The fellowship of the unashamed

In 1980 a young man from Rwanda was forced by his tribe to either renounce Christ or face certain death. He refused to renounce Christ, and he was killed on the spot. The night before he had written the following commitment which was found in his room:

il_570xN_592450702_ced5“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed, the die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made— I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed vision, worldly talking, cheap giving & dwarfed goals.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.

I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till he stops me & when he comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear. ”

 

Help for Those Suffering from the Dreaded “D”

by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

Are you being beaten over the head because of a divorce? I want to offer a note of encouragement for those who have been pressed into a divorce. I intentionally use the divorce-photography-capturing-final-memories-of-the-one-you-hateword “pressed” because no one in his or her right mind wants a divorce. However, many of us find ourselves with no other option. I have gone through that heart-wrenching experience and have learned a few things that I would like to pass on.

I’ve discovered over the years that many who call themselves “Christians” are more tolerant of a murderer, prostitute or drug pusher, who came to Christ, than they are with a believer who has been divorced. This is especially true if you’re called to the pulpit ministry.

However, the divorce rate for Christians is now matching that of the rest of America (50%). Unfortunately, the ranks of those in the church that have experienced divorce are swelling. Fortunately though, the tolerance of many churches is growing as well. It’s sad to admit that for many, even in Christian homes, marriage has become a battlefield. It doesn’t make it right but that’s just the way it is. Nevertheless, I have good news for those of us who are survivors of the dreaded “D.”

Let me begin with a statement that may startle you. Did you know that God is divorced? It’s true! “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.” (Jeremiah 3:8a) Yet someone might say, “How can this be? Didn’t God say in Malachi 2:16, ‘I hate divorce.’”? You’re absolutely right. God does hate divorce.

I believe that the main reason for his disdain for divorce is more personal than theological. Let me explain.

God desires that marriage be a perfect picture of the marriage-like relationship that he wants with us. The church is even called the bride of Christ. (Revelations 21:9) So, God meant marriage to be a beautiful earthly representation of a Heavenly covenant. When both parties in a marriage walk in obedience to God’s Word concerning the rolls of husband and wife, the relationship that they enjoy correctly represents the relationship between God and the believer. So, for that reason divorce goes against God’s grain in the worst possible way.

He [Jesus] was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. (Isaiah 53:3) [1]

However, there is another reason why God hates divorce, and this reason is purely on a personal basis. (Note: It’s amazing how many have missed this elemental truth.) You see, no one hates divorce more than one who has experienced divorce. God has been there, done that. He may not have a T-shirt, but he certainly has the scars! Like us, our LORD has experienced rejection. He said in Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” He’s acquainted with the grief divorce brings, for he has personally suffered sorrow and heartbreak. Furthermore, God knows what it’s like to be treated with disrespect and unkindness by someone he gave his love to. (Isaiah 53:3) And friend, God hates it!!! In fact, he loathes divorce!

Finally, I want to hopefully clear up a common error that many Christians make about adultery. Many have gone through divorces for reasons other than marital infidelity. Nevertheless, they have had to lug around much of the same baggage that the victims of an unfaithful spouse have had to carry. They also experienced the same sensation of personal loss and separation. They’ve had to deal with the same feelings of guilt and a sense of displacement as well as a kaleidoscope of other dark emotions.

Maybe the divorce wasn’t over one of the spouses committing adultery through a sexual encounter with someone other than their marriage partner. However, one can still be guilty of unfaithfulness even without a sexual encounter. You see, there are other ways of dishonoring your marriage vows. Many have suffered physical, mental, and emotional abuse in their marriage. One can dishonor one’s marriage vows with emotional and verbal abuse as well and do so to a point that is beyond toleration. This is another form of unfaithfulness.

I’ve been there. I know the damage that someone you love can do to your heart and mind. In addition, I’ve found that too often the emotional damage remains long after the physical scars have faded. When you open your arms to someone you expose your heart. Jesus opened his arms, exposing his heart and what did the people that Jesus loved do? They took his open arms and nailed them to a cross. Then they pierced Jesus’ loving heart with a spear.

My point is simple. You may have been divorced. As a result, you have been singled out and, at times, face ridicule. Perhaps you’ve been rebuked by some well-meaning-but-misinformed church leader or church member because your divorce wasn’t on the grounds of what they considered adultery. But bear this in mind, my friend, adultery takes many forms. One is not only unfaithful sexually; one can also be unfaithful emotionally and spiritually. One can break one’s marriage vows in ways other than through a sexual betrayal.

