Saturday, 31 August 2013

All Roads Don't Lead to Heaven (Part 1)

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One message our culture, and therefore we as people, love to hear is that "all roads lead to heaven". "You'll be al
right as long as you're not a murderer or rapist". "Live how you want to as long as it doesn't hurt others or force your values on them". The problem with this message is that it's from us, humans, not from God. It's us trying to make ourselves feel better and have some sense of security. Well, lets see what God says about this.
John 14:6
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Wait a second. God (i.e. Jesus) is telling us clearly here that what our culture says, and what we so often want to believe is wrong. All roads don't lead to heaven - only Jesus does. Heaven is where God is, and "No one comes to the father except through [Jesus]" because he is the way, he is the truth and he is the life.

The way
Jesus is the only way to get to heaven. God is perfect, holy and entirely righteous. In him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5). In contrast, we are all sinful. We have all stuffed up. We all reject God. We all disobey him. Obviously that means there's a problem. God demands and requires perfect obedience. No human can achieve that because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

Yet, instead of just judging us as we deserve and sending us all to hell to suffer his wrath eternally, God sent Jesus (who is also God) into the world as a man. Jesus came and did not sin. He preached the gospel: That he would die for our sins, and that all who repent and believe (turn from sin and trust in him) will be saved. He then was crucified, taking God's wrath for all the sin of those who put their faith in him. he then rose again, proving that he had truly paid for our sin, since death is the result of sin.

You see, without payment for sin, God would justly have to condemn us. But because Jesus took that punishment and our sin on the cross if we're christians, we can be forgiven. Because he was perfect he could swap, taking our sin so we could take his perfection in God's sight. Because he was a man he could have our sin and live among sinful people. Because he is God he could pay the price that we never could. Jesus is the only way to God because he is the only way that we can be forgiven.

The question then has to be asked: Have you turned to Jesus as the only way to God? Have you given your life to him? Is this shown by how you live? Jesus is the only way to God - Mohammed isn't, nor is Buddha. Money can't get you to heaven, and your friends can't take you there because they're sinful too. God works won't even get you there, because no matter how much good you do, you're still guilty. A murderer doesn't suddenly become innocent by giving money to charity - that wouldn't be justice (I mean, I could go steal money and then give most it to charity: that wouldn't make me innocent). So many 'christians' don't truly follow Christ, they instead try to rely on their good works. This method will always fail because we cannot be good enough since we have sinned.

Jesus is truly the only way.

Can you say with Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Friday, 30 August 2013

VOM Prayer Watch

Prayer Watch

KAZAKHSTAN: Pastor Victim of Soviet-Era Methods

Lyazzat Almenova (34) is a member of Grace Church in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana. In 2011 her mother made allegations against the church, claiming the pastor had caused her daughter to become 'schizophrenic'.

After a state 'expert' confirmed the diagnosis, the police started investigating Pastor Kashkumbayev (66). He was arrested, accused of “praying for the sick” and thereby “psychologically influencing” church members so that their health is harmed. He is also accused of using “stupefying substances” (which turned out to be the non-alcoholic red tea used in communion) to 'collect gifts' (church offerings) from members.

On 19 July Pastor Kashkumbayev was transferred to the Almaty City Psychological-Psychiatric Assessment Centre. There are great fears for his wellbeing there.

Source: Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission

Ask the ever-present Lord of Hosts to shield, protect and deliver Pastor Kashkumbayev. Pray for his release.
Pray God will give Kazakhstan's Christians great wisdom, courage and grace to enable them to act as effective witnesses for the Gospel.
Pray for all those in authority in Kazakhstan.

IRAN:  Court Refuses Pastor Saeed's Appeal

An Iranian court has rejected an appeal from Saeed Abedini, the American Christian pastor held in Iran for his Christian faith, and refused to reduce the eight-year prison sentence according American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

Abedini, 33, an American citizen, has been held in Iran’s Evin Prison since September, following his arrest on a bus. His supporters say he has been beaten and tortured in the prison, and that he was in Iran to try to start a secular orphanage.

Abedini’s lawyers were hopeful that new Iranian President Hasan Rowhani, who took office this month, would show more clemency in religious persecution cases. Instead, Abedini's legal team is now more fearful that the latest legal setback could mean he'll face additional beatings and abuse inside the notoriously brutal prison.

“The news out of Iran is devastating to our family,” said Naghmeh Abedini, who believes her husband's only hope for freedom lies with Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.

Sources: Fox News, Jubilee Campaign

Please pray the Lord will comfort Saeed and his family so they will not despair but cling ever closer to Him during this difficult and uncertain time.
Pray the Lord’s favour will rest upon Saeed and his legal team as they prepare for the next course of action.
Ask the Lord to protect Saeed while in prison and use him as a Gospel witness to other prisoners and prison authorities.

VIETNAM: Bibles Confiscated from House Church

Local authorities confiscated 16 Bibles and some hymnals from a group of Hmong believers during a house church meeting two weeks ago, a VOM worker reports. The house church of 30 families was formed two months ago after an evangelist came and shared the Gospel in their mountain village.

No Christians lived in the village prior to the evangelist’s visit, and police are especially opposed to Christianity spreading in new areas.

Police are watching the house and have threatened to arrest the group’s leader and tear down the house if they meet again. They also took the believers’ mobile phones and told them not to contact anyone outside the house. VOM is making plans to replace the Bibles that were taken by police.

Source: Voice of the Martyrs USA

Pray the Lord will grant wisdom to these new Christians to know how to deal with the authorities (Matthew 10:19).
Pray they will not stop meeting together to worship the Lord and learn from His word.
Pray for the authorities who are opposed to the Gospel in Vietnam.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

It's Not About You.

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Romans 11:17-21
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

 There are heaps of things that can be pulled from these verses, but the one I want to focus on today is that it's not about you. It's not about me. It's not even about us. It's about God, the root.

We are naturally very proud. When something goes right for us, we like to take the glory ourselves. For example, even though I know it is not true, I sometimes find myself thinking that I'm better than other people and that's why God saved me. No, in reality I am far worse than a whole heap of people. The only difference is that I'm saved by grace. There's nothing in us that makes us worth saving. God does it to show forth his glory.

The passage in Romans is directed at the Gentiles, warning them against pride. The Jews had rejected Jesus, and therefore they had been "cut off", and the Gentiles had been "grafted in". Paul is warning them against the mentality of pride, which says - "The Jews were cut off so we could be put in". No, in reality the Jews (as a nation) were cut off because they did not believe and they rejected God's salvation. It has nothing to do with us.

