Monday, 27 May 2013

No powers or authorities

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nor any powers 

Aside from not having to fear that death or anything in this life, the supernatural or the present or the future will take away God's love for us, we also don't have to fear "any powers". No government can separate us from God's love. No matter how much we are persecuted, God is more than able to preserve and sustain his people. Take China for an example - the church in China is one of the most persecuted, but it is constantly growing. We will suffer for our faith, but that cannot 'unsave' us, it does not mean that God doesn't love us, and if we are truly his people than he will preserve us and keep us standing firm in the faith. Likewise no parents, no teachers, no police, can ever take us away from the salvation we have in Christ Jesus if we are truly God's people! '

We can have complete assurance that God has and will save us if we have genuinely repented and if we truly have our faith in him (Romans 10:9, Mark 1:15, Joel 2:32). Don't fear authorities! God sets them in place, he can depose them.

Daniel 2:20-21
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning."

Take heart and praise God! Don't fear man, trust in our saviour and put on the full armour of God!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

VOM Prayer watch

NIGERIA: Suspected Boko Haram Gunmen Kill Christian Leader

Gunmen believed to be members of the deadly Islamic extremist Boko Haram group killed Rev Faye Pama Musa, secretary of the Borno state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

The gunmen reportedly followed the long-time Christian leader from his church building, where he was holding an evening Bible study, to his house in the Government Reservation Area in Maiduguri.

The assailants reportedly dragged the pastor from his home and shot him outside, in front of his daughter, who had followed them out pleading for his life. Pama was the father of three children.

Senior pastor of a Pentecostal church, Rhema Assembly, Pama often spoke out against persecution of Christians in Borno state, epicentre of Boko Haram attacks in north-eastern Nigeria. He had been involved in ministry leadership for more than 26 years.

The shooting happened within an hour of President Goodluck Jonathan declaring a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, allowing the government to send more troops and take other special measures to try curbing violence by Boko Haram.

The group has reportedly killed more than 4,000 people since 2009, and the state of emergency comes after a gun battle between the military and Boko Haram in Baga, Borno state last month that some say took more than 100 civilian lives.

In a 2007 interview, Pama had said that he would not leave Borno state in spite of the danger to his ministry and life from Islamic extremists. Pama believed that only by showing love to Muslims could they be won to Christ, “and not through fighting.”

Sources: Assist News Service, Morning Star News
  • Uplift this family and community to the Lord during their time of shock and grief; pray He will bear their sorrows and bring them comfort, protection and provision.
  • Thank the Lord for the faithful witness of Rev Faye Pama Musa, pray his death will not be in vain but even now will be used by the Lord to enlarge His kingdom.
  • Pray for the safety of the military and police who are attempting to curb the efforts of Boko Haram.
  • Pray for all members of Boko Haram, may the Lord deliver them from this bondage of hatred and violence and bring many to repentance.

UZBEKISTAN: Criminal Conviction and Fines

Sharofat Allamova, a Protestant from Urgench in north-western Uzbekistan, has been given one and a half years of corrective labour, after being convicted under criminal charges brought for the "illegal production, storage, import or distribution of religious literature".

Allamova will be placed in a low-paid state job, her salary being further reduced by having to pay 20 per cent of it to the state during her sentence. She will only be permitted to travel within Uzbekistan with written state permission and is banned from leaving the country. It has been stated that the NSS secret police compelled witnesses to make false statements against Allamova.

Separately, fines have been imposed on people in the capital Tashkent for meeting in a private home and having Christian literature, and for carrying a personal Bible and New Testament.

Source: Forum 18 News Service
  • Pray Allamova will continue steadfastly in her faith and even be content as she undertakes corrective labour (Philippians 4: 12-13).
  • Pray the Lord will bring genuine religious freedom to Uzbekistan.
  • Pray the church will continue to meet to spur one another on, to worship the Lord and learn from His word.

SRI LANKA: Christians Under Attack

In recent months, Christian persecution in Sri Lanka has intensified owing to the rise in Buddhist nationalism in the country.

Extremist Buddhist groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Strong Army) and the Sinhala Rawaya (Sinhala Echo) have incited religious disharmony and carried out attacks, targeting both Christian and Muslim minorities in the country.

