THE MEANING OF EASTER – THE PRODIGAL SON – ARE YOU COMING HOME?

April 4, 2012

“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

Luke 15:1-10 KJV

Joy in the presence of God is celebrating when one sheep is lost and then found. All the Angels in Heaven are celebrating when one comes to repentance. That’s what the gospel is about. But these two parables were just an appetizer to the next one Jesus was about to tell. The Story of the Prodigal Son. The Greatest Short Story of all times. Jesus gave us this powerful story in the Book of Luke. Think of a time when someone extended “grace” to you: they could have blamed you or shamed you but they didn’t. They gave you love and understanding when you deserved something else. How did it feel? This is the story of a father’s grace which witnesses to God’s grace in Jesus. The definition of Prodigal is: Spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant. The story starts here in the Bible, and Jesus says, “And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” Luke 15:11-13 KJV Jesus sets up this scene with these two sons with a wealthy father. The younger son has this independent streak in him and he tells his father I don’t care if you live or die, just give me my inheritance now! He just thought life on the farm with his father, as lovely as it was, it was just holding him back from the good life. He wanted something more, he wanted something else. He was restless, he was running, he had to get a hold of what was forbidden. In doing this, he dishonored his father. He is so disrespectful, he disowned his family. It is an outrageous dis meaning request. Father give me what’s coming to me, I want it NOW! Sometimes love is tough, you have to let your child go when they are bound and determined to go his or her way. Well he is on his way to a far country. We don’t know where. Most likely it was a Gentile country. His heart was already there. He heard about the lights, heard about the parties, heard about the pleasures. He wanted it bad! When he gets there he is spending money left and right. He has friends all around him. Unfortunately the party doesn’t go on and on and on and on…..His friends bail out on him of course. They leave when the money runs out. This boy found out that his friends weren’t friends after all. They were just using him. When he hit rock bottom he was reaping what he sowed. His life is gone as he had known it. Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a D.U.I. and been arrested? Lost your job? Or maybe your marriage is on shaky grounds and your wife has come to you and asked for a divorce. Maybe you just feel you have hit rock bottom. Maybe your heart is far away from Jesus like both of the father’s sons. The son that stayed home with his father, his heart was just as far away as the Prodigal son‘s heart. It was just as the self-righteous people listening to Jesus as it was to this long-lost boy in this long-lost country. You could be someone raised in a christian home and grow up with a heart far from Jesus. Well by now the boy is now broke and hungry so he has to get a job. Jesus tells part of the parable here, “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.” Luke 15:14-16 KJV This was about the lowest of the low to get a job feeding pigs. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he was eating not even good left over rubbish from the pigs. You see sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, cost you far more than you want to pay. Sin never delivers on its promises, sin promises freedom, but delivers bondage. Sin promises success, but delivers defeat. Sin promises that there is pleasure, and there is pleasure for a season, for a little while, but ultimately it delivers pain. “The wages of sin is death.” This boy thought happiness was not on the farm with his father, but in the big city with lights “doing his own thing his way.” We are all prodigal’s. We are all born with are backs towards God. We are all born with this rebellious streak, this attitude to live independent without the father. We have the idea we can live life our own way. If it weren’t for the Grace of God, we would all live in the far country, broken, wasted, and ruined. Maybe you are living the Prodigal Son’s life. Are you wasting your life away? This boy is representing all of us that is far from God. Finally the boy comes to his senses and says, I must be crazy to live a life-like this. He takes responsibility for his own sin. He takes responsibility of his life. He says, I own this, I did this. He came to himself. This is the turning point of the parable. Jesus tells it here, “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” Luke 15:17 KJV It’s the turning point in our lives. When we come to the place in our lives where we recognize we need to repent. Repent means to change your mind. That is what the boy is doing here. He is coming to his senses. He wakes up, he remembers that he is loved at home. He remembers the joy and the provisions in the father’s house and he is home sick. Do you want to know why you are feeling alone, longing for a home that is secure, a place where it is safe. Maybe it is because you are far from home. This boy now knows that everything he’s looking for is at home with his father. And everything you are looking for is a relationship with God. It’s knowing the Father, experiencing His love, His Grace, His forgiveness in your life, that’s what it’s about. So the boy said, I will go home! He could have said one of these days I will go home. Just like you would say, one of these days I will come to Christ. I’ll get my life right with God. He could have said I’m to far gone. My life is so upside down it’s never going to be right side up. I’ll never get my life back and my father will never take me back, but then he remembers, yes my father will receive me again. It doesn’t matter how far gone you feel, God’s love and Grace is waiting for you. All you have to do is like this boy did and say, I have sinned, I have sinned against Heaven and Earth and my Father. Confess your sin and repent of it. Jesus tells some more of the parable here, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” Luke 15:18-24 KJV His father came rushing to him kissing again and again and again……..It didn’t matter that he was dirty and smelly from working in the pig pen, and his clothes were like old rags. He had waited so long for this moment, for his son to finally to come home. When he embraces his son with his arms it is as if he is covering his sin. He is holding on to the one that is lost. His heart went out to him. What a “Picture of God” on a run to rescue us. If you will just take that first step home, He will run to you. He is standing at the door of your life and knocking, and if you hear His voice, open the door and He will come in. It’s not to late to say yes to Jesus. Just open your heart to him and confess your sins and commit your life to Him. Jesus’ death on the cross was in our place to pay for our sins through His mighty resurrection which has bought our Justification and purchased our Redemption through His blood, for the forgiveness of our sins. He will take off the rags of stench of sins, by the blood of His cross and the power of His resurrection He will restore and renew you as His son. And you will say this is where I belong, with my Father, with a relationship with God.

