We need to allow His Word to work in us by our obedience to experience true growth by the Holy Spirit. Then will we have joy that accompanies salvation. But many of us resist the Holy Spirits work and fight his hand that is putting pressure on us to remove those things that are not pleasing to the Lord, so we become miserable. The more we resist the more miserable we become.

We are not to pray to remove the uncomfortable situations in our live so we will experience peace. These are allowed for a reason. The real peace of God comes from submitting over to him even in adverse circumstances. He gives peace through the circumstances not taking the circumstance away God walks us through them as David was walked through the valley of death he feared no evil.

God’s work is often a slow and steady growth, there is no "instantaneous" cure for all the ailments of our weakness in the flesh. Its not being slain in the spirit or going through a deliverance service that will do the work but just simple obedience to what was written, that is God’s way. Those who promise instant transformation from a touch or experience are not delivering the truth. Real spiritual transformation is the product of the slow and steady work of the Holy Spirit throughout our lifetime. The Bibles consistent teaching is that we train and discipline ourselves unto Godliness, that we walk in the Spirit.

There are numerous Scriptures about walking with or in the Lord "to walk" –means communion its imagery brings to mind the concept of Jesus sending another helper that will come alongside us. In Gal.5:16 Paul writes the church, "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the desires of the flesh." Paul stood against the Judaizers who offered the restraining influence of the Old Testament law to hold their sin nature in check. Paul's argument for the solution was the very opposite. The overcoming through the law is not the solution but by God himself. The law does not correct our behavior it only shows it, it is the Spirit that has the power to live what is asked of us. Our Christian life is either going to be changed from self-effort which results in failure, or God living His life through us. Walking in the Spirit diminishes the fallen nature of the flesh. But it takes effort to move ahead and lay hold of what God has for you. We have a part in this, for this to happen we must die to self. When we deny the flesh the spirits life will thrive. This is not a hope nor is it a goal, it is a necessity for one to have victory and live a life by the power of God’s spirit. One cannot have there way in both the world and Christ, we must make a choice each day and walk in His spirit or the world will influence us.

The only one thing that stops us from being filled with the spirit is not dying to self and not having an attitude of gratitude, which is simple thankfulness. Self sufficiency is our trapping from experiencing the power of God. It is our being comfortable, by doing certain things on your own that we only call on God for the large problems or obstacles. Because we feel we can handle even the small things that come our way. But I have seen even the smallest things turn into bigger ones for the simple reason to teach us to be God dependent.

Do we only look to God in our time of need and trouble, when our strength fails? The Bible tells us we are always in a time of need. It’s only when we realize we are weak that he becomes strong.

Our life is to be no longer ours, we have been bought with a price. Christ becomes our owner our master when we made him our Lord. Although we first confess him as Lord and savior the hard part is actually letting Him be the owner of all we have and who we are. This is part of our discipleship process under His lordship. It can take months, years even a lifetime to remove some of those things that hinder us from knowing him better and walking in His power and having freedom, it is all dependent on how cooperative we are with Him. Some of you may remember when you were little how you listened to your parents. If you didn't comply you got punished and you certainly did not get what you wanted. But the punishment was to keep you on the right course as your parents knew what was best for you and did the correction out of love.

So how do we grow in our Christian life? We let his Word change us, the hard part is fleshing it out. This means we walk in the light as he is in the light. We must be surrounding ourselves by the Word. Jesus said,  "if you love me you will continue in my word and you are my disciples indeed." This was the Old Testament practice. In Deut. 6:5-9 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Here is how we are to show our love. "v.6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." We are to be surrounded by the Word of God as Israel was. We teach it to our children we speak it to each other and by doing this we will not be conformed to the world but will always have the Lord on our mind and hearts. This will give us victory in our daily life.

Jesus stated that He is our foundation. Paul said there can be no other foundation laid to build on. This is his person, work and teaching. Deut. 13:4 "You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice." Whatever God told Moses as instructions, it was written down. Obeying God’s voice is equal to hearing it from Scripture. To grow we must be in the Word daily. Christ’s words ALONE are life, but to receive them and grow, self must denied to allow His new life to come through. Are we are offended when we hear the truth instead of embracing it to change. We can’t grow without being honest with ourselves and God, we have to examine ourselves. We can be wrong in our attitude and practice, wrong in the same things we may have once been right in. So we constantly need to readjust ourselves to stay on track.

