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Found 6 results

  1. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. - Revelation 2:4 Over the years we hear many explanations of the reasons why our Lord spoke so strongly to the Ephesian Church about their loss of their "first love." Our Lord summed up the entire Old Testament in one sentence, paraphrased: "Love God and Love Others." This love has action and proof to it. Intense and sincere devotion to Jesus Christ will produce a life of godliness and good works. Jesus was calling his Church back to practical worship, godliness and a denying of worldliness. They had hatred of evil, endured persecution in their society (Revelation 2:3), were able to spot false teachers and doctrines (Revelation 2:2) and even hated the major evil doctrine of the day taught by the deacon Nicolas (Revelation 2:6). Yet slowly love of pleasures were mingling into their affections for Jesus Christ alone. They passion they had for Him and Him alone was beginning to wane. Their looking to the cross and seeing the "lover of their souls" was something that lost its luster at least for a moment. Nicolas began as a full-hearted believer full of the Spirit of God (Acts 6:2-6). Yet slowly through self-importance he went away from the teaching of the Apostles and formed his own teaching and way. David Wilkerson says of Nicolas of Antoich, "The church fathers had two cardinal rules for believers - do not eat meat offered to idols and avoid fornication. Nicolas evidently fathered a doctrine that led to idolatry and fornication. The society of that day winked at sexual promiscuity. Nicolas and his followers invented a doctrine of false security that eventuated in mixture with the world and an undercurrent of sensuality in their teaching." Clement of Alexandria said of the Nicolaitans, "They abandoned themselves to pleasures like goats, in a life of shameless self indulgence." How do we not lose and forsake our love for the Son of God: 1. Look to Him alone for nothing else but Him. It is God that is our goal, not success, money, fame or anything else the world can offer. Give God your love and worship. 2. Pleasures are always fighting us for our affection for Jesus Christ. Our worship for Him must overcome and let Him be our satisfaction not passing worldly pleasures. 3. Look to the cross. It is there you find meaning, fulfillment, peace, joy and life eternal. Meditate on the cross. Daily thank the Lord for His death. 4. Look to yourself more then others. Instead of seeing others faults, look to your own. See the apostate deacon Nicolas in the early church as a warning sign to look inward in your own life. Are you submitting to what is the apostles doctrines today? Are you believing what the Church has always held to or are you trying to make your new teachings and ideas? The road to apostasy always begins with the separation from the people of God which leads to a leaving of God Himself. 5. Love others, find ways to do good to others. Think of others more then yourself. And you will find peace.
  2. St. Paul writes to Timothy giving us a picture of how it will look just before the second coming of the Lord. He shares that people will be “unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good” (2 Timothy 3:3). In the end times there will be a great shift in how people live and act worldwide. Jesus spoke of children who will betray parents and how people will even want to put Christians to death (Matthew 24:9-10). But we see the root of the issue in the attitudes of human hearts, and committed believers in Jesus Christ are not excluded. Not having love, not forgiving, and speaking evil of other good believers will be just part of the coming spirit of anti-Christ in the world. Unforgiveness is a prison, a torturer. It will rob us of our joy, peace and even physical health. Jesus knew mankind and he knew that a great problem that many deal with is forgiving others. It is one of our Lord’s primary teachings and the apostles were very keen to this. Peter said to Jesus in answer to his question of forgiveness, seven times! He understood that Jesus said to be extravagant in our forgiveness of others, and the current teaching by rabbis in that day was to forgive three times and then seek revenge. Our Lord’s response showed the extent of how God forgives and how those who claim to follow him should forgive, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). Do you find it hard to forgive other brothers and sisters in the Lord? Do you find it hard to love others in the body of Christ because of hurtful things that were done to you? Are you speaking evil of those brothers and sisters and judging them? It is very important that we are clear of all such sin and are full of love, forgiveness and using our mouths to show mercy and love to others in order to restore them (Galatians 5:1). Early believers lived in great anticipation of the coming of the Lord, and the thought of holding a grudge in unforgiveness with a believer and then entering eternity with this sin was unthinkable. In speaking about disputes, St. James writes, “Don’t grumble against one another” (James 5:9). The terrible reality to him was that the Judge was standing at the door, the Lord was coming back soon.
  3. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. - Mark 8:31The Nicene Creed The Nicene Creed declares of the Son of God,"For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures."What a wonderful statement to consider and think about. Our faith in death and resurrection of Christ are the non-negotiables that we must hold to tightly and dwell on continually. There is an unfathomable depth of richness in these simple statements that should release us on a life of holy contemplation of the sufferings of our Lord.Commemoration of the Death of Christ The early Church remebered the suffering of the Lord and resurrection daily but also commemorated it yearly on a specific day. That day was debated at first and various local believers practiced different days but soon a universal day was recognized. This yearly consideration of the death and ressurection of Christ allows for a season of very deep meditation on the death of the Son of God for us and should greatly deepen us in our holy faith.Some accuse those who practice the yearly memorial that they are missing a daily thinking of the death of Christ but nothing is perhaps further from the truth. The early believers saw the death of Christ in everything, the bleeding side was thought to where the very Church was born (John 19:34), daily many believers will recite the nicene creed or others that speak of the death of Christ, the cross was widely used as a symbol in churches and homes and was a daily reminder of the death of Christ. It should rather be asked to modern believers where churches are removing crosses, are we remembering the Lord's death enough?Jesus Died Jesus died for our sins! It is not a phrase that we should glib over lightily but heaven is consumed with this constantly, the heavenly choruses never end glorifying the son of God who died for all races, peoples and humanity.The incarnation is part of the sufferings of the Godhead in which God humbled himself to save humanity. Every accusation, misunderstanding, evil look, secret plot, word of gossip, slander, all hurt the Son of God's heart. He suffered so many things for us, willingly laying down his life continually on the earth for 33 years (12,000+ days).Every day it was a conscious choice of the son of God to bear the shame for us so that we could be free. In the end with blood stained eyes he looks at humanity killing him and has only love for this is the reason he came.His final foe was death, that he would trample victoriously, as an early liturgy says, "Trampling down death by death."His death defeated all death and in him is life everlasting, resurrection life. We are invited during this season of lent and holy week to consider again what we remind ourselves daily, the great suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord. May it become richer and more meaningful to us each year, as we are simply preparing to enter into the fullness of worship in heaven, declaring to the Lamb: "you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God" (Revelation 5:9). Amen.
  4. 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
  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?