In a wave of violence, around 30 churches have come under attack this year alone. In 2012 there were 52 reported incidents of persecution. Quite alarmingly, these attacks have occurred with impunity, with little or no state action to prosecute those responsible.

In addition to the violence, local governments and police have ordered many churches to close down, claiming that they are not authorised by the state.

In a recent incident in the Hambantota district, authorities called on certain evangelical churches to confirm their legality, warning church leaders that failure to do so would result in the closure of the churches.

Source: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission
  • Pray that Christians in Sri Lanka would place their trust in the Lord in this time of trouble.
  • Pray that the Lord would protect Christian leaders in the country who are at risk of violence.
  • Pray that those inciting religious tensions and persecuting Christians would experience a change in heart, repent, and come to know the saving grace of God.
  • Pray that church leaders would depend on the Holy Spirit to discern the appropriate response to the situation.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Psalm 32

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Neither Angels nor Demons or Time.

Romans 8:38-39

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

(To view Part 1, click Here)

"Neither angels nor demons"

If we are Christians, we don't have to fear the supernatural. We trust in God who created everything and who governs it all - we don't have to be afraid of Satan or demons (though we certainly do not underestimate him), and we don't have to fear that they will separate us from God's love.

We learn from Job 1 and 2 that even Satan cannot do anything without God's permission. God does allow bad things to happen, he does allow Satan to attack us and to harm us, but he only ever does it for our good (Romans 8:28). He does it so that we will become mature and complete (James 1:2-4), to refine us like gold (1 Peter 1), and he will never let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). Therefore we don't have to fear Satan. If we don;t have to fear the supernatural, we also don't have to fear the natural - God is in control and if we are his people nothing can ever separate us from his love. Nothing can stop him loving us and nothing can rip us from his hands. If we are Christians then we are safe in Christ. He will preserve us and bring us to eternal life with him.

If God loves and looks after us and nothing can happen except what he allows. Since he loves us he will never allow anything to happen to us without an extremely good reason for it, and he will never allow us to suffer without purpose or beyond what we can cope with.

"Neither the present nor the future"

Likewise, nothing that is happening or that will happen can stop God from loving us, or us from loving him if he is sustaining us. We don't have to fear trials, temptations or sufferings. We don't have to fear - even though the mountains are falling into the heart of the sea (Psalm 46). We simply need to trust God. Trust him in everything - in what's happening now and in what could happen. I personally find myself fairly anxious about what I'll be doing next year. I finish school soon and have to work out what to do and where God wants me, yet I don't really know. I also find it easy to get caught up in life and worry about my friends and family, about money, about things which don't really matter. In reality we just need to learn to be content with what we have and to trust God to provide all we need to do his will.

Don't fear the future. God has it all planned out and he is perfect and good. He works everything for the good of his people (Romans 8:28). "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)

Nothing we face means that God doesn't love us. He has a purpose in it all! Trust him!

Are you convinced that nothing can separate you from God's love is you are a Christian?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Neither death nor life.

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These two verses are the culmination of all that has been said before. They are based entirely on God's love for us - it is the reason for the hope we have, for our certainty. God's love is the reason Paul is convinced of these things.
1. Neither Death nor Life
In terms of what we see in this world, there is no greater separator then death. Everyone dies and we mourn when we lose friends and family by it. But it cannot separate us from God's love. In fact, it is through death that (if we are Christians) we will come to see and know God's love even better - we will be accepted into heaven eternally. Why? Not because of anything in us, but totally because of Jesus and his death for us. Life also cannot separate us from God's love: Nothing that can or will happen will be able to 'unsave' a genuine christian! We can never stuff up so badly that God won't forgive. Don't lose hope! We need to hate our sin and work hard to obey God if we are Christians, but Christ died in our place - we won't be condemned.

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Death leads to heaven, so we have no fear of death and sin leads to repentance and therefore forgiveness because of Jesus and therefore no guilt in life.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Romans 8:35-37 - Who/what shall separate us from the love of God?

Romans 8:35-37

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Paul continues with the application from the former verses - God is for us and no one can stand against him, He has given us his son - what would he withhold from us? No one can accuse or condemn us because it is he who saves and judges. Therefore what/who can separate us from God's love? Nothing!