COMING SOON: http://www.thecupofsalvation.com

My Name is Jeff Ellinger

and

I AM SECOND


WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HOW MANY WAYS ARE THERE TO GET INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

September 30, 2011

“Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Luke 13:23-24, Matthew:7:14 KJV

The Idea:

The idea  that there are many ways to get to Heaven is partly based on the assumption that there are various ways to gain its entrance. Some of the more common ways being baptism, good deeds, honest living, giving to charity, church attendance, and, if nothing else, by making a sincere effort. To most, the way to Heaven is broad, with many paths leading there. However, one has to wonder: if Heaven is so relatively accessible, then why did Jesus Christ die on the cross?  Why did the only begotten Son of God come to earth, take on flesh, and allow Himself to get spat upon, punched, mocked, kicked, humiliated, whipped, and then literally nailed to a cross in the hot Judean sun to die a bloody death The Apostle Paul states it best when he says, “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Galatians 2:2 KJV  You see, Jesus died for a very important reason.   He claimed, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 KJV   His sacrificial death provides the only way to Heaven. “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9 KJV  That means Heaven!Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” John 10:1 KJV  Further more, when His disciples asked, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:” Luke 13:24-25 KJV  Now, obviously, many of you reading all this will still find it hard to believe that there could only be ONE WAY to get to Heaven.

Beginning with the Fall of Man:

Man was created in God’s image for the express purpose of follow shipping with his Creator.   But man rebelled; not willing to accept his subordinate role in the relationship. His rebellion plunged mankind into sin The Bible teaches that, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Romans 5:12  KJV  When man fell, his immediate reaction to his new-found sin nature was to “coverup” his sin before God. The Bible says, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Genesis 3:7 KJV  God, however, seeing their unsatisfactory efforts showed them what would actually be required to “cover up sin”. It says in the Bible, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 KJV  God was setting a precedence.   These “COATS OF SKINS” came off the backs of living animals. Removing them cost those animals their lives and in killing them, God established this fact, “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23 KJV   Death and shed blood is the only “coverage” for sin that God will approve; it’s the only payment He will accept. The Bible clearly teaches that, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20 KJV  Perhaps you’ve wondered why there has to be death in the world. Don’t blame God. Death was not part of His original plan. Death came as a result of man’s rebellious sin. It says in the Bible that, “and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. The sting of death is sin;” Romans 5:12, James 1:15, 1 Corinthians 15:56 KJV  God’s holiness DEMANDS payment for sin. However, God not desiring the absolute death of mankind is willing to accept a substitute on his behalf. That’s why He told His chosen people, the Jews, that He was willing to accept, “And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.” Leviticus 5:6 KJV  So throughout Jewish history, the Jews sacrificed lambs and bullocks as instructed by God.  He wanted to continuously remind them, as a people, that,“and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22 KJV   However, these sacrifices could only “roll back” sin, postponing God’s wrath and eternal judgment.  Mankind needed a permanent solution, one that would forever reconcile him back to his Creator. And one day HE ARRIVED! When John the Baptist saw Christ approaching him, he said something that should have made something click within the mind of every Jew present that day.   John announced, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29 KJV  Jesus is God’s sacrificial lamb, the permanent solution to man’s sin problem. The Bible says of Christ, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” Hebrews 10:12 KJV  And also it says , “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:8-9 KJV

How many Ways Into The Kingdom of Heaven:

IT’S SIMPLE!   The only payment for sin that God will accept is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. However, what most people are trusting in to pay for their sin and get them to Heaven DOES NOT INVOLVE DEATH! For example, during baptism no one dies.During confirmation or communion no one dies. During any good deed you and I perform NO ONE DIES; NO BLOOD IS EVER SHED! Do you see now why Christ is the only way to Heaven? It says it here in the Bible , “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Romans 6:23, Revelation 1:5-6 KJV  If we fully place our TRUST IN HIS DEATH, AND SHED BLOOD, our sins will be payed for and we’ll be allowed in Heaven. The Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 KJV  So we need to see first that, if we are ever to enter the kingdom either in its present or future manifestation, then we must change.  We must be converted.  There must be a transformation. Have you been converted?  Has God changed you?

You Must Become a Child of God Before You Enter the Kingdom:

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew !8:1-4 KJV  Unless you change from what you are into what this child is, you cannot even enter, so how can you claim to be the greatest?” Pride is a great stumbling block. Proud people cannot enter the Kingdom of God. They cannot give up their own preeminence for His. Jesus did not have to call a child over to make His point. He could have just said, “Humble yourself as a child.” But He did not. So there is a significance to calling the child over and having him stand in the midst of them. Only after this was done did Jesus say, “Become like this child, or you cannot enter the Kingdom.” So what is the significance? Jesus called the child, and the child responded to Jesus. There is no questioning from the child, such as, “What do You want?” or “Who are you?” Jesus had him stand in the midst of them, and again, the child complies. We do not hear him say, “Why?” or “What are you going to do now?” or “I don’t have time to stand here, I want to go play.” The greatest people in the Kingdom are the ones who do what I tell them to do, nothing doubting. It is only when we get older that we begin to question everything. To enter this Kingdom we must know there is only room for one Head, for one Preeminence, for one King, for one Lord. We are disciples, not masters. We may struggle and question His dealings with us, but if we progress in the Way then one day we will learn the best course is to bow our heads and say, “Yes, Lord.” We are waiting for Jesus to give us grand instructions and commandments: “Go around the world and proclaim the Gospel full-time” or “Rise up and fulfill the ministry of an apostle” or “I have appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” But if we cannot hear and obey in the small things, how can we expect Him to lead us into greater things? IT’S SIMPLE!   The only payment for sin that God will accept is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. However, what most people are trusting in to pay for their sin and get them to Heaven DOES NOT INVOLVE DEATH!   For example, during baptism no one dies. During confirmation or communion no one dies. During any good deed you and I perform NO ONE DIES; NO BLOOD IS EVER SHED! Do you see now why Christ is the only way to Heaven? It says in the Bible, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus Christ,  washed us from our sins in his own blood,” Romans 6:23, Revelation 1:5 KJV  If we fully place our TRUST IN HIS DEATH, AND SHED BLOOD, our sins will be payed for and we’ll be allowed in Heaven.   The Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 KJV  FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you from going to Heaven are your sins, because, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God,” Isaiah 59:2 KJV In fact, in God’s eyes YOU ARE A SINNER, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23 KJV  SECONDLY, you must realize that there is NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn Heaven, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV  Baptism, good deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are all examples of good works that cannot save you, because, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,” Titus 3:5 KJV  THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through Jesus Christ.  He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John 14:6, Romans 5:8 KJV  THEREFORE: You must REPENT, change your mind,  admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner and can’t save yourself.   And call upon Christ, and Him alone, to save you. It says it here in the Bible, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10 KJV   The Scriptures tell us that the Lord Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” With Truth comes Grace, and we will now conclude with how God accomplishes this impossible work by Grace. The Lord is waiting for us to know and to confess, “I cannot”. For He can do what we cannot do; and He will do what we will not do! And once we allow Him, He brings us to where He wants us to be in a most remarkable manner.  The Bible says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,  and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, (Path)”  John 10:9,14:5-6 KJV  Lord Jesus Christ, I thank You that You are my Way, my Truth, and my Life! I praise You that I cannot save myself. You are my Narrow Gate, and You are my Narrow Path. As I am decreased, You are increased, and my life is exchanged for Your Life. I thank you, Lord, that through You we may enter the Kingdom. Amen.