We like to think that everything is about us, and I think that's because everything in our culture (at least here in Australia) is telling me that it's all about Me. Because I'm worth it. No, in reality I'm not worth it - you're not worth it. We're vile sinners.

Something needs to change: We need to stop thinking that it's all about ourselves and we need to start putting our focus on God. It's a hard battle, because we constantly shift back to ourselves. We constantly, subtly get proud again and we don't even notice until we've fallen into the trap again. That's what I find at least.

Here are a few verses to consider in the light of all this:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
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 honour God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

All glory to God! (Easy to say, much harder to actually give it all to him)
Nat.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Why Being Self-Glorifying Doesn't Make God Selfish.

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One question that has been on my mind of late is: How can God do everything entirely for his glory and not be selfish? Why is he allowed to glorify himself when we can't - isn't that pride?

Well in short, the answers to both of those is a big No. No, God isn't being selfish, and No he isn't being proud - not in the way that we understand those two words.

Before I try to explain that, we need to establish that God does everything for his glory. Here are a couple of verses - there are plenty of others, look around!
Romans 11:36
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
God created everything and sustains everything and works everything for his glory (See also Psalm 19 and Romans 8:28).
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
We are called to glorify God in everything we do because he deserves all the glory. (For some more verses check out this link).

The reason that God must glorify himself is because he is God. It is because he is perfect. To maintain his perfection he cannot commit idolatry - therefore he cannot worship anything other than himself or glorify anything besides himself.

God created everything in existence, he reigns over it all.
Only he deserves glory, and that's why he is not being proud in having it. For example. If I play piano for someone and they tell me that I'm a good piano player, then (assuming it is true) they aren't glorifying me or making me proud, they're simply telling the truth - it's what I do with that compliment that turns it into praise for God or pride in myself.

God created the universe and he deserves all glory. Therefore when we give him the glory we are just doing what should be done. God isn't being proud or selfish in demanding it of us, he's maintaining his holiness and his goodness.

"The righteousness of God is the infinite zeal and joy and pleasure that he has in what is supremely valuable, namely, his own perfection and worth. And if he were ever to act contrary to this eternal passion for his own perfections he would be unrighteous, he would be an idolater." - John Piper (Solid Joys App).

Here are three ways that this might apply to life and our walk with God
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  • The gospel isn't primarily about you. In our consumeristic culture we are constantly told: "it's all about you" (I mean, it is all about me, right?). We're even told that in so many churches nowadays: "Jesus loves you", "Jesus came to save you", "Jesus wants to be your best friend". You know what? While those things do hold truth, they can get in the way of us understanding the deeper and fuller truths of the gospel. Satan can and does use them to make us focus on ourselves instead of Jesus and to get us to settle for less in our understanding of the gospel. The truth is that it isn’t a one or the other scenario – it isn’t that either God saved me because he loves me or he saved me to glorify himself. In reality both are true: Yes Jesus did die to save us. Yes he does love us. But he loves us for his own glory, to make his goodness, mercy and love known to us so we can glorify and love him eternally. He is glorified in loving us. The gospel isn't first and foremost about us. It's about God glorifying himself by providing a way for us to be saved. Don't hear me wrong: God does love us (John 3:16), he does care for us (1 Peter 5:7), he did truly want to save us. But he didn't save us because we are amazing. He saved us because he is amazing and we are completely wretched. That should be encouraging, because it means that it doesn’t depend on how good we are or what we can do for God. It depends entirely on what Jesus has done: we couldn’t do it ourselves. 
    • Glorify God, not yourself. God calls for us to glorify him in all we do. Are you and I going to obey that command? We need to seriously think about this. We aren't saved simply for our own benefit, we're also saved for God's glory and we are commanded to glorify him. How can we do that? Praise him for all he has created, spend time in his word and in prayer, share the gospel, tell people of his mercies and his goodness. But in doing all those things be joyful and content in him.
    • Be joyful at the privilege of being able to glorify God. We were created to glorify God and it is a privilege to do so. Be joyful in it and spend time doing it! This is something that I fall short on so easily - I get caught up doing stuff, being "godly" (bordering on legalistic sometimes), and I forget to just glorify and praise God. I forget to spend time enjoying his word and his creation. Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). We need to spend time rejoicing in who God is.
    I hope this has given you something to consider and think about, and I hope it's been helpful.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    Nat.

    Tuesday, 27 August 2013

    Solid Joys Devotion

    Yesterday morning I woke up to this devotion by Desiring God's Solid Joys app, and I thought I'd share it.

    Jesus Will Trample All Our Enemies
    Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.(1 Corinthians 15:24)

    How far does the reign of Christ extend?

    Verse 25 says, “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” The word ALL tells us the extent.

    So does the word EVERY in verse 24: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”

    There is no disease, no addiction, no demon, no bad habit, no fault, no vice, no weakness, no temper, no moodiness, no pride, no self-pity, no strife, no jealousy, no perversion, no greed, no laziness that Christ does not aim to overcome as the enemy of his honour.

    And the encouragement in that promise is that when you set yourself to do battle with the enemies of your faith and your holiness, you will not fight alone.

    Jesus Christ is now, in this age, putting all his enemies under his feet. Every rule and every authority and every power will be conquered.

    So, remember that the extent of Christ’s reign reaches to the smallest and biggest enemy of his glory. It will be defeated.

    Psalm 91



    Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
    I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
    Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
    He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
    You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
    nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
    A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
    You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

    If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
    no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
    For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
    they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
    You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
    “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
    He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honour him.
    With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

    Monday, 26 August 2013

    God's faithfulness

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    Yesterday night I was reading through Exodus 3-4, and one of the things that really stood out to me was God's absolute faithfulness. In verse 15...
    God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
    “This is my name forever,
    the name you shall call me
    from generation to generation.
     Throughout these two chapter Moses is making excuses about why he shouldn't go to tell help the Israelites. God in his patience doesn't kick him up the butt right away, instead he patiently answers him.

    God knows our weaknesses, and he knows our struggles. He knows where and when we will fail. Yet he is patient with us.

    God is faithful. He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All three of these men stuffed up badly in their lives. Abraham and Isaac both feared men and said that their wives were their sisters in an attempt to escape harm. Jacob had 2 wives and 2 concubines and sinned a whole heap.

    And yet God associates himself with them. Not because he needs them - God doesn't need us. He associates with them because he is faithful and because he keeps his promises, no matter how much we don't deserve it. God associates himself with his people forever and he does not change.

