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Author: Milt Aunan

BELIEVE

BELIEVE

Listen to the words of Jesus found in the Gospel of John 5:24……….”Truly, truly I say to you. He that hears my word and BELIEVES on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and will NOT come into judgment, but is passed from death to life”.

How precious are Jesus’ own words. There is no amount of work that we may do, helpfulness that we may show others, that opens the doorway to heaven and eternal life. In Jesus’ own words he lays out clearly the criteria and it involves one and only one thing. What is that? Believe that Jesus died for our sin; paid the ultimate penalty for our sin. In believing, Jesus himself promises eternal life.

This is even more clearly stated by Jesus himself in John 3:18…….”He that believes on him (Jesus) is not condemned; but he that does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”. It has been such a relief to know that the stress of trying to earn my way into heaven; to work hard enough to get the attention of Jesus as to how “good” I am has all been set aside and removed. By Jesus’ own words, I am saved for time and eternity by placing my faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary; by believing that Jesus died for me and paid my penalty for the sin that, by nature and by practice, has been a part of my life.

Because I believe in Jesus and have placed my faith in Him, I look forward to seeing and praising Him for all eternity. No matter what comes my way in this life, I know that I am his and he is mine…………forever.

SECURE

SECURE

Once again, listen to what Jesus said……….”My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man (nothing) is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand”. (John 10:29)

As a Christian, if I truly believe what Jesus said here in this Scripture, then my life should reflect boldness, courage, and fearlessness in sharing and proclaiming the Gospel, the good news, of Jesus Christ. What is that good news? Jesus paid the penalty that was due me…….He washed away my sin; and no one can ever take that away. I am forever secure in His hands.

I praise the Lord………..”Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy”. (Jude 24)

REVIVAL

REVIVAL

The Church today, God’s people who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, need to experience deep revival, an awakening not known in the past 100 years.

The world seems in total chaos today – most things seem out of control. Wars abound, violence is rampant, disrespect toward anyone and everyone is widespread, self-centeredness is “the rule” of life, and the Christian faith is under attack around the world. How has this happened?

The Church, the true Church, over the past generation has been silent. It has lost it’s voice. The Church has become fearful instead of fearless. The Church has become compromised instead of standing strong and bold in the face of cultural evil and sin. The Church has traded God’s unchanging truth for cultural acceptance.

What will it take for the Church to experience revival? What will it take for the Church to grasp a new awakening? Perhaps some insight and instruction from Scripture, the book of Nehemiah, would be a good place to start.

In Nehemiah 1:3, Nehemiah received word while in captivity that “……the remnant who are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach; the walls of Jerusalem also is broken down, and its gates are burned with fire”. This is a dismal picture of a once glorious city. Could an analogy be drawn to the Church today? Could the situation found in Jerusalem be a picture of the Church in this day? The “walls” of truth have been neglected and allowed to be “torn down” through the Church’s silence and lack of commitment to the mission given to it by the Lord Jesus Christ himself to impact the world, the culture, and society for Christ. Ministers of the Word of God have allowed the Christian faith to be presented as only an ethical system of behavior instead of proclaiming the person of Jesus Christ and the infinite, eternal relationship Jesus wants with every individual. The Gospel is about believing this truth that Jesus paid each individual’s penalty for sin on the cross of Calvary. Salvation is available to those who will believe this according to Scripture. Salvation has nothing to do with an individual’s behavior; it has everything to do with believing. I refer you to the Gospel of John 3:18.

So receiving this news, what did Nehemiah do? Is there a “model” for Christians to consider?

In Nehemiah 1:4, we are told Nehemiah did this……”when I heard these words, I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven”.

There’s the “model”: Before the Lord, he wept, mourned, fasted and prayed. For the Church, this is called confession and repentance.

As a Christian, are you convicted of sin in your life? Then weep, mourn, fast and pray. Are you convicted of complacency in your life to the things of God? Then weep, mourn, fast and pray. Are you convicted of your own silence in standing for Jesus Christ? Then weep, mourn, fast and pray. Are you convicted of self-centeredness in most aspects of life? Then weep, mourn, fast and pray. Are you convicted of a lack of boldness in proclaiming Christ to the world, your friends and your family? Then weep, mourn, fast and pray.

True confession before the Lord of heaven as you weep, mourn, fast and pray will bring a cleansing, a renewal, a revival, and an awakening in your life and the collective life of the Church. If all God’s people would perhaps follow Nehemiah’s example, the Church would become, will become, vibrant again, truth would be proclaimed, lives would be eternally saved and changed, revival and a great awakening for the glory of God would be seen and experienced throughout our cities, states and nation.