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger


WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT STAYING “FOCUS” – KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE – KEEP YOUR EYE ON JESUS !!

September 21, 2011

“And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” 

Matthew 14:22-33 KJV

In this passage in Matthew, we see something that is very significant. Jesus had preached and, as usual, had attracted a large crowd. Five thousand men, besides women and children, had gathered to hear Him, and He not only taught them, but He also fed them all, possibly as many as ten thousand people through a miracle of provision. After He had fed them, He sent them away, and instructed His disciples to get into a boat and go out onto the Sea of Galilee while He Himself went to be alone to pray. While Christ was in prayer, the wind became boisterous, and the waters of the sea became severely troubled. But in the fourth watch of the night, He went out to the boat, walking on the water! When the disciples, who were, I’m sure, already very concerned about the weather, saw Him, they were frightened, and thought they were looking at an apparition! Knowing this, Jesus said “Be of good cheer,. it is I; be not afraid!” Peter, always the first to speak up, good or bad, said “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water!”. So Jesus instructed Peter to come on out to Him. Peter, following Christ’s instruction, proceeded to go out to Jesus, and he too was walking on the water! But when Peter realized what was going on, and saw that the wind and the waves were tempestuous, he was afraid, and began to sink down into the water. Peter immediately cried out to the Master, and Jesus stretched out His hand to catch him. And as Jesus caught him, He said “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? ” Jesus then took him, and they got into the boat, and when they did, the storm immediately ceased, they were immediately to the other side of the sea. And they all worshipped Jesus, saying “Of a truth thou art the Son of God “ It is to our loss as believers, that so oftentimes we forget the simplest teachings of the Scriptures. Peter was able to walk on the water by faith, until he took his eyes off Jesus, looking at the storm’s tempest instead. What a truth! So often we take our eyes off the Lord, because of troublesome co-workers, marital difficulties, rude people, unfair situations, life’s problems, et cetera. The lesson is simple—keep your eyes on the Lord and you won’t go under! When we find our self in these situations-frustrated, discouraged, and angry because of people—we need to focus our eyes once again upon the Word of God, i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ. It is quite easy to lose sight of one’s Christian beliefs, when overshadowed with adversity and grief. It can be overwhelming at times. People can be so cruel. In 2nd Timothy 3:1 KJV ” This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”  This verse warned us that “perilous times” would come, when people would be… lovers of their own selves. The majority of Americans today have become selfish, self-conscious, and self-centered. Sadly, America’s Christians aren’t much better. The Biblical account of Peter walking on the water to Jesus, is one of the first lessons which Sunday School children should learn, and a lesson which every adult Christian should never lose sight of. When we focus our thoughts upon the divine Truths of God’s Word, we are able to withstand the attacks of Satan. The Bible says, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13 KJV  You see, our Lord has gone up. And we are left here below to face the storm. Yet, we do not have to face the storms of life alone; He is ever with us. It says in the Bible, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 KJV  As long as we hear His Voice, and obey His Word, we will be on top of the troubled water, or, on top of the storm – the situation that troubles us – we will be on top of LIFE. But when we take our eyes off Him, and begin to go our own way, and focus on other things, we will begin to sink down into that which we are focused on. When Peter followed the Master’s instruction, He was on top of the water, as troubled as it was. But when Peter took His eyes off Jesus, and began to look at the troubled water all around him, he began to sink down into that water. What He was FOCUSED on began to CONSUME him! And it’s the same with you and me. You see, just as Peter sank into the troubled waters, we too will sink if we focus on the trouble that is all around us! Now, I know, there are many things out there to trouble the waters. There will be storms in life. But do not focus on the storm! Because what you are focused on will consume you! That is why we must keep our eyes on Jesus! Because as we are focused on Him, we will not be consumed by the storm, but will be consumed with our Lord and Master Jesus Christ and His precious Holy Spirit as He becomes more and more the centre of our lives! And when we are focused on and consumed with the central figure of all the ages, we will NEVER be shaken! The Bible says, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalms 118:8 KJV  We are indeed in a very troublesome time in the history of our people. Wickedness abounds, and the righteous are pressed down. The turbulent wind and the tempestuous waves are all around us on every side, and the trouble and hopelessness of our situation would seem to be almost insurmountable. Life is full of storms. What are you going to focus on? We must be as determined as Job was when he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” Job 13:15 KJV  No matter what happens, we must remember that God is absolutely SOVEREIGN, and that the rulers of all nations and kingdoms of this world are but pawns in His Hand, to accomplish that which He desires. Don’t focus on the troubled water, and be consumed by it! Live your life according to God’s Word, keep your eyes on Jesus and put your trust in Him, and you’ll be on top of the troubled waters! Because right out there in the middle of all that trouble is the ROCK OF AGES, and He’s a FIRM FOUNDATION! This makes me think of a spiritual principle in the Bible. Instead of concentrating on the sins we want to avoid, we are told to focus on the positive actions Christ desires for us. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”  We are to discard old ways of thinking and acting and “put on” new ways of living. When Christ and His interests are the focus of our lives, the lure of the old life remains in the corner of our eye, while we aim to land squarely in the center of God’s will.