    We stuff up. We sin. We do stupid things. We dishonour God in our words, thoughts and deeds. Yet God associates with us. He makes us his church and he forgives us. He sent Jesus to die in our place. The one who flung stars into space died in our place, taking the wrath of God that we deserved, so that God could show his faithfulness to us, and to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    God Promised them land, offspring and blessing. He gave them that in Israel. But more than that, he has fulfilled those promises in us, the spiritual Israel.

    God is faithful. He does not lie. He always keeps his promises. He does not change.

    In the last week I have gone through 7 major exams. (I only have 7 more to go while I'm at school). Throughout that time my walk with God has been at a low - I've been stressed and I've been distracted. Yesterday and today he's challenged and rebuked me and brought me back. he is faithful even though we are so selfish, stupid and sinful.

    Do you trust him?

    Soli Deo Gloria!
    Nat.

    Sunday, 25 August 2013

    The Solar System

    This is great, God has made awesome stuff! Awesome video, aside from the "billions of years old" (not true) and the end of the universe happening by the sun expanding - I'm pretty sure Jesus will come back before then.

    1 John 1

    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

    Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness

    This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

    If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

    Saturday, 24 August 2013

    Isaiah 35

    The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
    Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
    The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
    they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.
     Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
     say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
    your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
    with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.”
     Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
     Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.
    Water will gush forth in the wilderness
    and streams in the desert.
     The burning sand will become a pool,
    the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
    In the haunts where jackals once lay,
    grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
     And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
    The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
     No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
    But only the redeemed will walk there,

    They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
    Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

    Friday, 23 August 2013

    A Brief Explanation

    I probably should have mentioned this before, but over the past few days and maybe for the next few I'll just be posting some chapters and verses that I have found helpful over the years. I'm extremely busy with school exams at the moment, but once those clear up I'll be able to spend more time thinking about what to post about.

    Besides, there's nothing better to post then God's word. You don't need my feeble explanations or thoughts for it to be useful! God's word is far better than mine!

    God Bless,
    Nat.

    Psalm 66

    Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
     Sing the glory of his name;
    make his praise glorious.
     Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power
    that your enemies cringe before you.
     All the earth bows down to you;
    they sing praise to you,
    they sing the praises of your name."

     Come and see what God has done,
    his awesome deeds for mankind!
     He turned the sea into dry land,
    they passed through the waters on foot—
    come, let us rejoice in him.
     He rules forever by his power,
    his eyes watch the nations—
    let not the rebellious rise up against him.

     Praise our God, all peoples,
    let the sound of his praise be heard;
     he has preserved our lives
    and kept our feet from slipping.
     For you, God, tested us;
    you refined us like silver.
     You brought us into prison
    and laid burdens on our backs.
     You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance.
     I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
    and fulfill my vows to you—
     vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
    when I was in trouble.
     I will sacrifice fat animals to you
    and an offering of rams;
    I will offer bulls and goats.

     Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me.
     I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.
     If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;
     but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
     Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

    Isaiah 25


    Lord, you are my God;
    I will exalt you and praise your name,
    for in perfect faithfulness
    you have done wonderful things,
    things planned long ago.
     You have made the city a heap of rubble,
    the fortified town a ruin,
    the foreigners’ stronghold a city no more;
    it will never be rebuilt.
     Therefore strong peoples will honor you;
    cities of ruthless nations will revere you.
     You have been a refuge for the poor,
    a refuge for the needy in their distress,
    a shelter from the storm
    and a shade from the heat.
    For the breath of the ruthless
    is like a storm driving against a wall
     and like the heat of the desert.
    You silence the uproar of foreigners;
    as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
    so the song of the ruthless is stilled.

     On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
    a feast of rich food for all peoples,
    a banquet of aged wine—
    the best of meats and the finest of wines.
     On this mountain he will destroy
    the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
    the sheet that covers all nations;
     he will swallow up death forever.
    The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
    from all faces;
    he will remove his people’s disgrace
    from all the earth.
    The Lord has spoken.
    In that day they will say,
    “Surely this is our God;
    we trusted in him, and he saved us.
    This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
    let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

     The hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain;
    but Moab will be trampled in their land
    as straw is trampled down in the manure.
     They will stretch out their hands in it,
    as swimmers stretch out their hands to swim.
    God will bring down their pride
    despite the cleverness of their hands.
     He will bring down your high fortified walls
    and lay them low;
    he will bring them down to the ground,
    to the very dust.

    Thursday, 22 August 2013

    A verse to Munch on.

    Just one verse to munch on today:
    John 16:33
    “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.”
    I want to spend more time in the word today then writing a blog post about the word, so here are a few quick thoughts on this verse to think over.


    • God never promises we won't face hardship. In fact this is almost a promise that we will face trouble, and 2 Timothy 3:12 informs us that we certainty will be persecuted if we live for Christ. There is no support for the Prosperity Gospel in the true gospel or the bible.
    • We should read God's word. He has given us his word so we can have peace, so read it.
    • We need to Trust God. He offers us peace through his words. We get that peace by trusting that he is faithful and keeps his promises.
    • Take Heart! We have reason to be joyful. I don't know if "take heart" can be translated as be joyful, but it most certainly is linked. We don't have to go around gloomy and depressed if we are Christians, because our Lord and Saviour has forgiven us eternally, and it is based entirely on what he has done, not on our effort, so we don't have to fear losing it! Be Joyful! Take Heart!
    • He has overcome the world. It is based entirely on Christ's effort and sacrifice, not ours. He has overcome. He did not sin and he has saved us. He has defeated Satan. It's all Him, it's all about Him, and we need to live for Him!
    I hope that was helpful to consider today.
    God Bless!
    Nat.

    Wednesday, 21 August 2013

    A biblical stance against abortion.

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    After my post about the Pro-Life Midwives of Exodus 1, I thought it might be worthwhile exploring the biblical evidence that supports the pro-life movement. I hope you find this helpful and thought provoking, no matter what your stance on the topic is.

    The first thing I want to say though is that we are called to not only speak the truth, but to do so in love. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to do this, and 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be prepared to give the reason for what we believe with gentleness and respect. We don't go condemning people, but we are commanded to call out sin where we see it, and abortion most certainly is an evil we need to expose as Christians.

    • Jeremiah 22:3
    Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.
    God commands us to be righteous and just, and to deliver and protect those who are weaker than us and who need our protection. The above verse is just one of countless instructions to do so. In the words of Michael Spielman, director of Abort73: "By explicitly commanding us to care for those whose livelihood is in jeopardy (orphans and widows) God is implicitly commanding us to care for those whose lives are in jeopardy (abortion-vulnerable children)." (Abort-73: A Biblical Mandate to Do Something About Abortion). There is no one more innocent and no one weaker than babies that are still in the womb.
    • Proverbs 24:11-12:
    Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay each man according to his work?

