Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Second Class Citizens

Just after the time of Christ, in Rome, the early church suffered from persecution under Nero. Many Christians were arrested, imprisoned, and made sport of in the Coliseum. Eventually, the Christians dug the catacombs so that they could at least live and fellowship. Every week, a few brave souls would venture out to get some food and other needed commodities from sympathetic Romans, and then scurry back to their holes... That is, if they made it back in time.
In Russia, during the reign of the communistic regime, Christians were also considered second-class citizens... They were the last ones to get jobs, the last to receive education, and the last to expect any sort of pity from their superiors. Many of the children there had to face extreme pressures at school, as the teacher and all the students would publicly ridicule the idea of creation and a Supreme God. Many of the younger youth could not stand against it, falling prey to peer-pressure. Godly parents really could do nothing but pray....
In Germany, during WWII, the Jews were hunted out and killed, their businesses were closed, and they were forced to find ‘underground’ housing. The ‘fit’ ones were brought into labor camps, and forced to help the Nazi forces. If they were not considered ‘fit,’ they were simply done away with.
In China, Christians suffer as a ‘lower class’ because they do not conform to the guidelines set up by the government for the church.
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:13-16

Are we willing to become second-class citizens in this country? Are we willing to pay more, get less, and be ridiculed for our faith? What I mean by that is probably totally different than you may think. No, in this country, Christianity is not really looked down upon, but then again, what is TRUE Christianity? What I am looking at is the basic rules and laws of today. Are we willing, as good Christian citizens, to truly render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s? Do we follow the speed limit, even when everyone else is going 5-10 miles per hour over it? Do we put the correct amount of money on our title when we buy a car, (for tax purposes) even though the people that we are buying it from think we are cracked? Are we willing to pay more for legal software when it might be cheaper and easier to leave the (pirated) software on the computer that was there when you bought it. (well, I don’t really know if it was pirated...) (I know how this hits home... God convicted me of using software that came on my computer... I finally called the company up, and they said that it wasn’t even a valid product key... Recycle Bin, anyone?) What about the student discount? Well, I’m not really a student anymore... But, I... NO! Will I pay more just to be honest? These are just some things that I have been pondering lately. No, we don’t face imprisonment, but we do face a loving God that wants us to be morally and ethically pure in a world that does not care whether you are good, bad, or alternative.

Here is an excerpt from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress when they were traveling through Vanity Fair:
“Now, these pilgrims, as I said, must needs go through this fair. Well, so they did; but behold, even as they entered into the fair, all the people in the fair were moved; and the town itself, as it were, in a hubbub about them, and that for several reasons: for,
First, The Pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was diverse from the raiment of any that traded in that fair. The people, therefore, of the fair made a great gazing upon them: some said they were fools; (1) some, they were bedlams; and some, they were outlandish men.
Secondly, And as they wondered at their apparel, so they did likewise at their speech; for few could understand what they said. They naturally spoke the language of Canaan; but they that kept the fair were the men of this world: so that from one end of the fair to the other, they seemed barbarians each to the other. (2)
Thirdly, But that which did not a little amuse the merchandisers was, that these pilgrims set very light by all their wares. They cared not so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears, and cry, ‘Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity,’ (3) and look upward, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven.” (4)
(1) 1 Cor. 4:9,10; (2) 1 Cor. 2:7,8.; (3) Psa. 119:37; (4) Phil. 3: 20,21.

"Content to let the World go by
To know no gain or loss..."

“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:32-40

Is the world worthy of us???

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Living Sacrifice

“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.” Romans 12:1-2

We lift our voices, We lift our hands,
We lift our lives up to you,
We are an offering.

Lord, use our voices, Lord use our hands,
Lord use our lives, they are Yours,
We are an offering. —Dwight Liles

"During the Civil War, George Wyatt was drawn by lot to go the front, he had a wife and six children. A young man named Richard Pratt offered to go in his stead. He was accepted, and joined the ranks, bearing the name and number of George Wyatt. Before long, Pratt was killed in action. The authorities later sought again to draft George Wyatt into service. He protested, entering the plea that he had died in the person of Pratt. He insisted the the authorities consult their own records as to the fact of his having died in identification with Pratt, his substitute. Wyatt was thereby exempted as beyond the claims of the law and further service. He had died in the person of his representative." –From 'Embraced by the Cross'

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” –Galatians 2:20

Dear Christian, are you still living to sin? remember that "Christ's death for sin, is automatically your death to sin. God's way of victory and deliverance is to cut us right off from the Adamic tree, and to graft us into Christ, joining us to Him in death. Apart, then, from any choice of my own, as a believer 'I am crucified with Christ.' My being a Christian makes inevitable a crucified life." –L.E. Maxwell

