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greggordon

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  1. The Roman Coliseum was one of the main centers for entertainment and, on this day, it was not gladiators or sports competitions, but a different type of crown was being competed for. Rows upon rows of circular seating, with humanity throbbing inside. Fifty thousand faces fixed their attention on the scene below. The noise at times was deafening with cheers of the crowd, anticipating what was to come. To whet the appetites of the onlooking romans, gladiators were sent out to fight. Then wild animals who were starved were released, and a skillful gladiator would kill each one. But all of this is just to prepare the crowd for the main event and attraction. It was the Christians that were competing today for a heavenly crown following the way of Christ in the noble way of martyrdom. What happens next, The Martyr of the Catacombs, details the sad scene well for us: This is an excerpt from the free Christian ebook, The Following of Christ by Greg Gordon
  2. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. - Proverbs 11:2 Pride and the Devil When we speak of pride we also often times think of the devil. He was the beautiful angel who through transgression and pride fell from his place with God to a fallen state. Lucifer, an anointed cherub of God became the devil, the father of lies (John 8:44). He was soiled and became filthy and the enemy wants to defile all those who are unsoiled also. When we are free from pride the enemy of our souls desires to sow prideful thoughts into our life. Pride is a preoccupation with self, it is to say that I am more important then all others. Pride says "I" am always right. Pride is when at all costs we need to revenge ourselves of our abusers. Pride says that we are more important then others and when sinned against our rights are more important. Personal glory and importance leads to a proud heart and opposition to God (1 Peter 5:5). Pride and Selflessness Pride is in some ways the opposite of selflessness. When we are humble we seek the good of others even when we have been hurt by someone. Disgrace and shame comes with pride because God diminishes the proud one under his own displeasure. Just like Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, we can be blinded by Pride and a sense of self-importance thinking we are able to control situations and even people. This is a profound thought that God himself shows everyone grace, mercy, and gives constant help. And when we see others in the body of Christ fail, or cause abuse, if we become proud, judge them overly and do not do it all in love, we can have God's grace lifted from our lives. And the sad result can be the brother who fails, when we judge him we can become worse then that brother. When we have pride against others in the body of Christ we have insulted the Creator Himself. We should never look down on others, never think we are better especially when we see another of our brothers and sisters fail. The Publican and Pharisee In Luke 18:9-14, we see the famous story of the Publican and Pharisee. It is a great contrast between pride and humility, self-assuredness and humility. The first error of the religious leader Jesus pointed out was of being "confident." It was a self-reliant attitude that I am in a better place with God then most and therefore can speak down to others and also not need God's grace as much. It is a subtle deception on the road towards knowing God we can start to trust on our past experiences of grace and not rely on the grace of God daily. And what happened? The religious leader, "looked down on everyone else" (Luke 18:9). He did not take the humble role of a being below others as a servant but rather assumed priority over others. In such a contrast we see the Publican come to our Lord and simply say in humility, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." (Luke 18:13). This one humbled himself before God, no matter how holy or progressed in our Christian lives when we humble ourselves we keep our position of walking with God in His presence. But once we exalt ourselves then we are cast away. In a famous drawing of this scene, we see the Publican bowing and humble, and the Pharisee exalted and with one hand judging the other and the other praising God. Then in the picture we notice the hand of God blessing with grace and mercy the Publican only. Let this be a reminder that when we judge others we cannot praise God with the same breath and miss God's blessing in the process. Serving Others In the Body When we have pride in our own accomplishments and skills we are taking the credit for these things to ourselves. The reality is all giftings given to brethren in the body of Christ is to serve and help others, not ourselves. To follow the way of pride is to follow the way of the devil. The follow the way of humility is to follow in the way of the Lord.