    This verse doesnt give us any context as to when it is appropriate to rescue those being taken away to death, God simply commands us to intervene and work to save those who are innocent and being killed. Since foetuses are human beings (genetically, physically, etc), this verse must apply to them. Once again, in the words of Michael Spielman: "Babies in the womb are smaller, more dependent, and less developed than newborns, but these are all quantitative differences, not qualitative. Newborns are smaller, more dependent and less developed than three-year-olds, but that doesn’t make them any less human or any less worthy of protection. If we know that God is pleased with those who help spare the lives of babies after they’re born, we can infer that he is also pleased with those who spare the lives of babies before they’re born."

    • Leviticus 20:1-5
    The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech.
    We don't sacrifice our children to Molech, but we sacrifice them for the sake of convenience, to avoid shame, for self and for better job opportunities. (See also Psalm 106:37-38). Very rarely are abortions performed to preserve the mother's life. On a side note, this is surely also a mandate to protect and care for your own children. So many parent's these days have kids and don't truly love and look after them. Don't sacrifice your kids for the sake of work.

    • In conclusion...
    The examples and verses above are by no means exhaustive - there are far more reasons that I have not explored yet. Nevertheless these three examples demonstrate that God calls his people to stand up for the weak and oppressed - and foetuses are surely counted within those categories. He calls us to save those being taken away to death and he condemns the sacrificing of children to false 'gods'.

    If you're interested in the topic then do some research! Go find some more bible verses, you can start with Psalm 139. See if there is any biblical support for the pro-choice stance. Comment and tell me I'm wrong if there is a biblical reason for it.

    Proverbs 6:17 proclaims that God hates, "haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood" John 8:44 "[Satan] was a murderer from the beginning". Abortion seems to fit much better with Satan's desires than God's.

    I have no doubt that God hates abortion. Do you?


    P.s. Another reminder: Even though we should hate abortion, we should not hate the people who perform them or have them done. That's a hard balance to find, but we should love them and gently, respectfully and lovingly explain to them the gospel and why abortion is evil in God's sight and why it should be evil in ours also.




    Tuesday, 20 August 2013

    Other points from Exodus 1

    While looking at Exodus one and how it supports the Pro-life campaign, I made two other observations.

    Image source

    • God gives families.
    Exodus 1:20-21
    So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

    Because the midwives feared and obeyed God he blessed them by giving them families. This tells us that families are a blessing from God, our father.

    For me the first point of application is that God knows who I will marry and he has that all planned out. If he sees fit to bless me with a family like he does most people, then all I have to do is trust him and be faithful to him where I am. He can do the rest. That doesn't mean that I shouldn't look for a wife, but it means that I shouldn't get all worried about who I will marry or when that will happen. God has it all planned out and he is more then capable to bring it about. What I have to do is serve him faithfully where I am.

    That's both hard and easy. It's much better to trust God and to wait for his timing because it means I don't have to stress about it. But it is hard to give it over to God and to let him take control of that. But it's what I need to do to glorify him.

    The other point of application is that children are a blessing from God. Some people get worried because as of yet they haven't been able to have kids. A better response is to pray and serve God faithfully. He can provide children if it is his will, and if it isn't then we need to trust him that his plan is far better then ours.

    Families are a blessing from God. Be thankful for them and serve him faithfully at all times.


    • There's a massive foreshadow of Christ here.
    Throughout the Old Testament there are little snippets f things that point directly to Jesus. In this chapter we see Pharaoh killing all the baby Israelite boys. In Luke Herod does the same thing. In both accounts at least one escapes. Moses escaped and he would later bring the law to Israel, rescue them from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the promised land (though he could not take them in because he sinned).

    Jesus survived and bought the new covenant: Grace. He doesn't rescue us physically, he does more then that and rescues us spiritually from sin and God's eternal wrath. He doesn't just lead us to a promised land on earth but secures our favour in God's sight eternally so we can go to heaven and be with him through grace. He didn't sin and he will return to take us to heaven when he comes back to judge the earth.


    Those were just two interesting points from Exodus one. My teacher has been encouraging us to read the old Testament and ask where we see Jesus in it, and believe me it's been good to do.

    God Bless,
    Nat.

    Monday, 19 August 2013

    Pro-life Midwives

    Image Source
     Exodus 1:15-22
    The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” 
    The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” 
    So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
    There aren't any explicit references to abortion in the bible. Nevertheless God obviously knew that it would be a common thing in the future and he has provided enough reason from the bible to say that it is sinful and evil.

    What we see in the verses above is one reference that supports the pro-life campaign. Pharaoh ordered that all the Israelite boys be killed, but that the girls be allowed to live. The two midwives who he commanded to do this disobeyed him, and God blessed them for it.

    There is absolutely no difference between a baby when it is in the womb and when it is born. Biologically nothing changes between those two points in time: it still is human, with the same DNA. Mentally the baby is the same as well. It also relies on the mother just as much before birth as afterward. The only thing that changes is the physical location of that child and if it is not aborted then it would grow to be a man or woman with thoughts, opinions, likes, dislikes and feelings. Babies are human, as are foetuses, as are adults.

    God blesses these women for preserving the life of these children, even though it would have been inconvenient and even dangerous for them. He blesses them. That means he agrees with what they did. Children are a blessing from God - don't kill them before they have a chance to live.

    Abortion is evil and it is sinful. Don't get me wrong - we all sin. We all stuff up. Those who have had an abortion are no worse then anyone else: we all deserve God's wrath (hell) eternally. But that isn't an excuse to keep sinning. It's a reason to come running to Jesus who offers forgiveness, to repent and to change. To follow him instead of living our own ways.

    If you've had an abortion, then repent of it and turn to God - he will forgive.

    Just stop the killing.

    Sunday, 18 August 2013

    How much we need God.

    Image source
    Psalm 70:5
    But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    come quickly to me, O God.
    You are my help and my deliverer;
    Lord, do not delay.
    Do we really know our state before God? Do we truly understand that we are sinful and need his help, that without Jesus we could not be saved?

    I don't think any of us truly understands how much we need God. He created us, he sustains us, he saved us. Without him we wouldn't exist. Without him we wouldn't be able to exist, and without Jesus we would all be destined only for his wrath.

    We are truly poor and needy. We need God entirely.

    Therefore there is no room for pride. We cannot help ourselves, we need God. There is no room for thinking ourselves better then others or worthy enough for his grace.