God sees unfaithfulness differently from you and me. The Bible makes it clear that we can sin in our hearts and mind as well as physically. For to God, be it in the mind or in the bed, it’s all the same. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” So, a spouse can be unfaithful to you by abusing the vows you each made before God, the minister, and the witnesses. You can be abused by a spouse mentally or emotionally, as well as physically. In God’s eyes, it’s all the same.

Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” So, don’t give into condemnation from those who don’t really know what they’re talking about. It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback. It’s simple to sit in judgment of someone and to do so purely on an academic basis. If on occasion someone does point a finger at you simply say this to them, “If you haven’t walked in my shoes, don’t tell me how to wear them. Furthermore, if you think my shoes are dirty, well consider this. You don’t know how messy the path was that I was forced to tread. What’s more, don’t act so self-righteous because life is such that you too may one day be forced to walk that same path.”

I wouldn’t wish divorce on anyone. It’s a raging beast that maims people and devours homes. Divorce is a bloody battle where everyone involved becomes a casualty of war. No one wins in a divorce. Plus, keep in mind that the dreaded “D” can happen to the best of us. That’s just life!

Life can be a cowardly dog. When you least expect, it can sneak up behind you and take a huge hunk out of you, leaving you hurt and scarred. So, in the words of the Apostle Peter, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8) Paul also warns 1Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

Be of good cheer my friend, and don’t give in to the emotional bondage that divorce can bring. Remember these wonderful words of Jesus, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

[1] Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.

Death Becomes You

By the Mad Preacher

die-to-selfFor we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (2Corinthians 4:11)

The 11th Chapter of John relates an incident that has puzzled many. It tells of the death and subsequent resurrection of Lazarus. Often we want to focus on the glorious resurrection, and that’s good, but what about his death?

As you recall Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus to come quickly; their brother was gravely ill. Verse 6 says, “Yet when he (Jesus) heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” Why would Jesus do such a thing? He loved Lazarus and his sisters. Why in the world would he delay? Why didn’t Jesus immediately respond to the urgent call of his friends? Didn’t Jesus know how worried they were?!

Let’s bring this closer to home, shall we? Why hasn’t God responded to your urgent call? Why is He waiting? Doesn’t God know how desperately you need him to intervene in your situation? Why does God delay?!

What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (1Corinthians 15:36)

Have you ever been disappointed with God or even downright angry with Him? “Lord, why didn’t you come to my rescue?” Martha shared your disappointment and confusion as she cried, “Lord, if you had only been here my brother would not have died!” (Vs. 21) Why does God sometimes postpone rescue? Could it be that he’s waiting for something to…die? Could it be that God’s waiting for something in your life to die, so that he can resurrect new life in you?

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” — Jesus (John 12:24)

One of the great paradoxes of the spiritual life is this: something must die in order for it to live. In our case we have a lot of bad habits and unhealthy attitudes to which we need to deal a deathblow. However, we keep trying to resurrect what God’s trying to kill. Rather than following Paul’s admonition to put to death the misdeeds of the body, [so that] you will live.” (Romans 8:13) Still, we insist on keeping that old nature on life support and busy ourselves trying to prevent God from pulling the plug.

We’ve got to give in to the process and let God have his way in our lives. There’s victory in death, my friend. I wonder, what needs to die in your life?

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him. (2Timothy 2:11)

Mold and make me with your fire

And consume me with your love

Until Your will is my desire

All that I have and hold on to

Surrender

All that I am I give to you

I give to you [1]

[1] Surrender by Mark Harris, Brent Bourgeois as recorded by 4Him

 

Considering that…

Considering that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6) And considering that the Hebrew word translated “filthy rags” means a used sanitary napkin, which has several connotations in the Rabbinical Law, it is the height of arrogance for us to think that God needs our help to save us. Jesus blood was not enough. Oh how foolish we mortals are to think that we can impress Holy God with our good works in order to get into Heaven. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) ⸺ The Mad Preacher

Eternal Security — Fact of Fiction? (The Hard copy)

By The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

Hear the Podcast at

https://themadpreacher.podbean.com/e/eternal-security-—-fact-of-fiction/

Is Eternal Security, or better stated eternal salvation, a solid Biblical truth or a misrepresentation of the scripture? Many call it “One saves, always saved” but is it true? I believe it is true and I’m going to tell you why.