Notice first though - Christ Loves us!! We sin. We stuff up, we hated him, we rejected him, we are the reason he was crucified. We lie, we steal, we cheat, we hate and we hurt. All of which are a rejection of God's word and of his character which is good, just, perfect, holy, pure, merciful and loving. Yet, though we deserve hell, God instead chooses to love us. Not because he needs us, not because he's wimpy and didn't want to hurt us. No, because he is loving and merciful and gracious. Gd will judge eternally all who continue to reject him. But for Christians who have turned to Christ for salvation, God loves us. What an awesome God! We deserve hell, yet he loves us!
Take a read of 1 John 4:10
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

"Shall trouble..." - what can separate us from God's love? Nothing. No amount of hardship, no amount of pain, no amount of embarrassment, no amount of fear. Why? Not at all because of us - we fall away so easily. Entirely because of God. Because in John 17:12, Jesus says "While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost". Because God defends us, because God holds us, because God does not change his mind. Because God has chosen to save us and no one can accuse or condemn us. Because Jesus died, because he rose again, because he dealt with our sin and paid in full! That's why! If it was up to us, we wouldn't have any hope! We already proved that - that's why Jesus had to die in our place! Left on our own, we would fall away straight away. Yet we don't have to fear, because it is God who holds us. We only have to trust him and obey him and live for his glory! Love God! He loved us and saved us (Christians)!

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” - We will even face death, but we face it willingly for Christ, and he will sustain us. Trust him and do not fear. He died for us, and we may be called to die for him - are you ready for that? Is eternity with God of more worth to you then any life or physical gain here? Would you die for Christ? If yes, then would you give up your sin for him? Would you lose friendships for him? Would you be embarrassed and hated for him because you share the gospel? Because you can't stand sin and don't want any of it in your life?

If we are Christians, the answer needs to be yes. If it is then "we are more than conquerors through him who loved us". We don't have to fear, because it is through Christ that we are conquerors. It is through him we are saved, and it is through him that we do not have to ever fear anything in this world. We have the promise of eternal life with him! What else could be better? What could ever be worth trading for that?

God is awesome.

God Bless! I hope that was as encouraging to you as it was to me!


Thursday, 9 May 2013

VOM Prayer Watch

CHINA: Bookstore Employee Arrested

In December 2012, an employee of a Christian bookstore in central China was asked to come to a police station to retrieve $6,000 worth of books that had been seized from the store in a raid several months earlier. However, when Mr Li arrived at the police station, he was immediately arrested and sent to prison.

Although his family was told that he would be released by February, he remains in prison. He will make his first appearance in court on 9 May but officials have not given a reason for his arrest. While in prison, Mr Li has led three people to Christ.

Source: Voice of the Martyrs
  • Thank the Lord for Mr Li’s faithful witness in prison
  • Pray for the new believers.
  • Pray that Mr Li’s lawyer, who is a Christian, will represent him wisely and that he would rely on the Lord to give him the words to say (Matthew 10:19).
  • Pray for his wife and two children who desperately want his return.

LIBYA: Christian Workers Released 

Libyan authorities have released an Egyptian national and three other foreigners who were arrested on10 February in Benghazi for allegedly illegally importing Christian materials. The Egyptian national is recuperating at home with his wife and two children.

“Although he and the others suffered for the sake of the Master’s name, they received it with great joy and with an attitude of willingness to suffer for Christ,” a VOM contact wrote.

“As we update you about this, we would like to thank you so much for your prayers and your support for us and them during this last period until all those who were involved in the crisis were released. We pray now for post-traumatic relief for the workers who came back, and we seek direction for the next phase in their lives.”

Source: Voice of the Martyrs
  • Thank the Lord for His answer to prayer in releasing the four believers and strengthening their faith.
  • Pray they will continue to rejoice in the opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness through the opposition they have faced (James 1:2-4).
  • Pray the Lord will use their testimony to encourage the faith of other believers.

SOMALIA: Widowed Mother of Five Shot by Militants

On 13 April, members of the Al-Shabaab militant group ended the life of 42-year-old Fartun Omar, a Christian mother of five in Beledweyne, Somalia. Fartun's husband Siad, who was also a believer, had been previously killed by gunmen on 8 December 2012, for converting from Islam.