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger


9/11 – WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY – 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

September 6, 2011

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”

Psalms 91:1-16 KJV

What The Bible Says About The Events:

It was ten years ago on September 11, 2001 when the smoke smoldered for months from the wreckage of the collapse of the New York World Trade Center Towers as a result of the most unbelievable terrorist attack any nation has ever witnessed. Over 3,000 people were killed in one day. The United States of America was dealt a horrific blow as foreign terrorists hi-jacked four American commercial airliners, ramming two of them into the Twin Towers and another into the Pentagon. One crashed into the country side, with its mission overthrown by brave passengers, who we found out later rose up against their aggressors and prevented another planned act of destruction. Our nation and many others who have joined the coalition against terrorism are declaring these deeds must be stopped throughout the world.  Our nation has declared war on terrorism.  The whole world is still reeling from this evil plot. Our nation has been shaken to its foundation and hearts and lives have been shattered.  Children are left without their parents, husbands and wives have lost their mates, friends are gone and  terror has gripped our hearts, as we experienced a brutal act of barbarism in demonic proportions not known in this nation until now. As many as 10,000 widows and orphans are grieving for their loved ones. God’s heart is also grieved over the loss and pain of so many.  He never wanted this to happen. Those who sought the Lord for comfort in their hour of need found it, as He promises never to leave us or forsake us. People did not know what to do or who to trust. As Christians, we knew that we could only trust in God and therefore many backsliders starting seeking Him again. Hundreds were questioning about what does all this mean.  Also asking questions about what the Bible has to say about the end times.  We certainly do not feel we have all the answers to this enormous tragedy, as it is really beyond human comprehension; however, we feel we should contribute some spiritual insight to help bring some understanding about how such evil murderous acts could have happened in our nation. After seeking the Lord, we do want to share with our Internet family some of the things the Lord is speaking to us on this major crisis on the anniversary of this event. We believe that God will bring good from what the devil meant for evil. Many well-meaning Christians are voicing their opinions. With so many personal ideas being voiced, much confusion and error are being disseminated.  I would admonish those in the body of Christ who feel they should share a word or teaching with others that they make sure they are being a spokesman of the Lord, and not just sharing their opinions so they might be heard. He wants us each to know when to share, what to share, and where to share, when we are given a revelation or teaching from God. The Bible says, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” James 3:1 KJV

Wake Up Call:

The conclusion in the events of September 11th were a wake-up call from the devil. If you were sleeping in your home and a robber broke into it and vandalized and attacked you, you would have to say the robber woke you up. However, if you had an alarm system that went off, you would say that the alarm system woke you up. Satan is described in Scripture as a thief. The Bible says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 KJV  The way God wakes us up is by speaking to us through His Word and by His Holy Spirit.  He also uses his preachers and prophets to warn us. He sounds an alarm!  When we fail to repent and hear His Words of warning, we leave our houses unprotected and the enemy is able to break in and do His evil work. God is never the author of evil and destruction. He comes to bring us life and blessing. However, to receive it, we must choose life and obey His Word. We have been warned that if we force God out of our homes, schools, businesses, and government, it will allow the enemy to come in and wreak havoc in our lives. God wants us to turn to Him before we experience any destruction, not be driven to Him through the destruction that comes as a result of us disobeying Him. The Bible says, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” Ephesians 5:14-18 KJV  We are warned in this scripture to “wake up” and be filled with the spirit so that we can understand what the will of God is. Because the Lord is merciful God, He does bring good out of evil, but He never instigates the evil. Satan does that. Because there have been many prayers for our nation, God is bringing good from this evil, and we are praising Him for that. Thank God for the unity, prayer meetings, and the many “God Bless America” signs that we see.  This is certainly a change of heart in our nation.   However, if we had heeded His warnings and simply turned back to Him in true repentance, we would have never had to suffer such a blow to our nation.  God tried to prevent this kind of thing from happening by speaking to His people to pray, to witness, to obey, to give, to repent and to change. It was God’s grace that a worse thing did not come upon us.  Our national sins and the sins of the church caused our promised protection to fail us, according to His Word.

Who is The Blame:

Who is to blame for the evil that came upon our nation? Is it God? Is it the devil? Is it the evil men who did the deeds? Is it all the sinners in this nation who are homosexuals, abortionists, adulterers, murderers, pornographers, and God haters? Or is it the church who has fallen into apostasy and failed to be the light and salt God called us to be? First of all, we must understand according to the Bible, God is not to blame for this evil. He is not evil and cannot do evil things. The Bible says, “Therefore hearken unto me ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity. For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways. Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.” Job 34:10-12 KJV  The Lord warns us in scripture not to attribute evil things to Him. This is the spirit of error according to the New Testament. It says, “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” James 1:16-20 KJV  Definitely, the evil men who became suicide bombers are to blame, as well as the devil who motivated these men and gave them their evil plans of destruction. Certainly all sin brings a penalty with it, so sinners who do not know Christ are responsible too, as we all reap what we sow.  All who are sinners share in the blame.  However, I believe the greatest weight of blame must be placed on uncommitted Christians who serve themselves more than God

Were The Towers in New York Babylon:

“Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.” Revelation 18:6-10,17-19 KJV  The Book of Revelation is a coded book and was written for Christians so that only they could understand it.  Those who do not have the Holy Spirit are bewildered by its imagery. Even as Christians we have difficulty when approaching Revelation. How do we understand its code? The Bible interprets itself, so we can understand Revelation by looking at other portions of the Bible for clues to its interpretation. When we study one part of the Bible, we can find the same truth in another part that sheds light on what we are studying. Since Revelation is a coded book, we will not understand it without the help of God’s Spirit who inspired it. We must have a child-like approach to His Word.  We must have God’s Spirit and an understanding of the Scriptures to comprehend Revelation. Revelation was written symbolically; a great deal of it is not literal. If we do not understand that Revelation is speaking of spiritual things, then we are going to misinterpret it. We will end up looking for literal things and miss what God is saying to the church. First of all, I do not believe that New York City nor the United States is “Babylon,” in this passage of Scripture, is a symbol of the evil system representing the kingdoms of this world that are in opposition to the kingdom of God. According to the scripture, allof the nations have “drunk of her wine.” No one city or nation can alone be responsible for corrupting the earth or martyring all the saints of God; and certainly not the United States. Babylon is a system that has been on the earth throughout all of history. It is empowered through various nations, governments, philosophies, and religions–as well as through individuals. However, since the World Trade Centers housed multitudes of international corporate headquarters, it certainly could symbolically represent the world monetary system. The love of money is a snare to all that are in the world. Most of the people in the world are seeking after the things of this world. It makes no difference whether they are rich or poor; the poor want the things of this world too, but simply do not know how to get it.  This beast system has everyone seeking the wrong god. They are buying so they can sell, and selling so they can buy. The stock market and the whole monetary system is filled with that. Those who have placed their trust in that system are marked with the beast.  That is, they think like the devil, who is the ultimate beast. As Christians, we buy and sell too. But we are not buying and selling our souls like the rest of the world. “We are in the world, but we are not of the world”. We touch and handle the things of this world, but it is not in our hearts; it is not a part of us.  We are not marked with the system. As totally dedicated Christians, when God asks us to do anything, we lay everything down, leaving it behind as we go and do what He has asked.  We are able to forsake all because we are not marked with the mark of the beast; we are not caught up in the love of money. We are not caught up in the buying and selling because we know our true riches are in heaven. In Revelation it says, “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Revelation 17:5 KJV  Who is this woman? She is the beast system of the world, the fallen system that commits abominations. Certainly the many things that went on in the World Trade Towers were ungodly transactions that deserved judgment. However, I do not believe that the city of New York fulfills this prophecy.   I believe that any city or nation that practices evil and indulges in greed and lust would be a part of the Spiritual Babylon the Bible speaks of.  This would include all the cities down through history of which many of them also fell. The original Babylon fell and was destroyed and remains a type throughout history. However, we cannot overlook the fact that the World Trade Center Towers could certainly be a type and warning to us as a nation that our money and pride has reached into the heavens and it is now brought down by our own sins. In the Old Testament there was another tower that God did not approve of — it was the Tower of Babel.   This is how Babylon got its name. Nimrod and the men who were building this tower had the wrong motives for doing it; therefore, the Lord confounded their languages so that the work was not completed and the men were scattered abroad on the face of the earth.

Summary:

God in his love is calling America back to himself — if we ignore this warning something far worse will happen. What the terrorists meant for evil, God wishes to use it for good, to draw people, the nation and the world to Himself. If we do not heed his whispers, then he has to shout to us in our pains. If we continue to serve our idols then the death of over 3,000 people will have been in vain. We should each seek to discern what the Lord is saying to us individually and as a country, especially those in leadership need to hear God’s voice. A classic prayer of petition and confession to God for his country is that of Daniel in Dan 9:1-20. In it he confesses his own sin and that of his own people, we would do well to follow his example. There is a tension here, because we are to come out of Babylon and yet still be in the world and minister to it. Americans think only about America, get a passport and visit the third world, then you might see the roots of the hatred against America, and also understand the great good that the church can do to fulfill the Great Commission and relieve poverty. The Bible says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Romans 12:19,13:4, 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV  No one  is going to expect this anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to be as emotionally charged as the first. But that will change when they began reading the names of those who had died at the World Trade Center. The readers were the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews of the victims. The 2,792 names, precious to those who read them, brought a fresh reminder of those they had loved and lost. A person’s name represents his identity, accomplishments, and relationships. Someday our name may appear on a memorial plaque or gravestone as a mark of remembrance and honor. But there is a heavenly ledger that is the most important of all. When Jesus’ followers reported their successful service to Him, He replied, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 KJV  “Then He thanked the Father for making the way to Him simple enough for even a child to understand ” A child values a loving relationship. In that spirit, we should rejoice that through faith in Christ we belong to God and are secure in His love for all eternity. Our names are precious to Him.

By: Jeff Ellinger



LABOR DAY – WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ? – KEEPING THE SABBATH

September 1, 2011

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” 

John 6:27, Exodus 20:10-11 KJV

Labor Day:

How do you define Labor Day?  For many, it marks the official end of summer.  Most children are back in school, each day show signs of getting shorter with earlier sunsets, and depending on your location, there might be cooler temperature in the air.  Yes, summer months are finally coming to a close and football fans are excited to cheer on their favorite team as the fall sports season begins. Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It forms a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. So, Labor Day is a holiday about work and recognition for the hard work people have put forth to strengthen our economy and our country as a whole. As men who want to be an example we need to remember some things about our work. The Bible says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 KJV  Also we must Be grateful. It says it here in the Bible, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Timothy 5:8 KJV  Most of all we need to remember that God values us not for what we do or how much we earn but for who we are… His beloved children redeemed through the sacrifice of his son Jesus. We should be dedicating ourselves to the Lord through our work. He is our real boss. So work hard as unto the Lord and know that his approval will guarantee success. We should also remember that it is by His labor on the cross that His rest is possible. So, the honor all goes to Him.

What Does The Bible say About Labor:

“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11  KJV  I think Labor Day is a strange holiday. While we call it “Labor Day,” we try to do as little labor as possible and most working people have the day off. It’s a bad weekend for the Church…because everyone wants to do other things this weekend. Labor Day is different things to different people. To the factory or office worker, it may be a day off. But, for policemen, nurses and doctors, it’s just another work day. To farmers, it’s just another day to feed the livestock… and work in the field. Our passages today in 1 and 2 Thessalonians…encourage us to work rather than sit around on welfare. Many people think work is an undesirable thing…and they do as little as possible for the greatest return. This leads to the idea of someone else doing the work for you — an employee. In America, “labor” and “management” are adversaries. Labor wants the most money for the least work. Management wants the most work for the least money. The American way is based on this adversarial relationship. Our American work system is not necessarily Christian. The Bible says, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” Ephesians 6:5-9 KJV  This passage is about masters and slaves. However, it can easily be applied to management and employees. God cares about how we conduct business! He cares about how we treat others. We will all face judgment, both management and employees. The Christian cannot separate his business and his spiritual life. He has no right to “out-heathen” the heathen. The Christian does not live for self alone. The Bible says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:10 KJV  An employee should be paid what he deserves. The Bible says, ” At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” Deuteronomy 24:15, Leviticus 19:13 KJV  These Old Testament passages applied to times…when a worker got paid every day.