  3. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. - 2 Corinthians 12:21 There are many tests for the humility of our walk with Christ. One of them is how we react to correction and namely correction by spiritual leaders in the body of Christ. It is never easy to consider we have been wrong in an area of our life and our decisions have caused hurt towards others. Paul the Apostle was encouraging the Corinthian believers to repent fully of their past behaviours, he was full of grace towards them that they could change. But sadly in the 2nd letter he wrote to them at the end he started to doubt whether they had changed. He wrote, I fear there would be "discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder" (2 Corinthians 12:20) still among you! An arrogant attitude says I am never wrong, it says people need to listen to me. Arrogant, proud, haughty men were in the Corinthian church who were not even listening to leaders in their gatherings and were rejecting the Apostle Paul himself. You could possibly hear one of them saying, "I have no authority over me, I only submit to Christ!" It sounds spiritual but in the end such an attitude is of a decieved individual who is found apart from Christ in his pride. The Corinthians were submitting to what Paul called, "super apostles" (2 Corinthians 12:11). These men where ear-tickling preachers that told the people what they wanted to hear. One thing they did not speak about was sexual sins or against disorder and discord in the body. All they probably wanted was the peoples money and esteem. Paul highlights at the end of his letter that "many" have "not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged." No wonder they were not correcting a young man who was in incest (1 Corinthians 5). What shocked me is when I read the word "many"! The Corinthian Church was compromised and were neglecting the cure to their ills which was godly leadership and true spiritual elders guiding them. They were blind leading the blind into lives of sin and selfishness. The end was many who were slandering each other, name-calling, talking behind backs and ultimately division in the body of Christ, something that grieves the heart of God. Paul labored with them and sought to visit them again to spend time with these children of God and tend them like a Shepherd. This comes close to home for us, are we willing to submit to correction by spiritual leaders in the areas of our lives that are amiss. Or do we seek to always justify ourselves and not accept even the godliest of men who counsel against our decisions. Our way of repentance is to humble ourselves under such correction and allow Christ to start to be formed in us again.
  4. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. - John 8:44 We have to remember that Satan is the father of lies. He is a murderer from the beginning and dwells in falsehood. He never wants the glory to go to Jesus Christ but rather twists the truth and deceives those in the Lord’s work to take glory to themselves. Satan is also the master counterfeiter who has been deceiving God’s people since the beginning. He spoke to Eve and deceived her by twisting the truth of God saying, “Has God indeed said?” Such twisting of the truth is his normal activity. Since the earliest days of the apostles, even with our Lord himself, there were deceivers and false brethren present: those who secretly come into God’s flock for personal gain and to infiltrate the liberty of the believers, betrayers, deceivers, false brethren, false prophets, and those desiring preeminence among the saints (3 John 1:9). Diotrephes and one's like him did not seek honour in the church as much as sought his own truth, his own way and seperated himself from the doctrines of the Apostles and all the other Churches. He was stubborn to think he was right and all others were wrong. A false teacher is always who is in admidst but then seeks to draw people "out of" towards themselves. Just like satan, these false teachers do not have, "the truth in them." One key to understand the working of God versus Satan in a meeting of believers is the emphasis put on the Son of God. Those that worship, honor, and glorify the Holy Spirit more than Jesus Christ are not led by the Holy Spirit to do that. The Holy Spirit will always honor Jesus Christ; thus the true working of the Spirit can be distinguished in measure. The Scripture states: “He shall not speak of himself” (John 16:13). All early Church creed statements always elevate the work of the cross and the incarnation of the Son of God. In the end times, there will be an influx of those in the Church teaching doctrines of demons to deceive even the elect of God. There will be many false teachers who claim to be of the truth but are not. The most dangerous weapon against the Church is not persecution, but deception. One key feature of these deceptions is that there is something new offered, when rather we should be seeking to believe the truth that is old and that which the Church has held to from the beginning.
  5. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. - Ephesians 4:31 Bitterness is something we feel never will happen to us. We go through life opening our hearts to many people, seeking friendship in this life. But when we least expect it someone hurts us, or circumstances themselves come to a place where we allow bitterness to come into our hearts towards even God himself. Feeling angry and disappointed over how we have been treated or how circumstances have treated us produce great bitterness in our being. This feeling we hold in is suppressed in our hearts and not see at first in our daily life. But it starts to seep out its poison slowly in our words (James 3:7), and mind, we start to judge everyone, say cynical and hard comments towards others. Usually this hurt is directed towards a person or specific situation. Anything that would remind the hurt person of this situation will result in their hurt to come out in words that damage and tear down others. In the verse before this passage the Apostle Paul speaks of not grieving the Holy Spirit as believers in Jesus. He shares that Disciples must "get rid" of all of these hurt feelings that result in resentment, anger, frustration, hurtful words towards other persons. If we allow any unforgiveness as believers to rest in our hearts it will grow like a cancer and create bitterness and then our inner man is defiled with all these sins of anger. The Apostle pleads with fellow believers to forgive "each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32). That is the only solution and way to solve the problem. Getting even, hurting someone else or an organization will not result in releasing you from the personal prison of bitterness you are in. Forgiveness is the key that will open that door so that you may walk in the freedom Christ has called you in and then you will be able to help release others who even caused the hurt in your own life.