According to a neighbour, the militants were searching for Fartun for several months because they were opposed to her quiet Christian faith, which she tried to keep discrete in this hostile environment. It was while attempting to flee the city that this mother of five had been captured and then mercilessly shot to death.

Source: WEA Religious Liberty Commission, All Christian News
  • Please pray for Siad and Fartun's surviving children, that they would experience the comforting and loving presence of Jesus during this time of heartbreak and trauma.
  • Despite the tragedy of suddenly losing both parents, may the Lord work out His good plans in each of their lives.
  • Pray that He will defeat the destructive plans of the Al-Shabaab militants, bringing them to justice, repentance and salvation.

Romans 8:34 - Who can condemn?

Romans 8:34
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

We learnt last time that no one can accuse us, and this ties straight to this verse. Why can no one accuse? Because it is God himself who has forgiven us. He is the judge. Who then can condemn, if the judge has declared us justified and not guilty? No one. God is the judge. He reigns over everything and he alone can and will judge. Everyone on earth has sinned (Take a read through Romans 3). We inherit a sinful nature from Adam, and from birth we sin. Sin is disobedience to God and it is an attack on his character - God is good, faithful, just, pure, etc and sin is wicked, corrupt, false, etc. We all sin and we all justly deserve his wrath. What is his wrath? It is eternal destruction in hell - that is the price we need to pay for sin. We cannot ever pay it in full and therefore the punishment is eternal. How then is there no condemnation for the Christian? Well that's the gospel isn't it? Jesus, who is God, came to earth and died in our place. He took God's wrath in our place if we are his people. He paid for it 100%, and his sacrifice is of infinite value. Because he was perfect and did not sin, he could take our sin and take God's wrath for it. Therefore Gods wrath is satisfied and he is able to show us mercy and grace. If you are a Christian, you are forgiven. 100% eternally forgiven. That's something to rejoice in. Who then condemns? No one - Jesus, who died and rose again intercedes for us. 

A quick side note before we get to that bit though: We easily pass over the words Jesus Christ. They have a lot of meaning. Jesus means saviour - he lived up to that title. Christ means anointed one. In the Old Testament, it was the Prophets, the Priests and the Kings who were anointed. Jesus is our Prophet and he fulfils all prophecy about himself. He is our High Priest (see Hebrews) - he intercedes for us and he is also the sacrifice - he died in our place. He is also our king. Are you serving him? Are you praising him? Am I? But more, he is our servant king - he led by giving himself for us. Are we doing likewise?

Anyway, back on track: "Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life" - this is essential to the gospel. Jesus died, he took our sin and God's wrath for it. He paid it in full. But more than that - he rose again! This is crucial to the gospel! If Jesus was not raised we are fools and have nothing to hope in (See 1 Corinthians 15). If Jesus was not raised, we have no proof that he really did pay for sin. We have no proof he was God, we have no proof that we also will be raised and more than that - he is a liar, since he said he would rise (Luke 18:33, etc). He lives! He is our saviour, He is our God and we cannot claim to be christians and deny that he rose again.

"[and he] is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." - Why can no one condemn? Because Jesus died and rose and he ascended to heaven where he sits at the right hand of God. He 'reminds' God not to condemn us, because in Jesus God's justice is satisfied. Of course, God knows this, but Jesus has that role - he stands between us and God and through him we are blessed, not judged by God. We have a saviour who is constantly standing in our place and helping us and defending us! What an awesome saviour and God! What a mighty King! We should be joyful, we should rejoice! What do we have to be sad about? Surely nothing that outweighs complete forgiveness in Christ and eternal life with him after death if we are Christian!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Romans 8:33 - Who can accuse?

Romans 8:33
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.