The Importance of the Sabbath:

The Sabbath is more than a day of physical and mental relaxation. It is even more than the day on which we worship. The Sabbath has a definite redemptive significance—a distinct connection with the everlasting gospel. The New Testament often uses the word rest to describe the good news of salvation realized in the holy history of Jesus Christ. Ever since the Fall, this promised saving rest in Christ has been linked with the Sabbath. That is why the major feast days in the Old Testament were designated as Sabbath days of rest—they pointed ahead to the Messiah and His redemptive activity. The word sabbath means “rest,” and the first we discover about it in the Old Testament is that the Sabbath day belongs to God. He calls it “my holy day” here in the Bible, “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:” Isaiah 59:13 KJV  You can also recognize the importance of the Sabbath on Labor Day weekend. It says it here in the Bible, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” Genesis 2:2 KJV  It talks about how God ended his work and rested on the seventh day. If we want our work to be truly blessed by God, we should rest on the 7th day.  Our society today has trained us to believe that working happens from 9 to 5 every day, and then we have the rest of the day off!   Labor Day weekend is a great time to remind the people that work happens six days a week and not 40 hours a week, and you should still take time off on Sundays.  Labor Day is a great time to discuss the importance of observing the Sabbath in our lives.

Jesus’ Barbecue:

Jesus is inviting all of us over for a Labor Day soul food barbecue. The problem is that we take such poor care of our souls that we don’t even hear his invitation. There are hardly any of us here that go more than a day without eating. In fact, most of us eat every few hours. We live in a culture where our bodies are well-fed. In fact, our bodies are often overfed. And yet, in the midst of our culture’s all-you-can-eat buffet for the body, our souls are starving to death. We take great care to feed our temporary bodies, but our souls, which are eternal, are often lucky to get table scraps. How long has it been since you did something to nourish your soul? When was the last time you fasted, depriving your body of food so you could devote your spirit to prayer? When was the last time you read a book that stretched your thinking on some issue of theology? How long has it been since you worshipped God outside of our Church? When was the last time that you sat down as a family to read and discuss the Word of God? In a culture of unbelievable abundance and surplus, our souls are withering away from malnourishment. The problem is that a starving soul is harder to notice than a starving body. When you’re hungry, it’s easy to recognize. You feel it. It’s unmistakable. A hungry soul is less noticeable at first. The effects of a hungry soul are seen, such as, in a life lived with no peace. If all this talk about peace and rest is just ringing hollow with you, it could be because you’ve been starving your soul. The peace and rest Jesus offers is for our souls. It’s a peace that will outlast our lives and will outlast this world. The length of our lives is microscopic in comparison to eternity, and yet our lives in this world often dominate our time, attention, and energy. The Bible reminds us all that, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3 KJV  This is a call for us to have an eternal perspective in this temporary world. The challenge is to raise our sights above the physical and focus on the spiritual. If you have made a commitment to Jesus, you’re real life isn’t even here anymore. You’re real life is temporarily hidden with Jesus in heaven. So that is where our sights need to be. It’s a call to constantly guard against allowing ourselves to get bogged down with our temporary problems and struggles here. A time is coming when we will experience our real life in the presence of God. When that time comes, our struggles and hurts and pains will be a distant memory. And when we understand this, it gives us a peace in our lives that really does “transcend human understanding.”

Summary:

Tomorrow, a lot of us will take a short respite from work or school. I hope you enjoy the day. But much more than that, I hope we’ll all pursue a higher form of Labor Day. I pray that we’ll make every day a Labor Day God’s Way. The rest and peace that Jesus offers us is a life-changing, life-giving experience. He offers us peace to get us through heartaches and struggles. He offers us the peace of knowing that, no matter what hurt we experience, there is a hope that is sure. God is faithful to his promises, and if you have committed your life and your eternity to Jesus Christ, He will take you home to live with him forever. Those who come to God encounter no “Keep Out” signs. Through prayer, God the Father allows us immediate and unlimited access to Him because His Son Jesus Christ has opened the way to all who receive Him. The Bible says, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Ephesians 2:18 KJV  The parts of our lives that we have tried and failed to repair can be restored by the hand of God. Through faith in Christ, we can be made whole. It says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Matthew 11:28, John 6:37.7:37 KJV  Once you come to Christ for salvation, you can enjoy unrestricted fellowship. The door is always open.

By: Jeff Ellinger


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “TAKE UP THE CROSS AND FOLLOW ME” – HE MUST INCREASE, I MUST DECREASE

August 24, 2011

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

Matthew 19:21 KJV

Denying Self:

This means not allowing ourselves to be constraint by natural limitations. Every one of us is surrounded by natural limitations. Right now we are now in the worst recession in history.  Looks like things are really getting bad. How are we going to survive this crisis, let alone trying to live within our means? These are facts. We should not deny their existence. However, Jesus wants us to deny ourselves. This means, we should not allow ourselves to be limited by the situation. We have God on our side. He is more powerful than the worst economic crisis. As long as we choose to deny ourselves in not allowing the natural circumstances to have the final say in our lives, we can overcome them. Yes, we can live within our means even in the worst recession. He who is in us is greater than he who is in this world. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 KJV

Take up His Cross Daily and Follow Me:

Taking up the cross daily does not mean we must get crucified every day. Even Jesus got crucified only once. It means we should live everyday with the constant awareness on what Jesus had done at the Cross. At the Cross, Jesus died to pay for all our sins: past, present and future. The moment we believe in him, we are righteous by faith. We can go to God at any time we want and behave as though we have never committed a single sin in our lives. Why? As far as God is concern, all the penalties of our sins had been paid. We are always holy because of what Jesus has done at the Cross. Peter was the most vocal of the disciples and because he hadn’t yet grasped the power of the cross he openly rebuked Jesus for preaching what he labeled as wrong doctrine. The Bible says, “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Matthew 16:22 KJV   Peter, like many christians, did not understand that sometimes our walk with God will include struggles, rejection, and for some believers, death. He was yet to comprehend that the path that leads to the fulness of life in Christ Jesus must include “the cross” which represents the emptying of self and the crucifying of the flesh. The Bible says, “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:23 KJV  Anything that prevents you from obeying God’s plan for your life is a hindrance and a snare to your spiritual growth. “Get thee behind me, satan!” Jesus was saying that I will not be talked out of the cross. The cross is the will of God for my life. And I must obey. The cross is necessary. You can’t have salvation without the cross. You can’t have freedom from sin without the cross. Paul wrote in Colossians, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:20 KJV  and he also wrote it here, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:14 KJV  The cross is at the center of everything that God has provided for us through the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have heard many christians say things like, “Well, the suffering in my life is just my cross to bear.” Or, “I’ve just got to carry this cross on my shoulders no matter how difficult it is.” But what are they really saying? To many christians, sickness and disease, a bad marriage, a bad temper or poverty is the cross that Jesus has required them to carry. But is this a correct interpretation of scripture? Does God require us to be poor to serve Him? Does God require us to learn how to put up with chronic sickness and crippling disease as a means to the emptying of self? Remember, the purpose of the cross is to bring you to the resurrection; not to leave you suffering in agony and shame. Jesus is not continually hanging on the cross. Jesus does not need to be crucified all over again and again and again. He took up His cross once. That was enough to purchase our eternal salvation and deliverance. The purpose of the cross is to remove something ungodly out of your life and to bring you into the resurrection life. God isn’t asking you to merely deny the desires and the longings of your flesh and have nothing to gain in return. No! The purpose of taking up your cross is to bring you to a place of living an overcoming and victorious life in Christ Jesus and to partake of the resurrected life with all of it’s power and all of it’s privileges. The Bible says, “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:” Isaiah 52:14 KJV  This adds fresh light to the accepted meaning of Matthew 16:24. The cross is not intended to be borne forever; rather, it is taken up whenever the plan of God requires it of us. The “taking up of your cross” is the means whereby God procures our deliverance from earthly, fleshly things possessing our hearts and minds, and severs their stronghold over us. It liberates us from the controlling appetites and the unnecessary weights of our ungodly flesh and our soulish life, and frees us to completely follow God. Peter wrote, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 KJV  Jesus took up the cross so that we could now live a righteous and fruitful life; a life that is free from sin and free from the guilt and shame that sins brings. Jesus bore stripes on His body to purchase our healing so we could now live free from sickness and disease. To say that bearing a chronic sickness in your life is your cross to bear is to deny the power of Christ’s sacrifice and to deny the scriptures that teach, “…by whose stripes you were healed.”. To say that poverty, anger or strife is your cross to bear is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit’s operation in your life. Also if your heart is focused on earthly things, you will have difficulty following the leadings and the promptings of the Spirit. For the Bible says, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19 KJV  You can’t serve the flesh and serve the Spirit at the same time. You can’t follow the appetites of your flesh and at the same time be obedient to the desires of the spirit. If you desire to follow God and to be a true disciple of the Lord you must learn to crucify the flesh with its unholy appetites and take up your cross by dying to the selfish desires of your flesh. The Bible says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:19-21,24 KJV  You’ve got to let go of “self” and learn to put God’s Word first in your life if you want to be a committed disciple of the Lord.

He Must Increase:

He must increase, He must become greater, He must grow greater and greater.  HIS INCREASE IS ASSURED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:7 KJV  “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27 KJV  “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Psalms 119:89 KJV  “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 KJV  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 KJV “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” Colossians 1:18-19 KJV  “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22 KJV

I Must Decrease:

OUR DECREASE IS REQUIRED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 KJV  “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 KJV  “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:29-20 KJV  

Conclusion:

It is interesting that one of the meanings that the dictionary gives to the word “cross” is a trial, a burden, an affliction or a frustration. This is religions view of the cross. But I believe that Jesus would give us an entirely different perspective of the cross. From God’s point of view, the cross was the means whereby Jesus purchased our salvation and our deliverance. The cross is therefore a blessing to be experienced and not a burden for us to bear. And the phrase “take up your cross” should be viewed as a means to our deliverance and not as a frustrating or a defeated experience. Everyday brings with it new challenges and new blessings. And when we learn to “take up our cross daily”  we will be delivered from the annoying frustrations of life and we will be able to take hold of the blessings that the Lord is daily bringing into our lives. As followers of Christ, are we lifting Him up instead of seeking honor for ourselves? Rather than being disappointed when our contribution is unnoticed, we should be glad because our highest privilege is to magnify the Lord. He’s the hero! Honoring Him is the mark of greatness. Our goal must be the same as that of John the Baptist, who said when he met Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

By: Jeff Ellinger


ETERNAL REWARDS GIVEN TO CHRISTIANS IN HEAVEN – FIVE CROWNS OF REWARD

August 16, 2011

“And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”

Mark 10:29-30KJV

Rewards in Heaven:

One of the things I feel I have picked up from the Holy Spirit is that it will really be worth your while to fully surrender your entire life over to God the Father and go with His call on your life rather than you deciding what you are going to do with your life. The reason for this is that there will be some incredible rewards being given out in heaven for those who are willing to do good works for the Lord while living down here on this earth. Good works will not get us into heaven, as the Bible specifically tells us that we can only be saved by grace through our faith in Jesus Christ. But being willing to do good works for the Lord in this life will bring us certain types of rewards. And not only does God have full knowledge on all the above for your life, but He is also the only One who can safely guide you to reach the goals that He has set up for you to seek after in this life. And the only way to be able to get God’s full protection and full guidance for your life is to fully surrender your entire life over to Him and let Him place you in His perfect will for your life. It will really be worth your while to fully surrender your entire life over to God the Father. Why? Because the Bible says that God will be rewarding each person for the work they have done for Him while living down here on this earth. This life is for just a very short period of time compared to the eternal time frame that is operating in heaven. Heaven is for eternity, our earthly life is not! The time we will spend in heaven, and then eventually the New Heaven and New Earth, will be for the rest of our eternal lives, forever and ever. This earthly life is not even a blink of an eye compared to the eternal time frame that is operating in heaven. You need ask yourself, do you want to call all of your own shots and do what you want to do in this life, all for earthly wealth that will completely perish and pass away the second you die and cross over into heaven? Or do you want to go with God’s perfect will for your life, accomplish the missions and goals that He will want you to accomplish for Him in this life, and then receive your full and final just rewards that will last forever once you enter into heaven? the Bible says, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:20-21 KJV  Jesus Himself said that what does it profit a man to gain all the wealth of this world, but then lose his own soul in the process of acquiring all that wealth. The Bible says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 KJV  God can reward you with some incredible blessings while you are still down here on this earth. However, the rewards that you will be receiving when you enter into heaven, are the rewards that will really matter. These are the rewards that will last you for the rest of your eternal life.