    Our prayer should be that we will realise this more and more so that we may praise him more and more for it and so that we will not be proud, but rather be humble and serve him faithfully.

    He is our help and deliverer - have you accepted him?


    Saturday, 17 August 2013

    Why we couldn't do it, and why that's a good thing (Part 2).

    Image Source
    Yesterday we looked at two reasons why it is better that we are saved entirely by grace than by our own effort. Firstly, we are counted as righteous with Jesus' righteousness. He takes our sin and we are forgiven based on his work. Secondly, if we were saved by what we did, we would constantly be worried about stuffing up, because one slip up would mean eternity in hell with no hope for forgiveness. Today we'll look at two more reasons: It displays God's character and it means anyone can be saved.


    • God displays his character through Jesus
    Image Source
    God is just. We sin and therefore we deserve hell. That's the spot we're in without Jesus. Yet God is not simply just, holy and perfect, but also merciful, gracious, loving and compassionate. 

    Therefore he sent his only son into the world. Jesus, who is God, became a man. He willingly came and he died for us (Christians), taking our sin and God's wrath and just penalty for that. In Jesus God displays his justice - sin is dealt with. In Jesus God also shows his love and mercy - providing a way for us to be saved "while we were still powerless" (Romans 5:6-8) and at great personal cost.

    We couldn't save ourselves, but God made a way for us to be saved. Therefore he has shown for his character and his glory, bringing us to eternal salvation in him if we put our faith in him.

    • Salvation isn't just for the Elite.
    If we could have managed to be perfect and save ourselves. then that would mean that only the best people could be saved (that certainly wouldn't be me and probably wouldn't be you). Only the people who were completely self-controlled, completely humble, completely gentle, completely pure could be saved. Even as Christians, free from slavery to sin, we still stuff up. If we had been freed all along, we would still have sinned.

    That would be bad for us - we would deserve and would get eternal destruction in hell. Jesus didn't come to save those who were well, he came to save the sick (Matthew 9:11-13) - he didn't come to save the 'good' people (since no one is good. and those who think they are are self-righteous and proud), he came to save the 'sinners' - us. Those who cannot help themselves. That's good news. In fact, thats what the gospel is all about - God saving us for his glory even though we do not deserve it one bit.

    Conclusion

    We don't deserve the salvation that we have. We couldn't achieve it ourselves and nothing we could ever have done could have made us right in God's sight.

    We don't deserve it, and that's why we can count on it. 
    It was given freely to those who didn't deserve it, and therefore nothing that we do can make it be taken off us. If we truly love God we will serve and obey him, but we don't have to fear losing our salvation because it is entirely by grace.


    Therefore, since we are saved by grace, we are free to obey God out of love, not duty. If we had to obey to get to heaven, and we lived in constant fear of stuffing it up then we wouldn't obey out of love. This way we can obey God out of love.

    We couldn't do it, and that's a good thing because of Grace.

    Friday, 16 August 2013

    Why we couldn't do it, and why that's a good thing (Part 1).

    Photo Credit
    Grace: God's Riches at Christ's Expense.
    God's undeserved favour on his people which we have through Jesus because he died for us and took the wrath we deserved for our sin. Romans 11:6 says that if we are saved by grace, "then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." The fact is that we cannot help ourselves - we sin and we cannot undo that (Romans 3:23). We can only be saved by Grace. We couldn't do it, and that's a good thing.

    You see, if we were saved by anything we could do then we would have our own righteousness. That's it. We would be good people, end of story. Sure, we'd be good enough to get to heaven on our own merit, but what we have in Jesus is far, far better.
    • We have Christ's Righteousness.
    2 Corinthains 5:21 says
    For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God
    Jesus took our sins and we take his righteousness. We are holy in God's sight, not based on what we've done. When God looks at us, he knows that we are still sinful, but he sees Jesus and Jesus' righteousness instead of our sin. Jesus took our sin, we took his righteousness. We died to sin with him, and we rose to new life with him (Romans 6)

    Isn't it far better to have Jesus' righteousness, God's holiness instead of our own works? We have God's grace and mercy - his righteousness becomes accounted to us through faith. That's truly awesome.
    • We wouldn't be free of worry
    If we had to count on ourselves and our own works, then we would have to constantly worry and be careful. Since one sin is enough for us to be justly and eternally condemned to hell, we would have to watch every word, thought and deed. We would have to constantly worry and fret over everything - making sure we didn't stuff it up. One stuff up could mean eternity in hell without any hope for forgiveness.

    We would truly be slaves to good works. 

    Through Christ we know that there is complete forgiveness. We need to hate sin and we need to fight it, but we know that we will stuff up, and we know that he has paid the price. Every true Christian is (and will be) forgiven for their sins. It isn't an excuse to sin more, but it is a reason to praise God for what he has done. It is far better that we are forgiven then that we are slaves to doing good.

    God Deserves all Glory

    This is only part one of the series, but here's a concluding point. We cannot make it ourselves, and that means God deserves all the glory. We sin, we stuff it up and we cannot save ourselves. God reigns and he has shown forth his goodness in offering us salvation.

    We don't deserve any of the praise. God deserves it all. So praise him for all he has done!

    Are you trusting in your own effort or in Christ? Only Jesus can save.

    Thursday, 15 August 2013

    VOM Prayer Watch.

    Prayer Watch

    PHILIPPINES (Mindanao): Christian Villages Attacked


    Two Christian villages in Midsayap, Cotabato, were attacked by the Muslim Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on 29 July and 31 July. More than 70 armed men attacked the villages, using four boats to reach the villages and to carry away their spoils.

    They ransacked the villagers’ homes, taking belongings such as rice, clothing and utensils. The attackers also took all the animals from the village, including goats, pigs and more than 300 ducks.

    Reynaldo Aloro, a village leader who ran for help when he saw the armed Muslims, was caught by the attackers and killed.

    The villagers now walk to their farms by day and stay at an evacuation centre at night for fear of more attacks. The BIFF continually harass and threaten Christians as part of their campaign for a pure Islamic state.

    Source: Voice of the Martyrs USA

    Pray the Lord will comfort those who are mourning the loss of life and the loss of property (Matthew 5:4). Pray the Lord’s protection and provision may be granted to them.
    Pray for members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, that the Lord would bring many to repentance through the work of His Holy Spirit and the witness of the Christian believers they are persecuting.

    IRAN: Believer Sentenced to 10 Years Imprisonment


    Christian convert from Islam Mohammad-Hadi Bordbar, known as Mostafa, was sentenced to ten years in prison for being a part of an “anti-security organisation” and “gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security” on 31 July.