"Dead to the world would I be, O Father!
Dead unto sin, alive unto Thee;
Crucify all the earthly within me,
Emptied of sin and self may I be." –Elisha Hoffman

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This is my heart's cry... That I could be totally dead to this flesh, and the world, and that I could "...press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14

Keep on fighting, fellow soldiers!!!!!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Declaring the Glory of God

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
—Psalms 19:1-14

This Psalm was a real blessing to me this morning, as I was sitting in my room, doing my devotions.  I could hear the birds warbling and chirping outside, I felt the slight breeze wafting through my opened windows, and I really had to think of the commencing statement of king David...  “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."  David must have had an exceptional day, the time that he wrote this psalm!  His heart was overflowing with thanksgiving for all the works of God!
I took a walk yesterday, and looked around at how spring has totally transformed our barren yard into a viridescent oasis of life...  Trees budding, grass growing, worms tilling the soil, fish swimming in our pond...  Ah, the fetters of an icy winter have been broken by a GLORIOUS springtime!  What a beautiful picture of what the work of Christ does for the barren soul of an unregenerate man!  In 2 Peter, it says:  “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” —2 Peter 1:5-8

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Beauty of the Cross...

“An instructive writer has made a mournful list of the honours
which the blinded people of Israel awarded to their long expected

1. They gave him a procession of honour, in which Roman
   legionaries, Jewish priests, men and women, took a part, he
   himself bearing his cross. This is the triumph which the
   world awards to him who comes to overthrow man's direst
   foes. Derisive shouts are his only acclamations, and cruel
   taunts his only paeans of praise.

2. They presented him with the wine of honour. Instead of a
   golden cup of generous wine they offered him the criminal's
   stupefying death draught, which he refused because he would
   preserve an uninjured taste wherewith to taste of death; and
   afterwards when he cried, "I thirst", they gave him vinegar
   mixed with gall, thrust to his mouth upon a sponge. Oh!
   wretched, detestable inhospitality to the King's Son.

3. He was provided with a guard of honour, who showed their
   esteem of him by gambling over his garments, which they had
   seized as their booty. Such was the bodyguard of the adored
   of heaven; a quaternion of brutal gamblers.

4. A throne of honour was found for him upon the bloody tree;
   no easier place of rest would rebel men yield to their liege
   Lord.  The cross was, in fact, the full expression of the
   world's feeling towards him; "There", they seemed to say,
   "thou Son of God, this is the manner in which God himself
   should be treated, could we reach him."

5. The title of honour was nominally "King of the Jews",
   but that the blinded nation distinctly repudiated, and
   really called him "King of thieves", by preferring Barabbas,
   and by placing Jesus in the place of highest shame between
   two thieves. His glory was thus in all things turned into
   shame by the sons of men, but it shall yet gladden the eyes
   of saints and angels, world without end.”
—Spurgeon's Morning & Evening Readings, April 7th

Isn't it incredible how our Lord Jesus can take something SO humiliating, and make a beautiful thing out of it?  “His glory was thus in all things turned into shame by the sons of men, but it shall yet gladden the eyes of saints and angels, world without end.  I find that just like my Jesus!  He takes something so wretched and gory, and turns it into a fountain that sinners can flock to to be cleansed from our own filth!.  Praise the Lord!

“There's a fountain free, tis for you and me
Let us haste, oh haste, to its brink
Tis the fount of love from the source above
And He bids us all, freely drink”
Mary Bridges Canedy Slade

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Love Not the World

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 
—1 John 2:15-17

“Love not the world, pure joys above, all earthly things transcend.
In Jesus lose each idol love, and ever upward tend.
Love not the world, is Jesus plea, Sweet life to you he brought.
Alone with death, on Calvary, your sin lost soul he sought”

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Oh, dear Christians, Jesus' call still rings out clarion clear:  Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
—Matthew 22:37-40

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A True Disciple!

“I went for a little visit of five days (to Areley House). There were ten per­sons in the house, some un­con­vert­ed and long prayed for, some con­vert­ed, but not re­joic­ing Christians. He gave me the pra­yer, ‘Lord, give me all in this house!’  And He just did. Before I left the house every one had got a bless­ing. The last night of my vis­it af­ter I had re­tired, the gov­ern­ess asked me to go to the two daugh­ters. They were cry­ing, &c.; then and there both of them trust­ed and re­joiced; it was near­ly mid­night. I was too hap­py to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own con­se­cra­tion; and these little coup­lets formed them­selves, and chimed in my heart one af­ter ano­ther till they fin­ished with ‘Ever, On­ly, ALL for Thee!’”

—Frances Ridley Havergal (Havergal Manuscripts)

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing,
Always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.


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May this be our hearts true cry and prayer!