  6. I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. – John 17:23 Many have marvelled over this priestly prayer that our Lord uttered. It is the longest recorded prayer that Jesus left us with and it shows the very heart of God in it. If you could think of all the things that could be prayed during the last days of Jesus being on this earth we could think of many things. Yet our Lord had in his heart this one important topic: Unity. And not just unity in general but ‘complete unity’ a unity that is perfect and full. The prayer is not for boldness or perfect speech and unction but rather great unity. In the fanfare of excitement in certain christian circles we can be seeking power, outward displays and not realize that a unity with other brothers and sisters is the foundation for our witness to the world. Though false teachers were exposed such as Judas, yet our Lord’s call was for united purpose in being his Disciples and sharing the Good News. Our unity is not found in our preferences, styles or exact thinking but rather it is found in the person of the Godhead. Our knowing and partaking (2 Peter 1:4) of the Son of God is where our unity meets with other believers. We are formed together as one body, through one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Seeking after unity should not been seen as compromise but a desire to share in the true heart of God for his Church. We do not unify with those who are practicing falsehood and sin but we should not shun unity with those who do not exactly think and act like our style of Church. God looks past much of the differences we look at and see’s the heart and worship in bodies of believers. Tertullian says, “We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force.” Early believers were united by purpose, hope, godly disciplines, prayer and confession. In our day of individualism and striving to be unique and heard God’s people need to recapture the sense of unity of the Church where all are a part of its purpose and mission. When Jesus ascended he did not desire all the Apostles to start their own Churches and ideas but his prayer was for great unity that no matter what happened they would stay unified. When we lose the reverence for God and his working we easily break fellowship, create dis-unity and seek our own way s better. When we lose the fear of God we question godly ministers, ministries and Church works that have been established and blessed by God for many years. The spirit of independence questions everything and sets one up as the authority rather then submitting to authority. The way of unity with believers in the body of Christ is the way of submission, humility and christ-likeness. Hear our Lord’s prayer again for you today, he prays that you are unified with others in the body of Christ. See our Lord looking at you from the right hand of God, he accepts you, will you not accept others in the body of Christ. He gave His own life for you, will you not open yourself up to others and be unified as the Church?
  7. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. – 1 Corinthians 11:10 The passage in Corinthians clearly teaches of headship where God is the head of Christ and Christ is the head of man and man is the head of woman. Though Biblical submission is right woman are not inferior spiritually but one in Christ. Yet they must choose to submit and humble themselves just as Christ humbled himself before the Father. God’s government and way of order is in such a way where each member must do his or her part. When women or men choose not to fulfill and walk in God’s ways for the Church, disorder and every evil practice ensues. The importance of head covering is not an outward reason but an spiritual reality proclaimed to the principalities and powers. When the head covering is practiced it proclaims God’s order and way to all of creation, including the angels (1 Peter 1:12). K.P. Yohannan says, “Have you considered why there is so much tension and fighting over placing a small piece of cloth on one’s head? When a woman wears the symbol of God’s government, a head covering, she is essentially a rebuke to all the fallen angels. Her actions say to them, ‘You have rebelled against the Holy God, but I submit to Him and His headship. I choose not to follow your example of rebellion and pride.'” Eve fell into satan’s rebellion (2 Corinthians 11:3), yet now in the Church women declare they are following God’s order in the Church (1 Timothy 2:12-14). Watchman Nee says, “When many of the sisters in the church take the place given to woman and learn to cover their heads, they send out an unspoken word of testimony to the angels in the air, to the effect that God has obtained in the church what He desires.” Hippolytus an early Church Father wrote, “let all the women have their heads covered.” Others who taught this practice in the Church were, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Early Church Fathers, John Wesley, Matthew Henry to name just a few. We must remind ourselves that until the twentieth century, virtually all Christian women wore head coverings. As we worship together as the Church we enter into worship with the holy angels in heaven who cover their faces (Isaiah 6:2). In the same way sisters covering their heads show they honouring of the glory of God. Clement of Rom in A.D. 96 said, “Then let us gather together in awareness of our concord” speaking of the holy angels when we worship. The Church is to gather and worship God in the spirit (John 4:24) doing things that the world considers foolish but for the Lord there is great significance. Paul speaking as inspired by the Holy Spirit said, “we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:16). It was not just a local custom or practice but all the Churches were practicing this as with water Baptism and Holy Communion. This was not an optional thing as the default was all the Churches were doing it. But Paul gives grace to those who are not convinced of its importance from the Lord as the Corinthians partly were divided over many issues including this one.