Now is the time for revival. No more fear; no more complacency; no more self-centeredness; no more cowardice. It’s time for confession and repentance for the people of God, his Church – weep, mourn, fast and pray.

To God be the glory – great things He will do as we, His people, humble ourselves before His throne. We will find grace to help in our time of need. The Church will then fulfill it’s mission to the world to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. Time is running short – are you “all in”??

The Convicting Aspects of Salt

The Convicting Aspects of Salt

Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. ;Leviticus 2:13  You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  ;Matthew 5:13   

I have been an outdoor runner for more than half of my life. It does not matter to me whether it is winter, spring, summer or fall; I am outdoors running in the early morning hours, usually while it is still dark. Consistent with winter in the upper Midwest, several weeks have been snowy and icy. One morning I stepped outside to discover about 4 inches of snow on all the roads and streets on which I usually run, with the snow continuing to fall!! What a difficult run it was covering about 6 miles. The snow was flaky so it was like trying to run on loose sand at the beach. My hips and ankles were so sore at the end of the run, it took another 48 hours before I could get out on my next run. However, by the end of that day, all the snow on the streets had been tightly packed by cars and had even turned into some heavy ice patches. Driving home from work that evening was slow but the snow plows were out clearing as much of the snow as possible while dropping a salt mixture on the streets to help clear them. Two mornings later when I went out to run, voila!!! It was still freezing cold but the streets were clear of both snow and ice. They were dry as a bone and I was able to have a more “normal” run on the streets of the city. As I ran, however, I could not get out of my mind the effect the salt had on all the streets!! In 48 hours, the streets had gone from a treacherous condition to a dry, normal pavement!! Amazing!!

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WHY SHEPHERDS?

WHY SHEPHERDS?

 

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”

;Luke 2:8-9 (NIV)

 

 

On the night that Jesus was born, the angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds to make the announcement, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

But why the shepherds? Have you ever given this much thought? Many individuals simply think it was because Jesus was born into a humble family, placed in a humble manger, all within a humble barn, in a humble town. Certainly shepherds were one of the lowliest and most humble “professions” known at that time. Even Joseph, when ruling in Egypt, indicated “all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians” (Gen 46:34) and Jesse, when talking to Samuel concerning which of his sons was to be anointed king, indicated his youngest son, David, was but tending the sheep (I Sam 16:11).

But maybe there is more to the story! Let’s consider a different perspective on shepherds by looking back on the establishment of the Passover in Exodus 12. In this chapter of Scripture, the Lord has given Moses instructions in preparation for the 10th plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt, that plague being “every firstborn son in Egypt will die” (Exodus 11:5). The Lord has told Moses, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of the month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household…….The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect……This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance” (Gen 12:3,5,14).

Now consider this. There are approximately 1,500 years between the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the establishment of the Passover to the time when Jesus Christ was born. So for 1,500 years, shepherds played a key role in God’s plan to provide enough lambs, year-old males, without defect, so that all Israelite families could remember the Passover and worship God according to His will, purpose and eternal plan. In fulfilling their duties and responsibilities, these shepherds had to be active and intentional in their care of the sheep and lambs. As lambs were born, these shepherds had to maintain careful and consistent watch over the flocks from all predators. Many predators would come but these shepherds were committed to protect and serve the flock. Their eyes were keen to crevices and cliffs as they led the flock. And these shepherds made sure they found green pasture to feed those under their care. And perhaps the crowning event each year in the life of a shepherd was knowing his work provided the year-old male lamb, healthy and without defect so that his family and Israelite community members could worship the Lord God properly in accordance with His will. What an important responsibility! There was nothing passive about the work of a shepherd.

So on the night that Jesus was born and the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, could it be that God, who had used this lowly, unsophisticated, humble profession of shepherding to provide Passover lambs for 1,500 years, wanted shepherds to be the first to behold the real, true, and eternal “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). This was the Lamb, the Messiah, perfect, holy, righteous, and without defect or blemish, that had now arrived! And in that moment, the eyes of the shepherds were opened and their lives were changed forever. Scripture tells us, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20). Perhaps these very shepherds became some of the very first evangelists, proclaiming the good news and saving life of Jesus Christ. No more need to slaughter lambs from the flock year after year to secure God’s favor and forgiveness of sin! The once-for-all Lamb of God has arrived!