Christian growth, like physical growth, is dependent on eating nourishing food. Without a consistent well-balanced diet, a good attitude, and exercise, one can quickly become sick and anemic. With our bodies we can see these effects easily; it is not so easy to see spiritual anemia. Our growth should propel us forward to find our calling in Christ and to know His specific will for our lives. We find it is mostly the new believers that hunger and thirst for God’s Word. Being new they have no fear or sense of failure, they are ready to do anything and go anywhere for the Lord. We can learn a lot from there zeal.

Our Joy is increased though growing in our relationship with the Lord. As we learn of His love for us it increases our love for Him, and then for others. We then want to serve and do things for him, not ourselves. This was Paul’s rejoicing and joy, bringing others to know Christ: "For what is our hope, or joy, or even crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For you are our glory and joy" (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). If you can remember back to the first person that responded to your giving them the gospel, this became your joy and happiness as well. Nothing else mattered at the time. Col. 4:5 "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time." Wisdom is the exact opposite of foolishness. Application of true knowledge shows Christ to those who need to know he is real. As we see the time is getting short we need to make our time count before others.

When Nebuchanezzar looked into the fire after he threw three Hebrew men in as punishment, he saw a fourth man he identified as one "like the son of God," He was the one who protected them. Do people see God with us in our fiery trials or do we act just like everyone else. That’s when they observe you, when you’re going through something that is when we need to walk in wisdom, that is when our witness counts.

The Bible says "Without a vision the people perish", this Word means where there is no revelation people perish. In the Old Testament and when the New Testament was being put together they received the Word that was said and it was written. This is a consistent concept in the Old Testament, Prov.29:18 "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law." Prov.11:14 "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety." The counsel is found in the many books of the Scripture not to exclude those who can give us wisdom from them. Proverbs admonishes us to know the word and get wisdom. Today we have the full revelation, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning to the end has been given, from Genesis to Revelation. When there is no direction from the Word of God taught then we lose our bearing and our foundation is shaken. It is His Word that is a lamp unto our feet, and to our walk. Jesus said my word is spirit and it is life.

Paul writes in Eph. 5:15-17 "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Paul tells us to buy back the time -- keep ourselves right before God, so we can do the will of the Lord and to go about our business and give the Gospel to those who are lost. To walk circumspectly means to be looking at the opportunities all around us. No one in a football game plays in the last quarter as they do in the first. The time we live in is becoming more evil, its not getting better as those in the New age say, evil is everywhere. We need to be sober, and vigilant, not drunk in the Spirit.

Love is to be the modus operandi of the Christian Faith; the lack of love reveals that a person either does not understand the basics of his faith or may not have genuine convictions to walk in it. The lack of love in the end-times is one of the signs that the great and final apostasy predicted by the Apostle Paul has arrived. Just as Israel had its love of God grow cold, so it is happening in the Church in America. Jeremiah 7:28: "So you shall say to them, This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the LORD their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth." That describes our society today, and sometimes it is describing the Church, because we have not remained faithful to the Word but have been influenced with the winds of the culture. We will either influence society, or it will influence us; there is no in-between. The only repellent we have is the armor of God, the Word.

Truthfulness, honesty, loyalty has become a rare commodity in our time. God’s Love is not tolerance or acceptance nor is it open mindedness or non-judgmentalism. Biblical love is careful, it scrutinizes. It is based on knowledge and judgment from God's Word. It proves all things, and approves of only those things that are in agreement with the will of God. This love is flexible willing to yield to truth, it is this kind of love that brings health and growth.

As Paul explains in Romans 12:20-21 echoing Jesus’ sermon on the mount Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." What is Paul saying, it is kindness of God leads one to repentance. People need to see our works but not at the exclusion of the gospel being presented. They need to know our motivation for doing it. We need to learn to have the Lord live his live in and through us to be sensitive when it is him or when it is us.

James 5:19-20 "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." Essentially we are our brothers keeper. To keep silent James calls it a sin of omission. Jm.4:17 "to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." We need to be there for those who wandering aimlessly as well as those who are deceived into false spirituality.

If you have not accepted the Gospel of Christ then you don’t know God. You may do good things, you may talk about God and you may be the nicest person, but there is no other way to bridge the gap made by sin. The Gospel is God being gracious, having mercy to undeserving sinners, he cared enough to do something about it, He took the initiative and came from heaven to earth became a man and laid his life down for you.

We are either under construction from God’s hand by being in Christ or headed toward destruction by being outside Christ. The Bible says we are saved with a purpose and that God has a plan. He wants to work through you to accomplish His will in peoples lives and leave a mark on the world for good and His kingdom. They may not understand it, you may not understand it at the time. But if you are in the Word and living it, let God lead you to where he wants, As the Scripture says where my servant is there I will be also. Its time to show the world the servanthood of Jesus, this is what will attract them to know Him.

 

 

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