    He was arrested on 27 December 2012 in Tehran along with 50 other Iranian Christian converts who were celebrating Christmas in Tehran. He was offered release on bail, however, the title deeds offered were rejected because they were for property in Rasht, where he lives, rather than Tehran where he was arrested. Consequently, he remained in detention.

    Mostafa Bordbar was first arrested in 2009 in his hometown of Rasht for converting to Christianity and attending a house church. He was found guilty of apostasy (abandoning Islam), but he was released after posting bail. The apostasy conviction remains on his record.

    Mostafa’s lawyer is preparing an appeal.

    Sources: Voice of the Martyrs USA, Middle East Concern

    Pray the Lord will fill Mostafa’s heart with peace beyond comprehension (Philippians 4:4-7).
    Pray the Lord will use him as a witness for the Gospel while in prison.
    Pray for Mostafa’s lawyers preparing an appeal; ask God to supply them with wisdom and with words when appearing before authorities (Matthew 10:19).

    INDONESIA: Evangelists Jailed for Three Years


    The two Christians, known as Kashfi Rasyid and Jalaludin, were convicted despite their lawyer's insistence in court that the trial violated their human rights. Much of the debate in court revolved around whether or not the pair were in fact still Muslims because of their religious background. The men insisted they were Christians.

    Five other families associated with the ministry which the men lead were forced to flee for their lives. VOM partner Release International has provided practical support to help them to resettle elsewhere.

    Lawyers for the two men say they plan to appeal to a higher court.

    Source: Release International

    Pray that Kashfi Rasyid and Jalaludin's appeal will be heard quickly and will be successful.
    Ask God to sustain them and strengthen their faith during their detention.
    Ask God to protect the other members of their ministry.
    Pray that God will use them and their witness to draw many others to Him.

    Wednesday, 14 August 2013

    What is Wisdom?

    Proverbs 9:10
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
    Photo Credit
    Wisdom is one of those things that most people want to be able to say they have, but is rarely understood. We like being called wise, we like having the answers, but that isn;t what wisdom is about.

    What is Wisdom? 

    Wisdom is putting knowledge into practice. It's not about knowing a lot, it's about applying that knowledge to our lives. For example, if I know that snakes bite and kill people and I am confronted by one, it would be wise for me to not only know that they are dangerous but to avoid the snake. Some people would play around with it or throw rocks at it, but the wise thing to do would be to go the other way and find a differed route.

    A more serious example: Wisdom is not only hearing that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), it's not only understanding that the result of our sin is God's wrath (i.e. hell eternally). Wisdom is putting that knowledge into practice: Turning to God in repentance and faith, looking to jesus who alone can save. Looking to Jesus who is God, but came to earth as a man and didn't sin. Who died in our place and tells us that if we put our faith in him there is complete forgiveness because he takes God's wrath on the cross for us. True wisdom is following Christ.

    What then is the Fear of the Lord?

    Fear of God is a big theme in the bible, and it comes up in a large number of verses. But true wisdom is putting your faith in Christ, and therefore the fear of God is directly linked to that. The fear of the LORD is knowing that he is perfect and holy. Knowing that he cannot stand sin, and turning to him in repentance and faith. The fear of the LORD is giving up sin and praying for God's mercy, realising that only he can save, and that those who reject him will face his judgement.

    But that's only the beginning. Once we become Christians we need to act like it. Don't just say you're a Christian and live the same as you did before. True repentance involves turning from sin, and it needs to affect our lives. How do we know what to change?

    • Read the bible and apply it to your life. This is a big general one: from the bible you can learn how to obey and honour God.
    • Pray. Pray for God's help to learn and grow, pray for his wisdom, and pray for him to shape and mould you.
    From those two things God will work in you and show you his ways if you truly do want to live for him. 


    True wisdom comes from God. Have you taken the first step and put your faith in him?

    God Bless,
    Nat.

    Tuesday, 13 August 2013

    When stress gets to you.

    This week is shaping up to be an extremely busy and stressful one. I have my trial HSC exams next week and up to this point I've been busy doing assessments and haven't really had much chance to study. I've done my best with my time, but the question remains: what if it isn't enough? What if I don't get time to study everything I need to? What if the essay questions are terrible? What if my music performances fall apart on Wednesday? What if? How can I know?

    Stress is a powerful force, it can be helpful (it's certainly a good motivator), but it can also be very harmful.

    So what should my response be to stress according to the bible?

    1 Peter 5:6-7
    Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
    Humility

    I have to say, it's nice to go well in exams. It's nice to see that you've done a good job at something. And it's also nice to get puffed up about those things - but that isn't good. It is sinful.

    What I need to realise is that all I can do is my best. The rest is up to God. Nothing I do can make me go better, what I'm called to do is just to trust God.

    That's pretty humbling. It's not about me, and it's not about my effort, it's about God, and its all for his glory. God is mighty, and he will achieve his perfect plan, so we don't need to stress about all this stuff. Just trust God.

    Cast all your anxiety on him.

    This is tied to being humble. We trust God, and therefore we trust him with our anxieties. We trust him with our stress. We pray for his help, we spend time honouring him and learning about him (even though that time could go into studying) and then we use our time wisely to honour him as well.

    God loves us, and he cares for us. He calls us to cast our anxiety on him - You and I don't need to carry it on our own. God knows what we face and what we are struggling with and he wants us to trust him enough to cast it on him.

    Don't get weighed down with the things of the world. Trust God, be humble and cast all your anxiety on him - he cares for you.

    What are you anxious about? 

    God is strong enough to deal with it and he is good. Cast t all on him.

    God Bless!
    Nat.

    P.s. Prayers would be greatly appreciated over the next few weeks!

    Monday, 12 August 2013

    The Complacent Christian

    I recently read a post by Tim Challies about how we as Christians and churches need to be zealous for God, and how we can work at that. Instead of writing a summary of it I thought it would be good to just give the link. Take a look, it's worth reading and considering.

    http://www.challies.com/christian-living/the-complacent-christian

    Sunday, 11 August 2013

    VOM Prayer Watch

    NORTH KOREA: Balloon Launches Help Spread the Gospel

    A VOM worker reports record launches of New Testaments into North Korea in July.