Eternal salvationhqdefault

God says in Proverbs 8:13, “I hate pride and arrogance…” One of the worst forms of arrogance known to mankind is for us to think that God needs our help to save us! The bloody cross was not enough. The beating and the butchering of Jesus was not enough. We need, by our good deeds and abstinences, to fill in the gaps.

This line of thinking is especially messed-up when you consider what Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

The Hebrew word translated “filthy rags” literally means a used sanitary napkin. The best we have to offer Holy God in the way of personal righteousness is repugnant in His sight. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” I don’t know about you but I can’t measure up to God’s perfection. Can you? No one can, but some actually claim that they live above sin. 1John 1:10, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him [God] out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The word “believes” means to put your whole faith and confidence in someone or something. When you got into your car today you believed it would get you to where you wanted to go. When you set down in a chair you’re putting your faith and confidence in that chair believing it would hold you up.

The original Greek word translated “eternal” holds the same definition as does the English word, “That which by its very nature is unending.” When Jesus said in John 10:28-29, “I give them eternal life [I’m giving them a life that does not end, ever!], and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe [put their whole faith and confidence] in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Life, which by its very nature is unending.

1 John 5:10-13

10Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13I write these things to you who believe [put their whole faith and confidence] in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have [present tense] eternal life.” [Life which by its very nature is unending.]

Now, consider this:

Jesus said in John 10:14-15, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Question? Is Jesus a liar or just forgetful? For he said in Matthew 11:21-23,“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

“I never knew you”? Did Jesus just forget that they were once his sheep before they messed-up and lost their salvation? Or maybe Jesus was just lying when he said, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

It key to know that every born again follower of Jesus is God’s possession.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Can you but yourself back from God?

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 says, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit [Greek literally is “down-payment”], guaranteeing what is to come.”

In the ancient world a seal was used for two things when shipping a package. It denoted who it belong to and where the package was going. We belong to Christ and our destination is Heaven!

Ephesians 1:13-14 says, And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed [put your whole faith and confidence in Christ], you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit [down-payment] guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 say, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” In the ancient Greek language there are several words in the New Testament that’s translated “new’. Those most often used are neos which means something new but of the same kind. It’s like a buying a new car. It’s new but it’s still a car. The word “new” in this passage is kainos which means something unprecedented. Nothing like it has ever existed before. Every born again follower of Christ is a new species of being that never existed before.

The butterfly is an ideal picture of the new birth in Christ. Here is a creature that starts their life as a caterpillar, but then a metamorphous takes place that transforms him into a thing of rare beauty and grace. Notice that the new butterfly is the same creature it was before it spun its cocoon. It wasn’t replaced with another insect. The same creature that enclosed itself within the cocoon is the same one that came out of the cocoon.

The change it experienced was radical. What was once a caterpillar has a new outward appearance. The caterpillar underwent a total transformation. It no longer crawls on the ground beneath the heels of most every other creature; it now flies! It’s the same living creature it was before yet entirely different.

In much the same way, that’s what happens to a person who surrenders their life to Jesus. The Holy Spirit begins to transform them into something that’s totally different and beautiful. The new believer’s value system and goals begin to change. They begin to lose their taste for the garbage that this world’s system offers. The days of crawling on their spiritual bellies begins to give way to lofty dreams, powerful living and a positive outlook on life. They are the same person they were before but changed. Now they’re “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Corinthians 5:17)

Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” The Greek word translated “knowledge” is epignosis which is a “precise and correct knowledge” i.e. to make something ever clear. If one ignores the message of the cross after it is clearly presented to them there is no other way toward salvation only judgment waits.

This passage is not talking about losing you salvation as some have wrongfully claimed. It’s not saying that at all. It’s talking about people hearing the Gospel and then rejecting its message. There’s no other sacrifice for sins except for Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He said in John 10:9, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”

Question: How does one become unborn? You can’t go back. You’re here. You can’t return to your mother’s womb. The same hold true about the spiritual rebirth. Then how does one become un-born again? And if one can lose their salvation how do they regain it? Do you have to be re-reborn again? And wouldn’t you have to receive eternal life again—that which by its very nature is unending? Can you put an end to something that’s eternal? No!

Question: What can you offer Holy God in the way of personal righteousness when you consider the words of Isaiah? “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

Titus 3:3-8 says this,

3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

My friend, when we came to Christ we were as lost as a ball in high weeds. We were without hope drowning a pit of sin and deceit. We couldn’t be good enough to be accepted by God. But God knew this and that’s why he sent Jesus to rescue us. That’s why we need a savior!