Here's Paul's next question and comfort drawn from our salvation - if it is God who has forgiven us, who can successfully accuse us? God is the judge, it is he who judges. Satan's whole purpose is to condemn us - to cause us to sin and then accuse us of it before God so we will be justly condemned to hell. Yet in Jesus our sins are dealt with - he took the punishment so that there is no need for us to suffer it (assuming we are Christians). He took our sin, he became sinful even though he is God and was perfect, and he suffered God's wrath against sin in our place. God therefore had declared us forgiven - justified. It is as if we had not sinned, we are completely, 100% forgiven if we genuinely follow Christ. Therefore who can accuse? For it is God alone who we have sinned against and he has forgiven us. It is God alone we have offended by disobeying his perfect law, by being out of line from his character, and it is God who made a way, through Jesus, that we might be saved and forgiven in full. If God has chosen to save us, then who can accuse us and condemn us by it? He chooses us and he is more then able and willing to fulfil that by bringing us to heaven eternally.

But, although it is God who chooses, it is also us who need to respond. God is in control, but we are not exempt from responsibility - if we reject him, it is us rejecting him and he will judge justly for that. If we choose hi it is because he first chose us. I've heard God's sovereignty and Human responsibility described as two train tracks (it's not a perfect example, but it might help). They both go the same way, and both are needed. God chooses. We are responsible. I cannot understand it - but that's ok.

Isaiah 55:9

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Therefore, have you responded to God? Is this true for you? Or are you still under his condemnation for sin? Jesus offers complete and full salvation - no sin we have committed is to big for him to forgive. His sacrifice is infinite in value. He can save. Will you turn to him? Will you repent and say sorry for your sins, turning around from them and walking towards God as it were by obeying him? Will you put your faith not in your strength or in your knowledge and wisdom, but in him as the creator and saviour, as the only one who can forgive? We cannot save ourselves. We need Jesus.

Note: Obedience to God comes from being saved - it does not save. We could never wipe out our own sin by doing enough good to cover it up. Imagine if a murderer said to the judge that he helped an old lady across the road and was therefore not punished for his crime - that would be unjust. The same applies to us. We have all sinned and God will judge justly. Our sin needs to be dealt with and Jesus alone can deal with it. We obey out of trust in God and thankfulness and genuinely being sorry for sin.

I hope that was helpful! God bless!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Romans 8:32 - What wouldn't he give us?

Romans 8:32
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Again a beautiful and encouraging passage for all who genuinely trust in God. What Paul is saying here is that based on what God has already given us, what would he hold back?

What has he given us? His own son. I heard this illustration at KYCK two weeks ago: God gave up his son for us because that's how he could show his love. If he gave up a planet or a solar system for us, it wouldn't mean much, since he could just make another one. He gave up his son because Jesus is truly valuable. I'm not a father, but I would imagine any good father values his children above almost everything else. Certainly above any possession he has. But what God did is more than simply giving up his son to die. Jesus is God. Jesus, God the father and the Holy Spirit are God, they have existed eternally in perfect relationship. God gave up Jesus, and Jesus willingly came and died for us, to suffer God's wrath against our sin. Jesus, who is God, was rejected by God for our sakes, he suffered and died under God's wrath, taking our sin. I cannot fathom the worth of that sacrifice. Why did he have to die? Well we all sin (Romans 3:23) - we all disobey God and stuff up in fact we like sinning. Sin is rebellion against God and against his character. From his word we know that God is good (Psalm 136:1), he is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13, Psalm 36:5), he is just (2 Thessalonians 1:6), he is pure (Psalm 30:5), he is righteous (Psalm 145:17), he is perfect and holy (1 Peter 1:16, Psalm 18:30, Matthew 5:48), He is merciful, gracious and compassionate (Psalm 145:8), he is true (John 14:6) and he is loving (1 John 4:8). Sin is anything that is not in line withGod's character and is in essence living our own way instead of submitting to God. As a result, sin is by definition wicked, evil, wrong, and God being just must punish it. The punishment: hell eternally, because we could never pay enough for the offense that our sin is. God could have justly left it that way and condemned all people eternally to hell. Instead he gave up Jesus in our place. Jesus came, gave up his eternal glory (See Philippians 2), lived as a human. Not as a king, but he was rejected, born in a stable, hated throughout his life and poor. He lived among sinners preaching the gospel (what I'm explaining basically) and then he died in our place on the cross. He took our sin even though he was 100% perfect and he died in our place, taking God's wrath. Because he is God and is perfect he could pay for our sin when we never could. Why did God do it? Two reasons: For his glory and out of love for us.