  8. I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! – Genesis 45:4 Many of us have heard the dramatic story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. This young man gets abused and sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He suffers greatly in prison and in other circumstances. Finally in an amazing turn of events, God brings him to a great place of prominence where he is one of the most powerful people in the known world. Many of us have had terrible things done to us in this life, and if we have not, just wait, it is coming. This world is full of hurt lives where we are sinned against in great ways. Joseph had such a great terrible thing done to him, his brothers even contemplated murdering him in the beginning. Now he was in the position and had the power to exact perfect vengeance to them. But what did he do? He forgave them completely. He actually was in such a place of realizing God’s grace and he did not even bring up any of their sins and details of what they did but just wanted to bless them! Jesus teaches us to bless our enemies (Matthew 5:44) To bless those who curse us (Luke 6:28). To “never avenge yourselves” (Romans 12:19). Bless those who persecute you (Romans 12:14). Joseph does not tell his brothers that he was the “one you sold into Egypt” to condemn them, rather he really wanted them to know he was there brother and he loved them greatly still. How do we get to the place where we can bless our others in the body of Christ that sin against us? How can we even get to the place were we can forgive enemies in this world? We are called to forgive but blessing seems like its too much. When we forgive at times we actually still secretly hope they will be exposed or judged for their sin, or at the judgment seat they will get whats coming to them. Such thinking is not forgiveness but a form of vengeance masked in a guise of spiritual humility. When we truly forgive someone as Christ forgives us, we need to come to the place where we can bless them and desire God’s blessing also on their lives. Do you realize God will actually bless your enemies and pour his grace and favour on their lives? Think of anyone that you have had or have ought against, think of their face and person, do you want that person blessed? It takes brokenness to bless others who hurt you. Joseph went through terrible circumstances but God was bringing him to a place of nothingness where he could share in the sufferings of Christ and have the heart of God. In the end when we bless and forgive others we will be blessed by God himself. God wants to anoint those who are free from bitterness in their Christian lives. Heavenly Father, I release, forgive and also bless that individual who caused me harm and hurt. In Jesus Name please bless them with your favour and forgiveness. Amen.
  9. These people are grumblers and faultfinders. – Jude 1:16 Some modern believers act as if faultfinding is a virtue. The main objective of any conversation, meeting of believers or hearing a teaching is to try and find what is wrong in it. Instead of seeing the good in others they pick apart everything and always have something negative to say. They look for small problems in others and treat them as if they were big (Matthew 7:3). The faultfinder has a motive to build himself up by tearing others down. Many faultfinders can be filled with envy, discontented at the position and calling of others from God. Most faultfinders are not in any type of fruitful Christian ministry but are spectators always finding what is wrong in what they see. In envy he hurts others but it is himself he hurts the most. Just like the Pharisess they find fault in anything and even the sinless Son of God (Matthew 9:11). Faultfinders have very few friends or those who want to be around them because in the end they pick each one apart. These “mote-hunters” seek to find any small thing wrong with a minister or christian leader to try and disqualify them. They feel exalted in their ability to be able to see faults in others but this is a deception as its a work of the flesh. They will not be able to humble themselves to repent of their own sins because they are too busy looking at the sins of others. There is no spiritual gift of fault-finding, there is no virtue or benefit to it. Basil the Great says, “If you see your neighbor in sin, don’t look only at this, but also think about what he has done or does that is good, and infrequently trying this in general, while not partially judging, you will find that he is better than you.” We are quick to look at the faults of others but at times slow to look at our own. The way of humility is to humble ourselves and see our own sin and need of mercy from God. f you have been judged by another brother or sister instead of finding fault in them also, leave them to God’s mercy. Instead of seeing to look at others faults we should seek to love them, show mercy, kindness, goodness (Galatians 5:22-23). Those who are overly critical lack peace and joy, suffering from tension and bodily problems. Faultfinders usually are not content with their own situations in life and therefore try to make others miserable by judging them. When we find fault, we sow discord amongst brethren, it divides, and does great damage. Faultfinders have a self-righteous attitude, a sense of superiority and they refuse to admit they are wrong. Let us not allow fault-finding in our life but put it away as its a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:20). Father in heaven, please forgive me for being critical and finding faults in others in your body. Give me grace to see the good in others and seek to uplift others in the Church. Amen.
  10. yes we need to enter the struggle prayer and deep meditation on God, to find him and his ways. Read the Bible, pray, spend time asking the questions, many give up without spending the time to find God. If you seek him with all your heart you will find Him.