Five Crowns in The Bible for Believers

1)  The incorruptible crown:

This is also called the imperishable crown. This crown is given to believers who faithfully run the race, who crucify every selfish desire in the flesh and point men to Jesus. God calls some people to do things that will require some sacrifice in the way they will live and conduct their lives. Some people may be called to be a missionary in a far off and poor country. They will literally be working for almost nothing in earthly terms. They will have to sacrifice the money,possessions and life style they could have had, if they stayed home in their own country. The Bible says, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 KJV  This verse also implies that these people will also receive this crown for the sacrifices they were willing to make for God to successfully complete the call and mission God had called them to do. Basically run whatever race that God has set out for you and be the best you can be for God. Be willing to make whatever sacrifices there may be to successfully complete the mission that God has set out for you.

2) The Crown of Rejoicing:

To those who faithfully are witnesses to the saving grace of God and leads souls to Jesus. This crown has also been named the soul winner’s crown. It  indicates here that God will be giving a crown to those who have witnessed to others and leading people to Christ. Telling others about the grace of God, telling others about Jesus, is the greatest thing that you can do for someone while here on this earth. When you help someone to be led to the Lord, you have just been used as a vessel of God. It says in the Bible, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:” 1 Thessalonians 2:10 KJV  God will judge you by your willingness and desire to be used by Him to witness to others, not necessarily on how many actually get saved, because we are to water and He gives the increase. Christians can be used by God to try to lead others to the Lord. God can fit opportunities for you in your life to witness and work for Him if you allow Him to. Some could be your unsaved friends, family members or co-workers, etc. The Bible says it good here, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” 1 Thessalonians 2:19 KJV

3) The Crown of Life:

Jesus says that He will give this crown to those who undergo severe hardship, testing, tribulation and/or physical death on His behalf. Probably being willing to die for your faith in God would be the ultimate sacrifice. It is the greatest act of courage and love that you can show God. Christians who have been martyred for their faith throughout history will not only be given this crown of life, but other rewards once they enter into heaven. The Bible says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12 KJV  God the Father will honour each ones trials and tribulations and thus will be rewarding them accordingly. Look at this verse, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 KJV

4} The Crown of Righteousness:

To those who love the appearing of Christ, who anxiously wait and look forward to the day when He will return for His saints. This crown is given to those who have lived a good and righteous life for God while living down here on earth. If you are a believer you have been made righteous before God the Father as a result of Jesus dying on the cross for all of our sins. This means that the righteousness of Jesus has now been imputed to you. It also refers to us living a good and righteous life for God the Father with what time we have left down here. There are Christians who are righteous before God the Father as a result of being saved, called Justification, through the blood of Jesus Christ; but they are not living righteous lives in their actions, words and behaviours, called Sanctification. There are some people that may be saved in God’s eyes, but still continue to do evil works that the unsaved would do. We all have our flaws, weaknesses, and certain temptations that we may struggle with. It is not perfection but direction that God is looking for. God just wants each one of us to choose to do the right thing when faced with certain temptations or choices to do something bad. When it is all said and done, these Christians will probably be receiving some of the greatest rewards that God can hand out once they enter into heaven. It says in the Bible, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8 KJV  To live a righteous life for God will really be worth your while as you will definitely be given this crown by God Himself once you enter into heaven.

5) The Crown of Glory:

This is the pastor’s crown and will be given to the ministers who faithfully feed the flock of God. This probably could also include preachers, teachers, Sunday School teachers, missionaries and all those who teach the Word of God in their respective ministries. This crown may signify the importance and sacrifices of bringing up others into the ways of God. God wants those who are saved to grow and learn as much as they can about Him, His Son and His Holy Spirit and to do that he uses mature believers who are willing to each others. The Bible says, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 KJV  God can use you to teach and shepherd others. God shows you the extreme importance that He is placing on those who teach and preach the word. Being willing to teach and educate others after they are saved is one of the greatest things you can do for them this side of heaven.

Conclusion:

All of these crowns will be permanent, incorruptible, and will never fade away. They will be eternal rewards bestowed upon those deemed to be deserving of them by God the Father for extra-ordinary service rendered on His behalf while living down here on this earth. The five crowns addressed in Scripture represent the goals that every Christian should strive to meet in his Christian walk with the Lord. Every wise Christian should set about earning all five crowns so that he can receive a full reward and reign and rule as the Bride of Christ. Only those Christians who have kept themselves clean and pure and who have lived in close communion and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ will be rewarded with the “prize” of the high calling of God. These servant Christians will be gloriously presented as the Bride of Christ. There are many incentives for faithful service that involve both our acts and our motives. These rewards, which are designated as “crowns” in the New Testament, are to be earned by those who have first received the gift of eternal life. Perhaps you’re saying, “I would never expect to be rewarded for what I do for Christ.” Have you considered what you may do with any crown you receive on that day? There will be no trophy cases in heaven; no gloating over earthly accomplishments. Redeemed sinners will have the transcendent joy of casting their crowns before the throne and saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11 KJV  The cross speaks of forgiveness and of peace with God. It points to the merits of Christ and not our own. As we step through the doorway of death, we must lay aside our “earthly crowns.” Our only hope is to cling to our Savior, who died so that we could have everlasting life. How do you put your trust in God? Accept that we have all sinned, all broken his commandments, that we cannot pay the penalty ourselves, but that Jesus paid our fine for us. The Bible says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20 KJV  Will you open the door for the only one who can save us? He’s asking us to open our hearts and let him in. Change occurs when you accept Jesus, but not always an immediate change, so do not always expect an overwhelming emotion. Confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe in your heart that he is risen from the dead, and ask forgiveness for your sins, you will be saved.

By: Jeff Ellinger




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