    For the month of July alone, 23,130 New Testaments were launched into North Korea. Through multiple launch points, workers are able to drop materials on areas that are largely unreached by the Gospel.
    A chief of Security Vision informed VOM partners of a North Korean website threatening organisations that launch balloons. The VOM partners were asked to refrain from launching balloons, but they were able to launch again on 11 July, releasing 2,000 New Testaments. On July 31, they launched a record 7,500 New Testaments, the largest number launched in 2013.
    Sources: Seoul USA, Voice of the Martyrs USA
    Praise the Lord for the success of these launches and pray for ongoing favourable launch conditions.
    Pray that these Scriptures will fall into the right hands in North Korea (Isaiah 55:11).
    Pray the Lord will grow His church mightily in North Korea.

    CHINA: Chinese house church leader Samuel Lamb dies 

    One of the most well-known Christian leaders in China, Pastor Samuel Lamb, died on Saturday 3 August in Guangzhou, aged 88.

    Lamb was targeted by the government because of his refusal to merge his illegal house church into the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the state-regulated Protestant Church. He was first arrested in 1955 and again in 1958, he spent more than 20 years in Labour camps.

    He saw his wife for the last time in 1977, she died, a year before Lamb’s sentence ended.

    After his release, he again took up his work as a pastor, during which he was able to witness the exponential growth of the Chinese Church.

    In 1979 he started his house church in Guangzhou. Attendance grew quickly and he had to move his congregation to a bigger building in the same city. Today his urban house church is still unregistered, but tolerated by the authorities.

    Lamb became an example for millions of believers in China and around the world.

    Source: World Watch Monitor

    Thank the Lord for the life and witness of this faithful servant.
    Praise the Lord for the massive church growth which has occurred in China over the past few decades.
    Pray for the many Chinese believers currently in prison for their Christian witness.

    EGYPT: Christian Girls Snatched by Traffickers

    One of the challenges facing Christian families, particularly in Upper Egypt, is the kidnapping of young Christian girls. It generally happens when the girls enter their teen years.

    Last year, a Helsinki Commission hearing revealed that the number of disappearances and abduction of Christian girls has been increasing.

    Human trafficking expert Michel Clark told of more than 800 cases. Still, many Islamic leaders and government officials debunk claims that Christian girls are being trafficked. They insist that the conversions and marriages are not forced; they are simply the result of amorous love between young people of different faiths.

    While the previous Mohammed Morsi government has done little to curtail the trafficking, the political change gives many Egyptian Christians hope. They pray the next government will force police to treat Christian kidnapping complaints seriously.

    Source: Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN)

    Pray the Lord will work through current and future government authorities to bring about needed protection, justice, unity and religious freedom in this nation.
    Pray for the Lord will protect and deliver the many young women and girls who have been abducted.

    Saturday, 10 August 2013

    "By No Means!"

    By No Means! Of Course Not! 
    May It Never Be! Absolutely Not! God Forbid!

    All of these phrases are translated from the same words used by Paul throughout the book of Romans. Within the book he constantly counters possible objections to his teachings by posing the question that people would ask and answering it with that phrase before explaining why. (To see this take a look at Romans 3:3-4, 5-6, 9, 31, 6:1-2, 15, 7:7, 13, 9:14, and so on).

    The point I want to make is this: Paul cannot stand any false idea about God. He cannot stand the idea that Gd would lie or not be faithful to his promises. He cannot stand the idea of God being unjust. He cannot stand false teaching. He stands up for the truth, and he does it boldly. 

    Not only that, he also explains his reasons. Paul doesn't just say 'you're wrong', he explains why from the whole bible. We should know what we believe and be ready to explain it to people. 

    1 Peter 3:15b:
    "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect"
    Obviously there are things in the bible that there is room to debate over. Things that aren't as clear as we would like and that can be debated. But these things are never central to the gospel. They are never salvation issues. We need to stand up for the gospel, for the truth, never wavering. 

    For example. when we come across those who say jesus isn't God or wasn't the messiah, We need to boldly tell them that they are wrong, because God's word says he is both. Just take a read of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus fulfils every prophecy about the Messiah. Likewise Philippians 2 says that Jesus was "in very nature God".

    Do we stand up unwavering for the truth?

    Friday, 9 August 2013

    Taming the Tongue

    James 3:7-8
    All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
     We can tame animals, but we can't tame the tongue.

    There are plenty of animals out there that we've been able to tame. Just go to a zoo and watch some of the amazing shows that they put on - seals doing tricks, massive eagles flying from place to place when directed. Maybe you don't even have to go that far - we tame our pets. My dogs can both give hi-fives (which I personally think is pretty awesome), and they definitely know to come when there's food involved.

    We can tame these beasts that God created, yet we cannot tame our tongues. We lie, we gossip, we boast, we hurt and we retaliate when we are hurt. We say crude jokes, we talk instead of listening. In fact, we so often seem to use our tongues for everything except sharing the gospel.

    It's just a fact of life: We speak before we think, and we speak what comes from our minds. We are sinful through and through and that is evident in our speech. No human can tame the tongue.

    Jesus isn't just a human.

    Jesus is God and he is a man. He came to the earth as 100% God and 100% man, and he lived perfectly. He had his tongue perfectly under control, using it to rebuke people for sinning and to encourage those who needed it. He used it to share God's word and to pray. He was perfect in every regard, and that perfection was displayed in his words.

    What does that mean for us?

    Well, if we turn to Jesus as saviour and LORD, he sends his Holy Spirit into us. He changes us. When we become Christians we die to sin and are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17), and as a result our use of our tongues changes. It's a gradual change, but Jesus/the Holy Spirit works in us and he transforms us so that we can honour and glorify God with our whole lives.

    My simple question for you is, What do your words reveal about your character? Do they reveal a slave to sin, or a sinner saved by grace? Do they display someone who is Dead to sin and alive in Jesus? Or someone who is spiritually dead?

    Only Jesus can change how we speak.

    God Bless,
    Nat.

    Thursday, 8 August 2013

    The Sights to See

    Abort73 is a pro-life website full of helpful facts and articles concerning the issue of Abortion.

    How our culture sets your relationships up to fail. - Pastor Tyler McKenzie runs this blog, and in this post he explores how the consumerism of our culture affects our relationships. We want quality things quickly, but God-centred relationships often require us to put in effort and cost a lot.

    And also much cattle... - Through the end of the book of Jonah Tim Challies concludes that "There is only one thing on this earth that will survive the ages: the souls of men and women. There is nothing more valuable.", so what are we doing to tell them about Jesus.

    Memverse - This website is dedicated to helping Christians learn and memorise passages in the bible. I have found it quiet useful, and once you get the hang of it you start to learn quickly. Basically you choose a verse, and every few days you type it out, first with only the first letters of each word, and then later with only the reference. It sounds pretty simple, but it's definitely helpful.