The lowly shepherds were visited by an angel of the Lord and were the first to see and worship the Lamb of God, even before the Magi came, those wise men from the east! You see, Scripture is so true where it shares the very words of Jesus who said, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30). Dearly beloved, like the shepherds of old, I hope and pray that you have come “to see” in the eyes of your heart the Lamb of God. It is His shed blood that provides your pardon and mercy; it is His shed blood that cleanses you of all sin; it is His shed blood that saves you and brings you eternal life.

In Luke 2:19, we are told that as Mary witnessed the visit of the shepherds and their response of worship and praise, she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Oh that we would do likewise, accepting by faith the gift of salvation and eternal life so graciously given.

One Day Closer……..

One Day Closer……..

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book beforeone of them came to be.”Psalm 139:16

Many people as they start a New Year take time to make new year’s resolutions. It is amusing that many such resolutions are couched with the phrase “I’ll try…..!!!”. That phrase is a recipe for failure. As soon as the pain or discomfort of the resolution sets in, many individuals simply give up. It is surprising how seldom you hear any resolution put in the terms of “I commit to do……”.  

 

When you come to that point in life where reality sets in and you realize that your days are, in fact, numbered, then the needed “commitment” for a resolution becomes exceedingly important. As I look forward to start the new year of 2011 and as I have more keenly realized the truth of Psalm 139: 16, an appropriate resolution for my life is found in a song written by P.P. Bliss in the early 1900’s. It is titled “My Prayer”.

  “More holiness give me,More striving within;More patience in suff’ring,More sorrow for sin;More faith in my Savior, More sense of His care;More joy in His service,More purpose in prayer. More gratitude give me, More trust in the Lord; More pride in His glory, More hope in His word;More tears for His sorrows,More pain at His grief;More meekness in trial,More praise for relief. More purity give me, More strength to o’ercome;More freedom from earthstain, More longing for home;More fit for the kingdom,More used would I be;More blessed and holy, More, Savior, like Thee.” 

May this song be a blessing to you and also your resolution throughout this new year of 2011.

 

Passion and Concern

Passion and Concern

     I am not a theologian. But I do find it important to read and study the Holy Scriptures to understand God’s perspective on life, life that He created. One thing I have learned is this: It is not “tolerance” to accept, promote or simply ignore immorality, and it is not “intolerance” to speak out against immorality. Speaking the truth in love represents a passion and concern for the eternal destiny of man. In examining the life of Jesus Christ, he always demonstrated tolerance and love for man, for the individual person. His whole earthly purpose was to walk the Calvary Road in order that individuals may be redeemed through faith in the loving work He accomplished on the Cross. But He also clearly spoke out on the exceeding immorality of immoral behavior throughout His life and ministry. His holiness and righteousness brought light to every circumstance and revealed man’s behavior for what it was and is.

In expressing these thoughts, I fully expect to hear the voices of opposition from the popular cultural scene. There will be one who accuses me of pushing my religious beliefs upon him or her. Not so!!! There may even be one who with shrillness uses the tired and overused accusation of homophobe. But make no mistake; they and all individuals are free to make the choices they desire. However, it is instructive to listen carefully to the objections raised. These voices of opposition demand tolerance for their behavior, no matter how immoral, and when failing to receive it, demonstrate intolerance for these other individuals. This is exactly opposite of the example given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every individual has freedom to choose his or her religious beliefs and behavior patterns. What is inescapable, however, is the ultimate and final accountability for those choices. It is that accountability which brings me back to the thought expressed above: speaking the truth in love represents a passion and concern for the eternal destiny of man. The Holy Scriptures confront each and every individual and reveals to us the truth of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. With love in His heart and light on His face, Christ is all love for each individual as expressed on Calvary’s Road and the Cross. It is our immoral behavior that makes Him weep.

Committed or Complacent? – Part II

Committed or Complacent? – Part II

Let’s look again at Agnes that was mentioned in “Committed or Complacent? – Part I” a little more. How did a 13-year old young lady come to such a deep commitment to Jesus Christ back in 304A.D. that she would lay down her life joyfully? How was she able to come to such a deep knowledge of and love for Jesus Christ?

To be sure she did not have a treatise on systematic theology by Lewis Sperry Chafer, nor did she have the helpful and insightful books written by Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, Max Lucado, Charles Colson, John Piper, Joseph Stowell, John MacArthur, Os Guinness, Billy Graham, Adrian Rogers, Tim LaHaye, or C.S. Lewis!! What she simply had to guide and direct her was the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. Agnes, at the tender age of 13, had searched the Scriptures carefully and thoughtfully to discover just who Jesus Christ is.