Therefore, if God has given up Jesus for us at such a great cost, what wouldn't he give up for us? Why would he not give us our every need? Obviously God doesn't give us (Christians) our every desire. He allows us to suffer, he allows us to be persecuted, he allows us to live in poverty. But why does he? It has to be out of love. It has to be because that it what is best for us eternally. Otherwise him sacrificing Jesus means nothing, because he wouldn't be willing to go further. No. He gave up Jesus and he supplies all we need to do his will. What is his will? Among other things, it is for his people to grow and be like him and to be saved eternally and spend eternity in heaven with him. God allows trials for our good (see James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1). By them we learn to persevere and therefore we inherit heaven because we do persevere. By them we learn and grow, we learn to trust in God and we learn to love him more. Therefore the sufferings we face are the best thing God could let happen to us - even though it doesn't feel like it, and he doesn't let us suffer without reason. Trust him! If he gave up Jesus for us why would he hold back any other good thing? Only because it is better for us in the eternal perspective. 

I would rather suffer here a little while and have eternity in heaven then to live well in this life and go to hell eternally. What about you? Is Jesus your saviour and Lord? Are you living for him every day? Are you ready to trust and obey him in everything you do? Even when it hurts? Even when people hate you for it? Will you obey God? If you're not a christian then Repent and Believe! (Mark 1:15).Say sorry for sin and turn to Christ! Count the cost, realise that if you turn to Jesus you will have to give up sin and you will suffer and maybe even die for being a Christian, you will lose friends. But what could be of more value then eternal life with God? Especially when compared to hell eternally where everyone who is not a Christian will go. If you are a Christian, then take heart! Trust God and be content with what he has given you! I find that's one of the hardest things to do.

God Bless! Praise him!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Romans 8:31 - Who can be against us?

Romans 8:31
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

The next few passages are all connected, and they are so comforting and encouraging. One thought though before we get to the passage. It is great to hear God's word and to be encouraged by it, but are you willing to be challenged by it? Do you only turn to passages which you know are comforting? Or do you genuinely listen to God's rebukes when you read them and they apply to your life? It's so easy to just love bits of God's word. But no - we need to love all of it, or else we don't actually love God, we love an idol which we have created.

"What, then, shall we say in response to these things?" - What things? That God is in control, that he has chosen and called us and that he will save us. That he has forgiven us completely. That we are united to Christ in his death and resurrection if we are Christians. That we deserve hell and death and destruction and yet we are forgiven 100% because of Jesus and not only that but adopted as God's children, made co-heirs with Christ and promised eternal life in heaven? That in Christ we die to sin and are made alive to serve God, new life and complete forgiveness. Those things.

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" - If God, the creator of the universe, the sustainer of all things, the all knowing, all powerful, sovereign God, the one and only God, the living God, the God who is just, perfect, pure, right, faithful, good, trustworthy, merciful, mighty, loving, holy, gracious and entirely awesome is for us, who can be against us? If he has saved us, if in Christ we are his children, what can we possibly have to fear? Dont hear me (or the verse for that matter) wrong - life will be hard, we will fear, we will stumble, we will sin, every christian will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12 promises us that). We may be poor, we may lose all friends, all our family, we may be hated, we may be murdered, we may be tortured and rejected - but we don't need to fear. God is for us - who can be against us? Our lives here, no matter how long or short, no matter how hard or easy, are only temporary. We have the completely certain hope of heaven if we are truly Christians, and therefore we should not fear because we have hope and we are going to eternal life with God, in his presence where there will be no more pain or mourning or death. (See Revelations 21). Who can be against us? Who can overcome our God? No one. Not if we're christians. Not because we are good, or worthy of it, but because God is gracious and merciful and has chosen to save us if we are his people. Not based on our strength, but based entirely on Jesus' strength and God's strength. We are nothing. He saves and it is in him that we find rest!

So the question remains, is this true for you? Are you a Christian? Have you turned from your sins (i.e. repented) and is your faith, your trust, in Jesus alone? That is the only way to be saved. If you are a Christian, then are you living like it? Are you fearing, or are you trusting God? Are you growing and obeying God, or are you living as if he hasn't forgiven you, or as if it doesn't matter to you if he has?

What an awesome God!

Psalm 34:3
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

God Bless,