    Crucifixion History - I've just finished a major work on the historical evidence for Jesus' life and existence. This post is a useful summary of some of the reasons that it is widely believed by historians that Jesus did indeed live, and that most of the information in the gospel accounts is reliable.



    Wednesday, 7 August 2013

    The riches of God's word.

    Romans 12:12 
            Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 
    Here's a short, simple verse that's packed with good stuff. I love how God's word cna be so succinct and yet so full of treasure, and how different verses all link up.

    Be Joyful in Hope 
    It's pretty simple: Be joyful because of the hope you have. Be hopeful. Praise God. Jesus came to earth, he who was and is God became a man for our sakes. He lived perfectly and died to take our sins if we turn to him. Through him we are completely, 100% saved. Our sins are forgiven and even though we still stuff up he forgives. Therefore rejoice! Even if the world is falling apart, even if the mountains are falling into the heart of the sea, you have reason to rejoice (Psalm 46:1-3).

    Our sure hope is that God works everything for his glory and our good (Romans 8:28) and that ultimately he will bring us to heaven, to be in his presence forever. That's a blessing we cannot fathom.
    Philippians 4:4
    Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

    Patient in Affliction
    Paul isn't a prosperity gospel preacher. Everyone who has any sense can see that Christians, like everyone else in the world, face hard times. Not only that, but we are often (or at least can be) persecuted for our faith. 2 Timothy 3:12 tells us that every Christian will be persecuted. The question isn't if, it's when will you be persecuted?

    We will suffer, But be patient, the eternal glory we will receive is far better than any suffering we can face here. It's worth it by far (Romans 8:18). Trust God, be joyful and be patient.

    2 Corinthians 4:16-18
    Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

    Faithful in Prayer
    Just because God's in control doesn't mean that we aren't called to trust him and pray. We should pray for ourselves and the situations we are in, and we should pray for those around us, both Christians and non-Christians.

    Prayer is an expression of our trust in God. It is a proof of our faith. So keep praying, keep trusting God and keep serving him. Even if he doesn't seem to be answering. We know that God does answer our prayers - not always how we want or would expect, but he always hears us and works for our good in it all (Romans 8:28 again). 

    Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 

    Soli Deo Gloria
    Nat.

    Tuesday, 6 August 2013

    Who can come before God?

    Psalm 24:3-4
    Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
    The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.
     Who can come before God? Who can enter his presence? Who can stand before him? The short answer is that none of us can. Our hands are filthy, our hearts certainly aren't pure and we constantly put ourselves before God.

    We are sinful, we disobey God and therefore we deserve his wrath. We cannot come before him asking for salvation while we're in this state, and we don't deserve anything except God's wrath. Yet he has made a way for us to be saved. He has provided someone who can enter his presence.

    Jesus is God, he is perfect. He has clean hands, he is pure. He did not trust in himself or worship anything other than God (even though Satan tempted him to in Luke 4). He is God and he came to earth as a man, he lived perfectly and he died in our place.

    Jesus, the creator of the universe, God the son, equally God along with the Holy Spirit and God the father from all eternity came to earth for our sakes and died in our place. Why? To take our sin, so that whoever turns to him can be entirely forgiven by him. He suffered the wrath that we deserve because he took our sin on himself. He was punished by God even though he was perfect so that he could save us.

    So Repent and Believe! Turn to him! Jesus saves, put your faith in him, turn from sin and obey him. Jesus not only died, but he rose again. The wages of sin is death, and he suffered that, but he rose again proving that he had dealt with our sin in full, he had paid the price that we would spend eternity in hell paying. He rose again from the dead and ascended to heaven, and he is with God preparing a place for us.

    Jesus has ascended the "mountain of the Lord" and he will return to judge the living and the dead. Everyone who puts their faith in him will be entirely forgiven and will be saved from his wrath. We will spend eternity with him in heaven, enjoying his presence. Anyone ho rejects him will be rejected by him and thrown into hell to suffer God's wrath on that day.

    Jesus alone can save. He is the only true God: we need to worship him. He is the one who makes our hands and hearts clean, washing them in his blood so that we are righteous in God's sight. Nothing we can do can add to that or take away from it. Trust in him! Repent and Believe and be encouraged! Stand firm!

    Jesus saves. This is love.

    Soli Deo Gloria
    Nat.

    Monday, 5 August 2013

    10 things "Yahwey" means


    Here's a post from the app "John Piper Daily Devotional". I only downloaded it the other day, but it's been a great encouragement to me so far. Basically it has a new devotion every day from John Piper, on a wide range of topics. The one I read today

    is below.
    God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (Exodus 3:15)

    God’s name is almost always translated LORD (all caps) in the English Bible. But the Hebrew would be pronounced something like "Yahweh," and is built on the word for "I am."

    So every time we hear the word Yahweh, or every time you see LORD in the English Bible, you should think: this is a proper name (like Peter or John) built out of the word for “I am” and reminding us each time that God absolutely is.

    There are at least 10 things the name Yahweh, “I AM,” says about God:

    1. He never had a beginning. Every child asks, “Who made God?” And every wise parent says, “Nobody made God. God simply is. And always was. No beginning.”

    2. God will never end. If he did not come into being he cannot go out of being, because he is being.

    3. God is absolute reality. There is no reality before him. There is no reality outside of him unless he wills it and makes it. He is all that was eternally. No space, no universe, no emptiness. Only God.

    4. God is utterly independent. He depends on nothing to bring him into being or support him or counsel him or make him what he is.

    5. Everything that is not God depends totally on God. The entire universe is utterly secondary. It came into being by God and stays in being moment by moment on God's decision to keep it in being.

    6. All the universe is by comparison to God as nothing. Contingent, dependent reality is to absolute, independent reality as a shadow to substance. As an echo to a thunderclap. All that we are amazed by in the world and in the galaxies, is, compared to God, as nothing.

    7. God is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot be improved. He is not becoming anything. He is who he is.

    8. God is the absolute standard of truth and goodness and beauty. There is no law-book to which he looks to know what is right. No almanac to establish facts. No guild to determine what is excellent or beautiful. He himself is the standard of what is right, what is true, what is beautiful.

    9. God does whatever he pleases and it is always right and always beautiful and always in accord with truth. All reality that is outside of him he created and designed and governs as the absolute reality. So he is utterly free from any constraints that don't originate from the counsel of his own will.

    10. God is the most important and most valuable reality and person in the universe. He is more worthy of interest and attention and admiration and enjoyment than all other realities, including the entire universe.