And in searching the Scriptures, Agnes had to come to some very clear conclusions even at the age of 13: (1) she must have recognized her deeply sinful nature and the need she had to be redeemed from that nature; (2) she must have recognized the Scriptural principle given to Adam that sin results in death, not just physical death but spiritual death and separation from God; (3) she must have recognized that the very character of God includes the matter of justice and, therefore, the wrath of God is fully due to those who live in disobedience and sin to His will; (4) she must have recognized that on her own she was doomed and that she had no power or authority within herself to become acceptable to God; (5) she must have recognized that God alone must provide a Savior to her if the wrath of God toward her was to be set aside; (6) she must have recognized that the very character of God includes a generous portion of grace as seen in the giving of His only begotten Son; (7) she must have recognized the perfect, innocence and pure Lamb of God found in Jesus Christ; (8) she must have recognized that the grace of God found in Jesus Christ satisfied the justice requirement of God found in His character; (9) she must have recognized that she must place her faith in that Lamb of God to grasp the redemption for which her heart longed; (10) she must have recognized the peace of God and the forgiveness of God given through the Holy Spirit as she placed her faith in Jesus Christ; (11) she must have recognized her completed and eternal stance before God as a saved saint solely on the basis of all that God had done; and (12) she must have recognized the joyful commitment she desired to make in her heart to be faithful to this redeemer savior no matter what may befall her.

She learned all that……….from the Holy Scriptures. Just how much time do you and I spend searching the Scriptures to discover all the treasures of God that are revealed to us? How often do we set this precious revelation of God aside to read other most worthy Christian books? Agnes has convicted me that I do this all to often. Agnes knew that the Scriptures were fully and completely God breathed. No other book can make this claim. No other book comes close to “the” revelation of God and His precious Son Jesus Christ. Yet we set this precious holy book of godly insights and treasures aside much too often to pursue our own interests. I am not sure I can even come close to the life giving commitment of Agnes apart from spending more time in the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.

Dearly beloved, I hope you will consider carefully, with me, the place of the Bible, the Word of God, in your life and walk with the Lord. Be committed to it…….don’t be complacent with the Word of God. As I have recommitted myself to a slow and careful reading, studying and consideration of the Word of God, I am finding anew all sorts of treasures and truth that are mine through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. I wish the same for you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you; May His face shine upon you; and give you peace………

Committed or Complacent? – Part I

Committed or Complacent? – Part I

What does this matter of “committed” look like? How would I be able to recognize such a characteristic? Let’s look at the story of Agnes from about the year 304 A.D.

By way of historical background, through a military overthrow, Diocletian became emperor of Rome in 284 and went about restoring the empire’s former glory and unity. Christianity was well established in 284 and, as a result, hindered the revival of the pagan religious practices. Caesar Galerius, Diocletian’s lieutenant, convinced him that he had to eliminate all Christians so in 303 he began the last and fiercest persecution of Christianity by the Roman emperors.

Agnes was a thirteen year old believer who had determined to remain a virgin as the bride of Christ, a vow not uncommon in the Christian community at that time. According to fourth century records, young men from prominent Roman families became angered by her refusal to wed and denounced Agnes to the head of the church of Rome as a Christian. The judge initially tried to humor and entice her to recant, but Agnes refused, repeating she would have no other spouse than Jesus Christ. The judge then threatened her by displaying instruments of torture like iron hooks, racks, and fire, but Agnes expressed no fear.

Frustrated, the judge threatened to send her to a brothel to which Agnes reportedly stated, “….you will never be able to profane my body, because it is consecrated to Christ”. So angry, the judge immediately sent her to a public brothel with the instructions that anyone was free to use and abuse her. Tradition states that many young men tried to take advantage of the offer but when seeing her, they were all afraid to approach her. One young man did attempt to take her and when he reached out was blinded by a flash and fell to the ground. Agnes stopped her singing of hymns and knelt next to this young man and prayed that his sight would be restored, which the Lord did.

When the judge heard that all men respected her, he grew more angry and sentenced her to death by beheading. According to Bishop Ambrose, who wrote in 377, Agnes was overjoyed on hearing the sentence and remained so even after seeing the executioner. Bishop Ambrose wrote she “went to the place of execution more cheerfully than others go to their wedding.” He further wrote, “At such a tender age a young girl has scarcely enough courage to bear the angry looks of her father and a tiny puncture from a needle makes her cry as if it were a wound. And still this little girl had enough courage to face the sword. She was fearless in the bloody hands of the executioner. She prayed; she bowed her head. Behold in one victim the twofold martyrdom of chastity and faith.”

That is what “committed” looks like.

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